How to find the best canvas tent

Last Updated on October 27, 2020

If you are a camper and you want to have the best canvas tent and you are confused about what to buy. You must be having many questions regarding the best canvas tents out there. We all have been there too.

Therefore, in this guide, I will try to answer a few very simple questions like; How to choose the best Canvas tent? Are they a great option for camping? Do they really fit the propose of camping? And what should be your concerns while looking for one?


This guide will walk you through; what are canvas tents, their features, types, and ideal use conditions. I will start from the very basics for better understanding that will clearly jot down the difference between a standard camping tent and a canvas tent.
Read on!

What is a canvas tent?

Canvas tent is made up of canvas (as the name suggests) and is primarily used for outdoor camping and mountaineering. They are designed to be roomy to provide lots of space for many people to fit inside.

Canvas is a material that was previously made from hemp but nowadays cotton is the most common material used to make a canvas. It can also be made from the naturally derived fibers of Lenin or woven flex fibers. The weave of the fibers changes depending on the manufacturer. Canvas is also good at dissipating heat better.

While polyester is better at water resistance and keeping the tent weight light, it is not so good at dissipating heat from inside of the tent. For this reason, you can find many tents made out of a mixture of polyester and cotton aka poly-cot. So, a canvas and cotton tent yet the same thing. Therefore, these tents are more bulky and big in size.

Being made out of cotton and bulky materials these tents are more costly. But canvas tents are known for their durability and robustness. On the contrary, polyester tents are very light and storable in small spaces. They are also cheap and more affordable. Hence, they are a more popular choice.

Now, let’s see why you should use a canvas tent over polyester tents.

Why Use a Canvas Tent?

Canvas tents are ideal for family camping trips or where more number of people are involved in camping. The walls and frames of a typical canvas tent are sturdy and rugged. That’s why they are a great option for families.

These tents have vertical walls which help in providing excellent headroom. It helps in easing the living experience inside the tent for longer durations. The higher ceiling is comfortable for roaming around in the tent. Also, the canvas is a breathable material; as a result, you don’t have to get tensed about the condensation problems that occur in normal polyester tents. There are many more advantages of buying a canvas tent, but we will talk about them in later part of the guide.

Apart from these many advantages, there are some very prominent disadvantages too, the reasons why you should not use a canvas tent. Let’s take a look at them.

Canvas tents are big and bulky, so it is tough to carry them on the back. Hikers find it hard to carry a canvas tent with him/her in the backpack. These tents also aren’t that waterproof. Polyester tents provide better waterproofing than a typical canvas tent. Larger canvas is hard to put up and setup process is quite cumbersome.

Canvas tents are designed to make living in outdoors comfortable and relaxing. And they do this job very well. If you are planning to go with friends or family for camping, then you should take canvas tents with you that will be of great help.

Where to Use a Canvas Tent

The uses of a canvas tent are immense. They are used in many sectors other than camping like military tents, hospitals, recreational places, etc. Generally, they are used by campers; where there are more people involved in camping.

The main reason to get a canvas tent is because of the extra space that it provides. These tents are provided that extra space to put gear and belongings while living peacefully inside.

These tents are also known for the breathability of the fabric which is used to construct one of these. The fabric used has pores that help in the exchange of air from the inside of the tent to the outside.

The question being, where to use Canvas Tents? These are best to be used at low altitudes and on a plain surface. A rocky surrounding should be avoided. Also, it is not advisable to take these tents to rainy place; water may get inside after long durations of exposure to the rain. Although, technological innovations have brought many new techniques through which a canvas tent can hold water (water-resistant). Manufacturers now use a special blend of cotton and polyester fabric which is water-resistant and also provides a good amount of breathability.

Summing up, a canvas tent should not be used in the place where; surroundings are rocky, rainy season, high altitudes, and region with high wind speeds.

They can be used by campers who are going on a car-camping trip with family or friends or both. You can also set up a tent in your backyard for any recreational activity.

The Difference between a Canvas Tent and a Standard Tent

On the outside, it may seem that canvas tents are the same as standard tents and the only difference is the fabric used, but this is where the difference ends. Apart from the materials used, there are basically three more differences between a Canvas tent and a Standard Tent.

Those differences are:
· Materials used
· Usability
· Space and Size
· Strength

Materials used in a polyester tent are lightweight and have less scantling, while the materials used in canvas tents are thick, tough, and robust when compared with almost the same sized synthetic tent.

