10 Best Bushcraft Tents for Survival in 2024

Last Updated on 27/08/2023

best bushcraft tent for backcountry survival

What Makes a Tent Good for Bushcraft?

In this guide to the best bushcraft tents, we share our thoughts on what makes a tent good for bushcrafters and ten recommendations we think you will like. Some things we are going to assume very early on are that you want your bushcraft tent to be fairly discreet, be built to last a very long time, and work all year round.

So this is a list of dull-colored tents that have been over-engineered to last longer than other tents? Pretty much, yes. Durability is key, and when your survival is on the line, you need to know your tent is reliable.

There are other alternatives to bushcraft tents, like tarp shelters, bivvy bags, or hammock shelters, but a tent provides the most comprehensive protection. Most bushcrafters will want their own sole tent, while others may want to share with a partner or young family. We have tried to include a wide variation of tents and bivvy bags that we know work well for wilderness adventures.

Most bushcrafters will be looking for solo tents, or if you’re a big guy like myself, then you can include two-person tents in that same group. Others may be looking for large shelters they can live in for weeks at a time out in the bush. All the tents listed in this guide will provide shelter; you just have to decide on the features that matter most to you.

10 Best Bushcraft Tents


Russian-Bear Hot Tent with Stove

Russian-Bear Hot Tent with Stove Jack for 8 People All-Season for Camping Fishing Hunting Double Layer Waterproof Tent with Windows Wood Stove & Warm Floor UP5 Camouflage

  • CAPACITY: 8 People
  • WEIGHT: 115 lbs / 52.16 kg
  • PACK SIZE: 55 x 15.8 in / 140 x 40 cm
  • DIMENSIONS: 7.2 ft x 14.4 ft / 220 x 439 cm
  • SEASON RATING: 4 Season
  • MAX HEIGHT: 7.2 ft / 220 cm

The Russian-Bear Hot Tent with Stove is possibly the best bushcraft tent for winter and comes with a large wood-burning stove included. It doesn’t get that cold where I live, but I watched a video of a guy sitting inside this tent with a lightweight hoodie on while it was -37 degrees outside. Everything about this tent is built for the extremes, which makes it perfect for bushcraft and survival.

The camo fabric is very discreet, which allows you to keep your basecamp more inconspicuous than, say, with the MSR expedition tent. You get a proper front door with a hinge which is better than a standard zip for keeping the heat in and rain out when you open it. The dome shape gives you plenty of headroom in the middle and makes it fair very well in high winds. 

It is nice and spacious inside, and the walls are steep, so most of the floor space is usable for putting camping cots or cooler boxes against. You can fit 8 people on sleeping mats, six people on camping cots, or five people with the wood-burning stove lit. So if you want to go on a hunting and bushcraft getaway with three or four buddies, you can all fit in one tent without worry.

The tent is 100% waterproof, snowproof, and windproof, so you don’t have to worry about getting wet. There are two upper windows that have 5 layers to choose from, including clear material and fine bug mesh. These double as vents to release hot air when needed, and there is also a lower vent next to where the stove sits to encourage airflow out of the top.

Setting up on your own can be a bit tricky as you really have to reach to fully extend the umbrella frame at full height. It is much easier with another person. The tent itself only weighs 69 lbs but the stove, insulated flooring, and pegs all add up to 115 lbs total weight.

VERDICT: The Hot Tent with Stove made by Russian-Bear is the only tent like this of its kind, and it is well adapted for camping in the wilderness to practice bushcraft. The frame and material are extra durable, and you could easily live in this tent all year round if you had to. The stove is fantastic and is what really allows you to camp in freezing temperatures as well as cook and keep yourself entertained.

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Fjallraven Keb Dome 3

Fjallraven - Keb Dome 3 Tent, Pine GreenOutdoor gear buy

  • CAPACITY: 3 Person
  • WEIGHT: 10.6 lbs / 4.8 kg
  • PACK SIZE: 9 x 16.5 in / 23 x 42 cm
  • SEASON RATING: 4 Season
  • MAX HEIGHT: 45 in / 115 cm

The Fjallraven Keb Dome 3 is an excellent bushcraft tent for all four seasons but it really excels in the wintertime with features that are designed specifically for heavy snowfall. The geodesic dome shape looks like a giant umbrella, and it works like one too. The structure is free-standing, so you never really get any problems pitching on difficult ground.

