Last Updated on 27/08/2023
What is a screen house for camping? You can get screen houses for agriculture and horticulture, or you can get screen houses to cover your pool. In this guide, we explain what a screen house is and why they are worth it for camping, as well as the differences from other types of shelter.
Embarking on a camping journey unlocks the joy of connecting with nature. However, some elements of the great outdoors can be more than just annoying. Bug protection alone is one reason to use a screen house when camping. But what is a screen house, and is it the same as a tent with a screen porch? That’s what we are here to explain.
What Is a Screen House for Camping?
A screen house isn’t your ordinary camping shelter. Unlike a tent, is screen house isn’t designed for sleeping in and instead is a social space to hang out, cook, and enjoy a panoramic view of the wilderness, immersing you in the natural surroundings while offering protection against bugs and flies.
If you can’t see the image above, a screen house looks like a portable gazebo with mesh walls. It has a waterproof roof for weather protection and will often have waterproof walls, too (for when it’s really raining hard). But for the most part, a screen room is used without the walls up so that you can enjoy the views around.
In summer, screen houses are great because they provide shade during the day, biting insect protection, full ventilation with the walls down, wind blocking with the walls up, moisture protection for your gear at night, and a place to just hang out with your friends or family.
3 Examples of Screen Houses
Sometimes, giving examples of what a screen house is is easier than trying to explain it. Here are three quick examples of screen houses for camping that I would recommend checking out:
1. Eureka! Northern Breeze Camping Screen House
The Eureka! Northern Breeze Camping Screen House is probably the best option out there if quality and reliability are your priority. It is packed with features like storage pockets, lantern cord, and full water-resistant curtains on all sides (also double as a canopy with some tarp poles). There is no shortage of space inside for a dozen camping chairs, but the only downside of this screen house is that the two side walls are fixed and don’t open up.
2. Coleman Screened Canopy Tent with Instant Setup
The Coleman Screened Canopy Tent with Instant Setup is such an easy tent to use; it pops up in under a couple of minutes and feels totally robust once pegged in. The octagonal shape is perfect for sitting in a social circle and really maximizes the space so that you can keep the middle clear. This screen house is much cheaper than the Eureka! Northern Breeze above but offers all the same benefits.
3. Browning Camping Basecamp Screen House
The Browning Camping Basecamp Screen House isn’t a bad choice either. It doesn’t have any waterproof/windproof walls like the Eureeka! Screen house does, which does make it about 7 pounds lighter, but the roof will protect you from above with no problem. This is the cheapest option of all three and offers great value if you just need something small.
7 Benefits of Screen Houses
The appeal of screen houses comes from not wanting to be cooped up inside your tent if the bugs are swarming or the weather is not what you were expecting. They provide essential protection from outdoor pests like mosquitoes and flies and give you a big space to cook and hang out, making your camping trip more comfortable.
The mesh walls offer mostly unobstructed views of your surroundings, allowing you to remain connected with nature, whether it’s incredibly hot or raining heavily. Plus, screen houses come with the added advantage of ventilation. Unlike traditional tents, their mesh design enables a free flow of air, ensuring the interior stays cool instead of stuffy like a closed tent.
1. Insect Protection
I don’t think there are many people on Earth who enjoy being harassed by mosquitos, flies, and biting insects. Whether it’s just a fly landing on your freshly cooked food or a mosquito that keeps flying around your ear, it’s fair to say they can all **** off.
Screen houses are the perfect way to avoid doing the Aussie wave (wafting flies away so much it looks like you’re waving). The fine mesh used on the walls is often small enough to block no-see-ems, sand flies, and gnats, but for ants, you need a screen house that connects to the floor.
The other big thing with bug protection and screen houses is that you need to be diligent in keeping all the doors sealed so that the bugs don’t sneak in. Because once they are in, they are trapped in. Then you will need something like a bug zapper or Bug-A-Salt Salt Gun for flies.
2. Shade and UV Protection
Because screen houses have a water-resistant fabric roof, they provide a good amount of shade and UV protection during the heat of a sunny day. If you have fair skin or young children, then having a place to get out of the sun is as important as using sunscreen, but the comfort factor f having shade is something everyone can enjoy.
3. Rain Cover
Most screen houses will have a fabric tent that is either water-resistant or waterproof. While I wouldn’t recommend using a screen house as a rain shelter for sleeping in, it will certainly do to keep most of the rain off you. One thing to look for is the angle of the roof. Steeper-pitched roofs will do a better job of shedding rain and are less likely to pool.
