Best Canvas Tents (Buying Guide)
With new technologies and materials being added to camping equipment all the time, it’s easy to forget the classics. Nowadays, most campers use tents made using synthetic man-made materials such as nylon, because these materials are often cheaper, lighter, and have more technical features. Tents made from synthetic fabrics will often pack away more easily, dry quicker, and are easier to transport than more old fashioned canvas tents. However, there are numerous benefits to using old technology. For example, canvas tents are typically larger with more headroom, so you’re more likely to be able to stand up. These are just some of the benefits of canvas tents, it doesn’t stop there.
Most canvas tents made now use a mix of cotton and synthetics, which creates an incredibly strong and durable material. With this combination, campers can benefit from both, meaning maybe you can have your cake and eat it. There’s a lot of information out there pertaining to the use of canvas tents for camping in different situations, so we’ve put together this handy guide to help explain everything. We’ll discuss why you might want to consider buying a canvas tent, and what your best options are.
Every camper knows that having top-quality equipment is the right first step towards a successful camping trip. Alongside your sleeping bag and hiking boots, a tent is one of the most important pieces of kit. You need a reliable shelter to rest during the night, otherwise camping trips would be a lot less enjoyable. Read on to discover whether a canvas tent is right for you, and if so, which one you can invest in.
Why buy a canvas tent?
Canvas tents suffered a loss in popularity after the introduction of synthetic materials, due to their heavy, bulky, and expensive nature. Canvas tents are much harder to transport and complicated to maintain if you want to keep them in the proper condition. Here’s why you still might want to buy one:
They’re incredibly durable: Canvas tents are most often built from mixed cotton and synthetic fabric, making them very strong and long-lasting.
Canvas tents are breathable: Tents made from canvas are much more breathable than synthetic tents, it’s a noticeable difference. When sleeping in a tent, you exhale liters of moisture which condensate on walls, this is a big problem with tents made from synthetic materials. Vents can be added to increase airflow, but the best ventilation is a breathable tent fabric.
Better for the changing seasons: Most canvas tents are designed for all seasons, as they have features that make them better in both cold and warm climates. This is because they provide a better more natural insulation, so can keep cool in the summer and warmer in the winter.
They don’t flap in the wind: Synthetic tents can be noisy and annoying, with the slightest breath of wind able to cause deafening flaps. Canvas, as a heavier material, is much quieter and has sound insulating properties as well.
Nylon Tents Vs Canvas Tents
If at this point you’re thinking that the nylon tent you have already is perfectly fine. Why buy a costly alternative? Synthetic materials are by far the most popular amongst campers currently; nylon tents are cheap, lightweight, and highly functional. It’s a great tent choice for backpackers as combined with the right tent poles it can be a very small burden. Canvas tents aren’t for everyone, but they’re certainly an equally smart investment.
Canvas tent walls are immensely more breathable than nylon, making them much more comfortable when it’s hot, and more so in cold weather. The thick tent walls withstand extreme weather conditions, putting up with high winds and harsh storms. Known for being a great choice for all seasons, canvas tents are made from natural materials, much more ecologically friendly than synthetics.
So now you know why a canvas tent might be the best choice for your next camping trip, let’s dig a little deeper into the best available on the market.
Best Canvas Tents – Overview
1. Kodiak Canvas Flex-Bow Deluxe 8-Person Tent
- Made with Hydra-Shield, 100% cotton duck canvas that is durable, watertight and breathable
Kodiak is a trusted and well-established name in canvas tents; they know how to make them, and they do it well. The Kodiak Canvas Flex-Bow is a fantastic 8-person tent made from 100% duck cotton canvas, a durable, breathable, and watertight material. Kodiak uses Hydra-Shield technology to waterproof their tents, and this process makes the canvas into an excellent camping material. It’s tightly woven and finished with silicone, meaning there’s no chance of leakage. The waterproofing on this tent can stand up to some pretty harsh weather conditions, so you won’t have to worry in the rainy season.
This spacious 8-person tent has plenty of room to walk around inside, with an impressive 6’6” ceiling height. Usually, campers find themselves hunched over and hobbling around inside their tent, but with the Kodiak Canvas Flex-Bow, there’s practically room for a dancefloor. The tent has two large D-shaped doors located on the front and back, giving easy access from either side of the tent. Steel tube poles and spring steel rods make up the robust and durable Flew-Bow frame, which is capable of standing in even the fiercest winds, while the tent floor is made from a seamless, heavy-duty, puncture-resistant piece of 16oz vinyl.
