Modern tents come in a wide range of shapes, sizes and materials. Lightweight and easy to manage tents are popular among many campers with canvas becoming less common.
But which tents are better? Is a canvas tent better than a modern, synthetic tent?
Table of Contents
Canvas tent v Synthetic tent comparison
Interior dampness and moisture
Tents can get wet inside from condensation and in this area canvas tents are better than synthetic versions.
Canvas has qualities that allow the tent to ‘breathe’ allowing water to pass through the canvas to the outside meaning that interior condensation levels are kept to a minimum.
Synthetic tents do not have this level of ‘breathability’ and the water vapour condenses on the inside walls of the tent, resulting in a wet and damp interior.
Canvas is thicker than most synthetic materials and is a better insulator than nylon and the other materials that are used in tent production.
One of the great features about a canvas tent, that you cannot do with a synthetic tent, is that you can add a wood burning stove. This will keep you warm and dry throughout the year and, if you camp in an area where wood is plentiful then you have a free source of heat.
You cannot put a stove in a synthetic tent – it will melt and catch fire if you try to.
Canvas is surprisingly water resistant and will keep you dry in the heaviest of downfalls. The natural qualities of canvas cause rain to slide off the tent easily and the fibres prevent water from getting through to the interior.
Plastic type tents will provide some levels of water resistance but as they become more water laden they will eventually become overwhelmed with damp levels which will make your tent feel cold and damp on the inside.
Added to this you will need to ventilate your plastic tent to get rid of the humidity, which leads to drafts and colder temperatures inside.
Canvas tents beat synthetic tents hands down when it comes to strength and durability.
Canvas is difficult to tear and, if you do manage to suffer a rip in a canvas tent, then you can repair it easily, either by sewing it up or by adding a new canvas patch to the area.
A canvas tent that is looked after, treated and well maintained will last a lifetime without any major issues.
Conversely, plastic type tents are thin and will tear easily. They are almost impossible to repair with the only option normally being to use special repair tape or duct tape to seal rips and tears.
Many plastic tents come with repair kits, similar in nature to bicycle puncture repair kits which can be used to repair small areas.
Ease of use
Both canvas and synthetic tents can be tricky to setup and often the bigger the tent the more difficult it is to set it up.
A synthetic tent would be the sensible option for anyone looking for an easy to erect tent.
There are many quick ‘popup’ type synthetic tents available, some of which can be erected in as little as 5 to 15 minutes for family sized tents.
The modern materials that synthetic tents use are also lightweight and relatvely easier to handle and work with.
We have camped in both canvas and synthetic tents and, in our view canvas makes for the best camping experience.
If you are camping in an area where the weather could change becoming cold or wet, then canvas is absolutely the best choice.
Synthetic tents do have some benefits though, the main ones being that they are lightweight and normally easier to setup than canvas.
If you are wildcamping or camping in a climate which is hot and dry, then a synthetic tent would make a good choice.
Which canvas tent should I get?
If you have decided to get a canvas tent then there is a wide range of options available and it can be tricky to make sure that you get the best canvas tent for your camping needs.
You will want to ensure that your choice of tent is large enough for your camping party plus their equipment and that it can be transported easily to your camping pitch.
Once there you will want a tent that is easy to erect and that provides good wind and weather resistance while offering good standards of build and comfort.
We’ve looked at a range of canvas tents and narrowed our list down to five tents which we think are perfect.
