Choosing The Best Screen Tent For Camping

Spoiler Alert: Conquerwild named the Gazelle 8 Person Gazebo as the best screen tent!!

When you’re looking to get closer to nature without getting closer to insects, a screen tent is the perfect place to turn to. Whether you call it a screen room, a bug tent, a screened canopy or anything in between, these contraptions allow you to enjoy the outdoors while staying protected.

There are lots of these shelters out there and a ton of factors to consider. If you’re looking for the best screen tent on the market, look no further. Here are my reviews of the 5 best products.

The Products I’ll Be Reviewing:

REI-Co-Op Screen House Shelter – Most Lightweight Screen Tent

3/4 front view (Forest Floor)

The REI Co-Op House Shelter is a good option for campers looking for a classic, lightweight screen tent. While this product may not be as durable or high quality as some of the others on this list, it’s a great place for beginners to turn to. 

Weighing in at 13 pounds, this freestanding tent is the most lightweight on this list. It’s also easy to set up and quite roomy with an 84 inch peak height and 120 inch x 120 inch floor plan. There are 2 zippered doors, which will make it difficult for flying critters to get inside. There’s also no floor, so you can easily set it up around furniture. Although there are 6 tent poles and stakeout loops for security, several customers have said that this shelter bends easily in the wind. If you’re not expecting windy/harsh conditions, this REI House Shelter works super well.

Pros

  • Color-coded tent poles sleeves and slide up clips.
  • Lightweight.
  • Includes 6 tent stakes.
  • Many storage pockets.
  • Fabric, ground-level perimeter to prevent pests.
  • Aluminum tent poles.
  • Durable polyester taffeta canopy.

Cons

  • Not good for high winds.
  • Guy lines and rainfly not included.

>>> Check It Out At REI <<<

Alvantor Screen House – Best Pop Up Screen Room

When it comes to convenience, it’s hard to beat the Alvantor Screen House. This shelter practically sets itself up as soon as you take it out of the carry bag. It pops itself right into place with ease, thanks to the clever design of the fiberglass frame. This shelter is great for comfortable lounging outdoors. It leaves the traditional square/rectangular tent shape behind and opts for a spacious hexagon, complete with 6 mesh panels.

The shelter has a 210D Oxford roof to protect against UV rays and mild rain. It can also withstand winds of up to 24 miles per hour, so long as you’ve staked it down and set up the included sandbags properly. It’s also got 2 zippered entries that will help ensure all mosquitoes and other pests stay out. This is a floorless shelter, but you do have the option of purchasing a floor tarp for an additional cost. Either way, I find this screen tent to be a great product all around.

Pros

  • Easy setup.
  • Comes with sandbags, stakes and guylines.
  • Comes in 4 sizes.
  • UV resistant.
  • Can purchase lights separately.
  • 2 doors with silicone zippers.
  • Affordable.
  • Lightweight (15 pounds).

Cons

  • Can be difficult to take down.

>>> Check It Out On Amazon <<<

Gazelle 8 Person Gazebo Day Tent – Best Product Overall

If you’re looking to take your screen tent game to the next level, consider buying the Gazelle Portable Gazebo. This hexagonal shelter is made from a 210D polyester shell. This means it’s waterproof up to 2000mm and UV resistant as well. With guy lines and high-quality stakes included, this tent also has no issue standing up to strong winds.

The 92 square feet of space inside and 86 inch peak height give plenty of room for 8 guests to fit inside comfortably. If you want less airflow than the Gazelle has to offer, you can also purchase wind panels separately. Although the tent is quite heavy, it’s super easy to set up. Plus, I think it’s the best looking screen tent out there. When it comes down to it, nothing else on this list surpasses the Gazelle Portable Gazebo.

Pros

  • 2000mm waterproof.
  • 2 zippered doors.
  • Includes guy lines and stakes.
  • Easy setup and take down.
  • 92 square feet and 86 inch peak height.
  • UV resistant.

Cons

  • It’s heavy (34 pounds).

>>> Check It Out On Amazon <<<

Coleman Screened Canopy Tent – Best Value

It’s no secret that I love Coleman’s tents. Here, we have another great example of their products with their screened canopy tent. This tent works especially well in higher temperatures, thanks to the UV resistant roof.

The Coleman Screened Canopy is fairly resistant to the wind. This is thanks in part to the sturdy 6 pole design. You’ll also be able to stay fairly dry in mild rainstorms (although heavy rain may cause it to leak). If you’re not worried about bugs getting in, you also have the choice of removing the screen. Even if you leave the screen on, you have the option of leaving the 2 large, zippered doors open. If this screen tent does one thing well, it’s versatility. While it may be heavy, the Coleman Screened Canopy Tent is an all around great product for picnics and camping parties.

