Canvas tents are fantastic insulators, keeping your camping tent warm during cold winter camping and cool during the hot summer months. They are incredibly durable, and when treated right can outlast synthetic tents by decades. They are also waterproof but breathable.
But their heavy nature makes them difficult to use for backpackers. Instead, the fantastic liveability that they offer can be utilized by families looking for some luxury camping or hunting groups who want a comfortable base for their trip.
We reviewed five models to find the best canvas tent for your needs, so read on to find out which tent is right for you!
Capacity: 8 | Weight: 83lbs | Height: 9’10” | Dimensions: 20′ x 20′ | Bag Dimensions: 45” x 12” x 12” | Doors: 1 | Price: $$$ | Season: 4
If you want to turn some heads when you turn up to your next campsite, look no further than this model from DANCHEL.
The biggest selling point for this canvas bell tent is the two stove jacks that come with it, allowing you to safely use a stove inside. Wood-burning stoves can revolutionize winter camping trips, making them cozy and comfortable rather than a battle against the elements.
Having a usable stove inside your tent is also a blessing for drying damp, cold clothes if it rains.
There is a stove jack on the roof as well as on the sidewall which means you have a choice where you want to place your stove.
Another great feature of this tent is the bottom of the tent unzips from the roof and walls to open the space up and give a sheltered but airy covering.
A downside of bell tents is that they are often single-room structures which means you’re not likely to get much privacy in the tent if you’re camping with a group.
This is a great luxury tent that can feel like a home away from home and is great for getting out all year round.
Capacity: 6 | Weight: 153lbs | Height: 7’8″ | Dimensions: 8′ x 10′ | Bag Dimensions: 45” x 15” x 10” (Poles – 45” x 10” x 8”) | Doors: 1 | Price: $$$ | Season: 4
Wall tents, also known as safari tents, have four straight walls with plenty of headroom and are typically made from a heavy-duty canvas material like cotton. They are used by hunters because of their liveability, accommodating several people and their equipment.
This style of tents has also become popular for family glamping trips in recent years as well. The stove jack that often comes with these tents is great for keeping campers warm in the cold winter, meaning this tent is a great all-year option.
The durable cotton canvas that comes with this tent is enhanced by the storm windows at the back of the tent which let light in but also protect you from the elements whilst inside. Seems are double stitched and corners are reinforced to ensure this tent keeps you sheltered from the weather.
Just looking at this tent should prepare you for a difficult setup. The fact it comes in two separate bags will also potentially freak out any newbies looking at this tent. But the manufacturer has color-coded the parts to make assembly easier.
To set this six-person canvas tent up properly, you will need three adults of average height which hopefully won’t be an issue for a group of hunters or older family campers.
It isn’t the most versatile tent and isn’t intended for spontaneous trips but as a base camp for longer camping holidays, this model is a great option.
The high ceiling in wall tents means that they can be used for hobbies, fairs, yard sales, or a range of other events other than camping trips. This can be a good way to gain even more from this luxurious tent.
All of this space, comfort, and durability doesn’t come cheap. But with the White Duck Wall Tent, the old adage that you get what you pay for rings pleasantly true. It’s certainly an investment, but one that we can see is well worth it for the right camper.
Capacity: 6 | Weight: 79lbs | Height: 6’6” | Dimensions: 10′ x 14′ | Bag Dimensions: 30” x 16” (Pole Bundle: 48” x 5.5”) | Doors: 2 | Price: $$ | Season: 4
This roomy 6-person canvas tent from Kodiak comes with lots of headroom and plenty of storage solutions to maximize your space inside.
Lots of little touches have been added to this tent to make it stand out. The gear loft can either be attached to the four corners of the roof in attic mode or can be used as a sling, attached to only two tie-rings. This saves space for headroom.
There are plenty of tie-rings in the tent that can be used to hang the storage organizer, meaning you can place it wherever is most convenient for you. Both of these features help create flexible storage solutions in your tent.
Like all Kodiak models, this tent comes with their Hydra-ShieldTM, 100% cotton duck canvas which is durable, watertight, and breathable. It also comes with heavy-duty, reliable YKK zippers.
This canvas tent comes with two large D-shaped doors at the front and back and four large windows with no-see-um nets to keep the bugs out.
Canvas tents are often harder to pitch than synthetic models, but Kodiak claims this tent can be set up by one person. Experienced campers can get this model up alone, but newbies might struggle without a bit of practice. Two people would easily be able to set the tent up.
The tent can hold up to some fairly extreme weather conditions, including strong winds and even heavy snow. You can use this tent all year round but it’s not designed for extreme winter mountaineering.
Some users reported minor concerns that water pools on top of the awning as it is slightly lower than the rest of the tent. So that might be something to be conscious of in wet conditions.