Our Canvas Tent Choices overview
1. Whiteduck Canvas Wall Tent
- STANDARD FEATURES: Canvas Alpha Wall Tent includes the complete tent with aluminum frame, rafter angle kits and free-floating PVC floor, NO NEED TO BUY THEM SEPARATELY! Basic features include the stove jack with flap, durable 3-layer large triangular windows, zippered door with storm flap, mesh, sod cloth and all standard essentials packed in a waterproof tent bag for easy transport and storage
- MULTI-FUNCTIONAL FEATURES: Our camping tents include military grade YKK Zippers that provide enhanced product life and enhanced durability. The door and windows come equipped with a PVC dipped mesh which is robust and does not tear easily. The doors have an additional buckle fastening system (both inside and outside) with an additional flap across the door panels for extra protection to keep the tent dry during heavy rain and strong winds and an extra 16” sun/weather eave shade
- INTERIOR FEATURES: Our 4 season camping tents are spacious enough to accommodate large group of people, families and friends making them ideal tents for camping. Durable 3-layer large triangular distinctive windows come with clear polyvinyl flap with a durable Velcro fastening system for letting in natural light without losing the heat from your stove, better ventilation and clear views. All the seams are double stitched, corners are reinforced for added strength
- GROUNDSHEET & SOD CLOTH: The wall skirting and free-floating groundsheet are made from weatherproof, high UV resistant, heavy duty 16 oz. polyvinyl for a weather tight seal. Each wall tent features a sod cloth that is sewn onto the tent ground seam at the bottom of the tent and extends a generous 8″ beyond the tent floor. The side walls are standard 5’ high to give a spacious unobstructed head space inside the tent to move around. Pocket organizers also included
- SETUP: Requires two or three people to pitch the tent. Include high quality powder coated metal brackets and lightweight anodized aluminum robust poles with steel wire for extra reinforcement (All stakes and rubber mallet included). Additional flexibility by adding a Porch for extra functional room that comes in different sizes or Fly Sheet for added protection. Perfectly suited for elk hunting, family tents for camping, glamping and even just living in a tent – Your home away from home!
2. Whiteduck Regatta Canvas Bell Tent
- BREATHABLE FABRIC: 100% cotton 8.5 oz. Army Duck Canvas in beige color, Waterproof & UV Resistant, also available with Fire Retardant Finish.
- COMPLETE PACKAGE: (STOVE JACK INCLUDED) includes High Quality Sewn-in PE groundsheet, 5” wide Stove Jack opening, Standard Mesh on Door and three Windows, 4 Strategic Vents for extra ventilation, Heavy duty trouble-free top grade zippers for maximum functionality, Galvanized Steel Entrance Pole and Center Pole, Tool Kit that includes Pegs, Pins, Rain Cap and Rubber Mallet- ALL packed in waterproof tent bag
- 4 FOUR SEASON TENT: All of our bell tents are waterproof as we have used weightless WR (Water) treatment that maintains the natural breathability of 100% cotton. It has a 5” stove jack, made from fire retardant material with a 43×43 cm flap so you can safely cook inside the tent or use it to stay warm on a cold night and an electric cable outlet to keep your phone or laptop charged. Ideal for camping and glamping.
- EXTREMELY SPACIOUS: The yurt style tent has a spacious design with standard wall height of 2’7″ which is higher than the standard wall of a bell tent that makes the tent extremely comfortable. You can easily stand inside the tent and feel very relaxed utilizing maximum space. The space allows 4 person tent (10′), 6 person tent (13′), 10 person tent (16’5″).
- HIGH QUALITY FEATURES: The bell tent has 2 layered windows and 2 layered door; canvas cover that could be rolled up and additional mesh to keep the critters out yet allowing for the cool breeze to come in for a calm long night sleep. The windows and door come with heavy duty trouble-free top grade zippers that you can rely on. It also includes high quality sewn-in PE groundsheet for additional protection and to keep rain water out. All the seams are double stitched, corners are reinforced
3. Danchel 4M Cotton Bell Tent
- ????HEAVY DUTY CANVAS TENT: 4m/13ft Dia. Made of 330GSM(9.7oz/yd²) thicker 100% unbleached breathable cotton canvas. To make yurt tent smell odorless, we did not add extra PU coating which means that if you are camping in heavy rain, we recommend you to order rain fly tarp to add waterproofing.
- ????4 PERSON GLAMPING TENT: 60lbs. Can put two full size beds or four 75*30inch sleep bags with all of their kit.With 2.5m/8.2ft center pole, 4.9′ door height, 23.6”/60cm side wall, bell tents create liveable space. Stand/walk in tent without any stoop.
