After a long day paddling down the river, you’ll need a good night’s rest.
However, if you don’t pick the right shelter, you’ll have a pretty miserable night’s rest. Mosquitoes will be buzzing around your sleeping compartment, and condensation will be dripping on your sleeping bag throughout the night.
This article gives you seven tent suggestions for your next kayaking trip. No matter what type of climate you’re facing, there should be something in here for everyone.
Without further ado, here’s my review of the best tents for kayak camping!
In a Hurry? Here Are My Top 3 Picks
7 Best Tents for Kayak Camping
ALPS Mountaineering Zephyr 1-Person Tent
I think that the ALPS Mountaineering Zephyr 1-Person Tent is the best overall choice for kayak camping.
Considering that you might have to camp on narrow strips of land at the river bank, I always recommend bringing a couple of smaller tents rather than one larger tent if you’re going with a buddy.
ALPS Mountaineering Tents are of decent quality and reasonably priced. I particularly like the Zephyr because it’s easy to set up and performs well in wet weather.
As with any tent, you will have to give it a waterproof coating before taking it out in the rain.
This wouldn’t be the best choice for cold weather camping because the rain fly doesn’t reach the ground, so a breeze could come through near the bottom of the tent. For warmer weather, though, you’ll be thankful for that!
I love that there’s a good size vestibule to store your kit and that you can pitch just the mesh inner in warm weather, allowing you to stargaze all night.
Overall, this is a breathable and lightweight tent that is comfortable for one person. The extra vent in the sleeping compartment and the mosquito mesh make this an excellent choice for the summer, but I wouldn’t choose this one in the winter.
- Insect mesh
- Spacious vestibule
- Not the best for cold weather
Forceatt 2 Person Tent
This Forceatt 2 Person Tent is the best value kayaking tent on the market right now. It would be possible to find something even less expensive, but I haven’t found a cheaper tent that I could recommend in good faith.
This tent is affordable and practical. It’s a good size for two people, and it has two separate doors, so you don’t have to climb all over each other as you come and go.
It weighs 2.5 kilograms, which is on the heavy side for backpackers. But when you’re kayaking, you have a little more wiggle room with your pack weight.
When it’s packed down into its carry bag, this tent is 41cm long and 14cm tall. That will fit in your kayak without any worries, and the 3000mm coating will help keep you dry in wet and windy weather.
You also have guylines to secure your outer wall in the wind, and the two ceiling vents will help reduce condensation in the cooler months.
All in all, this is a great value little tent for one or two people on a kayak trip. The only drawback is that the floor isn’t very strong. With that in mind, I would use a footprint with this model.
- Good weight and size
- Great value
- Two separate doors
- The floor isn’t the strongest
Naturehike Mongar 2
If I were choosing a kayaking tent for myself, I would go for the Naturehike Mongar 2. I like Naturehike tents because they aren’t expensive, but they are lightweight and well designed.
This two-person tent weighs only 1.8 kilograms. That’s considerably lighter than my budget pick, but that’s to be expected when you’re prepared to invest a little more money.
I love that this tent packs down very small for when you’re on the move. It’s quick and easy to set up in five minutes, so you don’t have to spend ages setting up camp after a long paddle.
The two separate doors make this tent easier to share, and there are also two vestibules so that you can each store your kit conveniently out of your sleeping compartment.
There are also two air vents to help with ventilation, while a fine bug screen will help keep biting insects outside where they belong!
Something I don’t like about this tent is that the product description slightly exaggerates the dimensions. This is fine for me because I’m pretty short, but taller people should be aware that the accurate measurements are 78" x 48" x 42".
Read also: Naturehike Mongar 2 Tent Review
- Easy to set up
- Two doors and vestibules
- Exaggerated dimensions
ALPS Mountaineering Tasmanian 2-Person Tent
If you are looking to kayak in the colder months, you might want to go for the ALPS Mountaineering Tasmanian Tent instead. This is a two-person tent, so you can share it with a human or four-legged friend for extra warmth in the winter!
The tent is easy to set up, and there are two separate doors with zippered mesh windows for ventilation.
You also have two vestibules to store your kit in, giving you more space to spread out inside. The strong aluminum poles and guy ropes will look after you in the wind.
This isn’t a true four-season tent, as it doesn’t have a snow skirt to fully protect the inner tent. I doubt you’ll be kayaking when it’s that cold, but it is slightly disappointing that the rain fly isn’t just a few inches longer.
This tent is roomy for two people and well ventilated. Just don’t expect it to look after you in a full-on blizzard.
- Spacious for two people
- Good ventilation
- Two doors and vestibules
- Rainfly could be longer
GEERTOP 1 Person Bivy
Whether you are wild camping or just like getting back to basics, the Geertop Bivy Tent would be a good choice for a kayaking trip.
Bivy tents are definitely not for everyone. You don’t have enough space to sit up, so, to get an idea of what you’d be getting yourself in for, it’s better to think of them as a waterproof and spacious sleeping bag.
I really like bivys, though, because they are lightweight and discreet. This model comes with a camouflage design, so you can blend right into the natural environment. Despite its size, this bivy tent has good ventilation.
Its rainfly has a 5000mm coating, and the seams are well sealed, so this should keep you cozy and dry in the nastiest weather. The ripstop tent walls will last a long time in the great outdoors, and the fine bug mesh will keep the creepy crawlies at bay so that you can get a good night’s sleep.
