Best Blackout Tents For Cool Days and Restful Nights

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Just because the sun is up doesn’t mean you have to be. The best blackout tents keep it dark and cool so you can sleep in as late as you want.
Best Blackout Tents - Introduction
The Coleman Rocky Mountain 5 Plus: Our choice for the best blackout tent overall.

You know the feeling: The sun is up, the birds are chirping, and it’s looking like a beautiful day outside. That’s all good and well, but all you want right now is two more hours of sleep. 

Maybe you stayed up too late hanging around the fire… Maybe a late-night storm kept you awake until the wee hours… Whatever your reason, the best blackout tents are made to keep your sleeping area as dark and cozy as possible so you can get all the rest you need. 

We went looking for the best blackout shelter on the market, and after testing and analyzing dozens of tents, we found that the Coleman Rocky Mountain 5 Plus is the sweetest sleeping quarters money can buy. It’s spacious, packed with luxurious features (like a full-sized living room), and delivers the darkest sleeping area we’ve ever seen. 

Of course the Rocky Mountain won’t be everyone’s first choice, and there are plenty of good reasons for that. Some folks need something a bit more compact, others just want a tent that’s as easy to pitch as possible… Whatever your reason, we’ve also included our other favorite alternatives in the list below from budget-friendly domes to expansive instant cabins. 

You’ll notice that this particular roundup is pretty well saturated in Coleman tents, and there’s a good reason for that too. Coleman essentially pioneered the blackout technology we all know and love today, and while a few new brands and models are slowly emerging with their own take on dark tents, the overwhelming majority of field-tested options on the market are still made by Coleman. 

New to this whole “blackout tent” thing? We’ve got you covered with a handy buyer’s guide down at the bottom of the article, where we explain all the most important features that make these unique tents worth having. 

Ready to hit the snooze button? Let’s get started.

TentSummary
Coleman Rocky Mountain 5 Plus: Best Blackout Tent OverallA unique tunnel tent with a clip-in sleeping area that delivers the darkest bedroom we’ve ever seen in a tent. A spacious living room with rain-friendly windows adds outstanding livability. See Review
Bushnell Shield 9: Highest Overall QualityA rugged tent built with durable materials and outstanding weather protection. Reflective technology delivers a cool and dark interior without impacting ventilation or livability. See Review
Coleman Skydome Darkroom 4: Best On A BudgetA classic 4-person dome with above-average shoulder space at an outstanding price. Doublewall blackout technology preserves ventilation even when fully zipped up. See Review
Coleman Fast Pitch Dome 6: Best Blackout Tent With A Screen RoomCombines the cozy interior of a doublewall blackout tent with a large bug-proof screen room for daytime leisure. A plus sized tent that won’t break the bank. See Review
Coleman Camp Burst 4PUnique hexagonal design looks sweet and delivers 360-degree views on sunny days. Instant tent pole system goes up in under two minutes, fly and all. See Review
Coleman Darkroom Instant CabinA massive family camping tent for large groups who value their beauty sleep. Instant cabin construction means this large tent can be pitched solo. See Review

Best Blackout Tents

Coleman Rocky Mountain 5 Plus: Best Blackout Tent Overall

Best Blackout Tents - Coleman Rocky Mountain 5 Plus

Specs:
– Weight: 37 lbs (16.8kg)
– Packed size: 28” x 13” x 12” (70cm x 32cm x 30cm)
– Floor size: 189” x 122” (480cm x 310cm)
– Peak height: 76” (195 cm) 
– Number of compartments: 3
– Occupancy: 5
– Shape: Tunnel
– Best for: Three-season car camping
– Price: $$$

How many tents come with their own living room? We find it’s best to think of the Coleman Rocky Mountain 5 Plus as the epitome of blackout tent luxury. 

In the back, you’ve got room to sleep five, plus an internal divider that splits the sleeping quarters into two separate bedrooms. Up front, you’ve got a spacious hang-out area with room for a table, chairs, or anything else you might want to store from mountain bikes to kayaks. That living room also comes with its own clear vinyl windows (ideal for rainy day views), as well as a pole-supported awning for dry entry and exit from the front door. 

