Whether you need to blackout your tent or not will mainly depend on whether you are a morning person or a night owl (if you’re a morning person, then it likely won’t make a lot of sense to get a blackout tent). In any case, after you have decided to blackout your tent, there are a lot of different choices (from buying a blackout tent directly to tweaking your regular tent).
Want to know what you’re doing? Read everything below!
Why Blackout Your Tent?
Blacking out your tent allows you to sleep in darkness even when the sun rises. Here’s how this helps you:
The Importance of Sleep on a Camping Trip
Sleep is essential on any camping trip.
Without adequate rest, you’ll feel irritable and unable to fully enjoy activities like bird watching and star gazing, and your family or friends will get tired of you really fast.
A good night’s sleep while camping ensures:
You wake up feeling refreshed and energized
Improved mood, less grumpiness
Ability to participate in active adventures
Better concentration for tasks like reading maps or cooking
More enthusiasm for exploring nature
If your sleep is disrupted, then chances are you will be in a bad mood and that weekend getaway can be ruined.
Benefits of Blacking Out Your Tent
Specific benefits of using a blackout tent or DIY blackout methods include:
Uninterrupted sleep: blocking light means the sunrise won’t wake you up before you’re ready. You can sleep as long as you need without harsh light disturbing your rest
Added privacy: with a blackout tent, other fellow campers can’t see inside, even during the day. Needless to say that this can prevent awkward situations (especially if you’re going on a romantic trip…)
More sleep on sunny mornings: you don’t have to wake up at dawn if you don’t want; instead, you can sleep until later in the morning in darkness and quiet – this is key for people considered night owls
Temperature control: blackout tents may better regulate temperature, keeping you cooler on hot sunny days
Better sleep environment: darkness triggers the release of melatonin to help you fall asleep
We would highly recommend not being cheap and actually spending a bit more on a blackout tent; although it doesn’t seem like a big deal, small tweaks like these can improve your camping experience by a lot!
Let’s take a look at the best technologies and options out there.
Types of Blackout Tents and Technology
Dark Room Technology
When choosing your tent, look for tents featuring a “dark room” technology.
This innovative design blocks 95-100% of external light for a dark, sleep-inducing environment and is worth every penny.
But what exactly is this “dark room” technology? Normally it has:
Several layers of durable, blackout polyester fabric
Reverse angle seams to prevent light leakage
Blackout coating on all surfaces facing outside
Ventilation systems like rainfly barriers and window openings
Light-blocking drapes for entryways
Mosquito nets for airflow
The combination of these features in an efficient way ensures that you sleep deeply, even with strong sun outside.
Traditional Tents vs Blackout Tents
Traditional tents are designed for basic camping needs like shelter, ventilation, and weather resistance, and they do not prioritize sleep quality.
They use standard fabrics that allow some light transmission, and while they are fine for car camping, they are not ideal if you’re looking to ensure uninterrupted sleep during your camping adventure.
Blackout tents take the camping experience up a notch. Made with blackout fabrics and smart construction, they create an optimal sleep environment. These also offer extra features like storage pockets and lantern hooks.
if you’re going for example to multi-day festivals, we highly recommend you invest in a quality blackout tent. You’ll be amazed at how much better you were able to sleep while your friends in regular tents woke up at 6am and couldn’t sleep anymore.
But Rtivities, what if it’s my first camping trip and I really don’t have the money to buy a good blackout tent?
That’s more than fair, and we’ve been in that position when we were getting started. For now save your $$ for a good blackout tent down the road and read the next section for some DIY methods that can increase your sleep quality without sacrificing your wallet.
DIY Blackout Solutions for a Regular Tent
First on the list of cheaper ways to blackout your tent is blackout fabric and line (that you should use on the inside of your regular tent walls and ceiling).
Some useful materials are
Blackout curtains/drapes: affordable and available in different sizes to fit tent walls, these use strong magnets or velcro to attach them to the tent interior
Space/emergency blankets: extremely lightweight and offer near-total blackout. The crinkly material also increases privacy. Cons? They don’t look great…
Blackout tent liners: custom-fit tent liners made from blackout fabric. These are available for specific tent models and are easy to set up
Reflective bubble wrap: surprisingly effective at blocking light
Rtivities pro tip: consider using black duct tape to seal edges between blackout fabric and tent walls for total darkness
A simple blackout method using supplies that you probably have on hand:
Stretch a tarp over the outside of your tent & make sure it extends past each side
Secure the tarp with stakes, rocks, or ties to trees
Use duct tape to seal any gaps between the tarp and the tent
This simple & cheap DIY tarp shield prevents early morning light from entering your tent and also adds some weather and soundproofing protection.
