10 Best Canvas Bell Tents in 2024

Last Updated on 05/02/2024

Best Canvas Bell Tents

In this guide, we share the biggest, most comfortable, and best canvas bell tents available today. You will learn who makes the sturdiest, tallest, widest, and most waterproof bell tents, as well as lots of other useful tips you should know before buying.

Canvas bell tents have been adapted over time but have their origins in early European history with nomadic tribes. They were then adopted by militaries in the 1800s as Sibley tents, and then soon after, a vertical wall was added to create the bell shape, and they have remained largely unchanged since then.

Now they are often used for luxury camping or glamping (glamorous camping) because they can be left up for long periods and have plenty of space for a kitchen, furniture, and a double bed. There are lots of benefits to cotton canvas which we cover further down this guide.

Features like windows, ventilation, stove jacks, and AC ports have been added, and materials and especially fabrics have been improved to be more protective and lightweight. Now, canvas bell tents are often used for luxury camping or ‘glamping’ because they offer a much better experience than modern tents with more synthetic fabrics.

We walk you through the very best options available, what to look for, and what to watch out for. So if you are ready to level up your camping experience with a canvas bell tent, then here are your best prospects.

10 Best Canvas Bell Tents for Camping

WHITEDUCK Avalon Canvas Bell Tent 20 ft

WHITEDUCK Avalon Canvas Bell Tent - Luxury All Season Tent for Camping & Glamping Made from Premium & Breathable 100% Cotton Canvas w/Stove Jack, Mesh (7M (23'), Water Repellent)shop outdoor gear

  • MATERIAL: 100% Cotton DYNADUCK Pro Canvas 10.1 oz fabric, Galvanized steel frame, Polyvinyl floor
  • WEIGHT: 152 lbs / 69 kg (Fire & Water Resistant)
  • PACKED SIZE: 39 x 15 x 11 in / 99 x 38 x 28 cm
  • FLOOR SIZE: 20 ft diameter / 6-meter diameter
  • MAX HEIGHT: 11 ft 2 in / 3.4 meters
  • CAPACITY: 10 People
  • SEASON RATING: 4 Season

The WHITEDUCK Avalon Tent is the best canvas bell tent for camping in total comfort. You can get this tent in a 6, 8, 10, or 12-person size, with the 20-foot option seen here being the second largest. One feature that suits large groups is that everyone gets their own personal window and plenty of space to keep their gear close by.

This tent is massive, and even though the side walls are only 3 feet high, the roof rises so steeply there is plenty of space to walk around, and you aren’t just confined to the tallest point. The door is 6 feet 6 inches tall, so you can also walk in and out freely without having to crouch down. Even with everybody’s sleeping pads and bags laid down, you still get a large communal space in the middle and lots of ‘alleyways’ to get in and around your tent buddies without disturbing them.

What’s the ventilation like? With so many windows and four individual roof vents, this is one of the coolest tents to camp in hot weather and never suffers from a lack of ventilation. You can even install a portable AC unit to cool the air down even further. When the temperature drops, you can seal up the ventilation and close all the windows to keep warm air trapped inside.

How’s the waterproofing? Canvas bell tents are just as waterproof as any modern fabrics used on lightweight camping tents, if not more so. The Avalon Bell Tent is 100% waterproof even in the heaviest rain, although one thing to watch out for in storms is pools of water forming like droopy sacks on the roof.

VERDICT: The Avalon Bell Tent by WHITEDUCK is our number one recommendation for anyone looking to invest in a yurt-style tent for camping in luxury. The fabric and frame are heavy-duty to withstand 4-season use and will outperform other lightweight tents in both hot and cold conditions. You can comfortably fit your entire family or group of friends inside one and sleep well, knowing you’re protected.



TETON Sports Sierra Canvas Tent Waterproof Bell Tent 20 ft

TETON Sports Sierra 12 Canvas Bell Tent; Waterproof 6 Person Family Camping Tent, Brown, New Sierra 12 Canvas Tent/ 12' x 12' (2012)Outdoor gear buy

  • MATERIAL: 100% Cotton canvas, Heavy-Duty 19 oz Interwoven polymer floor, Stainless steel poles
  • WEIGHT: 114 lbs / 51.7 kg
  • PACKED SIZE: 40 x 18 x 15 in / 101 x 46 x 13 cm
  • FLOOR SIZE: 240 x 240 in / 609 x 609 cm
  • MAX HEIGHT: 11 ft 2 in / 3.4 m
  • CAPACITY: 12+ People
  • SEASON RATING: 4 Season

The TETON Sports Sierra Canvas Tent Waterproof Bell Tent is our editor’s favorite bell tent and has a well-thought-out design that incorporates lots of modern features with a classic style. For example, the is a weather skirt that runs all the way around the perimeter that acts like a bathtub floor to keep the inside of the tent dry and enclosed. Or the way the canvas doors can be tied completely out of the way, leaving just the mesh panels to block bugs from getting in.