Speaking of doors, we also love that Coleman gave the Rocky Mountain 5 one of the tallest doors we’ve seen in a tent, which is just as tall as the stand-up height ceilings at a whopping 76-inches. 

As for the blackout feature, the Rocky Mountain 5 boasts our favorite system on the market. The back bedroom section can be clipped in and out of the tent, and every inch of it is treated with black paneling for a near pitch-black sleeping experience. Coleman also doubles up on the darkness by adding a second layer of black fabric to the rear of the tent, giving the sleeping quarters a double-wall effect that cuts down on condensation. Outside the sleeping area, however, the Rocky Mountain is bright and airy, giving you the best of both worlds for bedtime and lunchtime alike. 

Our main gripe with this tent is ventilation: Because the Rocky Mountain’s four main windows are vinyl rather than mesh, airflow is limited to the large mesh front door, and a smaller mesh window at the rear of the tent. Coleman adds a set of covered vents near the floor of the living area, but the Rocky Mountain still gets stuffy any time you have to zip it up for rain. Our other issue here is price, as this is an awfully expensive tent, especially for a Coleman. In terms of darkness and outright livability, however, this tunnel-style tent is tough to beat, and delivers on the luxury camping experience without equal. 

Pros:Cons:
– Tunnel-style design delivers excellent headroom and interior space
– Best blackout setup on the market
– Living room area with rain-safe windows
– Needs more ventilation
– Expensive



Bushnell Shield 9: Highest Overall Quality 

Best Blackout Tents - Bushnell Shield 9

Specs:
– Weight: 44lbs (20 kg)
– Packed size: 42” x 24” x 24” (106cm x 61cm x 61cm)
– Floor size: 180” x 108” (457cm x 274cm)
– Peak height: 78” (198cm)
– Number of compartments: 2
– Occupancy: 9 (6 and 12-person models also available)
– Shape: Cabin
– Best for: Three-season car camping
– Price: $$$

The Bushnell Shield takes a unique approach to keep your tent dark and cool: Rather than using opaque black panels inside the tent, Bushnell uses a special silver coating on the inside of the rainfly to reflect the sun’s rays away from the tent. 

This approach has a few advantages. First, unlike the thin black coatings found inside most blackout tents, the Shield’s metallic fabric isn’t prone to wearing away over time and losing its effectiveness. Second, because the sun’s rays are being reflected rather than absorbed, the Shield tends to run a few degrees cooler than its traditional blackout counterparts. 

We’re also big fans of the Shield for its spacious and versatile interior. The Shield sports a massive floorplan and standup height ceilings with an included room divider, but because it doesn’t have to rely on dark panels to stay cool, it also includes a ton of mesh in the windows and ceilings. This allows campers to have a dark and cozy sleeping space when they want it, or a bright and airy shelter when they don’t. 

Our biggest concern with the Bushnell Shield is that while it has historically been an exceptionally well-built and reliable tent, a few customers have reported some quality control issues over the last year. For that reason we recommend setting up your tent and checking for any issues like imperfections in the floor, stitching, or frame as soon as you get it, just in case a return is warranted. We’ll also note that like most instant cabin tents this size, the Shield’s array of poles and hinges makes for a very large and bulky shelter when it’s packed away for storage or transportation.

Pros:Cons:
– Reflective tech keeps tent dark
– Runs cooler than black panel designs
– Tough materials and outstanding weather protection
– Rapid instant tent setup
– Bulky/heavy
– Small quality control issues reported by some campers
– Both doors on the same side of the tent



Coleman Skydome Darkroom 4: Best on a Budget

Best Blackout Tents - Coleman Skydome Darkroom 4

Specs:
– Weight: 11 lbs (5 kg)
– Packed size: 24” x 5” x 5” (61cm x 13cm x 13cm)
– Floor size: 96” x 84” (244cm x 213cm)
– Peak height: 55” (140cm)
– Number of compartments: 1
– Occupancy: 4 (6, 8, 10 person sizes also available)
– Shape: Dome
– Best for: Three-season car camping
– Price: $

The Skydome is one of Coleman’s most popular and beloved tents: It’s your classic four-person dome tent with the added bonus of near-vertical walls for added elbow room. What’s not to love?

