What is a Tent Vestibule? Why Do You Need One?

by | Apr 20, 2023 | Tents

A tent vestibule is a versatile extension attached to tent’s entrance or sides, functioning as a mudroom or a covered space to store camping gear. Ideal for tents of all shapes and sizes, vestibules help keep gear organized and offer a space for changing out of wet or muddy clothing. Overall, tent vestibules enhance the camping experience by adding convenience, organization, and protection from the elements.

Types of Tent Vestibules

There are three primary categories of tent vestibules: front vestibules, side vestibules, and add-on vestibules. Each type possesses distinct features and serves various camping purposes, but most vestibules are floorless and rely on the tent’s structure for stability.

Front Vestibule

A front vestibule, typically found covering the tent entrance or main front door, offers both convenience and protection. Most tents feature built-in front vestibules, but not all do. In more affordable, budget-friendly camping tents, you may find that the manufacturer didn’t include a vestibule in order to keep the price lower.

A vestibule can provide more space for gear storage and a weather-protected area that allows you to access the front door. An oversized front vestibule or screen room can act as a covered porch, which allows for hanging out, bike storage, or even for careful cooking in rainy conditions. However, be mindful of potential hazards such as carbon monoxide poisoning – always make sure there’s plenty of ventilation before using a grill or propane stove.

The Gazelle T4 Hub Plus offers an oversized screen room for the front vestibule and is our Editor’s Choice for best tent with screen room.

Side Tent Vestibules

Side vestibules offer a practical alternative to front vestibules, facilitating easy access and extra storage space. These vestibules are often wide enough to store gear on one side while using the other as an entrance to the main tent body. An example of a side vestibule tent is the REI Trail Hut 2, which is our top pick for best backpacking tent under $200. These style of tents usually have two vestibules, one on each side, and is more common in smaller backpacking tents.

what is a tent vestibule

As you can see in this image from REI, the side vestibule zippers open or closed down the center. This gives you enough space to get in and out of the tent while still providing weather protection for the gear storage space inside the vestibule. When we go backpacking, we store our shoes and backpack under a vestibule like this one pictured above and they stayed dry even during a rainstorm.

Secondary Vestibules

Sometimes larger tents with a front vestibule will also have a second vestibule that’s smaller but still provides access to a second door. This is a desirable feature for families and people who camp in groups, as the extra doors makes it easier to get in and out of the tent. A great example of this is the Kelty Rumpus 6, which is our #1 choice for best tent for stargazing and it’s the cover photo for this article. It has an oversized front vestibule that’s great for gear storage, and a smaller back vestibule for additional access and small gear storage.

Add-On Tent Vestibules

For tents that lack built-in vestibules, add-on vestibules may offer a practical solution. Available for purchase separately, these vestibules can be attached to compatible tents to provide the desired extra space for storage and weather protection.

By investing in an add-on vestibule, campers can enjoy the benefits of extra space for storage and security without buying a new tent with an integrated vestibule. Remember that add-on vestibules are designed for specific tent models; therefore, confirming compatibility with your tent is crucial before making a purchase.

Vestibule Alternatives

Campers seeking alternatives to traditional vestibules can utilize waterproof materials like rain fly fabric or tarps to create customized, ventilated spaces. This DIY approach allows for a comfortable and functional campsite tailored to individual needs.

Carrying a tarp also enables campers to establish waterproof coverings separate from the tent, such as sitting or cooking areas at a safe distance from the sleeping quarters. This versatile option provides flexibility in arranging the campsite, ensuring comfort and practicality while enjoying the great outdoors.

How To Set Up a Vestibule

Most vestibules are set up as part of the regular tent set up, so just follow the instructions for your specific model. To prevent rain accumulation and minimize wind-induced flapping, you can use the included tent guy lines to keep the tent fabric taut and secure.

What are the benefits of vestibules?

Vestibules offer a range of benefits that can significantly enhance the overall camping experience. Some key advantages include functioning as a mudroom, providing weather protection, serving as a storage area, and offering a cooking space.

Mud Room

Our boots and daypack in the corner of the Slumberjack Daybreak vestibule.

One of the primary benefits of a vestibule is its ability to act as a mudroom. This separate space allows campers to remove and store wet or muddy clothing, footwear, and gear before entering the main tent area. The vestibule also provides a convenient spot for campers to change out of wet clothes, minimizing the chance of dampness affecting the tent’s interior. As a result, the tent’s interior remains cleaner and more comfortable.

Storage Area

A tent vestibule serves as an excellent storage area for camping gear. Campers can maximize the available living space inside the tent by providing a dedicated space for items outside the main tent. This is particularly beneficial when using smaller tents or sharing a tent with others, as it prevents overcrowding and enhances overall comfort. Storing gear in the vestibule also helps keep the tent organized, making locating and accessing necessary items during the trip easier. We always keep our shoes and hiking backs in the vestibule space.

Weather Protection

Vestibules offer valuable weather protection for both campers and their gear. By creating a barrier between the main tent and the outside elements, the vestibule helps keep rain, snow, and wind at bay. Furthermore, the vestibule shields gear from harsh weather conditions, preventing damage and ensuring essential items stay dry and protected.

Cooking Space

Another significant advantage of a vestibule is its potential use as a cooking space. While it’s important to exercise caution when cooking in a vestibule due to the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning or fire, having a sheltered area to prepare meals can be invaluable in adverse weather conditions. To mitigate the risks associated with cooking in a vestibule, ensure the area is well-ventilated and follow proper safety precautions when using a stove or open flame.


Can You Cook Inside a Tent Vestibule?

The short answer is yes, you can cook inside a tent vestibule, but it should be done with extreme caution due to the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and potential fire hazards. To mitigate these risks, ensure the vestibule has lots of ventilation.

Are Vestibule Tents Expensive?

Vestibule tent prices differ significantly based on size, materials, and brand. Generally, tents with integrated vestibules are more expensive than those without, as higher-end brands typically design them. More affordable brands like Coleman often do not manufacture tents with vestibules, contributing to the price difference.

Can I Buy a Vestibule Separately?

Yes, you can buy an add-on vestibule separately for specific tent models. Verify that the vestibule is compatible with your particular tent before purchasing.

Can I Make My Own Tent Vestibule?

It is possible to create a DIY tent vestibule using tarps, guylines, and poles, but this option may provide a different level of protection, convenience, and integration than a commercially produced vestibule. If you create your own, ensure it is securely fastened and adequately ventilated.

Is a Tent Vestibule Necessary?

A tent vestibule is only sometimes necessary, but it offers numerous advantages, such as added weather protection, storage space, and a separate area for cooking. For those who camp frequently or in varying weather conditions, a vestibule can significantly improve the camping experience. Ultimately, deciding to use a tent vestibule depends on individual preferences and camping needs.


In conclusion, tent vestibules are a valuable addition to any camping setup, and can be one of the key metrics in a backpacking tent‘s quality and features. Vestibules offer numerous advantages to enhance the overall camping experience, and can serve as serve as mudrooms, storage areas, weather protection, and even cooking spaces, providing campers greater comfort and convenience. Having a tent with a vestibule can significantly improve your outdoor adventures, and by understanding the different types of vestibules and their benefits, you can select the most suitable option for your specific camping needs.


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