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Tube Tents: The Ultimate Compact and Portable Shelter

A tube tent can help lighten your load while out backpacking, but can it be used as a primary tent? Or are they just for emergencies? They’re mobile and convenient, perfect for a day hike or a multi-day camping outing.

Today, we’re looking at tube tents and exploring their pros and cons. Could this be your home away from home during your future adventures?

Let’s look and see!

Can This Tube Tent Be Used As Survival Gear?

What Is a Tube Tent?

Tube tents are simple structures made from lightweight fabrics like nylon and polyester. They’re long, triangular tubes that hang between two trees or supports. Their fundamental design makes them small and simple and they are trendy as temporary survival shelters.

You can find them in various sizes, but all are typically very compact. They may not be the most spacious accommodations, but they’re efficient. It only takes minutes to set them up and escape whatever nature is throwing at you.

How Do You Use a Tube Tent?

The first step to using a tube tent is to find the perfect location. Look for a flat, level area with good drainage and protection from the elements. You want to keep the wind and rain off you to stay comfortable.

You’ll need to find some trees, shrubs, or rocks to support your structure. A couple of sturdy trees are typically best. Select two far enough apart for the installation but close enough for your rope or straps.

After securing the supports, unroll the tube tent and stretch it between them. You can carry stakes to hold the base in place or use rocks you find. This helps keep the structure taut and avoid any issues with sagging. If you have sagging, it could allow water to collect during a shower.

Pro Tip: Can you guess How Many Types of Tents There Are? Read more about all the different types and get the inside scoop on how to pick the right one for you!

Tube tent set up in forest
Lighten your load by using a tube tent on your next camping adventure.

Benefits of a Tube Tent

There are several reasons you should consider a tube tent. While they’re popular with hikers and campers, everyone should own one. Let’s look at a handful of their benefits.

Lightweight and Compact

One of the most significant benefits is its lightweight and compact design. They’re unlike traditional versions that require ample space and heavy poles. Their basic design allows them to be small and lightweight. They’re easy to carry in a backpack or other gear bag. If you want to travel light, this is the best option.

Easy Setup

Another benefit is their simplicity. They’re straightforward to set up, with no complicated poles or frames to assemble. You can quickly and easily hang them between two trees or other supports. This instantly creates a simple and reliable shelter. 

You’ll appreciate the easy setup after a long day of hiking or adventuring. It can also come in handy when the weather doesn’t cooperate. It only takes a few minutes, and you can have a structure to seek shelter until the conditions improve.


While some camping gear can break the bank, this isn’t one of them. Even the most expensive models are typically less than $30. If you’ve shopped for standard camping tents lately, this is a bargain.

If you’re new to camping, these tents can be a way to start. You can invest your money in other equipment and gear that might be more beneficial. In addition, their budget-friendly price makes it easy to purchase several. Each person in your camp could have a tent while you’re making memories.

Weather Protection

Don’t underestimate their weather protection just because they’re budget-friendly. Manufacturers use materials that withstand harsh weather conditions, including rain, wind, and snow. They can provide reliable protection from the elements, keeping you warm and dry in inclement weather.

Some tube tents come with a rain fly or other weather protection features. These further enhance their ability to keep you dry and protected from the elements. You could have to wait out the weather, which could be minutes or hours.

Emergency Preparedness

Because tube tents are so lightweight, they are generally thought of as emergency shelters. They are sometimes carried on day trips or as an extra tent on backpacking trips. Imagine your primary tent gets damaged; you could literally be out in the cold. A tube tent makes a great small, lightweight backup or emergency shelter

Boy hanging up tube tent
Setting up a tube tent is much quicker than setting up a standard tent that uses poles.

Disadvantages of a Tube Tent

While there are many reasons to love tube tents, they’re far from perfect. There are several disadvantages that you shouldn’t overlook. If you do, you may end up regretting your purchase.

Lack Durability

While they have lightweight and compact materials, they typically can’t withstand heavy use or extreme weather conditions. Sure, they may get you through a nasty storm once or twice but don’t expect it to last long. They’ll tear or wear out faster than other types of tents.

They may be budget-friendly, but the more you use them, the sooner you’ll have to replace them. If you’re a frequent camper, you may get a year or several uses out of it. However, don’t expect these cheap tents to last for extended periods.

Minimal Comfort

It should be no surprise that these basic tents lack extra features like extra padding or insulation. This can make it very challenging to stay comfortable while sleeping. Additionally, you may want to invest in a sleeping mat. The hard, cold ground can be less than ideal for sleeping.

Don’t overestimate the size of these tents. Depending on your size, they can hold one or two people. If you’re not close to the person you’ll share the space with, you will be by the night’s end.

Extreme Weather Conditions

A tube tent won’t provide much protection during extreme weather conditions. Heavy rain, wind, and snow will have no trouble entering your space. It can make for a long, cold, and wet night if the weather conditions are less than favorable. They may be suitable during perfect weather conditions but not so much during extreme weather.