Overall, this is a great tent for family camping that will last a lifetime.
Capacity: 1 | Weight: 20.1lbs | Height: 2’3″ | Dimensions: 6’8” x 3’ | Bag Dimensions: 35” x 12” | Doors: 1 | Price: $$ | Season: 3
Designed for the Australian outback, this highly versatile canvas tent from Kodiak is a fantastic option for solo camping. It can be used directly on the ground, or propped up in the back of a pickup truck, or placed on a cot.
Pitching the tent on a cot gives you a covered area to store your gear under as well, which provides a solution to the lack of a vestibule in the tent. The cot raises you off the ground, giving you a more comfortable night’s sleep.
The Swag comes with the same high standards you can expect from other Kodiak canvas tents. These tents also come with aluminum poles which is an added bonus to the durability and stability the tent gives you.
Aluminum poles are usually reserved for lightweight tents and top-end family models due to their high-cost. But if you are investing in a canvas tent to last, the fact this model comes with stronger poles is an added feature to like about this tent.
Although the Swag is strong and durable, it is only a three-season tent and should not be taken out winter camping like some of the other models.
Whilst this tent might be big enough for one person to sleep in, there would be nowhere to store any gear or equipment. This might not be an issue if you’re camping with your car and you can store your stuff in there, but be aware if you don’t have a car handy there might not be anywhere to keep your gear safe and dry if it does rain.
This tent is designed like a bedroll so set up and break down are easy – you can even leave the poles attached to the fabric to make things even easier. It even comes with an inflatable bed mat.
The only potentially tricky bit is the middle pole which needs to be set up from inside the tent – rather than outside like the two end poles.
Breaking down the tent is super simple, just break apart the poles and then everything can roll up together. To making storing the tent even easier, there are straps that come with the tent to help make the roll tighter and smaller to fit in the carry bag.
One-person canvas tents are pretty rare so this Swag from Kodiak is a real find.
Capacity: 2 | Weight: 46lbs | Height: 5′ | Dimensions: 5’6” x 5’6” (approx.) | Bag Dimensions: 47” x 10.5” x 10.5” | Doors: 1 | Price: $$ | Season: 4
Some modern tents are designed to be pitched in the back of your truck, meaning wherever you can get your truck you can camp. You don’t need to worry about finding level ground or staking pegs into rocky terrain.
The large D-shaped door at the entrance of the tent is covered by an awning which can keep you dry getting in and out of the tent. Climbing in and out of the back of the truck to access your tent means it probably is not a good solution for campers with mobility issues.
Once you open the door and climb inside, the space inside the tent is remarkable with plenty of headroom under the tunnel-shaped cotton duck canvas with a five-foot ceiling. The tent comes with inner storage pockets which are always handy.
As a canvas tent, we would expect to find quality, durable materials capable of being used throughout the year, and that’s true for his truck tent model.
But as the footprint of this tent is the back of the truck, it removes a common issue of rips and tears in the tent due to the bottom of the tent being damaged by stones. This is particularly good for hunters and other campers with lots of heavy gear.
This canvas tent also comes with an access port for the window in the back of the truck cab so you can run a power cord through to the vehicle to charge any phones or electronic devices. Features like this are important as they allow you to get the full benefit of camping on a truck.
This tent is only compatible with certain models of trucks. The trade-off of versatility for improved functionality means that this tent is limited to people who already own Ford F Series, Chevy Silverado, GMC Sierra, Dodge Ram, Toyota Tundra (2016 or earlier), and Nissan Titan. If you do not own a compatible truck, we do not recommend purchasing this tent.
Some users report that the tent is difficult to set up, with confusing instructions meaning the process takes even longer. In general, it appears that this truck tent makes parts of pitching a tent easier, by removing the need for flat, even ground but can also be confusing for newcomers to truck bed camping.
This tent is ideal for solo campers looking for a heavy-duty cotton canvas camping tent, but it won’t suit everyone’s needs.
What is the best fabric for tents?
Most modern tents are made from man-made synthetics like nylon (for lightweight backpacking tents) and polyester (for larger, family-style tents). Generally, the advantages of these fabrics are that they are cheap, lightweight, quick to dry, and require less maintenance than canvas material.
Man-made fabrics will often come with coatings to improve their water and UV resistance and the quality of this process can vary dramatically from manufacturer to manufacturer.
Synthetic materials are not as durable as canvas so will need to be replaced more often. With the heavy cost to the environment from producing non-biodegradable nylon and polyester that relies on the petrochemical industry, the sustainability of canvas is an advantage for the material.
Canvas is the traditional camping tent fabric and in days gone by it was also made from hemp. Modern varieties are more often made from cotton (thanks to hemp getting caught up in drug laws in the USA).
