How to Choose the Best Canvas Tent for Your Needs
Long before the existence of polyester and nylon, tents were mainly made of canvas. Canvas is a woven fabric that uses cotton. However, there are now more modern ones that also use synthetic material like polyester.
It's also used in sails, tarps, backpacks, and heavy clothing. Though campers nowadays use more modern tents, you can still find some that use canvas.
There aren't that many options, so choosing the best canvas tent is not as complicated as you think.
Before we go into the best options, here are some valuable information about canvas tents:
The Benefits of Canvas Tents
Canvas tents usually have a cabin style design, which is typically much larger and have more standing room. They are also much better at keeping warm during the winter. The best canvas tents can block out the cold temperatures and strong winds.
Also, they are still very functional in the summer. Unlike nylon, canvas doesn't transfer heat fast, so the inside of the tent can still stay cool in summer. So, canvas tents are a great 4 season tent.
Another significant advantage of canvas tents is that they are very durable. The fabric is much stronger and more resistant to tears. But if they do get some holes, it's not as difficult to patch up as nylon.
Of course, there are reasons why synthetic material tents are standard nowadays. Canvas tents are massive, thus not ideal for backpackers, hikers, solo campers, and anyone trying to save on weight. They are also harder to keep, to transport, and to set up.
Thus, they are suitable to those who are going on long expeditions or multiple days of camping. It would not be practical to bring a canvas tent for an overnight trip, don't you think?
Another disadvantage of canvas tents is that they are more expensive than nylon or synthetic material tents. But if you're a serious camper, then take it as an investment. Canvas tents will stay with you for a long time, especially with proper care.
How many people do you want the tent to accommodate? Canvas tents are larger than the more modern camping tents, but they still come in different sizes.
There are three kinds of canvas. The first one is lightweight, which is about 130 to 180 grams per square meter and are suitable for lightweight camping.
The second one is middleweight which weighs about 180 to 240 grams per square meter. These are ideal for campers staying in one place for multiple days.
The last one is heavyweight which weighs about 240 to 450 grams per square meter, and they're usually used by the army or other large groups.
Many tent canvases have treatments to improve their quality and durability. Treatments include waterproofing, anti-mildew treatments, and fire retardants.
Typically, the more treatment it gets, the more expensive it will also be. These treatments are all important and will help the canvas last longer. Keep in mind that whatever treatment it has, you should always dry the canvas first before storing it.
When buying a canvas tent, the frame is another important thing you want to look into carefully. Canvas tents require durable frames that don’t bend easily, like steel.
Canvas tents are usually harder to setup and takedown compared to nylon tents. However, that doesn’t mean that you should disregard this factor anymore. Are the instructions easy to follow? Are the poles and fabric easy to work with?
The tent should come with a guide that's easy to understand and follow so setting up and taking down will be easier.
You might want to consider mesh windows on your canvas tent for added ventilation. Make sure it also closes for colder or rainy days.
As described earlier, canvas tents are usually larger and much heavier. Thus, they are not just for anyone. It’s certainly not for those looking to save on space and weight. Here are some people who benefit from canvas tents:
If you want a base camp that can withstand any weather condition, then a canvas tent is one of your best bet. They're also large so and can accommodate a group or hunters or anglers.
Glampers, or glamorous campers, can benefit from a spacious canvas tent. You can have a queen size bed and other comforts in the woods. Although, glamorous campers would probably hate the setup, so instead, they'll go to places that have these things already.
If you are camping for multiple days with your family, then you can get a more comfortable experience with a canvas tent.
Many festivals make money from renting out or selling canvas tents to festival goers. It's perfect for large groups who want shelter or hang out place.
Those who go on expeditions can benefit from a sturdy and durable canvas tent, primarily to use as a home base.
The best canvas tents in the market
Kodiak Canvas Tents is one of the few great options you have for canvas tents. The Flex-Bow series is one you should look out for. This canvas tent is made of cotton duck canvas that Hydra-Shield treatment for waterproofing.
Despite the treatments, it is still very breathable, and it minimizes condensation. It also does not draw off water to the inside of the tent.
The Flex-bow series of tents differ from other Kodiak Canvas tents in the frame system. It uses 3/8 steel rods, 1-inch galvanized steel tubing, and stakes, all of which are exceptionally sturdy.
They are also quick and easy to set up. There are different sizes which differ in floor size and height.
The 8 person is the smallest one is 8.5 by 6 feet, while the largest one is 10 by 14 feet. All sizes have two doors that are D-shaped, 6 windows, and an awning.
Best for: Extended family camping, scouting, anglers, and hunters.
- This tent is very durable and is suitable for fair weather camping and some rain.
- It also has a high ceiling for comfortable standing and airflow.
- The zippers are very sturdy.
- Excellent ventilation.
- You can use it on different occasions - hunting, camping, glamping, etc.
- You should practice setting it up before you use it.
- It’s heavy, with the smallest one weighing at about 68 pounds in all.
