8 BEST Blackout Tents: Reflective vs. Black-Panels [2024]

An example of a best blackout tent pitched on the banks of a lake with an orange and blue sunrise in the background.

Published on: September 28, 2023

TL;DR: For the best blackout tent, we recommend the Quechua 2 Second Fresh & Black tent, which features four layers of blackout technology to block 99% of sunlight, sets up in seconds, has great ventilation, a 2000 mm PU-coated flysheet, and is very affordable. The zippers aren’t as durable and may become faulty with heavy use, but this tent still offers great value for the carefully zipping consumer.

I take the amount of sleep I get seriously, and  I have a hard time falling back to sleep once I’m awake. 

I especially don’t want a terrible night’s sleep to leave me groggy when backpacking or on a weekend car camping trip. 

One of my favorite camping weekends of the year ended up ruined because the sun kept waking me up earlier than I would have liked.

After this experience, I decided I needed to switch tents.– this time to a blackout tent. It only took one night camping in this tent, and I was hooked. 

The sleep I got in my new blackout tent was on another level. I had more energy for hiking, kayaking, and playing games. 

Finding the best dark room tent for camping can be stressful, but I’m here to help.

If you want to sleep better while camping or don’t like the sun in your tent, keep reading to find my picks for the best blackout tents.

Note: this article contains affiliate links, which help run this site at no extra cost to you so I can keep providing free travel advice and tips.

Two blond men holding tin mugs and sitting in the entrance to a dark-colored tent, with pine trees and mountains in the background.

Here’s a quick look at our recommendations

#1 Coleman Rocky Mountain 5

Best Blackout Tent for a Pack’ n’ Play

Product image for the Coleman Rocky Mountain 5 in green.

Weight: 37
Occupancy: 5
Price: $$$
Size: 28” x 13” x 12”

Does your family love camping on the weekends, but you’re missing some of the comforts of home? The Coleman Rocky Mountain 5 is the perfect blackout tent for that occasion!

The Rocky Mountain 5 is unlike any tent I’ve ever used. First and foremost, it comes with a built-in living room.

There’s a room divider between the living room and the sleeping area.

Not only this but the sleeping room is also split up into two sections, which is perfect for separating a kids and adults section! 

I like using the Coleman Rocky Mountain 5 as a protective area for the kids to play. It’s covered and rather large, too.

Coleman tents have a reputation for good quality, and they typically live up to that.

But I’ve encountered an aspect of this one that could be better. The tent has leaked on multiple occasions for me. 

I should preface that I’ve had the tent for a few years, and the leakage just started.

So admittedly, I’ve used it a lot, but I’d expect better considering how expensive the Rocky Mountain 5 is. 

That said, this tent allows zero light inside, to the point where I had no clue what time it was unless I checked my watch. 

My favorite feature is the large windows in the living room area. These windows have a cover that you can pull down for more privacy.

Others suggest this as the best darkroom tent on the market. I agree that its blackout bedroom technology is fantastic, but I prefer others. 

If you’re camping with a family and need an area for a little one to play around in, then this is your best bet!

PROS

  • It has an ample living room space 
  • Large windows that can be closed for more privacy
  • Excellent blackout technology

CONS

  • High price
  • Has leaking problems

#2 Ozark Trail Dark Rest Tent

Best for Beginners

Ozark Trail Dark Rest Tent

Weight: 16.8 pounds
Occupancy: 6
Price: $
Size: 10′ x 9′

Finding and setting up a blackout tent as a beginner can be stressful. You might ask yourself, “Are blackout tents worth it?”. If you opt for the Ozark Trail Dark Rest Tent, the answer is yes.

This darkroom tent is excellent for beginners because of its easy setup. There’s no need to mess with poles as they’re already attached to the tent. 

The Ozark Trail takes 60 seconds to set up as you unfold the tent and lift it.

I love how light this tent is, too. Its innovative dark room technology gets the job done better than other blackout tents. 

Even though this isn’t my pick for the best budget blackout tent, it’s still cheap. Because of this, it’s had some issues with leaks. 

The water sits on the sides and then leaks in, which isn’t ideal.

One of the top reasons I love camping is the ability to see the night sky. So, it’s great that the Ozark Trail Dark Rest had a sky-viewing option. 

There’s no better feeling than having a jam-packed day with clear skies, followed by a night of star gazing. 

Instant tents are fantastic for beginners, but they’re also perfect for a busy family. This one can also host up to two blowup air mattresses, sleeping up to six people. 

