The Guide On When You Should Blackout Your Tent

Knowing that you can blackout a tent pretty easily is a game changer for your camping trips
Knowing that you can blackout a tent pretty easily is a game changer for your camping trips

Have you ever been yanked out of dreamland by the sun while camping? 

It’s like nature’s alarm clock, except you never asked for a wake-up call. 

Well, fellow sleep-deprived campers, we have a way that doesn’t involve wearing a sleep mask or burying your head under your sleeping bag. Enter the blacked-out tent. 

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?

Now, you might be thinking, “Can’t I just tough it out? I mean, how bad can a little sunlight be?” Let us lay it out for you:

The Importance of Sleep on a Camping Trip

Maximize your rest and relaxation in the great outdoors with a blacked-out tent

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

You'll be able to sleep the whole morning if want to; can you imagine it?
You’ll be able to sleep the whole morning if you want to; can you imagine it?

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!

So When Should I Definitely Blackout My Tent?

The exact timing will depend on the season and your location

Let’s cut to the chase. Here are some scenarios where a blacked-out tent isn’t just nice to have – it’s practically a necessity:

Summer Camping

This is when you need a blackout tent, like a fish needs water. Not only will you dodge that early wake-up call from the sunshine, but you might also avoid feeling like you’re camping in hell.

Pro tip: Even with your blackout tent, try to snag a shady spot.

Party Life

Music festivals and beauty sleep go together. After you’ve danced all night long, the last thing you want is to wake up at 7. A blacked-out tent is your festival survival tool. 

Shift Workers

Just because you stay up late doesn’t mean you should miss out on camping. A blackout tent lets you catch those crucial daytime Zs without your body clock freaking out.

Camping with Kids

We all know kids are basically tiny psychopaths when it comes to sleep. The moment a ray of sunshine tickles their eyelids, they’re up and ready to raise at the campsite. With a blackout tent, you could buy yourself an extra hour or two of shut-eye.

Let’s take a look at the best technologies and options out there.

Types of Blackout Tents and Technology

Dark Room Technology

Technology applied to camping - what can go wrong?
Technology applied to camping – what can go wrong?

When choosing your tent, look for tents featuring “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 a strong sun outside.

Traditional Tents vs. Blackout Tents

If you're a night owl and still decide not to invest in a blackout tent... good luck
If you’re a night owl and still decide not to invest in a blackout tent… good luck

While regular tents are solid and have good benefits, they can’t compete with top-tier blackout tents when it comes to quality of sleep.

  • 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 6 am 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

Using simple blackout materials to cover your tent does wonders
Using simple blackout materials to cover your tent does wonders

So you’re ready to sleep in your personal black hole, but you’re not ready to drop cash on a new tent. No worries! Here are some ways to dim the lights in your current setup:

Blackout Material

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

Tarp Shield

A tarp sheild is also a great DIY idea
A tarp shield is also a great DIY idea

A simple blackout method using supplies that you probably have on hand:

  1. Stretch a tarp over the outside of your tent & make sure it extends past each side
  2. Secure the tarp with stakes, rocks, or ties to trees
  3. 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:

  • Dark bedsheets
  • Extra blankets or quilts
  • Dark towels or tablecloths
  • Opaque plastic sheeting 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 sleep mask worn over your eyes is an easy fix to block light
A sleep mask worn over your eyes is an easy fix to block light

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 molded 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

Other Sleep Hacks

A few key sleep hacks for a blissful slumber at a time

Now your ten’s blacker than black. Awesome. But why stop there? Let’s up your sleep game even more:

  • Earplugs: they won’t block everything but they’ll take the edge off
  • Campsite aromatherapy: a couple of drops of lavender oil on your pillow can knock you out faster. Just keep that bottled seal tight
  • Stick to your bedtime story: read a book, do some stretches, or just stare at the dark tent ceiling and contemplate life

Whatever helps you wind down, do it. Your body doesn’t know you’re not at home; it just knows it’s sleepy time.

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

The color of your tent matters more that you think - don't underestimate it
The color of your tent matters more than you think – don’t underestimate it

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 on 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: to 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 9/10 am, 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.

The Not-So-Shiny Side of Blacked-Out Tents

As much as we want to blackout our tents, they’re not all rainbows and unicorns. Let’s take a quick look at some potential downsides:


Quality doesn’t come cheap. Blacked-out tents often cost more than their see-through ones. All that fancy light-blocking tech isn’t free, so be ready to shell out a few more bucks.


Here’s a fun fact that’s not actually fun: You breathe out a ton of moisture while you sleep. Some of that escapes in a regular tent. But in a blacked-out tent? It might stick around.

Final Thoughts

We can keep writing, but by now you have probably understood the main conclusion: it all comes down to who 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.

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