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The Benefits of Canvas Tents: Durability, Beauty & More

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When you need a tent to last for generations, a canvas tent is the answer. Beautifully crafted and well-made, a canvas tent is practical, functional, and aesthetically pleasing. With all of these features combined, you have yourself a canvas tent that offers many advantages and benefits to campers, glampers, hunters, overlanders, festival goers, and more.

So what are some benefits of canvas tents? Glad you asked! In this guide, we break down each and every reason you should consider a canvas tent.

The Numerous Advantages and Benefits Of Canvas Tents

Canvas wall tents have pros and cons that every tent owner must weigh, but they do present campers with many advantages and benefits, some of which are fairly easy to recognize. The ability to install a wood-burning stove is one. But there are also several other benefits of canvas tents that we are willing to bet you haven’t thought about or considered.

That said, here are the multitude of reasons why canvas tents provide the best camping experience.

Canvas Tents Are Built Tough

Canvas tents are designed with durable hardware and built with a sturdy frame and structure. This means they can withstand extreme weather like a storm and high winds, rather impressively, which we can’t always say about their plastic tent cousins.

Here are the many rugged features that make canvas tents so tough:

  • Durable pole system: A canvas tent’s frame poles are typically metal or aluminum! 
  • Thick cotton canvas: Most canvas tents are made of a 10.5 oz weighted canvas, or more, making them more durable than a polyester tent. We use a thick 11.5 ounce canvas – the most durable on the market.
  • Guy line ropes: Reflective guy lines with aluminum sliders allow you to adjust and tighten the canvas structure (which helps to shed rain and condensation).
  • Steel stakes: Powerful rebar steel stakes are strong enough to penetrate hard ground - and a long length.
  • Enclosed waterproof floor: A canvas tent will keep water out of the tent, especially if it comes with a floor.  Some tents (like ours) have a zipped or sewn in floor, while wall tents allow of a floor to be laid down inside after it is set-up.

Wait! Don’t all these heavy-duty materials and poles mean a heavier tent to carry to and from the campsite?

Sure, a nylon or polyester plastic tent might be lightweight, but you just can’t beat the durability of a canvas tent with a metal frame. These tents aren't for backpackers, but they are perfect for longer car camping trips with larger groups and they are especially good for 2-week or 2-month use.

Canvas Tents Welcome Wood Stoves & Four-Season Camping

wood stove inside a canvas tent

Ahhh. There’s nothing better than crawling into a glowing tent heated by a wood stove. But you can’t do that without a canvas tent!

Canvas tents are good for cold weather not only because of their spaciousness and durability, but because you can also use a wood stove in them.  The sturdy canvas makes it possible to install a stove jack and a wood stove, which means you can nearly double your days camping each year. Canvas tents are snow-capable. Imagine heading out to do some winter camping when you have a four-season camping tent warmed by a versatile wood-burning stove.

While canvas is not fireproof, Life inTents canvas tents are flame-resistant (with a CPAI-84 rating, to be exact).

Canvas Tents Are Built For Long-Term Use

canvas tent on wooden platform deck in the jungle

The wood stove and many of these other features all add up to one important benefit: Canvas tents are built for long-term use and will last longer then a standard tent with proper maintenance. With proper protection and maintenance, a canvas tent can not only be used as a four-season tent and kept up all year round, but it can last for many years if you are diligent about caring for it.

Whether you plan to do some winter camping or pitch a hunting tent at your family’s deer camp, a canvas tent is made to withstand months and months of long-term use. You can make it a home away from home or even build a wooden platform deck where you can place it to keep it in great condition for many years.

Canvas Tents Are Made With Breathable & Insulative Cotton

canvas bell tent with side walls up

Canvas tents are highly efficient at staying warm when you’re four-season camping. Why? Because the tightly woven cotton they’re built with is a highly insulative material. But a cotton canvas’ insulative properties don’t just keep you warm and toasty during winter months and cold nights.