Cotton canvas is an extremely good insulator, keeping you cool on hot days and warm during cold nights. It is breathable and can absorb water meaning there is less likely to be any issues with condensation. They are also more durable and likely to last for a long time.
Hemp also achieves these benefits of cotton and is the most environmentally sustainable option. Hemp needs far less water and land than cotton to grow.
Unfortunately, with restrictive drug laws in the USA preventing hemp farming, it is unlikely we will see a range of viable hemp canvas tents emerging on the market in the near future.
Blends of man-made materials and canvas are available, like polycotton fabric tents. These hybrids are more resistant to mildew and tears than traditional canvas. They carry all the benefits and problems with canvas tents as well.
So whilst canvas tents might be better for some camping trips, like family holidays, they are not ideal for all situations. For example, backpackers absolutely should not take canvas tents with them due to the added weight.
What are the problems with canvas?
Canvas tents for camping can be heavy and bulky, making them difficult to transport and not suitable for backpacking trips.
hey are also a lot more expensive than man-made fabrics, although their durability means canvas tents will last longer. So the case can be made that over a lifetime the costs might balance out, but the initial cost of buying a canvas tent will be higher than a synthetic.
Finally, canvas also requires a lot of maintenance which can be daunting to new campers. When new, canvas may leak in the rain as the cotton has not yet expanded to provide adequate waterproofing. After it gets wet for the first time, this won’t be an issue.
So when setting up your canvas for the first time, leave it to get wet in the rain or use a hose to wet the canvas.
Canvas tents can’t be put away when damp however as this can lead to issues with mold and mildew. They must be dried out properly before being packed up, unlike synthetic tents.
Are canvas tents waterproof?
Yes, usually after they have been initially treated. Canvas tents out of the bag might not be fully waterproof as the cotton hasn’t fully expanded yet, but after the first time the tent gets wet and the fabric expands, it will be waterproof.
Do canvas tents stay cooler in the heat?
Yes, cotton canvas tents are better insulated and so will stay cooler in hot weather and keep you warm in the cold weather as well.
If you get the opportunity to test the difference between a cotton and polyester tent in the sun, you will see the difference in temperature between them.
Can you use a stove inside canvas tents?
Yes, as long as the canvas tent has a stove jack. The fact that you can safely use a stove inside canvas tents is a great advantage in their favor. But you need to take precautions.
- Make sure to place a flame retardant mat underneath the stove to protect the ground and catch any hot embers that escape.
- Keep a fire extinguisher to hand
- Combustibles must be kept away from the stove as it can get quite hot – for example, never put matches on top of the stove.
- Don’t leave the stove on overnight
Overall this is a great feature – the top of the stove gets warm enough for you to put a kettle or pan on top to boil water or fry some sausages.
How We Decided
One of the key advantages that cotton canvas tents bring is that they are durable enough to last much longer than other fabrics. So this was an important consideration when choosing the best canvas tents
All Kodiak canvas tents come with their Hydra-Shield treatment which is good because it means unlike standard canvas tents, they won’t have to be re-treated as often.
Strong, durable YKK zippers are another great feature of the Kodiak tents. These quality zippers are less likely to allow water to seep into the tent and less likely to catch and tear the tent.
The Flex-Bow and Truck Bed tents from Kodiak are capable of being used all-year in some harsh weather conditions, they are not designed for extreme winter mountaineering. The 1-Person Swag is a three-season camping tent and is less capable of being used in harsh winter conditions.
Both the White Duck Wall Tent and the DANCHEL Bell Tent come with stove jacks that allow campers to safely keep a stove inside their tent. This makes these tents even better for dealing with cold, hard winter conditions.
Both canvas wall tents and canvas bell tents should be capable of handling strong winds if they are secured properly but the conical shape of a bell tent allows the wind to pass over the surface easier than with wall tents where it is more likely to catch against the vertical side.
Therefore, although all these tents do remarkably well, our winner for the best canvas tent for durability is the DANCHEL Canvas Bell Tent. Being able to have a stove inside this model with its strong steel poles and more aerodynamic shape just edges it above the other models for this criteria.
Often canvas tents can be trickier to set up than other fabrics. This can be discouraging to new campers. Unfortunately, there’s no getting around the reality that these tents are harder to pitch than some of the synthetic options available.
Wall tents and bell tents are often not designed to be pitched by one person and it’s unlikely one adult would take these canvas tents out alone. If you’re looking for a tent to pitch by yourself, we’ve reviewed the easiest tents to setup alone.
The White Duck Wall Tent takes three adults to pitch and is the hardest canvas tent we reviewed to set up. The DANCHEL Bell Tent is also a lot of effort but comes with a more intuitive design than the wall tent, making it easier than the wall tent.