The Keb Dome tent has been featured on Gear Assistant before, but it is just such a durable tent that it is more than qualified enough for bushcraft. The dome shape makes it extremely aerodynamic so that it doesn’t matter what direction the wind is coming from. The frame is very strong and can be upgraded with a pole kit designed to provide maximum strength in heavy snowfall.

There are two identical entrances at each side that have equal vestibule space for your gear or to cook in. I really like the way these are designed so that one of them will always provide shelter from the wind (see here). Setting up is easy and takes less than 5 minutes. The nice thing is that you can set up the exterior shell first so that if it rains, the interior doesn’t get wet.

The materials that have been used are hand-picked by experts in Sweden to provide 100% waterproofing. There are vents on each side and the breathability is as good as it gets. Overall the comfort is a level above most other tents, and that is in part thanks to the care and quality of craftsmanship.

VERDICT: The main reason we rank the Keb Dome 3 tent from Fjallraven so highly for bushcraft is that it is super strong, durable, and reliable. You really feel like you can trust it to keep you warm and dry no matter what is going on outside. And that’s important when you are surviving in the wilderness on your own.  

 


Snugpak Stratosphere Shelter

Snugpak Stratosphere 1 Person Bivvi Tent, Waterproof, Olive

  • CAPACITY: 1 Person
  • WEIGHT: 2.5 lbs / 1.13 kg
  • PACK SIZE: 12 x 5 in / 30 x 12.7 cm
  • SEASON RATING: 4 Season
  • MAX HEIGHT: 20 in / 50.8 cm

The Snugpak Stratosphere Shelter is another lightweight and compact bushcraft tent that is actually more of a hooped bivvy bag. The idea behind bivvy bags is that they are like a waterproof cover for your sleeping bag, which fits inside. The addition of the double pole system over your head solves the age-old problem with bivvy bags of keeping the fabric off your face.

The two reasons this is so good for bushcraft other than its pack size and weight are that it can be pitched behind a clump of grass and be totally out of sight and that it pairs very well with a tarp or shelter. If you are interested in bushcraft shelter building, then you will know that it is very hard to make it 100% waterproof without a tarp. This bivvy bag ensures that you always stay dry whether the ground is wet or it’s raining on you.

The inside of the Stratosphere bivvy bag measures 91 inches long, 32 inches wide, and 20 inches tall and has a full length waterproof zip to make getting in and out fast and easy. There are two types of material, a rugged 210 T nylon bottom with an 8000 mm HH rating and a more lightweight 50D nylon top with a 5000 mm HH rating. Both of these are 100% waterproof, and the base is extra durable to ensure it doesn’t get damaged on rough ground.

As someone who has used many different bivvy bags, having the bug netting at the top is such an advantage and means that on warm nights you can leave the zip open slightly for better ventilation. It is also plenty big enough to fit an inflatable sleeping pad inside which also helps it keep its shape.

VERDICT: The Stratosphere Shelter from Snugpak is the perfect bushcraft bivvy bag tent you can set up in under 60 seconds and pitch virtually anywhere you can lay down. My favorite way to use it is with a tarp shelter or if I build a quick lean-to out of wood and cover it with leaves and branches. You can lay directly on the ground and survive a rainstorm, so long as your sleeping bag and mat are warm enough, you can use this tent all year round.

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OneTigris TEGIMEN Hammock Hot Tent

OneTigris TEGIMEN Hammock Hot Tent with Stove Jack, Spacious Versatile Wall Tent with Snow Skirt, 3000mm Waterproof with Zippered Tent Bag

  • CAPACITY: 1 Person
  • WEIGHT: 6.8 Ib / 3.1 kg
  • PACK SIZE: 20.8 x 5.9 x 5.9 in / 53 x 15 x 15 cm
  • DIMENSIONS: 12.5 x 6.6 x 6.2 ft / 380 x 200 x 190 cm
  • SEASON RATING: 4 Season
  • MAX HEIGHT: 6.6 ft / 200 cm

The OneTigris TEGIMEN Hammock Hot Tent is an awesome bushcraft shelter whether you use it with a hammock or not. It is shaped like a canvas wall tent but doesn’t use any poles and instead uses two trees like a hammock to provide its main support. You then stake it out around the corners and sides to give it its box shape and keep it rigid.