This is one of the few large bell tents made from canvas that you can actually put up on your own – simply stake out the floor, erect the center pole, which lifts the roof, insert the door frame, then secure the guy lines, which provide the tension. While it may only take one person to put up, like most canvas tents, it is heavy and may require two of you to carry it.

How comfortable is it? Overall the comfort in this is amazing, with water just shedding off the outer shell and the mosquito netting doing its job at every entry point. It stands up well to wind and stays relatively cool on hot days. The doorway is lower than on the WHITEDUCK tents, but that isn’t really a problem unless you can bend down.

What’s the ventilation like? One amazing feature of this canvas bell tent is the ability to remove all the side walls to turn them into an open canopy. So during the day, you can have a breeze blowing through, and then at night, you can seal it up for warmth. Aside from that, you have four built-in roof vents with weather guards that help release any build-up of hot air inside and help with breathability issues.

VERDICT: The Sierra Canvas Bell Tent by TETON Sports is one of the most waterproof and also adaptable in that it can be transformed into more of an open tarp. When the weather is hot, you can open up the sides for maximum ventilation, and when it rains, you can batton up the hatches and wait out even the heaviest storm in total comfort. This was a tough second place as it is arguably the most waterproof bell tent for camping.


DANCHEL OUTDOOR 4 Season Canvas Yurt Tent 20 ft

DANCHEL OUTDOOR 4-Season Cotton Canvas Yurt Tents with Footprint for Family Camping, Luxury Waterproof Glamping Bell Tent, 4M=13ft

  • MATERIAL: 100% Cotton canvas, PVC floor, Stainless steel poles
  • WEIGHT: 106 lbs / 48 kg
  • PACKED SIZE: 52 x 14 x 14 in / 132 x 35 x 35 cm
  • FLOOR SIZE: 20 ft diameter / 6 m diameter
  • MAX HEIGHT: 11.5 ft / 3.5 m
  • CAPACITY: 12+ People
  • SEASON RATING: 4 Season

The DANCHEL OUTDOOR 4 Season Canvas Yurt Tent is another massive bell tent although this one comes straight from China and has a lower price tag. Unlike most brands that source a manufacturer to help make their product, DANCHEL (as far as I can tell) is the manufacturer of the product, who sells directly to consumers. This cuts out the middle man and gives you a great price which at the time of writing was under a thousand bucks.

The light-colored tent canvas helps to deflect sunlight and helps to keep the tent cool inside, and as any hot air rises, it can escape out of the top vents. On one side of the roof, you also have a 5-inch stove jack hole that is sealed from the outside until you need it. This makes the tent suitable for winter use, with a small wood-burning stove to help keep you warm.

Is the quality any good? Just because this tent comes straight from china doesn’t mean the quality is bad; it just means it has been mass-produced. Most of the tents on this list have been manufactured outside of the USA, but as long as quality checks are being performed at every stage, then it doesn’t matter where they come from. This will stand up next to any canvas bell tent in this guide, and it would not be obvious which came from what country.

What’s the ventilation like? Much like the Teton Sierra tent, this has four roof vents with weather shields to prevent rain from getting in, as well as four windows around the walls that can be opened up to the insect mesh. You also have a full mesh screen door so that you can leave the canvas door open for even more breathability.

VERDICT: The 4-Season Canvas Yurt Tent by DANCHEL OUTDOOR is a good value option if you want a very large canvas bell tent. There is nothing unique or special about this tent other than it is much cheaper than some of its closest competitors for the larger 12+ people tents.

