Tent

Best Canvas Tent

Written by: Dave NartinApril 21, 2020Updated: September 20, 2020

Guide Overview

Canvas has long been a popular tent fabric, as it’s durable, water resistant and breathable. Modern tents in materials such as polyester and nylon have gained fans because they’re lightweight options for hiking and backpacking. But, if you’re looking for a hardworking option that’s built to last, a canvas camping tent is hard to beat.

We’re going to look at some of the factors to bear in mind when you’re looking at canvas tents for camping, looking at the different styles such as bell tents or the best wall tents. We’ve also checked out an array of canvas camping tents, to crown a worthy winner of the title ‘best canvas tent’.

Things To Consider When Choosing a Canvas Tent

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Type

Canvas tents are available in a variety of designs, with bell and cabin tents being perhaps the most common. As canvas is a heavier material than polyester or nylon, the structure of a canvas tent needs to be stronger to support the weight of the walls and ceiling, so you’ll find they use sturdier poles rather than fiberglass or aluminium options.

Canvas Cabin Tents

If you’re looking for heavy duty camping tents for hunting or to use as a basecamp, then a canvas cabin tent is a solid choice. The straight walls of a cabin tent make good use of the floor area, as there’s usable space right to the edges. The central ceiling height is often tall enough to stand up and move around the space. This space and ease make for a more comfortable camping experience.

Canvas Pop Up Tent

Pop up tents tend to use lightweight materials, as they use flexible poles for rapid assembly. However, even heavy duty canvas tents for camping can be quick to put up, if you choose a bell tent, also known as a teepee tent for camping. These tend to use just one central pole, or perhaps two if there’s a second pole at the door. In most cases, you only need to roll out and stake the base, raise the tent by putting the central pole in place and then stake out the guy lines for stability. It’s not quite the two minute job of a pop-up tent, but you can be up and running in 15 minutes or less. 

Weather Resistance

Weather resistance is absolutely crucial to a pleasant camping experience. The last thing you want is to be kept up all night because your tent is baking hot, freezing cold or is leaking.

4 Season Canvas Tents

If you like to camp in any month and any weather, four season tents will allow you to camp year-round. Four season tents may have fewer features such as mesh vents, as anywhere that warm air can escape, can also let cold air in. Canvas is a thicker material than nylon or polyester, and has a tight weave, so this gives it great insulation properties. Canvas is a good material choice for a 4 season cabin tent, as it can keep you warm and dry, and the robust structure won’t sag under the weight of snow.

Waterproof Canvas Tents

Although you want a tent to be breathable to reduce condensation, the one thing you definitely want to keep on the outside is rain. Some tents do a better job of this than others, but canvas performs very well, as it’s tightly woven which means it is highly water resistant. A waterproof canvas tent should also have a good water resistant floor – tub style floors give extra protection – as well as sealed seams.

Winter Canvas Tents

Winter canvas tents should be able to withstand cold temperatures, snowfall and windy conditions. Snowfall can weigh heavily on a tent, so you’ll need a canvas tent with a sturdy structure and steel poles. You may want an additional fly on the tent, to help snow and moisture run off the roof.

You may want to opt for a tent with a stove jack, so you can use a tent stove. Having a stove inside the tent gives you a way to heat the interior, as well as being able to cook inside.  

Size

Canvas tents can vary in size but the larger the size, the heavier both the tent will be. Larger tents will also need more support to keep them stable in windy conditions. 

To decide on the size of the tent you need, think of the number of people (and pets) that you need to shelter on your camping trip. Also think about how you’ll be spending your time. If you’ll be out all day and only return to the tent to sleep, a small canvas tent will be fine. If you’ll be relaxing around your campsite a lot during the day, large canvas tents might suit you better. A large canvas tent such as a bell tent with walls that can be rolled up during the day would be a great option. 

Remember that the stated capacity of a tent will assume everyone is sleeping ‘backpacker style’ – in an individual sleeping bag, directly on the floor. It doesn’t allow room for camp beds, air mattresses or storage. If you want space for these things, opt for a capacity that’s bigger than you need, such as an 8 person tent to sleep 4-6 people. 

