What Is a Tent Vestibule?

What is a tent vestibule? Do all tents have them? How do I set mine up? Help!

what is a tent vestibule

A vestibule on the Big Agnes Tiger Wall. You can pin back half of the vestibule for easy access in and out of the tent, and zip it up when you’re settling in for the night. Photo by Maggie Slepian.

What is A Tent Vestibule?

A tent vestibule is a covered area next to your tent door. It is usually part of your rainfly. A vestibule is not necessary but very convenient. Although some backpacking tents don’t have vestibules, it is a standard feature on most models. The vestibule keeps a small patch of ground next to the tent sheltered from wind and rain. This is a place to store and organize gear and even to cook (CAREFULLY) in inclement weather.

A view of the vestibule from inside the tent. Storing your camp shoes here leads to easy midnight bathroom trips. Photo via.

Why should I store my gear in the vestibule?

A few reasons. If your gear is wet or muddy, keeping it in the vestibule will let it dry out without tracking in dirt or water to your tent. The vestibule is an especially nifty place to keep shoes for this reason.

Also, by storing gear in the vestibule, you free up some space in the tent itself. Tents can be a bit squished, so it’s nice to be able to maximize the living space as much as possible. A one-person tent can feel a lot more spacious when the backpack is stored outside. And when you’re sharing a tent, often there isn’t even room in the tent for two people’s gear.

A zipped-up vestibule. Image via J. Taylor Bell.

Can I cook in my vestibule?

CAREFULLY. Very, very carefully. Carbon Monoxide poisoning from cooking in your tent is a real threat, so best if you keep the vestibule open a crack to help improve ventilation. It’s a greater risk the higher the elevation. Make sure not to burn down your tent too.

The safest thing is to cook and eat a short distance from your tent. This also prevents animals being attracted to the scent of your food. But sometimes, your only option is to cook in your tent, especially if there’s dangerous weather. In those cases, it’s much safer to cook in a vestibule than in the shelter body itself.

How To Set Up a Vestibule

Basically, you stake down the corner of your rainfly a few feet away from the tent body. Make sure the vestibule is taut so that it doesn’t collect rain or flap around in the wind.

what is a tent vestibule

Vestibules come in many different designs, especially depending on where the tent door is. This is a “front vestibule” for when the tent door opens on the front instead of the side. Image via Tarptent.

Featured image via Colleen Goldhorn.

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Comments 3

  • thetentman : Nov 17th

    Great post. You nailed it. I would give you a job selling tents any day.

    Please do a post on the importance of ‘Guy Lines’ and stakes.
    I usually, unless it is raining or there are Porcupines about, empty my pack and put it away from the tent with all the pockets open so if anything wants in it does not have to chew its way in.



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