If you’re on the market for a new tent, I’m sure you’ll have no troubles finding tents in any color that you can think of.
But so many options to pick from, that begs the question: Does it really matter what tent color you choose?
Yes, it does matter. If for a second, you don’t pay attention to the way it looks, you’ll see that tent colors have some functional purposes, with some of the most important ones like:
- The amount of light that gets blocked;
- How good they reflect or absorb heat;
- How well you blend in with nature and what chances you have to be spotted in case of an emergency;
- The ability not to attract critters.
Tent colors and heat/temperatures
Colors behave differently when exposed to sunlight. Therefore, specific colors will reflect light better than others, while some can reflect no light at all. After all, light is pure energy that gets “stored” as heat, and this can have a direct impact on how hot your tent can get on a scorching day. Or how warm it will get during freezing winter days.
Bright colored tents
If your goal is to keep your tent as cool as possible, then brighter colors are the way to go. Here’s a good bright tent from Coleman. Ideally, for total reflection, you’ll want a white tent; this non-color will reflect all wavelengths of light, absorbing the least heat.
A red tent, on the other hand, will reflect everything but the red spectrum, and the red spectrum does carry substantial energy.
Dark colored tents
You should really choose these colors for cold seasons camping (find out what else works for cold seasons).
A black tent will absorb all the light along with all the energy that’s carried by it. The result? A warmer tent during a cold winter day. That, if you’re lucky enough even to get sunshine.
In descending order, the colors that absorb the most heat are: black, violet, indigo, blue, green, yellow, orange and red.
Blending in with the environment
For most of us, the sole purpose of a camping trip is to blend in with nature and leave little to no footprint at all.
Then, your main purpose will be to match the colors of the landscape. For example, for mountain and forest areas, you can go with a dark green color for your tent. If you are camping in the desert, a brown tent will be the best choice.
For campsites were thousands of people are camping, there’s really no best color. No matter what I will say, somebody will always bring a pink tent.
Camouflaging will also help those people that don’t want to get noticed.
Uninvited guests and what colors do they like
Remember, you’re sharing the wilderness with other creatures, and not all of them will like you. In fact, some may find bright colors to be very appealing.
Bears: There is little evidence to suggest that a vivid color tent can attract bears. They can indeed distinguish between shades of colors, but this is not the main reason why a bear would want to wander around your campsite. It’s mainly the smell of food and movement that will attract them. But, if you want to be 100% safe, take a look at this bear repellent.
Birds: Yes, they are attracted to bright colors, but we’re talking about small birds that cannot harm you or your tent. It’s unlikely that an eagle will ever be interested in attacking your tent. If you’re camping on the beach, it’s proven that seagulls are attracted by green and shiny things, and can cause some damage to your tent.
Bugs: A brightly colored tent will always attract all sorts of bugs, and they can be very annoying. Mosquitoes, on the other hand, will only be interested in dark colors. Here’s a guide that I wrote on how to deal with mosquitoes when camping.
Find the campsite if you get lost
Now, ideally, the color of the tent should be the last thing to help you go back to camp if get lost. There are better ways to find your way back.
But for the sake of this article, let’s pretend that an orange tent will be visible from miles away. But that’s only during the day.
Not to say that if you’re in a heavily forested area, your tent can be any color, you’re not going to see it.
The only situation that I find helpful to have a bright color tent, is if you need to be found by the emergency services. Yes, it will be much easier to find your campsite from the helicopter this way.
Be aware of hunting sites
Ideally, you would stay away from hunting sites. But if you are a hunter yourself, I’m sure you can’t do that.
You already know that you need to wear orange vests for hunting, so it might be clever to pick a tent with an appropriate color (check this one out on Amazon). Don’t worry; the game won’t run away if you have an orange tent. But you might get shot if you have a dark green shelter.
Beach camping and UV radiation
The UV radiation is a massive problem for people who are camping on a beach. Besides wearing the appropriate protection creams, you might find that your tent can actually help you if it has the right color.
There was always a debate about the ability of colors to block or absorb ultraviolet radiation. A study made for the cloth companies revealed that dark shades of blue are the most effective against UV, while yellow shades will offer the least protection.
So, if beach camping is all that you do, look for tents with dark and intense colors (check out a good example from Coleman). But don’t rely solely on your shelter for protection.
Tent colors for those who want to sleep late
If 6 AM is not the time you want to wake up when camping, then you need a tent that can block the light.
Of course, black will be the best light blocker, but that will create other problems if it’s a hot morning. You might turn your tent into an oven. But, if you can’t afford a tent that’s designed to block sunlight (with thick fabric), going for a dark-colored tent is not a bad idea.
It’s a fact that some colors can be very depressive, and that not what you want on a camping trip. You should enjoy your time off as much as possible.
Here are some tent colors that can affect your mood:
- grey – for sad people
- yellow – you’ll be happier than ever
- blue – the favorite color for healthy people
Can you change the color of your tent?
Yes, you can probably paint any fabric in any color, but is it really worth it? By painting a tent, you will most likely destroy every layer of waterproofing, and you’ll most likely damage the material if you use cheap paint.
So if you made a wrong decision and picked a color that you don’t like, buy another tent. If it’s a cheap tent, it’s probably a better deal than paying for that fabric paint and recoating sprays.
What if you own an expensive piece of gear? I think that spending 40 dollars on a different color rainfly can help you get the job done.
I hope this article gave you some ideas when it comes to picking the right tent color. But let me give you a last piece of advice: in the end, choose the color you like (unless it’s pink). Why do I say this? Well, because no matter what you will pick, there’s always going to be a problem with it; there is no color that will sort out all the difficulties.