Canvas Tent Materials

In the past, canvas was made with hemp but now, it’s made with cotton. So, when you see a description of a cotton tent, this is the same as a canvas tent. 

Canvas is heavier and bulkier than man made materials, but this does mean that it provides better insulation. Because the material is thicker, it’s less prone to rips and tears. As we’ve already covered, canvas has great water resistance to keep rain out, but the breathability means you shouldn’t have issues with condensation on the inside, either. Another benefit is that canvas is more resistant to any degradation from UV rays.

Maintaining a canvas tent takes a little more effort than a tent in nylon or polyester as you need to ensure that it is completely dry before you store it, or you could have issues with mildew. However, you’re rewarded with a durable tent that can give you years of use.

Best Canvas Tents

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White Duck - Luxury Avalon Canvas Bell Tent

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White Duck – Luxury Avalon Canvas Bell TentWhite Duck - Luxury Avalon Canvas Bell TentWhite Duck - Luxury Avalon Canvas Bell TentWhite Duck – Luxury Avalon Canvas Bell Tent

This is a great example of a bell tent, a style which has become increasingly popular for camping and glamping use at festivals and gatherings. The 20foot version can sleep up to 10 people in one large room. If you are a family wanting to share one space, this is one of the best large family tent models. The head height is 3 feet at the centre and over 9 feet at the centre, making it feel spacious. 

There are 12 windows and four air vents to help keep the air circulating, with mesh screens at the door and windows to prevent bugs getting inside. This large tent is made from cotton canvas, and uses a heavy duty centre pole and door frame. The groundsheet can be zipped out and the sidewalls rolled away. which makes it easier to pack the tent away in wet conditions, and also means the tent is versatile for other uses as well as camping. 

This tent can be used in all four seasons, with a stove jack allowing a stove to be used in colder weather.

Pros:

  • Spacious feel thanks to the tall head height.
  • Suitable for use in all four seasons.
  • Groundsheet and sidewalls can be zipped away.
  • Fashionable style for glamping and festivals.
  • Plenty of windows for excellent ventilation.

Cons:

  • Can sleep up to 10 people.
  • Spacious feel thanks to the tall head height.
  • Suitable for use in all four seasons.
  • Groundsheet and sidewalls can be zipped away.
  • Fashionable style for glamping and festivals.
  • Plenty of windows for excellent ventilation.
  • Can sleep up to 10 people.

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Kodiak Canvas - Canvas 1-Person Canvas Swag Tent

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Kodiak Canvas – Canvas 1-Person Canvas Swag TentKodiak Canvas - Canvas 1-Person Canvas Swag TentKodiak Canvas - Canvas 1-Person Canvas Swag TentKodiak Canvas – Canvas 1-Person Canvas Swag Tent

This portable canvas swag tent is a hassle-free choice for solo trips.

The design builds on a traditional swag, or bedroll. The tent rolls out, with lightweight aluminium alloy poles that thread through each end to create a small, tunnel shaped tent that can accommodate one person. The tent is 6 foot 8 inches long, giving plenty of space to stretch out, and is three foot wide. 

At the head and foot of the space are mesh windows for ventilation, which have covers that can be zipped up if it rains, or to keep warm. The top panel can be zipped back entirely, or used with a mesh cover only to help with airflow whilst keeping bugs out. If it rains, the full cover can be zipped up from the inside. 

This tent uses durable and hardworking materials. The floor is made in puncture-resistant vinyl to keep water out, and the walls are made in a hydra-shield cotton duck canvas. The tight weave and silicone coating make it completely watertight but breathable. Included with this tent is a two inch thick foam mattress pad with a removable flannel cover. Depending on the weather, you can sleep on this mattress alone, or use a sleeping bag or blankets. 

This tent can be used on the ground, or for extra comfort it could be used in the back of a flatbed truck, or placed onto a camp bed. When you’re ready to move on, you simply remove the poles and then roll the tent up – leaving the mattress and your sleeping bag inside. It is quite bulky and heavy, so we’d not suggest this tent suits backpacking.