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KingCamp Khan Glamping Canvas Bell Tent 16.4 ft

KingCamp Khan Glamping Tent Heavy Duty Waterproof 4 Season Luxury Outdoor Canvas Bell Tent w/Stove Jack for 6/8 Person Family Camping All Seasons Breathable Cotton Canvas Yurt Tent

  • MATERIAL: Polyester-cotton canvas, 6063 Aluminum alloy poles, PVC floor
  • WEIGHT: 98.5 lbs / 44.7 kg
  • PACKED SIZE: 35 x 18 x 15 in / 89  x 46  x 38 cm
  • FLOOR SIZE: 16.4 ft diameter / 5 m diameter
  • MAX HEIGHT: 9.9 ft / 3 m
  • CAPACITY: 8 People
  • SEASON RATING: 4 Season

The KingCamp Khan Glamping Canvas Bell Tent is one of the best for summer camping and especially in areas with biting insects. Because the sides zip down and have bug netting all the way around, you can literally camp next to a swamp in summer without being swarmed by flies or sacrificing a breeze.

We chose the Polycotton canvas model as it offers that extra bit of durability, but you can get most of the different sizes in a 100% cotton canvas as well. The polycotton canvas is thicker and harder to wear than cotton alone and will fare better if left up for long periods of time. The downside of the thicker fabric is that it does have a substantial impact on the weight of the tent.

The tent will comfortably sleep eight people using single air mattresses, but if you want to put a few double beds in there for glamping, you may only be able to get 2. The side walls are fairly low at 2 feet 3 inches, but with the walls zipped down, it really opens up the tent to nature outside. If you are camped in a nice location, you can still enjoy 360-degree views from inside your tent.

How’s the waterproofing? The waterproofing on the polycotton fabric is actually better than standard fabric, to begin with, but you may find that it does benefit from waterproofing more often than pure cotton. That being said, even if you didn’t reproof the surface, this tent would stay 100% dry inside. It just may get a little heavier when wet.

What’s the ventilation like? Inside the KingCamp Khan tent, the ventilation is just average, with all the doors and sides shut due to there only being two roof vents instead of the four you see on many others. But, with the sides down, you have the ultimate ventilation and maximum airflow. A good compromise that still gives you some privacy is to just leave the canvas door open with the mesh screen closed so that hot air can escape and you don’t overheat at night.

VERDICT: The bug netting is really good on this bell tent and means you can sleep with the sides down or the door open without being eaten alive by mosquitos. We love that you can open all the sides and still have a screen there which makes camping in summer even better. In winter, the thick canvas material can really help to trap the heat and even has a stove jack so you can use a wood burner inside.

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WHITEDUCK Regatta Canvas Bell Tent 16.5 ft

WHITEDUCK Regatta Canvas Bell Tent - Waterproof, 4 Season Luxury Outdoor Camping and Glamping Tent Made from Premium & Breathable 100% Cotton Canvas w/Stove Jack (10ft (3M), Water Repellent)shop outdoor gear

  • MATERIAL: 100% cotton 8.5 oz. Army Duck Canvas, Galvanized Steel poles, Sewn-in PE floor
  • WEIGHT: 70 lbs / 31.75 kg
  • PACKED SIZE: 44 x 15.5 x 12.5 in / 112 x 39 x 31.75 cm
  • FLOOR SIZE: 16.5 ft diameter / 5 m diameter
  • MAX HEIGHT: 9 ft 8 in / 2.94 m
  • CAPACITY: 8 People
  • SEASON RATING: 4 Season

The WHITEDUCK Regatta Canvas Bell Tent is the smaller brother of the Avalon Bell Tent featured at the top of this list. If the Avalon was made for glamping in luxury, then the Regatta was made for camping wild. You don’t get as many windows, and it isn’t quite as big, but it makes for just as good a shelter for large groups or couples who like their space.

The steel center pole and door frame feel super sturdy once the tent has been staked out with sufficient tension. There is an abundance of headroom all around the tent, and the tall doorway is a feature you miss in other bell tents. You can easily fit eight people sleeping inside if you fan around the center pole, and that is with a wide pathway to the door and around the center pole.

You can get the tent in 4, 6, or 8-person sleeping capacity to suit your group size, and you can choose between 3 color options which are pretty rare for a canvas bell tent which typically only comes in beige/white.

How’s the waterproofing compared with the Avalon? The fabric is exactly the same as on the more upmarket WHITEDUCK Avalon canvas tent, so you can expect 100% waterproofing. The heavy-duty floor is sewn in, so you don’t get any dampness inside the tent that rises from the ground, and you get the bathtub floor effect to prevent groundwater from leaking inside your tent.

