Are Blackout Tents Worth It? 3 Reasons Why They Are

Last Updated on 05/08/2023

Are Blackout Tents Worth It?

Are blackout tents worth it? In this article, we share the pros and cons of darkroom tents and the truth about whether they actually work. You will learn why blackout tents are worth it and who they are for.

The idea for blackout tents actually originated in the early 1900s when light-blocking curtains were first invented. The idea was adapted and pioneered by Coleman, as far as I can tell, but I can’t find a date for when the first iteration was launched. Now there are multiple brands of tents that use darkroom technology, which begs the question, are blackout tents worth the money or not?

Are Blackout Tents Worth It?

Blackout tents are worth it if you are bothered by light, are a light sleeper, get to bed late and want a lie-in, or need a cooler tent. Many people are used to sleeping in complete darkness with the curtains or blinds fully closed. So when they go camping, one of the problems they have is that when the sun rises at 4 in the morning, it wakes them up, and they struggle to get back to sleep. For these people, there is no question that a blackout tent is worth it.

If you are wondering whether blackout tents are worth the extra money, the truth is that they don’t cost much more than a similar quality tent that doesn’t have blackout fabric. The only downside I see to blackout tents is the limited options available. Maybe one day, all tents will use some form of blackout technology as standard.

What’s the Point of Blackout Tents?

For most people looking for blackout tents, the main point is to prevent being disturbed by the rising sun in the morning. Having a blackout tent can quite literally improve your sleep while camping. Sleeping in a blackout tent can allow you to sleep for hours longer than you would in a tent that lets light in.

Getting an extra few hours of sleep in the morning isn’t the only reason to get a blackout tent, though. Another reason people like to use blackout tents is that they reportedly keep your tent cooler than a standard tent. The blackout technology also adds a touch of privacy at night in a busy campsite because they don’t project your silhouettes onto the walls like a regular tent does when you use a flashlight.

Coleman Tent Octagon Blackout, 6 to 8 Man Festival Dome Tent, Waterproof Family Camping Tent with Sewn-in Groundsheet

Benefits of Blackout Tents

Blackout tents can benefit anyone and everyone, but the people they really help are light sleepers and people who are disturbed by light when they sleep. Here are the main benefits of darkroom tents:

Better Sleep

By blocking out unwanted morning sunlight, campers can sleep for longer and achieve a deeper sleep cycle than they would without a blackout tent. This can dramatically boost your mood and energy compared to a short night of sleep that ends in hours of tossing and turning until everyone else wakes up. If you couple your tent with a deep sleeping bag, cozy sleeping bag, and comfortable pillow, then you increase your chances of better sleep even further.

Cooler Temperatures

Many blackout tents are designed to reflect sunlight, helping maintain a cooler interior during hot days and a warmer one during cold nights. You might think that the blacked-out material would absorb heat, but this fabric lines the inside and so isn’t directly exposed to the sun. Because the blackout material does a better job of blocking light than a regular canopy, it also provides a deeper level of shade underneath, which is ideal in the midday sun if you can get enough ventilation.


You will have probably seen the silhouette of someone inside a tent with a torch before. You can sometimes see exactly what that person (or persons) are doing just from the outline of their body, which, if you are getting changed or getting intimate, can be somewhat embarrassing. Blackout tents don’t have this same flaw and provide you with complete privacy from prying eyes in your campsite.

Coleman Skydome Camping Tent with Dark Room Technology, 6 Person

Are There Any Downsides to Blackout Tents?

There are actually very few downsides to blackout tents other than there is only a limited selection available and not everywhere stocks them. The rumored downsides you might expect from a darkroom tent, like a higher price or that they are too hot, simply aren’t true. They don’t cost a significant amount more than a standard tent, and they can actually help keep the tent cooler for the first part of the day. In mid-day heat, it doesn’t matter what your tent is made from; it’s going to feel too hot inside to take a nap.

Alternatives to Blackout Tents

I would say that the main alternative to blackout tents is to simply use a sleeping mask over your eyes. I say ‘simply,’ but for some people (me included), sleeping with a mask on is not an option as that can be more disturbing than the early morning sun. Some people don’t want to use a sleep mask, so blackout tents are the best option.

Another alternative to a proper blackout tent is to use light-blocking fabric over the top of your tent. A tarp over your tent will certainly help to improve the shade underneath, but it will not be anywhere near as effective as a fully sealed darkroom tent.

It isn’t really an alternative, but something you can consciously do is check which direction the sun will rise and try and camp somewhere that will be in the shade for the early morning; this might be next to a large tree, behind the shadow of a mountain or hill, or maybe it is just camping next to a much larger tent that will do a good enough job of blocking the morning sun.

Who Makes the Best Blackout Tents?

Coleman has probably the widest variety of blackout tents. However, the Decathalons brand Quecha has some really nice options too. Crua Outdoors makes insulated tents that also block out light, and the well-known brand CORE has also entered the market. I would probably recommend Coleman tents with DarkRoom technology simply because they are well made and have the widest variety of size and shape options.

Do Blackout Tents Really Work?

Blackout tents absolutely work to make your tent darker by blocking out sunlight. Especially in the early mornings when the sun is still low in the sky, it feels pitch black inside one of these kinds of tents.

In the past, it was claimed that blackout tents could block out up to 99% of light. However, this number has now dropped to 90%. This might be due to new stricter testing, but it is still impressive for a lightweight tent to provide a similar level of darkness that you would get at home blackout curtains.

Do Blackout Tents Keep You Cooler?

Blackout tents can stay cooler than traditional tents without light-blocking fabric. Although it is true that light-colored tents absorb the least sunlight and stay cooler than dark-colored tents, if the blackout material is on the inside, it doesn’t have the same heating effect. Some blackout tents claim to stay cooler than standard tents by 5ºC. However, I am yet to do a regulated test with two tents of the exact shape and size.


Are blackout tents worth it? We think so. The amount of benefits they offer is obvious, with very little downside other than the lack of choice.

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This article has been written and/or edited by Andrew N. 20+ years of hiking, mountaineering, and camping experience, with access to all the latest outdoor gear.

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