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In this guide to the best screen houses for camping and picnicking, we review and recommend the best screen shelters for keeping insects away.
In addition, we’ll cover important screen house features: Some screened shelters for camping are better in the wind while others are better for the rain. The best screen tents are sized to fit over picnic tables. And some pop-up screen shelters take less than a minute to deploy!
Most importantly, the best screened shelters provide plenty of rugged mesh to keep pesky bugs out — especially mosquitoes, no-see-ums, yellow jackets and hornets. If you want to enjoy fresh air with friends and family when the bugs are flying, a screen tent will help everyone have more fun in the great outdoors. Let’s take a closer look:
The primary benefit to lightweight and easily portable screen house shelters is that you can pack them into small carry bags, making them easy to stow in a trunk or carry to your picnic spot or campsite. The primary drawback is they require you to assemble poles much like you do with most tents. Setup, then, might take a few minutes. If you value packability, these are our favorite screened shelters for 2022:
Bass Pro Shops Eclipse Refuge Screen House
The Bass Pro Shops Eclipse Refuge Screen House offers a hard to beat price-to-value ratio in a lightweight package. It’s not the fastest to setup, but once you assemble it like a typical tent, it’s relatively sturdy, has plenty of tie-down points for wind, and when you’re done, it packs up small. The roof is waterproof with a 800mm polyurethane coating, but rain can slide down near the corner poles and work its way through the mesh. The version we tested and reviewed last summer is 10′ x 12′ — pictured above. However, Bass Pro Shops makes a similar Eclipse Refuge Screen House 15′ x 17′ hexagon version that includes one built-in wind/shade panel wall.
The only drawback to the Bass Pro Shops Eclipse Refuge Screen House is that it’s not as well-built as the more expensive screen houses from Big Agnes, REI, NEMO, and Eureka! noted below. Still, for relatively casual camping and picnic use several weekends a year, the value is hard to beat. We’re fans because it can save you when you aren’t expecting to be harassed by flies or hornets — and it takes up little space in your vehicle. Oh, one more thing: The Browning Basecamp Screenhouse has a very similar design but comes in at a higher price point.
Size: 10′ x 12′ rectangle or 15′ x 17′ hexagon
Peak height: 7’4″ or 7’9″
Packed size: 27″ x 8″ or 34″ x 12″
Weight: 16.1 lbs or 29.5 lbs
The new for 2022 Coleman Skyshade Screen Dome Canopy has a deceptively simple dome tent style design. One key benefit is that it comes with a removable floor. Most competitive screen houses don’t come with removable floors, so this is a great feature if you setup in wet areas or want a more controlled eating space. It comes in two sizes: The version shown above is 8′ x 8′ with a peak height of 6’8″ while the larger version is 10′ x 10′ with a peak height of 7’2″. If you want to use the Coleman Skyshade over a picnic table, choose the Skyshade 10×10 Screen Dome Canopy for the best elbow room.
Size: 8′ x 8′ or 10′ x 10′
Peak height: 6’8″ or 7’2″
Packed size: 26″ x 8″ or 26″ x 9″
Weight: 11.4 lbs or 13.4 lbs
The REI Co-op Screen House Shelter features high-quality no-see-um mesh with two doors. The solid fabric base and extra material at the bottom help provide strength and flows with uneven ground to help keep out crawling bugs. One benefit for stability and keeping the walls close to the ground is the inclusion of eight stake-down loops. One drawback is that guy lines are not included, which means it’s not great for high-wind situations. On the other hand, REI offers a Screen House Rainfly accessory that delivers a fully-waterproof roof with corner guy lines. Plus, it comes with a built-in sidewall that can deliver extra shade or wind protection — or extend up and out to function as an awning. One more thing: We appreciate the high-quality aluminum poles.
Size: 10′ x 10′
Peak height: 7′
Packed size: 9″ x 29″
Weight: 13 lbs
The L.L.Bean Woodlands Screen House features one large door for moving in camp tables, coolers and chairs as well as a half-size door for people traffic. The biggest benefit is the rugged shock-corded aluminum poles and inclusion of 10 stakes and 8 guy lines. For extra weather protection and versatility, L.L.Bean sells a Fly/Floor Kit accessory that offers a truly outstanding full coverage rainfly. With the full rainfly and floor kit, you could use this screen house almost like a cabin-style tent.
