Burning Man is like no other festival in the world. With some of the harshest conditions on Planet Earth, paired with a revolutionary approach to community and creativity, it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that you will never forget.
Tens of thousands of people were disappointed when Burning Man 2020 was canceled due to COVID-19, but it’s time to move on from the frustration and prepare for Burning Man 2021!
For such a unique and challenging experience, you must come prepared with the right tent.
The daytime temperatures reach higher than 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.7 degrees Celsius), and you will also face dust storms, high winds, and freezing temperatures at night!
This article suggests 15 suitable tents for this unique event and gives you plenty of tips for safety and preparation as well.
Quick Guide to Burning Man for First-Timers
If you’re thinking about going to Burning Man for the first time in 2021, there are a couple of things you should know before you buy your tent and tickets!
What Exactly Is Burning Man?
Burning Man is so much more than a festival. In fact, the official website repeatedly insists that it is not a festival at all, though that word is generally used to describe the event.
It is a temporary city that is constructed in the middle of the burning Black Rock Desert of northwest Nevada. There is absolutely no corporate sponsorship and no acts of entertainment are organized in advance.
Instead, an inclusive space is created in the desert, where tens of thousands of creative free spirits can get together and share their talents.
There are lots of activities, concerts, and vendors, but this is all organized by the participants. Costumes, makeup, and body paint are the norm.
Key Principles of Burning Man
The key principles of Burning Man are radical inclusivity, creativity, and leaving no trace. Campfires are banned, so you must bring a camp stove for cooking.
Great effort is made to minimize waste and reduce the environmental impact, and you are asked to not leave behind your bikes or tents. You can read more about Burning Man’s leave-no-trace policy here.
The desert conditions are sizzling hot by day and cold by night. It is essential to bring your own water—at least 1.5 gallons for each day that you are there.
For your safety, you will need to choose the right tent and bring along a mask and goggles for the inevitable dust storms.
The following video will help you stay safe in the desert if you haven’t camped in such conditions before.
Best Overall Tents for Burning Man - Top 5 Picks
Now that you understand what you’re getting yourself into, it’s time to look at the 15 best tents for the Burning Man Festival in 2021!
Teton Sports Sierra Canvas Bell Tent
Canvas tents are often used for camping in desert conditions, and for good reason! They handle extreme weather changes very well and offer a breathable and strong shelter.
The Teton Sports Sierra Canvas Bell Tent is our Best Choice recommendation for Burning Man. It offers plenty of space to hang out, and it will be much more comfortable than synthetic alternatives.
It is more expensive than the lower budget synthetic tent models, but it will retain value for resale if you don’t plan on using it again in the future.
Bessport 2 Person Backpacking Tent
If you are working on a smaller budget, you can check out the Bessport Backpacking Tent instead. This is technically a 2 person tent but, for a more comfortable night’s sleep, we recommend it for a solo festival-goer.
You can keep your luggage in the 2 outdoor vestibules, and the ceiling vents will give you some airflow and prevent overheating.
For a single person who will spend most of their time exploring and just needs a safe tent to crash in at night, the Bessport 2 person tent is perfect.
If you’re looking for a teepee-style tent that is more affordable than our Best Choice Teton Sports Bell Tent, you might want to check out the Geertop Teepee.
At 14 pounds, it is lighter than many other teepee tents on the market, and the mesh inner allows for plenty of ventilation. The door can be pegged out to create a shaded awning, and you are sure to appreciate all the standing room when an inevitable dust storm descends on Black Rock City.
Coleroom Darkroom Tent
The Coleman Darkroom Tent is an innovative tent that blocks 90% of sunlight. This creates a relatively cool and shady sleeping area compared to other tents. You can decide whether or not to get the optional screen room for storing your luggage.
This tent has been tested in 35mph+ winds and its waterproof coating and tub-like floor will keep you dry in most rainstorms.
Teton Sports Mesa Tent
The final tent in our top 5 picks for Burning Man is the Teton Sports Mesa Tent.