The easiest tent to set up and take down was the Kodiak Swag, which unlike other canvas tents must be able to be pitched by one person. The only potentially tricky part of setup is the middle pole which has to be put up from inside the tent, which can be a little cramped but is certainly manageable for most campers.
The Kodiak Truck Bed Tent is a slightly different design to other tents, using the truck as the base for the tent to be raised on. Users have complained that it can be difficult to get the tent secure, despite being designed to be compatible with their truck.
The Kodiak Flex-Bow is harder to pitch than non-canvas comparable tents but it is easier than the other models reviewed here, other than the Swag. One adult can set this tent up without much difficulty which is a great advantage of the Flex-Bow
Overall, the easiest canvas tent to set up and break down was the Kodiak Swag but the Flex-Bow was the most impressive, being manageable by one adult which is rare for family-sized canvas tents.
Canvas tents will inevitably cost more than their synthetic counterparts. But a good canvas tent should be able to recuperate this loss through a longer lifetime of use, so this point is linked to the durability of the tent as well.
By far the most expensive option, the White Duck Wall Tent comes with a heavy price tag. But there is no need to worry about replacing it as long as you store it properly after use by making sure it is dry so that mold and mildew do not form. With the White Duck Wall Tent, the old adage that you get what you pay for rings pleasantly true.
Both the Kodiak Flex-Bow and Truck Bed tents are substantially less expensive than the White Duck but don’t offer the same value for money in our view. The Truck Bed is a very limited tent, being confined to being used with certain trucks.
The Flex-Bow is a fantastic camping tent to last you a lifetime. We still think this model is worth the initial cost but we are aware it might push this tent beyond a lot of campers price range. It’s a great tent to last a lifetime.
The Swag 1-Person tent is a small, but heavy, tent. It will be no use to serious backpackers looking for lightweight tents that won’t slow them down when hiking. It is cheaper than other high-end solo camper tents but is more expensive than we would view as a good price given how limited it is.
It will last longer than synthetic tents in its price range but for what the tent offers, we don’t see it as a particularly good value for money investment. But it would be a more affordable foray into canvas tents for any apprehensive buys who don’t want to spend an arm and a leg to test out the fabric.
The DANCHEL offered the best canvas tent in view of value for money for us. The tent is durable to last a lifetime and spacious for family camping but doesn’t cost a small fortune to invest in. The stove jack means that you can use the tent all through winter as well, getting the most bang for your buck.
One of the best features that we found in these cotton canvas tents was the stove jacks on the DANCHEL and White Duck tents. They allow campers to fully enjoy the benefits of a canvas tent in the winter by keeping you warm and even potentially allowing you to cook inside your tent on top of the stove if the weather outside is poor.
The DANCHEL Bell Tent comes with two stove jacks which pushes it ahead of the White Duck for us. Having two stoves gives you flexibility in how you want to setup your living space inside the tent, and even means you could use two stoves inside the tent for extreme cold weather camping.
The Truck Bed Tent from Kodiak is a fantastic solution for combining camping with a road trip. Pack up your truck and drive out into the country, then when you’re done for the day no matter where you are you can pitch your tent.
The Kodiak 1-Person Swag Tent comes with an attached 2-inch foam mattress which can roll up with the rest of the tent for easy storage. The mat is well-reviewed by users who find it comfy and warm enough, even during cooler months.
I finally switched to a Kodiak Swag Tent. Think of it as an enclosed cowboy bedroll. When mounted on the bike (using Rok Straps), it’s about as wide as my handlebars and makes a great back rest for the longer trips. Super easy to set up. The canvas construction is cooler when it’s hot, and warmer when it’s cold…not to mention rugged. It has a screen under the canvas, and the canvas can be rolled back to allow you to sleep under the stars with the screen protecting you from bugs, chupacabras, and drunk women. The foam pad inside is very nice to sleep on. I like that I can just roll up my clothes inside. I prefer it over my hammock because I don’t need trees, and I like camping in the (usually treeless) desert.
Whilst the Kodiak Flex-Bow didn’t do as much as the other tents reviewed here to impress us, the headroom created by the high ceiling makes the tent feel roomy and cool which can be a great relief in hot weather camping.
Our choice for the best canvas tent when considering the features and extras the tent offers is the DANCHEL Bell Tent with the two stove jacks.
Wrapping It All Up
Overall, we were most impressed with the DANCHEL which offered a well-priced, durable tent that comes with two stove jacks to give you freedom in your setup. It’s our pick for the best canvas tent that we reviewed.
The White Duck Wall Tent is a fantastic tent for hunting trips with plenty of room for sleeping and storage.
The models from Kodiak come equipped with all the technical specifications we would expect to find from the brand whilst each catering to unique needs with wonderful ingenuity.
If you’re considering canvas for your next tent, the models reviewed here offer a fantastic range of choices to meet your needs.