What’s the ventilation like? The ventilation in this tent is good but not as good as on the Avalon, down to the obvious reason of having fewer windows. On the largest, 16.5-foot option seen above, you get three windows with mesh screens, four roof vents, and a mesh screen door that can be left open. This is more than enough ventilation to prevent condensation build-up at night and allow air to circulate during the day.

VERDICT: As you can probably tell, we are fans of WHITEDUCK bell tents and of the Regatta tent in general. You can take this anywhere if you can haul the weight, and it is much more comfortable than a modern lightweight tent. If you aren’t bothered about having all the bells and whistles of a glamping yurt but want all the benefits of a canvas bell tent for camping, then this is a good pick.



Elk Mountain Tents Yukon Bell Tent 20 ft

Elk Mountain Tents Yukon Outdoor Large Canvas Waterproof Bell Tent and Frames with Screened Windows, Peak Air Vents and Stove Pip Jack for 6 Person Tent,Best for Family Camping and Hunting Trip -20ft

  • MATERIAL: Polyester Canvas, PVC Floor, Galvanized Steel poles
  • AVAILABLE SIZES: 13 ft / 16 ft / 20 ft
  • WEIGHT: 100 lbs / 45.3 kg
  • FLOOR SIZE: 20 ft diameter / 5 m diameter
  • MAX HEIGHT: 8 ft / 2.44 m
  • CAPACITY: 10+ People
  • SEASON RATING: 4 Season

The Elk Mountain Tents Yukon Bell Tent looks like it might be the best for winter use, but once you open the windows to let a breeze through it is also great for summer use. One thing that sets this tent apart from the rest is the fact that the canvas is made from polyester and not cotton. If you’ve read every word so far, then you know I’ve been talking about the benefits of the cotton canvas a lot. But polyester has its advantages too.

The polyester canvas is much thicker than you might find on a full-length rainfly tent but also lighter than traditional canvas. Polyester is more durable in the long run and requires less care than cotton when storing or waterproofing, for example. Despite this fact, the largest 20 ft version is no lighter than other comparable tents, so who knows what’s going on – maybe it’s the heavy-duty tent pegs that are included.

How’s the waterproofing? The waterproofing is amazing straight out of the box, as you might expect of such a modern material. The PVC floor zips into the walls and rises about 3.5 inches above the ground to give your sleeping area a bathtub edge all the way around. In snow, they do recommend strengthening your main pole or replacing it with a thicker piece of timber, but this is more for the frame than to improve waterproofing.

What’s the ventilation like? There are 4 roof vents on the roof that are protected from rain getting in and bug netted for extra protection. There are also four mesh-lined windows that can be left open at night and provide a breeze no matter what direction the wind is blowing. As it is polyester, the fabric itself is less breathable and may suffer from condensation with a full house and no windows open.

VERDICT: The Yukon Bell Tent from Elk Mountain is a good choice if you are putting up and taking down your tent frequently. The reason we say this is because it is easier to work with than cotton canvas as it isn’t as rigid and can be stored when still a little damp without fear of rotting. If you want a canvas tent made with modern materials and doesn’t require ANY maintenance, then this is the first one to look at.

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UNISTRENGH 4 Season Large Waterproof Cotton Canvas Bell Tent

UNISTRENGH 4M/13.1ft Luxury Bell Tent Waterproof 4 Season Large Cotton Bell Tent with Roof Stove Jack

  • MATERIAL: 100% Cotton canvas, PVC floor, Galvanized steel poles
  • WEIGHT: 44.1 lbs / 20 kg
  • PACKED SIZE: 44 x 10 x 10 in / 112 x 26 x 26 cm
  • FLOOR SIZE: 9.8 ft diameter / 2.94 m diameter
  • MAX HEIGHT: 8.2 ft / 2.5 m
  • CAPACITY: 4 People
  • SEASON RATING: 4 Season

The UNISTRENGH 4 Season Large Waterproof Cotton Canvas Bell Tent comes in five different sizes ranging from small (3 meters) to very large (7 meters). Some of the smaller sizes are especially appealing to hunters, ice fishers, and couples who like camping in comfort. You can fit a full log burner stove, even in the smallest, and still have space left for two camping cots.

