The best survival tents and shelters come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but every one is ultimately designed to carry out the same task – to protect you from the elements, keeping you warm, dry and safe. In this guide, we’ll take a look at some of the best survival shelters and emergency tents out there to get you through the most adverse of situations.
Finding the best survival tent for your needs involves covering a lot of bases to ensure the shelter you choose meets and exceeds your specific requirements when it’s eventually pitched and in the field.
Being able to call on a tent removes the need to find shelter or build from scratch. What this means in practice, is that if you’re outdoors and need to get yourself out of the elements quickly, you can rely on being able to when carrying a tent.
The best survival tents are designed to meet a variety of different objectives, from being lightweight and easy to pack, through to withstanding extreme weather conditions and potentially rigorous use.
While the ultimate goal of a survival shelter is to hold up to serious conditions and keep you safe and dry during any and every scenario, depending on your budget, you’ll want a tent that is also sympathetic to your individual preferences and needs such as budget considerations, internal space and additional features.
Whether you’re looking for a tent that’s compact enough to pack in a bug out bag, or a dedicated cold weather tent built for standing up to four season use, there’s a shelter out there designed to do the job.
Tent Essentials and Considerations
If you’ve ever been camping in a tent before, you may already be pretty well versed in the ins and outs of these portable shelters, but even so, it can still be worth getting a handle on some of the main points of reference when looking at survival tents.
Packed Size and Weight
When it comes to picking a tent, size matters.
As with other activities such as choosing the best bug out backpack for your needs, there’s often a trade-off to be made between the size and weight of the shelter you choose and the specifications.
If you’re planning to bring a tent with you when evacuating a disaster or emergency situation, you’re almost certainly going to want to be aiming for a lightweight and easy to pack tent (especially if you’re intending to bug out on foot).
Tents generally range in size from a couple of pounds to those coming in over ten, with many of the best survival tents sitting squarely in the middle of this range.
Whether it’s weight or pitched size and feature set, you’re almost always going to lose out in some way in the trade-off mentioned above, somewhere along the way.
With that being said. as you’ve probably already guessed, the optimal combination is to find a tent that gives maximum bang for your buck while offering the smallest (and lightest) footprint when packed.
The size of your party will determine any requirements around how many people your shelter needs to cater for.
From one-man tents to family shelters suitable for sleeping four or more people, survival tents vary in size and you can be sure you’ll find one that fits the bill.
If you’re considering a tent with a higher occupant capacity, the bigger question in this regard will almost always come back to the size and weight issue.
Carrying a larger tent in a vehicle will make any issues of weight redundant, but if you’re planning to carry a higher capacity shelter on your back, you’ll probably have to make some alterations to your loadout.
One option if you’re travelling on foot may be to carry the tent yourself, replacing items in your bag and delegating the carrying responsibility tp other members of your party to free up the space and weight required to carry the shelter.
What will your tent be used for?
Probably the most important consideration when starting out on the path to choosing the best survival tent is to identify, how and where you intend to use it.
Start by assessing the purpose you’re buying it for and the considerations which are specific to your situation such as the number of people who’ll be using it, as well as your local climate and geography.
All of these factors ultimately play a critical role in establishing the right tent for your circumstances and will make it easier to find the perfect fit first time.
As mentioned earlier, if you’re looking for the best tent to include as part of a bug out bag, your considerations are likely to be around the carrying weight as well as the ability of the shelter to unpack and be easily assembled.
The chances are, that if you’re bugging out on foot with 72 hours worth of equipment in your bag, capacity and the ability to carry extra weight will be at a premium.
This is a major factor when picking a survival shelter for a backpack and should never be overlooked. Knowing the essential elements that make up a bug out bag, alongside your own personal requirements and physical considerations will put you in the best position when it comes to determining the weight you can afford to carry in the form of a tent or shelter.
Alternatively, if you’re intending to bug out by vehicle, considerations around size and weight when packed may be reduced, with a greater emphasis on finding a survival shelter that offers a greater degree of overall protection in exchange for the extra weight limitations.
The main role of a tent is to provide a portable source of shelter and protection when you need to bed down outdoors.
With this objective in mind, the best survival tents are designed to cope with a wide range of climate conditions from arid desert settings (where ventilation is key) to specialized winter tents built to cope with heavy snow and low temperatures.
Many of the best survival shelters will function equally well whatever the weather, however you can expect to pay a premium in either (and sometimes both) price and weight. With that being said, if your budget can stretch to a comprehensive tent that performs in all conditions, you can be assured that you’ll be totally covered for every eventuality.