What Is The Best Tent For Stargazing?

camp at night

The best part of camping is connecting with nature and realizing how you're a small part of a much larger world. For this reason, when I'm out camping, I really love sleeping under the stars by using a tent with a mesh roof. These allow me to take in the vast constellations without all of the light pollution of my home town preventing me from witnessing nature's glory. These tents aren't easy to find, which is why, I created this guide to help you to find the best tent for stargazing.

​What to Look for in a Stargazing Tent

Mesh Location

This should be a major consideration, especially if you want to see the night sky. As these are stargazing tents, they should definitely have a mesh roof somewhere in their construction. In my experience, the tents that have mesh towards the top are best when you want to lay and look up at the sky, but the ones that have meshing along the upper edges can provide a good view as well. In most models, there are rainflies that protect the occupants of the tent from the elements. When the night sky is clear and there's no precipitation, you can typically remove these and use the mesh as a window to some excellent night sky viewing opportunities.

Ease of Setup

I remember years of frustrated family trips where my dad would get so angry at how hard the tent was to set up securely. These days, many of the major brands like Coleman, Rei, and Kelty have some fairly easy to setup tents, but there are still models out there that can be a pain in the neck. With this in mind, look for tents that have these features so that you can set them up relatively easily.

Typically, I prefer tent poles that are color-coded. These provide a quick and easy way for you to quickly ascertain which pole you're working with. Additionally, it's also useful when a tent uses J-hooks or standard tent clips to attach to the poles. As a general rule, if you want a quicker setup, pick a tent that has fewer poles, though you want to have more for increased stability.

Shock-cording is also very useful. This feature ensures that the poles stay together because they have an elastic cord running through the center of each segment of the pole, which keep the poles together. This makes the poles easy to assemble, even when you're not working with much light.​

Ability to Repel Bugs

I've camped and woke up to an arm virtually covered in large bug bites, so I always try to find tents that repel things like mosquitoes and other creepy crawlies. If you're going to be in a wet and humid area in the summer, then I suggest grabbing a tent with a nice summer screen; these provide good ventilation in the heat and will keep the majority of the insects out of your tent.

If you want the absolute best performance for keeping bugs out, many campers consider no-see-um meshing to be the absolute best. I find that this mesh is usually inherently great for stargazing because this mesh (with a few exceptions) tends to have very small holes that block pests like midges, but will also give you a fairly good view of the night sky.

Tent Size

When you're going away for several days, it's important to have enough room for all of your travelmates. Tent capacity is often described very liberally because it's not taking into account anything other than the bare minimum of space. While a tent may be rated for three tentmates, in reality, with three people inside the tent, you may find it to be a little cramped during your trip.

It's a good rule of thumb to ignore the idea that a three or four person tent will sleep that number of people. If you want a comfortable experience, I would assume a three person tent accommodates two, a four person tent accommodates three, and so on.

As a matter of fact, some campers suggest going for a tent that is rated for two more people than what you'll be bringing. This is especially useful if you're going to be packing bedding, extra baggage, or if any of the tentmates are a little larger.

Additionally, a queen sized air mattress will take up a lot of space, so you'd be better off with a three or four-person tent if you'll be bringing just one other person. Also, don't neglect thinking about the vertical space of the tent as well. The last thing you want is for taller tentmates to need to sleep uncomfortably. You'll also want room for everyone to be able to sit up and move around comfortably inside the tent.

Useful Features

Bathtub-Style Floor

This is a useful feature to have in a tent, when it rains, because this can prevent leaks from occurring. By extending upwards it blocks any pooling water under the tent from actually seeping into the tent.

Fabric

I have a tendency to camp in rough areas, which is why I tend to use tents that are comprised of tougher fabrics so that I don't have to worry about accidental tears and leaks. Here are a few examples of tent fabrics:

PVC - Polyvinyl chloride is a waterproof material that is used in larger tents. It's a bit heavier, but it will give you a lot of protection, though it has a tendency to gather condensation.

Polyester – Typically polyester comes in coatings and you can get some good waterproofing out of them. A bonus of polyester tents is that they don't shrink or get baggy when exposed to rain. In addition, the material will not fade when it is exposed to sunlight, which will ensure that the tent you purchase lasts longer.

Polycotton Canvas – This is a mixture of cotton and polyester. This blends the classic cotton material with polyester, which makes it stronger. It can be coated to resist water as well.​

Nylon – Nylon is a type of fabric that is great for a tent because it does not absorb water that much, which means that if you are caught in a rainstorm, the tent will not leak. In addition, the material is very lightweight, so many smaller tents are made out of this material so that they can be carried easily; making it an ideal tent for when you are backpacking to a specific area to stargaze. The downside to this material is that it can be damaged by the sun, so it may not be as durable as other options.​

Standard Cotton - This is the best fabric to keep you cool during those hot summer nights, but it is not commonly used in tent designs because cotton is a very heavy material that makes tents made out of it inconvenient to carry.​

Top 5 Stargazing Tents

Mountainsmith Morrison 2 Person 3 Season Tent

This tent, which is from Moutainsmith, has a three-season use, which means that you can use it in most adverse weather conditions. In fact, the tent has a bathtub-style floor so that it's very difficult for moisture to accumulate on the tent's floor.

