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What is a Tent Vestibule? Add a New Dimension to Your Camping

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Everyone who has been on a camping trip and spent at least one night in the rain knows the importance of camping tents. When you have to spend a full night in a drizzle, you realize how important it is for you to have some extra space in your tent, just to keep everything wet there. This is one of the many purposes that a vestibule serves in a camping tent. Technically speaking, a tent vestibule is the covered space that is not used for sleeping. Without further ado let's find all about vestibule and if you need to invest in it.

What is Tent Vestibule

As explained the tent vestibule is extra space in your camping tent. They are like mudrooms designed in front of the tent or at the sides. This extra room can be used as your gear storage, a place to stash your dirty clothes before you enter the tidy tent. These storage sheds are usually ordered separately and set up together with your tent. In contrast, a tent vestibule is more like the foyer of your tent that makes up the covered space just before you enter the tent. These are ideal for rainy, winter camping and also for backpackers traveling around the world! Let's now go deep into its function.

tent vestibule
Tent Vestibule is all about extra space during the camps

What is the Function of the Vestibule

Along with providing a fashionable look, a tent with vestibule serves a lot of purposes. Some of them are:

  • They provide extra storage space.
  • They are ideal changing rooms where you can change out of wet clothes.
  • Especially in winter, they double up as cooking corners when you want to avoid being in the cold.

Livingit Tip-
Be extra cautious while cooking in a vestibule as it can set the tent ablaze and even cause carbon monoxide poisoning!

Different Types of Tent Vestibules

While the vestibule function remains more or less the same in all kinds of tents with vestibules, the design and overall look of the tent changes drastically with the type of vestibule. Here are the most commonly found designs of vestibule tents:

1. Front Vestibules

These tent vestibules are fairly common among single door tents. As the name suggests, they cover the front door of the tent.

There are two kinds of vestibule tents with front vestibules.

  • The first type of tents has an inbuilt front vestibule while
  • The second type of tents has the provision for attaching a front vestibule separately.

The advantage of having a separate vestibule is that you can carry it only when you suspect bad weather. 

Tents with front vestibules are generally large and spacious. A tent with large vestibule offers many advantages to the campers. For example, more storage, storage of bulky gear like bikes, added space for cooking etc. However, front vestibules have the major disadvantage that the stuff kept in front of the door hinders entry and exit.

2. Side Vestibules

Side vestibules in camping tents have the vestibular covered area on the side of the tents. This way, it is easier for you to enter and come out of the tent without hindrances. They are very commonly included in multi-person tents and look great. The most common use of these vestibules is storage of gear and wet clothes.

3. Tarp Vestibules

These vestibules come as a tarp that serves as the main structure. A tent can be attached underneath the tarp. The tarp then serves as an awning or vestibule, depending on the design.

4. Tunnel Vestibules

When there is a requirement of joining or connecting two camping tents together, it can be done using tunnel vestibules.

tunnel vestibule
Tunnel vestibule for big group of campers

5. Add-on Vestibules

As the name suggests, they can be zipped on to the doors of camping tents when needed. Depending on their design, they may or may not require extra poles to set up.

Do You Really Need a Tent Vestibule

There is no clear answer to this question. While it is clear that tent vestibules serve a lot of functions, there is interpersonal variation regarding whether you need those functions or not. Here are a few pointers to help you decide.

  • Weather

One key factor to consider is the general weather of the camping site. If you are camping in a region or a season that is characterized by strong winds, rainfall, and other such weather conditions, perhaps it is a good idea to opt for a tent with vestibule. On the other hand, if the weather forecast is a clear sky, then a vestibule might not be necessary.

Likewise, if you go camping in winter time, there is a chance that you encounter heavy snowfall. In this case, having a vestibule in front of your tent door will prevent the snow from entering the tent interior. 

Your camping style has a very important role in answering this question. If you are the rugged outdoor enthusiast who can brave through a couple of rainy nights, you might not see the point of having extra space in your tent. However, if you like to segregate wet clothes and keep them away from the rest of your stuff, added space is good for you.

winter tent vestibule
Winter camping needs tent vestibule
  • Type of Camper

If you are a backpacker, your decision to carry a vestibule will depend on the weight you have to carry and the functions it will serve. If you are car camping, then a vestibule may be totally unnecessary because you will have a car to store things. Another point to consider is whether you are camping alone or with family and kids. Usually, a family with kids and elderly members require more segregated space in order to keep things in an orderly fashion. These families also tend to carry a lot more stuff than a couple who goes camping. A tent vestibule may be very useful in these cases.

  • Duration

The next thing to consider is the duration of your camping trip. If you are planning to go camping for a short time, then you will not carry a lot of gear and thus, you won’t need a lot of extra storage space. However, if you have a lot of gear, having a tent vestibule is, in fact, a good idea.

  • Types of Activites

Next, you should consider the kind of activities you are going to do on your camping trip.

If there is a barbeque on the list, then is it important to keep the grill and tinder safe from getting wet in the rain. Having a vestibule tent is a good idea for this purpose. If there is a lot of swimming involved, then you need some covered place to dry the wet clothes at night. Having a vestibule, in this case, is definitely a plus point.

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While the vestibule can serve as a cooking area, due care must be taken when cooking in a tent vestibule. You have to be careful that the tent doesn’t catch fire. At the same time, you have to ensure that the tent is well ventilated to prevent accumulation of carbon monoxide inside the tent.

Another downside of cooking in the tent vestibule is that the smell and leftovers might attract small (or big) animals towards your tent. For this reason, many campers prefer not to have a vestibule door and like to cook outside the tent.

If you deeply think about the points mentioned above, you will figure out whether you need a tent vestibule on your camping trip or not. While tent vestibules add a lot of comfort to your camping trip, they count as an extra weight that you have to carry with you. So, if you think it is worth carrying this extra weight, you should definitely go for a tent with vestibule.

Tent Vestibules: Is There an Alternative

Of course! If you are not too keen on carrying a vestibule tent with you on your next camping trip, consider a simple tarp. If you have a spare Silnylon tarp with you, it can be pitched right over your camping tent. This arrangement will have the following features:

  • You will get extra covered area outside your tent. This can be used for storing extra gear, bikes or wet clothes.
  • A make-shift tarp cover will be much lighter than a vestibule. This means that you will not have to carry too much weight.
  • A tarp covered area is much more ventilated than a vestibule used for cooking, hence minimising accumulation of the toxic gas carbon monoxide. Therefore, it is safer to cook under a pitched tarp than in a vestibule.
  • A spare tarp has way more uses than a vestibule. It can be used for different purposes as and when the need arises. For example, A tarp can be used as a protection layer below your tent, as a cover of tent floor or as a vestibule.

Hence, whatever you can do with a tent vestibule, you can also do with a simple tarp. Therefore, it is a very practical and functional alternative to vestibule tents. Except for exceptional circumstances, like very heavy snowfall, pitched tarps work just as fine as tent vestibules.

tent vestibule
Tarp Tent Vestibule 

Final Verdict

To have a tent vestibule or not is a matter of personal choice. There are numerous campers who only buy tents with vestibules. On the other hand, there are many others who think that vestibule tents are a waste of money. 

Vestibules definitely have a lot of functions and advantages. Having extra space, even if you don’t use it, is better than not having enough space when you need it. If you agree with this thought, then you should always go camping with a vestibule tent.

If you prefer to carry only the absolutely essential items and believe in travelling light, then a tent vestibule is not meant for you.

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