Are Canvas Tents Better – The Pros and Cons of Canvas Tents

are canvas tents better

Canvas tents have been around for at least 1,400 years and they’re still used today. They’re durable, reliable, and made of natural materials. But are canvas tents better than other types of tents?

Canvas tents are better for people who want an extremely durable tent that’s made of natural materials. People looking for a tent that is lightweight, inexpensive, and easy to set up may want to look elsewhere.

Let’s take a deeper dive into the pros and cons of canvas tents so you can decide if they’re the best option for you.

Advantages of Canvas Tents

Canvas tents offer several benefits that make them a popular choice for campers and outdoor enthusiasts.

Some of the advantages of canvas tents are:

  • Increased durability.
  • Better Breathability
  • Great insulating properties.
  • Highly resistant to water.
  • Better UV protection.
  • Fantastic resistance to wind.
  • Incredible longevity.
  • Noise reduction capabilities.
  • An environmentally sound option.
  • They look cool.

Increased Durability

Canvas tents are renowned for their durability. This can be attributed to the heavy-duty, high-quality materials used in their construction. Canvas fabric, typically made from cotton or a cotton-polyester blend, is known for its strength and ability to withstand harsh weather conditions, such as heavy rain, strong winds, and even snow. The natural fibers in the canvas material provide it with inherent toughness and resistance to wear and tear, often outlasting many synthetic materials like polyester or nylon. This durability makes canvas tents an excellent choice for campers who frequently camp in various weather conditions or who require a long-lasting shelter for extended trips.

In addition to their robust fabric, canvas tents often feature sturdy frames, reinforced seams, and heavy-duty zippers that contribute to their overall durability. These tents are designed to provide reliable shelter in challenging environments and withstand the test of time with proper care and maintenance. While synthetic tents may offer advantages in terms of weight and ease of use, the superior durability of canvas tents makes them a popular choice for campers seeking a dependable and long-lasting shelter option. With the ability to endure harsh conditions and resist wear and tear, canvas tents offer a level of resilience that is difficult to match, providing campers with a reliable and comfortable shelter for many years of outdoor adventures.

Better Breathability

Breathability is one of the key advantages of canvas tents, as the natural fabric allows for improved air circulation. Better breathability contributes to a more comfortable and pleasant camping experience. Unlike synthetic materials, which can trap moisture and create a stuffy atmosphere, the porous structure of canvas allows moisture to escape, reducing condensation and maintaining a more balanced temperature inside the tent. This enhanced breathability is particularly beneficial during warmer weather or when multiple occupants share the tent, as it helps to minimize heat buildup and prevent excessive humidity. By providing better air circulation and a more comfortable environment, canvas tents offer campers a unique advantage in terms of breathability and overall comfort, setting them apart from many synthetic tent options on the market.

Is the inside of your synthetic tent getting wet? Check out the post titled: Why Does The Inside of My Tent Get Wet

Insulating Properties

Canvas tents excel in terms of insulation, offering superior performance compared to their synthetic counterparts. The natural fibers and thickness of canvas fabric help to create a more effective barrier against temperature fluctuations, keeping the interior of the tent warm during cold weather and cool during hot weather. This ability to regulate temperature makes canvas tents an ideal choice for campers who value comfort and adaptability in various climate conditions. The insulating properties of canvas not only contribute to a more pleasant camping experience but also help to conserve energy when using heaters or coolers inside the tent. By providing better insulation and temperature regulation, canvas tents stand out as a popular option for campers seeking a comfortable shelter that performs well in diverse weather conditions.

Water Resistance

Canvas tents are often treated with a water-resistant coating, which enhances their ability to keep the interior dry during rainy conditions. The canvas fabric, when properly treated, can effectively repel water, preventing it from penetrating the tent and ensuring a dry and comfortable shelter for campers. In addition to their water-resistant coating, canvas tents also benefit from the natural swelling of the fabric fibers when exposed to moisture, which helps to create a tighter seal and further improve water resistance. Although canvas tents may require periodic reapplication of waterproofing treatments, their inherent water resistance makes them a reliable option for campers seeking a shelter that can withstand wet weather.