For stargazing, this tent is fairly impressive. When the night is clear, all you'll have to do is remove the rainfly; this provides a fairly unobstructed view of the night sky for the people staying in this two-person tent.

PROS

  • Assembly of the tent is very easy; in fact, Mountainsmith uses color-coding and J-hooks to make it very easy to pitch this tent.
  • It's designed to comfortably accommodate two people.
  • The tent has a two-vestibule layout. This means that you can store things like shoes and packs right outside the tent without them getting wet.

CONS

  • Despite the fact that this has two vestibules, they are somewhat small.
  • The material could be stronger; it can definitely abrade if you're not careful.
  • The 7000 Series aluminum alloy Yunan poles can break fairly easily.

Kelty TN2 Person Tent

For those looking for a backpack-friendly camping option that lets you gaze at the stars freely, the TN2 from Kelty is an excellent option. It's very easy to see the sky with the Stargazer Fly. Simply roll the rainfly back, and you'll be able to clearly see the sky through the mesh material roof of this tent. When the weather turns iffy, you can simply unclip the fly, roll it down, and enjoy the sound of the rain with your tentmate.

PROS

  • It only weighs a little over four pounds, which makes it fairly easy to heft around during your hikes.
  • It folds down very small using Kelty's Tent Cube storage system, which makes the tent very stowable.
  • The vestibule area is large enough for several items.
  • Kelty's Stargazer Fly makes this a very versatile tent that can protect you from the elements or roll back to grant access to the night sky.
  • This is a relatively easy to setup tent that has color-coded tent poles and easy to attach the Kelty hook clips for convenience.

CONS

  • For some reason, there's only one large door on this tent, which means that you may have to climb over your tentmate at night.
  • Water can pool a bit on the roof area since there's a small space there.
  • Condensation has a tendency to form if you don't use the guy lines.
  • The instructions for the tent are a bit underwhelming.

Sundome 4 Person Tent

f you're looking for a larger tent option that will accommodate most families, then this Sundome product may be a good selection for your next trip. I like the fact that it comes in both green and navy colors, and I also like its dome shaping, which really helps against the wind and makes the tent feel a bit more spacious.

here are several points on this tent that you can use for stargazing; you'll just have to be sure not to have the rainfly on. For convenience, the tent even has an electric access port, which is a great feature for the kids or if you need to charge your GPS.

PROS

  • This is a spacious tent that can accommodate up to four campers.
  • There's room enough vertically to almost stand up.
  • It has a door mat, which is perfect for leaving your shoes or boots outside at night.
  • The polyethylene ground sheet has welded seams that will keep the interior of the tent dry and insect-free.

CONS

  • The tent poles are made of fiberglass, which isn't the most durable or lightest material for your tent.
  • If you're planning on using an airbed, you may struggle for space.
  • This really isn't large enough for four full-grown adults.

CORE 9 Person Extended Dome Tent

For those that want even more space, the Core 9 has you covered. This spacious tent can handle up to nine occupants who can all experience some excellent stargazing by removing the rainfly. When inclement weather strikes, the Core 9 has features like H2O Block technology that effectively keeps the tent dry. The tent even has hooks and pockets that can easily be used for the storage of smaller items.

PROS

  • This is a great family-sized tent.
  • It's very easy to hang things like lanterns off of the internal hooks.
  • It has an electric cord access port, which will let you charge your devices.
  • You can fit several queen-sized air mattresses within the interior.
  • It folds down to a fairly small size.

CONS

  • It doesn't have a bathtub-style floor.
  • The rainfly covers the screens slightly.
  • he poles are fiberglass.

Big Agnes - Copper Spur Backpacking Tent

Our final tent comes from Big Agnes and is a great tent for three people. This tent is very easy to pitch and pull down, and the tent poles are all color-coded for convenience. The inside of the tent has several cool features like media pockets that let you route ear buds to and from your devices with relative easy. I also liked the fact that this tent has two doors, which means that you won't have to disturb your tentmates late at night.

PROS

  • It's made of ripstop nylon, which makes it very durable.
  • It has a very tight pitch, which means that it stands up to harsh weather better than many other tents.
  • The Big Agnes has four total guy points, which helps when you're securing the tent.
  • It's easy to setup and tear down.
  • It offers a nice clear view of the sky.

CONS

  • It's supposed to accommodate three, but really, it's designed for two adults.
  • The zipper has a tendency to stick.

Conclusion

I hope this guide helped you find your tent. Gazing up at the night sky while camping is amazing and each of these products is excellent for your camping trips. Though, if I was to select a favorite, I think I'd pick the Sundome 4 Person Tent. This tent has a nice amount of spacing for a couple and unique features like the front "porch" area are really nice additions for the average camper. All of this combined can make for a great night of stargazing with your friends and family.

Alex Miller

Hey there, my name is Alex and I am the editor of this site. I have been a passionate camper and hiker for the past 10 years and my mission is to share my love and knowledge about those activities and how to prepare for them.

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