The canvas is heavy-duty 300g per sqm cotton with double stitched seams and a UV and water-repellent treatment. The floor is even tougher and made from 540gsm ripstop PVC, which can be zipped out if needed. If you do zip the floor away from the side walls, you can roll these up to get full 360-degree views all the way around. You do need to make sure you have the guy ropes tensioned out quite hard for this, though.

So we know that this canvas bell tent performs well in summer but what about winter? The thick canvas walls and roof really help to keep the tent warmer inside than it is outside. With the addition of a wood-burning stove that can be fitted through the stove jack in the roof, you can really crank up the heat so that even when it is freezing outside, you can be sat in a t-shirt inside the tent.

How’s the waterproofing? The waterproofing is very good, although before you camp in it for the first time, we recommend really soaking it with a hose while set up in your garden. Then you let it dry. This helps to create a permanent seal and really allows the cotton canvas to fully absorb any waterproof treatments that have been applied.

What’s the ventilation like? The ventilation is very good, with four roof vents at the top and four windows around the side walls with bug netting so that you can leave them open at night. There is also a full bug screen door panel so that you can leave the canvas flap tucked out of the way. Whichever direction the breeze blows from the windows do a good job of capturing it, and the vents at the top stop it from ever getting too stuffy inside.

VERDICT: You might think that because this tent is a few hundred dollars cheaper than many of its closest competitors that it may be lacking something, but you really can’t go wrong with the price. The fabric is thick and durable, the ventilation is good, and most importantly, it is super comfortable to sleep in all year round.

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WHITEDUCK Alpha Canvas Wall Tent 12 x 14

WHITEDUCK Alpha Canvas Wall Tent Waterproof 4 Season Outdoor Camping & Hunting Tent w/Heavy Duty Aluminum Frame, Best for Large Groups, Families & Outfitters (14'x16', Water Repellent)shop outdoor gear

  • MATERIAL: 100% Cotton DYNADUCK Pro Canvas 10.1 oz fabric, Aluminum frame, PVC floor
  • WEIGHT: 172 lbs / 78 kg
  • PACKED SIZE: 39 x 15 x 11 in / 99 x 38 x 28 cm
  • FLOOR SIZE: 12 x 14 ft / 3.65 x 4.26 m
  • MAX HEIGHT: 9 ft 5 in / 2.87 m
  • CAPACITY: 10 People
  • SEASON RATING: 4 Season

The WHITEDUCK Alpha Canvas Wall Tent shouldn’t even be in this guide because it is not a true bell tent by design, but it is very similar and offers something most bell tents don’t – straight walls. Canvas wall tents like this are ideal for communal rooms and camp kitchens because you can place chairs and furniture flat against the walls leaving lots of open space in the middle.

The Alpha tent from WHITEDUCK is available in 6 different sizes ranging from a small 4-person canvas tent to a massive 16 x 24-foot tent for up to 18-20 people. The size we chose is the 12 x 14-foot option which is big enough for larger groups and extremely comfortable for glamping with 2 – 6 people. You can fit multiple queen-sized air mattresses and still have space for chairs around a full-sized camping stove.

What’s the ventilation like? With large groups sleeping in an enclosed tent, ventilation can sometimes be an issue, but with the Alpha tent, you have multiple windows, and the canvas itself is more breathable than nylon. The door also has a full bug netting layer, so you can leave the door open for even better airflow, so long as it isn’t raining.

VERDICT: If you prefer a rectangular-shaped tent over a circular tent but still want something made from thick cotton canvas, then the WHITEDUCK Alpha Canvas Wall Tent is for sure worth checking out. No, it isn’t a true bell shape, but it is an alternative to bell canvas tents you can use for glamping or creating a large social space when camping.



Stout Tent Ultimate Series 5M Ultimate Single Wall Waterproof Canvas Bell Tent

Stout Tent Ultimate Series 5M Ultimate Single Wall Waterproof Canvas Bell Tent

  • MATERIAL: 100% Cotton canvas, PVC floor, Stainless steel poles
  • WEIGHT: 78.3 lbs / 35.5 kg
  • PACKED SIZE: 48 x 14.5 x 14.5 in / 122 x 37 x 37 cm
  • FLOOR SIZE:  16.4 ft diameter / 5 m diameter
  • MAX HEIGHT: 9 ft 9 in / 2.97 m
  • CAPACITY: 8 People
  • SEASON RATING: 4 Season

The Stout Tent Ultimate Series 5M is one of three bell tents available from Stout Tent. The other two are the Pro Series and the Overland 5000 Sunforger, which are both heavier with more features designed for harsher weather. Despite what the listing says, all three tents have bug netting on the door, windows, and vents.