Not having to worry about tent poles drastically improves the camping experience and can make car camping trips memorable for everyone.

PROS

  • Sells for an affordable price
  • The ceiling can turn into a star-gazing mode
  • Easy setup in 60 seconds
  • Lightweight
  • It can fit up to six people

CONS

  • Can leak water during rain storms

#3 Bushnell Shield 9

Most Durable Blackout Tent

Product image for the Bushnell Shield 9 in grey.

Weight: 44 pounds
Occupancy: 6 – 12
Price: $$
Size: 180” x 180” 

It seems like every day in the news, there are crazier and crazier weather patterns happening worldwide. You should never go camping during extreme weather, but having a durable blackout tent isn’t a bad idea. 

The Bushnell Shield 9 is one of the best blackout tents for durability. In fact, it’s the highest quality and the most durable blackout tent on the market today. 

Excellent weather protection will relax you during your summer camping trip. 

Now let’s talk about the Bushnell’s ability as a blackout tent. Blackout tent models are not all the same, and this one stands out as unique. 

Instead of trying to completely blackout the tent and trap the heat, the Bushnell uses reflective technology to keep the tent dark and cool.

The enormous screen room is typically a part of the sleeping area. There’s an option to close off the sleeping area from the rest of the screen room if needed. 

I love any feature that gives me options for how to organize the interior of my own tent setup. A more customizable tent is always a good tent. 

The Bushnell is another instant blackout tent with pre-attached poles. This type of tent is becoming more and more popular these days– for good reason. 

There have been some reviews of the Busnell complaining that it arrived with holes, rips, and other defects. 

These infrequent negative experiences don’t affect my stance on its durability because it might have happened in the factory and wasn’t due to wear and tear.

This tent is extremely heavy, but thankfully, the Bushnell has a carry case. If you don’t mind the heavy weight of this tent, it’s a great one because of its amenities.

Having to carry your tent in your hands is never fun. The weight will increase depending on what size you get. The Bushnell ranges from a 6 – 12-person tent.  

I’d recommend purchasing the 9-person tent if you’re looking for the best blackout tent for eight people.

Proper windows are another amenity that helps make this and other blackout tents work well. The windows are a mesh material that will keep you cool on family camping trips.

There’s plenty of space to move around as the Bushnell can fit two queen-size air mattresses in the cool and dark interior.

PROS

  • Easy to set up tent
  • Hold up great to weather and other possible damage
  • Large mesh windows to keep you cool
  • Plenty of space to move around

CONS

  • Has been known to be shipped with defects
  • Weighs a lot (40 pounds)

CHECK PRICE ON:

#4 Vango Blackout Tent

Best Budget Option

Product image for the Vango Blackout Tent in blue.

Weight: 6.3 pounds
Occupancy: 3
Price: $
Size: 52 x 17 cm

Looking for an affordable blackout tent might seem near impossible at first, but I was surprised by the number of options the longer I kept looking into it. 

The Vango Blackout Tent is cheap, but it packs a punch! 

It’s hard to find a cheap instant cabin that is also high quality while weighing so little. This tent comes in different sizes. The Vango 300 is my favorite and only weighs 6.3 pounds!

That super light weight includes all the poles and everything! Fiberglass poles like these are some of my favorites because they are light. 

Most camping tents have their fair share of issues, and the Vango has its own.

There isn’t great ventilation inside this tent, but that’s not a big problem since there won’t ever be many people inside it. 

The Vango 300 is a three-person tent, but you’ll only sleep comfortably with two people. Pop-up tents like these categorize the occupancy as the absolute maximum. 

Vango blackout isn’t like a standard tent. They call their style ‘lights out,’ which means the fabric is darker to help to create that dark tent feel.

Although this tent isn’t the best on this list, you get what you pay for. If you’re after the darkest tent, you’ll have to spend some extra money. 

Due to its low weight and small size, I have used the Vango as a camping tent for other events like festivals and fishing trips.

I’ve gotten so many questions about this instant cabin during these activities. 

Weather can be an issue sometimes at festivals and fishing trips. So it’s nice that the Vango Blackout tent has a flysheet made from polyester. 

This flysheet ensures the Vango stays waterproof.

PROS

  • Very affordable price
  • It weighs only 6 pounds
  • Perfect for other activities like festivals and fishing trips
  • It comes with a protective flysheet

CONS

  • Not the best blackout material on the market
  • It can only fit two people comfortably

#5 Coleman Skydome Darkroom 4

Best Blackout Tent for Two People

Product image for the Coleman Skydome Darkroom 4 in black, blue, and neon green.