One might think that these insulative properties make a canvas tent stuffy. But it couldn't be farther from the truth. Unlike synthetic tents that trap humidity, moisture, and even your own sweat within their walls and beneath the rainfly, making everything feel damp, canvas tents made of insulative cotton-style materials are inherently breathable.

In fact, cotton canvas is so breathable that it is more resistant to mold and mildew. Even more so if the tent fabric is made with Doektec canvas

Aside from the breathable cotton material, canvas tents are typically designed with extra features to allow for more airflow. Even during winter months, a tent can feel like a sauna and circulation is always needed. Especially in the summer, when even a canvas tent can get a bit too hot when in direct sunlight. For this, canvas tents offer features such as:

  • Mesh-panel screened windows and doors
  • Roll-up side walls with overhangs
  • Ceiling ventilation points
  • Electrical entrance points for fans
  • An A/C exit port
  • An optional fly cover for added shade protection

A canvas tent is more effective at regulating temperature, period.

Canvas Tents Are Waterproof

So how can a canvas tent made of breathable and insulative cotton also withstand the rain and snow? How does a cotton canvas tent simply not leak?

First, pitch a tent correctly and the canopy’s surface tension will cause water droplets to bead and shed away like sliding off a goose’s feathers. A well-pitched canvas tent, with a taught and steep roof, merely prevents water from standing long enough to absorb through.

Should you experience a torrential downpour, the canvas tent’s cotton fibers will absorb the water, swelling into an even tighter woven material.  But virgin canvas will eventually become too saturated if it is not treated with a waterproofing agent - sure that your retreat your canvas after extended use.

However, snow can be a bit tricky. A canvas tent will be perfectly fine as far as moisture from snow is concerned. But you will need to be mindful of how much snowfall you receive and how much weight it’s adding to the overall structure. As we covered, a canvas tent is far superior in strength to a synthetic tent, but just something to keep in mind is that the frame will not hold 6 inches of wet snow for long.

Canvas Tents Offer Spacious & Roomy Interiors

Another one of the many benefits of canvas tents is their spaciousness. You can accommodate several standing individuals inside, along with all your gear and then some! Often designed with side walls or a center pole, a canvas tent offers standing room too, allowing you to freely move about on two feet instead of crawling on the ground. 

Canvas tents are found in a variety of sizes. And you might be surprised just how many you can sleep in one. Take a look at our bell tent size comparison guide to see what we mean or help you make a decision.

Canvas Tents Are Highly Versatile & Serve as Multipurpose Spaces

woman painting outside of canvas tent

 

Canvas tents are highly versatile and for so much more than camping! Seriously. Attractive and durable, canvas tents make a wonderful addition to almost anywhere you can imagine. You can use canvas tents for glamping, hunting, group road trips, or even backyard parties.

Pitch it in your backyard for personal home use or create a glamping retreat for a Hipcamp or Airbnb rental. A multipurpose canvas tent just makes sense, especially for folks who need an adaptable and functional living space or venue.

Multipurpose Space Ideas:

  • Guest Room
  • Home Office
  • Artist Studio
  • Yoga Studio
  • Mediation Room
  • Home Gym
  • Birthday Party Space
  • Coat Check
  • Photo Booth
  • Emergencies

The list could go on....

Canvas Tents Provide Superior Shade & UV Protection

A thick, quality canvas can withstand the sun’s harmful rays. This means keeping you and your family safe from UV rays as well as preventing fading. The light color of canvas tents helps with this too, but a protective treatment keeps the material from drying out and becoming brittle.

Used for extended periods under the sun, nylon and plastic tents weaken and break down over time. Canvas tents can be retreated with UV resistance too.

Another straightforward reason canvas tents provide better shade? Their shelter is simply larger and a larger footprint means more interior space to escape from the sun’s harmful rays.

Even if you prefer to be outside in nature, you can always extend your canvas tent structure with an awning or a setting up sun shade structure  to create a cozy lounge or sitting area.