The Skydome Darkroom version was an easy pick for our favorite blackout tent on a budget because it takes all the same features of the original (including the wildly affordable price), and adds in Coleman’s popular Darkroom tech for a darker and cooler interior on demand. That includes pre-attached poles at each corner for a quick and easy setup, ample storage pockets for organization including a gear loft, and plenty of room for a queen-sized mattress with room left over for stashing extra gear or a bed for your family pet. 

We also love the Skydome because unlike some of Coleman’s other popular blackout designs, this shelter uses double-wall construction, which splits the blackout duty between both the tent canopy and rainfly to keep the interior dark without hampering ventilation. This means the tent remains comfortable and condensation free even when battened down for a rainy day, which isn’t something we can say about some alternatives out there. 

As is the case with many budget tents, the main drawback of the Skydome Darkroom is that its budget-focused build doesn’t use the most robust materials. The poles are fiberglass, the stakes are thin, and the blackout treatment is sprayed on, so you’ll want to take extra care when pitching and transporting the Skydome to keep from damaging anything or wearing off the special blackout coating. We’ll also note that if you plan on using your Skydome in anything heavier than light rain, we highly recommend going over the non-taped seams with a bottle or two of seam sealer for peace of mind. 

Pros:Cons:
– Dark and cozy without sacrificing ventilation
– Quick and easy to pitch
– Fits a queen bed with room left over for extra gear
– Budget-focused build limits durability
– Needs a little help in the waterproofing department



Coleman Fast Pitch Dome 6P: Best Blackout Tent With A Screen Room 

Best Blackout Tents - Coleman Fast Pitch Dome 6P

Specs:
– Weight: 21.3 lbs (9.7 kg)
– Packed size: 27” x 10” x 10” (69cm x 25cm x 25cm)
– Floor size: 120” x 108” (305 cm x 274cm)
– Peak height: 68” (173cm)
– Number of compartments: 1
– Occupancy: 6 (4P also available)
– Shape: Dome
– Best for: Three-season car camping
– Price: $$

We’ve long been fans of tents with attached screen rooms, and if a sunny porch combined with a dark bedroom sounds like your idea of a good time, the Coleman Fast Pitch Dome may be your best bet. 

From the inside, much about the Fast Pitch Dome is your typical 6-person tent. You’ve got room for two queen-sized air mattresses, tall ceilings, and windows on all four walls. From the outside, however, there are a few special features that make this already affordable tent that much sweeter. 

Starting with the obvious, there’s the sizable front screen room, which packs plenty of space for storage and hangouts thanks to its 10 x 5 ft floor area. We also love that Coleman threw an extra pole into the frame of the Fast Pitch Dome, which creates awnings over each of the side windows, allowing campers to leave them wide open in light to moderate rain. 

As for the blackout tech, Coleman specs the Fast Pitch Dome with an internal “spray on” blackout treatment, as well as additional dark paneling on the inside surface of the rainfly. It’s not the darkest tent in our lineup by any stretch, but it’s still considerably cozier inside than a traditional camping tent.

Our main complaint with the Fast Pitch Dome is that while the screen room is a nice touch for fair-weather lounging, it’s almost completely exposed to rain. Granted, a sizeable awning stretches over the front door, which covers the basics for keeping your boots dry and the entry drip-free, but anything stored more than a foot from the door is going to get soaked in case of storm. Our other gripe here is that the Dome’s peak height is well under 6 feet, which is a bit of a bummer for a six-person model. Still, it’s an affordable way to get into a roomy blackout tent, and a great deal thanks to the added livability of the screen room.

