Last Updated on 14/10/2021
Why Tent Color Matters
The best tent color for staying cool is light but the best color tent for discreet camping would be green or camo. In this article, we explain why some tent colors work better than others for different objectives and what to look for.
The color of your tent can influence your outdoor experience in several ways for the better or worse. Bright colorful tents attract attention which could be good or bad depending on the situation. Sand-colored tents are good for desert camping because they reflect light and darker tents might be a little bit warmer than others.
Depending on how you intend on spending your time outdoors, the color of your tent might be something you want to take into consideration before buying. The color you choose could determine how well your tent reflects light, how noticeable or unnoticeable you are, and how long you might be able to get away with sleeping in on a morning with a blackout tent.
Whether your next journey is a hunting trip, an expedition, or just a weekend backpacking and camping with a friend, continue reading to learn more about how the color of your tent could impact your experience.
Does Tent Color Matter?
Tent color seems like a trivial detail to most campers and backpackers who are just looking for shelter from the elements, from animals, and insects. However, the color of your tent can influence a plethora of factors like how warm or cold you can stay inside of your tent, if you can be easily seen, or how easy it is for you to get enough sleep through the bright mornings or extended days.
Tent temperature is the most obvious impact the color of tent can have on your experience. Because different colors absorb visible light from the sun at varying degrees of intensity, having a light-colored tent is the most pragmatic option for those hot days, while having a strategically placed dark-colored tent that gets plenty of daytime sun is the best option for those really cold nights.
If you’re spending a week hunting in Montana, trekking an unexplored region of wilderness, or planning an expedition where the color of your tent could be the difference between you being noticed or not, a bright-colored tent could be the determining factor between getting saved and stuck.
Since there are so many different options when it comes down to tent color, let’s explore how each regularly available color option can contribute to your experience in the wild as we continue to answer the question: Is tent color important?
Choosing Tent Color
Tent color might seem important but the overall build quality and waterproofing are far more important. But in this guide to full-color tents, we focus just on why some tents are visually beneficial.
On a hot summer day on the trail, at the campground, or after a long day on the stalk, a light-colored tent is the best way to repel sunlight. Because light colors become more reflective as you approach white, this helps prevent your tent from becoming a greenhouse, especially if you place it under shade under a healthy tree with no dying branches. However, these bright colors also look very inviting to insects and other pests that are biologically programmed to associate bright colors in nature with food.
Red color can offer very little benefit over most tent colors, except for a few of the darker colors like Blue, Indigo, and Violet. Its wavelength allows for the absorption of large amounts of light and heat energy, which could be ideal for those cold winter nights, but not better than some of your other options. If you’re looking to blend, this tent could come in handy during peak foliage, allowing you a discrete place to experience the changing colors.
Unless you are doubling up on the use of your hunting blind as a tent for camping as well, there is no law in any state requiring you to use an orange tent while hunting. However, an orange tent for hunters isn’t a bad idea to stay visible to other hunters.
As long as you’re not in peak foliage season, orange can also be a great choice if you’re going on a challenging expedition where weather and other conditions might necessitate a rescue. A fluorescent orange shelter is the best way to increase visibility against a snowy or rocky backdrop.
When tent shopping, a blue tent is going to be one of the most common colors you come across, but choose wisely before you just move that blue tent to your cart and see what other colors might be available for your trip. As mentioned previously, blue is an efficient absorber of light and heat, so it provides a warmer alternative to some of the lighter colors. This might be your best two-person backpacking tent color for those fall hikes when you need as much precious heat as possible.
Thinking back on my first tent, green is probably considered the generic tent color for the majority of tents you will find online shopping or even those you’ll see on the shelves of your nearest sporting goods stores. Again, consider the temperatures and plan accordingly as green absorbs nearly as much light and heat energy as blue, priming you for either a warmer cold weather experience or a very warm hot weather one.
Sand Color Tent
Perhaps you are more of a coastal camper who enjoys the soft sandy beaches and the sound of gently crashing waves lapping the shore. For discreet beach or even desert camping, when you don’t want to draw too much attention, a sand-colored tent is the obvious option. Another benefit is that the light tan color doesn’t absorb too much heat, allowing you to keep things a little cooler than if you went with a darker option.
