The White Duck Avalon Bell Tent
– Price: $1550
– Weight: 125 lbs (56.7 kg)
– Floor size: 197” x 197” (500cm x 500cm)
– Peak height: 118” (300 cm)
– Number of compartments: 1
– Capacities: 8 person (6, 10, and 12 person also available)
– Shape: Bell
– What we like: Spacious, feature-rich, versatile, great for tent stoves
– What we don’t: Heavy/big, expensive
The Wise Adventurer’s Verdict
This is our test and review of the White Duck Avalon Canvas Bell Tent, a tough-as-nails shelter that delivers durability and luxury in equal measure.
White Duck markets the Avalon as their most premium canvas tent offering, and as such, they don’t skimp on any of the premium features we look for in a good bell tent. That includes 360-degree views, the heavy-duty feel and warmth of thick cotton canvas walls, and (of course), the ideal layout for use with a wood-burning stove.
We took full advantage of this tent’s luxurious interior space on a recent weekend camping trip, and came away thoroughly impressed. Tents like this are exactly what we imagine when we think of an old-school canvas shelter. Having recently wrapped up an extensive field test of traditional camping tents, we were blown away by the rugged quality of this tent’s materials compared to standard polyester or nylon.
Although this isn’t your typical camping tent, we applied the same firsthand approach and methodology to the White Duck Avalon that we use for all our tent reviews. If you’d like to know more about our process, you can read all about it here.
Alright, let’s dive into the details of the White Duck Avalon!
We took the White Duck Avalon to our favorite hidden gem of a camping spot for a long weekend of winter testing. Conditions were below freezing but mostly sunny, with light snow and wind scattered throughout the day and night. Over the course of the weekend, we took detailed notes on everything from the quality of the tent’s materials to how it handled moisture and precipitation, and were overall extremely impressed with this shelter. Here’s our take on the Avalon:
Space and Comfort
Space and comfort are a major selling point of any tent this large, and bell tents score particularly high in this regard thanks to the outrageous level of headspace their vaulted ceilings provide. Our White Duck Avalon test tent measured roughly 16.5 feet from wall to wall with nearly 10-foot high ceilings at its peak, and living inside one feels nothing short of luxurious.
Our setup included four campers arranged in two queen-sized sleeping areas, as well as a living room/dining room set for four and a large wood-burning tent stove. Our testers noted that the large open layout of the Avalon allowed for easy arrangement of all these accessories, and still left plenty of room available to walk around the tent and store extra gear without ever feeling cluttered.
From a comfort perspective, we were able to keep the interior of the tent a full 36 degrees (F) warmer than the outside conditions, by taking advantage of the Avalon’s high-quality stove jack with our wood-burning stove. This truly makes the Avalon one of the best tents with stove jack we’ve ever tested. Thanks to the plethora of bug-mesh-backed windows surrounding the walls of the tent, it was also easy to dial in the right amount of ventilation whenever fresh air was needed.
Mornings inside the tent felt a bit humid, but we would chalk this up more to the ambient temperature difference inside/outside the shelter. Condensation was minimal, and while we have yet to test the Avalon in spring/summer conditions, our testers all felt that between the tent’s 10 windows and large mesh door, keeping the shelter comfortable in warmer weather wouldn’t be an issue.
The Avalon benefits from a whopping 11 guylines in total, all of which are made from thick polypropylene rope. Once properly tightened using Whilteduck’s burley metal tensioning hardware, you’re left with a seemingly impenetrable fortress, impervious to wind, rain, or snow.
We’ve spent some long stormy nights inside of canvas tents like these, and their ability to handle high winds is awe-inspiring. While we didn’t experience any serious wind during our testing weekend, we’re happy to report that the Avalon’s thick canvas shed moisture with ease, and we didn’t have a single drop make its way into the tent from the melting snow be it through the canopy or any of the tent’s numerous zippers.
We’ll also point out that one of the major benefits of bell tents like these is that their roof fabric overhangs the vertical walls by a good 5 inches or so. This creates an “awning effect” over the tent’s windows, allowing you to leave them open for ventilation during light rain or snow without worrying about moisture making its way into the tent.