Pros:Cons:
– Spacious screen room for storage and lounging
– Solid ventilation
– Rain-friendly window awnings
– Not quite standup height
– Minimal weather protection in screen room
– Fiberglass poles



Coleman Camp Burst 4-Person Tent

Best Blackout Tents - Coleman Camp Burst

Specs:
– Weight: 15.2 lbs (6.9 kg)
– Packed size: 34” x 9” x 9” (86cm x 23cm x 23m)
– Floor size: 115” x 98” (292cm x 249cm)
– Peak height: 52” (132cm)
– Number of compartments: 1
– Occupancy: 4
– Shape: Hexagonal dome
– Best for: Three-season car camping
– Price: $$

Who wouldn’t want to sleep in a tent shaped like a lunar lander? We can only assume that was Coleman’s thought process when they designed the Camp Burst Dark Room, a unique hexagonal-shaped tent that looks like it’s ready to blast off into space, but is also right at home in your favorite campground. 

Cool looks aren’t the only thing that caught our eye with the Camp Burst though: This four-person camping tent also happens to be one of the quickest pitching designs on the market thanks to its “umbrella style” instant tent design, which goes from the bag to completely deployed in under two minutes, rainfly and all. 

We love that the Camp Burst is properly dark when you want it thanks to Coleman’s single-wall dark room technology, but also delivers on the views when you’re craving a little sunlight and fresh air. In fact the Camp Burst sports a window on each of its six walls, delivering fun 360-degree views when fully unzipped. 

All things considered, it’s a cool little tent for four to cozy up in or for two to share with room to spread out, but the Camp Blast wouldn’t be our first pick in bad weather. That’s because its single-wall design (the rainfly is little more than a hat on top of the roof) puts a lot of responsibility on the Camp Blast’s windows, and with six windows in total, there are one too many places potential leaks could break through for peace of mind. We’ll also note that the single-wall design dramatically limits ventilation inside the tent (especially when it’s raining and the windows can’t be used), and although Coleman equipped the Camp Blast with a set of ground vents to help with airflow, a warm rainy day is all but guaranteed to be this shelter’s kryptonite. 

Pros:Cons:
– Quick and easy pop-up tent design
– 360-degree views on clear days
– Queen-size mattress compatible
– Single-wall design limits ventilation
– Low peak height
– Questionable weather protection



Coleman Darkroom Instant Cabin

Best Blackout Tents - Coleman Darkroom Instant Cabin

Specs:
– Weight: 44.6 lbs (20.2 kg)
– Packed size: 48” x 11” x 11” (122cm x 28cm x 28cm)
– Floor size: 168” x 120” (427cm x 304cm)
– Peak height: 79” (201cm)
– Number of compartments: 2
– Occupancy: 10 (6 person also available)
– Shape: Cabin
– Best for: Three-season car camping
– Price: $$

Prefer your blackout tents super-sized? Give the Coleman Darkroom Instant Cabin a look. 

We love the Darkroom because it nails the essential “big tent” floor plan: Two rooms, two doors, and room for three queen-sized air mattresses to boot: It’s safe to say that neither space nor privacy will be an issue with this shelter. 

We also appreciate that Coleman went all out with the overall height of the Darkroom Cabin. With a peak height of over six and a half feet, 99.9% of campers will be able to stand, walk, run, and jump around anywhere inside the shelter without issue. Setup is another highlight here, and as the name suggests, the Darkroom Instant Cabin uses an instant tent design with pre-attached poles for quick and easy pitching. 

As far as the blackout tech goes, the Darkroom Cabin uses black interior panels along the walls and windows, which are extremely effective day and night. Ventilation is pretty solid thanks to its all-mesh roof, and each of the doors and windows can be unzipped for extra airflow if you don’t mind letting some extra light into the tent. 

In terms of drawbacks, our biggest complaint here is the minimalist rainfly, which covers the all-mesh roof and not much else. This means water is free to roll off the roof and down over the windows and seams along the bathtub floor, so we recommend going around the tent with a few bottles of seam sealer to properly waterproof any untaped seams you find. We’ll also note that despite the Darkroom Instant Cabin’s massive size, there are only two hilariously small storage pockets built into the interior of the shelter…

Pros:Cons:
– Massive two-room floor plan
– Stand-up height ceilings
– Instant tent construction for easy setup
– Minimal rainfly coverage
– Only 2 pockets inside the tent



Buyer’s Guide to the Best Blackout Tents

Each tent we include on our roundup of the best blackout tents goes through the same vetting process to ensure it’s worth buying in the first place. Whether you’re considering one of the tents on the list above or another model we didn’t include, these are the metrics we recommend considering when purchasing one of these unique shelters. 