There are two stove jacks on the same side of the roof which have a heat-resistant patch and a roll-top closure to keep them sealed when not in use. This is delightful if you have a stove and enjoy winter camping which means you can really get cozy inside as well as keep out of the wind and rain. The double stove jack means you can use two different types of chimney pipes.

You set this tent up between two trees which means you don’t need any heavy poles and stay very lightweight for a tent that you can fully stand up in. Unless you use this tent with a hammock or camping cot, then you will probably want some kind of additional groundsheet, but the fact that it doesn’t have a sewn-in floor is an advantage for bushcrafters who see the benefits.

The roof is nice and tall with steep pitched sides to shed and snow or rain, and the walls are vertical to maximize space inside. If you have ever been hammock camping before, then you will know that you need a tarp to protect you from rain and settle dew drops. But any kind of breeze at night can blow right through your hammock and cool you down, so having a walled shelter that adapts around your hammock is very clever.

Setting up does require you to drive in a few ground stakes, which isn’t a problem in most places where trees are growing. You can only fit one hammock inside, but you could probably sleep four people on sleeping mats which should give you an idea of the size.

VERDICT: The TEGIMEN Hammock Hot Tent by OneTigris is not just a hammock tent; it is a bushcraft shelter you can set up between two trees and even have a stove inside with you. If you are a devout hammock camper when you go bush crafting, then this shelter is definitely for you. Everything about this is how you would want it, and the fact there are no poles is a real bonus.

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TETON Sports Mesa Canvas Tent

TETON Sports Mesa 10 Canvas Tent; 6 Person Family Camping Tent, Room with a ViewOutdoor gear buy

  • CAPACITY: 8 people
  • WEIGHT: 76 lbs / 34.47 kg
  • PACK SIZE: 39 x 15 x 14 in / 99 x 38 x 35 cm
  • DIMENSIONS: 120 x 168 x 78 in / 304 x 427 x 198 cm
  • SEASON RATING: 4 Season
  • MAX HEIGHT: 120 in / 198 cm

The TETON Sports Mesa Canvas Tent is a boxy shape and almost identical to two of the canvas wall tents featured here. The reason this design works well for wilderness camping and bushcraft excursions is that it can be left up for a long time and serves as an excellent base to build your resources around. The steep walls and tall ceiling means you can stand up anywhere inside as well as maximize the floor space by putting things right up against the wall.

The thick canvas material is extremely durable and handles extreme heat as well as snow very well. The flexible poles can be a bit finicky to put together the first time, but once you know how everything fits together, it takes less than 10 minutes to set up on your own. You can choose to roll the canvas door panel up and secure it at the top or extend it out as an awning with the two straight poles. This provides shade and extra rain cover at the door for sitting outside or cooking.

You can get this same tent in a smaller 6-person option if you don’t need something so big, but the extra space is a real luxury when you are living outdoors for weeks at a time. The ventilation is good, and you don’t get the same condensation buildup that you see on the inside walls of many nylon tents. The canvas is totally waterproof and can be maintained with a simple spray treatment as often as you like – ideally just before winter or fall if you are using it all year round.

There are just two small downsides to this tent which are the weight and the fact that it doesn’t have a stove jack on the roof. These aren’t big enough reasons not to get one, though, as the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks.

VERDICT: The Sports Mesa Canvas Tent from TETON Sports is just what you want in a long-term bushcraft tent. It is not a good tent for nomadic living as it does weigh a lot for one person to carry, but as a base camp, it is awesome. The cotton canvas adds a layer of comfort and security that lightweight fabrics just can’t compete with.