Pros:

  • Everything including your sleeping bag can be unrolled/rolled for rapid set up and take down.
  • Tent walls are made in a breathable but watertight high-quality cotton canvas.
  • Heavy duty, puncture-resistant integrated floor keeps water out.
  • Mattress pad included.
  • Plenty of ventilation with several mesh windows and panels.

Cons:

  • Too heavy and bulky to take backpacking.
  • Everything including your sleeping bag can be unrolled/rolled for rapid set up and take down.
  • Tent walls are made in a breathable but watertight high-quality cotton canvas.
  • Heavy duty, puncture-resistant integrated floor keeps water out.
  • Mattress pad included.
  • Plenty of ventilation with several mesh windows and panels.
  • Too heavy and bulky to take backpacking.

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Springbar - Highline 8 Canvas Tent

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Springbar – Highline 8 Canvas TentSpringbar - Highline 8 Canvas TentSpringbar - Highline 8 Canvas TentSpringbar – Highline 8 Canvas Tent

This cabin style tent makes a comfortable home away from home for a family or group of friends. 

The tent is 10 foot by 14 foot and has near vertical walls that means the inside feels roomy, especially as the 6.5 foot ceiling height means you can easily walk around. The stated capacity is 8 people, and whilst you could accommodate that many people sleeping backpacker style, that wouldn’t leave much room for your belongings. We’d recommend it for 4-6 people, so you have more space to spread out. 

There’a a large double door to the front of the tent, as well as large windows, all with a no-see-um mesh layer to allow airflow whilst keeping the inside free from bugs. We like the full height door, so you don’t need to stoop to move in and out of the tent. This tent has an awning which extends in front of the doors to provide shade, and a great area to relax and enjoy your surroundings. 

This tent is made with hard-working and durable materials. The cotton duck canvas has a waterproof finish and is mould resistant, and the floor is made in a heavy-duty and waterproof vinyl. The construction, with steel poles, stake loops and stakes, means that the tent is reliable in windy weather. There’s even a lifetime warranty covering any manufacturing defects. 

Set up is simple, and the tent can easily be transported in the duffel-style carry bags. The materials used to make this tent robust and durable also make it quite heavy, so this is a tent for car or site camping rather than hiking.

Pros:

  • Near vertical walls maximise the living space.
  • 6.5 foot ceiling height across almost the entire floor area makes it comfortable to stand and move around.
  • Full height door to move in and out easily.
  • Made in very durable materials and designed to cope with wind and rain.
  • Lifetime warranty covering manufacturing defects.

Cons:

  • The sturdy construction does mean that this is a heavy tent.
  • Near vertical walls maximise the living space.
  • 6.5 foot ceiling height across almost the entire floor area makes it comfortable to stand and move around.
  • Full height door to move in and out easily.
  • Made in very durable materials and designed to cope with wind and rain.
  • Lifetime warranty covering manufacturing defects.
  • The sturdy construction does mean that this is a heavy tent.

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TETON Sports - Sierra 12 Canvas Tent

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TETON Sports – Sierra 12 Canvas TentTETON Sports - Sierra 12 Canvas TentTETON Sports - Sierra 12 Canvas TentTETON Sports – Sierra 12 Canvas Tent

This classic bell tent is a fun option for camping with your family or group of friends.

There is 113 square feet of space inside this 12 foot diameter circular tent, which can sleep 6-10 people. The pyramid ceiling of bell tents means the ceiling is over 8 foot at the peak so there’s room to stand up and move. The lower walls are straight which makes the space usable right to the edges if you want to set up air mattresses or camp beds.

It’s made in a treated cotton canvas that keeps rain out, but is breathable to reduce condensation inside the tent. There are large doors which have an independent mesh layer to keep bugs on the outside. The outer door layer can be rolled back out of the way to let you enjoy the views, and a cooling breeze. There are also four mesh windows in the tent wall, which have covers that can be zipped up from the inside. These windows are low to the floor to draw in cooler air, and three vents at the tents peak let warm air escape. 

The heavy-duty floor of the tent is welded rather than stitched to keep water out. If you’re using the tent for a celebration and want to switch the tent to a canopy only, you can unzip the floor and roll up the walls. 

