July 9th, 2020
The Pros and Cons of Wall Tents (When Compared With Other Types of Tents)
While canvas wall tents are often viewed as the go-to shelter for hunting trips in cold weather (which they’re definitely great for!), their durability, spaciousness and comfort allow for a variety of uses, from being semi-permanent outdoor homes to beautiful glamping sites.
If you’re looking for information on what to look for in a wall tent and how they compare to other kinds of tents, you’ve come to the right place.
In this guide, we’ll dive into what wall tents - and other types of tents - are, what you need to look for in a wall tent, and their pros and cons when compared with bell tents, cabin tents or camping swags.
What is a Wall Tent?
Generally speaking, a wall tent refers to a tent that has four vertical walls and provides more space than other kinds of tents such as bell, swag, A-frame, or pyramid tents. Also known as safari tents, outfitter tents and canvas hunting tents, wall tents have been in use for hundreds of years, and are hardly a new invention. In other words, they’re a proven design.
Most wall tents are constructed out of a heavy-duty canvas and are commonly used by hunters, because they offer greater space and most allow a wood stove to be used as well. As a result, wall tents are excellent tents to use during the colder months in fall or winter as they're effective at keeping you warm.
Other Kinds of Tents
Bell tents are one of the more recognizable versions of tents, with a central supporting pole that give them their classic shape. Modern bell tents tend to be made from cotton canvas, a material that’s naturally breathable and responds well to waterproofing and fire-resistant treatments.
Bell tents, because of their material, weight and ease of set up, tend to be popular among campers and glamping sites. It’s also common to see them set up in backyards, which makes for an exciting weekend activity at home.
Swag Tents (Camping Swags)
Swags are known to have their origin in Australia and have the appeal of being simple to pack and carry. For this reason, they’re most often used by solo travelers, festival goers, backpackers or mountaineers.
Due to their size and capacity, swags probably don’t make for good comparisons with wall tents, but they’re still a viable option when considering travelling alone, or with one other person. If you’re in a larger group with plenty of equipment and gear, a wall tent would be more appropriate for your trip.
A cabin tent, because of the almost-straight nature of its walls, is set up to resemble a cabin. This also means that they allow more space inside to move around and have a relatively high center.
The design of cabin tents is often focused on ease of use for larger groups, which makes them great for getting outside with family or friends. Traditionally, the ability to withstand strong winds or inclement weather was a concern but with modern designs and use of army duck cotton canvas for the walls, this is mostly no longer a problem.
What Are the Advantages of Wall Tents Over Other Tents?
Wall tents offer numerous advantages over other kinds of tents. When wall tents, like Alpha Wall Tents, are built with the highest-quality material and treated to last, they offer:
First and foremost, large canvas tents offer an increased level of comfort over other kinds of tents because they are designed to keep you warm. The thick canvas on wall tents can easily withstand water, moisture, and wind, while the stove inside of tent will keep you nice and cozy.
Wall tents are not just warm and comfortable, they are also very spacious. They give you plenty of space to move around, to change your clothes, to set up multiple beds, or to even set up a cooking station. The best wall tents tend to allow for 150 square feet of room.
3. Protection From the Elements
Army duck canvas is usually the ideal choice of material for wall tents. At White Duck, for example, our Alpha Wall Tents are manufactured using army duck canvas. The reason for this is that it tends to last longer than synthetic materials and as a result, performs better in inclement weather. For all intents and purposes, canvas wall tents are 4 season tents. The poles that come with canvas wall tents are also usually heavy-duty and sturdy. These two factors together ensure resistance to wind, rain, or heavy snow.
Another reason to consider investing in wall tents is their versatility. You can use them for hunting or camping trips out in the woods, to set up a booth at a convention, as a headquarters for a temporary event, or as an indoor living space in your backyard.
Potential Downsides to Wall Tents
For all of their many advantages, wall tents are not without their cons. These are mostly due to their size and material.
Wall tents are usually at a higher price point than bell tents, cabin tents or swags, which you may have noticed if you’re currently in the midst of your research process. That said, their durability, capacity and versatility often make the initial investment worth it, if they make sense for the trip you’re planning.
2. Time to Set Up
While canvas wall tents are very versatile and offer excellent protection from the elements, they can also be slow to set up and may, at the very least, require two people to get the job done without taking too much time. Also, because of their large size, they generally take up more space so may not be as suitable as, say, a bell tent for backyard camping.
An instructional video on setting up an Alpha Wall Tent
Basic Features Every Wall Tent Must Have
If, after reading the post until this point, you still feel like a wall tent is the right choice for you, here are some features the one you decide on should definitely have at a bare minimum:
- Heavy-duty D-rings for the poles (these are much more durable and long-lasting than traditional grommets).
- Reinforced webbing on the storm flap, ridge pool, and all wall corners.
- Heavy-duty polyester construction (double fill army duck canvas is a good option).
- Zippers and buckles on all storm door flaps and window flaps.
- Foot pads for the leg poles (this prevents dirt and debris from traveling up into the poles).
- Stove jack in the ceiling for a stove pipe to fit through - the jack should be six inches in circumference at the absolute minimum, but ideally should be designed for your stove pipe of choice.
- Screen door flaps for the front door.
Our Alpha Wall Tent Series
At White Duck, our Alpha Wall Tents are made from 100% army duck cotton canvas, which ensures resistance to inclement weather and a longer lifespan. This material is also breathable, naturally UV-resistant and comes with a PFC-free finish.
Our tents come equipped with everything you need to have a memorable experience, from the frames to toolkits, complete with mallets and stakes suitable for varied terrains. We also offer free shipping, flexible financing options and customer support around the clock.
Written by Nicholas Oetken
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