Blackout Capabilities

Most blackout tents use one of two approaches to achieve that nice, dark sleeping space you’re looking for: Reflective panels, and black panels. Both get the job done, but you’ll want to be aware of the pros/cons of each before making a decision. 

Reflective panels work by using a metallic inner layer to reflect the sun’s rays. This makes for a tent that’s much darker inside than a traditional shelter, while also keeping the interior of the tent much cooler on hot days. Reflective tents typically aren’t as dark as black panel tents, however, so if you’re looking to sleep in well past sunrise, you’ll want to keep that in mind.

Best Blackout Tents - Blackout Capabilities
How dark do you want it? Coleman’s Darkroom technology is tough to beat when sunlight is the enemy. 

Black panels, on the other hand, use a simpler method: By adding an opaque black layer to the inside of the tent, they prevent any light from coming through the fabric entirely. Black layers create a much darker sleeping area than their reflective cousins, but they also come with a drawback: Heat. 

Because black fabric absorbs the sun’s heat rather than reflecting it, the interior of a black panel tent will run considerably hotter than a comparable reflective model. It’s still several degrees cooler than a traditional tent, but something you’ll want to keep in mind for late spring and summer outings. 

Space and Comfort

Despite their unique features, we look at the space and comfort of a blackout tent the same as any other camping tent: We want as much as possible. 

Best Blackout Tents - Space and Comfort
Big cabin tents like this Bushnell Shield have comfort in spades with tall doors, multiple rooms, and stand-up height ceilings.

You’ll notice all of the tents above are sized according to the number of people they can fit, but chances are you’ll want something much larger than a four-person tent if you’re sleeping four campers. That’s because tents are rated according to the maximum number of sleepers they can accommodate, which means the maximum number of people sleeping on the ground in sleeping bags. 

Car camping often means enjoying an extra-large sleeping pad or even a large air mattress, so you’ll want to take your ideal sleeping arrangement into consideration when choosing a size. We generally recommend buying a tent at least two sizes larger than the number of sleepers you’ll have inside, so a couple would want a four-person tent, a family of four would want a six-person tent, and so on. 

We’ll also note that peak height is an important measurement to take into account here. The best blackout tents feature “standup height ceilings,” which means the highest point in the roof is six feet or higher. Keep in mind that the roofs of most tents tend to taper down as you get closer to the walls though, so when in doubt, go for the tallest tent you can find. 

Ventilation

Ventilation refers to how well a tent vents hot air out of the interior, as well as how effectively it cycles fresh air into the shelter from outside. This metric is particularly important for black panel tents which, as noted above, have a tendency to run a few degrees hotter in warm weather.

Best Blackout Tents - Ventilation
Double-wall tents with integrated vents like this one tend to breathe better than their single-wall counterparts.

So why do black panel tents run hotter? Simple: The more mesh they use, the more light they allow inside the tent. Sure, most blackout tents include two-layer mesh windows so you can crank up the airflow as needed, but because the treatment is typically on the inner surface of the canopy rather than the rainfly, leaving a window open overnight defeats the purpose of buying a blackout tent in the first place come morning. 

For this reason, we prefer to see black panel tents that use the dark treatment on the rainfly, whether it’s applied to the rainfly only, or both the fly and the canopy. This configuration allows for a “best of both worlds” approach for maximum darkness and maximum comfort, but these models are also unfortunately the rarest of the lot.

Weather Resistance

There are no special considerations for blackout tents when it comes to weather resistance, which means we look for the same things in these unique shelters that we would in any other. That means full-length rainflys, fully-taped/sealed seams, tall bathtub style floors, and sturdy frames all earn bonus points in our evaluations.

Best Blackout Tents - Weather Resistance
Full coverage rainflys like this one seen on the REI Base Camp 4 provide the best rain protection possible.

