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Four people walking into the Black Rock City to attend the Burning Man Festival

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. 

Conditions

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

Our Choice
TETON Sports Sierra Canvas Tent
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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. 

Pros
  • Breathable canvas
  • Waterproof and windproof
  • Extra-wide door, perfect for Burning Man community vibes
  • Easy to set up 
  • Heavy-duty welded floor
  • Reinforced seams 
  • Standing room 
  • Spacious—better for heat dispersion
  • Light color doesn't absorb heat
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Heavy (6 person model is 55 pounds)

Bessport 2 Person Backpacking Tent

Budget Pick
Bessport 2 Person Backpacking Tent
$79.99
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09/19/2021 10:50 am GMT

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. 

Pros
  • Heat-reflecting color 
  • Lightweight 
  • Easy to set up (150 seconds)
  • Affordable
  • Waterproof and windproof
  • Vestibules for kit 
  • Ceiling vents
Cons
  • No standing room
  • Small interior—heat will build up more quickly
  • Synthetic—less breathable than canvas

Geertop Teepee

GEERTOP Teepee Tent - One Pole Easy Set Up Tent
$210.99
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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. 

Pros
  • Standing room 
  • Shaded awning 
  • Suitable color 
  • Lighter than many teepee tents
  • Tear-resistant fabric 
  • Waterproof taped seams
  • Good value
Cons
  • Cotton-polyester blend—less breathable than canvas
  • High profile—not as good with the wind (but better for heat)

Coleroom Darkroom Tent 

Coleman Dome Tent for Camping
$109.99-$342.55
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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. 

Pros
  • Heat-blocking technology creates shade in the sleeping area
  • Windproof in up to 35mph winds
  • Reasonably light (10.34 pounds)
  • Spacious for a couple sharing 
  • Easy to set up (10 minutes)
  • Inverted seams and welded corners to prevent water from getting inside
Cons
  • Rainfly doesn't cover the entire tent—shower-proof but not completely waterproof 
  • Darkroom material used only for some parts of the tent, so don’t expect complete darkness or shade 
  • No standing room

Teton Sports Mesa Tent

TETON Sports Mesa Canvas Tent
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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!

Pros
  • Breathable canvas
  • Excellent quality 
  • Reinforced seams
  • 2 doors for air circulation 
  • Heavy-duty zipper
  • Interior storage pockets 
  • Shaded awning
  • Spacious (especially as it has no middle bar like the canvas bell tents)
Cons
  • Heavy (76 pounds)
  • Expensive
  • Cabin-style tents aren’t as good in the wind as lower-profile dome-style tents

10 More Great Tents for the Burning Man Festival

The Nature Hike Tagar Tent 

Lightweight Camping Tent for 2 Person - Easy Setup
$119.99
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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. 

Pros
  • Lightweight 
  • Heat-reflecting color
  • Strong aluminum frame 
  • Vestibule to store kit 
  • Good value
  • Waterproof and windproof
Cons
  • Small—best for one person 
  • Lack of vents limits airflow—but you can roll back the door and leave the mesh inner closed

Alps Mountaineering Lynx Tent 

ALPS Mountaineering Lynx 2-Person Tent
$199.99
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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. 

Pros
  • 2 doors and 2 vestibules
  • Well ventilated
  • UV protection 
  • Waterproof
Cons
  • No standing room

Geertop Landlope Tent

GEERTOP 4 Person Camping Tent
$199.99
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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. 

Pros
  • Well ventilated and breathable
  • Large vestibule 
  • Spacious 
  • Double stitching 
  • Waterproof 
  • Performs well in heavy winds
Cons
  • Instructions not very clear 
  • 4 season tent—retains more heat than a 3 season tent

The Nature Hike Vik 1 Tent

Naturehike VIK 1 - Ultralight Backpacking Tent
$139.00
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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

Pros
  • Heat-reflecting color
  • Lightweight 
  • Strong 
  • Waterproof
  • Easy to set up 
  • The door can be set up as a tarp for some shade
  • 50+ UV protection
  • Skylight vents
Cons
  • Claims to be 4 season, but it’s not the best for cold weather camping (shouldn’t pose a problem for Burning Man)

Coleman Octagon Tent 

Coleman Octagon 98, 8-Person Tent
$450.00
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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. 

Pros
  • Spacious
  • Wind-responsive poles
  • Bathtub-style waterproof floor
  • Great ventilation
Cons
  • Poor-quality pegs (bring some additional rebar pegs)
  • Heavy 
  • Contains Tris (1,3-dichloro-2-propyl) phosphate (TDCPP)

Tepui Roof Tent 

Tepui Explorer Ayer Rooftop Tent
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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. 

Pros
  • High-quality, breathable fabric 
  • High-density foam mattress
  • Mesh panels for ventilation 
  • Can swap canopy depending on weather conditions
  • Easy to set up once attached
Cons
  • Condensation can cause the foam mattress to get wet in hot weather; we recommend that you purchase a condensation mat

Naturehike Opulus Tent 

Naturehike Opalus Lightweight Backpacking Tent
$224.00
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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. 

Pros
  • Lightweight for its size
  • Performs well in wind and rain 
  • UV 50+ sun protection 
  • Large vestibule for luggage
Cons
  • Not as well ventilated as our top 5 picks

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. 

Pros
  • Heat-resistant design
  • Easy and quick to set up 
  • Large porch area
  • Waterproof
  • Light color reflects heat
Cons
  • A little cumbersome to pack down

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. 

Pros
  • 3-inch foam mattress
  • Insulated floor 
  • Well known for quality 
  • Breathable and ventilated
  • Quick and easy set-up (after initial attachment to vehicle)
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Colors are quite dark (absorbs more heat)

Shiftpod

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!

Pros
  • Quick and easy set-up 
  • Designed with deserts in mind
  • Heat reflecting 
  • Noise reduction 
  • Windproof and waterproof 
  • Possible to use with a heater or air conditioner
Cons
  • Heavy
  • Expensive
Two people in costumes at the Burning Man Festival

Alternative Options 

RV 

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. 

Joining Camps

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 

12 Inches Rebar Stakes
$18.99
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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. 

Car camping in the hot desert in the western United States

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. 

Storm-Proofing 

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. 

Heat Protection 

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.

Seasons

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. 

Final Thoughts 

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 Horne

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.

Rachel Horne - Writer for the camper lifestyle

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