 


MSR Remote 4-Season Mountaineering Tent

MSR Remote 4-Season 3-Person Mountaineering Tent with Dome Vestibule (040818131145)Outdoor gear buy

  • CAPACITY: 2 Person
  • WEIGHT: 6 lb 11 oz / 3 kg
  • PACK SIZE: 20 x 7 in / 50.8 x 17.8 cm
  • DIMENSIONS: 87 x 55 x 44 in / 221 x 140 x 112 cm
  • SEASON RATING: 4 Season
  • MAX HEIGHT: 44 in / 112 cm

The MSR Remote 4-Season Mountaineering Tent is not discreet by any means and is only available in the bright orange color above. It is, however fairly bombproof in terms of the weather it can handle, and so it makes a trusty tent for wilderness survival and bushcraft. It is rated as an expedition tent, which means you can use it at the North Pole or on top of Mount Everest.

The Remote tent uses a free-standing dome shape for the main body and then has a large vestibule on the front, which has its own pole and requires staking out. The front porch also has a snow skirt so that you can cover it in the snow for extra insulation in winter. In terms of design, this thing is built for winter, so it can handle anything.

Beyond its durability, the design and shape offer plenty of space in the inner tent to spread out on your sleeping pad and lots more space in the porch vestibule to store gear or cook on a camping stove. The shape is super sturdy and very aerodynamic, which results in very little movement in strong wind. A door at each side gives two people their own exit, or if it’s just you, then the back door is good for quickly getting out at night or accessing the main sleeping pod during the day.

As you might expect from an expedition tent, there isn’t a drop of rainwater getting through the fabric or any of the fully sealed seams. The ventilation can be closed up to keep heat in or opened up in the summer to improve breathability, which is good for woodcraft trips. You can also leave the front door open on dry nights so that you just have the fine mesh bug netting between you and the sky.

VERDICT: The Remote 4-Season Expedition Tent from MSR is designed for the most extreme winter conditions, and so by default, it will perform well for the rest of the year too. It is brightly colored, which isn’t very subtle, but on the other hand, it is easily visible to any hunters passing through. This isn’t a cheap tent, but it is less likely to let you down than any other tent on this list and can be used in any country on the planet.

 


FireHiking Ultralight Hot Tent with Stove Jack

FireHiking Hot Tent with Stove Jack, with Inner Mesh Teepee Tent for 1-2 Person

  • CAPACITY: 1 – 2 People
  • WEIGHT: 5.2 lbs / 2.35 kg
  • PACK SIZE: 19 x 7 x 4 in / 48 x 18 x 10 cm
  • SEASON RATING: 4 Season
  • MAX HEIGHT: 5.2 ft / 160 cm

The FireHiking Ultralight Hot Tent with Stove Jack might be one of the only one-person tents with a stove jack out there. There is an internal tent made solely of bug netting on the top with a waterproof floor. With a stove, you could definitely use this bushcraft tent all year round, but without the stove, it is more of a three-season tent.

The reason this is a good choice for outdoors people is that it is super simple and easy to set up, as well as having lots of headroom in the center. If you have a wood-burning stove, the design of the tent allows you to set that up on one side so that you can sleep on the other. Unlike a large hot tent like the Russian-Bear this tent heats up almost instantly, and if you make your stove too hot, it can feel like a sauna.

To prevent it from overheating, you can keep your stove on low airflow to produce less heat or simply open the air vent fully using the rigid latch on the outside. This provides good ventilation on its own, but in summer, you can pitch it slightly off the ground so that air can flow underneath the side walls. Because it is basically a single-skin tent with a mosquito net pod, the FireHiking Teepee performs really well in hot weather.

Setting up is easy, but the most important step is making sure all the pegs are in the right place. This may take two or three attempts to fully tension out all the points, but it is worth rearranging them to get it right. You can pitch these closer to the ground in cold weather and strong wind or lift them up, as mentioned, to take advantage of a breeze on a hot day.

VERDICT: At just under 5.2 lbs, the Ultralight Hot Tent with Stove Jack from FireHiking has to be the lightest solo bushcraft tent with stove compatibility that we have ever seen. If you aren’t bothered about having a massive tent you can walk around in, but like the idea of a personal fireplace, then you need to give this tent a try.

