Today I’ve got something really important to share…
A Compete Guide To Finding, Using & Maintaining A Canvas Tent
Because canvas are a hidden gem.
Why? Because it’s hard to be popular when the alternative seems so affordable.
In our current throwaway society, we overvalue cheap stuff.
While undervaluing the high quality – long-lasting items.
But those who research will find these tents are a better investment.
TOPICS IN THIS GUIDE… ↓(click to jump)
- Best Canvas Tents Today
- Why Canvas Is A Better Option
- Canvas Vs. “Plastic” Tents
- Who Should Invest In One?
We’ll start with a few single-person options and then move to larger (cabin style) ones.
Small Canvas Tents (single to 8 people)
The following tents are both portable and easy to set up.
This is a very spacious 1 person tent. It’s 6 feet 8 inches long and nearly 3 feet wide.
The Kodiak Canvas Swag Tent has a zip-open window at the head and foot of the tent to allow for ultimate airflow and temperature management.
It's made with 100% Hydrashield cotton duck canvas for maximum breathability and watertight protection.
The Kodiak Swag also has a nice 2-inch foam pad and cover.
↓ Kodiak Canvas Swag Tent
If you have a full-size pickup truck and want to camp anywhere you can take your truck, then the Kodiak Truck Bed Tent is for you.
This tent offers Hydra-Shield, which is a 100% cotton duck canvas.
So you know it's durable, breathable, and watertight.
Here's a list of the compatible truck models for the Kodiak Truck Tent:
- Ford F Series
- Chevy Silverado
- GMC Sierra
- Dodge Ram
- Toyota Tundra
- Nissan Titan
And when you think this setup would be too small, the design maximizes interior space with a tall 5-foot high ceiling!
It includes 5 windows to provide excellent ventilation and a feeling of openness.
One of the windows faces the cab access window, so you'll still have access to your truck's interior if your truck's rear window opens up.
↓ Kodiak Canvas Truck Tent
Again, another excellent series of tents made by Kodiak Canvas.
The Flex-Bow Tents are well-made, high-quality tents using the same Hydra-Shield cotton duck material as the previous 2 tents.
For example, the 4-person tent is 9 ft by 8 ft and includes a tall ceiling of 6 foot 1 inch. The 6-person tent sports a 10 ft by 10 ft dimension with an impressive 6 foot 6 inches ceiling height. The 8-person tent is 10 ft by 14 ft with a 6-foot 6-inch ceiling.
The Kodiak Bow Flex series includes 2 large D-shaped doors in front and back and 4 windows.
It also includes 2 vent flaps to help control airflow and temperature management.
If your family's serious about the outdoors, this tent is seriously good.
↓ Kodiak Tent – Review / Overview
Large Canvas Tents
The next tents are best for larger excursions, adventures, events, or temporary housing.
These large tents are big, strong, and durable.
They are perfect for hunting outfitters and large group excursions.
Elk Mountain Tents makes excellent large-sized expedition tents.
They sell three sizes of their classic rectangular cabin-style tent (13 X 13), (13 X 16), and (13 X 20).
You can comfortably fit 10 people in the 13 x 20 tent (without a wood tent stove).
These Elk Mountain Tents are well crafted and use synthetic polyester to reduce the negative issues associated with cotton canvas (such as weathering it and mildew problems).
This polyester canvas also makes Elk Mountain Tents stronger than the competition.
For example, Elk Mountain Tents use 11 oz canvas with a breaking strength of 449 lbs (warp direction) and 382 lbs (fill direction).
Making it significantly tougher than traditional canvas - which has a breaking strength of 382 (warp) and 241 (fill) for 12 oz canvas and about 210 (warp) and 140 (fill) for 10 oz canvas.
The tear strength is 67 lbs (warp) and 40 lbs (fill), roughly double that of the Sunforger canvas material used by other tent companies.
These large cabin-sized tents include 6 windows that provide as much openness or privacy as you desire.
These tents also have vent flaps at both ends of the tent to provide temperature and airflow control.
Each tent also has a built-in stove jack flap. This allows you to add a wood stove to the corner of your Elk Mountain Tent and provides a nice warm cabin feel even in the dead of winter.
