Waking up as soon as the sun rises can be exhausting. I learned this lesson the hard way when I spent a summer camping in Iceland. That close to the Arctic Circle, the sun literally never set, and the light was streaming into my sleeping compartment all night long. I don't think I've ever been so tired. (I haven’t had kids yet, obviously.)
Unfortunately, most tents don't filter out the sunlight. So, no matter where you are camping, you are probably going to wake up before you are ready to start your day.
This is where black-out tents come in handy, as they prevent sunlight from entering your tent so that you can get a decent night's sleep. The shade created by this technology will also help keep your tent nice and cool, which is an utter relief on a hot summer's day.
This article will describe 7 of the best blackout tents on the market today, so you can choose the perfect option for you and your family.
Best Blackout Tents for Camping - My Top 3 Picks
While blackout tents are a new development in the world of camping, there are loads to choose from. In my humble opinion, the following three suggestions are by far the best.
Coleman Rocky Mountain 5 Plus
The Coleman Rocky Mountain 5 Plus is by far the best blackout tent on the market right now. It’s super comfortable and spacious enough for you to spread out and relax.
This tent is made with Coleman’s revolutionary BlackOut Bedroom technology. This includes SPF 50 fabric to block out up to 99% of sunlight and stop your tent from overheating. The cool and dark interior will have you sleeping like a baby. Just don’t blame me if you wake up so late that you miss half the day!
The Rocky Mountain 5 features a massive living area with a separate vestibule for gear storage or relaxation on a sunny day. It also has a full-height door for easy access, as well as plenty of large windows for enhanced comfort during your trip.
If that wasn’t enough, this tent performs brilliantly in foul weather, so it’s a solid choice for camping year-round.
That being said, this tent isn’t exactly the most affordable on the market, nor is it very lightweight. But, if you’re looking for a home away from home in the mountains, the Rocky Mountain 5 Plus is hard to beat.
The quality far outshines that of most black-out tents you will find on the market, so I think it’s worth every cent.
Coleman Dark Room Skydome 4
Designed specifically with budget-conscious campers in mind, the Coleman Dark Room Skydome 4 is a cozy shelter that’s light on your wallet but functional enough for any adventure.
Built using Coleman’s Dark Room technology, the Skydome 4 is engineered to block up to 90% of sunlight. Furthermore, this technology helps reduce the amount of heat inside your tent for a cooler, more comfortable night’s sleep.
When it comes to livability, the Skydome 4 doesn’t disappoint. It has near-vertical walls that provide the tent with nearly 20% more headroom than a similar 4 person shelter, for enhanced convenience during your trip. This makes getting changed less of an ordeal. Plus, you will be far more comfortable if you have to retreat into this tent during a passing rain shower.
Speaking of rain, the Coleman WeatherTec system will take good care of you. This system integrates welded corners with inverted seams and waterproof fabrics to keep you dry, regardless of what the weather brings.
It’s worth mentioning that, at 12.2 lbs (5.6 kg), this shelter is a bit heavy for a 4 person tent. However, if you need a sun-blocking tent for car camping, it’s hard to go wrong with the Skydome 4.
Ozark Trail Dark Rest Cabin 6
Ozark Trail’s Dark Rest technology is really effective at blocking sunlight, so you’ll be able to get a decent lie in.
I love that this tent is designed for stargazing. You can peer out of the skylights to get a front-seat view of the night sky—something that always makes me feel more connected to nature.
These skylights and windows also provide an easy-to-adjust way to enjoy a fresh breeze on a pleasant day while allowing you to batten down the hatches when you’d like to take a midday snooze.
On the interior, this tent features a gear loft and a set of gear pockets so that you can stay organized on the go. You also get a rainfly with factory-sealed seams for improved water-resistance in foul weather.
With that in mind, it’s important to remember that cabin-style tents aren’t always as great in windy conditions because of their high peak heights. But, for sunny trips to your local campground, the Ozark Trail Dark Rest 6 is a great choice.
Four More Blackout Tents Worth Considering
In the unlikely event that none of the best three tents have caught your fancy, here are four other superb sun-blocking tents to consider as you shop:
Quechua 2 Second Fresh & Black 3
The Quechua 2 Second Fresh & Black 3 is a compact and weatherproof pop-up tent that you can set up in a matter of seconds.