The canvas itself is called NoSweat Canvas which is supposed to really keep moisture from building on the inside wall. They also do something called Stout Stitch Reinforcement which not only double stitches high-stress points but reinforces them with patches of canvas at the back. Along with the military-grade zips, this tent is set up to last many, many years like tents used to in the past.

How’s the waterproofing? The waterproofing is second to none. With the roof and walls being 100% waterproof and the floor being even thicker, you can camp on melting snow without worrying it will come through the floor. You can walk around with your warmest, dryest socks on without fear of getting them wet. You can see on their product video that it has been field-tested in heavy rain with no issues.

What’s the ventilation like? The ventilation on the Stout Tent Ultimate Series is far beyond what you may have experienced with smaller synthetic tents. With four roof vents and four semicircle windows, all guarded by bug netting as well as the door, you can sleep with them all open to get a real draft blowing through and keep the air moving.

VERDICT: The Ultimate Series Canvas Bell tent from Stout Tent has some strong branding which, nine times out of 10, translates into much higher quality control. You get a nice wide entrance and plenty of space for camping cots and air mattresses, as well as headroom to stand up in the middle. Zipping this tent shut at night is like closing your bedroom door; you are safe and sound with a cozy place to sleep.

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MC Canvas Tent Bell Tent Yurt with Stove Jack

MC Canvas Tent Bell Tent Yurt with Stove Jack Zipped Removable Floor for Glamping Truck Car Camping

  • MATERIAL: Polycotton canvas, PVC floor, Stainless steel poles
  • WEIGHT: 40.8 lbs / 18.5 kg
  • PACKED SIZE: 29.5 x 11 x 10 in / 75 x 28 x 25 cm
  • FLOOR SIZE: 10 ft diameter / 3.04 m diameter
  • MAX HEIGHT: 6.6 ft / 2.01 m
  • CAPACITY: 2 – 4 People
  • SEASON RATING: 4 Season

The MC Canvas Bell Tent Yurt with Stove Jack is the best small canvas bell tent for two to four people to camp in style and luxury. This is just like a mini version of the larger Elk Mountain Yukon Bell Tent, which is also made of a polyester-cotton blend. There is nothing that really stands out about this tent other than it’s the perfect size for two people, but that doesn’t mean you should overlook it.

When you compare this to the other bell tents we recommend in this guide, it is at least half the price. This is the main reason most people buy it, but if you read the reviews, people aren’t disappointed. If you aren’t bothered about it not being 100% cotton canvas and can see the benefits of using polycotton, then no doubt this is the two-person yurt for you.

How’s the waterproofing? The waterproofing is perfect straight out of the box, and even if it gets rained on all night long, you will stay water-free inside, and the fabric will dry off in about 20 minutes of sun or wind. The floor is made from thick PVC fabric and is secured to the walls with heavy-duty zip to help keep everything dry inside.

What’s the ventilation like? The way the tent fans out from the center pole means that the four ventilation holes at the very top allow all the hottest air to escape so that the temperature never really builds too high. Along with the windows and doors that are protected by high-density mesh to stop tiny nats and mosquitos from getting in, you can create a good amount of air circulation through the night. During the daytime, you can unzip the flooring and roll up the side walls to get full 360-degree views and get maximum wind cooling.

VERDICT: If you don’t want to be carrying a massive tent across festival campsites, then the MC Canvas Bell Tent Yurt is ideal and also doesn’t take up too much real estate. For two people, you can camp like kings and queens with a double camping cot or air bed, wood-burning stove, AC unit, and solar if you want. This small bell tent allows you to enjoy the comforts of a yurt without having a massive tent structure that is too big for its purpose.

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Canvas Bell Tent Yurts at night lit up

What is a Bell Tent?

A bell tent or yurt, as they are often called, are tents that are shaped like a bell. They have a tall central support pole with pitched roofs down to a short side wall that runs around the entire tent. They are circular in shape and will often have an A-frame doorway at the front. They are secured using tension ropes around the sides, which means that you only need one very large pole to support the whole tent.

Bell tents have nothing to do with any bell sound or anything like that, it is purely about the silhouette of the tent that looks vaguely like a bell. It could just have easily been called the teardrop tent or the circular pyramid tent.