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OneTigris Backwoods Bungalow

OneTigris Backwoods Bungalow Ultralight Bushcraft Shelter 2.0, Backpacking Tent with Canopy 2 Person Waterproof RipstopOutdoor gear buy

  • CAPACITY: 2 Person
  • WEIGHT: 3.2 lb / 1.45 kg
  • PACK SIZE: 16 x 8 in / 40 x 20 cm
  • SEASON RATING: 3 Season
  • MAX HEIGHT: 45 in / 115 cm

The OneTigris Backwoods Bungalow is one of the best bushcraft tents out there for one big reason – the design of the tent allows you to sleep next to a campfire and benefit from the heat from inside your tent. There are other advantages to this tent design, one of which is that getting in and out couldn’t be any easier. It isn’t the most suitable winter bushcraft tent, but for the other three seasons, it is perfect.

The tent uses an A-frame shape that opens fully on one side to create an awning as well as an open front. This tent structure works well in all weather, including snow and extreme heat. In heavy rain and snow, the steeply pitched roof sheds it easily without any chance of pooling on top (unless you leave the awning up). In extreme heat, you can leave the door open or lay outside in the shade of the awning.

It is labeled as a two-person tent, which it is, but it is much more comfortable as a solo bushcraft tent that has the space to keep your bag and gear inside the tent with you. At 115 cm tall in the middle, there is plenty of headroom to sit up, even if you have an extra deep sleeping pad. Unless you are freakishly tall, then the 6.8-foot length means your feet or head won’t be touching the inner wall of the tent.

The tent is single-skinned, and so to combat the risk of condensation, there is a full-length horizontal vent all the length of the bottom at the back. This is covered from wind and rain on the outside, but inside, this is as big a vent as you would hope for. Waterproofing is adequate with a 1500 mm hydrostatic head and sealed seams so that it always stays dry inside.

The tent doesn’t include any poles, which makes it super lightweight and packable even in a small backpack. Instead, it is designed to use two hiking poles or be set up between two trees. If you don’t carry hiking poles, then you can always use some extendable tarp poles or fashion some out of tree branches.

VERDICT: The Backwoods Bungalow from OneTigris is the ideal lightweight tent for bushcraft. It isn’t really suitable for winter camping due to it only having one wall, but it will defend against strong wind and rain, no problem. It does require that you either craft your own poles out of wood, but this is a welcome challenge for any bushcrafter with an axe – or you can just use hiking poles to make the setting up and the trek in even easier.

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Kodiak Canvas 1-Person Canvas Swag Tent

Kodiak Canvas 1-Person Canvas Swag Tent with Sleeping Pad, Olive, One Size

  • CAPACITY: 1 Person
  • WEIGHT: 17.5 lbs / 7.9 kg
  • PACK SIZE: 35 x 11.5 in /  89 x 29 cm
  • SEASON RATING: 3 Season
  • MAX HEIGHT: 27 in / 68.6 cm

The Kodiak Canvas 1-Person Canvas Swag Tent is an all-in-one bushcraft shelter you can simply unroll, insert the poles, and you are ready to go. It has a three-hoop frame with one externally at either end and then a central hoop that runs inside the tent to prevent any sagging. You can also get a center pole that fits into an eyelet on each end which turns this into a free-standing tent.

Some other things we really like about this bushcraft tent is the closed cell foam padding insert which is 2 inches deep and means you don’t need any kind of additional sleeping pad. The outer shell zips right back and is completely lined with super fine mesh bug netting so that you can sleep under the stars or stay cool on a hot night. The zip also runs along the side so that you can easily get in and out, although the center pole prevents you from simply rolling out of bed.

This is almost like a hybrid bivvy bag crossed with a bushcraft tent. Not big enough to sit up in but has plenty of space if you are lying down to sleep. This allows you to camp wherever you like on a tiny footprint and stay relatively discreet. The tent can handle the sun like a champion and does very well in the wind, but it isn’t the best for really wet weather.

