If you are building an emergency kit for you or your family, it’s important to remember that shelter is one of the 3 most important keys to survival. For most people, you don’t need a bulky traditional tent. For most survival situations, tube tents are a better solution since they are usually inexpensive, ultra-light, and compact enough to fit in your pocket.
The 3 Best Tube Tents for Emergency Kits or Bug Out Bags:
- Go Time Gear Life Tent
- “Don’t Die in the Woods” Ultralight Tube Tent
- Mekkapro Emergency Survival Tent
Now let’s go through the main things to look for so you know both what to avoid and what the must-have features are.
Main Keys to Choosing a Tent
First off, tube tents are not designed to only be used for a few days and not over the long term. If you feel you may be stuck in the wilderness longer, you will want to carry something a bit more robust. For more info in that regard, be sure to check out my detailed review of the best tent brands for long-term survival.
What Tube Tents are For
Just think about a common survival scenario. Your car breaks down in a snowstorm miles and miles from the nearest town. Temperatures are dropping.
Cars are not insulated very well so you need something that can retain body heat really well. You don’t have time to spend 30 minutes to an hour setting up a traditional tent, even if it was possible in whiteout conditions.
You need something that can provide instant shelter and insulation. Enter the tube tent.
Which types to avoid
I suggest that you avoid cheap mylar “tents” that look like this one:
They really are only good to keep the rain off you and/or use as an emergency “space” blanket.
Instead, I recommend getting a survival thermal sleeping bag, like this one by Grizzly Bear Emergency, to use in tandem with a more robust tube tent, like those I reviewed above.
Best types to get- The 2 most important factors to consider:
1. Is it lightweight easy to set up?
If I can’t fit the tent in my pocket or get it out and warming my body in less two minutes, I don’t want it.
2. Does it maximize protection against the elements?
It doesn’t need to be like sleeping at the Hilton, but it should serve its purpose: To keep the rain, sleet, or snow off me for a day or two while I build a better shelter or get rescued.
It Is What It Is
The main thing to keep in mind is to just view a tube tent as one of many tools. It’s not supposed to be a long term shelter but just help you get through a night or two alive. The harsh truth is that if you expect it to be your sole savior, you are not going to make it long out there.
Now that you have perspective and a basic understanding of what makes a great tube tent, let’s go through my favorite brands so that you can make an informed decision.
The Top Tube Tent Brands
My favorite company for tube tents. I really like how there is both a shiny and non-shiny side that is interchangeable. You have two color options, orange and green. Comes with 550lb paracord and a survival whistle.
Another quality brand. Honestly, these top two here are pretty close together in quality. You really can’t go wrong either way. I recommend the “Go Time Gear” model over this one simply just because it has better cordage and a whistle included. However, if you want to be more discreet, this one comes in army green or woodland camo. 425lb paracord included.
A quality budget option. If you are looking to buy multiple tents, this might be the way to go. However, for your main survival kit or bug-out bag, I’d go with option 1 or 2.
There are a number of contributing factors that go into making a great tent brand:
|Go Time Gear||“Don’t Die in the Woods”||Mekkapro|
|Set Up Size||96″x60″||96″x60″||96″x60″|
|Set Up Height||52″||52″||52″|
|Paracord Included?||Yes, 20′||Yes, 20′||No|
|Camo or Green Option?||Yes||Yes||No|
While this one might be a bit more “expensive” than some of the cheap brands, these are really still not that pricy. There’s no reason to skrimp when all tube tents are affordable. so might as well get the best made, right?
Manufactured with extra thick “HeatFlex” mylar that is a bit stronger and more flexible than normal mylar. While this may be the case, it does not really feel flexible. It will definitely not return to its original shape once stretched. So, take this “flex” business with a grain of salt.
The main thing to keep in mind when buying and mylar tube tent is that it is not designed to be durable or long-lasting. That’s not the point. The main reason these even exist is that they are ultra-lightweight and small and can easily fit in a survival kit. As far as tube tents go, I haven’t found another brand better than this one. ‘Nuff said.
Besides having a cool brand name, this model is not really any different to the Go Time Gear tent. I do, however, like that they offer a “camo” model. This is the main reason I actually choose this one for my personal bug-out bag.
Basically, it comes down to why you are buying this tent. If you are wanting to be noticed and rescued from a survival situation, then choose the Go Time Gear tent. It even comes with a survival whistle included.