Canvas Tents Allow Natural Sunlight

canvas bell tent with windows and bed

Canvas tents are treated for UV resistance, but their light-hued material still invites in that lovely glow of natural sunlight. Many synthetic tents are made of darker hues, which pretty much act as blackout curtains. However, when you crave to be outdoors, that usually means you crave all that comes with it, including the sunlight. One of the best ways to reset your circadian rhythm, after all, is to go camping.

You can find some canvas tents with darker shades like green, such as our Scout About A-frame tent, and even black canvas tents for stealth camping, but light-colored canvas tents are perfect for letting in that relaxing glow (and will stay a cooler in the summer).

More than that, you can find canvas tents designed with features like transparent roof panels. Not only do these clear top panels welcome more natural light, but they allow you to lie in bed and gaze up at the stars at night too. Life inTents’ Stella canvas bell tents feature 4mm thick PVC ceiling windows with a built-in curtain cover.

Canvas Tents Are Easy to Repair

Canvas tents are a cinch to repair, making them more sustainable. Remember when we talked about the durability of a canvas tent? Part of that durability lies in its canvas. Canvas tents are much more difficult to tear or rip.

Even if it does tear, you can patch it up on the spot and in the field with a threading kit and scrap piece of canvas. Then, you simply add some waterproof sealant to keep out condensation and rain. It’s better than fighting with adhesive, peeling up, repositioning and smoothing out over and over to get it just right.

On the flip side, when a nylon or polyester tent tears, a tape patch offers an easy fix, but ultimately harms the structure's integrity. That’s not to say that canvas tents don’t still require some maintenance, but their overall quality is ultimately worth it.

Canvas Tents Are Eco-friendly & Sustainable

From the tent poles to the canvas, canvas tents are much more eco-friendly than their nylon tent counterparts. As mentioned, canvas tents can last for generations. With the ability to make easy repairs to the fabric and weight and ruggedness of their poles and frames, a canvas tent will give you and your family many long years before you even *think* of retiring it.

However, when you do need to dispose of your canvas tent, you can breathe a little easier and have less on your conscience knowing that it is less harmful to our planet than most tents.  Plus, you can look for someone who might be able to up-cycle the tent and it make bags out of.

Cotton, which is a drought-tolerant and sustainable plant, is biodegradable. This means when your canvas tent reaches the end of its lifespan, the cotton canvas will break down in the earth. We simply can’t say that about traditional camping tents.

Traditional camping tents are often made from Nylon and Polyester, which are plastics derived from petroleum.

This is harmful to the earth twofold:

  • Petroleum: Unlike cotton, petroleum is a non-renewable resource. More than that, the manufacturing process uses harmful and toxic chemicals and wastes that pollute our soils and waterways.
  • Microplastics: Once a nylon tent is thrown into a landfill (whether due to costly repairs or it simply reached the end of its life), the nylon and polyester materials begin to slowly break down, creating tiny microplastics. These microplastics have been found in everything we digest and even the air we breathe. Needless to say, it’s a real environmental issue.

Chances are, you introduced your family to camping or glamping to bring them closer to nature. So do yourself and future generations a favor by choosing quality over quantity. A well-made canvas tent serves you a thousand times over when you compare and consider its footprint and environmental impact.

Which of These Benefits Appeal to You?

With the numerous benefits that canvas tents offer, there's something to please everyone. We hope this thorough guide helped steer you in the right direction and allow you to see the many advantages that a canvas tent like a bell tent or wall tent has to offer. 

Have more questions? Don't hesitate to reach out to Life inTents. As experts in glamping, we know canvas tents inside and out. And we're happy to help! 

Brette DeVore
Brette DeVore

En tant qu'ancien architecte d'intérieur hôtelier doté d'un esprit aventureux et amoureux des voyages, j'aide désormais les architectes d'intérieur et les entreprises liées au tourisme dans la création de contenu et de médias en ligne.



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