What is a Tent Vestibule?
Tent vestibules are a protected area along the sides or front of your tent that provide additional space just outside the interior of your tent, but under a rain fly. This is a great area to store gear outside of the tent to save space, change some muddy or wet clothing, leave footwear, or potentially cook if campers are extremely careful to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning, or catching your tent on fire.
If you are looking for a tent with a vestibule, check our our article on the best budget backpacking tents.
Types of Tent Vestibules
All tent vestibules are pretty much the same, just change slightly in functionality and location of the vestibule. Some tents don’t come with vestibules, and an add-on needs to be purchased. Campers can also make their own vestibules with waterproof materials.
These vestibules are just located at the front and main entrance to a tent. They can range in size depending on the tent. When tents only have one front vestibule with one entrance, can make it a little cumbersome to enter and exit your tent when you have gear stored in the vestibule.
Side vestibules are located on either side of the tent. It is fantastic to have a tent with two vestibules and two doors into your tent. This provides double the vestibule space, and allows you to fill one vestibule with gear, and use the other as an exit.
Add-On Tent Vestibules
Should You Have a Tent Vestibule?
You certainly don’t need a tent vestibule, but they almost always come in handy. Especially if you are in an area that can potentially get precipitation. The extra storage space is fantastic for freeing space inside your tent, and keeping the inside clean and dry.
The tradeoff for having a vestibule is minimal. It is added fabric to your entire tent, meaning that your packed down tent will be slightly larger, and slightly heavier. With this being said, it is almost always worth having vestibules on your tent given how minimal the added weight and size is.
Vestibules become extra necessary when camping in a tent with another individual. The extra space to store equipment outside the tent will allow for substantially more space for individuals inside of the tent.
Having the ability to take off your wet boots outside of the tent, while still being protected from the elements is fantastic. We often sit down inside of the tent with boots just outside the zippers, unlace, and then pop the boots off before scooting fully inside of the tent. This prevents dirt and mud from entering the tent.
Campers can easily create their own vestibules with any waterproof material. Any rainfly material, or even a tarp can be used to create a waterproof space with good ventilation. Many choose to bring extra fabric to make their campsite more comfortable and functional.
By carrying a tarp, campers can create waterproof covering areas not attached to the tent as well. This can be great for setting up a sitting area, or cooking area a little ways away from your tent. This is probably the most versatile option.
Can You Cook Inside a Tent Vestibule?
The short answer here is yes, but extreme caution should be taken. Almost always, you will hear and read to not cook inside your tent or in your vestibule. Not only can you burn a hole in your tent, but you can die or get sick from the carbon monoxide of camper stoves.
The key here is to ensure that your area is well ventilated. If air is not flowing through at a decent rate, you could be building up dangerous levels of carbon monoxide. Being odorless and clear, means it can kill you without ever knowing it is around.
Another thing to consider here is bears. If you are cooking from your tent, you are leaving behind a lot of good smelling things. In bear country, it is definitely recommended to cook a little bit away from your tent.
Max DesMarais is the founder of hikingandfishing.com. He has a passion for the outdoors and making outdoor education and adventure more accessible. Max is a published author for various outdoor adventure, travel, and marketing websites. He is an experienced hiker, backpacker, fly fisherman, trail runner, and spends his free time in the outdoors. These adventures allow him to test gear, learn new skills, and experience new places so that he can educate others. Max grew up hiking all around New Hampshire and New England. He became obsessed with the New Hampshire mountains, and the NH 48, where he guided hikes and trail runs in the White Mountains. Since moving out west, Max has continued his frequent adventures in the mountains, always testing gear, learning skills, gaining experience, and building his endurance for outdoor sports. You can read more about his experience here: hikingandfishing/about