Three Amazing Tents for Stopping the Sun in its Tracks
Up until quite recently, no matter how well made a tent was, come morning, you were reminded just how thin a veil it provided between you and your surroundings.
The sun, reaching its fingers through the diaphanous walls, creates a glary and stifled atmosphere, waking you prematurely from your well-deserved slumber.
It’s bad enough if you alone don’t get a decent night’s sleep, but throw a baby into the mix, perhaps a toddler or two or some teenagers, and that lovely vacation you’ve been dreaming of for months becomes a living nightmare.
This is why blackout tents are touted as the latest and greatest in camping innovation. They prevent sun rays from entering your sleeping quarters, keeping you cool, cozy, and sound asleep, and after days of research, we’ve found the three best you can buy.
No matter your sleeping habits, one of these blackout tents can help you get the shuteye you need.
BEST FOR CAMPING
BEST FOR FAMILIES
BEST BLACKOUT TENT FOR CAMPING
It goes without saying that those who push their adventures to the limit need equipment that goes above and beyond, allowing them to survive off the grid for longer. Well, folks, the Crua Duo is that one-way ticket to the wild you’ve been waiting for.
What sets the Duo aside from the pack is their modular in design, by which we mean they can be fitted with another Crua tent or layer called the Crua Cocoon. This internal hub fits nice and snug in the Duo and inflates, giving you a cushioned floor, a regulated temperature, and that most precious thing...sweet, sweet darkness.
The cocoon, made out of patented Crua polyester and an ingenious airframe structure, is so thick, it blocks 100% of the light from entering your sleeping quarters, so if you’re looking for absolute darkness, the Duo is the one for you.
The cocoon’s thermal regulation is also nothing to scoff at. Despite being nice and thick, the proprietary polyester is also highly breathable, keeping you warm in the winter months and cool in the summer months.
To put the icing on the cake, the cocoon is also sound dampening, allowing you to block out all that nature until you’re good and ready to face it head-on.
Without the Crua Cocoon, the Duo is still a fantastic tent. It’s completely waterproof, spacious on the inside without taking up too much field space, durable, and the dark green polyester does a respectable job of keeping some of that pesky sunlight out.
It’s as tough and lightweight as they come, making it the perfect choice for serious campers, fishermen, festival-goers, surfers...anyone who’d benefit from a quality roof over their head away from home.
As signified by the name, it’s a two-person tent, small enough to fit in your pack without causing any spatial issues, and it only weighs 5lbs. When assembled, it measures 9.8 feet long and 4.9 feet wide, plenty of room for most body types to really stretch out.
It’s not an instant design, but setting up is an incredibly intuitive and quick process. It’s a single-layer tent, besides the breathable, bug-banishing meshes, and it’s structured using only three poles.
Once you have it set up, use the seven strategically placed guy lines and the awesome anti-bend red anodized aluminum alloy pegs to secure the Duo in place. This thing won’t shift even in high winds.
We love the Duo as is, but if you want to get the most out of this tent, we highly recommend investing in the cocoon as well. Not only will you sleep easy, it might just be the best night’s sleep you’ve ever had.
- Incredibly lightweight making it great for hike-camping
- Totally waterproof making your eventual awakening very comfortable indeed
- Easy to set up and take down so you can rest and move on efficiently
- Loads of guy ropes prevent shifting in high winds
- Red pegs are easy to see and will never bend
- Fairly insulated, keeping you warm in the cold
- Highly breathable, keeping you cool in the heat
- Dark walls keep some light out
- Can be paired with inflatable cocoon
- Cocoon regulates temperature, blocks all light, and dampens sound
- Cocoon makes for a lovely sleeping surface
- Pup space in vestibule
- The pair can be quite expensive
- No real stargazing potential
- When paired with cocoon, the vents need to be set up just right to prevent condensation
- Cocoon weighs 15lbs so it’s only really suitable for car-camping
BEST BLACKOUT TENT FOR LARGE FAMILIES
When holidaying with family, especially teenagers, you don’t just need the physical capacity to fit everyone into a tent, you need tons of extra space too.
Without the room to really breathe, tensions can rise incredibly fast, ruining what was supposed to be a relaxing expedition. With the Ozark Trail 12-Person Dark Rest Tent, there’s absolutely no chance of that happening.
Not only does this Ozark Dark Rest Cabin design contain a very liveable amount of space due to the steep, high-reaching walls, it actually has three distinct rooms separated by two large zippered sections.
After a good night’s sleep, you simply unzip them and tie them in at the wall, revealing your expansive living quarters.
Now let’s discuss what you came here for, that sun-blocking power. Ozark’s proprietary version of blackout technology is known as Dark Rest.
