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What Is a Tent Vestibule and Why Do You Need It?

Camping has been on the rise for a long time now. Probably because more and more people are trying to get out of their busy city life and enjoy nature. Part of this is made possible by new and improved camping gear that makes camping accessible to the most reluctant campers now.

Today, we are going to talk about tent vestibule – a feature that you might not have missed in your old camping tent but it certainly is something useful. So, what is a tent vestibule? Let’s find out.

What is a tent vestibule?

A tent vestibule is a covered space just outside your main tent canopy – either on the side or at the front. It is much like your car porch outside your door where you can leave your shoes, camping gear and other dirty stuff that you don’t want to carry inside your main tent. You can also use the vestibule area to cook and pull up a chair to relax.

What is a tent vestibule

The vestibule is part of your tent that allows you to have the best of surroundings, without feeling trapped inside your closed and without feeling the brunt of bad weather. The shades keep you protected from the scorching rays and sudden showers and the open front lets you enjoy the beauty of mesmerizing campsites.

What are the benefits of vestibules?

Vestibules might be good for enjoying weather and sights but that’s not all. There are some other benefits that make the vestibule worth every penny.

Mud Room

While camping in the wilderness, it is almost impossible to keep your tent clean (and tents are notoriously difficult to wash)

When you go out for hiking, trekking, or even to fetch water, you often come back with your shoes covered in mud or snow and raincoat in wet soil. And entering the tent like that is not only gross but is pretty unhygienic. But, you cannot leave your stuff outside to get drenched either.

Now, this is why tent vestibules are great. This partially covered space not only provides you with a place to keep your muddy stuff but also, works as a changing room where you shed top layers and get all cleaned up before stepping foot into the tent.

Weather Protection

Vestibules are made from the tent’s inherent material which is in most cases waterproof.

In regular tents, when it rains, opening your tent means allowing the water to fill up inside the tent.

But, with vestibule, whether it is light showers, snowfall, or high winds, your vestibule is one safe place where you can set up your chairs, sit and enjoy the weather without being affected.

Storage Area

Making space or organizing things in a 1-2, or 3-4-person tent is quite difficult.

I mean, how can one adjust a sleeping bed, travelling accessory, clothing, and crockery in one tent. Even if you end up adjusting things, you’ll soon start feeling claustrophobic as there would be no space to move.

Now, in this case, vestibules are a great help. Because while camping, more space never hurts. So, you can keep all the crockeries and accessories outside and sleep peacefully with enough space to place your air mattress or sleeping pad and to toss and turn.

If you are camping with a small generator, you can use this area to place your generator as well during a rainy night. The generator noise will be a little disturbing but it will be safe from rain.

Cooking space

We all are aware of the dangers of cooking inside the tent. But, what if it’s too cold and windy outside to cook as well.

Vestibules are covered but are well ventilated as well. And, this is what makes them perfect for outdoor cooking. Because carbon mono oxide intoxication is one of the most dreaded outcomes of indoor cooking which in this case cannot happen.

So, you can easily light up your propane stove and cook your dinner. It is also a good place to keep your tent space heater before you go to sleep to avoid any leakages during the night.

Types of tent vestibules

There are multiple types, shapes, and sizes of the vestibule.  But, the most common ones are listed below.

Front vestibule

Front vestibules are the ones that are present at the front door of the tent. These vestibules vary in size in different tent models but they are the most commonly used vestibules for solo camping trips.

These vestibules are mostly preferred for cooking or sitting rather than keeping stuff. Because when you keep stuff at the front entrance, the accessories make it difficult for you to go out and get in.

Side vestibule

Side vestibules are more preferred by group campers as it not only provides more space but also keeps the entrance free. The side in these vestibule tents refers to the longer side of the tent.

 These types of vestibule tents have two entrances and vestibules, one to enter the tent and the other to keep stuff.  This is indeed more spacious but a little too roomy for a solo camper.

Zipper Awning

These vestibules are the most amazing kind of vestibules as they not only provide room for storage but also an awning or porch to sit around and enjoy.

They are way more spacious than the other two types of vestibules as the awning is longer than other vestibules. Another benefit of this design is that the awning has a zipper and it can be zipped back into the tent which creates a vestibular area to keep stuff.

These tents are a bit expensive but are the best to have the best of the surroundings.

Are vestibule tents more expensive than regular tents?

Yes. Vestibules do add to the cost of the tent. Tough tents with vestibules range a lot in price. Some are indeed very pricey but there are some affordable and high-quality ones as well.

Two of my favourite vestibule tents in terms of affordability are ALPS mountaineering – Taurus 4 Person tent and Coleman Sun Dome Tent. Both of these are high-end 3 seasons tents and are relatively cheaper than other vestibule tents.  

The vestibule that Taurus 4 Person tent has is the spacious side vestibule with two entryways whereas, Coleman’s sturdy sun dome has the front vestibule design.

Can I buy a vestibule separately?

No, you cannot buy a vestibule separately because each tent model has its own design of vestibule.

But, since vestibule is not a necessity, there are tent manufacturers that provide vestibules as an add-on tent accessory. These vestibules can be easily attached and detached and come in handy with the tent.   The best example for these tents is Eureka –Add On Vestibule Mini Room tent.   

Can I make my own tent vestibule?

Yes! Making a tent vestibule on your own is indeed a brilliant idea. It just takes 5-7 minutes to construct your own vestibule in the size you want.

To construct a vestibule all you need is a waterproof tarp with eyelets (6×8 or 8×10), a packet of pegs, a roll of strong wax cord and a mallet.

  • Start with the back of the vestibule. First, secure the back pegs into the ground on each side of the tent. Place it roughly at 1/4th of the tent’s length.
  • Then, take one end of the tarp and pass the cord from one corner of the other.
  • Put the cord corner of the tarp over the tent and secure the backend of the tarpon back pegs on each side one by one.
  • Once the back ends are secured, then, take two more pegs and secure them into the ground. Consider the size of the tarp while securing the front-end pegs.
  • Then put the cord into the front eyelets and secure the front ends into the pegs.  

And, that’s how you construct your tent vestibule in no time.

Conclusion – Do you need a vestibule?

A vestibule is definitely not a necessity, but having one for sure makes things better. And isn’t camping all about nature, comfort, and space? It is right…

Vestibule and awnings are one of those accessories that make your camping experience a bit more delightful and a lot less stressful. So, even if you can’t afford one, construct it to have the best of your trip.

Recommended Camping Gears: I have compiled a list of my favourite camping gear in one place. The selection is based on my own personal experience using them for many years camping as well as feedback from fellow campers. Check them out on my Recommended Camping Gears page