Ease of Set-Up
All things considered, for a tent this size the Avalon is remarkably easy to set up. Simply lay the tent out on the ground, stake it into place, then raise the roof with the long center pole. Once the center pole is in position, you just go around securing and tensioning all of the guylines, and once the ropes are tight, you’re ready to go.
The process definitely takes a bit longer than a traditional synthetic tent with collapsible poles and a clip-in canopy, but in terms of overall difficulty, we would argue bell tents are about as straightforward as they come. The main difficulty with the Avalon is the amount of effort required to get the center pole in place, as the canvas material itself is tough (and heavy), and requires a fair amount of strength to erect. It’s a job any adult should be able to pull off on their own, but it can definitely get your blood pumping.
Our testers also gave high marks here to the White Duck Avalon’s stakes. Each tent comes with a set of gnarly galvanized steel stakes as well as a rubber mallet for driving them into the ground, and the combination of the two makes even the hardest terrain feel like butter. We clocked our first solo pitching attempt at about 30 minutes from start to finish (namely due to all the guylines), but with a little practice and/or a helping hand, it can be done much faster.
Another major selling point of canvas tents is durability, and while they’re considerably larger and heavier than their synthetic stablemates (more on that below), there’s simply no denying the outright longevity of their thick cotton fabric. The White Duck Avalon takes this concept a step further and employs the thickest materials available in the White Duck catalog, which adds an extra luxurious air to the shelter as a whole.
Our test tent sports 10.1 oz duck cotton canvas in the canopy, a notable upgrade from the 8.5 oz material found in White Duck’s more budget-friendly Regatta tent which we tested the Avalon alongside on our recent camping trip. It also gets an upgraded floor made entirely from 16 oz polyvinyl, which feels more like a high-quality lining of a swimming pool than it does the floor of a tent.
Double-reinforced stitching is used throughout the tent, and White Duck even uses quadruple stitching in high stress like the door pole support. Everywhere else it’s the same story: Waterproof zippers, galvanized steel hardware, and even heat-resistant silicone-coated fabric for the Avalon’s integrated stove jack.
Weight and Packed Size
If there’s one serious tradeoff you make when moving from polyester to cotton canvas, it’s weight and packed size. While every canvas tent we’ve used has been both larger and heavier than their comparably-sized synthetic cousins, the White Duck Avalon is big and heavy even by bell tent standards.
Our 16.5-foot test model tipped our scales at a jaw-dropping 125 lbs including the heavy steel stakes and poles. We found ourselves needing to separate the canopy and the hardware into multiple trips to get it to and from the car, but even the canopy alone was no featherweight at over 75 pounds.
We chalk this weight up largely to the Avalon’s incredibly thick (and therefore heavy) vinyl floor. Weight for this level of durability will be a tradeoff worth making for many campers, but just know you’ll have your work cut out for you when it’s time to load up the car.
Speaking of which, you’ll also want to be mindful of the Avalon’s outright bulk if you’re considering buying one yourself. The odds of this tent fitting in the trunk of your average sedan are slim to none, which means you’ll likely need a truck, van, suv, or at least a station wagon to haul this thing to the campsite and back.
With an MSRP of $1500, there’s no sugarcoating the fact that the White Duck Avalon is an expensive shelter, even compared to other canvas bell tent options. It’s worth noting that the other tent we tested alongside it, the White Duck Regatta, sports similar interior space and shares many of the same features, yet costs about $500 less. With that being said, we found some major differences between the two models that make a strong argument for the Avalon’s extra investment.
The first is the overall thickness of materials, which as we mentioned above, includes both a thicker canvas in the canopy and a much thicker vinyl flooring. Considering the floors of tents like these (which are often subjected to high traffic and abrasion from the use of furniture) are a major wear item, added durability/longevity is a big part of what you’re paying for here.