Using a thick, darkened inner lining, you have complete control of the amount of light that can enter your tent. With your lining fully secured, you can enjoy as many peaceful hours of perpetual night as you like, no matter the time.
Whether you or your kids enjoy a lie-in, you have a baby that needs to nap sporadically throughout the day, or you’re at a festival and your waking hours are shifting to the nocturnal, you can sufficiently block out the light and get the rest you need.
When you’re ready to soak in a bit of sun or engage in a bit of stargazing, you have multiple options including nine large windows and a number of PVC-style skylights. The outer material is polyester treated with 190T. Polyester fibers are heat resistant and fantastic for waterproofing.
Normally, the larger the tent, the more trouble it is to assemble, especially if you’ve got your whole family to coordinate, but that’s simply not the case with the Dark Rest.
All the steel and fiberglass rods are preassembled in position meaning it only takes two people 2 minutes to set up, and perhaps a few extra to sufficiently peg it down.
It’s not an entirely perfect design. It might sleep 12 people, but realistically, you couldn’t live as 12.
We would also personally appreciate a couple of extra storage elements beyond the included four, and it’s certainly not suitable for extremely cold temperatures, but all in all, you won’t find a better blackout tent for your family.
- 3 separate rooms offer plenty of privacy
- Assembles in 2 minutes so you can get right to enjoying your trip
- Double layer polyester and taped seams keep moisture at bay and resist heat
- Translucent skylights and large windows allow you to really let nature in
- Almost all light passage is customizable
- Ceiling and floor feature vents to enhance airflow, keeping the place fresh
- Electrical port gives you some home luxury on the road
- Not quite large enough to accommodate 12 campers in a liveable way
- 4 storage elements aren’t really making the most of this tent’s size
BEST BUDGET BLACKOUT TENT
You really don’t have to smash the piggy banks you’ve had since you were ten to afford a quality blackout tent. There are plenty on the market at very realistic price points and the best of them is definitely the Coleman Darkroom Dome Tent.
Available in a four or six-person capacity, both able to accommodate a queen size airbed comfortably, this is the best bang for buck blackout tent on the market, and try as you might, finding flaws in this design is incredibly difficult.
Made from ripstop polyester and an internal mesh, the Dark Room is capable of handling anywhere between light summer’s days and stormy tropical weather.
The 100% polyester fly does a fantastic job of keeping moisture away and extends out over the entrance, giving you a dry space to don and doff your shoes.
If you know what you’re doing, it takes as little as three minutes to pitch, and maybe a couple of extra minutes to set up the fly and peg out.
Even without the fly, welded corners and inverted seams do a respectable job of keeping the weather out, but it does help to darken the morning when you need a few more moments of sleep.
Despite being a budget option, the Dark Room function works incredibly well. It’s not quite as ecliptic as the premium options available at the minute, but it’s perfectly capable of keeping out 90% of sunlight and regulating temperature, leaving you with a very dim glow.
What’s also surprising considering the price of this tent is the thought that Coleman has put into the details. For instance, even the seams of the zips are sealed to prevent any harsh wires of light creeping in.
It’s quite a heavy pack, so it’s not really suitable for hiking, but if you’ve got a nice drive out into the country planned, throw it in the boot and you’re good to go.
When assembled, it has an internal height of roughly 4.11 feet, so it’s not exactly standing territory, but certainly not claustrophobic either.
It also features an E-port so you can let some power into your dark hibernation cave without also inviting insects and moisture. Perfect!
- Fantastic price tag
- Keeps out 90% of light
- High-quality fly offers proper weatherproofing
- 10 minutes maximum to pitch
- Very simple tear down allowing you to get back on the road as soon as possible
- Spacious inside with plenty of room to stretch out
- This tent looks amazing so prepare for compliments
- Ripstop polyester is incredibly durable giving this tent a long service life
- Nice details like sealed seam zippers keep light away
- Too heavy for hiking
- Doesn’t keep as much light out as our other picks
- Doesn’t keep the temperature as cool as some others
Are Blackout Tents Worth It?
Blackout tents are totally worth it. In fact, they’re worth more than they sell for, because they rarely sell for all that much more than standard tents.
Sure, some people won’t see the appeal of the blackout function. It may go against certain camping purists’ principles not to accept whatever nature throws at you, to which we say...good for you, but utilizing this innovative feature helps people enjoy more fulfilling and enjoying vacations.
What we will say is that, just like any other kind of tent, there are good blackout tents and not so good blackout tents, so do your best to separate the wheat from the chaff by reading reviews such as this.
What is a Blackout Tent?
A blackout tent goes by many proprietary names, and even though there may be slight differences from brand to brand in terms of methodology and materials, the general goal is the same, to momentarily exile light.