I like the quality construction of the materials for the Elk Mountain Tents.
They use steel poles for a strong internal frame to withstand the most brutal wind and snow. And the canvas is both strong and durable polyester, which is stronger and more water-resistant than cotton canvas.
Plus, at Elk Mountain, you also get the best value for three reasons:
- They don't have retailers who take a cut of the profits, so there is no retail markup on their tents.
- They don't need to maintain a storefront (rent, utilities, displays, repairs, etc.) to lower prices.
3) They've streamlined the process - all three tent sizes include all the best features. This efficiency saves time and expenses, so they can focus on making more tents at affordable prices.
Simply put...low overhead = low prices.
So if you're looking for a single-room, cabin-style tent, we highly recommend Elk Mountain Tents.
Speaking of Elk Mountain Tents, they were kind enough to send us a free 13 x 16 Wall Tent to build and review.
Here's our review of the Elk Mountain 13 x 16 Wall Tent. The video includes the full build (in a timelapse) and my review of the tent at the end.
↓ Canvas Tent Review – Elk Mountain Tent
Canvas is an extremely durable plain-woven fabric.
It’s used for making sails, tents, marquees, backpacks, etc.
Modern canvas is usually made from cotton or linen.
Though, in the past, it was made from hemp.
The root of the word canvas originated from the Greek word cannabis.
Meaning “made of hemp.”
Fast forward to today and you’ll find two mainstream canvas fabric variations:
↓ Linen Vs. Cotton Canvas
Today, cotton is the most common fabric used for canvas.
It’s a medium-strength fabric between 10 to 20 times stronger wet vs. dry.
New cotton canvas absorbs water on first contact.
And the cotton fibers swell.
It’s slower to dry and is susceptible to mildew or mold if not allowed to dry before storage.
Cotton is also flammable.
So to make canvas, additional chemicals and coatings are added.
This improves it’s water resistance and reduce flammability.
2. Synthetic Fibers
A brand new type is – polyester canvas.
Polyester canvas reduces the initial water absorption issue.
And the material’s weight increases the strength and lowers mildew concerns.
Common tent fabrics includes canvas, nylon, and polyester (plus many unique variations of these 3).
Nylon and polyester are essential variations of plastic polymers.
They’re the basic material used in the cheapest, lightweight tents.
Now, there are some differences between nylon and polyester.
But they are essentially the same – thin, lightweight, plastic fabrics.
On the other hand, Canvas is a heavy, plain-woven fabric typically made from cotton, hemp, or a blend.
So, you can break your tent material options into two categories:
So, let’s compare these two types:
↓ Canvas Tent Pros and ConsClick here to instantly download this Complete Checklist PDF. No purchase necessary.
Let’s begin with a few benefits:
They’re more breathable than polyester tents.
Remember, canvas is most often cotton based.
And this cotton woven pattern, by design, has tiny holes.
Nylon is a man-made fabric based on polymers.
And thus, Nylon provides no natural air transfer.
So they trap moisture and have more condensation inside.
With canvas, you avoid those humid morning tent walls.
Due to cotton’s properties (thickness and weight), the walls create a sound barrier.
It naturally dampens outside noises.
And the walls won’t flap as much in the breeze.
And when they do, the flaps are quieter.
So, you’re more likely to sleep through windy conditions.
And hear less of your noisy neighbors in a busy campsite.
Canvas is a much better insulator than nylon or polyester.
They remain cooler longer in direct sunlight.
They also stay warmer longer in the cooler evenings.
Hot tents (made of polymer) don’t retain warmth or stay cool.
So you end up with much larger, quicker temperature swings.
Have you ever tried taking an afternoon nap in a nylon or polyester tent?
It will swelter with the sun becoming an oven.
With canvas the temperature swings are much smaller.
This makes for a more comfortable camping experience.
They have two major durability advantages: UV rays and punctures.
First, man-made fabrics deteriorate in UV rays.
So, leaving your nylon or polyester tent in direct sunlight will reduce its life.
This process weakens the fabric, creating sagging and making it more susceptible to rips and tears.
Canvas can handle those harmful UV rays.
Yes, over time, the sun’s rays will cause slight discoloration of the canvas.