Pros

  • UV resistant, polyguard roof.
  • Wheeled carry bag.
  • Large 12 foot x 10 foot floor plan.
  • Can withstand some wind.
  • Detachable screen.
  • 2 large, zippered doors.

Cons

  • Not easy for 1 person to set up.
  • Heavy.

>>> Check It Out On Amazon <<<

Wenzel Magnetic Screen House – Best Magnetic Screen House

The Wenzel Magnetic Screen House is a surprisingly sturdy shelter for the price point. Covered by 68D mesh, this screen tent has a floor plan of 11 feet x 9 feet and a 7.5 foot peak height. Like most screen tents, it has no floor so that you can place it over anything. It does have 1 feature that the others don’t: built-in floor mats. Nice little touch if you ask me.

The 2 doors on this tent use magnets to close rather than zippers. On the plus side, this makes entry and exiting much quicker. On the down side, this makes it a bit easier for bugs and pests to get in. As far as weight goes, this tent is moderately light at 17 pounds. It also features a sturdy fiberglass frame and easy setup. Overall, this is a really solid screen tent and a great value in general.

Pros

  • Has “fast feet” for easy set up.
  • Spacious 11 foot x 9 foot floor plan and 7.5 foot peak height.
  • Affordable.
  • Durable 68D polyester taffeta.
  • Built-in floor mats.

Cons

  • Magnetic doors may let bugs in.

>>> Check It Out On Amazon <<<

What’s The Point Of A Screen Tent / Screened Canopy?

If you’ve made it this far and you’re still unsure of what a screen tent is, let’s break it down for you.

A screen tent is exactly what it sounds like: a tent with mesh walls and a canopy roof.

It can be nice to have some outdoor recreational time without having to worry about being bombarded by bugs. That’s exactly what outdoor screened tents are for. They come in several shapes and sizes with several different features.

These shelters work well for lots of activities. They’re great for barbecuing, camping, picnicking and everything in between. You can even set one up in your backyard and use it as an outdoor living room.

Since they’re usually a bit bulky, they’re not always used for camping. However, what you choose to do with your outdoor screen tent is up to you.

Campfire set up near a cubical-looking tent.

Buyer’s Guide: What To Look For In Screen Tents

With so many different products out there, it can be difficult to figure out which screen tent is best for you.

If you need a screen canopy for camping, there are a few key factors to look out for.

How Much Space Do You Need?

Space should always be one of the first factors to consider when buying any tent. You need to make sure the product you’re buying is big enough for your group.

It’s quite common for people to put furniture inside of screen tents, such as picnic tables, chairs, hammocks, etc. If this is your goal, make sure the screen house you choose is large enough for that.

Some screen tents list a capacity (or number of people) as a measurement. You should always check the actual dimensions of the shelter because tent capacity isn’t always accurate. Check the peak height too. This is the distance from the floor to the tallest point of the ceiling. If you plan on walking around your screen tent, this is vital.

Floor Vs. No Floor

Most screen houses don’t have a floor. This makes it easier to place your tent over furniture. However, if you plan on sleeping inside your shelter, you may prefer a product with a floor.

Some products sell floor tarps for an additional charge. 

Is It Easy To Set Up?

Struggling with a tent that’s difficult to set up can be a nightmare, especially if you’re not experienced. This is why you should know the details of setup before buying a product.

Mike setting up a tent on a flat area of land in the woods.

Does your screen house require more than one person to set up? Are there a slew of complicated tent poles to assemble? Are the instructions difficult to follow? If so, you may want to consider buying something more simple.

If you’re looking for ultimate convenience, consider buying an instant screen house (also known as a pop up screen tent). These shelters usually take only a few minutes to set up. They commonly consist of extendable poles and telescoping legs.

Some screened tents (such as the Alvantor Screen House) are designed so that they literally pop right into place once they’re opened. I find this type of pop up screen room to be the most convenient, because they’re super lightweight.

The Weight Of Your Screened Canopy

Depending on what you’re using your bug shelter for, weight may be an important factor for you. Screened shelters come in all different shapes and sizes, which means weight varies.

If you’re planning on traveling with your screen tent, walking long distance or even backpacking with it, you should definitely look for a lightweight product.

If you don’t need to transport your tent on foot, then weight may not be a concern for you.