Bell Tents are often made from cotton canvas and have been used for hundreds, if not thousands of years by nomadic tribes to live in. They are perfectly suited for extreme heat and just as good in freezing conditions, with stove jacks being a standard feature of most.

Why Are Bell Tents Made from Canvas?

The main reason that bell tents and yurts are often made from canvas as opposed to the lightweight fabrics on backpacking tents is that canvas is more durable. And because the tent relies heavily on the durability of the fabric and less on a frame or structure for support, it is very important that the fabric holds up.

Not only is canvas more durable for the sake of being tensioned out and stretched as hard as possible, but it also holds up better to being left up for longer periods of time. You can leave a canvas tent up all year round, and so long as you keep the tension high, it should remain solid through all the seasons.

Because this type of tent is traditionally used in winter, using a stove inside is fairly common. Canvas is much more resistant to heat and flames and is much easier to treat for this purpose.

Benefits of Cotton Canvas Tents

While there are some disadvantages to canvas bell tents, there are also many advantages once the tent is set up. Here is a brief list of the main benefits of cotton canvas tents:

  • Long-Lasting
  • 100% Waterproof
  • Breathable
  • Spacious
  • Less Condensation
  • Flame Resistant
  • Wood Burning Stove Compatible
  • 4-Season
  • Maintainable
  • Fixable with a Needle and Thread
  • Cool on Hot Days
  • Warm in Winter

Why Flame Resistant Canvas is Important

Flame-resistant canvas is fairly common with any bell tent that has a stove jack and is important to minimize any kind of damage caused by a hot chimney. The last thing you want is for your tent to get fire damaged as it is almost impossible to repair any kind of large hole without impacting the performance.

Stove jacks especially need to be resistant to heat as this is where the tent will be in closest contact with your fire. It is always a good idea to use some kind of fire protection on the floor where you open and close your stove door.

Flame-resistant material may be a little more expensive, but if you are planning to run a stove in there, it isn’t even a consideration – it’s a must. It is also a little bit heavier, which might not be a big deal for some people, while others may want to think about that.

Canvas bell tent in the morning glamping

Guide to The Best Canvas Bell Tents

Here are some of the things you should be thinking about and actively looking for when investing in a canvas bell camping tent:


Bell tents are circular in shape due to them being held up by a central support pole. The easiest way to disperse the weight of the canvas equally is to make it a circle so that you can tension it outwards from all angles.

The alternative to a canvas bell tent is called a wall tent which is shaped more like a house – see the WHITEDUCK Alpha above.

One design feature you can look for is an A-frame doorway that creates extra height for you to walk in without crouching. This also helps to divert rain away from the entrance and avoids water flooding every time you open the door.

Size and Capacity

When trying to decide what size to get, it makes the most sense to think in terms of diameter. Once the diameter gets above 13 feet, you can sleep people in a very efficient way by fanning around the center pole like petals on a flower. Here is a brief breakdown of tent size vs capacity:

  • 10 Feet – 4 People
  • 12 Feet – 6 People
  • 14 Feet – 7 People
  • 16 Feet – 8 People
  • 18 Feet – 10 People
  • 20 Feet – 12+ People

Weight and Pack Size

Canvas tents are not like the lightweight backpacking tents you can fit inside your backpack. They are heavy, sometimes to the point of needing two people to carry them. They will fit in the trunk of most cars, but they do take up a lot of space. Still, this is the price you pay for camping in a bell tent.

We have included the weight and pack size wherever possible. However, this is just a guide to help you make a hard decision easier.


When it comes to the different types of canvas material you can choose from, cotton is the most common. Then you have poly cotton, which is cotton blended with polyester, and then pure polyester, which is less of a canvas.

Cotton Canvas

Cotton Canvas that has been treated with water-repellent chemicals is by far the most common and arguably the best. Cotton on its own is absorbent and not waterproof, but the way the canvas is woven, combined with the waterproof treatment, makes it totally impermeable from the outside. As well as being waterproof, it is also breathable and doesn’t suffer from condensation as much as synthetic fibers.

Poly-Cotton Canvas

Polycotton is a blend of 100% cotton and polyester fibers, which does a couple of things that can be good or bad depending on the situation. The first thing is that polycotton is more lightweight than 100% cotton of the same thickness and provides slightly better durability. Some other things are that it is typically a thinner fabric, and it doesn’t require as much care when packing.