This makes it a solid choice for folks who like to keep their camp set-up process as simple as possible. It’s a great tent for beginner campers or for single parents who need to get the tent up quickly so they can focus on the kids.
Unlike many instant tents, the 2 Second Fresh & Black 3 is designed to hold up in windy conditions. It has actually been tested to withstand winds of up to 30 mph, making it a great shelter for lousy weather.
This tent uses Quechua’s Fresh & Black fabric. This cutting-edge fabric can block up to 99% of sunlight to provide you with a cool and comfortable place to snooze at the end of a long day on the trail.
Do note, however, that this tent isn’t particularly spacious. While the actual floor space is sufficient for most campers, it has a relatively low peak height. Despite this, it’s still a portable and functional choice for backpackers everywhere.
Coleman Dark Room Instant Cabin 10
For those family camping trips where comfort is key, it’s hard to go wrong with the Coleman Dark Room Instant Cabin 10.
This tent features Coleman’s proprietary instant set-up design, which uses pre-attached poles to cut down your pitching time to just a few minutes. It also has the company’s WeatherTec system, which is meant to keep you as dry as possible in inclement weather.
The Dark Room fabric can block up to 90% of sunlight from entering your tent so you can sleep in late or take a midday nap during your adventures.
The Dark Room Instant Cabin features a removable room divider so you can customize your space to meet your needs. This means you can set up two separate bedrooms or a separate living and sleeping space for maximum comfort on your adventures.
Of course, tall cabin tents like this one aren’t ideal in windy locales. It’s also worth stating that this shelter is quite heavy and bulky, so it’s best used on car camping trips where comfort and convenience are of the utmost importance.
Ozark Trail Dark Rest Instant Cabin 12
Camping with a large group? No problem! The Ozark Trail Dark Rest Instant Cabin 12 is a spacious outdoor abode that’s perfect for large family camping trips and group adventures.
Despite being an enormous tent, this model is super quick to set up. This is thanks to the pre-attached pole system that allows for a sub-two-minute set-up when you arrive in camp.
The optional dividers allow you to set up three different rooms. This is a great way to get some more privacy whilst camping. It means you can put the kids to bed early and enjoy some time with the adults.
You could also designate a space for getting changed or for the portable toilet. (Oh, the joys of camping!)
There are also plenty of gear pockets scattered throughout the tent for keeping everything organized during your trip.
What’s more, this shelter comes complete with Ozark Trail’s Dark Rest technology to ensure that your sleeping area remains cool, cozy, and dark when you’re getting your beauty rest.
I should point out, though, that this tent has only one door, which isn’t ideal if you have a lot of campers. Plus, the tent has fiberglass poles, which can be a durability concern.
But, if you’re planning on camping in nice weather and you don’t mind sharing an entryway with your friends, the Ozark Trail Dark Rest Instant Cabin 12 is more than up to the challenge.
Coleman Kobuk Valley 3
Named after one of the United States’ most stunning national parks, the Coleman Kobuk Valley 3 is a do-anything shelter that’s perfect for campground trips and festivals alike.
Your home in the mountains on your adventures, the Kobuk Valley 3 features a dome-style design that provides it with improved durability in windy conditions. It also has a large vestibule for added gear storage as you camp.
At the same time, it uses Coleman’s BlackOut Bedroom technology, which cuts up to 99% of sunlight and offers UPF 50 protection against the sun’s harmful rays. It also comes with a robust and fully waterproof rainfly to keep you dry when the weather won’t cooperate.
This tent offers loads of windows and vents for fantastic views, reduced condensation, and temperature control. These vents can easily be opened and closed from inside the shelter, so they’re ideal for use on muggy evenings.
While the Kobuk Valley 3 is a solid performer, if I had to pick something that didn’t quite impress me about this tent, it would be its weight and bulk. At 11.2 lbs (5.1 kg), it’s certainly not the lightest 3 person tent on the market.
However, if you’re planning on sticking to campgrounds on your travels, it’s more than suitable for those conditions.
How Does a Blackout Tent Work?
Blackout tents are pretty nifty pieces of gear. They block out sunlight to keep your tent cool and comfortable at all times, which makes them an asset when you’re camping in the sunny months.
But, how exactly do these tents work? Well, it depends.