Unfortunately most blackout tent designs are made with an eye toward budget-friendliness rather than outright quality, which means the majority of them use comparatively simple fiberglass poles rather than tougher aluminum or carbon composite designs. Fiberglass isn’t necessarily a dealbreaker, we just recommend you pay close attention to the thickness of the poles. When in doubt, go with the thickest you can find. 

Ease of Set-up

All blackout tents we’ve seen to date come in one of two setup styles: Traditional collapsible poles, or “instant cabin” style poles which are permanently attached to the tent. Both have their pros and cons, so let’s touch on each briefly.

Best Blackout Tents - Ease of Setup
Instant tent setups like this one seen on the Coleman Camp Burst can be deployed in just a few short minutes.

Traditional collapsible poles are what most of us grew up with, and while they’re familiar and uncomplicated, they do take a bit longer to unfold, lay out, and attach to the body of a tent. The easiest collapsible pole tents to pitch are those with a “clip-in” style canopy, which allows the main body of the tent to be simply clipped into the frame from underneath rather than run through a series of snag-prone sleeves. 

Instant cabin tents, on the other hand, simply can’t be beaten for their simplicity. Just pull the tent out of the bag, unfold it, and you’re ready to relax. The main drawback with these designs is that despite their unequaled convenience, they typically don’t last as long as traditional designs as there are more potential points of failure (plastic hubs, hinges, etc) inherent in their designs. 

Durability

Like all camping tents, the durability of a blackout tent typically comes down to two main factors: Fabric quality and pole quality. 

Fabric quality refers to the thickness of a tent’s various fabrics, and we look at fabrics in the canopy, rainfly, and tent floor to gauge a tent’s predicted longevity. Thicker fabrics (those with higher denier or “D” ratings) almost always hold up better to weather and abrasion than thinner ones, so we recommend opting for the thickest fabric available whenever possible. 

Best Blackout Tents - Durability
Tents with thicker fabrics like the Bushnell Shield 9 weigh a bit more, but they also hold up better to high traffic and heavy use.

As for tent poles, again we prefer to see frames made entirely from metal. Aluminum is your best bet here, especially if your tent of choice includes name-brand poles from a reputable brand like DAC. Painted or powder-coated steel is another popular option, as it provides similar durability at a lower price. 

As noted above, unfortunately the vast majority of tents in this genre come equipped with fiberglass poles, which we’ve historically found to be easier to break and less likely to hold up to strong winds. Again, if you’re going to buy a tent with fiberglass poles, we recommend looking for the thickest (largest diameter) poles you can find for peace of mind. 

Weight and Packed Size

Pretty much all blackout tents are car camping tents, which means you won’t be looking to hike them into the backcountry for overnight stays. For this reason, weight and packed size aren’t particularly important, but you shouldn’t dismiss them entirely either.

Best Blackout Tents - Weight and Packed Size
Traditional collapsible pole tents like the Coleman Fast Pitch Dome seen here deliver spacious sleeping quarters without undue weight or bulk.

That’s because if you’re planning on going car camping, your tent has to fit into your car in the first place. This is rarely an issue for trucks, vans, or most SUVs, but we recommend comparing the packed size of a tent with the space in your vehicle to ensure your shelter is a good fit. We’ll also note that you’ll have to store your blackout tent when not in use, so if you’re living in a smaller space like an apartment, make sure you’ve got enough room around the house to store it. 

The Wise Adventurer’s Verdict…

Best Blackout Tents - TWA Verdict
The Coleman Rocky Mountain 5 takes top honors as the best blackout tent overall.

For all the metrics listed above, we found the Coleman Rocky Mountain 5 Plus to be the best blackout tent overall. Dark and cozy where you want it, light and airy where you don’t, this tent truly does it all and boasts outstanding livability to boot. 

In terms of outright quality and durability, we recommend the Bushnell Shield series of instant cabin tents. Their materials are super durable, they’re easy to pitch, and their reflective technology delivers on the darkness while keeping the tent impressively cool. 

Both of those tents are a bit of an investment, of course, so if you’re looking for a reliable tent at an affordable price, look no further than the Coleman Skydome Darkroom. Simple, effective, and surprisingly spacious, the Skydome delivers the goods for well under $200. 

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