UV Protection

Canvas tents offer the added advantage of providing protection from harmful UV rays, thanks to the thick and tightly-woven fabric that effectively blocks sunlight. This UV protection not only helps to keep the inside of the tent cooler during sunny days, but also protects the occupants from the risks of sunburn and prolonged sun exposure. The natural fibers in canvas have inherent light-filtering properties, making canvas tents a popular choice for campers who wish to enjoy a comfortable, shaded refuge from the sun. In addition to the benefits of temperature regulation and a more pleasant interior environment, the UV protection offered by canvas tents contributes to a safer and healthier camping experience for anyone who uses them.

Wind Resistance

The sturdy construction and heavier weight of canvas tents provide them with greater wind resistance compared to their lighter synthetic counterparts. Canvas tents are typically supported by robust frames and secured with strong anchoring systems, which help them maintain their stability and structure even in the face of strong winds. The thick and heavy canvas fabric further contributes to this wind resistance, as it is less prone to flapping and billowing than lighter synthetic materials. This combination of a strong frame and durable fabric ensures that canvas tents can withstand challenging weather conditions and offer a secure, stable shelter for campers facing windy environments. In this aspect, canvas tents stand out as a reliable choice for those who require a resilient and wind-resistant shelter for their outdoor adventures.

Canvas Tents Last Longer

Canvas tents are built to last. The durable canvas fabric, combined with the sturdy construction of these tents, ensures that they can withstand the wear and tear of frequent camping trips and exposure to various weather conditions. Canvas tents often outlast tents made from synthetic materials, which can degrade more quickly under harsh environmental factors. By investing in regular maintenance, such as waterproofing treatments and thorough cleanings, campers can extend the lifespan of their canvas tents and enjoy a reliable, long-lasting shelter that accompanies them on countless outdoor adventures. This durability and longevity make canvas tents an attractive option for those seeking a high-quality, enduring camping solution.

Need some tips on maintaining a canvas tent? We’ve got you covered –

Noise Reduction

Noise reduction is another notable advantage of canvas tents, which are generally quieter than their synthetic counterparts. The heavy fabric used in canvas tents is effective at absorbing sound, which helps to dampen the noise created by wind and rain. This ability to reduce noise can contribute to a more peaceful and restful camping experience, particularly in challenging weather conditions or bustling campgrounds. Synthetic tents, with their lighter materials, are more prone to flapping and billowing in the wind, which can generate unwanted noise and disrupt the tranquility of the campsite. By providing better sound absorption and noise reduction, canvas tents offer campers a quieter and more serene shelter, enhancing the overall enjoyment of their outdoor adventures.


Eco-friendliness is an important consideration for many campers, and canvas tents hold an advantage in this regard due to their natural, biodegradable materials. Canvas is typically made from cotton or a cotton-polyester blend, which breaks down more easily in the environment compared to synthetic fabrics like polyester or nylon. Synthetic materials can take significantly longer to decompose and may contribute to environmental pollution and waste. By choosing a canvas tent, campers can opt for a more sustainable and environmentally friendly shelter, aligning with their values and reducing their ecological footprint. This eco-friendly aspect of canvas tents is an appealing feature for those who prioritize environmental responsibility and seek to minimize their impact on the planet while enjoying the great outdoors.

Aesthetic Appeal

Let’s face it, canvas tents just look cooler than their modern counterparts. Canvas tents exhibit that classic, timeless appearance that we all think about when we think about the rustic outdoors. The natural colors and textures of canvas fabric contribute to this aesthetic, offering a warm and inviting ambiance that complements the surrounding environment.

In contrast, synthetic tents may have a more modern, utilitarian look that just doesn’t evoke the same sort of emotions. This is why you’ll notice that glamping facilities aren’t slapping up EZ Up Coleman tents for their glampers. Anyone looking for a charming tent that they can camp in or use as a backyard Air Bnb is much better off getting a canvas tent.

canvas glamping tent

Disadvantages of Canvas Tents

While canvas tents offer several benefits, they also come with some disadvantages that are important to consider.