Weight: 11 pounds
Occupancy: 4
Price: $
Size: 96” x 84”

Coleman is known for their quality camping supplies and their tent features. If you’re looking for the best all-around blackout tent for two people, look no further than the Coleman Skydome!

A Coleman darkroom tent in the series is among the best on the market. 

Technically, the Skydome is a four-person tent, but realistically, it fits two people comfortably. For this price, you can’t beat it! 

The Skydome’s dark room technology keeps out upwards of 90% of all sunlight!

That has helped me get some of the best nights’ sleep I’ve ever gotten while camping. 

This dark room tent has other features that make it great for that perfect camping trip. It’s a quick and easy setup, so I didn’t have to waste any of my “chill” time.

Although it states the poles are pre-attached, they aren’t the same as others on this list. I still had to unfold them, but it took only a few seconds. 

At first, I wasn’t worried about any weather problems with the Coleman Skydome. But after a few trips, the tent started to leak during heavy rainstorms. 

I wouldn’t classify this dark room tent as expensive, but it still shocked me that water got inside. But, overall, I still trust Coleman as a brand. 

When car camping with the Coleman Skydome, I never had to get out of my tent in the middle of the night because I forgot something. Inside are large mesh pockets that can hold almost anything.

This is a nice feature because I could stay in the cool, dark interior and had everything I needed at arm’s reach.

PROS

  • Dark room technology blocks out 90% of sunlight
  • Extremely affordable price
  • Large mesh pockets inside the tent
  • Perfect for two people

CONS

  • Leaking problems
  • Durability issues

CHECK PRICE ON:

#6 Coleman Octagon Blackout

Best Blackout Tent for Families

Product image for the Coleman Octagon Blackout in green.

Weight: 45 pounds
Occupancy: 6
Price: $$$
Size: ‎155.91″ x 155.91″ x 208″

If you have been glamping before, this next tent is similar. It’s a large blackout tent, but I can’t deny its qualities. The Coleman Octagon Blackout is the best family tent on this list.

This is a six-person tent that’s great for family gatherings or for feeling luxurious on a date. The screen room is so large that you can bring things from the house to make it feel homey. 

The Octagon tent might feel large, but it is great for blocking sunlight. 

The Octagon takes time to set up because there aren’t pre-attached poles.

These are fiberglass poles, so it’s best to be careful when setting them up because they can be fragile. 

The tent fabric of the Octagon is polyester, and the inside has mesh material. Both of these combined help tremendously with keeping the tent cool. 

One of the biggest complaints I’ve seen about this car camping tent is the price. You get what you pay for, and it’s worth the money. Even on the hottest days, it felt around 10 degrees cooler inside!

But other dark room tents are more affordable and still fantastic for a family. The Coleman Instant Setup tent is half the price and still has many great features!  

Another benefit of the Coleman instant tent is its instant setup– much faster than the Octagon. Having an instant tent (sometimes called a pop-up tent) is always a plus. 

I highly suggest the Octagon for any family, but the Coleman instant setup is a fantastic alternative.

PROS

  • Huge interior that can fit 6+ people
  • It uses high-quality material for its poles
  • The tent fabric used helps keep the inside 10 degrees cooler

CONS

  • High price tag
  • Weighs a lot
  • It takes longer to set up than other tents

#7 Coleman Dark Room

Best for Two to Four People

Product image for the Coleman Dark Room in black, blue, and neon green.

Weight: 17 pounds
Occupancy: 6
Price: $
Size: ‎120″L x 72″W x 120″H

Coleman tents are plentiful on this list of best blackout tents, and for good reason! The Coleman Dark Room Sundome is the best blackout tent for two to four people.  

On most camping trips, you reach your campsite either in a car or by walking, so weight isn’t too much of an issue. 

This Coleman tent weighs about 17 pounds, which would be too heavy for backpackers but isn’t too bad for car camping. 

The Coleman Sundome has a spacious interior that is perfect for your trip. The max occupancy is six people, but I prefer more room to sleep comfortably during these trips. 

If you’re looking for a tent for two to three-person blackout tent, I’d suggest opting for the Coleman Sundome in the four-person size. 

Like Coleman’s other dark room tents, this one also repels 90% of sunlight thanks to the dark room fabric. 

The Sundome has what Coleman calls a “WeatherTec” system. It works most of the time, but I’ve had issues with water leaking into the tent. 

Water leakage isn’t extremely common, but I like to spend more on a tent to make sure I stay dry.