It’s easy and quick to set this tent up, even working solo. You just need to stake out the base, raise the tent using the centre pole and the pole at the doorway and then stake the guy lines for stability. The canvas material and sheer size make this tent quite heavy to take on a backpacking trip, but we highly recommend it for sociable camping and glamping trips.

Pros:

  • Spacious tent with a high ceiling.
  • Cotton canvas construction is watertight but breathable.
  • Floor can be unzipped and the walls rolled up to convert the tent to a canopy.
  • Large doors for easy access and ventilation, as well as windows and vents.
  • Quick and easy set-up, can be put up by one person.

Cons:

  • On the heavy side for a backpacking trip.
  • Spacious tent with a high ceiling.
  • Cotton canvas construction is watertight but breathable.
  • Floor can be unzipped and the walls rolled up to convert the tent to a canopy.
  • Large doors for easy access and ventilation, as well as windows and vents.
  • Quick and easy set-up, can be put up by one person.
  • On the heavy side for a backpacking trip.

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Dream House - Waterproof Cotton Canvas Tent

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Dream House – Waterproof Cotton Canvas TentDream House - Waterproof Cotton Canvas TentDream House - Waterproof Cotton Canvas TentDream House – Waterproof Cotton Canvas Tent

This stylist bell tent is ideal for a spacious glamping experience. 

The circular tent is over 13 foot in diameter, with a central ceiling height of over 8 foot. It’s recommended to sleep 3-4 people, or it would offer a luxurious experience for two people using a queen air mattress. The straight walls around the base of the tent make the most use of the floor area, and you can easily stand and move around a lot of the space thanks to the peaked design of a bell tent. 

In summer months you’ll appreciate the four semicircular windows around the tent walls, with a mesh layer and a canvas flap you can zip closed. Warm air can escape from the four ventilation holes at the top of the tent to stop the inside from getting overheated and stuffy. There are large doors at the front of the tent for easy access, with a mesh inner layer if you want to let air circulate but prevent bugs from coming inside.  

The walls and ceiling are made in cotton canvas with a waterproof treatment rated at 3000mm, offering excellent water resistance. The PVC floor is waterproof to 5000mm to keep you comfortable and dry. There’s a zipper which can completely detach the floor from the walls if you choose to roll the walls up and toggles to keep them out of the way. 

It’s easy to set this tent up and we found it takes around 30 minutes on the first go. Don’t forget to fit the plastic cap over the spike of the door pole, as this covers the gap in the canvas and prevents any leak. This tent is too heavy to take hiking, but ideal if you want to add some luxury to your camping trip.

Pros:

  • Perfect for a luxurious camping or glamping experience.
  • Peaked design gives a central ceiling height of over 8 foot.
  • Large doors, four windows and ceiling vents give great air circulation.
  • Floor can be unzipped to use the ceiling as a canopy, to enjoy views of your surroundings.
  • Great water resistance thanks to the 3000mm upper and 5000mm floor.

Cons:

  • Too heavy to take hiking.
  • Perfect for a luxurious camping or glamping experience.
  • Peaked design gives a central ceiling height of over 8 foot.
  • Large doors, four windows and ceiling vents give great air circulation.
  • Floor can be unzipped to use the ceiling as a canopy, to enjoy views of your surroundings.
  • Great water resistance thanks to the 3000mm upper and 5000mm floor.
  • Too heavy to take hiking.

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Trek - Canvas Cotton Cabin Tent

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Trek – Canvas Cotton Cabin TentTrek - Canvas Cotton Cabin TentTrek - Canvas Cotton Cabin TentTrek – Canvas Cotton Cabin Tent

This is a practical and durable cabin tent, which stands up well to a range of weather conditions. 

The floor area is 9 foot by 12 foot, and the straight walls are 5 foot tall giving plenty of usable floor space. Along the peak ridge of the tent, the height is 7 foot 6 inches so you can move around with ease. The tent will sleep up to 7 people, though we’d suggest it’s more comfortable for four people if you want to store your gear inside. 

The walls are made from cotton canvas which has good water resistance, as does the heavy duty vinyl-coated canvas floor. There are three large windows in the side walls, with a mesh layer and storm flaps that can be zipped up from the inside. The double door is tall enough to enter without stooping, and it has a mesh layer that can be used alone, or the rainfly can be zipped shut over the top. 

