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:
- Front vestibules
- Side Vestibules. These are usually built into the outer skin of a tent.
- Tunnel Vestibules
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.