The Sundome doesn’t have a room divider, and it isn’t considered an instant cabin tent, but it didn’t take me too long to set it up with some help. 

The quality of the poles is a concern for me. I’ve read reviews about these poles and how they’ve broken on others before. I can see this happening, but that hasn’t happened to me (yet). 

Even with the Coleman Sundome’s issues, it has a 1-year warranty. If your tent shipped with a defect, Coleman will send you a new one.

PROS

  • The inner tent stays cool during the day
  • Spacious tent area for two to four people
  • Affordable price
  • It comes with a 1-year limited warranty

CONS

  • Water leakage has happened on occasion
  • Poles aren’t durable

#8 Quechua 2 Second Fresh & Black

Easiest to Set up

Quechua 2 Second Fresh & Black

Weight: 9.3 pounds
Occupancy: 3
Price: $
Size: ‎70.9″ X 82.7″

The last tent on my list is one of the coolest-looking blackout tents I’ve ever seen. The Quechua 2-second Fresh & Black is sure to turn some heads on your next camping trip.

The Quechua is the fastest instant tent on this list, as it took me mere seconds to set up. But that’s not all. This is also the best instant blackout tent for keeping you cool. 

Its unique fabric has four different layers of blackout technology, making it one of the best on the market. 

The first two layers reflect the sunlight, the third layer absorbs the light, and the last layer helps reduce the tent’s heat on a hot summer day.

Other tents, like the Ozark, offer “dark rest technology,” but it doesn’t compare to what the Quechua offers.

Now,  like with all dark rest tents, there are some downsides to this one.

The zipper would get stuck occasionally, but this might have been from overuse (I slept in this tent a lot). I’ve also read reviews about condensation building up, though I haven’t experienced that myself. 

The other darkest tents on the market don’t even compare to the Quechua. It’s truly a fantastic piece of technology that’s perfect for almost all scenarios that I’ve come across. 

The spacious interior works fine if I’m only camping with one other person. It’s cheap enough to buy multiple, too, if you have numerous family members and you want some room to spread out.

The flysheet on the Quechua works like magic, too! You can lift this sheet by rope from the inside, allowing for fantastic circulation. It almost felt like I had A/C! 

With its inverted seams, you’ll be protected from heavy rain and can sleep without worries.

There are no other comparably-priced tents with as many features as the Quechua. It’s a steal!

PROS

  • Keeps out 99% of sunlight
  • Affordable price
  • Sets up in seconds
  • Fantastic circulation created by the flysheet

CONS

  • Zippers can become faulty from overuse 
  • Some condensation build-up

Buying Guide: How to Choose the Best Blackout Tent

An older couple sitting in camping chairs smile at each other in a pine-tee studded campsite, with a darkroom tent visible behind them.

Blackout Proficiency

When you’re shopping for a blackout tent, the first and most essential thing to look at is the amount of sunlight a tent can keep out.

While that may seem obvious, there are certain qualities to look for to help you gauge blackout proficiency.

Blackout tents will use different approaches to block the sun: reflective panels, black panels, or a combination. 

The tents that use black panels are typically darker inside but don’t keep the inside of the tent as cool. Reflective panels are the opposite. Reflective panels are still darker than a standard tent but much cooler. 

It all depends on what type of camping experience you’re after. 

Size

Size is essential when considering which camping tents you’re interested in. If you need one for an entire family, you’ll want something with a larger occupancy, such as six.

If it’s only you and potentially someone else, then one like the Quechua would be perfect. Dome tents tend to be larger than tunnel tents with more headroom, but of course, there are always exceptions.

Coleman has a wide variety of dome tents, some of which are luxurious enough for a glamping experience. 

Ease of Setup

Nobody wants to get to a campsite just to spend hours struggling to set up their tent. Complicated set-ups take away from the fun and can ruin the mood. 

That’s where an instant cabin tent comes in.

Instant tents are great because they’re super easy to set up, which is typically because the poles are already attached. 

But if your favorite blackout tent on this list isn’t instant, don’t worry.

Most tents don’t take long to set up, and the poles will pop in together without effort. Read through customer reviews to get an idea of how much trouble the setup will be.

Durability

Finding a durable tent helps you get your money’s worth. I’ve had tents that have lasted me ten years. While these tents were typically expensive, they were well worth what I paid for them. 

With these tents, you have to worry about two main sections—the actual tent’s fabric and the poles’ material. 

Most blackout tents on this list use fiberglass poles, which I’ve run into the most issues with. I’d suggest a camping tent with metal poles if you can find one. 