Polyester Canvas

Full polyester canvas is even more lightweight and is the same type of fabric you would find on a large tent with porch space but a little bit thicker. We are not the biggest fans of polyester bell tents just because we prefer the heavy-duty feel that canvas provides as well as the environment it creates. There is nothing wrong with polyester as such, but if you are going to splash out a lot of money, you may as well go for the real deal.


Waterproofing is crucial with any tent, but cotton canvas has some things you should know about. For starters, when you get a tent fresh out of the factory, you should set it up at home and give it a good soaking. This helps all the waterproofing treatment be fully absorbed into the canvas, which won’t have been done at the factory. Then you let it fully dry, pack it away, and you are good to go.

What Are Canvas Bell Tents Used For?

Canvas bell tents are most commonly used as luxury camping tents or glamping pods (glamorous camping). They are perfect for this because they can be left up for long periods of time, you can fit lots of furniture inside, they are the most comfortable of any tent, and they really feel like 5-star camping.

They are also used as communal rooms for cooking or gathering around the log-burning stove. They are big enough to fit lots of chairs in, at least double the sleeping capacity. They can be used by military personnel to set up a fast shelter. They can also be used by stallholders to sell at music festivals.

Any time you need a pop-up, undercover outdoor space a bell tent will fill that need and do it in style.

sibley tent 1856 patent design

What is a Sibley Bell Tent?

Sibley tents were designed by Henry Hopkins Sibley in 1856 and were a kind of teepee-style tent based around a central support pole. Bell tents were then adapted from Sibley tents to have a low wall around the outside which is what we still use today. It is basically an upside-down cone.

Are Sibley tents the same as bell tents? Not exactly. If we had to give Sibley tents a nickname, it would be cone tent as it isn’t quite so plump as a bell is.

How Long Do Canvas Bell Tents Last?

Bell tents made of canvas will last anywhere from 10 – 50 years, depending on the life they live.

How long your canvas tent lasts will depend on three things, for the most part – How often it is used or left up, how it is stored, and the conditions it is being used in. You also have to account for accidents and potential wind damage if it gets really strong.

If you leave your tent up all year round, then you need to maintain it by cleaning any algae that form and reproofing it often. If you use it often, are you making sure it is bone dry before packing it away? If not, then mildew can form and start to degrade the material.

How Practical Are Bell Tents?

Truth be told, bell-shaped tents are not the most practical. They are round, so nothing sits flat against the walls. They are heavy and bulky. They also have a big pole right in the middle, which can get in the way.

But, once they are set up, they are incredibly spacious and provide a comfortable shelter for multiple people. So they aren’t that practical to transport and but they are fairly practical once they are set up.

Can I Leave My Canvas Bell Tent up All Year?

You can absolutely leave your canvas tent up all year round if you really want, but there are some things to be aware of. Strong winds can be an issue in exposed locations and if one of the tent stakes comes loose. Snow buildup can weigh a lot and cause damage if left unchecked, so be careful if you live in a cold climate. Sun damage can also be a problem in hot and dry places, causing the canvas to become more brittle.

Leaving your tent up all year long only makes sense if you are using it every weekend, living in it, or using it as storage. Otherwise, you are only reducing the lifespan of your tent. Again, you need to be diligent with maintenance if you plan to leave your tent up all year round,

Do Canvas Bell Tents Need Waterproofing?

Tents are always waterproof when they are brand new. With a canvas tent, you should always prime the material with water before you actually sleep in it both to seal the waterproofing treatment into the fabric and to test for leaks. You can re-waterproof them with something like STAR BRITE Waterproofing Spray or a more organic wax-like Otter Wax which is great for sealing seams.

Are Bell Tents Good in Wind?

Bell tents are pretty good in strong winds, and it doesn’t matter which direction the wind is coming from. The roofs are fairly aerodynamic and pointy so they don’t flap about too much. The side walls are again curved to deflect wind but also very low, so it doesn’t have much impact anyway. The most important thing in strong wind is to make sure all your pegs are secure because if just one comes loose, it can have a domino effect until the whole thing collapses.

We hope you found this guide to the best canvas bell tent useful in your search, and that we saved you a whole lot of time. Let me know what you think in the comments.

Gear Assistant
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.

  1. […] 1800s also show wall tents being used in an army setting across many different campaigns. Just like canvas bell tents, there is a reason why they are still […]

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