Size: 10′ x 10′
Peak height: 6’6″
Packed size: 13″ x 34″
Weight: 15.1 lbs
At 10′ x 12′ the L.L.Bean Acadia Family Screen House is a bit longer than the L.L.Bean Woodlands Screen house but its slightly sloping sidewalls reduce the available space. However, those slightly sloping walls also result in a stable design — and it’s still plenty long to fit over a standard size picnic table. The two center zip doors also make the L.L.Bean Acadia Family Screen House great for using over a picnic table or a large camping table — easy access to the table from either side. The overall design is similar to the Acadia 6-Person Family Tent we reviewed last year and found excellent.
Size: 10′ x 12′
Peak height: 7′
Packed size: 13″ x 34″
Weight: 15.1 lbs
The best quick setup screen shelters come with hinged legs that are attached to the roof poles. The benefit of fast-setup screen shelters is that they’re quick to set up — most can be up in about a minute. Of course, if you stake down the screen shelter for stability in wind and stake out guy lines, you’ll need a few more minutes to have it completely ready to go. The biggest drawback of instant-up screen houses is reduced packability — they are longer and bulkier to pack and travel with. If you struggle with typical tents, choose an instant setup screen house!
Coleman Screened Canopy Sun Shelter with Instant Setup
The biggest benefit of the Coleman Instant Screenhouse is that you can set it up in under a minute. The design has slightly sloped walls and legs, which helps with stability. The top is made from UVGuard material for sun protection and the guy lines come pre-attached. Coleman makes this screened shelter in two sizes: a 10′ x 10′ square (shown above) and a larger 15′ x 13′ hexagon. The square is great for couples and small families while the hexagon gives you more elbow room.
Size: 10′ x 10′ or 15′ x 13′ hexagon
Peak height: 7′
Packed size: 49″ x 6.5″ or 52″ x 8″
Weight: 16.5 lbs or 18.25 lbs
Coleman Back Home Screened Canopy Tent with Instant Setup
The Coleman Back Home Screened Canopy Tent with Instant Setup features the same fast setup as the Coleman Instant Screenhouse noted above, but this version uses space-enhancing vertical sidewalls. Setup is slightly slower — but at about 3 minutes, it’s still fast. In addition to the vertical sidewalls, this Coleman screen house sets itself apart by using a more durable double-thick Polyguard 2X fabric with UVGuard 50+ UPF sun protection. To help with stability, Coleman includes 6 tall guy lines, one at each corner. The biggest drawback is the relatively bulky packed size and weight, but Coleman includes a wheeled carry bag to make transport easier.
Size: 10′ x 12′ hexagon
Peak height: 8′ 4″
Packed size: 47″ x 13″
Weight: 45 lbs
The Cabela’s Quick-Set Screen Shelter sets itself apart from most instant-up screen houses through the use of x-shaped side panel walls that pop out and help create additional stability. In fact, even though the Cabela’s Quick-Set Screen Shelter is fast to set up, it’s stable in windy conditions if you stake it down using guy lines attached to the middle of each pop-out wall strap. Better yet, the Cabela’s Quick-Set Screen Shelter is packed with quality features, starting with ultra durable tear-resistant no-see-um mesh panels. The water-resistant roof is made with rugged 210-denier polyester-oxford fabric with taped seams. You also get zippered pockets on mesh windows that allow you to stow your coolers outside the screen shelter . . . but make it easy to access contents from the inside. We also appreciate the wind and shade panels over each door that roll down when needed. Each panel has grommets that let you use the two included awning poles to create extra shade or light rain coverage. To create this Quick-Set Screen Shelter, Cabela’s partnered with ice-fishing shelter leader CLAM — and then improved the CLAM design with stronger wall pulls and an enhanced door zipper.
Size: 12.5′ x 12.5′ hexagon
Peak height: 7’10”
Packed size: 81″ x 15″
Weight: 50 lbs
The Escape Sky Camper Screen Tent by CLAM is very similar to the Cabela’s Quick-Set Screen Shelter but it includes a screened roof with a rain fly and removable floor accessory. Like the Cabela’s version, it still uses the ingenious CLAM Quick-Set pop-out wall panels and it’s very easy to set up. The Escape Sky Camper is slightly smaller than the Cabela’s Quick-Set Screen Shelter — about a foot less in diameter and a few inches shorter. Still, its capacity is quite roomy — up to 8 people — and it fits over standard sized picnic tables.
