How to Choose the Best Canvas Tent for Your Next Camping Trip
Tents are the accommodation of choice for those who love to immerse themselves in nature, but did you know that the canvas tent also played an important role in our history?
Not only have tents been around since ancient times, but they've played a central role in sheltering and protecting soldiers in both the Revolutionary and Civil War. Nowadays camping out's associated more with leisure than survival, but it's still important to choose the right tent if you want to enjoy a comfortable stay.
Find out everything you need to know before you buy a canvas tent.
Why are Canvas Tents the Best Type of Tents?
You're probably wondering why you should choose a canvas tent for camping. After all, it's easy to find tents made from more modern-day materials.
Here's what makes canvas the fabric of choice for camping tents.
Protection from the Sun and Wind
Canvas tents are much tougher than their nylon counterparts. Once they're secured correctly, they won't flap around in high winds as much as lightweight tents do.
Since canvas is thicker than nylon and poly fabrics, less sunshine filters through into the inside of your tent. This means your tent offers cool respite in hot weather and can protect you from sun- and heat stroke.
Likewise, thicker fabric means less heat escapes from your tent in cold weather, so you stay warm and toasty inside no matter what nature throws at you. The thicker the fabric, the warmer the inside of your tent will be.
Best for the Long Haul
If you want to enjoy camping trips of a week or more, a canvas tent is a top choice for you. Canvas tents will stay in place without sagging for much longer than lightweight nylon tents.
They're also much more durable and show little signs of wear and tear even after years of use.
Condensation and Breathability
Cotton is the main component of canvas tents, so they're infinitely more breathable than synthetic fabrics. That means less condensation and more fresh air inside your tent.
Cotton is organic and biodegradable, synthetic fabrics are not. It can take years for a synthetic tent to decompose, while canvas tents vanish into the landscape within weeks when you dispose of them.
Thanks to their long lifespan, few canvas tents ever end up in a landfill site for starters.
Heat and Tear Resistance
Canvas has the ability to shrug off sharp objects, like sticks and rocks with no ill effects. The thick walls of canvas tents can easily withstand the pulls and twists involved in setting up and transporting your tent too.
Always choose a tent that's treated with a fire retardant in accordance with CPAI-84 guidelines.
In the unlikely event that you damage your canvas tent, it's easy and quick to fix it. It's always more affordable to sew a patch onto a tear than it is to replace your tent, and you can patch your canvas tent as many times as you need to
The doorways of wall canvas tents are open to the floor. That means there's less chance of tripping over that annoying fabric ledge that's a feature of D-zipper tents.
Having a larger door also means you'll experience less claustrophobia in a wall tent and you can relax in comfort with a view of your surroundings. Wall tents come with a full-length screen to keep unwanted visitors out when the door's left open.
What Type of Canvas Tent Suits Your Needs?
The first thing to consider when choosing a canvas tent for camping is how many people you want to accommodate in it. Canvas tents are available in a range of sizes from small tents measuring 8' x 10' to large ones of 16' by 20'.
Your next consideration is the type of tent you prefer. There are four main types of canvas camping tents:
Bell tents are sometimes called yurt tents and have a central pole as well as an A-frame pole for the entrance. They're quick to set up and have good wind resistance but can be a little cramped inside.
This versatile tent is ideal for those who want to travel light. It's simple and quick to set up and you can even suspended it from a tree branch if needed.
Usually, you'll pitch your range tent using a simple outside two-pole system.
Wall tents are also called safari tents, or outfitter tents and are the perfect set up for large parties and long-term camping. The walls are usually about 5 ft tall and the interiors are spacious.
While wall tents can be cumbersome to transport and set up, they offer the most comfortable stay by far and are often a feature in permanent tented camps.
The versatility of wall tents mean that you can easily modify them with all kinds of conveniences for high-end campers. Glamping tents are usually permanent fixtures offering private bathrooms, decks, comfortable beds, and seating areas.
All our canvas wall tents are customizable according to your exact specifications. So, let us know if you have something unique in mind and we'll be happy to accommodate your wishes.
Choosing Canvas Weight
The general rule regarding canvas weight is heavier canvas means better sun protection and more strength. Thicker canvas is also tougher and more resistant to tears.
Manufacturers rate the tensile strength of canvas fabric in ounces per square yard with 10.1 oz/sq. yd being the most common type of canvas. This is perfectly adequate for occasional summer use.
If you plan to camp for weeks on end or in very cold weather, it's best to choose a canvas that's heavier than 10.1oz.
Even the best canvas won't stop your tent from falling down if it's supported by flimsy poles and low-quality guide ropes. Always ask to see the hardware that comes with your tent before you buy
Bamboo poles are often used for lightweight, short-stay tents and do a good job thanks to the high tensile qualities of this bamboo. If you're looking for more substantial though, pick a tent that comes with a steel conduit frame.
Tent pegs are one of the most important parts of your camping gear. Thin pegs will bend and break on rough ground, so avoid aluminum and plastic pegs.
Steel pegs or stakes are a far better option for securing your tent.
You probably won't give a second thought to the zippers on your tent while shopping around but it pays to remember that your tent is pretty useless if you can't seal it.
Look for the SBS or YKK marking on zippers, or at least try them out before you buy your tent.
The larger your tent, the more guy lines you'll need to secure it. A good quality rope won't tear when you tighten your guy lines and should last for many years.
A minimum thickness of ¼” is best for guy rope sliders. Check that the sliders on your guy ropes are quality wood, metal, or aluminum. Avoid plastic sliders.
The main purpose of a floor is to keep the inside of your tent clean and dry. Vinyl is the best type of flooring for tents as it's durable, waterproof, and warm.
Bell tents usually come with a waterproof floor, but this isn't always the case with wall tents. You lay the floor down once you've erected your canvas tent.
Often you'll need to order a floor for your wall tent separately. If you want a sewn-in floor, you should specify it when you order your wall tent.
It's important to order your floor from the same company that made your tent. That way you're assured that the floor is compatible with your tent and the right size.
Like zippers, stitching is one of those often overlooked checkpoints when buying a tent. Yet, the way your tent's sewn together affects how waterproof, rip-proof and durable it's likely to be.
It's easy to see if seams have been carefully and fairly sewn in with strong, thick thread, so check your tent before you buy it.
Although canvas is a breathable material, canvas tents can get stuffy and hot in humid weather. Choose a tent that comes with mesh screened windows to help with ventilation.
Wall tents don't usually feature vents at the top of the tent, but we can add extra windows if you want more ventilation in your tent.
We are certain that our canvas tents will tick all your boxes when it comes to tent camping. We're proud to say that all our tents are proudly made in the USA and manufactured with extreme attention to detail.
Check out our canvas tent page to view our selection of top quality tents for your next adventure.