Most of the tents presently available on the market have some sort of vestibule. So what is a tent vestibule used for, what is its purpose? Read here about it.
First, what is a tent vestibule?
Roughly speaking, the vestibule is a covered space that does not make a part of the sleeping area in a tent. So in view of such a definition, they all belong to one of the following two groups:
- Accessory vestibules.
- Vestibules that make a single physical unit with the tent fly. I shall call them fly vestibules.
♦ The accessory vestibules are items that you can order separately and add as an extra covered space for your gear. For that reason, you will see the term gear shed sometimes used, just to know the terminology when you see something like that next time.
Examples of this type are Big Agnes Big House Vestibules. If you follow the link you will see that they offer various sizes. Yet another great example presented in the site is the Huba Huba NX Gear Shed. In this case, the tent has its own fly vestibule, and the accessory vestibule can be attached to it.
♦ Having no better term, the second group I call tent fly vestibules. The meaning should be obvious – they are simply the non-removable part of the fly. So below a few words about this type because it is more frequently used.
Tent fly vestibules
If you have a look in my tents page, you will notice that almost all have a vestibule, but there are exceptions as well. I might miss some types, but all the tents described here belong to one of the following groups:
- Tents without vestibules.
- Tents with side door(s) and side vestibule(s).
- Tents with side door(s) and with a front vestibule.
- Tents with a front door and a corresponding front vestibule.
- Tents with a front door and side vestibules.
- Tents with a particular design, with a tarp that serves as a vestibule or awning.
- Tents with a vestibule that has two zippers which allow it to transform into an awning.
No doubt you could find some other sub-types, but those mentioned here should cover all that I have reviewed in the site.
1. Tents without vestibules
Such tents were more used in the past. They are rare nowadays but see a very recent example, the Kelty Rover tent.
One sub-type in this group are tents (usually winter tents) with a sort of vestibule inside the tent. This implies that a part of the floor area inside the tent and immediately at the entrance is without the cover. So this is a zone where you can leave your boots. You can see this design in the text about the Snow Peak Lago 1 tent.
2. Tents with side doors and side vestibules
The term ‘side’ here should be understood as the longer side of the tent. Many of the tents in the site are of that type. There is more space on the side for a wide door, and that is why such a design is good. So you have a vestibule which covers the space in front of the door. You can have it on one side, or on both sides (see the Mountainsmith Morrison 2 tent).
3. Tents with side door(s) and with front vestibule
The ‘front; here describes the shorter side of the tent. So the door is on the longer side and the vestibule is on the shorter side. You can see this interesting design in the Sierra Designs Tensegrity tents.
4. Tents with front doors and corresponding front vestibule.
This design is frequent in solo tents, see for example Big Agnes Fly Creek Platinum 1. You have it also in tents with one door for two people, like in the same series Platinum 2. If this is about a tent for two and with one door, it is better to have a front door than a side door because both inhabitants are in an equal position with respect to the single door.
5. Tents with front doors and side vestibules
This is an interesting design which you can see in the case of the Sierra Designs Lightning 2 FL tent. The vestibules are just the storage areas for gear while the front door has only a small awning for protection from rain. This is a good option because all the space under the vestibule(s) is only for gear. Contrary to this, when the vestibule is in front of the door, you can only use a part of the space for gear and keep the free space to get in and out of the tent.
See this in the video, you will notice that the vestibules have access from outside and from inside:
6. Tents with a particular design, with tarps which serve as vestibules
Any tent from the group 1 above, when used with any sort of tarp belongs to this class. But some tents are built to be used with tarps as vestibules (or awnings). So the Kelty Rover tent mentioned above is in this group; the Rover Tarp can be ordered separately and used with the tent. Yet another example is the Kelty TN2 tent which has a special buckle where you can add the Kelty Upslope Tarp.
But there are some really specific designs where the tarp is the main structure and the tent is added under it if/when needed.
7. Tents with a vestibule that has two zippers which allow it to transform into an awning
This can be any of the tents with the vestibule in front of the door. Two zippers allow for some versatility in general, and in particular, for creating an awning. You can see a great example in the case of the Kelty Horizon 2 tent.
This particular tent is specific for several reasons. One is that the fly and the vestibule are permanently attached to the tent body, but the vestibule is a part independent on the fly. Please follow the link to see more.
Should you really use a vestibule?
In the case of the tent fly vestibules, you do not have a choice. It is there as a part of the fly and you cannot remove it. But if you think you do not need it, then try to find a tent without a vestibule. Note, it will be hard to find any.
As for the accessory vestibules, this is up to you, dependent on the situation. If you camp at a place with a car access, then such an addition helps a lot to organize your life there. Otherwise, you will probably not think about it.
So, this is all I have had to say about what a tent vestibule is used for. As you see, it has several purposes:
- It covers the space above the door and adds some protection from elements.
- It provides a space to store your gear.
- In some clever designs, it adds the comfort of having a pleasant awning for sitting in front of the tent.
I hope this text has been useful. Please let me know if you think some specific tent and vestibule design should be included here, there is a comment box below. I wish you a pleasant day.