How To Blackout A Tent – Six Ways To Help You Sleep In

Do you know how to blackout a tent? It’s a question I often get asked, especially by parents.

Whenever I go summer camping, I always make sure that I black out my tent, otherwise it’s pretty much impossible to sleep in on vacation.

There are several different ways that I use to black out my tent, depending on where I’m camping and who I’m with. Read on and find out the best ways to black out a tent.  


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10 Camping Essentials – Camping Gear & Accessories

Camping essentials so you have fun camping so you go camping more!

  1. Matches, lighter or flint to get your campfire started so you are always prepared.
  2. Reusable water jerry can with tap. I love that this one is foldable yet still super strong. 
  3. Comfortable camping chair. This one has a cooler bag and cup holder to ensure you have a cool drink within arms reach so you can sit back and relax.
  4. Portable gas camp stove to cook or reheat your favorite camping meals and stay nourished.
  5.  Axe or tomahawk to cut wood for your camp fire. 
  6. Jaffle iron to make delicious pie’s, panini’s, toasted cheese sandwiches and more around your campfire
  7. Heavy-duty gloves for handling items on your BBQ, grill or firepit safely.
  8. A long-handled shovel has so many uses from digging your car out of it gets bogged to moving coals around in your camp fire.
  9. Waterproof, quick-pitch tent with plenty of space for your gear and to protect you from the rain.
  10. Dirty gear bag that fits over your spare wheel so you can take all your rubbish with you.

Why Black Out Your Tent?

I first started blacking out my tent in order to get a couple of extra hours of sleep on summer mornings. Otherwise, as soon as the sun rises, it’s really difficult to stay asleep, even if you’re tired after a long day of hiking. 

So much for rest and recuperation. However, I soon realized that there are other advantages to blacking out your tent apart from getting those precious extra hours of shuteye. 

Blacking out your tent also increases privacy. This is especially important when you’re at a busy campsite and you want to relax with your light on without feeling like everyone can see what you’re up to. 

Blacking out your tent with the right methods can also help to keep your tent cooler by blocking out sunlight. 

What’s more, if you are using a method that shades or covers your tent, you will also be helping to extend your tent’s lifespan by protecting it from the weather, as well as the sunlight. 

How To Black Out A Tent

Wondering what’s the best way to black out your tent? Here are my top six tent blackout suggestions to help you get a better night’s rest when you’re camping.

Buy A Blackout Tent

If you really struggle to sleep once the sun has risen and you’re due for a new tent, your best option may be to buy a blackout tent. Many brands have models that feature specialized material that is highly effective at blocking out sunlight as well as the heat while also remaining breathable. Check out the Coleman and Vango blackout tent ranges to get started. 

I used to have a Coleman Darkroom tent. It even came with strip lighting to see inside because it was so dark. It definitely helped to keep the tent cool and sleep in when little M was a baby. 

Coleman Northstar dark room tent
Our blackout tent: The Coleman Northstar Darkroom 10P tent

Use A Blackout Tent Liner

Purchase a blackout freestanding inner tent to place inside your family tent. They are generally affordable and are a great option if you are camping with the kids as you also get a little extra privacy. That way you can tuck them up in bed after a busy day while you relax. You can also use any dark-colored tent bedroom pods or inner dark tents for your awning. 

Use Dark Sheets Or Blankets

Using dark sheets or blankets to black out your tent can be a great DIY solution. If you are handy with a needle and thread, you could try adding hook and loop patches to your sheets and the corresponding areas on your tent seams, over the poles. 

Otherwise, simply trapping a dark blanket over your bedroom pod section or between your tent body and the rain fly can definitely help to block out unwanted early morning light. 

Use A Tarp Over Your Tent

If you don’t want to modify your tent and you don’t mind being exposed to a certain amount of early morning light, use a dark-colored tarp over your tent. If it’s damp and you want to reduce any early morning rays by a maximum, stake your tarp down so it completely covers your tent. 

Otherwise, to ensure adequate ventilation, as well as keeping the elements and hot sunshine off your tent, suspend your tarp over your tent like a shield. I always keep a couple of camping tarps on hand with my camping equipment, they come in useful for so many things. 

Camp Under Trees

Alternatively, you could pitch your tent under some trees to help to block some of the early morning rays. While this won’t black out your tent as such, it could help you to get a few extra hours of sleep in the morning. Note, it is important to place your tent so that you sleep facing the west. Otherwise, you may still get an eyeful of sunlight first thing as the sun sends horizontal rays across the eastern horizon.  

Camping under trees

Use An Eye Mask

If all of the above seems like too much effort and you’re looking for a fast and easy way to get more shuteye when camping, try an eye mask. Sure, it may take some getting used to so you can comfortably sleep with one on, but once you’re used to sleeping with a mask, it’s an inexpensive and very practical way of keeping those early morning rays from waking you up. Plus a sleeping mask takes up next to no space in your pack. 

Potential Disadvantages Of Blacking Out Your Tent

I’ve already gone over the advantages of blacking out your tent. However, you should bear in mind that some of the above methods can have a couple of potential drawbacks. Read on and find out more before choosing which tent blackout method works best for you. 

Extra Gear To Carry

This won’t be too much hassle for car campers, however, if you are backpacking, taking a lot of extra gear just to black out your tent is going to be a no-go. In this case, you’re better off buying a special lightweight blackout tent, use your tarp, find some trees or sleep with an eye mask. 

Reduced Ventilation

If you invest in a specialized blackout tent from a big brand, this is unlikely to be an issue as they have breathable fabric. On the other hand, if you are using sheets or blankets to black out your tent, or are covering your tent’s outer walls directly with a tarp, you are going to reduce ventilation. This could be a problem in summer when you want to increase airflow at night when it’s cooler. 

Increased Condensation

With a decrease in airflow, you will get an increase in condensation. So if you struggle to sleep in the heat but you really want to keep out the light, consider a specialized tent, pitching up in the shade, or making your own shade with a suspended tarp shield. 

Decreased Alertness

It’s important to bear in mind that all of the above methods, except for using a suspended tarp and pitching your tent under tree cover, could decrease your alertness to what is going on outside. 

So if you are wild camping, especially in bear country, you may want to avoid using your headphones or else you will be completely oblivious to any wildlife and sudden weather changes. 

tarp for black out tent

How to Black Out a Tent FAQs

What Is The Point Of A Blackout Tent?

A blackout tent will keep sunlight out of your tent, allowing you to sleep in for longer when you’re camping. Specialized blackout tents are made with a purpose-designed, breathable fabric that not only keeps out the light but also keeps your tent cooler during the day. 

Do Blackout Tents Get Hotter?

A specialized blackout tent should, in fact, stay cooler. However, if you have a DIY blackout tent solution, you may end up with a hotter tent as darker, heavier fabrics can make your tent warmer. 

What Is Blackout Material For Camping?

You can purchase blackout liner material for camping that you can use to cover your tent panels. I personally find that it is easier to purchase an inner blackout tent or, if I’m packing light, just to use a tarp. 

Final Thoughts on How to Black Out a Tent

Now that you know all of the best ways to black out your tent, as well as some of the potential benefits and drawbacks, you can make an informed decision on which is the best method for your next camping trip. 

Personally, I find that if you are camping as a family, dark inner tents are definitely the way to go. Otherwise, if you are on a budget, using your tarp or even just an eye mask can really make a significant difference and let you get that extra hour or two of sleep.

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