This is normally achieved by fitting a dark inner lining to the tent that keeps those creeping sunrises at bay. Blackout tents also have slightly cooler internal temperatures.
They still warm slowly, but thanks to exquisite ventilation and the fact the light can’t get in and warm from the inside out, they’re not quite as stuffy on a hot day.
Let’s discuss the synonymous terms that get thrown around for blackout tents. The name BlackOut is actually owned by Coleman tents, and it has become the de facto umbrella terminology for this tent style as they pioneered the concept. Some of their tents can block 99% of all daylight.
Dark Rest is another name for the same thing, this time owned by Ozark Trail, and Lights Out is yet another used by Vango tents. Dark Room technology also refers to the same light banishing results.
What is the Best Instant Tent?
Pretty much all instant tents have one key feature down, and that’s assembly. It’s always easy, which we’re thankful for, but a quick setup up does not a good tent make!
The true mark of a good instant tent is the quality of living it provides and how easy it is to disassemble. Too often campers are drawn in by fast setups alone and regret ever laying eyes on the tent as soon as it’s apparent that there’s no way to fit it back into the bag it came out of.
For these reasons, we believe one of the best instant tents is the Oxley Oztent Lite 5 fast Frame Family Tent. It’s incredibly tall, allowing most to stand up comfortably, it’s made from incredibly heavy-duty, hardwearing materials, and tear down is nice and easy. If you’re after more of a classic instant tent, the Moon Lence Instant Pop-Up Tent should hit the spot.
In terms of instant blackout tents, we highly recommend any of the Ozark Trail Dark Rest Instant series such as our best family pick. These tents go up in a flash and offer a palatial open area for indoor activities and general living.
If you’re not keen on Ozark Trail, you should check out the Coleman Instant Setup Cabin Tent series. They’re not quite as roomy, but neat features like hinged doors make navigating the space they do have really easy and stress-free.
Can You Black Out a Tent?
There are a few methods you can try if you want to give a homebrew blackout a try. One way is to attach a liner to the inside of your tent.
By clipping a tarp or blankets to your poles, you can block out a certain amount of daylight. Do be careful not to block your ventilation though as you still need continuous airflow.
Alternatively, you could apply a tarp to the exterior of your tent; however, to keep your vents clear, you’ll need to create a little bit of space between the tarp and the tent fabric.
Taking a slightly different, less hands-on approach, you could invest in a high-quality blackout sleeping mask. This doesn’t solve the sunlight problem for every tent resident, but if you need your eight to nine hours a night, treat yourself. Perhaps suggest everyone else on the trip do the same.
This next tip’s an obvious one, but we thought we better discuss it to cover all bases. Finding a shadier spot is a good old natural way to reduce the light content of your tent.
That said, as shadows spin throughout the day, finding a cool spot is easier said than done, but if you have set slumber hours, you’ll be able to strategically pick out an area that’s completely shaded until your alarm goes off.
Bear in mind that none of these methods will work as well as official sun-blocking technology found in actual blackout tents.
Are Blackout Tents Hot?
Blackout tents actually tend to be much cooler. You’d be forgiven for making the obvious connection between the dark fabrics used in a lot of blackout tents and a possible rising of temperatures inside them.
While black does indeed absorb more light and thus builds up more heat, most of these dark fabrics are on the inside of the tent and so only pick up the second-hand rays from the pale outer layers.
Granted, that dark shroud will still get pretty warm, especially where it covers windows or skylights and has almost direct contact with sunlight, but the fact that hardly any sunlight actually breaches your tent helps to keep the temperature down.
One final reason why blackout tents are the cooler option is that manufacturers thought about the thermal problems black fabric would cause during the design process and tested ways they could keep internal temperatures down. Their solution? Extra ventilation, not just in the ceiling and walls, but the floor too.
Using this system of vents, manufacturers managed to enhance airflow, keeping their blackout tents roughly 10° cooler than the temperature outside.
Which Tents Have Blackout Bedrooms?
All three tenets on our list have blackout bedrooms. If you look for tents with descriptions that include, blackout, dark room, dark rest, etc, they’ll have blackout bedrooms.
What you need to decide is just how much light you want to block out, as different tents block out different levels of light.
For instance, when paired with the cocoon, our best blackout tent for camping pick blocks near enough all light from entering, whereas our budget Coleman pick lets 10% of sunlight in.
There you have it, folks, three of the very best blackout tents for all those sun shirkers and sweet dreamers out there who appreciate a full and uninterrupted sleep both at home and when exposed to the elements.
A good blackout tent is one of the best investments you’ll ever make. Not only does it make life in the wild more pleasant in general, but the extra rest you get allows you to live even harder, pushing yourself, turning a trip into an adventure, and adventure into cherished memories.