But it won’t affect your tent’s durability or useful life.
While canvas and nylon/polyester fabric will rip if met with a sharp object, the canvas won’t.
This is where a canvas tent excels; if properly cared for, it can be a one-time, lifetime purchase.
I’ve never met anyone using the same plastic tent for 30 years…
Can Add A Heat Source
You can safely add a tent heater.
Heck, many larger ones are designed to include a heating tent stove.
This is due to the larger sizes of these tents overall.
They often include a stove jack vent flap in the tent’s roof.
This allows you to generate and trap this heat.
Of course, you must always follow the manufacturer’s specs carefully to avoid mishaps.
But it’s a nice bonus for those who like to camp, hunt, or fish in the winter.
You can even live comfortably in a tent with a stove in the dead of winter.
The same cannot be said for nylon or polyester tents.
Of course, there are pluses and minuses, so let’s cover the minus.
Brand-new cotton tents must be weathered before they are leakproof.
This is because of the small holes in the cotton weave pattern in the new “unweathered” canvas.
But this is normal and just a one-time concern.
Set it up in the rain (or hit it with a water hose) before taking it on its first adventure.
This process will force the cotton to absorb a small amount of water and swell the fibers.
This weathering process makes your new canvas watertight in the future.
It only needs to be weathered once, and you’ll be good to go from there.
On a pound-per-square-inch basis, canvas is much heavier than plastic fabrics.
And this weight difference gets more noticeable the larger the tent.
So, they are a poor choice for backpacking or bugging out.
Trust me; you don’t want to carry a heavy tent on your back.
For canvas camping tents, as long as you can fit them in your car or truck, it’s no big deal.
Yes, they can take a bit more time to set up.
But it’s worth it for the benefits we discussed previously.
Mold / Mildew
Canvas is more susceptible to mold and mildew if not properly cared for.
This means you must take care and set it in the sunlight to dry before stuffing it back into its carrying case.
If you do this, you won’t have any mildew, mold, or rot problems.
They do cost more upfront.
The manufacturing process and material costs that go into these tents are greater; thus, the tent costs more.
But if you take care of your tent, it can last a lifetime.
Often many decades longer than a cheaper plastic counterpart.
So if you’re looking for a tent you can enjoy for decades, invest in a canvas tent!
↓ Top 5 Things To Consider Before Buying A Canvas Wall Tent
If you go camping often or plan to in the future, you should upgrade to Canvas.
For all the reasons stated above, it just makes more sense.
It’s quieter, more durable, and better insulated than cheap plastic tents.
It’s better to buy a high-quality tent once and use it for a lifetime.
Rather than buying a cheap nylon tent every 2 or 3 years.
One of the best features is their height.
Usually, you can stand up in them and store your fishing poles in the tent without breaking them down.
Plus, they’re the ideal shelter for ice fishing excursions.
Canvas walls do a much better job of keeping you and your fishing mates warm while out on the lake.
Serious hunters know multiday hunting excursions take a lot of gear, food, and supplies.
So, to enjoy your downtime in camp after a long day of hunting, you’ll want a canvas tent.
It provides more room for all your gear and supplies.
And you can add a stove for heat during cold weather hunts.
Expeditions / Rescue Operations
They make the ideal home base for expeditions and rescue operations.
Like military operations outside the battlefield, they’re portable structures that can easily become remote command posts.
Street fairs, farmers markets, backyard weddings, and small concerts are great uses for a large tent.
They will help keep guests warmer in the colder months and cooler in the hot months.
Most events only last for a short period (day, week, or month); once the event is over, you must take down the structure.
This is where a canvas tent excels; portable and substantial.
Whether it’s a natural disaster or you are fumigating your home, you’ll need temporary shelter.
You may be able to move in with a friend or extended family for a few days.
Or you can break out your canvas tent and make it a cozy, comfortable adventure.
They are roomy, portable, and durable, making them an ideal backup option if you find yourself without a home for a while.
Investing in tools and supplies that will last in the harshest conditions is always wise.
These tents are a smart upgrade serious survivalists and avid campers should make.
Don’t be turned off by the slightly more upfront investment because the price is what you pay; value is what you get.
With canvas tents, you’re getting much more value for your dollars.
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