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Whatever it is that sparked your curiosity in these old school fabric shelters, we're thrilled it brought you here. Come along as we discuss everything there is to know about canvas tents and introduce you to one of the top canvas tent manufacturers, Whiteduck Outdoors.
- 1 A Brief History of Canvas Tents
- 2 Types of Canvas Tents
- 3 Whose Who in the Canvas Tent World
- 4 The Benefits of Canvas Tents
- 5 The Cons of Canvas Tents
- 6 Whiteduck's Cabin Tents
- 7 Wrapping Things Up
A Brief History of Canvas Tents
In our research we discovered that there's no easy way to identify when the first canvas tents popped onto the scene. What we do know is that the Industrial Revolution made canvas fabrics much more accessible to ordinary Americans.
Types of Canvas Tents
Since you're now aware of the historical implications and popularity of canvas tents, let's take a look at a few of the most popular shelters within this category of tents.
(The family cabin tent at the left is a great example of a current popular style!)
Wall tents are some of the most popular kinds of canvas structures. These tents tend to have vertical walls and open gable roofs. In many ways, they are comparable to broad, single-story Cape Cod houses.
There's no denying the beauty of a traditional bell tent. Cotton canvas forms an elegant shape when it is draped over a raised central pole. Reinforced guys lines (which are anchored by large metal pegs) give these tents added stability and a signature style. Needless to say, these edifices are suitable for large gatherings and intimate overnight trips.
Cabin tents, or viz-a-viz tents, come in a variety of forms, all of which feature sloping roofs, vertical walls, internal dividers, and durable floors. These canvas structures are the most likely to resemble traditional nylon and polyester camping tents.
The "Prota Deluxe" shown above is a perfect example, and we also look at this particular model in a bit more detail below.
Swag TentsSwag tents are small, portable sleeping units. These tents are popular and widely used throughout Australia. The Outback is a great place for overlanding.
While we couldn't find a current canvas swag design in stock, we found one that is a little bigger than the typical "bivvy sacks" you see today. This one, the the Ionosphere 1 Man Dome Tent by Snugpak, at Amazon, gives you a pretty good idea of the design.
Whose Who in the Canvas Tent World
LARPers (live-action role players) use canvas tents to make their medieval fairs, pavilions, and re-enactment campsites more immersive. They're the perfect backdrop for musters, jousts, and D&D fantasies.
CampersWhile canvas tents aren't the most popular overnight structures for weekend getaways since they take a bit more effort to carry and put up, they're probably the top choice of glampers, or glamorous campers, and overlanders.
HuntersHunters seem to appreciate canvas wall tents, which tend to be spacious enough for large hunting parties and stockpiles of supplies. These temporary structures can withstand harsh weather conditions. Plus, many of them boast wood stove jacks. As such, they allow hunters to warm up and eat a hot meal after a good chase.
The Hospitality IndustryThe hospitality industry seems to have a soft spot for canvas tents. We've seen them used as luxury camping accommodations, wedding and party venues, and festival gathering spots.
(After I posted this article, I suddenly seemed to notice a number of these! Of course this may be due to a lot more restaurants moving their dining rooms outdoors recently.)
Bug Out Structures
Given the durability and size of these structures, some people include them in their bug-out bags. Bug-out bags, or BOBs, are survival kits that people can rely on in the event of a disaster. If you and your family were displaced for an extended period, a canvas tent might be the perfect place for your layover.
Whiteduck Outdoors sells a wide range of canvas wall, bell, cabin, and swag tents. All of their products are made from 100% cotton canvas fabric. The shelters are rugged enough to handle regular outdoor adventures, including camping, glamping, hunting, safari trips, and more.
The shelters feature plenty of modern upgrades and luxury features. Plus, Whiteduck's weightless water and mildew repellents and fire retardants never spoil the breathability of Dynaguard, the company's proprietary cotton canvas.
Whiteduck Outdoors's tents come in a variety of fabrics and fabric treatments. They're self-described “sweet spot” fabric is Army Duck double-fill TREATED Cotton Canvas. Customers can opt for water-, fire-, and mildew-resistant coatings, though these cost extra.
One of my favorite things about Whiteduck Outdoors is that they offer all sorts of replacement parts and accessories. You can add awnings, porches, and even cook shacks to most of Whiteduck's wall tents.
All of their tents also come as complete packages. You can expect a frame, canvas cover, and floor with every purchase.
White Duck Wall Tents are Very Popular
To give you a better look a Whiteduck Outdoor's canvas wall tents, we decided to in on a specific product. The company's 10-by-12-foot Alpha Wall Tent is advertised as a four-season, multipurpose shelter. At $1,349, it's no cheap thrill. This four-walled structure is made from 100% cotton 10.10 oz. Army Duck Canvas. Naturally, it has Whiteduck's proprietary no-weight mildew & UV resistant, water repellent, and fire retardant finish,
Like many of the Whiteduck Outdoors's canvas tents, the Alpha features a stove jack, should you want to venture into the north country. If you're more of a warm-weather camper, you'll appreciate the removable bug mesh panels that cover all of the Alpha's windows and doors.
