Modern tents come in a wide range of shapes, sizes and materials. Lightweight and easy to manage tents are popular among many campers with canvas becoming less common.
But which tents are better? Is a canvas tent better than a modern, synthetic tent?
It all depends on your needs as a camper. Canvas tents are much more durable than synthetic tents. They offer greater wind resistance and warmth and are tougher than synthetic tents and you can fit a stove to heat them. But canvas is heavier than modern tent materials and requires more maintenance, but, that said, in our view canvas rules.
Canvas tent v Synthetic tent comparison
Interior dampness and moisture
Tents can get wet inside from condensation and in this area canvas tents are better than synthetic versions.
Canvas has qualities that allow the tent to ‘breathe’ allowing water to pass through the canvas to the outside meaning that interior condensation levels are kept to a minimum.
Synthetic tents do not have this level of ‘breathability’ and the water vapour condenses on the inside walls of the tent, resulting in a wet and damp interior.
Canvas is thicker than most synthetic materials and is a better insulator than nylon and the other materials that are used in tent production.
One of the great features about a canvas tent, that you cannot do with a synthetic tent, is that you can add a wood burning stove.
This will keep you warm and dry throughout the year and, if you camp in an area where wood is plentiful then you have a free source of heat.
You cannot put a stove in a synthetic tent – it will melt and catch fire if you try to.
Canvas is surprisingly water resistant and will keep you dry in the heaviest of downfalls. The natural qualities of canvas cause rain to slide off the tent easily and the fibres prevent water from getting through to the interior.
Plastic type tents will provide some levels of water resistance but as they become more water laden they will eventually become overwhelmed with damp levels which will make your tent feel cold and damp on the inside.
Added to this you will need to ventilate your plastic tent to get rid of the humidity, which leads to drafts and colder temperatures inside.
Canvas tents beat synthetic tents hands down when it comes to strength and durability.
Canvas is difficult to tear and, if you do manage to suffer a rip in a canvas tent, then you can repair it easily, either by sewing it up or by adding a new canvas patch to the area.
A canvas tent that is looked after, treated and well maintained will last a lifetime without any major issues.
Conversely, plastic type tents are thin and will tear easily. They are almost impossible to repair with the only option normally being to use special repair tape or duct tape to seal rips and tears.
Many plastic tents come with repair kits, similar in nature to bicycle puncture repair kits which can be used to repair small areas.
Ease of use
Both canvas and synthetic tents can be tricky to setup and often the bigger the tent the more difficult it is to set it up.
A synthetic tent would be the sensible option for anyone looking for an easy to erect tent. There are many quick ‘popup’ type synthetic tents available, some of which can be erected in as little as 5 to 15 minutes for family sized tents.
The modern materials that synthetic tents use are also lightweight and relatively easier to handle and work with.
We have camped in both canvas and synthetic tents and, in our view canvas makes for the best camping experience. If you are camping in an area where the weather could change becoming cold or wet, then canvas is absolutely the best choice.
Synthetic tents do have some benefits though, the main ones being that they are lightweight and normally easier to setup than canvas. If you are wildcamping or camping in a climate which is hot and dry, then a synthetic tent would make a good choice.
Which canvas tent should I get?
If you have decided to get a canvas tent then there is a wide range of options available and it can be tricky to make sure that you get the best canvas tent for your camping needs.
You will want to ensure that your choice of tent is large enough for your camping party plus their equipment and that it can be transported easily to your camping pitch.
Once there you will want a tent that is easy to erect and that provides good wind and weather resistance while offering good standards of build and comfort.
We’ve looked at a range of canvas tents and narrowed our list down to five tents which we think are perfect.
Our Canvas Tent Choices
1. Whiteduck Canvas Wall Tent
2. Whiteduck Regatta Canvas Bell Tent
3. Danchel 4M Cotton Bell Tent
4. Glamcamp Canvas Bell Tent
5. Outop Canvas 4 Season Bell Tent
Some of the things that we considered when choosing the canvas tents above included their size and how many people they can comfortably accommodate.
Weight, build quality and ease of use were also considerations as well as whether the tent could be used in all seasons.
Therefore regardless of your choice , we guarantee that you will be investing in a quality product.
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