This highly waterproof tent floor means you’ll never have to worry about flooding, so long as you choose the right campsite. There are four large windows for ventilation and light, made with no-see-um mesh so you’ll still have some privacy. Further airflow is encouraged with two funnel-flow vents, which also help with temperature control.
One problem with this tent is the color, there’s a reason white isn’t popular in the backcountry. Most campers have to stand on the canvas when setting up a tent of this size, so dirty footprints up the tent walls is a real possibility. Because the tent is so pale, it’s likely to get dirty fast, so if stains and marks bother you then you may need to consider a darker colored option. The Kodiak Canvas Flex-Bow Deluxe 8-Person tent is a very hardy backcountry accommodation, but you have to pay for it somehow.
With this tent, the concession is weight, with the whole package weighing in at a hefty 79 pounds. This limits the transportability of the tent, so you won’t be able to pack it out too far. If you can drive your car right up to the campsite, however, then there’s no problem. As an 8-person tent, it’s unlikely you’ll have to set up alone, so share the load with a few friends when you use this fantastic canvas tent.
- Great for all weather, from 0 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit
- Long-lasting, with a limited lifetime warranty
- Great waterproofing with Hydra-Shield technology
- High-quality cotton canvas
- Very heavy
- White color gets dirty easily
2. Teton Sports Sierra 16 Canvas Tent
- EASIER SET UP: Bell tent sets up easily with two pole assembly; Oversized door makes loading and unloading your gear quick and easy; Carbon steel stakes drive through the roughest camping terrain
Teton Sports offers an alternative bell tent design with its Sierra 16 canvas tent. The 16 refers to the diameter, meaning this roughly circular floor is 16 feet in diameter. This makes the interior a roomy 201 square feet, and with an extra-tall 9’5” ceiling, you’ll never be cramped in this 8-12-person tent. The bell shape of this tent structure is what makes it so spacious, there are no corners and no wasted space. Bell tents are also easy to set up, the assembly of the Teton Sports Sierra 16 only requires two poles; one central support and one door pole.
The oversized door of the tent makes packing your gear in and out easy, and you won’t have to duck every time either. Only the highest quality materials are used in constructing this tent, with strong treated cotton canvas tent walls and a synthetic waterproof floor. The cotton canvas fibers repel water while providing comfort and breathability to campers, protecting you from the elements without putting a limit on airflow. If you just need a canopy, the heavy-duty leak-proof welded floor can be zipped away to create a perfect shelter to put up in the garden.
This stylish design is bound to attract attention at the campsite, so get ready to show off to your new camping buddies. Because of its durability and weather-resistance, we recommend this tent as a great year-round backcountry accommodation, it’s suitable for almost all conditions. As is standard with canvas tents, this one isn’t lightweight by any means; it’s 84 pounds of heavy-duty camping gear. However, if you can manage to lug it to the campsite, the setup is easy and you’ll have a comfortable backcountry home in no time.
- Easy setup
- Bell tent design is good for parties as well as camping
- Very heavy at 84 pounds
- Single-room design means very little privacy
3. Whiteduck Premium 100% Cotton Canvas Bell Tent
- BREATHABLE FABRIC: 100% cotton 8.5 oz. Army Duck Canvas in beige color, Waterproof, Mildew & UV Resistant, also available with Fire Retardant Finish.
This 100% cotton canvas tent from Whiteduck is serious backcountry accommodation, made from very durable materials. The Army Duck Canvas is water repellent, UV and mildew resistant, and even available with a fire retardant finish. One common problem with canvas tents is mildew when they’re packed away even slightly damp, so the mildew resistant properties of this tent mean less worrying about bad smells. UV resistance helps stop degradation from the sun, so this tent is sure to be long-lasting and reliable.
The tent floor consists of a sewn-in heavy-duty PE groundsheet, which is waterproof and easy to wipe clean. A 5” wide stove jack opening means you can heat the tent to be warm and toasty in winter months, while several no-see-um mesh windows and four air vents allow for a cool breeze to circulate in the summer. This all-season tent is equipped with top-quality zippers for maximum functionality and peace of mind, as zippers are often the weakest point in heavy-duty tents.