The packing size is 17 x 4 x 4 inches and it weighs only 1.5 kilograms. This would be my top choice if I were solo camping, but I almost always have a husband and a dog along for the ride.
- Lightweight and compact
- Well ventilated
- Reliable in bad weather
- Bivy tents can feel claustrophobic
GEERTOP 4 Person Camping Tent
If you’ll be camping as a family of four, I recommend that you get a couple of two-person tents rather than one larger tent. I find that smaller tents are better for kayaking trips because you might not be sure where you’ll end up pitching.
But if you really want everyone to sleep under one roof, the Geertop 4 Person Camping Tent would be your best bet for the cooler months.
I know that parents are going to worry about their little ones getting cold on a camping trip, but this tent is pretty reliable in cold and wet weather. The strong frame and guylines will take care of you in high winds, and the large vestibule contains plenty of space for everyone’s kit.
This tent has five ventilation windows, so you don’t have to worry about condensation dripping everywhere.
I wouldn’t recommend the tent for use in the height of summer, though. It is designed for cold weather use, and it will probably be too hot for you in the warmer months.
- Good size for two adults and two children
- Reliable in cold and windy weather
- Good ventilation
- Not the best for warm weather
- Only one door
ALPS Mountaineering Lynx
If you want to take your family out in the warmer months, I would go for the ALPS Mountaineering Lynx 4. This is a good size tent for two adults and two small children, but it’s going to be a squeeze if your children are older.
This tent is much more breathable than the Geertop tent I recommended above. That makes it fantastic for warmer weather, but not the best for colder months.
I love that the Lynx has two doors and two vestibules, as this makes sharing a tent with other people much less claustrophobic.
Other features I like about this tent include the UV-resistant rainfly, which protects you from the sun, and the durable floor and zippers. It packs down to 6 x 23 inches, so it’s not considerably bulkier than most two-person tents that you might get for kayaking.
This tent is pretty reliable in a passing rain shower and is a good choice for taller people because the sleeping compartment offers over seven feet to spread out in.
The seams are sealed, so you shouldn’t have problems with leaking, and the tent is a respectable weight of 8.6 pounds. That’s pretty good for a four-person tent of this quality.
The only drawback is that it doesn’t seem to be double stitched. Over time, you might find that the seams don’t hold up, especially if you have energetic youngsters who like to bounce around.
- Great for summer
- Durable zippers
- Two doors and vestibules
- Good for taller people
- Not the most durable seams
Kayak Camping Tents Buying Guide
If you still don’t feel like you’ve found the right tent for your next kayak trip, don’t despair!
Here is a buying guide to help you shop further afield.
Different kayaks will have different weight limits. These refer not only to your body weight, but also to the weight of all your gear, your paddle, and anything that you are wearing. For your safety, you must stay within these limits.
You don’t need to be as obsessed with every pound as you would be for a backpacking trip, but you do need to think about the weight of your tent. The heavier your gear, the harder it’s going to be for you to paddle!
You should also consider the pack-down size of your tent and whether it will fit in your dry bags. I would prefer to go for no more than a two-person tent for kayaking, but you might want a slightly bigger tent if you’re camping with kids.
It’s always better to invest in a decent piece of kit that will last than to keep buying cheaper kit again and again. With a kayaking tent, you might want to think about the groundsheet in particular, because there’s a good chance you’ll be camping on moist and rocky river shores.
In addition to getting a decent groundsheet, I recommend that you get a tent footprint. This will help prevent small rocks from tearing your tent floor.
It won’t make your tent more waterproof, though, so you must make sure that the footprint is smaller than your tent. Otherwise, water could pool between the layers and soak into your sleeping compartment.
If you’re camping near the water, you’ll probably encounter biting insects. So, it’s essential to get a tent with a fine mesh covering on the doors and windows. A no see um mesh is particularly effective.
As much as you love your kayak, there’s no way you’ll be able to bring a tent that’s big enough to store the kayak inside it.
You’ll just have to turn the kayak upside down and leave it outside overnight, though you could consider getting a cockpit cover if you want to keep critters at bay.
I do recommend that you get a tent with a decent-sized vestibule where you can keep damp gear overnight. If you bring wetsuits into your sleeping compartment, they’ll contribute to condensation.
Here are a few other bits of more general advice for tent buying that you might want to consider:
- Go for at least a three-season tent if you’ll be camping in the rain.
- Sealed seams will help prevent leaks.
- Bathtub floors are better at keeping your tent dry.
- Lighter colors will reflect heat, which is good for summer!
- If you’re wild camping, go for discreet green or brown tents.
- Pop-up tents usually aren’t worth it!
- Make sure you have vents to prevent condensation.
- Spray your tent with a waterproof coating before your trip.
- Two doors are a lifesaver if you’re sharing your tent.
So long as you follow this advice, you can’t go wrong!
When it comes to kayaking, you want something lightweight, discreet, and easy to set up.
The Forceatt 2 Person Tent offers great value for the money. Just make sure to use a footprint if you go for this tent.
I also really like the Naturehike Mongar 2. It’s well designed and spacious, and the quality is fantastic for the price. (Just be aware that the manufacturer exaggerates the product dimensions!)
The best one-person tent for kayaking would be the ALPS Mountaineering Zephyr 1-Person Tent, without a doubt. This is a fabulous summer tent, but if you’ll be camping in cold weather, you might want to go for the ALPS Mountaineering Tasmanian 2-Person Tent instead.
I hope this article has cleared up any doubts you had, and I wish you many happy adventures with your kayak and your new tent!
More to read:
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.