This is a top-quality canvas tent with a shaded awning area and a huge amount of interior space. The strong top bar will keep you well-looked-after in the desert storms.
This heavy-duty tent has reinforced seams and its two wide doors will keep air flowing through your tent, as well as make you feel more integrated into the Burning Man community.
The pegs on this tent are not particularly strong, but we recommend that you pick up some Rebar pegs for any tent that you take to Burning Man. More on this later!
10 More Great Tents for the Burning Man Festival
The Nature Hike Tagar Tent
The Nature Hike Tagar Tent is a lightweight 2 person tent with UV protection and breathable, waterproof materials.
Thanks to its aviation standard aluminum frame, this 3.7-pound tent will protect you from all the weather that the Nevada desert has to throw at you.
Alps Mountaineering Lynx Tent
The Alps Mountaineering Lynx Tent is a 2 person backpacking tent, weighing just 5.9 pounds. It is a very popular tent, with excellent user reviews.
This little tent performs well in the wind and the rain, and the half-mesh walls will help maintain good airflow in the daytime heat.
Geertop Landlope Tent
The Geertop Landlope Tent is a strong double-layer tent with 5 ventilation windows to help prevent heat accumulation. This 4 person tent is easy to set up and has double-stitched seams and a large vestibule for kit storage.
The Nature Hike Vik 1 Tent
We absolutely love the Nature Hike Vik 1. It’s a great all-rounder and an excellent value for the quality.
We particularly like the fact that you can stake your door out as a little tarp to protect yourself from the desert sun. You can find an in-depth review of this tent here.
Coleman Octagon Tent
The Coleman Octagon is a spacious tent that can fit 2 blow-up queen mattresses or 8 people with sleeping bags and mats. Set-up is made easier by color-coded poles, which are specially designed to respond more effectively to the wind.
For better protection from the unpredictable desert weather, make sure you get the full fly rather than the half rainfly.
Tepui Roof Tent
Another brilliant option for camping at Burning Man is a roof tent like the Tepui Explorer.
This is perfect for smaller vans or trucks and has plenty of mesh windows for ventilation. It comes with a high-density 2½-inch foam mattress, and it is easy to set up once it has been attached.
Naturehike Opulus Tent
The Naturehike Opulus Tent offers an outstanding balance between affordability, quality, weight, and spaciousness. This 3 person tent has a large area to store your luggage, as well as 2 doors and windows to help air flow through the sleeping compartment.
The only drawback is its limited breathability and ventilation as compared to other tents we have recommended.
Quechua Air Seconds 4.1
The Quechua Air Seconds 4.1 is a fantastic tent for Burning Man.
It has a spacious bedroom for up to 4 people and a large porch area where you can sit in the shade and store all of your things. The tent is both waterproof and heat resistant, and it offers UV protection.
The Quechua Air Seconds 4.1 has an innovative blow-up design, which doesn’t require any poles.
CVT Pioneer Roof Tent
Cascadia Vehicle Tents (CVT) are very well respected in the rooftop camping scene.
The CVT Pioneer Roof Tent is the brand’s most basic model, but the quality is still exceptional. It comes with a 3-inch foam mattress, a telescoping ladder, and an insulated floor. This breathable tent will keep you cooler on hot days and warmer on cold ones.
The Shiftpod is a shelter designed for emergencies and hard-core recreation. The Shiftpod XL can be set up in less than 5 minutes and has an amazing 123 square feet of space. The material is designed to reflect heat, reduce noise, and withstand ridiculous winds.
The price tag might make your eyes water, though!
It is possible to bring your RV to Burning Man, but you will also have to bring along all the water that you will need, and there will not be services to empty your black or greywater.
One of the principles of Burning Man is radical self-reliance, so if you plan to take your RV, make sure you can survive with it for the 9-day event.
Rent an Airstream
If you don’t have your own RV, you might consider renting an Airstream from a company like Go Silver.