- ????5” PRE-CUT 2 STOVE JACKS: 5inch Dia. roof stove jack with waterproof flap is suitable for winter camping with tent wood stove. Wide side wall vent design allows you run extension cord in for lights/portable aircon. 4 season camping yurt tent for house living.
- ????TOUGHT&DURABLE: All seams are double stitches. Galvanized steel door& center pole are not easy to rust. Wearproof 540gsm PVC bottom(better than PE) is suitable for outdoor camping. Stable in winds and strong enough to withstand about 0.8” thick snowfall. ???????????? door&bottom metal zippers are flexible will not get stuck.
- ????WELL VENTILATION: 4 mesh-lined windows and 1 A-frame door are 2 layers, keep ???????????? out. 4 roof vents provide good airflow in tents. Detachable groundsheet can roll up walls and let the breeze blow through on hot days and enjoy 360° views. The bottom creates a “bath-tub” to against the splashing.
4. Glamcamp Canvas Bell Tent
- LARGE SHELTER for 4-6 PEOPLE to SLEEP:Bell tent diameter 13.1ft (4m), door height- 59in, top height -98.4in, side wall height 23.6in, the stove hole center from floor is 15.7in. It can fit 1 queen-sized bed and 2 twin-sized beds.
- 100% COTTON CANVAS:glamcamp Bell Tents use durable and breathable 100% cotton canvas－water Repellent,UV Resistant;All our seams are double stitched,reinforced for the corners.
- SEPARABLE GROUNDSHEET DESIGN:The Tent’s coolest feature is the zip-away floor that transforms your tent into a canopy for outdoor events such as Festivals, Family Camping, Weddings, Picnics, Parties, Luxury Camping and Group Campouts.
- STOVE JACK DESIGN:Upgraded Bell Tent is designed with 4.5” width stove jack opening, Standard Bug Mesh on Door and 4 Windows with Mosquito screen, 4 top Vents for extra ventilation, Heavy duty trouble-free double-side zippers for maximum functionality, Galvanized Steel Entrance Pole and Center Pole, Tool Kit that includes Pegs, Pins and Rain Cap – ALL packed in waterproof tent bag
- GLAMPING YURT FEATURES: Extremely generous height Entrance Door with 3-way zipper made from high quality PVC Dipped UV Resistant Mesh to enjoy the view yet stay protected. Rain flap to keep water out. 4 large strategic roof vents on the opposite side to ensure maximum ventilation. Standard Bug Mesh Door and Windows protect you well in summer night
5. Outop Canvas 4 Season Bell Tent
- 【4 Season Tent】 : Due to the water resistant and fire retardant material,the yurt tent can hold heavy rain/strong wind/even snow very well.Before you use ,you can soak the canvas with the hose , so that it can shrink the fabric pores and tighten the seams.When it rains,you needn’t worry about the leaks.
- 【Roomy Space】 : Whether the bell tent is diameter 4M or diameter 5M ,there’s plenty of room inside the canvas tent,which can accomodate 4-6 people comfortably.You can put 2 twin-sized mattresses in it,there’s still have room to move around.
- 【Great Ventilation】 : A big door and 4 window are all equipped with mesh screen,they are perfect for a super light breeze.If you want to feel the wind ,you can roll up the sidewalls to breath and view the scenery around.There’re also 4 vents on the top to promote the air circulation,so the ventilation of the bell tent is great.
- 【Roof Stove Jack】 : 5″ Stove jack are on the top of the left door,which is more convenient to use stove and don’t take too much space.The silver gray fabric around the stove hole is fiberglass that is fire retardant,but you still need to keep a safe distance from the yurt tent when using the stove.
- 【Tips】 : Though the bell tent is a 4 season glamping tent,it doesn’t mean you can always set it up as a real house especially the heavy rain days and some other bad weather.Maintaince starts when you set it up,the spanlife of it is mainly dependent on the camping conditions such as leaves /bird’s dropping/heavy rain and so on.Make sure to bone dry before store it,or the mod will grow.