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The Return of the Pup Tent

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Canvas tents have seen a resurgence. Bell tents and yurts, often used for glamping, are prime examples. And just like bell tents, we’ve also seen a rise in the A-frame pup tents. Beautiful and durable canvas materials, rigid structures, and spacious interiors are just some of the myriad reasons they’ve become so popular.

In this guide, we explore the various styles of A-frame tents that have popped up throughout history. Plus, we introduce you to the Scout About – Life inTents’ answer to the classic A-frame tent.

History of Pup Tents

A-frame scout tent pup tent historical image

Ridge tents, scout tents, F1 tents and pup tents – they’re all A-frame tents that share a very traditional style. Not to be confused with a tipi, A-frame pup tents have a triangle shape silhouette with a peaked center and two sloped sidewalls. And the basic tent shape shares a fairly similar origin story too.

As you might imagine, the design comes from the barebones primitive structures our ancestors once created. But instead of stretched animal skins and sticks, we now use woven canvas and metal poles.

Eventually, A-frame style tents were even used for military operations. Most notably, the F1 tent and pup tents were used throughout WWI and even into the 1970s.

Today, the A-frame tents that were essential for nomadic people to live in are now used for recreational purposes like camping, hunting, and hiking.

Over time, traditional A-frame canvas tents fell out of favor, mainly due to their heavy poles, and were evolved to have more lightweight polyester fabric and aluminum poles. In other words, A-frame tents have been vastly improved and modernized to offer the best of both worlds and while still offering lots of advantages.

  • Easy setup: A-frame tents can be as simple as a tarp draped over a line tied between two trees. However, a fully enclosed A-frame tent won't require finding perfect trees to create your shelter.  Instead, you simply layout your tent, peg in the groundsheet, insert the poles, and then stake out the guy line ropes, making setup a breeze.
  • Ventilation: Speaking of breezes, one huge advantage of the double-door A-frame tent is ventilation. This is especially beneficial in summer months and in hot, humid environments. 
  • Protection and stability: The simple triangle tent shape design, guy lines, and pole system ensures a sturdy frame that can withstand the elements. From wind to rain – and even sand! – A-frame tents can handle it all, shedding water off its sharply pitched roof.
  • Height and headroom: Depending on their size, A-frame tents can offer more headroom than the typical tent, which makes a roomier feeling overall. But if it is small tent, then you'll need to temper your expectations.

Pup Tents, Scout Tents and F1 Tents

Throughout the course of history, A-frame tents have been referred to by various names. With slight differences in use and design. Here’s a quick run-down of the various A-frame tent styles of configurations.

Pup Tents

These tents were historically used for military purposes and sometimes carried other names, such as dog tents because they looked like small triangled dog houses (think Snoppy). Pup tents are perfect for backpacking scenarios when you have one to two people, or even kids or pet (hence the "pup"). The footprint is smaller, roughly 4 x 6 feet. Sometimes, they have side walls but lack a footprint or ground covering. 

While the F1 tent is specific to French and European soldiers, pup tents are a universal term for the A-frame tents soldiers would carry, splitting the shelter half-weight between their haul, and pitching and sharing together.

F1 Tents

F1 Tents, also called French Army tents, are essentially military shelter tents that have been around since the 1970s and were created to take on French-influenced regions of West Africa. Their A-frame shape sheds everything from rain to sand, making them perfect for military outposts and expeditions in the desert, jungle, and other environments.

Of course, as a military-style A-frame tent, F1 tents are typically designed in canvas colors to blend in with their surroundings and act as camouflage. Think classic military olive drab and neutral sand. You’ll easily find these A-frame F1 tents in an army surplus store, although they may not be the most up-to-date, modernly designed variations and lack certain weatherproofing and fire-retardant features.

Ridge Tents

Those in the U.K. will use the name "ridge tents" to describe what is essentially an A Frame tent.  Though a ridge tent may sometimes be larger, roughly 8x10 ft, and sleep five to eight people. Depending on the footprint size, they can reach anywhere from six to nine feet in height. Sometimes, there are also side walls that offer windows or openings, and a pole that runs along the "ridge" (ceiling) of the tent that connects with the 2 door poles. 

Due to their larger size, hunters tend to use ridge tents out in the wilderness. Spacious enough for incorporating wood stoves for warmth and meal preparation, ridge tents work nicely for hot tent camping during winter hunting seasons.

Scout Tents

Scout tents are essentially military tents used by the camp troops like the Girls Scouts and Boy Scouts of America. In fact, scout troops would often shop at an army surplus store to outfit their excursions and earn those badges. That’s because Robert Baden-Power, who wrote “Scouting for Boys” and was the founder of the Scout Movement, was a military man himself.

The LiT Scout About A-Frame Tent

green scout tent height and width measurements


Love the idea of an pup A-frame tent for your next camping trip or outdoor adventure? We have you covered!

Life inTents offers the Scout About™ A-frame style canvas tent, offering all the advantages, benefits and beauty of the classic design. Our A-frame Scout About tent resembles a scout-style A-frame tent with its timeless silhouette but is updated with modern features that make it that much easier to appreciate the outdoors and take on whatever nature throws at you.

How does the Scout About compare to standard A-frame tents? Here are some thoughtful, modern upgrades you can expect.

  • Extra stability. Like standard A-frame tents, the Scout About comes with two door poles and multiple guy lines to raise and secure the shape. However, today, we can offer more modern materials and additions such as collapsible door poles, rebar rope stakes, stainless steel groundsheet stakes, and reflective guy line ropes with aluminum sliders.
  • Spacious with extra headroom. A perfect canvas tent for sleeping up to four people, the Scout About A-frame tent offers a spacious interior. At 11-foot length and almost 9-foot width, it can fit three to four sleeping bags, more than the average pup or F1 tent. And with just over 6-foot clearance in the center, you have more headroom, resulting in a standing-room tent.
  • Two doors and screened windows. Like classic A-frame tents, the Scout About offers ventilation. Adding to that breathability is a door on each side and four screened windows that can be pulled closed or open to give more breeze while keeping out bugs.
  • Interior storage. Keep your tent tidy with two built-in storage pockets. A perfect way to organize camp essentials, from headlamps to playing cards.
  • Upgraded fabric. The 200gsm polycotton fabric (polyester and cotton blend) offers a modern touch that makes our A-frame tent water-resistant and quick-drying while still offering an overall lightweight material that makes transport easy.

Ultimately, the Scout About is a charming, classic-looking canvas tent that provides all the modern features while being beautiful too.

Need something a little more spacious? Be sure to check out our larger bell tents too.

Brette DeVore
Brette DeVore

As a former hospitality interior designer with an adventurous spirit and love for travel, I now help interior designers and tourism-related businesses in creating online content and media.

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