Does your tent need a vestibule? You’re probably already familiar with a tent. You’ve also likely walked through building vestibules, which is the space between the outside and inside the door. So how about a tent vestibule? That’s the issue we’ll be taking up.
Purpose of a Tent Vestibules
Besides permanent structures tents can also have a vestibule. However, the purpose is much more functional in the tent version. These vestibules are a mudroom of sorts located in the front of a tent or on the sides.
A vestibule in a tent has various functions including the following:
1. Changing Room
While getting back to nature can be a rewarding experience it can also be messy when you’re exposed to the elements. In those situations, you’ll want to change out of wet/muddy clothes when you get back to the tent.
A vestibule in the tent can serve as a changing area. This gives the person privacy so they can change into some clean/dry clothes before crawling into their sleeping bag. It also helps to prevent waking up the other campers who are sleeping.
2. Gear Storage
When camping in a tent, it can be easy to run out of space and especially if several campers are in the same tent. In that case, you’ll want to store your gear in an out-of-the-way location, so it won’t negatively affect how easy it is to move around in the temporary structure.
Whether you’re hiking/camping with your family or friends, it can be a refreshing experience for everyone. The problem is while multi-person tents provide more sleeping space the campers also have exponentially more gear.
A vestibule in the tent is the perfect solution. It frees up the tent’s floor space for walking/sleeping, which in turn helps prevent people from tripping over gear and people.
3. Winter Cooking
Yet another practical use of a tent with vestibules is you can do some indoor cooking in the winter. Starting a campfire can be quite challenging in sub-zero weather. If you don’t feel like braving the elements you could cook inside the tent in the vestibule.
As you might guess this poses some possible safety issues. They include carbon monoxide poisoning, attracting wild animals, and burning down your tent. If you’re going to cook in the vestibule make sure to take some key precautions.
It starts with picking the right camping stoves for in-tent winter cooking. An outstanding option is a canister stove that’s a camp stove/pot combo. The main benefit of these stoves is there’s minimum flame up when you light the unit.
If you want an ultra-safe stove, pick one that’s basically flameless like the MSR WindBurner. It heats a radiant burner that’s a round surface covered by a wire screen. The burner is totally covered/enclosed with a WindBurner pot as illustrated below.
Another option is isobutene stoves like the Mountain Series Stryker by Camp Chef. They’re a practical option because they’re the easiest kind of flame to control inside a tent.
As a word of caution, you should avoid hanging stove kits available for canister stoves. On one hand, they help to prevent the units from tipping over like standard canister stoves. However, the stove flames are dangerously close to the ceiling, so it’s better to use the hanging stove kits outdoors.
It’s also important to make sure to cook in the vestibule rather than other areas of the tent. That’s because the vestibule is better ventilated so there’s less chance you’ll have to deal with carbon monoxide, smoke and smells getting trapped in the tent.
Types of Tent Vestibules
When picking a tent with a vestibule, you’ll have two main options:
This type of vestibule covers the tent’s front door. This can be a built-in vestibule or an add-on that you can install on the tent during inclement weather.
Front vestibules can be used as a type of covered porch. This provides benefits like giving you a place to read a book or cook when it’s rainy outside. There’s nothing like having a “mobile” porch with you to create the perfect home-away-from-home experience.
A front vestibule tends to be quite large, so you can store lots of gear there. It’s a plus when the overall size of the tent is small, or you have heavy equipment like bikes that should be protected from rain and snow.
You can even find 3-person tents that have a front vestibule. It’s a great feature that even small camping groups can use for storage, cooking, etc.
This is the other main type of tent vestibule you can select. This type of vestibule is typically wide enough so you can store your gear on one half of the area and use the other half like a tent door. You can even find 1-person tents with this type of vestibule.
How about a 2-person tent? In that case, you should look for two doors and each with a vestibule. This allows each person to easily enter/exit the tent without crawling over the other person. Another plus of this type of tent is the vestibule is usually designed so you can still enter/exit the tent easily even if you have some gear in the vestibule.
Do You Really Need Tent Vestibules
This is the million-dollar question. It might seem at first like a must-have feature since it provides a covered space for campers. However, they’re not a novelty that everyone needs. For example, if you’re camping in warm/ non-inclement weather or carrying light gear, it’s less necessary.
On the other hand, there are certainly situations in which a vestibule is highly advisable for tents. Camping in cold and/or rainy/snowy weather makes a vestibule invaluable for changing clothes, cooking food, and storing stuff.
There’s also an X-factor. You might categorically want a tent with a vestibule or just want to have a unit with all the bells and whistles. Vestibules add extra weight! So make sure you’re ready to haul around a tent w/ vestibule during the day. As any hiker knows extra weight can add up quickly and by the end of the day can feel like a ton of bricks in a backpack.
In particular, where will you be camping and for how long? If you’re camping in a 4-season area where frequent rain/snow is expected you should consider a vestibule. If you’re using family camping tents for several days, it’s another reason to have this tent feature.
When is a vestibule iffy? If you’re camping in a 3-season area where you might have to deal with some rain or chilly temperatures, it’s optional. In addition, if you’re camping in an area for 1-2 days, a vestibule is more of a luxury. Finally, if you have a small amount of gear, then you don’t really need the extra space a vestibule provides.
As always it’s best to do a needs analysis for the type of camping you’ll be doing. That will help determine whether or not you should consider a tent with vestibule, and which type is right. If you don’t need a vestibule, you can buy a cheaper tent and free up money for trail mix and s’mores.
While not all campers/hikers need a tent vestibule, these covered areas can be effective for storing extra gear, changing out of wet/muddy clothes, and cooking a piping-hot meal in winter.
The key is to pick the right tent with the right vestibule. Make sure to weigh factors like the vestibule’s size, location, and functionality to help you select the best tent vestibule. It will have you covered!