What Is A Tent Vestibule? (And Do You Need One?)

A tent vestibule is a sheltered area that extends from the front or side of your tent that’s more or less like your home’s mudroom. They are sometimes referred to as a gear shed.

Tent vestibules can be built-in or installed as an add-on. They offer ideal space for stashing your gear, wet clothing, muddy boots, and other items you wouldn’t want inside your tent. 

Let’s take a closer look at the different types of tent vestibules, find out if you really need one, and answer a few frequently asked questions.

Types Of Tent Vestibules

Tent vestibule types are similar but vary in the area of the tent they are designed to extend. You may build one using waterproof materials or purchase an add-on version instead.

Front Vestibules

Large front vestibule
Large front vestibule

These vestibules attach to the tent’s front entrance. They vary in size and can be large enough to store bulky gear away from the elements.

However, keeping your camping equipment in a front vestibule may make entering or exiting your tent a hassle, especially if you only have one entrance.

Side Vestibules

tent with two vestibules
Tent with two vestibules

Side vestibules extend from either side of the tent. Some tents come with or can accommodate two vestibules. This option typically provides more room and allows you to use one for extra storage and the other as a door.

Add-On Tent Vestibules

If your tent doesn’t come with a vestibule, some tent models come with the option to purchase an add-on vestibule. These are available in a variety of types and configurations. Some more elaborate add-ons even have a floor surface, meaning you can convert them into an extra room.

Unfortunately, if your tent model doesn’t have a tent vestibule add-on available, finding a universal tent vestibule add-on can be tough, and oftentimes they won’t fit right onto your tent. This is where a DIY tent vestibule comes in, which we detail below.

Should You Invest In A Tent Vestibule?

Tent vestibules are not absolutely necessary, but they’re a great option to have. This is especially true if you’re in an area prone to frequent precipitation or planning an extended camping trip. The extra space and convenience can’t be overstated.

Vestibules add a little more weight and size to a packed tent. That said, the extra weight is usually negligible, so investing in a vestibule is a minimal tradeoff.

They become even more valuable when you’re camping with a group. The additional storage and maximization of internal tent space make them incredibly practical.

DIY Tent Vestibule

You can make a DIY tent vestibule fairly easily with just a few items, some of which you may have laying around the house.

What you’ll need:

  • A tarp or any waterproof covering
  • Stakes
  • Rope or cord
DIY Tent Vestibule from a Poncho Tarp

Should My Tent Footprint Extend To My Vestibule?

First, it helps to understand what a tent footprint is and what it’s designed to do.

A tent footprint is a protective layer that goes under your tent to help prevent friction between the tent and the ground. Essentially, it extends the life of your tent.

However, it also helps reduce condensation and can help keep your tent warm.

So, why might you want a tent footprint under your vestibule? Some people prefer to extend their tent footprint into the vestibule area to prevent the chances of moisture, dirt, and other outdoor stuff from being tracked into their tent.

You don’t necessarily need a tent footprint for this purpose. You could also use a tarp or rug. Either way, it really comes down to personal preference.

Can I Cook In My Tent Vestibule?

Cooking inside a vestibule or tent can be extremely dangerous or even fatal. You could potentially burn a hole in your tent or suffer from carbon monoxide poisoning.

However, you can still cook inside your vestibule if you exercise extreme caution. The key is to ensure there’s proper ventilation.

It’s also advisable to cook a bit farther away from your tent if you’re in bear country. The last thing you want is a bear joining in on your camping trip.

How Big Of A Vestibule Do I Need?

How much vestibule space you’ll need depends on what you intend to use it for and store in it.

For instance, if you just want a small entryway for your shoes, you don’t need a massive vestibule. But if you’d like to store something like a bike, you’re obviously going to need a bit more square footage.

A larger vestibule that extends further off the tent is also recommended if you’ll be cooking in it in the winter. On average, we recommend about 6 square feet of vestibule space per person. However, in larger tents designed for more than six occupants, this might be a bit overkill.

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