Here are some disadvantages of canvas tents:

  • They’re heavy.
  • They’re bulky.
  • They take longer to setup.
  • They take longer to dry.
  • They’re more likely to develop mold and mildew.
  • Maintenance takes longer.
  • Not many companies to choose from.
  • Fewer technical features.
  • They cost more.

Canvas Tent Weight

One of the most significant disadvantages of canvas tents is their weight. Due to the nature of the material and the heavy-duty construction, canvas tents are generally much heavier than their synthetic counterparts. This added weight can be a major concern for campers, hikers, and backpackers who need to transport their shelter over long distances or challenging terrain. The heavier weight not only adds to the physical strain of carrying the tent but can also limit the amount of other gear and supplies that can be comfortably carried.

Despite their many benefits, the weight of canvas tents can be a major drawback for those who prioritize mobility and ease of transportation. Synthetic tents, which are typically made from lightweight materials like polyester or nylon, offer a more convenient alternative for those who require a lighter load. These tents can be easily packed and carried, making them a popular choice for backpackers, long-distance hikers, and anyone who needs to minimize the weight of their camping equipment. While canvas tents may be more durable and breathable, the added weight can be a significant barrier for some outdoor enthusiasts, especially those embarking on extended trips or traversing challenging landscapes.


Canvas tents, in addition to their heavier weight, also tend to be bulkier than synthetic tents. The thick, robust fabric that contributes to their durability and insulation properties can make them more difficult to pack and compress. As a result, campers may find that canvas tents require more effort and space when packing for a trip, potentially taking up valuable room in a backpack or vehicle. This bulkiness can be particularly inconvenient for those with limited storage capacity or who need to efficiently pack their gear for extended trips.

The increased bulkiness of canvas tents can be a drawback for some outdoor enthusiasts who prioritize compactness and space-saving features. Synthetic tents, which are made from thinner materials like polyester or nylon, are generally easier to fold, roll, or compress, making them more space-efficient when packing. For campers who need to optimize their gear for long-distance hikes, backpacking trips, or multi-day excursions, the compactness of a synthetic tent can be a significant advantage. While canvas tents offer benefits like durability and insulation, their bulkiness can be a limiting factor for those who require a more streamlined, space-saving shelter option.

Longer Setup Time

The sturdy construction and heavy materials used in canvas tents can lead to longer setup times when compared to their lightweight synthetic counterparts. Due to the weight and thickness of the canvas fabric, as well as the generally more robust pole and anchoring systems, erecting a canvas tent often requires more effort and time. This can be a disadvantage for campers who wish to set up their shelter quickly, particularly after a long day of hiking or during inclement weather when minimizing exposure to the elements is a priority.

In contrast, lightweight synthetic tents are designed for quick and easy assembly, with simpler pole systems and lighter fabrics that allow for faster setup and disassembly. This can be a significant advantage for campers who need to move frequently or who value the convenience of a speedy shelter assembly. While canvas tents provide benefits like durability, breathability, and insulation, their longer setup times can be a deterrent for those who prioritize efficiency and convenience in their camping experience. For these individuals, synthetic tents may offer a more suitable option, allowing them to spend less time setting up camp and more time enjoying their outdoor adventure.

Longer Drying Times

Drying time is another factor to consider when choosing a canvas tent. Since canvas is a thicker and more absorbent material, it can retain moisture for extended periods, making it challenging to dry the tent efficiently. This is especially true in damp or humid environments. This can be a significant drawback for campers who need to pack up their tents quickly, whether due to time constraints, unpredictable weather, or frequent location changes.

Wet canvas tents are not only heavier and more cumbersome to transport but can also be more susceptible to mold and mildew growth if not properly dried before storage. For those camping in damp conditions or who require a quicker drying shelter, synthetic tents, with their thinner and less absorbent materials, may provide a more practical solution.

Mold and Mildew Growth

Canvas tents are more susceptible to mold and mildew growth. This is because the natural fibers in the canvas can absorb and retain moisture, creating an ideal environment for mold and mildew to develop. Mold and mildew can lead to unpleasant odors and potential health risks, as well as damage to the fabric, compromising the tent’s structural integrity and reducing its lifespan. To prevent mold and mildew growth, it’s crucial to ensure that canvas tents are thoroughly dried before packing them away. They’ll also need to be stored in a well-ventilated area.