Not only does the tent fabric deflect the heat of the sun very well, but the tent has better ventilation than some 4-person tents. At each end, where you can stake out a guy line, there is a large ventilation window that means you can get a constant airflow passing through the small tent whichever way the wind is blowing.

VERDICT: The Canvas 1-Person Canvas Swag Tent from Kodiak is a really great shelter that simply rolls up in one piece and lets you camp anywhere with nothing more than a sleeping bag. The 2-inch foam bed roll and super durable fabrics are what make this tent good for bushcraft, but the full bug netting lining really takes it to the next level. You won’t be disappointed with this tent if you are ok with the low roof and fairly bulky pack size.

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1844 Helko Werk Germany Handmade Waxed Canvas Bedroll

1844 Helko Werk Germany Handmade Waxed Canvas Bedroll 80”L x 40" W with Handmade Leather Bed Roll Straps - Camping Bed Roll - Bed Rolls for Camping - Cowboy Bedroll

  • CAPACITY: 1 person
  • WEIGHT: 7 lbs / 3.17 kg
  • PACK SIZE: 16 x 6 in / 40.6 x 15 cm
  • DIMENSIONS: 80 x 40 in / 102 x 203 cm
  • SEASON RATING: 3 Season

The 1844 Helko Werk Germany Handmade Waxed Canvas Bedroll is a throwback to the old-school cowboy bedrolls that were used in the 1800s. It is a good bit of gear for bushcraft, although not technically a tent. It is not something I would use on its own in heavy rain but paired with a tarp or natural shelter to sleep under the stars on a clear night, it is perfect.

The cotton canvas is finished with a wax treatment to make it water resistant and less able to absorb water. What we would do is completely soak it when you get it and loosen the fabric up a little, then let it dry naturally before applying your own Greenland wax or similar. Giving it this second coating will really elevate its waterproofing.

A full-length zip runs down the entire length of both sides, but it isn’t like a sleeping bag. There is a clear base that is wider and then the zips sit about 1.5 inches in. This means that the heavy-duty zips never get stuck and run very smoothly up and down – they nailed the zippers. Also, there is a cool zippered pouch at the top so you can put a few items of clothing or something soft in there as a pillow.

You still need some kind of sleeping pad if you are on hard or rocky ground, but it works as a ground sheet to protect your air mattress from punctures. You can get the bedroll on its own or as a bundle with a super warm wool blanket which is a great addition even if you are using a sleeping bag.

VERDICT: The 1844 Handmade Waxed Canvas Bedroll from Helko Werk Germany, shows all the signs of quality craftsmanship and durability that bushcrafters love. The only problem with this as a sole sleeping system is that it isn’t totally waterproof, but if you plan to use it on clear nights or with a tarp, then this will last forever. 

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bushcraft shelter made from tree branches

Types of Bushcraft Shelters

There are lots of different ways you can sleep when out in the bush. Here are some of the most popular ways to camp when practicing bushcraft:

Bushcraft Shelter

This is what really puts your wilderness skills to the test when you have to build your own shelter out of the materials provided by nature. This may mean finding a good location, chopping down trees, stripping bark and branches, gathering moss, processing natural fibers into cordage, and much more. There are endless ways you can set up a bushcraft shelter, and no two are ever the same.

There are thousands of videos of people building them on Youtube, and I am sure you’ve done your fair share of shelter building, if not as an adult, then as a kid. It is very hard to make them totally waterproof, but they are great fun to build and camp in. You can get creative with things like raised beds, fireplaces, and chimneys, as well as being able to seal up the door.

Bushcraft Tents

Bushcraft tents, which is what this entire guide aims to teach you about, are, for the most part normal, looking tents that have been engineered to be extra durable and reliable. It takes lots of user testing for these products to make a name for themselves, so we save you the hard work of finding them. Canvas tents make excellent bushcraft shelters, but they aren’t very transportable on your own, and so we have mentioned multiple solo tents to help you stay nomadic.

Bivvy Bags

Bivvy bags are not really tents, but they do count for bushcraft. They pair well with tarp ground shelters and bushcraft shelters as a final layer of defense against wind and rain. You slot your sleeping bag inside, and boom, it’s weatherproof.