However, you are expected to turn up at Burning Man with all your food, water, and accommodation, so you can’t rent an RV, trailer, or tent on site.
When you get your ticket to Burning Man, you can apply to join a pre-existing camp group by offering up your skills, such as fire breathing, dancing, or even medical skills.
In some cases, it is possible to join accommodation at one of these camps, but the positions are very sought after, so you will have to apply nice and early.
Best Tent Stakes for Burning Man
Due to the dust storms and violent winds in the desert, normal tent stakes are not going to be up to the job.
At Burning Man, most people secure their tents with rebar, which are twisted steel rods normally used for construction. These are, of course, much heavier than normal tent stakes, but they are necessary.
How to Choose the Best Tent for the Black Rock Desert
Budget versus Quality
At conventional festivals, people often buy budget tents and throw them away after use. This is not common practice at Burning Man, though, because one of the founding principles is leaving no trace and preserving nature.
We recommend that you invest in the best tent that you can afford because the desert conditions can be rather extreme. If you want to get rid of your tent after the event, you can donate it to a Scouting group or homeless charity rather than send it to a landfill.
Your tent should be strong enough to withstand some heavy winds and dust storms, so trekking pole shelters would not be appropriate for the event.
Dome tents handle wind better than a cabin-style tent does, and aluminum poles are better than fiberglass poles because they bend rather than snap under pressure.
Choose a tent with light colors like white or bright yellow rather than dark colors like black or bottle green. The former will reflect more heat, which will be welcome when you are camping in temperatures above 100 degrees!
If you have a small tent, it might be a good idea to take it down during the day so that it does not accumulate so much heat. A larger bell tent will stay cooler because heat is better dispersed, but it will be more expensive and less portable.
Look for a tent with UV protection and consider bringing some kind of tarp or parasol where you can escape from the sun.
Due to the changeability of the weather in the Nevada desert, we recommend that you go for a 3 season tent or a very breathable 4 season tent.
This should protect you from the unpredictable climate. Be careful with 4 season tents, as they can sometimes be stuffy and overheat in hot weather.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will Burning Man happen in 2021?
If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that nothing in life is certain! However, plans are steaming ahead, and Burning Man hopes to go on as usual in 2021.
Is Burning Man clothing-optional?
Burning Man is a non-judgmental space where clothing is optional. People wear a lot of body paint, feathers, and amazing futuristic costumes. A minority also go completely nude. Just make sure you wear a lot of sunscreen if you plan on doing the same!
What is a Shiftpod?
A Shiftpod is an innovative, futuristic-looking tent. It is designed to stay cool in the heat and warm in the cold, and an air conditioning or heating unit can be attached. Thanks to tons of insulation, you can expect a much more comfortable night’s sleep in a Shiftpod than in a more conventional tent.
Can you volunteer at Burning Man?
Many thousands of people volunteer at Burning Man every year. Unlike conventional festivals, it is rarely possible to volunteer in exchange for a ticket.
What is a Qube Tent?
A Qube Tent is a modular camping system in which you can attach different Qubes together. It is a pop-up, inflatable system that is gaining popularity in large-group camping.
No tent in the world will prevent you from getting hot at Burning Man!
The conditions are extreme, and you need to prepare with plenty of research, careful packing, and proactive self-care. If you want to have a more comfortable experience in the Nevada desert, your best option is a spacious and airy canvas tent, like the Teton Sports Sierra.
Alternatively, you can get a more affordable and smaller tent like the Bessport Backpacking tent, and use it just for sleeping rather than hanging out in the day.
No matter what tent you choose, Burning Man is sure to be an incredible experience. The memories will stay with you long after the sunburn has gone away!
We hope you found this article helpful, and we wish you a wonderful time at Burning Man 2021!
About the author
Rachel is a freelance adventure writer and founder of Highly Sensitive Nomad. When she isn’t writing, she can be found wild camping in the mountains and swimming in the lakes of Europe.