What Material Is Your Screened Tent Made From?

The materials which your screened tent is made from will make a huge difference in its quality. This goes for the canopy fabric and the tent poles.

The Canopy will act as the roof of your screen tent. It should be made from a material that’s durable enough to withstand the elements. I find that polyester and nylon work best.

You should also check the Denier rating of your canopy material. This is a measurement of the fabric’s thickness (for example 68D, 210D, etc.). The higher the number, the more durable the material is.

The Tent Poles make up the structure that holds your whole screen house up. For this reason, they should be made from something strong. The most commonly used materials are steel (usually aluminum) and fiberglass. While aluminum is stronger and more lightweight, fiberglass is cheaper and more flexible.

Screen tent on a hill in between trees as seen from the street.

Is It Resistant To The Elements?

When I say “elements,” there are 4 main things I’m talking about: rain, wind, UV rays and insects.

Rain Resistance

When it comes to a screen house, you’re not going to get the same level of rain resistance as you would with a regular tent. This is because the walls are made of mesh. However, if you find the right shelter, you’ll be able to stay dry through the rain.

Some screen tents have a waterproof rating (measured in millimeters- 2000mm, 850mm, etc.). This represents the amount of water a material can withstand without leaking.

You may also want to give your canopy a nice coating of eco-friendly waterproofing spray before taking it outdoors, just to be safe.

Wind Resistance

If you don’t want your screen tent to fly away in windy conditions, you’re going to need some quality guy lines and stakes. This is the system that will keep your screen room secure. Not all products come with stakes or guy lines, so you should consider purchasing them separately.

You’ll also need strong tent poles for windy conditions.

UV Resistance

UV rays from the sun can do a surprising amount of damage to your tent material. Prolonged exposure can cause the fabric to age and deteriorate more quickly. This will reduce the lifespan of your tent.

On top of that, a tent without UV protection may allow the sun’s rays to reach the people inside. No one wants to get sunburn while they’re trying to sit in the shade.

Find a screen tent that has some level of UV protection on its canopy.

Insect Resistance

For some people, bugs are the worst part of spending time outdoors. One of the main purposes of a screened canopy is to keep the insects away.

Make sure the mesh that makes up your screen is dense enough to keep out small insects. You might want to look for the term “no-see-um mesh,” just to be safe.

Trees as seen from the floor of a tent looking up through the mesh.

The way that the entrances/exits open and close also have an effect on insect resistance. If your tent uses zippers, it’ll be harder for bugs to get in. 

If your tent uses a magnetic closure, there won’t always be a complete seal. This gives critters more opportunity to sneak inside your tent.

Some screen tents also have a fabric perimeter around the bottom to prevent pests.

Also, remember that most screen tents don’t have a floor. If there are any bugs on the ground where you set your tent up, you’ll essentially be trapping them inside. If you have an extreme fear of bugs, consider looking for a screen house with floor.

More On Entrances and Exits

Screened tents are usually used for groups of people. For this reason, it’s best to choose a shelter that has more than one entrance/exit. Otherwise, you’ll all be fighting for the door.

Also, consider whether you want zippered or magnetic doors. As stated in the previous section, zippers are better for keeping pests out. On the other hand, magnetic closures are easier to pass through when your hands are occupied.

Do You Need A Versatile Screen House Tent?

Sometimes the bare minimum just doesn’t cut it. There are screen houses out there that go above and beyond the standard options with additional features.

Some shelters come with mesh guards. These are essentially panels that you can place over the screens if you want to limit your ventilation. They work well for windy conditions.

You can also find screen tents with removable mesh. If insects aren’t a concern to you, you might want to take the screen off and use the canopy only. These types of screen houses tend to work best for barbecues and picnics.

Other screen tents include small details like doormats, lights and lantern hooks.

Conquerwild’s Conclusion

Sitting in a screen tent allows you to be close to nature without worrying about being eaten alive by insects. If you want one for your next outdoor gathering, just be sure to thoroughly examine your options. Look for durability, good materials, convenience and weather resistance.

Although there are lots of great products out there, there’s one screen tent that seems to stand out above the rest.

My Top Pick Is…

The Gazelle 8 Person Gazebo Day Tent!!


You’d be hard pressed to find a better screen tent than this product from Gazelle. It’s as durable as they come, it’s versatile and it’s attractive with a rugged appearance. This tent will keep bugs out and make everyone inside happy. The only downside is that it’s heavy… But if you’re looking for a lightweight tent that works just as well (and is more affordable), consider the Alvantor Screen House.

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