I have always liked using bivvy bags and especially on a clear night sleeping under the stars. As a youth, I spent many nights under the stars next to a campfire or on the beach with nothing more than a sleeping bag. The problem is that even in the nicest weather, you always get air moisture that settles and, more often than not, soaks your sleeping bag right through before it hits midnight.

Bivvy bags solve this problem in the simplest way possible.

Hammock and Tarp

I love camping in a hammock and tarp when I am out in the woods because there are so many more places to hang a hammock than there are flat places to pitch a tent. That being said, the convenience of a tent and the bug protection it provides often take precedence over the comfort of a hammock and tarp.

You can use the same two trees that you use to hang your hammock to run a line for your rainfly also and actually have a large undercover area you can stand up in. You can set them up fairly close to campfires to help stay warm at night or use the OneTigris TEGIMEN Hammock Hot Tent to block any wind from giving you the chills.

Tarp Ground Shelters

I have done my fair share of tarp camping without a hammock, and there is no better way of feeling closer to nature other than building your entire shelter from scratch using woodcraft skills. I like to use a closed-cell foam pad as a ground sheet beneath a more comfortable Thermarest pad. Because I already own multiple bivy bags, I usually take one of them too, but you really don’t need them if your tarp is big enough (3×3 meters is a good size).

bushcraft camping with tent and fire

Guide to Bushcraft Tents

If you have considered all the different types of bushcraft shelters and have decided on getting a tent, then here are some of the features we would look for and weigh against each other:

Craftmanship

Craftsmanship is very important in bushcraft as there is nothing more annoying than wasting hard-earned money on a product that falls to pieces when you need it the most. A quality-made tent means that every part of it is hand chosen to be the best for its job. This means extra durable floors, double or triple-stitched seams, zips that don’t jam up or catch fabric in them, ventilation that can be opened or closed, and above all – no leaking.

You do have to pay more for higher quality, but with a tent, it is worth it, and to justify it just compare the cost of a tent to a night in a half-decent hotel – and then remind yourself you get to keep the tent.

Material

There are two ways you can go when looking for the best tent material for bushcraft: lightweight and portable or durable and reliable. There are times when one makes more sense than the other, but if you can get a balance between the two, then you are winning.

Lightweight fabrics are great for packing into a backpack, and they are also some of the most waterproof materials out there, but they do lack durability, which is a big deal when surviving out in the wilderness. Heavyweight fabrics like cotton canvas are super comfortable and last forever, but they weigh a tonne, and so do their frames.

Here are some of the materials you can get bushcraft tents made from:

  • Cotton Canvas
  • Poly-Canvas
  • Polyester
  • Nylon

Season Rating

Season rating is important if you plan to camp all year long. When we see a tent with a 3-season label on it, we automatically think that either it isn’t that strong, waterproof, or able to handle snow. That being said, you can use a 3-season tent for most of the year and certainly in any weather you would want to camp in.

A 3-season tent can be used from spring through to fall and the tail ends of winter, whereas a 4-season tent can be used throughout the year without an issue. You will rarely ever see a tent that is rated less than three seasons, and if you do, it isn’t worth buying.

Waterproofing

Waterproofing is one of the biggest priorities in any tent because if it is going to leak, then what is the point? More often than not, it is the seams that pose the biggest risk to waterproofing which is why they should be sealed from the inside.

Some bush tents may require some waterproof maintenance in the form of wax or spray treatments to keep the water beading off year after year. This is more true with cotton canvas tents than with lightweight polyester; however, once a polyester tent loses its waterproofing, it is much harder to bring back.

Windproofing

Windproofing can mean two things: either the tent is flexible and doesn’t get damaged in the wind, or the tent is solid and won’t flap about in the wind. The shape of a tent can have an impact on how hard the wind can hit the walls and how easily it can cause damage. Dome-shaped tents have the most aerodynamic shape; however, if you angle a tunnel tent in the right direction, it can cut through the wind like a blade. Steel frames offer the most stability, but fiberglass poles have the most flex and so they don’t get irreversibly damaged as often.

