How Long Do Bell Tents Really Last? (Solved)

Amongst the many different tents on the market, one of the most popular types is a bell tent.

Since the ninth century, this tent type has been around and is considered one of the best camping tent types on the market for families and large groups. Yet, just because it is popular doesn’t mean it is right for you and your needs or wants.

If you consider buying one, you’re likely wondering how long it will last you:

Here’s The Answer To How Expensive Bell Tents Are:

Bell Tents are one of the largest tent types ideal for big groups and families of campers. Since they are larger than many tent types, they tend to have higher prices. On average, a bell tent will cost between $430 and $930 depending on how many people it can sleep and the brand.

What Lifespan Do Bell Tent Manufacturers List For Their Tents?

Bell tents are one of the oldest tent types globally, but how long do they last?

According to most users, bell tents last decades, with many campers stating that their bell tents have survived between 10 to 30 years because of their canvas material and maintenance practices. Yet, how long do bell tents last according to select manufacturers?

Well, we found three manufacturers who make bell tents who have listed the lifespan of their bell tents:

  • Breathe Bell Tents: This brand’s bell tents last approximately 12 years if used three to four weeks out of a year.
  • Bell Tent Sussex: This brand’s bell tents have a lifespan of between 4 to 10 years.
  • The Tipi Hire Company and The Bell Tent Shop: This brand’s bell tents have a lifespan of up to 10 years.

Do Bell Tents Last Longer Than Other Tent Types?

Most bell tents are made from 100 percent cotton canvas.

Since cotton canvas is one of the most durable tent fabrics, it is known to last longer or just as long as a few tent types like polyester, nylon, and poly-cotton. Canvas tents feature a much thicker fabric structure which means they rip and tear less than artificial tent fabrics.

For example, most nylon tents last between 4 to 5 years, lasting upwards of ten, and polyester tents last between 10 to 12 years with consistent use. In contrast, cotton canvas bell tents last between 4 to 10 years (4 to 5 years if lived in year-round) but most last upwards of ten years, with some even lasting three decades when properly maintained.

However, like other tent types, how long a cotton canvas bell tent will last will depend on multiple factors that we will speak about under our next heading.

Which Factors Impact The Longevity Of My Bell Tent?

Although cotton canvas bell tents are incredibly durable and long-lasting, a few factors can impact the longevity of this tent type.

If you’re interested in learning a bit more about what these factors are, you might want to have a look below.

Weather Conditions

It may be pretty apparent if you’re an experienced camper, but for those of us who are new to the camping world, it’s important to note that the weather conditions we pitch our bell tents in can impact their longevity.

Even though the cotton canvas bell tents are much more durable than some nylon and polyester tents, the weather conditions can still affect them. For example, the sun can still cause UV damage to the fabric, and turbulent windy conditions could still damage the poles of a bell tent.

How Often You Use It

Although, it almost goes without saying, the more often you use your bell tent, the shorter its lifespan will be.

As we briefly estimated above, if you permanently use your bell tent to live in it year-round, you should expect it to last between 4 to 5 years. In contrast, if you only use it a few weeks each year, it could last you decades if maintained correctly.


Under no circumstances should you store your bell tent in an environment where pests can access it and where moisture can affect it.

Storing a tent in a wet environment can cause it to develop mold and mildew. If pests can easily access your tent, you will end up with chewed fabric, stains, and a tent that could be irreparable.

Additionally, if mildew and mold develop, they are some of the worst things to affect a canvas bell tent because they could significantly shorten its lifespan.

Moreover, you also need to ensure you don’t roll your tent up too tight when you store it because it will prevent your tent from breathing, and rolling it up tight could cause the fabric to become damaged.

How Well You Maintain It

Do you roll your tent up without cleaning it and put it away when not in use?

Well, if you’re guilty of this (like many of us are), you might want to consider trying to learn how to maintain your tent correctly. Simply rolling up a bell tent without cleaning it, looking for holes that need mending, ensuring it’s dry, or paying attention to where you store it will reduce its lifespan.

How Long Do Bell Tents Stay Waterproof?

Interestingly, it might not seem believable, but cotton canvas bell tents have natural waterproofing that other tents (except for poly-cotton) don’t possess.

Since bell tents are made from canvas, the cotton threads swell when water hits the tent, which causes the threads to become a barrier that doesn’t allow water into the tent. However, this will only occur after you have weathered your tent, but fortunately, weathering your tent is a simple process and only requires you to wet your tent before using it the first time.

After weathering a bell tent, some campers choose to add a waterproofing agent, but this usually isn’t necessary until after the first few camping seasons. Yet will eventually need to waterproof your cotton canvas bell tent.

Most manufacturers recommend waterproofing your bell tent 60 weeks after you have purchased and weathered your tent because 60 weeks is how long you can expect your tent to remain waterproof.

However, if you’re using your bell tent throughout the year, you need to waterproof it more often.

How Can I Make Sure My Tent Lasts As Long As Possible?

Since cotton canvas bell tents are more expensive than many other tent types, you need to note a few of the best tips for ensuring it lasts you as long as possible.

Below we have briefly listed three tips you should consider following if you want to continue using your bell tent for years to come.

Avoid Direct Sunlight:

If you don’t avoid sunlight, you will allow your bell tent to sustain UV damage, which can speed up the degradation of your tent over time.

Instead, opt to try and use a tent covering that can go over the cotton canvas.

Keep an Eye on Condensation:

Condensation inside your bell tent is not your friend.

You want to avoid condensation occurring as much as possible while camping because it leads to the development of mold and mildew, which can, as you now know, damage your cotton canvas.

To eliminate condensation as much as possible, you need only ensure the inside of your bell tent receives enough air to stay dry.

Ensure your Seams Are Sealed:

If the seams on your tent are not sealed, it can allow for water leakages when it rains, which can cause damage similar to condensation.

Luckily, you can use many products to ensure your seams are sealed.

When Should I Replace My Tent?

Generally, it would be best if you considered replacing your bell tent when it no longer keeps you warm and dry.

Essentially, if you find rips and tears that cannot be easily sown or patched or your fabric has stretched too far and cannot be held tight by your poles anymore, you need to replace your bell tent.


How Long Does A Tent Last: Factors That Affect It

Breathe Bell Tents

Bell Tent Sussex

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