Dark Sheets and Fabrics
If you don’t have blackout-specific materials, no problem! These household items can do magic:
Extra blankets or quilts
Dark towels or tablecloths
Opaque plastic sheetings or shower curtain liners
Just layer these inside your tent walls and ceiling to reduce light transmission and you’re good to go!
As you can see, you don’t need a fancy blackout tent to be able to sleep all morning. With a little bit of creativity, you can black out any tent with a few simple materials.
But this isn’t all we got: keep reading!
Other Ways to Block Light
If you’re still not convinced and think that modifying your tent seems like too much work, try these easy personal solutions instead:
Blackout Sleep Mask
A good sleep mask allows you to sleep comfortably as the sky brightens outside and is super cheap compared to the items we talked about earlier on.
Our recommendation is to go for a contoured, comfortable mask that fits securely around your eyes and nose bridge, as this will provide the most comfort. Also look for a moulded design that prevents light leakage.
For complete blackout, consider trying a special blackout eye mask. These have multilayer construction and often have a concave shape to sit over your eyes without touching eyelids. Although they are more expensive, they are more effective. Pick your battle.
PS: wearing a sleep mask however, is not a perfect solution: although it will kill any sunlight, it won’t solve the heat inside your tent once the sun is up.
Inflatable Mattresses and Sleeping Bag Solutions
Other portable items that can improve your sleep include:
Dark-coloured inflatable mattress: absorbs less light than a standard mattress. Always position the tent corners for darkness
Blackout sleeping bag liner: a blackout liner keeps the inside of your bag dark and sleep-ready
Mummy sleeping bag: the enclosed design prevents light entry for uninterrupted sleep
Considerations for Blacking Out Your Tent
Here are a few things you should keep in mind when choosing a tent with blackout features:
Darker Colored vs Light Colored Tents
Although most blackout tents use darker fabric, this is not a universal rule.
Darker-colored tents excel at blocking light. However, they also retain more heat than light-colored ones. This is great in cooler weather but potentially uncomfortable in hot days.
Light-colored tents allow more light but can stay cooler under direct sunlight. However, remember that any colored tent can be blacked out with good DIY methods.
There isn’t a straightforward answer to which color your blackout tent should be, as it depends on each camper’s personal choices.
However, what we can say is: weigh the benefits of heat retention vs heat reflection when making that choice. If you know you’re going to a crazy hot spot in the middle of the Summer, then you should probably bring a light-colored tent.
Morning Person vs. Night Owl
You should always consider your personal sleep preferences and camping goals (and your family’s).
For morning people, the sunrise is a delightful part of camping, as it officially marks the beginning of the day. If this is you, then we don’t really see the point in buying a fancy blackout tent and taking it to your adventure.
For night owls however, blackout features are a literal lifesaver. If you’re like us and can never wake up before 9/10am, then do yourself a big favor and invest in a good blackout tent. You’ll thank us later.
If you have babies or younger children, blocking light helps them nap and sleep according to their schedules.
We can keep writing but by now you have probably understood the main conclusion: it all comes down to what you/your family are and what you enjoy the most. Once you’ve sat down with them and thought about how you want to organize your adventure, the rest is easy.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I blackout my entire tent to prevent the sun from waking me up?
To blackout an entire tent, use blackout liners or panels made of dark fabric and attach them to the walls and ceiling to prevent any early mornings’ light penetrating your tent. You can also drape dark sheets around the inside of your tent.
Are blackout tents worth the investment for camping?
Blackout tents are definitely worth the investment, especially if you’re a night owl. The darker-colored tent and blackout technology allow you to sleep all morning by completely blocking the rising sun and night sky from your camping tent.
What’s the easiest way to blackout a tent for car campers?
For car campers, blackout liners or dark-colored tents hung with magnets are an easy way to make your tent dark. Opt for a spot under the shade to avoid the morning light and keep your tent cooler.
How well do blackout tents block light in the early mornings?
Quality blackout tents use materials that can completely block external light pollution, even in early mornings. The darker shade absorbs light, making it a dark space that prevents light from penetrating inside.