Every company that makes blackout tents uses its own proprietary technology to cut the amount of sunlight that enters your shelter at night. However, most of these tents follow a handful of common principles to get the job done. These include:
Light-absorbing or diffusing fabrics. Perhaps the most common sun-blocking technology found in tents, light-absorbing or diffusing fabrics do a great job of stopping sunlight in its tracks. Most of these fabrics are designed quite similarly to what you’d find in blackout curtains.
That means they have very tightly woven threads and multiple layers of fabric to prevent sunlight from entering your sleeping area at night.
Reflective exterior fabric. Some tent brands use naturally-reflective exterior fabrics on the rainflies of their shelters. These fabrics help to reduce sunlight transmission into your tent simply by forcing the light to reflect off the tent’s exterior surface.
While this technology usually isn’t sufficient on its own, it can be used in conjunction with other methods to maximize a tent’s sun-blocking abilities.
Who Would Benefit from a Dark Rest Tent?
Tents that block sunlight are particularly beneficial for people who camp in areas that get a lot of sunlight, particularly at night.
In high latitudes, summertime camping often means almost 24/7 sunlight, which can make getting to sleep quite challenging. (I’m looking at you, Iceland!) As you approach the poles, a sun-blocking tent can have a massive positive impact on your camping experience.
That being said, a sun-blocking tent tends to be best for hot climates, so please do not rush off to the North Pole with one of these things.
Even if you don’t live in a very northerly or southerly latitude, however, there are instances when you might benefit from a dark rest tent.
In particular, people who like to sleep in late during the morning often find that blackout tents can help keep their shelters cool and dark as they snooze.
Additionally, if you’re camping in a very hot environment, such as in the desert, a blackout tent could be a major asset.
Because you generally don’t want to hike in the middle of the day during the summer months in the desert, a blackout tent can serve as the perfect retreat for a midday snooze.
Unlike other tents that can get very hot during the middle of the day, dark rest tents stay cool and comfortable, even in warm locations. So, they’re the ideal refuge from the heat while you camp.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does the Blackout Technology Weaken With Time?
Because the blackout technology in tents is part of the fabric itself, it doesn’t necessarily weaken over time. However, most tent fabrics will start to degrade after years of frequent use, so rips, tears, and other damage to your tent will affect its blackout abilities.
Do Blackout Tents Get Hotter Than Traditional Tents?
Blackout tents are designed to stay cooler than traditional tents. Because they try to block up to 97% of the sun’s rays, they are usually quite effective at helping you stay cool on hot days in the great outdoors.
Can You Black Out a Tent?
If you’re not sure that a proper blackout tent is right for you, you might consider blacking out your own tent. While it is possible to hang up reflective material, blackout curtains, or even thick blankets in your tent to block out the sunlight, these methods likely won’t be as effective as purchasing a dedicated blackout tent.
Do Blackout Tents Block Out All the Sunlight?
While the name “blackout tent” might make it seem like they are capable of blocking all sunlight from entering your shelter at night, this usually isn’t the case.
In fact, most blackout tents are capable of blocking anywhere from 90% to 99% of sunlight on a bright day. Most folks will find that this is sufficient for their needs, but an eye mask can help if you need total darkness.
Although they’re relatively new to the world of camping and outdoor adventure, blackout tents have quickly changed how we spend our time in the great outdoors.
After reviewing all of the best blackout tents on the market, I found that the Coleman Rocky Mountain 5 Plus stood out by a mile.
This wonderful tent adapts to a huge range of weather conditions, and the high-quality materials can be trusted to last. That durability comes at a price, though, and the tent might not be affordable for everyone.
Meanwhile, budget-conscious campers might want to consider the Coleman Dark Room Skydome 4. This tent features many of the same great performance-focused features of the Rocky Mountain 5 Plus but comes at an affordable price point.
Ultimately, what’s important is that you get the right blackout camping tent for your needs.
I hope this article helped you learn a bit more about these awesome shelters so that you can enjoy your next camping trip. Happy trails!
About the author
Gaby is a professional outdoor educator, guide, and wilderness medicine instructor. She holds a master's degree in outdoor education and spends most of her time hanging out with penguins and polar bears in the polar region. When she's not outdoors, you can find her traveling, reading Nietzsche, and drinking copious double espressos.