Speaking of the floor, we’ll also note that the Avalon’s vinyl floor features a full 360-degree zipper, allowing it to be removed from the rest of the tent entirely. This makes for much easier cleaning of both the floor and canopy, and also allows the Avalon to be converted into a wall-less canopy that’s ideal for springtime picnics or some extra shade at the beach on a hot summer day.
The other main difference between the Avalon and other budget-focused models like the Regatta is the windows. The Avalon sports a zippable mesh window of each of its 10 wall panels, which makes for better (and more adjustable) ventilation, as well as 360-degree views from inside the tent when desired.
Ultimately it’ll be up to the end user to decide whether these features are worth the extra spend, but we believe the added durability and versatility are worth the investment for those who will use the Avalon regularly. We’ll also note that if you really want to experience the more “luxurious” side of glamping, it’s extra features like these that make for a particularly special camping experience.
What We Like
While the White Duck Avalon is a serious investment, we found it’s one that delivers fully on the prototypical “glamping” experience. The Avalon has the kind of cavernous interior space that makes a proper bell tent feel special, and its abundance of windows keeps it well-lit and well-ventilated for an even more enjoyable stay.
Aside from the camping experience itself, we also found considerable value in the Avalon’s upgraded materials. All good cotton canvas tents are tough, but both the extra-thick 10 oz canvas canopy and utterly bulletproof vinyl flooring are a clear step in the right direction in terms of durability and longevity.
What We Don’t Like
Cost is the main barrier to entry with any canvas tent, and the White Duck Avalon is one of the more expensive options on the market. Granted, you’re getting an extra-durable shelter and a smattering of premium features like the extra windows and zip-out floor, but many campers will have a tough time justifying the extra cost with more affordable options like the White Duck Regatta on offer.
Our only other major complaint with the Avalon is weight. Those extra tough materials add 30-40 lbs of weight to the package compared to your typical canvas tent, which makes the Avalon more difficult to live with in terms of storage and transportation.
- White Duck Regatta: The same quality construction and interior space for less money, albeit with thinner materials and fewer premium features
- Teton Sports Sierra: Another high-quality and highly-durable option for even cheaper, but sacrifices the high-quality stove jack that comes on all White Duck bell tents
- White Duck Prota: The same durable canvas and steel construction, albeit in a cabin shaped design at a significantly more affordable pricepoint
The Bottom Line
Stepping up to a canvas tent is a big investment, and the White Duck Avalon is a bigger investment than most. With that being said, its bump in price comes with a serious bump in quality, both in terms of materials, construction, and features.
While there are other well-made options out there for significantly less money like White Duck’s own Regatta bell tent, the Avalon is an upgrade worth considering for those who can afford it. Yes, it’s expensive, but these tents are built to last a lifetime, and we believe the upgraded livability and durability of this shelter are worth buying for anyone planning to use their tent year round. The Avalon is also tough to beat for the luxurious feeling it delivers. Between the 360-degree views, convertible walls, and next-level quality of its materials, there’s simply no doubt that this is the quintessential “glamping tent” so many campers are searching for.
2 thoughts on “White Duck Avalon Bell Tent Review: Quality Meets Luxury”
that was a great review of the Avalon Bell Tent, a really great comparison and touched on all the items that I was hoping this review would include. I am going to purchase the 16.5 avalon bell and set it up on my deck which is right outside my kitchen area. Going to use it for a summer room (gets hot here) and also for my grandson to use for a month until he finds his new place to rent lol, (so he doesn’t have to sleep on the couch which he doesn’t like!).
Hey Michael, thanks so much for your comment! We’re happy to hear that you loved the review. Kurt and I truly loved testing this model, you can’t go wrong with it, and it will last a lifetime 🙂 The 16.5 is exactly the model you can see in the post here. I am personally a huge fan of the floor, which feels super premium! Should you wish to help us continue creating good content and keep the site ads-free, don’t hesitate to purchase after having clicked on one of the links to the brand or Amazon we provide in the post, we’ll get a small percentage, and it will be the same price for you 🙂 Kind regards, Thomas