When outdoors for an extended period, shelter is the most important key to your quality of life. Flimsy cheap tents should be avoided at all costs. There really isn’t a reason to be a cheapskate on this front, since quality high-end tent brands are really not as expensive as you might imagine. Take my advice, spend the few extra bucks, and make an investment in you and your family’s security and comfort.
The 3 Best Tent Brands for Long Term Survival:
Now let’s go through the main things to look out for before buying so you know both what to avoid and what the must-have features are.
Main Keys to Choosing a Tent
The 3 most important factors to consider in a survival tent:
1. Does it fully protect against the elements?
Avoid cabin-style tents, walls too vertical making them vulnerable to inclement weather. Dome-style tents are much better. They are more aerodynamic.
2. Does it provide adequate comfort?
Things to think about:
- Is there enough room?
- Is it easy to get in and out of?
- Is there enough storage space?
- Is it appropriately warm/cool enough?
3. Is it lightweight, durable, and easy to set up?
In a survival situation, it is possible that you will be moving around often. Therefore, you will want a tent that is both easy to carry and relatively simple to set up. Also, all this setting and resetting up can take a toll, so durability is really important.
Now that you have a basic understanding of what makes a great survival tent, let’s go through my favorite brands so that you can make an informed decision.
The Top Long Term Survival Tent Brands
My favorite company for long term survival tents. I can’t stress enough how good this brand is. Let me save you the trouble of scouring through the internet. I am that confident about how good Eureka tents are.
Made in the USA, this brand is generally a little more expensive, but well worth the price tag. The great thing about this brand is that it has a reputation for quality built over many years. Their models also check off all the boxes on what I am looking for. I recommend the Midori line of tents, but they have other models as well that might suit you better.
A slightly less expensive high-quality brand. Mountainsmith is also made in the USA and comes in a close second for me. They also check all the boxes on what I am looking for in a tent. And, if you need a slightly larger size, this brand is the way to go. They have a few bigger options to choose from.
A quality budget option. Based on the price and overall versatility, this could very well be #1 on my list. The only reason I did not rate it higher was that it uses Fiberglass poles, generally less durable than aluminum. However, if it will not be heavily used, this is not really an issue.
There are a number of contributing factors that go into making a great tent brand. My recommendations fit all or almost all of them.
*There are no specific guyout loops, however, the rainfly covers the entire structure and adds extra support via its separate stakes.
The most expensive brand of the three. Eureka! is a US-based company that was founded in 1895. They have a long history of producing quality and dependable products.
Manufactured with polyester taffeta construction with weatherproof coatings (so you don’t have to seal it yourself). Their tents (Click to see them on Amazon) are designed to keep the weather out.
- The frame is made from “shock core” aluminum and built for heavy use and durability. There is a limited number of moving parts for quick and easy setup.
- Their 3 person tent has 44 square feet, Eureka! makes some of the roomiest tents around. I am over 6′ tall, 200 pounds and easily fit in their tents.
- There is a large vestibule with lots of storage space.
- While there are no camo options, the colors are generally natural and understated.
- The tent does amazingly well in rainy conditions. The guyout loops allow you to secure the tent against really windy conditions.
Interesting fact: George Mallory and Sir Edmund Hillary used Eureka tents on their expeditions to reach the top of Mt. Everest.
I really like the Mountainsmith designs. If you want good quality at a reasonable price, you really can’t go wrong with this brand. Setup typically takes less than 10 minutes for 1 person. You can’t beat that!
Brightest colors of all brands, however, the Morrison line has more subdued coloring. They pay a lot of attention to detail and have all of the features I like to see in a tent.
- Bathtub floor construction.
- Two doors.
- Adjustable guylines.
- Aluminum construction.
- Plenty of vestibule space.
NTK is a newer company, founded in 1975. The only non-US company. However, the founder was an Italian immigrant who settled in South America. This isn’t cheap equipment from overseas. They have rigorous quality standards or else this brand wouldn’t make my list.
The best part of NTK is the value. However, don’t let the price fool you, these tents are quality. I really like the design of the rainfly. If you are looking for a waterproof product, this brand is one of the best options.
Other key features of NTK:
- Easy Assembly.
- Micro mosquito mesh for extra protection from insects in tropical climates.
- Available in Camo if you want to keep the lowest profile possible. (I love this!) In fact, I am adding this model to my Christmas wishlist to go in my family BOB (bug-out bag).
What If I Will Be in Really Cold Weather?
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:
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 2 people, a budget alternative is the Mier 2-person tent
If the Eureka High Camp is way out of your budget, here is a nice alternative that is much less expensive. The quality is good but I would caution you to invest in a Eureka! if you are going to be headed into extreme conditions or high altitudes.
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.
Most Important 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 a tent.
If you have ever spent a night outdoors on a cold rainy or snowy night you will understand how important it is to not scrimp on your shelter. I recommend never having a tent that does not have a rainfly, extra protection on seams, and a bathtub bottom.
Also, if you know you will be in for heavy precipitation, go ahead and get an extra tarp to keep in your bag. In fact, I would never not have an extra tarp in my survival kit. They are just too dang useful in the wild. My favorite one, by far, is the Free Soldier waterproof tarp (shown below).