If you go this route, keep an eye on the weather. Unfortunately, the weather forecast may determine where you set up camp. You may even have to cancel or cut your trip short if the conditions are unsafe.

Rolled up tube tent
While tube tents are lightweight, they typically aren’t super durable and able to hold up against bad weather.

When Should You Use a Tube Tent?

While tube tents might seem like an ideal solution for a primary tent, we think otherwise. These tents are usually not the best for regular use. However, backup or emergency shelter to carry in your pack they are a great idea.

Even as a survival shelter, tube tents generally will not provide adequate shelter for long. Its important to know how to build a rigid survival shelter if you will be in the woods longer than a few days.

Many car campers take advantage of tube tents to move gear inside the car to the tent at night. This allows them to use their entire vehicle to store gear and equipment without worrying about sleeping space. They’ll have a sturdy structure to rest at the end of a long day.

Orange tube tent
Whether you’re looking for a tent for emergency preparedness or just fun outdoor adventures, a tube tent is a great option.

Best Tube Tents of 2023

If you like the idea of having a tube tent for backup or emergencies, there are some helpful options. Here are some of the best options available, in our opinion. Which one is right for you? Let’s find out!

Go Time Gear Life Tent Emergency Survival Shelter

This emergency survival shelter from Go Time weighs around half a pound and has room for two. It has puncture-resistant materials and can help you stay warm during the winter. Its weatherproof coating will help keep you and your gear as dry as possible. It’s perfect for those who want to put it inside their hiking backpack, store it in their car, or add it to their emergency supply kit. You never know when it will come in handy!

Go Time Gear Life Tent Emergency Survival Shelter...
  • Compact Emergency Shelter: The Go Time Gear Life Tent is a...
  • Waterproof and Windproof: Our emergency storm shelter weighs just...
  • Quick Set-Up: Our thermal emergency tube tent sets up fast...
Go Time Gear Survival Tent: $20 Amazon Buy

MEKKAPRO Emergency Tent Shelter

The MEKKAPRO Emergency Tent Shelter is water and windproof. It has a bright orange reflective material that makes it easy for others to see you. If you’re camping during an emergency, assistance can spot you in this tent. It has extra-trick mylar materials to be tear and puncture-resistant and wind and waterproof. It weighs just over half a pound and easily fits into the reusable bivy sack.

Pro Tip: Never heard of a bivy sack? We’ve got you covered! Check out these 8 Best Bivy Sacks for Camping Without a Tent and learn more about how to use a bivy.

World’s Toughest Ultralight Survival Tent

The World’s Toughest Ultralight Survival Tent comes in a tiny pouch inscribed, “Don’t die in the woods.” It comes in a trio of color options, including camo, Army green, and orange. You’ll barely notice it in your backpack at just over half a pound. It comes with a 20-foot piece of paracord to hold it in place. The extra wide tape seams provide increased durability and protection. The 100% waterproof material protects you from rain, wind, and snow. In addition, it helps prevent hypothermia by trapping body heat inside. When you set it up, it’s approximately eight feet long by four and a half feet wide.

World's Toughest Ultralight Survival Tent • 2...
  • “ABSOLUTE MUST HAVE SURVIVAL GEAR” – Your words, not ours....
  • SET UP IN A SNAP – Simply run the 20 ft paracord through the...
Honest Review World's Toughest Ultralight Survival Tent •Review 2 Person Mylar Emergency Shelter

Tube Tents: The Future of Portable Shelter Technology?

Tube tents offer a lightweight, affordable, and compact solution for anyone needing a portable shelter. Their versatility and ease of use make them an option for emergency preparedness, outdoor adventures, and minimalist living. 

With advanced materials its possible that tube tents could become a more permanent tent solution, but since they lack self-sustained support, we don’t think so.

While they have some disadvantages, they are simple and affordable shelters. Their compact size and easy setup make them the future of portable shelters. Whether you’re a minimalist camper or a survivalist, a tube tent is worth considering as part of your outdoor gear collection.

Where would you go camping with a tube tent?

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About Cait Morton

Co-Founder, Logistics Queen, Business & Content Manager, and Animal Lover

An Upper Peninsula of Michigan native (aka a Yooper), Caitlin is the organization, big-picture, and content strategy queen of our operation. She keeps everything orderly and on track.

With a background in Business Management, she supports and helps channel Tom’s technical prowess into the helpful content our readers and viewers expect. That’s not to say you won’t find her turning wrenches and talking shop – RV life is a team effort. She keeps the business and the blog moving forward with a variety of topics and resources for our audience.

Believe it or not, she is rather camera shy, though she co-hosts the Mortons’ personal videos and The RVers TV show.

Caitlin’s passion lies in outdoor recreation and with animals. Some of her favorite things to do are hiking, biking, and getting out on the water via kayak, SUP, or boat.

She also loves the RV life due to the fact that you can bring your pets along. Sharing information about safely recreating outdoors with your whole family – pets included! – is very important to her. Because of this, Caitlin spearheaded the launch of HypePets in 2023.

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