The instructions can be a little unclear, but it’s still easy enough to set up this tent and the poles are chain-linked. This tent may be utilitarian in design but it does a great job of withstanding a range of weather conditions, including rain and snow. It performs well in moderate winds, but we didn’t get to test it in a storm.

If you want a robust tent to use as a base camp for hunting or day hikes, this is a solid choice.

Pros:

  • Utilitarian but durable design.
  • 4 foot straight walls make the most of the floor space.
  • Cotton canvas upper and vinyl-coated canvas floor give great water resistance.
  • Tall central ceiling height and entry door.
  • Stands up well to tricky weather conditions, including snow.

Cons:

  • Although it’s a good cold weather option, there’s no stove jack.
  • Utilitarian but durable design.
  • 4 foot straight walls make the most of the floor space.
  • Cotton canvas upper and vinyl-coated canvas floor give great water resistance.
  • Tall central ceiling height and entry door.
  • Stands up well to tricky weather conditions, including snow.
  • Although it’s a good cold weather option, there’s no stove jack.

Our Pick

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Our Choice

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Dream House - Waterproof Cotton Canvas Tent

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We found some great options during our research. We were impressed by the quality materials that you can expect when you invest in a canvas tent, and the benefit of buying a product that you can rely on for years to come. Our pick of the bunch that we’re naming as our ‘best canvas tent’ is the Dream House Waterproof Cotton Canvas Tent, and here’s why:

  • The bell tent design makes this a versatile choice you can use for camping, glamping, festivals or gatherings. 
  • The straight walls around the bottom of the tent make the most use of the 13 foot diameter floor area.  
  • This tent offers excellent water resistance – the walls are treated to 3000mm and the floor to 5000mm. 
  • There are windows around the walls and in the ceiling to help air flow around the tent.
  • The floor can be unzipped and the walls rolled up to use the tent as a canopy, if you want to enjoy the breeze or your surroundings.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How to Waterproof Canvas Tent?

A:

Canvas is a tightly woven fabric, but there can be tiny holes which can allow water to seep through. Some canvas tents have had a waterproof coating applied by the manufacturer, so it’s best to check the details of your own tent. You should also check whether the manufacturer gives any specific advice for waterproofing your tent. 

In general, to waterproof your tent, simply assemble it and then get the fabric wet. You could either leave it assembled in your garden until it rains, or spray it with a hosepipe. Once this is done, leave the tent up to dry out. It should be completely dry before you take it down and pack it away in storage. 

When you go through this process, the canvas strands expand as they get wet and then shrink as they dry. This pulls the weave of the fabric even tighter, shrinking any tiny holes so that no water can pass through.

Q: How To Clean Canvas Tent?

A:

To keep your canvas tent in good condition, you can remove dirt by simply hosing the tent with cool water, and using a bristle brush to scrub at any stubborn marks. 

It’s really important to let your tent dry out thoroughly before you put it in storage. If you have to pack up camp in the wet, air out your tent when you get home so it’s completely dry before you pack it down. Storing a damp tent will lead to mildew, which can degrade the material. If you do have issues with mildew, use a specific mould and mildew remover rather than bleach or general detergents which might damage any waterproof coating.

Q: How To Repair Canvas Tent?

A:

The best way to repair a canvas tent depends on the issue – for example a broken zip or a tear in the tent wall. For small tears or holes, there are some canvas adhesives or patches which can be used for the repair. Some repairs may be best handled by a special repair shop, with a heavy-duty sewing machine to handle the thick canvas fabric.

Q: How to Patch a Canvas Tent?

A:

There are various patch kits on the market which can be either stitched or glued on to the canvas to repair a tear or cover a hole. You’ll need to check the specific details of the kit you buy for step by step instructions. These kits can be purchased in many camping stores or online. They’re a useful piece of kit to take on camping trips, in case you run into any issues.

Dave Nartin
Founder at Mountain Leon
Hi. Im Dave. Mountain Lion is the name of this travel blog. It came from my love for both the English and Spanish language, my favourite animal (Lion), and my favourite activity (mountain climbing). Enjoy!

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