In comparison, synthetic tents made from materials like polyester or nylon are less prone to mold and mildew growth, as these materials are less absorbent and generally dry more quickly. This makes synthetic tents a more convenient option for campers who may not have the time or resources to properly dry their tents, or who frequently camp in damp or humid environments. While canvas tents offer advantages like durability and insulation, their increased susceptibility to mold and mildew growth can be a significant drawback for some campers, making synthetic tents a more appealing option for those who prioritize ease of maintenance and storage.

Increased Maintenance

Canvas tents require more care and maintenance compared to synthetic tents. One key aspect of maintaining a canvas tent is ensuring its water resistance. Over time, the waterproofing treatment on the canvas can wear off, necessitating reapplication of waterproofing agents to maintain the tent’s performance in wet conditions. Regularly checking the tent’s seams and applying seam sealer can also help prevent leaks and water infiltration. Additionally, canvas tents may require more frequent and thorough cleaning to remove dirt, debris, and any mold or mildew that may have formed.

In contrast, synthetic tents made from materials like polyester or nylon generally require less maintenance. Waterproofing treatments on synthetic fabrics often last longer, reducing the need for frequent reapplication. Synthetic tents are also easier to clean, typically requiring only a mild soap solution and a gentle scrub to remove dirt and grime. The lower maintenance requirements of synthetic tents can be a significant advantage for campers who prefer to spend less time on upkeep and more time enjoying their outdoor adventures. While canvas tents offer a range of benefits, their increased maintenance needs can be a drawback for those seeking a more hassle-free camping experience, making synthetic tents an attractive alternative for such individuals.

Limited Availability

Canvas tents are not be as widely available as synthetic tents. The market for camping equipment has seen a surge in demand for lightweight, easy-to-use gear, leading to an increased focus on synthetic materials like polyester and nylon in tent manufacturing. As a result, finding a canvas tent that meets specific style, size, or feature requirements can be more challenging.

The limited availability of canvas tents can be a drawback for campers who are seeking a particular style or design to suit their needs. Synthetic tents, with their broader range of options, offer greater flexibility in terms of features, sizes, and styles, making it easier for campers to find a tent that perfectly matches their preferences and requirements.

Additionally, due to the popularity of synthetic tents, it’s often easier to find replacement parts or accessories for these tents. While canvas tents provide a host of benefits, including durability, breathability, and insulation, their limited availability may make them a less convenient option for some campers, who may find the variety and accessibility of synthetic tents more appealing.

Fewer Technical Features

Canvas tents often lack the modern features and innovations that are commonly found in synthetic tents. With the growing demand for lightweight and advanced camping gear, synthetic tent manufacturers have incorporated various technical features like integrated LED lighting, advanced ventilation systems, and color-coded pole systems for easy setup. Additionally, synthetic tents often employ cutting-edge materials and coatings to enhance weather resistance and durability. For campers who prioritize advanced technology and design in their camping equipment, the relatively traditional construction and features of canvas tents may be a drawback. In such cases, the more technologically advanced synthetic tents may better cater to their preferences and expectations.

Canvas Tents Cost More

Canvas tents, known for their durability and high-quality materials, often come with a higher price tag compared to their synthetic counterparts. The production process for canvas tents, as well as the cost of the canvas material itself, can contribute to this higher price. Additionally, canvas tents are typically more labor-intensive to produce, given the need for sewing and reinforcing the heavy-duty fabric. For campers on a tight budget or those who are new to camping and reluctant to invest heavily in equipment, the cost of canvas tents may be a significant barrier.

In contrast, synthetic tents made from materials like polyester or nylon are generally more affordable and can be found at almost any budget. The lower production costs associated with synthetic materials, coupled with the high demand for lightweight and easy-to-use gear, have led to a competitive market with numerous options at varying price points. This makes it easier for campers to find a tent that meets their needs without breaking the bank.

Which type of tent do you prefer? Tell us in the comments below!

Jim Murphy

Jim's love for camping started at an early age. His parents would take him camping every summer, where he'd spend his days getting quality time in with his dad and his nights eating too many smores.

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