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Bell Tents: Pros and Cons

Bell tents can last for years of outdoor trips
Bell tents can last for years of outdoor trips

If you enjoy camping or have friends who camp regularly, then we’re willing to bet that you’ve heard of bell tents…

That these tents have a lot of interior space and look fancier than more traditional tents…

That they are a must-have for camping trips and festivals…

That they don’t understand how people don’t use them more given all their advantages.

If indeed you’ve heard all of this, you must be thinking: are they really this perfect?

Let’s find out.

The Pros of Bell Tents

If you’re tired of dome tents and want to try something new, it’s definitely time to check out bell tents.

With their unique shape and sturdy canvas fabric, bell tents have a bunch going for them.

Here are a few reasons to consider a bell tent for your next camping trip:

Big Interior Space

Bell tents have a tall center pole and slanted walls that provide tons of headroom inside.

The huge ones fit queen or kind beds with space left over, and even the small sizes fit two campers comfortably.

If you’re looking for space, they’re a great choice.

Breathable Canvas Fabric

The breathable canvas fabric helps moderate interior conditions
The breathable canvas fabric helps moderate interior conditions

Real bell camping tents are made from breathable cotton canvas, which is naturally cooler than polyester or nylon.

This canvas fabric helps air flow through, controlling the temperature inside the tent and preventing morning dew better than other fabrics.

So the question is: do you want to wake up all sweaty?

If not, this is a great tent to prevent that.

Fast to Set Up

The canvas bell tent structure is very simple: it just needs one main pole in the middle to hold it up.

So just stake down the corners, and you’re good to go in minutes! Even little kids can help set up canvas tents since they’re so easy.

Glamping Vibe

Bell tents create a vibe that feels more like glamping than regular tent camping
Bell tents create a vibe that feels more like glamping than regular tent camping

There’s no do doubt about it: bell tents look awesome.

The bell shape and creamy canvas fabric make them way nicer than regular tents and you can take things further and decorate the inside however you want.

Can Last For Years

Good canvas tents are super durable and can easily last 5 years or more.

The heavy-duty canvas stops wind and rain better than other thin fabrics and doesn’t get ruined by the sun and mold like cheaper materials.

If you buy a high quality canvas bell tent when you’re a teenager, it can easily last until you’re a grown-up! If this doesn’t excite you, we’re not sure what will.

The Cons of Bell Tents

Every tent type has cons - that's just part of the game
Every tent type has cons – that’s just part of the game

Bell tents have lots of awesome things going for them, there’s no doubt about that.

But they also have some downsides to keep in mind before you ditch your dome tent and go buy a bell tent.

Here are some:

Heavier

There’s no way around it: canvas tents are heavy.

A small one weighs around 100–150 pounds while the larger ones can be 300–500 pounds, so we’re talking serious weight.

You’ll need a bigger space to move them around and putting them up will take more work since they’re so bulky.

Not 100% Waterproof

If you're camping in the rain, you'll need a waterproof tent
If you’re camping in the rain, you’ll need a waterproof tent

The canvas tent gives decent protection from rain if treated properly.

But over time, canvas lets more water in than polyester or nylon tents, and in super-heavy rain conditions, the inside might get wet without extra tarps.

If you’re expecting some raindrops, you’re good to go; if you’re going for serious rain camping, canvas tents won’t do the job.

Can’t Stake Down Well

Most bell tents have 5-8 points to stake down, which is not enough to keep them solid in heavy rain and strong winds.

You’ll need to use more stakes to keep them from flapping around.

Less Temperature Control

The breathable canvas on bell tents doesn’t insulate well.

They can get pretty chilly at night or in cooler weather conditions without enough sleeping bags and blankets. A stove can help, but it’s not the best solution for a seriously cold environment.

They also heat up fast in direct sunlight, so think about getting shade or reflective covers to keep your bell tent cooler in the summer.

Cost More Money

If you camp regularly, a high quality bell tent is worth the money
If you camp regularly, a high quality bell tent is worth the money

Let’s be real: canvas bell tents can be expensive.

The basic ones will go for around $200–$500 while fancier versions with accessories can cost in the thousands, making them more expensive than polyester or nylon tents.

Key Factors To Consider

Never rush the purchase of a tent
Never rush the purchase of a tent

We really like bell tents and believe that their price is worth it, but if you’re thinking about buying one, here are some things you should think about first:

  • What is your preferred bell tent size? Solo campers only need a small one

  • What’s the normal weather like where you camp? Rainy or winter camping makes setup trickier

  • Can you carry it to your campsite easily? Smaller tents are more portable

  • Do you mostly camp in the summer or winter? They can get hot or cold without accessories

  • How often will you use it? Frequent users offset the higher costs over time

  • Do you want extras like a wood stove or floor? Add-ons improve comfort but cost more

  • Is lightweight backpacking your thing? Bell tents are heavier than backpacking tents

If you have the space and budget, then they’re awesome for car camping and glamping trips.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why Are Bell Tents So Expensive?

They are costly because they are made from thick, durable cotton canvas fabric rather than cheaper synthetic materials.

Are Bell Tents Hot In Summer?

The canvas fabric breathes more than nylon tents, so that helps but bell tents can still get pretty toasty when the sun’s blazing down.

Can You Camp in a Bell Tent?

Yes, you can camp in a bell tent. With their huge interior space and tall ceilings, bell tents can provide the ultimate camping experience.