The materials used in a canvas tent are thick and bulky because of the nature of the canvas; it is a thick fabric which is why the tents are strong. Polyester tents are made to be only used by two or three people at once, while canvas tents are made to be able to fit in more than 5 people at once. Hence, the rods, fabrics, chains, etc. are bigger in size than normal.

Usability is another key point where these tents are one step ahead of normal tents. Canvas is a very versatile fabric; it is used at many different places as discussed earlier. Polyester tents can only be used specifically for camping only; on the other hand, canvas tents have a broad array of use.

Space and Size is the key factor where canvas tents are preferred over polyester tents. The floor of a typical canvas tent is upwards of 50 square feet, which more than enough for 8-10 people.

Standard tents are low in height hence you have to crawl into the tent while not being able to stands. In a canvas tent, the headroom is ample which helps you in work inside the tent. And therefore, these tents are quite hard to set up, unlike a normal tent.

The strength of a canvas tent is obviously more than a comparable polyester tent. These tents are strong because naturally, they use a good quality of fabric which is strong and breathable. If set up properly, they can withstand a good amount of load from the surrounding like the wind, rain, or sometimes even a storm.

Alas, canvas tents have an edge over the standard tents in many aspects but their biggest downside is the money that you spend to buy one. They are costlier than the tents made of polyester. But the cost per square feet of area is significantly less.

How to Choose the Best Camping Tent

Features that you should be looking for in a canvas tent should be based on the type of camping you want to go for. There are many features in a canvas tent which you should look for. I have tried to compile almost every feature here, but you’ll get a better idea when you’ll see one for yourself.


Although canvas tents are durable, over time degradation starts to happen. This results in tearing of the fabric or cracks. You should look for good quality fabric and try to go for a protection layer coated one. Durability is the reason why most people go for polyester tents; polyester is more durable than canvas but the difference is not that significant.

Other than the fabric used, other materials like rods, zips, etc. are tough and robust which perfume far better than polyester made tents.

Protection from Sun
Canvas tents are great at protecting the insides from the harmful UV rays of the sun. Being breathable, they are good at keeping the insides of the tent nice and cool even on a sunny day. Mostly used while camping in a desert area.

Although standard tents are good at protecting against the sun’s harmful rays, they tend to oxidize over time. This is not the case with canvas tents.
Another factor is that the condensation problem is eliminated significantly in a canvas tent.

4 Season Tents
The standard tents are mainly 3 season tent that is tents made for use in spring, summer, and fall. Canvas tents are 4 season tent, as they can handle the cold season very easily. The cotton fabric is the best for insulation of temperatures; it keeps the cold out while keeping the inside cozy and warm.
There are specific canvas tents designed with a stove jacket, which means that you can heat up a stove inside the tent for warmth. You cannot do that in a polyester tent, as polyester is very prone to catch fire.

Camping for Longer Durations
Canvas tents are made to be used for a longer duration of camping. Smaller standard tents are not ideal for sitting or standing; canvas tents are big so they can easily help a person to stand inside. Also, they are great for storing gears and other things used for camping. As they are 4 season tents, they can handle any weather conditions very easily.

Elimination of Condensation
In normal tents, polyester is used, and therefore there is a prevalent problem of condensation at the top of the ceiling of the tent. Hence they use a vent on the top expel out any condensate. But as the fabric of canvas tents is breathable, the need for the vent is eliminated and there is no condensation whatsoever.

Need of Reparability
Nylon and polyester tents are prone to get ripped apart with use overtime from sharps or pointed objects. It is totally eliminated with the use of canvas tents.
Canvas tents are pretty much repairable if there is even a good amount of tears or cuts. Nylon tents tend to tear more after one small cut.
Synthetic fabrics are also prone to damage from the sun while canvas tents are not.

These are the top six factors you should consider before buying a canvas tent. If you keep in mind, the type of camping and number of people involved, it will help ever further to understand you, and eventually you will get the best tent for yourself.


Canvas tents are a great replacement for regular nylon and polyester tents. Before buying a canvas tent, you should consider some of the aspects of synthetic tents; like durability, size, a number of people, price, materials used, etc.
Once you get into the marketplace you will find a variety of canvas tents. Pick the right one for yourself keeping in mind about your requirements.

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