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What is a Tent Vestibule?

Hilleberg Atko Side Vestibule

The Hilleberg Atko Side Vestibule is built into the outer skin of the tent.

What is a Tent Vestibule?

Tent vestibules are like mudrooms at  the front of a tent or along its sides. They provide extra space to stash your gear out of the way in a cramped multi-person tent, or a place to change out of wet, muddy gear before you get into the clean, dry end of your tent. They’re also quite useful in winter to get out of the wind and cook dinner, if you’re careful to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning or setting your tent ablaze.

Are There Different Types of Vestibules?

There are three basic types of vestibules. Vestibules that drape over the front of a tent, vestibules that are built into the outer front or side wall of a tent, and vestibules that are used to connect the front of two tents like a tunnel. Here are a few examples:

Do all Tents Come with Vestibules?

It depends on the type of tent. Tents like the Tarptent Moment, the GoLite Eden, or the Hilleberg Atko (shown top) have side vestibules built into their outer skin, but are relatively rare. A front style vestibule is more the norm, but they are only usually sold as an add-on purchase for larger multi-person tents or winter tents used for mountaineering. However, Hilleberg, a Swedish tent manufacturer, is the exception and often includes front vestibules with their 4 season tents: the Katum 2 person tent or the Nallo GT 3 person tent, for example. Tunnel vestibules are almost always sold as add-ons.

Is a Tent Vestibule Necessary?

Add-on vestibules are not strictly necessary and they do add significant extra weight to a tent. On the flip side. they can really help you cope with bad weather, including heavy rain, sand storms, snow, and high wind. Whether you bring one or not really depends on the weather, your ability to cope with unpleasant weather conditions (by eating a cold meal, for example), and whether you are willing to carry the extra weight.

In the UK for example, it rains a lot, and having a tent vestibule is considered the norm. The same goes for mountain climbing, especially if you are sharing a tent with more than two other people or staying in one place for more than a few days – such as a base camp. However, for less extreme three season camping and hiking in the United States, a tent vestibule is not usually a requirement (although it can be a great convenience for keeping your Webber grill and lawn chairs out of the rain, when car camping.)

If you have any more questions on this topic, please leave a comment below and I’ll be happy to answer them.

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12 comments

  1. In the UK it does indeed rain at the most inopportune moments (largely just as I am about to pitch) – a vestibule is a perfect place to keep wet kit such as boots, and (although I would advise this only if you have a vestibule large enough and are experienced enough to watch your stove like a hawk) if it's raining, to cook in. A small stove system, or an almost self-contained one like a Jetboil is ideal for this purpose. I agree – they depend on your environment. Nice post.

  2. Good point abut the Jetboil. People should not underestimate how easy it is to set your tent on fire. This is an advantage of tarps over tents, of course. I can easily cook under a tarp in the rain, but again they are more prone to wind compression in places like the UK where there are so few windbreaks on the hills.

  3. In my opinion vestibules are very nice. I want my shelters to have some sheltered area without floor for wet kit and possibly for cooking. And as tents by definition seem to have sewn on floor a vestibule is the thing I want. Though cooking can be done also in the inner tent, even with white gas stoves needing priming etc. But this requires some special attention to make it safe enough.

    I think that integrated front vestibules are somewhat standard feature in all Scandinavian style tunnel tents e.g. many Helsport, Jack Wolfskins, Vaude, etc. to name a few. Though Hilleberg makes some of the best tents. ;)

  4. If you're an astronaut, think of the vestibule as an airlock, actually more of a mudlock.

    The Tarptent Double Rainbow has doors and a vestibule on each side. Nice package for two people at under 3 lb.

  5. I think vestibules are great for storing your boots and gear in if you don't have a large sleeping area. Most tents at least come with the option of getting a vestibule.

  6. I like vestibules…..A lot

  7. I think vestibules are a neccecety for winter snow camping or mountaineering

    some tents like the MH Direkt 2 don’t come with one but you can make your own or purchase one that would fit your tent

  8. I recently finished using a tent with a vestibule and it was a pain. Exiting and entering the tent through the vestibule required some agility. Should have taken a yoga class before the trip. The trip inquestion was in the White Mountains in Arizona and it rained each day. The wind ripped the rain up and under the vestibule which made it muddy when exiting and entering the tent. And unless you have some sun, it stays muddy inside the vestibule. Next tent will be without the vestibule, any suggestions?

    • Hard to make a recommendation if you don’t tell me what you’re looking for, number of people that have to fit, where you plan on using it, 3 or 4 seasons, whether you are backpacking or car camping, and whether you’re comfortable using a tarp or hammock. If you could elaborate…..

    • This is an old conversation, but I like tents with 2 entrances, one through a vestibule and the other without, so you can enter and exit through the non-vestibule door when weather is good.

  9. You have discussed some important points. I think, If people use this type of tent nobody will be worry because this tent very useful for every weather spacialy rainy season.

  10. I appreciate the comments. The vestibule doesn’t seem to appeal to me. The best tent I ever had was a jansport dome I got back in the 70’s, which lasted until about 2005. I rarely staked it out and the last few years mostly used it camping on the beach in Mexico where you couldn’t stake it out.. I’m looking more for something like that. I bought a couple cheaper tents since then but didn’t really like them.

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