If you are in a hurry and just want to find out what the best survival tent for your bug out bag is, we recommend the UST Tube Tarp as the best one.
If you’re looking for a full tent, we recommend the River Country Ultralight Backpacking Tent as the best one.
In both cases we recommend you also select a quality survival sleeping bag.
5 Best Survival Tents Reviewed
- UST BASE Tube Tarp and Camping Shelter
- River Country Pole Trekking Tent
- Titan Emergency Sleeping Bag
- SOL Escape Bivy Lite Survival Sleeping Bag
Weight, Strength, and Longevity
Our struggle for light weight options will always go against our desire for strength and longevity of our tent.
When it comes to your bug out bag you need to stay light. Even the lightest hiking tents, like the River Country, weigh about 3lbs. To get a smaller packing size and lower weight you pretty much have to go to a Mylar based tent which gets you to about 1 lb 12 ozs. A Mylar sleeping bag or bivvy will is around 4.5 ozs to 6 ozs.
The reality is, with current tent technology, the bulk of the weight is from the fabric of the tent. You can get very light-weight stakes made from titanium or aluminum. The fabric of the tent however, can only get so light. The pay off or effect of a light tent is almost always reducing the thickness of the material. This ultimately reduces the strength.
When you start staking, tying, pulling, and just plane using Mylar and other thin tents they just do not last long. They also do not last long in harsh weather. A Mylar sleeping bag (or bivvy) is tight up against your body. A Mylar tent, however, is up in the air where it can get beat up by wind and weather.
Exterior Color and Reflectively
The exterior of the tent will come in one of three categories, reflective, highly visible color, or natural color.
- Highly visible colors, typically orange, will be easily seen. This may be good if you are stranded or lost and want to be found.
- Natural colors like greens and browns or camouflage will help hide your tent. This is ideal if you are trying to evade others or if you don’t need help, playing it safe by avoiding others as you bug out or go home.
- Reflective would also be quite visible when reflecting the sun during the day or flashlights at night. On the other hand, in the right light the reflective surface reflects the surroundings to create a camouflage effect. A reflective exterior means the tent will reflect light, including heat. So on cold days not only will the tent reflect body heat in, any heat from the sun will also be reflected out instead of helping warm the tent.
Breathable means the shelter will exchange air. This is important to prevent moisture build up and therefore keep you dry. It’s also important to keep oxygen in the shelter as you breath.
When it comes to shelters labeled “emergency” they are often 1 time use shelters. For the most part they are shelters they you hope you never have to use, and if you do its only for a few hours or perhaps days.
To get an emergency shelter compact and light-weight enough that it can be carried around all the time without the intention of using it often means it has to be extremely light-weight and compact. We also need to add cheap enough for people to be willing to buy, yet perhaps never use.
To accomplish this the materials of choice by manufactures are often a type of Mylar, plastic, or silnylon. These materials are not very breathable. So the lower cost items like the Titan Emergency Bag, UST Tube Tent, and the “Emergency” based SOL bags are not breathable. The River Country Trekking Tent and the higher end SOL bags are breathable.
This does not mean you should dismiss products that are not breathable. Bags are designed to have your head sticking out however during long term use you will likely need to exchange the air. The tube tents design is open on both ends, however you may wish to close one or both ends in some situations. The point is breath-ability is a limiting factor that needs to be considered.
UST Base Tube Tarp and Camping Shelter (Green or Orange)
This is the highest quality tube tent we could find for the money. So as far as tube tents go this is the best survival tent. They offer a green exterior for low visibility and an orange exterior for high visibility.
Many emergency tube tents are simply a Mylar sheet looped around and taped. UST does not use Mylar. Instead they use nylon. It feels like a light-gauge tent like material. One side is aluminized to gain the reflective quality of Mylar. UST also uses a zipper which gives you the option to unzip the tube into a rectangle tarp for more versatility.
- Packed size 15” long x 4” diameter
- Unzipped the tarp is 7 ft by 10 feet
- Very light weight 1 lb 12 ozs
- Switching between tube tent and tarp is done by a zipper
- Multipurpose: one-person sleeping tent, overhead shelter, ground cloth, tarp
- Aluminized side for thermal insulation and emergency signaling
- Flame-retardant side
- Comes with steal stakes, could possible drop a few ounces with aluminum or titanium
- Only 7 feet long, some tube tens are 8 feet which would make tying down/closing one end easier
- Not breathable, yet still has plenty of “open” configuration uses
Most emergency tents are designed to be more or less one-time use tents. So they are thin, cheaply built, and very inexpensive. The River Country Trekking Pole Tent is designed to be used several times.
If your looking for a re-usable tent and don’t mind the extra size and weight this is our choice for the best survival tent.
- Would outlast most any Mylar based tent
- Very light-weight tent, 3 lbs 2 oz
- Packed size is about 5″ diameter and 8″ long
- Green so it blends in with nature
- As breathable as any tent material
- Stakes are metal, you can loose a few ounces by switching them out
- Packed size is pretty small, yet still bigger then an emergency bivvy or tube tent
Technically it’s not a tent. However, if you’re looking for the minimalist approach to your bug out bag, an emergency sleeping bag is the way to go. An emergency sleeping bag provides much of the same function as an emergency tent, at least what you need it to in a survival situation.
Titan’s version of the emergency sleeping bag is a step up in quality. The material is thicker, improving the durability. It’s also a softer material then most making the bag quieter. The trade off is a few extra ounces and a little extra space. If you’re willing to carry a few extra ounces and can spare a little extra space, you can get a much better emergency sleeping bag.
- At 25 mils the blanket is thicker than most brands that are 12-17 mils
- Available in orange, brown, and camouflage
- The thicker material adds durability
- The material used is softer and therefore quieter than other Mylar materials
- Reflects 90% of your body heat
- Light-weight at 5.6 ounces
- Packed size of 3.5″ dia x 6″ tall its bigger than normal bivvy (2.5″ x 4″)
- Not breathable, your head should be uncovered during use
Survive Outdoors Longer (SOL) is a well known and trusted outdoors survival equipment manufacturer. They offer a family of emergency sleeping bags. The Escape Bivvy Lite is made from a breathable, windproof, and water resistant material.
The bivvy is built with a softer and quieter olefin based fabric, especially compared to Mylar. The bivvy can be used alone as an emergency bag.
This can also be used as a slipcover over an existing sleeping bag to increase warmth and water resistance. Though this is still not a “daily use” product if it is properly cared for it should outlast the cheaper versions. This means it should be ok to take on planned hiking and camping trips in case its gets colder than expected without it being an emergency situation.
- Breathable, helps keep you dry by reducing internal moisture
- Reflects 70% of your body heat
- Constructed with olefin, a much softer fabric than plastics or Mylar
- Weighs just 5.5 ounces
- Starting to get into the higher-priced emergency sleeping bags
When it comes to selecting the best survival tent we believe its a combination of the UST BASE Tube Tarp and one of the bivvy sleeping bags above. Combined the two only weigh about 2 pounds and provide several options for creating an emergency shelter. The BASE Tube Tarp can be a tent or any shelter you can create from a tarp to protect from rain, snow, wind, or the sun. The bivvy will keep you warm.