The stove jack is made from fire retardant material, so you can safely cook or stay warm inside the tent, and there’s a handy cable outlet for ease of use. This glamping tent is a luxurious way to stay in the backcountry, with 2’7” tent walls which are much taller than average for a bell tent. Seams are all double stitched for extra durability, and all no-see-um mesh panels are double layered to make sure no creepy crawlies find their way inside! This is the best canvas tent with a stove jack, so if you want to cook inside your backcountry accommodation, consider this premium Whiteduck tent.
- Mildew resistant canvas
- Stove jack for keeping warm and cooking
- Single room design
- Attached groundsheet means less flexibility
4. Springbar Highline 8 Canvas Tent
- Made with 100% COTTON DUCK CANVAS finished to be WATERTIGHT and MOLD RESISTANT; Heavy-duty vinyl WATERPROOF FLOOR; Durable steel poles, steel stake loops, and steel stakes make the tent RELIABLE IN...
This 8-person tent is another made using only the highest quality duck cotton canvas, with a watertight finish. Coupled with a heavy-duty vinyl floor, the waterproofing on this tent will stand up to even the wettest weather. The Springbar Highline is easy to set up and has plenty of space inside because of the 6.5-foot high ceiling. This huge cabin tent is great for family camping because it’s so spacious, but be aware that there won’t be much privacy in this single room design.
Large no-see-um mesh windows make this cotton canvas tent feel open and airy, with great ventilation so it won’t get stuffy in the summer. All of Springbar’s tents are protected with a lifetime warranty, so you don’t have to worry about quality with this all-season luxury accommodation. The tent comes with 12-inch steel nail stakes, meaning it will stand firm in even the strongest winds, and galvanized steel poles make up the tent frame.
One other handy feature of the Spingbar Highline is it’s mold-resistant cotton treatment, which just adds to the durability. Some customers have questioned the waterproofing in this tent, and it’s possible the seams may need to be sealed. Although waterproofing your own tent shouldn’t be a problem, as such an expensive tent we’d expect perfection. Other than that, this sturdy tent offers a warm, dry, and roomy place to sleep in the backcountry.
- 6.5-foot ceiling means you can stand comfortably
- Mold resistant cotton canvas
- Seams might leak in isolated cases
5. Kodiak Canvas 1-Person Swag Tent
- Roomy 6'8" long, and almost 3 feet wide
Kodiak is making a second appearance on our list with the best canvas tent for one person. This economical 6’8” long tent has plenty of space to sleep comfortably, but of course, there’s no standing room. The tent measures at just over 3 feet wide, so there’s plenty of space for you and your backpack. Kodiak even includes a comfortable 2-inch foam mattress so you’ll definitely sleep soundly.
For this 1-person tent, the same Hydra-Shield 100% duck cotton canvas is used, so the material is highly waterproof, and when it’s time to pack up the whole tent quickly and easily rolls up into a neat bundle. However, at 20 pounds this is no backpacking tent, as any hiker would struggle to carry it along with their pack. All canvas tents are seriously heavy, but as a 1-person tent, the load may be too much.
We recommend this canvas tent to any solo car camper, it’s the ideal accommodation to store in the trunk of your car. The weight means it’s no good for hiking, but it’s still a highly durable and weatherproof tent. Zip-open windows at either end of the tent help with airflow and temperature management, a great tent feature as this small style can easily become stuffy.
- Economical size
- Hydra-Shield waterproofing
- Too heavy for hiking
- Bulky size for one person
After much deliberation about waterproofing, durability, and quality, we have to declare the Kodiak Canvas Flex-Bow Deluxe 8-Person Tent the best canvas tent. Although it lacks the stove jacks of the teepee style bell tents, other than this emission, Kodiak is our winner. The extremely high-quality canvas used for this deluxe tent is reliably weatherproof, as Kodiak’s Hydro-Shield technology will never let the elements inside.
The ceiling height is 6’6”, meaning there’s plenty of standing room inside this 8 person canvas tent. No-see-um mesh windows and funnel-flow air vents mean it’s easy to control the temperature inside and get a breeze flowing through when the air gets stale. The 100% cotton duck canvas remains very breathable through its watertight silicone finish. The tent material is what really sets this one apart from the rest, with such great quality canvas fabric it’s hard to go wrong.
At just under $600 on Amazon, this canvas tent is incredibly high value. Canvas camping tents are always more of an investment, but the Kodiak Canvas Flex-Bow is well worth it. This high-quality tent will last you through many camping trips, no matter what adverse weather conditions you may encounter. That’s why we must conclude, and recommend this tent as the best canvas tent.
Bonus tip: See the setup of our winner in this video!