4. Wind Blocking
If your screen house has removable walls, as many do, you can use these to block the wind from any direction as well as add extra rain protection. When you are trying to cook or even just stay warm on an evening, and the wind is blowing right through you, having a screen house with solid panel walls provides a safe space to operate.
The mesh structure of a screen house tent allows air to circulate so that you can take advantage of the slightest breeze. Ventilation is key in summer when you get the most use from your screen room because, without it, it can feel hotter inside the screen house, even if you are in the shade. Screen houses typically don’t have vents at the top of the roof like a tent does because they have such wide open spaces on the screen walls.
Screen houses for camping allow you to enjoy an almost 360-degree view of your surroundings, one of the main reasons people love camping. Imagine for a moment you are heading down to a picturesque lake at the bottom of an ice-capped mountain range on a sunny day. You want to be able to soak everything in without feeling like you’re trapped in a box. Screen houses offer many of the same benefits as tents for things like shade and bug netting but don’t obstruct your view.
Screen houses are incredibly useful things to have in your arsenal, even if you don’t go camping that often. They can be used for dining, relaxation, or as a base for daytime activities at the beach or park. We use ours all the time for BBQs, parties, festivals, and even at a friend’s wedding. The versatility does reduce by quite a lot as the weather gets colder, which makes them more of a summer shelter.
Screen House, Tent, or Canopy? Understanding the Difference
What is a screen house, and why is it different from a tent or canopy shelter? Each has its unique features and benefits, with a screen house’s main function being bug protection and daytime shade from the sun.
Purpose of a Screen House
When setting out for a camping trip, the shelter you choose can greatly influence your outdoor experience. Screen houses are primarily designed to offer protection from bugs and sun while still allowing a breezy, open-air feeling. They are equipped with mesh walls to keep out insects, making them ideal for areas where flies, mosquitoes, midges, and no-see-ems are prevalent.
As well as protecting you and your company from getting bitten and harassed by biting insects, screen houses are also incredibly useful for keeping flies away from your food while you cook and eat.
Purpose of a Camping Tent
Tents, on the other hand, are your go-to choice for sleeping shelters. They provide protection not just from insects but also from rain, wind, and sometimes even cold. Tents are designed with a solid fabric, typically equipped with a rainfly and a waterproof floor, ensuring you stay dry and comfortable. They offer privacy and, when combined with a sleeping bag, a sleeping pad, and a pillow, give you the best night’s sleep outdoors.
Purpose of a Canopy Shelter
Canopies, also known as gazebos, are the simplest of the three. Generally, they provide overhead protection against sun or light rain but lack the side walls typical of tents or screen houses. This makes them perfect for short events, picnics, or any gathering where you want some shelter but don’t need the added bug protection. They’re not designed for sleeping but are great for daytime use, especially when you want a quick setup and takedown.
Can You Camp in A Screen House?
You can absolutely camp in a screen house if the conditions are warm enough and you use some kind of groundsheet or tent carpet on the floor. If all you need is protection from settling dew in the night and biting insects, then a screen house is the most ventilated type of shelter you can use. Because the walls are made from bug mesh, no hot air is trapped inside, so you can generally get a good night’s sleep in a screen house.
Using a tent carpet or groundsheet is important, even if you are using a sleeping pad, as moisture from the ground can easily dampen your sleeping gear and make you cold if the temperature drops.
Can You Use a Stove In A Screen House?
Screen houses are the perfect place to cook and use a camping stove. Unlike a tent, you aren’t at risk of getting carbon monoxide poisoning by using a stove inside because the walls are made from mesh and allow fresh air in constantly. The mesh essentially does very little to disturb airflow moving through a screen house.
That isn’t to say you don’t need to take extreme care when using a camping stove to cook inside a screen house because you can easily burn a hole in the mesh walls or damage the roof by cooking too high up or with too large of a flame.
Are Screen Houses Waterproof?
Almost any screen house you choose will protect you from a rain shower, but in sustained rain, they may not keep you completely dry inside. This isn’t because the roof will leak or anything like that; it’s because if it’s windy at the same time as rain, it will blow in through the sides. The angle of the roof pitch is something worth paying attention to, as the steeper the roof is, the better it will shed heavy rain.
The Coleman Screened Canopy Tent is one of the better tents in the rain because the roof has a trip all the way around the edge, which gives you an extra lip of cover.
What is a screen house, and can you camp in one? If you have read this article all the way to the bottom then you should now be able to answer that question without looking at your phone.