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Reader Poll: Does it Matter What Color Your Tent or Tarp Shelter Is?

Colored Tents

Do you care what color your tent or tarp shelter is for backpacking or camping? That might sound like a strange question, but some people believe that it’s better to have shelters that are colored in earth tones because they are less intrusive and nocticeable by other people.


  1. Do you care what color your tent or shelter is – enough to not purchase it if it is the wrong colors?
  2. What shelter colors do you prefer and why?
  3. Do the colors of other people’s shelters bother you? Explain.

Please leave your answers below.

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  1. Colour of my gear – I like to try and keep it pretty muted but if its cheap and bright orange Id take it because Im cheap like that. If i were to be going far off the beaten track without a PLB (too costly for me to afford) then I would prefer thee brighter more obnoxious tones.

    At a campground I dont care what colour peoples shelter is. In fact if it is bright as thats fine, it will stop me tripping over it on a midnight toilet run. If out in the backcountry then Id prefer others to have more muted tones (as having bright dots in valleys etc is moderately annoying) but if I am in remoter places then others bright gear is good as not only is it safer for them, If I need assistance I have somewhere to head toward and their shelter can help guide SAR in if Im up shit creek (assuming my shelter isnt bright).

  2. Green, brown, camo! Make those tents stealthy and they’ll be pretty.

    Color matters a lot. I go out for scenery and the neon tents are worse than garbage – I can pack the garbage out.

  3. I actually just encountered this particular dilemma. I found a tent with all of the features that I wanted, and it was available in red, green, and brown. I bought the red for the sake of visibility. If I head out to dig a cathole in the dead of night, a red tent is a lot easier to find in the dark with a headlamp and sleep in your eyes. A red tent is also a signal to hunters, letting them know that other people are in the area, and reinforcing the target verification rule. If I were ever in need of rescue, a red tent is easier to spot(especially from the air). I like to be visible. When I’m out in wild country, there aren’t many people around(if any at all). I don’t mind if those few who may be around can spot my tent. If they have a problem because my bright red tent stands out on their otherwise unobstructed view of a mountainside, I promise I won’t lose any sleep over it.

    I get why others buy green or brown or other colours like that. Doesn’t bother me to see other people out backpacking, regardless of what colour their tent may or may not be. Colour is definitely not high on my priority list when it comes to picking out a tent, but when given the choice, I’ll go with something bright, and make sure I’ve got reflective guy lines and bright-coloured stakes.

    • I should point out that if the tent that I bought(a Hilleberg Soulo, for those interested) was purchased off-the-shelf at a local retailer. The manufacturer makes them in red, green, and sand(brown). The store had the red and green sitting on the shelf. I wasn’t prepared to order the brown and wait for it to arrive, as I was getting ready for the season, and wanted to do some dry run set-ups and take-downs before I hit the trail. If the red had been sold out, or if another camper was eyeing it closely, I probably would have given them their choice and taken what was left.

  4. A decade ago, my philosophy for the outdoors was to “be one with nature in color and footprint”. This meant all my gear was muted in color, earthy in nature and boring by design. I was there to experience nature, not change it.

    I now embrace and enjoy as bright and varied a color as gear comes. The difference is that now, I’m trying to instill the love of nature into my small children. They are growing up in the time of Instagram, wingsuit jumpers and GoPro. I bring tents as comfortable and big as a cabin, in muted colors. My children will instead, ask to cramp-sleep in my pumpkin orange Marmot Limelight 3 backpacking tent – because of the color. We hammock camp most of the time. I dump our hammocks out on the ground before packing and the only ones that don’t get chosen are the green/brown, tan and gray choices. It is to the point, I ask “do you want to go camping?”; And, the response is, “if I can bring my bright teal hammock” or “if we get to wear our pink raincoats”.

    Seeing them react to the outdoors has changed the mood I feel in the outdoors too. And, while I realize this may annoy my prior self and others in the outdoor community; I would rather err on the side of inviting more of humanity to experience the outdoors in a way that engages and helps them appreciate its wonder.

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