What is a Tent Vestibule?
Hilleberg Akto Side Vestibule has plenty of gear storage space, but does not block the tent entrance.
Type of Tent Vestibules
There are two types of tent vestibules: front vestibules and side vestibules. Most vestibules are floorless and rely on the structure of your tent to hold them up.
Front vestibules cover the front door of a tent. While they’re often built into the tent body, some tents have add-on vestibules that you can bring on trips where bad weather is expected, like in winter. Front vestibules can be quite large, which means you can store a lot of gear out of the weather. This is desirable if the inside of your shelter is small or if you have bulky gear that requires extra rain protection like a bicycle. They also act like a covered porch in rain, so you can carefully cook under them.
Gear stored in a front vestibule blocks easy entrance and exit for both occupants in this 2 person HMG Echo II tent.
Side tent vestibules
Side vestibules are usually wide enough that you can easily get in out of your tent by storing your gear on one half, while using the other as a door. Many one person tents like MSR’s Hubba NX Solo 1 and Gossamer Gear’s The One have wide side vestibules for this reason.
The-two side vestibules on the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 are wide enough for gear storage and use as doors.
If you have a two person tent, it’s desirable to have two doors like the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 2 or the REI Quarter Dome 2, each with their own vestibule for gear storage. The doors on these tents are usually oriented so that it is easy to get in and out of the side vestibules, even if gear is stored in them.
Is a Tent Vestibule Necessary?
Tent vestibules are not strictly necessary and some tents, like the Black Diamond Firstlight and the Mountain Hardwear Direkt2 don’t have built-in ones (although you can buy add-on vestibules for both). On the flip side. Vestibules can really improve the livability of a tent in bad weather. But whether you buy a tent with a vestibule or not really depends on whether you are willing to carry the extra weight.