When I checked Whiteduck Outdoors's online inventory, it appeared that the Alpha was sold out. We're sure that this perennially popular tent will be back by popular demand.
We also checked YouTube in hopes of seeing this canvas tent in action. We are happy to have found this gem of a video, below. After viewing Whiteduck's footage, we can confirm that the Alpha is a good fit for technical campers, hunters, and glampers alike.
I think it's safe to say that Whiteduck's wall tents should not be judged as Renaissance fair props. Nevertheless, we wouldn't mind watching an armored battle from the comfort of one of these structures.
Check out this video, then rejoin us below...
Nice Selection of Bell Tents
Our review of Whiteduck canvas tents wouldn't be complete without a bell tent. For the sake of this article, we took a look at their 10-foot Regatta Bell Tent. Like all Whiteduck shelters, the Regatta is made from 100% cotton 8.5 oz. Army Duck Canvas. It has a lovely natural beige color and a signature conical shape.
One of the big differences between this canvas bell tent and the Alpha wall tent is a sewn-in PE groundsheet. However, like the Alpha, the Regatta is held up by galvanized steel poles and high-tension guy lines.
The three-way zippered doors and windows, double-stitched seams, and 5-inch stove jack ensure that the tent is ready for cold nights. Naturally, this all-weather shelter also has enough ventilation to provide comfort during hot, humid nights.
I was skeptical about this tent's set up. Fortunately, the unboxing video, below, put my mind at ease. The Whiteduck representative in the video sets up the bell tent by himself. The entire process only takes a few minutes. As someone who is constantly braking threaded fiberglass tent poles, I'd be willing to give the Regatta a try.
The Avalon Bell Tent is Also Nice...
I'd be remiss if I didn't show you just one more version of White Duck's bells. Check out the Avalon, shown below.
One of the things that struck me in this particular picture is that the people who have set up this exceedingly tranquil spot include what looks a LOT like one of the Solo wood-burning firepits that we like so much!
Actually, this looks like a honeymoon "cottage" photo from a resort? White Duck gave me permission to use these photos, and I don't know exactly where this particular one was taken.
I could stay here. Yup.
Whiteduck also offers some charming family tents, such as their 10-by-10-foot Prota Canvas cabin tent that we pictured above, and show you again here. Unlike run-of-the-mill family camping tents, the Prota has a nearly 7-foot high ceiling. Its 100% cotton exterior slopes over a durable aluminum frame, complete with standing and ridge poles.
Whiteduck's Cabin Tents
There are all sorts of luxury elements sewn into the tent's skeleton, including 0 rings for décor, lights, and other accessories and a large (72-by-78 inches) awning that will protect you from sun and rain.
As you can see in this next video, the Prota is designed to serve families, hunting parties, and other groups.
We weren't expecting to say this, but the Prota is probably one of our all-time favorite outdoor structures. It's just that it's super durable, roomy, and versatile. Not to mention, it is easy to set up. What's more, it is very affordable as far as canvas tents are concerned.
Whenever I go camping, it's either bitterly cold or unbearably hot. For this reason, I am utterly pleased with the Prota's all-natural ventilation and weather protection.
Some Final Thoughts on Whiteduck Canvas TentsWhile Whiteduck canvas tents are undeniably expensive, they also seem to be worthwhile investments. After all, where else are you going to find a tent that can house an entire hunting party?
Unless you're Paul Bunyan, you're probably not going to want to take a Whiteduck canvas tent on a backcountry hiking adventure. A more likely setting for one of these canvas wall or bell tents might be a weekend hunting trip, a music festival, or a Civil War muster.
Wrapping Things UpPhew! Who knew that there was so much to discover about canvas tents?
As a bona fide canvas tent owner, I'm happy to share the details of my first-hand experience with these elegant yet rugged shelters.
Pack your favorite pith helmet or foldable campaign chair and enjoy the spacious, well-ventilated protection provided by these remarkable shelters.
Check out the inventory on Whiteduck Outdoors's webpage, and be sure to let us know what you think.
We understand that canvas tents aren't for everyone. If you're constantly fretting about the weight of your gear, you're in and out of new campsites every night, or you're on a super tight budget, then you'd probably better outfitted with something light and synthetic. If that's the case, please refer to our comprehensive tent guide for some different types of tents. We run the gamut from hammock tents to hybrid tunnels.
Of course, canvas tents are some of the trendiest and most versatile temporary shelters out there. They don't have much competition in terms of ventilation and durability. In light of recent events, we can even see people using these tents as makeshift quarantine shelters.
But that's enough of that - let's hope we can get back to looking at some of the more enjoyable reasons to set up one of these amazing structures soon!
Thank you so much for reading!