Green Grey Tent Color
If you’re trying to avoid having your camp be seen at all by anyone or anything, the green-grey camouflage option is your best bet. As mentioned before, it is best practice to err on the side of caution when choosing your tent color for those extended hunting trips, but if you still opt for stealth, then this is your best option.
Is charcoal a good tent color? It depends on where you’re camping and what the temperature is outside. This dark color will absorb more light and heat from the sun than any other previously mentioned, so if you have a nice sunny spot to place it throughout an otherwise cold day, you could have a very comfortable tent to crawl into. If it’s already very warm, then it’s best to avoid dark-colored tents if possible. When I was traveling around Alaska this past summer, a dark-colored, almost black tent like this would have come in handy for facilitating better sleep on those long days and very abrupt nights.
Neutral Tent Colors
If your setting out to be one with nature and just blend into the beautiful natural backdrop around you, a neutral color is the way to go. These tents come in anything from white, grey, brown, and sometimes beige.
Best Color Tent for Camping?
So what color tent is good for camping? This is heavily dependent on whether you’d like to be seen or if you’d like to maintain a discrete camping spot. If you’d like to branch out and socialize with neighborly campers, then bright colors are the least conspicuous.
Is it hot or is it cold? As mentioned before, darker colors absorb more of the sun’s energy and therefore more heat to keep your tent warm even when it’s cold outside. Lighter colors allow for more reflection of the sun’s energy back into the surrounding air, allowing for somewhat cooler temperatures inside of your tent compared to those with darker materials.
Best Color Tent for Backpacking?
If you’re more of a backpacker than a camper you might be thinking: what color tent should I get for backpacking? If you’re backpacking up Mount Marcy on a short two day or weekend trip in the beautiful Adirondacks in the middle of the summer, it’s best to choose a tent with subdued colors as opposed to very bright colors to avoid attracting mosquitoes and other flying insects that inherently associate bright colors with a food source.
However, if you’re planning a week-long expedition in the Grand Teton’s where conditions are unpredictable and can change in almost an instant, then a bright orange or another colorful tent will be your safest bet. As my very own brother learned on his first trip to the Tetons, it’s important to consider the risks of a more serious hike like this, and mitigating the “what-ifs” of a negative outcome can literally mean life or death, so prepare wisely.
Best Selling Tent Color
For whatever reason, be it aesthetics, how well the material absorbs or reflects light, or being the default option when you click “add to cart” the best-selling tents on the market are usually green, white, or light grey.
This bodes well for all of us out there who are camping regularly and checking for gear upgrades to best suit our needs as these colors are ideal for most conditions under the right circumstances.
Best Tent Color for Bears
Bear experts now say the color of your tent could potentially influence the behavior of bears as mentioned here. The theory is that bears are more likely to ignore dark, neutral, or camo tent colors and are perhaps more curious about bright colors.
The most important aspect to consider, especially when exploring the wilds of Yellowstone or Denali, is to keep your tent and your food separate, re-locating your food to a safe place away from where you’ll be sleeping for the night. Having a can of bear spray handy couldn’t hurt either.
How to Color Your Tent
Technically, you can color your tent. Since tent fabric is typically made out of strong fabrics like nylon and polyester, you can dye your tent just like you would ye your clothes, but unlike your tent, clothes you’d typically be interested in dying are not waterproof. Treating your tent with dye could diminish or completely compromise your tent’s ability to keep you dry.
Opting to use alternatives, like spray paint, could also work but have predominantly negative effects on how waterproof your tent is and could make for a very wet, uncomfortable camping trip when the rain finally comes down. If it doesn’t negate the waterproof chemical used to treat the tent, then you might run the risk of it sticking together when you roll it up and accidentally tearing it the next time you try to use it again. All in all, this is not worth the trouble.
The color of your tent can influence many aspects of your next trip. A bright-colored tent does a better job at reflecting light while keeping you cool and allowing your campsite to be more noticeable in stark situations but does attract some unwelcome pests. A dark-colored tent does a great job at absorbing light and trapping heat from the day like a greenhouse, while in some cases giving you a more discreet camping experience, but does not offer the visibility of bright-colored tents in some scenarios like hunting.
The various options available can all play a role in the outcome of your trip and can aid in planning for an improved experience the next time you head outdoors.