The thicker the fabric, the more durable it tends to be. I knew I would have issues with a camping tent immediately after I felt the thickness of the fabric. 

Ventilation

Blackout tents might seem like they would trap you in heat, but some of the best on this list keep you cool, like A/C. This feature is crucial for those tents with black panels.

Tents that use reflective panels will typically feel cooler already, in which case, having a good ventilation system won’t be as crucial. But it’s always good to have one. 

I prefer ventilation systems that come through the top, which the flysheet can cover. This type allows more air to flow while still keeping it dark.

Opening a window might feel better, but doing so will render the dark rest technology pointless. 

Weight

The weight of the blackout tents won’t be much of an issue if you’re car camping. 

Weight is important if you must walk or hike to the campsite. 

There are only a couple of blackout tents on this list that I’d suggest backpacking with. Besides that, it’s essential to ensure the tent can fit in your car before purchasing.

Weather Resistance

Nobody likes waking up in a wet tent or sitting in water. Nobody. That’s why it’s good to know what to look for in blackout tents to ensure they’ll withstand the weather. 

You’ll want high-quality fabric because if the tent has a hole, that won’t keep water out too well. 

To have the best odds of not getting wet from rain inside your tent, ensure the tent has a rainfly and inverted seams. 

A rainfly that properly fits over the entire tent is crucial for weather protection. 

FAQs About Blackout Tents

A young main with curly hair looks sleep as he sits in the doorway on a blue dome tent with trees in the background.

Do blackout tents work?

Blackout tents work exceptionally well at keeping the sunlight out. Some blackout tents block more sun than others, but they might come at a cost.

Look for a tent with black panels to keep the most sunlight out. Opt for the reflective panels if you want a cooler but less dark interior.

The Quechua blackout tent can keep out upwards of 99% of sunlight while keeping the inside cool due to its 4-layer panel concept.

Are darkroom tents worth it?

Sleep is vital to me. Darkroom tents are worth it if you’re light-sensitive and sleep is important during a camping trip. The best blackout tents help keep the sun out while keeping you cool.

If you have children and need a cool place for them to escape the heat, darkroom tents are even more valuable. 

Are blackout tents colder?

Generally speaking, blackout tents tend to be colder than your average tent. Some keep the inside cooler than others. That’s where black and reflective panels come into Play. 

Black panels will keep the most sun out but won’t keep the inside as cool as a reflective panel. The complete opposite is true for reflective panels.

Sometimes, companies combine both, which is tent technology at its finest. It doesn’t get any better than a sun-blocking tent with a cool temperature inside. 

Are blackout tents breathable?

Blackout tents are breathable because they use good ventilation systems and suitable fabrics. Some tents are capable of keeping their interiors as much as ten (or more!) degrees cooler than the outside temperature.

The best ventilation system combines with the use of a rain fly. When these two features are working in tandem, air can flow in and out at the top of the tent while the rainfly keeps water out.

There’s also another option, and that’s having mesh windows. These will make the tent more breathable but allow more sunlight inside. 

Conclusion: What is the Best Blackout Tent?

A black, teepee-shaped tent sitting on a grassy field, with palm trees and cloudy, tropical mountains in the background.

Blackout tents are amazing. Getting better sleep during any camping trip is ideal. They also come with the added benefit of cooler air temperatures. 

There are many different styles of blackout tents on the market today. You can’t go wrong with a Coleman Blackout tent, as they’re a trustworthy company. But those aren’t my favorite. 

The Quechua 2 Second Fresh & Black tent is my pick for the best blackout tent. It uses a unique technology that blocks more sun than black panels and keeps you cooler than any other tent on this list. 

It’s extremely lightweight, affordable, and sets up in just seconds. The only thing that it might not be is the perfect ‘family tent.’ 

But, don’t worry; the Quechua has all the features you could hope for, like a flysheet and mechanical ventilation. 

The Quechua tent’s creators have tested it in some of the strongest conditions, like 30 mph winds. There will be no worrying about whether this tent can hold up to the nature around you. 

So, if you’re looking for the best blackout tent and possibly the best tent on the market today, I suggest purchasing the Quechua 2 Second Fresh & Black. 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Phillip Anderson

Phillip Anderson is a freelance travel writer, personal trainer, and adventure enthusiast from Virginia Beach. Growing up, he spent most of his days either hiking in the Shenandoah, going to the beach, or working out. He is currently traveling through Latin America while working on projects to share his adventures with the world.


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