Take my advice, do not take a chance on having to deal with a wet night where the potential for rising water to get into your camp to happen. If you do not have a tent with a really good bathtub bottom, you are in for a miserable experience.
Do not compromise on this feature. I repeat, do not ever buy a tent without a bathtub bottom. If you spend enough time outdoors you will regret it. You have been warned.
Protect the Seams
Even the best tents can have seams get compromised under extreme conditions. Be proactive and pre-seal any seams on your tent. I recommend Gear Aid silicone sealant.
A rainfly is simply an additional layer over top of your tent that helps ensure that rainwater does not get into your tent during inclement weather. They come in all shapes and sizes, every tent should have one. Definitely don’t leave home without it.
For the most part, quality tents will have aluminum tent poles. Avoid cheap plastic but sometimes fiberglass is okay. Even so, aluminum is by far the superior choice for durability and ease of repair.
The nightmare scenario is to be hunkered down in the middle of the night during a storm and have your tent blow over or become compromised in some other way. Proper and robust staking of your tent could literally mean life or death in survival situations.
Make sure any tent you buy has “Guyout” loops on the outside to batten down the hatches in case of high winds. These are small loops along the outside of a tent that can be attached to for extra staking. Take advantage of them and overkill it when securing your home away from home.
When driving stakes into the ground, make sure you set them at a slight angle away from the structure. This will help lessen the chance that they can be pulled free during windy conditions. Quality stakes will typically be aluminum or titanium. I recommend keeping a handful of extras on hand just in case.
If you want to be extra sure things are secure, I recommend getting some guyline adjusters (Click to see Amazon listing) to help form things up even better.
Adequate Storage Space
If you have ever been away for an extended period you know you can never have too much storage space. While it’s not 100% necessary to have a huge amount of vestibule space, it certainly is a big bonus.
I recommend just looking at your individual needs and making sure there is at least some storage space. I prefer mesh pockets in order to allow certain items to dry out, when necessary.
Size, Shape, and Capacity
Make sure any tent you choose as at least 85 to 90 inch floor-length, especially if someone in the family or group is over 6′ tall.
Unless you have a specific reason not to, buy a bigger tent than you think you need to. Larger sizes really aren’t that much harder to set up but the extra room will be appreciated. Not only will you have more legroom at night, but the extra storage space is really nice. You can thank me later.
I also recommend getting a tent with a 2nd entrance and put that family or group member who is likely to have to get up and go to the bathroom in the middle of the night right next to it. I speak from experience having a daughter who can’t help but tank up on water right before bed. Trust me on this one.
If you are doing any hiking with the tent, avoid some of the heavier options.
My first tent was an absolute nightmare. The setup was so difficult we nearly abandoned our trip because of it. If it hadn’t of been for several other adults nearby to put their heads together and go through a proverbial Manhatten project to get the dang thing assembled, we would have jumped in the truck and threw up some gravel in frustration.
I didn’t include any cheap junk in this article. I highly recommend just spending a few more bucks and getting something that will last.
As previously discussed, the little bit of extra money you pay now for a quality tent will pay for itself multiple times over. Is it better to have a tent that lasts for years or replace that uncomfortable junk multiple times over the same period? Once again, aluminum over fiberglass, if possible. Stick to high-quality brands like the ones listed in this review.
And if you do ever have to replace zippers on either a tent or sleeping back, go with YKK zippers. They are the best I’ve seen.
Does Color Matter?
Besides security and stealth, the color of a tent is not that great of a concern. However, do keep in mind that darker colors tend to be warmer inside since they absorb more solar heat. This is great in cold climates but not idea in warm areas.
My advice is to get something that is just bright enough to not make you sweat but has enough earthy tones to give you some cover when you are in the wilderness. My top 3 recommended brands should fit the bill nicely.
Fits the Climate
As I discussed earlier, some tents are better suited for cold climates and some for warm tropical temperatures. In temperate or tropical areas, stick with 3-season tents. If the temperature has a chance of getting far below 0, go with one of the 4-season varieties.
A good rule of thumb is that if it can snow, go with fo (four).
Also, make sure the ventilation is adequate for warm climates. It’s another reason two doors is great. You can open them both during the day and get a nice cross breeze.
What about Tube Tents?
I only recommend using tube tents as a temporary shelter in an emergency. They are terrible for long-term use. However, they are amazing over the short-term while you set up a more permanent solution. I wrote an extensive article on what are the best tube tents for emergency kits, be sure to check it out.
Tips on bringing pets
Speaking of tube tents. If it’s an emergency, you will, of course, be bringing along the family pet(s). In that case, I recommend adding one more lightweight cheap tube “doghouse” emergency tents, such as the one made by Mekkapro.
They are super cheap, are light, and perfect for housing extra equipment or pets.
Shelter is one of the 3 keys to survival when in the wild. It doesn’t matter how much food or water you have, if you freeze to death all you are doing is adding to the stockpile of other survivors.
Good for them, bad for you.
The fact that you have read this review means that you are smart enough to understand the importance of a good tent for your survival kit. I hope this review has been helpful. Thanks for reading!