- It may not be the best for rainy or windy conditions.
The Elk Mountain Canvas Wall Tent is another great canvas tent option. It is a large tent, precisely 13 by 20 feet in the perimeter, with side walls that are 5 feet tall. The peak of the ceiling gives you a few feet more of standing room.
This tent utilizes a water resistant and mold resistant canvas. It has 6 windows, zippered doors, pole straps, sod cloths, and a stove jack. It also has two layers of canvas on all corners and ridges for extra protection.
The canvas tent comes with a bag and angle kit bag, and ten 18-inch steel stakes. The downside is you have to get the poles separately.
The Elk Mountain Canvas Wall Tent is popular among hunters, but you can also use it for other things.
The space is not bad for outdoor activities with a small group of people. You can also use it as a base for outdoor events like festivals, emergencies, and more.
Best for Basecamp for hunting, festivals, outdoor events, and as a pop-up emergency clinic/room.
- It utilizes durable materials.
- Ventilation in the tent is great.
- 5-foot side walls and high ceiling makes it a very spacious tent.
- You can use it for multiple purposes: outdoor events, camping, as a base for hunting or fishing, and more.
- Makes a great base camp for hunters.
- It has a stove hole.
- Takes a while to set up. Make sure you have the guide to help you out.
- The poles have to be bought separately. There’s also no flooring, so you have to get that separately too.
The Dreamhouse is particularly ideal for glamping or safaris. It has a cone shape with a floor diameter of either 4 meters or 5 meters. The 4-meter tent has a door height of 59 inches, and a peak height of 15.7 inches.
This size can fit up to one queen bed and two twin beds. The 5-meter diameter tent has a door height of 63 inches and a peak height of 118 inches, which can fit one king bed and two twin beds.
The material of the tent is a cotton canvas fabric. It has a coating of 3000mm polyurethane with taped seams for waterproofing. The groundsheet is a 10.2 foot PVC material.
It comes with a 38mm diameter and 2mm thick galvanized steel center poles. The door poles have a diameter of 19mm and a thickness of 1mm of the same material.
Best for: Glamping
- Very spacious, with a full door opening.
- Steel poles are strong and sturdy. The guylines and stakes are also pretty good.
- Great in all seasons. In summer, you can roll the side walls up for ventilation.
- It also has a stove hole for a camping stove.
- The ground sheet stays dry and is easy to clean.
- It has a windproof grade of 6 degrees, which means it can withstand winds up to 30 miles per hour. Winds heavier than 6 degrees should be avoided at all times.
- It shrinks when wet.
- Though it has waterproof treatment, it doesn’t do very well in wet conditions. It can protect you well, but drying it and keeping it will take some time.
Most canvas tents are designed for more than two people which aren’t practical for lone campers. Fortunately, Kodiak Canvas has a 1-person canvas tent. It offers the benefits of canvas without being too large or bulky.
The one person Canvas Swag Tent is a 6-foot, 8-inch long tent that's about 3 feet wide. It comes with a comfortable 2-inch mattress pad and a flannel cover, so you don’t have to pack separate ones.
The duck canvas is treated with Hydra-Shield for water resistance, and the poles are a robust and durable aluminum alloy.
This one person tent is meant for just sleeping and lounging. It doesn't have any standing room, but you can open the tent up if you want to sit up.
You can also unzip the top cover and leave the mesh screen if the weather allows it. The floor material of this tent is a 16-ounce vinyl. If you want, you can use the tent with a cot.
Best for: Solo campers and car campers who want a small tent.
- Breathable, waterproof materials.
- You get the benefits of a canvas tent without too much bulk.
- It’s easy to set up and keep.
- The built in foam and flannel are convenient.
- Not suitable for heavy snow. Otherwise, it’s great.
- Still not very great for backpacking because it is still quite heavy, especially compared to nylon or polyester tents.
Trek Tents is a pretty good brand for tents. The 245C Canvas Tent is one of their oldest and most famous designs.
It's a cabin style tent that is 9 feet by 12 feet in size, which sleeps around eight people. The peak height is about 7 feet tall, which is pretty spacious and comfortable for standing.
The walls and roof are entirely made of cotton materials with some vinyl coating for better durability.
You can use it in rain, snow, and windy conditions, as long as it's not too heavy. The frame is made of powder-coated steel, so they are more durable as well.
Best for: Hunters, anglers, and family camping.
- It’s very spacious.
- Materials are pretty durable.
- It’s fairly easy to set up thanks to the chain-linked poles.
- It has interior pockets.
- Wide doors and large windows allow great air circulation.
- Not as great in the rain as the other options. It’s also not very well supported for strong winds.
- It packs large and heavy.
There aren’t many options of canvas tents because of the more modern kinds of tents nowadays. The choices above are the few great ones in the market. The best one is different for each user and depends on how you plan on using it.
For instance, the best one for glamping, I think would be the Dream House. For extended camping trips or hunting trips, I think the Kodiak Canvas Flex Bow wins overall.