Hot Weather Performance

How well a tent performs in the sun isn’t such a massive concern for bushcrafters, but it is good to know that all of the tents on this list do very well in heat even if they are designed for snow. Light and neutral colors reflect the most heat, and cotton canvas is a level above in terms of coolness and comfort on a hot day. A nice big awning to provide shade is a great feature in direct sunlight as it gives you a place to lie or sit just outside the tent.

Bug Protection

Whenever you are deep in the bush and especially if you are camped under trees or near water, flying bugs and biting insects are always going to be an issue. Bug netting is a crucial part of a tent, and the finer the mesh, the better – dipped polyethylene is probably the best.  Any entrance, ventilation port, and window that opens should have some bug mesh over it and be able to be sealed up completely.

Durability

The durability of a bushcraft tent is one of the most important factors for three reasons: 1. You need to be able to rely on it with your life. 2. Wear and tear are quite high with bushcraft gear. 3. You want it to last a long time.

Thicker fabrics are way more durable, but they also weigh significantly more. Modern tents use insanely thin material to keep the weight down, but the way it is weaved actually makes it incredibly strong. If you are using a stove inside your tent or building a fire close to the outside of your tent, then cotton canvas that is treated with flame resistants is probably the safest.

Design

The shape and design of a tent determine what you can and can’t fit in it. A tall roof and vertical walls are what you want if walking around inside is important to you. If you want to stay lightweight and be able to improvise, then a tarp or bivvy might be the right choice for you. One thing I always look for is a geodesic shape that provides the most strength against wind and snow.

Capacity

Decide how many people you want to sleep with within your tent, and then add one for luck – this is the capacity you should look for. Most bushcrafters will have their own tent, so you want to be looking at one to two-person tents. The reason it is a good idea to add an extra one on is that some capacity guides can be overenthusiastic and leave no space for your gear. Adding the extra capacity always means you have enough space for you AND your gear.

Set-Up

Some bushcrafters like the process of building a shelter, but the beauty of a tent is that everything is ready to go. Most lightweight tents are fairly easy to pitch on your own it is just the heavier tents with tall roofs that can be tricky if you don’t have a helper. It is always good to set a tent up at home as soon as it arrives so that you can get used to it and also make sure it is all there.

outdoors man in a canvas tent with bushcraft pots on fire

Is a Bushcraft Tent Good for Survival?

A survival tent is a tent that will keep you alive in an emergency, whereas a bushcraft tent could be lived in for weeks or even months fairly comfortably. So, a bushcraft tent is way better for survival than an emergency shelter and will help you to survive for far longer. 

What is the Toughest Tent for Bushcraft?

The toughest tents for bushcraft are definitely made from canvas and have heavy-duty steel poles. You won’t be able to damage it anywhere near as easily as a thin polyester or nylon tent, which can rip if you simply catch it in the zip or burn through in a second if a spark lands on it.

If you want a tough but more lightweight tent, then MSR is a good brand to start looking at, or you can check out Fjallravens tents which are a little bit tougher but not quite as heavy as a canvas tent.

Should a Tent Be Part of Your Bug-Out Bag?

A tent, tarp, bivvy, or some form of shelter should be a key part of your bug-out bag gear. For SHTF kind of bugout, I personally prefer a tarp, hammock, and bivvy bag setup. Being in a hammock gives you a better vantage point, and sleeping under a tarp instead of inside tent walls means you can have 360-degree views of your surroundings. The bivvy is the backup for super discreet camping and for times when you can’t hang a hammock.

How Do You Make a Survival Shelter in The Wilderness?

The easiest type of survival shelter to build in the backcountry is a lean-to which requires one main beam leaned up against something with wood stacked against it on either side. This creates a pitched roof to help shed rain and provide enough space to lie down inside. You can then cover this with moss, leaves, or any foliage you can find to help thicken the roof and shed water.

You can, of course, build something more elaborate like the Survival Builders below:

 

We know this guide to the best bushcraft tents had a few bivvy bags in there, which aren’t technically tents, but hopefully, you see the relevancy and found this helpful.

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Gear Assistant

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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