How to Blackout a Tent

When camping, it’s often hard to find comfort whilst doing simple things that would normally be quite comfortable in your own home. Sleeping, of course, is one of those things. Some people need complete darkness to fall asleep, or enjoy staying in bed until later in the morning or early afternoon. When camping, blacking a tent out can help achieve this, as it helps natural light stay out of the tent. Campers often complain about waking up at the crack of dawn. And whilst it has its appeal to some, others would prefer to have a couple of extra hours asleep to recharge their batteries. After all, camping can be an exhausting experience, and without proper sleep, it can be made even worse. 

What is a Blackout Tent?

A blackout tent is designed to keep natural light out. This is done by using a specific fabric that has light absorbing or light diffusing properties. Sometimes also known as a dark room tent, these tents are designed to be dark inside at all hours of the day, which can help with rest and the temperature of the tent. 

Whilst there are other ways to keep your tent warm, the blackout tent’s purpose is more so to help its occupants sleep for longer in the morning or nap in the afternoon. 

Why Use a Blackout Tent?

Blackout tents have an array of applications, but their purpose is all the same. Some of the high-end blackout tents claim to disperse more than 99% of sunlight, ensuring a long and restful sleep. Blackout tents are especially useful for those with children or who are sensitive to the light – especially when trying to sleep. They’re also fairly popular amongst festival-goers, as anything to help with sleep during a festival is a bonus. 

Of course, if you already have a perfectly fine, functional tent, there are ways in which you can modify it so it can be used as a blackout tent. 

How to Make a Blackout Tent

Making a blackout tent is fairly simple providing you have the materials. There are several ways in which you can blackout a tent effectively for your travels. These techniques may not work as well as some high-end blackout tents, but if you’d prefer your tent to be a little darker of a morning, they’re definitely worth trying. 

Use a Blackout Material Outside the Tent

Draping the outside of your tent in an opaque, dark material to keep sunlight out. This can be achieved with lots of different materials, but the most durable would be tarpaulin. As the outside of the tent is exposed to the elements, a tougher material is best used when planning to blackout your tent from the outside. Tarp can be draped over and taped, or it can be pegged, as most tarpaulin has grommets around the edge. 

Use a Blackout Material Inside the Tent

As much as using material outside the tent can help with blocking sunlight out, the same can also be said for using material on the inside of the tent. If you decide to blackout the inside of your tent, you’ll have the opportunity of being able to choose from a broader selection of fabrics, as it doesn’t need to be as durable if placed in the confines of the tent. Tarp is still a viable option when it comes to lining the inside of the tent, but there is also the opportunity to use towels or blankets as there’s no worry regarding damage from the elements. The lining can either be clipped, taped or tied to the inside of the tent. Some people find that the best way to line the insides of a tent is to clip the material to the poles supporting the tent. Ensure that you aren’t covering any vents or windows, as these are important for ventilation and air circulation. 

If blacking out the interior of the tent, why not consider blacking out just the sleeping area? This can help keep your load lighter, and reduce the heat throughout the rest of the tent that usually comes along with blacking out the tent. 

Think About Where You’re Camping

Finding a naturally darker area to camp may be favorable if you’re trying to find practical ways of keeping your tent dark. Camping in shade can also help you keep your tent cool during the height of the sun, which is also a bonus. Natural shady or dark places include underneath trees, entrances to caves or under rock formations. Of course, safety is paramount so be aware of your surroundings, especially if you’re camping under a structure. It’s not advised to camp at the bottom of mountains in case of debris falling or the area flooding. 

Use a Sleep Mask

Sometimes, there are easier ways to block out light when camping. The easiest (and most lightweight) way of doing this is by using a sleep mask to block out any light whilst trying to sleep. A sleep mask will successfully block out any and all light within your line of sight. The only downside to this method is that sleep masks have a tendency of falling off, especially if you’re an active sleeper. Perhaps before you leave on a camping trip, try out sleeping in a mask to see if it will stay on during the night. Nothing is worse than waking up to the bright sunlight at 6AM, only to find your sleeping mask had been thrown to the other side of the tent during your sleeping escapades. 

Disadvantages of Blacking Out Your Tent

Whilst a good night’s sleep is an excellent incentive to lead people to blackout their tents, there are a couple of disadvantages of doing so. 

The main disadvantage is the heat. By adding additional layers of any type to your tent, you’re creating more and more ways for air to become trapped and provide insulation for your tent. Whilst this isn’t an issue during winter months, it can certainly become a problem if you’re camping in a warm climate, especially during the evening, as all the heat throughout the day will be trapped inside the tent. This can lead to a situation in which you can’t sleep due to the uncomfortable heat, rather than the sunlight. 

Blackout tents are also sometimes advised against whilst camping in bear country, as you need to be aware of your surroundings at all times. In the event of a bear approaching a tent or campsite, you might not be able to see if you’re in a blackout tent. 

Additionally, blacking out your own tent can increase carrying load, making it heavier to transport to your campsite. This isn’t such an issue if you’re car camping, but if you’re trying to travel fairly lightly, it should be considered. 

Final Thoughts

If you already own a tent but crave a few extra hours in bed when camping, blacking it out is an option that is definitely worth considering. Despite its drawbacks, it can be worth the hassle, as any changes to your tent can be easily reversed if it doesn’t have the desired effect. 

If blacking your tent out manually is too much hassle than it’s worth, you can easily find and buy a blackout tent. Check out our list for the best blackout tents on the market.

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