The Difference Between a Pole Tent and a Frame Tent

When it comes to choosing the perfect tent for your event, understanding the differences between the various tent styles is crucial. Two of the most popular styles are pole tents and frame tents. Each has its unique features, benefits, and disadvantages, and choosing the best one for your event depends on what you’re planning and how you’re planning it.

The Basics of Pole Tents

The center pole is the classic characteristic of a pole tent
The center pole is the classic characteristic of a pole tent

Pole tents, as the name suggests, are supported by poles.

They are among the most traditional tents and are used for various events, including weddings, fairs, and festivals. But how exactly are they? Let’s take a look.

Structure & Design

Like we said above, a pole tent is supported by poles: the center poles and the perimeter poles.

The center poles create a dramatic high peak, which not only looks great but is also practical in terms of water runoff in rainy weather. However, these center poles can also be an obstruction, especially if you have plans for a specific interior layout, as they occupy a large part of the center of the tent.

High peak pole tents are a variation of the traditional pole tent, known for their elegant peaks and swooping lines. They are normally used for more formal events, such as weddings or fancy outdoor gatherings, due to their visually striking appearance.

The perimeter poles are placed around the tent and make sure the tent is firmly set up and won’t fall. They are not as elegant as center poles, but on the flipside don’t occupy a space in the center.

Installation & Anchoring

Pole tents need to be anchored to stay stable, typically via stakes buried into the ground. This makes them a better choice for outdoor events where staking into the ground is allowed. You won’t be able to do this in cement, for example.

Frame Tents

Frame tents never have a center pole, leaving more free space in the center
These never have a center pole, leaving more free space in the center

Frame tents are normally considered a good alternative to pole tents, but the most well-known difference is that they consist of a metal frame and do not need center poles for support.

Structure & Flexibility

The fact that these don’t need a center pole is a great advantage for many event planners: they offer free interior space, making it easier to plan layouts, place furniture, and have movement inside the tent.

Frame tents can also be adapted to more different environments, including the ones where staking is not possible (again, if you’re planning an event on cement, you’ll be better off with a frame tent since you won’t be able to stake a pole tent).

High peak frame tents are a specialized version of frame tents. They combine the structural advantages of a frame tent with the aesthetic appeal of a high peak design, and are often used in professional and corporate events for their modern appearance.

Versatility & Setup

Frame tents are very versatile: they can be set up on various surfaces – from grass and concrete to decks -, as you don’t need to stick stakes into the ground to stabilize them.

However, they can be more difficult and time-consuming to set up compared to pole tents.

Comparing Pole Tents and Frame Tents

Whether a frame tent or a pole tent is better for you depends entirely on what you want to organize
Whether a frame tent or a pole tent is better for you depends entirely on what you want to organize

When choosing between these two types of tents for your event, you should think about:

Space and Layout: If you need a clear, unobstructed space, then you should choose a frame tent. If you’re planning an event where you could use the elegance of a high peak and don’t mind some obstruction, then we’d say that high peak pole tents are a great choice

Location and Ground Type: A pole tent will be better for soft ground assuming you can use stakes, whereas a frame tent offers more flexibility in terms of location and surface

Aesthetic Preferences: For a more traditional or rustic look, you should choose a pole tent. If however you want a more modern look, a good frame tent, especially a high peak frame tent, will be better

Budget and Size: Generally, pole tents can be cheaper, especially for larger events, as they require less labor and time to set up. Frame tents might be more expensive but are more versatile in size and shape


The choice between a pole tent and a frame tent ultimately depends on how you want to plan your event. Both types of tents have unique qualities that serve different preferences and needs, so we cannot decide this for you.

However, by understanding these differences, you can make an informed decision that will help make sure that your event is memorable. So read and re-read this article with your event plans in your head and you’ll prepare something epic!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Center Pole Tents Be Used for Formal Events?

Absolutely. Center pole tents, especially high peak pole tents, are often used for formal events like weddings and galas.

What Are The Best Party Tent Styles for a Backyard Event?

For backyard events, either a frame tent or a pole tent can be great a party tent. Frame tents are more versatile and are better if you have limited space or a hard surface. For a more classic look, a pole tent is probably preferable, assuming you have enough space for the staking.

How Much Space Is Needed For a High Peak Frame Tent Compared to a High Peak Pole Tent?

High peak frame tents normally occupy less space than high peak pole tents because they don’t have ropes or stakes extending beyond the tent’s perimeter. Naturally, an exact answer will depend on the size of each tent.

Can a Canopy Tent Use the Same Type of Tent Poles as a Pole Tent?

While a canopy tent and a traditional pole tent might be similar since they both use tent poles, there are some differences. For canopy tents, you’ll usually need lighter, often telescopic, poles designed for easy setup and portability, while for poles tents you’ll need poles that are more robust and designed to support larger structures.

How Should Weather Conditions Affect My Choice Between a Frame Tent and a Pole Tent?

Both tent types can withstand different weather conditions. That being said, pole tents are better for softer grounds that can securely hold stakes, while frame tents are better for hard surfaces if staking is not an option.

Can I Connect Multiple Tents Together for a Larger Event Space?

Yes: both frame tents and pole tents can be connected to create a larger event space. Frame tents tend to be more flexible than pole tents if you want to create a more complex layout and connect multiple units.