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What is a tent vestibule?
A tent vestibule is a roofed area that extends outside of the tent and protects the entrance from wind, rain and sun. In short, consider a tent vestibule as a mildly protected extension of your tent that can be used as a storage area, chiefly for muddy/dirty gear. Vestibules usually have a floor-less base. A good percentage of tents have a vestibule while an even greater amount of them does not.
Do you actually need a vestibule in your tent?
No, but in some cases it can be incredibly useful. Generally, it is not necessary for you to have a tent vestibule to go camping, hiking or whatever other outdoors activity you have planned that involves a tent. However, in most cases, a tent vestibule can be extremely beneficial to the tent occupants simply due to its usefulness as a seperate area shielded from most elements of nature.
Some tents have long extended vestibules that can be used as areas to relax if it gets too hot inside the tent during afternoons or summer days. Also it can be a good place to sit under and enjoy the stars at night under some shade or simply relax as you would like at the porch in your home.
Types of tent vestibules
There are different types of vestibules available in the market and its always good to know their differences before deciding which type is best suited to your needs.
Generally, vestibules are either built-in to the tent or available to be attached as a seperate component. The three main types of vestibules are listed below:
Positioned at the front of a tent, this is the most common type of tent vestibule and arguably the most stylish. The gear and items stored in here could make navigation in and out of the tent a little difficult due clogging/blocking the tent’s entrance with items. Some front vestibules have sealed floors attached as well like the Amaya popup tent with vestibule for 4-6 persons which has a sealed integrated vestibule (area of 31.4 inch) that functions as a seperate room.
Side tent vestibules are the perfect fit for you if you don’t like your items being stored near the tent entrance and blocking the entrance. They are very wide and you can navigate back and forth without issue. Storing gear is rather easy too and they have more space for storage compared to a front vestibule tent.
ALPS Mountaineering Zephyr 2-Person Tent is a good choice as a 2 person tent with dual vestibules. Interestingly, this lighweight has side doors which makes getting in and out very easy.
These are a rare model and located at the back of your tent.
Tent vestibule advantages and disadvantages
- Protects the entrance from rain and snow
- Extra storage space
- Good for storing muddy gear
- Functions like a camping porch
- Very useful for large outdoor trips
- Takes up extra space in your pack
- Set up times are higher
- Not ideal for lightweight or ultralight travel
- Tents with vestibules are slightly more expensive
what is a tent vestibule useful for?
There are a variety of useful attributes from most tent vestibules. They can function as excellent places to store your wet or muddy shoes away from the rain. It is common to get your shoes, clothing or camping equipment muddy or wet from hiking or walking outdoors in the rain. Or you might have simply stepped on a puddle on your way back to the tent. No one really wants to store wet clothing or gear inside the tent, so a vestibule is a good choice if your camping area gets the occasional rainfall.
The areas inside the vestibules work as nice storage spaces to keep items outside without taking up precious living space inside the tent. Most tent vestibules don’t have a floor, so water could still get in and that’s something to look out for.
Vestibules, especially long front vestibules like the AYAMAYA Camping Tents 3-4 Person with Front Vestibule provides a wonderful area to sit under in the afternoon for multieple people. Shaded from the sun and rain, this area can function like a camping porch for you to enjoy a cup of coffee or tea and simply relax like how you would do at your own porch at home.
Vestibule tents are usually integrated with mid to high quality tents and are usually slightly more expensive than a tent without a vestibule. They also tend to be bit heavier due to the extra vestibule area and can take up space in your backpack. Because of that, a tent vestibule is not ideal for lightweight travel like hiking or backpacking, however, it can be a real asset of some extra weight and space is not an issue for you.
They are really useful for large camping outings with family and friends where a lot of space to store gear is essential for a great trip.
What are some alternatives to tent vestibules?
Alternatives include using tarps over the tent to cover the area you need. Tarps are inexpensive and weigh almost next to nothing. A tent wing is another good option to store some large sized gear like bicycles or other equipment. If you just need some inexpensive rain protection, a rainfly will make a good alternative.
Cooking in a tent vestibule
This is a question that gets asked a lot and I have seen some mixed answers. Some people are opposed while others say cooking can be done as long as you take appropriate precautions. It is not recommended to cook under the vestibule because there is a reasonable risk of the tent fabric catching fire from the cooking. It is simply not worth the risk in my opinion when you can just cook outside in a camping stove or campfire.
It’s best to not cook under a vestibule unless you have no other viable option. The only reasonable case to cook under a vestibule is when there is heavy rain or snowfall and cooking outside is not an option at all. In this case, extra care must be taken to ensure the tent does not catch fire as the fabric is almost never fire resistant.
Some great tent models with vestibules
ALPS Mountaineering Zephyr 2-Person Tent – 2 person tent with dual side vestibules.
AYAMAYA Camping Tents 3-4 Person with Front Vestibule – 3-4 person dome tent with a tunnel shelter design.
Amaya popup tent with vestibule for 4-6 persons – 4-6 person front vestibule tent
It is not necessary to have a tent with vestibule to have a memorable outdoors adventute, however, they can be great additions to your outdoors pack providing extra space, comfort and protection from the elements during your outdoors stay.