However, if you are a competent survivalist and feel like you will be in the wilderness on your own terms, then I recommend the camo option of this brand. In my opinion, I only want to be seen if I want to be seen. Hard to do that with a bright orange tent.
Interesting fact: The manufacturers of this tent give half their profits to conservation charities.
Mekkapro is a great “bang for your buck” model that will be sufficient for 90% of people out there. It’s also a great option if you are looking to purchase multiple tents.
Key features of Mekkapro:
- Emergency orange color is standard on all tents.
- Only weighs 8.5oz.
- Paracord is not included. However, you can purchase some 750lb cord fairly inexpensively (Click to see Amazon listing).
What to avoid
I suggest that you avoid cheap mylar “tents” that look like this one:
They really are only good to keep the rain off you and/or use as a blanket.
Instead, I recommend getting a thermal sleeping bag, like this one by Grizzly Bear Emergency, to use in tandem with a more robust tube tent, like those I reviewed above.
The models I feature in my reviews above are 3-season models. If you are likely to be stuck in ultra-cold climates, you will want to invest in a 4-season option. Here are my recommendations:
Most Important Tube Tent Features to Look For
I have compared dozens of brands and did exhaustive research on the subject and want to help you make an informed decision. Here are a bunch of things that are important to look for when choosing an emergency survival tube tent.
If you have ever spent a night outdoors on a cold rainy or snowy night you will understand how important your shelter is. If you want to double your chances of staying warm and dry, I recommend also getting a tarp to work in tandem with your shelter. They are just too dang useful in the wild and should be in any survival kit.
My favorite one, by far, is the Free Soldier waterproof tarp (shown below).
Easy to Set Up
Not only do you want to buy a tent that easy to set up, you should go ahead and practice setting it up. Even if you have to buy an extra “test” tent to wear out in practice, it’ll be well worth the extra cost to gain experience. The last thing you want to do is be fumble fingers as the temperature drops or the rain starts coming down.
Expect Rips and Tears
Mylar tents are notorious for getting damaged or ripped easily, no matter how durable the manufacturer says they are.
Even the best tents can have seams get compromised under extreme conditions. Be proactive and bring some type of sealer to fix any holes. I recommend Coughlan’s Plastic Repair Kit.
Make sure your tube tent is at least 8′ long or else taller people will have issues. While this is the standard size for most tube tents, be sure to check the dimensions before buying.
Comfort is not really a consideration for these. They are meant to keep you dry and help with warmth, no be like staying at the Hilton. I recommend just getting a thermal sleeping bag as mentioned above.
There is limited room in your survival kit and you don’t want to overburden yourself. This is one of the great things about tube tents, they generally weigh less than 10 ounces.
Does Color Matter?
For Mylar, color does not really matter since most solar rays do not penetrate it. It’s more about whether you want to be noticed easily or not.
My advice is to get something double-sided. Bright on one side, discrete on the other. That way you can just flip it around to fit your current needs.
What If I Want a Lightweight Non-Mylar Emergency Tent?
If you decide you want a longer-term more robust traditional tent, I wrote a comprehensive article on the subject. Here are the cliff notes in case you are too busy to read the full article:
Best Family Tent: The Eureka! Midori
In my opinion, this is the best quality tent made that won’t break the bank.
Now let’s look at some 4-season options (great for cold climates).
For 1 person consider the Snugpak Ionsphere
My own personal favorite that will be in my BOB until they design a better model (Hard to do).
For 2 people the Eureka! High Camp tent.
This is a terrific option for high altitude expeditions. If your group is going up a mountain, you will want high quality. Look no further, the Eureka High Camp tent is specifically designed with mountaineers in mind. In fact, it was designed and tested by Eric Simonson.
For 3-4 people I highly recommend the Eureka! Assault Outfitter
This tent is based on a U.S. Marine Corps design and is specifically built to effectively keep rain, sleet, and snow out. The way I see it, if it’s good enough for our military, it’s good enough for me. It even comes in a sleek dark “emerald” to blend in nicely in forest environments.
Sure this tent is pricy… but this is you and your family’s survival we are talking about, right? The last thing you want to do is be cheap when it comes to dealing with ultra-cold climates.
Shelter is one of the 3 keys to survival when in the wild. No matter what your needs are, everyone should have a tube tent. Even if it is just backup, it’s good to have redundancies when it comes to survival.
The fact that you have read this review means that you are smart enough to understand the importance of a good tube tent for your survival kit. I hope this review has been helpful. Thanks for reading!