What is the Best Color for a Tent?

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If you’re a camping enthusiast like me, you might be constantly on the search for the best tent on the market. However, one aspect of finding the perfect tent is its design. An important part of this is its color because this has an impact on the temperature and overall comfort of your tent. So, if you’re asking, “what is the best color for a tent?”, read on to find out.

Dark-colored tents will get hotter more quickly when in the sun. So, if you plan to camp in a bright, hot environment in those warm summer months, it might be best to look for a light-colored tent. Additionally, the color of your tent may impact how many pests you get at your campsites, such as bugs or bears.

With these ideas in mind, read on for a more in-depth discussion of tent colors.

Tent Colors and Heat/Temperatures

Heat/Temperatures

The color of your tent has a huge impact on how hot or cool the tent feels under the sun. To start, let’s review what “light” is.

Light is a form of electromagnetic radiation, emitted by the sun. It travels in the form of different wavelengths, some of which are visible (visible light). Other wavelengths are invisible to our eyes. Wavelengths of light either get reflected or absorbed by the objects they encounter.

The color of an object you see is determined by which wavelengths of visible light are reflected by the object in question. The wavelengths that the object reflects get transmitted to your eye, which you interpret as color. The other wavelengths of light are absorbed by the object.

For example, if you have a green tent, the green light waves are being reflected, while all other wavelengths of visible light are being absorbed.

It is the light waves that are absorbed that determine how hot the tent will feel. This is because light and heat are both forms of energy. When light is absorbed by an object, it converts light energy into heat energy.

More: Full Review of The Eureka Timberline Backpacking Tent

You can think of it this way: the more light energy that gets absorbed, the more heat that is absorbed (causing it to be hotter). The more light that gets reflected, the more heat that gets reflected (you won’t feel this heat).

For a discussion of the absorption of light, check out this youtube video:

Do Black Tents Get Hotter?

Do Black Tents Get Hotter?

Yes, black tents will become hotter more quickly under the sunlight. This is because darker colors absorb more wavelengths of light.

In fact, black absorbs all the visible wavelengths of light that strike them. This means that a black tent converts more wavelengths of light into energy in the form of heat, causing it to be warmer.

Remember: the wavelengths of light that are reflected by the object determine the color you see, while the wavelengths that are absorbed determines how much heat energy is generated.

Other dark-colored tents, such as dark violet and purple, dark blue or navy, and dark greens will also absorb more heat and feel warmer (though not as much as pure black). Be sure to take this into account when choosing a tent if you plan to camp in a sunny, warm environment.

Is a White Tent Cooler than a Black Tent?

Yes, a white tent will feel cooler under the sun. This happens because white reflects all visible wavelengths of light (absorbing none). This means that no light energy is being converted into heat. Because of this, the white tent will not generate any additional heat due to its color.

Other light-colored tents, such as pale tan, light gray, light pink, etc. will also absorb very little heat energy.

More: The Best Tent for Summer Camping [Review and Buying Guide]

Tent Color and Animals/Bugs

Does a Yellow Tent Attract More Bugs?

Tent Color and Animals/Bugs

Yes, it is certainly possible that a yellow tent will attract more bugs to your campsite.

Many insects, such as flies and gnats, are drawn to yellow because it is the same color as the flowers they eat from. Therefore, if you’re trying to avoid an insect invasion, it’s probably a good idea to avoid purchasing a yellow tent.

For the same reason, you might want to avoid other colors that resemble flowers, such as orange, pink, red, and bright blue.

More: The Best Inflatable Tent On The Market [Review and Buying Guide]

Do Bright Colors Attract Bears?

Bears can see in colors, and sometimes they get curious about campsites. While bears aren’t specifically attracted to bright colors the same way that some insects are, it is still possible that a bear will be more likely to notice a brightly-colored tent and decide to investigate it.

It’s a common misconception that bears can’t see well. Here is a short video discussion of the eyesight of bears:

Tent Color and Campers?

Should I Get a Black-out Tent?

A black-out tent is a tent specifically designed to block out the sunlight so that you can sleep later into the day (rather than waking up immediately when the sun comes up).

A black-out tent also excels at blocking out heat, keeping you much cooler if you need to sleep during the day. This is great for those summer days when you want to relax and take a nap inside your tent.

More: Marmot Limelight 3p Review: Is It A Good Tent To Buy For Camping?

Black-out tents are built with dark panel technologies that block the windows, doors, and sometimes the ceiling panels of the tent. Many of them are marketed to block 90% (or even more) of the sun’s rays. Often, these dark panels can be zipped up all the way to keep all the light out, or you can zip them down to let some breeze in at night.

Here is a video example of someone setting up a black-out tent:

Here is another video showing a Coleman black-out tent:

So, What is the Best Color for a Tent?

Because most people don’t want to attract a bunch of insects to their campsites, it’s a good idea to avoid bright colors (like yellow, orange, and pink). Also, if you’re trying to prevent overheating inside your tent if you’re camping in the summer, you might want to stay away from black or other darkly colored tents that will only add to the stuffy feeling.

For these reasons, it might be best to choose a tent that is white or another light neutral color, such as a light grey or tan. These are more neutral colors that will also blend in better with your environment, which may prevent attracting bears or other creatures you might not want hanging out at your campsite. You could also choose a camouflage-designed tent for this same reason.

No matter what color of tent you choose, it’s a good idea to get a tent that’s equipped with black-out panels or other sunlight dimming technologies. This will help you to sleep more soundly even when the sun comes up in the early morning.

More: How to Insulate a Tent for Winter Camping: The Challenge of Winter Camping

Conclusion

As we discussed, there is no single “best” color for a tent, but there are some colors that work better than others for different purposes. For summer camping, a lighter color tent is the best option, because it will absorb less light (and therefore, less heat). You can find a tent with black-out technology for even more heat blocking capabilities.

In addition, try to avoid tents that are too brightly colored to prevent an infestation of bugs or bears at your campsite. Look for more neutral colors that blend in with the environment.

To share your thoughts or questions about the various color options of tents, leave a comment below for your fellow campers!

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Tim Fox

Tim Fox

Since the age of 10, Tim, a writer at Outdoor With J, has enjoyed camping in the great outdoors. Although he loves the peace and quiet of the outdoors, he also likes his creature comforts. Tim’s mission is to make camping a fun and comfortable experience for all. You can find more about him here

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