Size: 11.6′ x 11.6′ hexagon
Peak height: 7’6″
Packed size: 74″ x 12″
Weight: 48 lbs
The best screen shelters for rain have a fully waterproof roof or rainfly that can handle extended rain or drizzle. While most screen houses have water-resistant roof materials, they don’t always have shapes that shed rain away from slightly sloped mesh walls. If you want a rain-ready screen shelter, take a close look at the shape of the roof and walls to see how it will handle water flow. These are the best screened shelters for rain for 2022:
Big Agnes Sugarloaf Camp Screen House Shelter
The Big Agnes Sugarloaf Camp Screen House Shelter is made for discerning outdoor gear buyers who value quality in lightweight solutions. The Colorado-based Big Agnes is known for its ultralight backpacking gear, but the company also makes excellent lightweight camping gear, too. Its Sugarloaf Camp Screen House Shelter is made with high-quality aluminum poles. Our favorite benefit is the excellent detachable rainfly that extends over the sidewalls so rainwater won’t fall into the mesh. If you want a fully mesh ceiling, you can leave the rainfly off. If you need coverage from the rain — and sun — put it on. And if you want to use it as a sun shade without the mesh, you can pitch it with just the rainfly for shade coverage. So versatile. The size is 10′ x 10′, which makes it large enough to set over a picnic table.
Size: 10′ x 10′
Peak height: 7’4″
Packed size: 27″ x 15.5″
Weight: 15 lbs
Like Big Agnes, NEMO is most known for its ultra high-quality backpacking and outdoor adventure gear — and the NEMO Victory Screenhouse exemplifies those design qualities. The best feature of the NEMO Victory Screenhouse is its ingenious waterproof roof and pole structure. The shape of the roof ensures that rain doesn’t pool up, plus its built-in rain gutters guide water away from the mesh sidewalls. So cool. While some competing shelters have waterproof roofs, poor user setup can compromise effectiveness in rain. The Victory Screenhouse, on the other hand, removes user error through innovative design — and we appreciate that. While the Victory Screenhouse doesn’t include a floor option, NEMO perfectly sized the floor dimensions to fit its XXL Victory Picnic Blanket. If you want a luxurious floor, particular for use on sandy beaches, consider the Victory Picnic Blanket. If you’re wondering how it will stay put with people traffic, don’t worry because it has corner loops to keep it in position inside the Victory Screenhouse.
Size: 10′ x 10′
Peak height: 7’1″
Packed size: 27″ x 10″
Weight: 14.5 lbs
The Eureka! Northern Breeze Screen House is one of the most versatile screen houses available for 2022. It’s very popular with outdoor enthusiasts because it has a rugged build quality and great features. The poles are stout aluminum. The waterproof roof fabric is 150-denier polyester oxford, which is a bit thinner and lighter than the Cabela’s Quick-Set Screen Shelter Roof — but it is waterproof. The sidewalls have wind panels that roll down — and even these panels are waterproof. The Eureka! Northern Breeze Screen House also comes with three awning poles that you can use on any of the shelter’s four walls to create an awning for extra shade. Basically, the Eureka! Northern Breeze Screen House is great in sun, great in rain, and if you stake it down properly with all the included guy lines and attachment points, it’s very good in windy conditions. In addition, the roof vent helps with both wind and airflow if you batten down the sidewalls on stormy days.
But wait, there’s more: If you need to spend some serious time inside the Northern Breeze Screen House, Eureka! includes handy mesh stash pockets and plenty of attachment points for lantern or rope-style lights. And these attachment points are even stout enough to let you string a clothes line. The Eureka! Northern Breeze Screen House comes in two sizes. The 10′ x 10′ version is large enough to fit over standard sized picnic tables while the 12′ x 12′ does that and more. Very highly recommended.
Size: 10′ x 10′ or 12′ x 12′
Peak height: 7’8″ or 8’5″
Packed size: 32″ x 12″ or 36″ x 14″
Weight: 27.6 lbs or 31.3 lbs
The best screen shelters for wind include many tie-down options and stake loops. Next, the best screen houses for wind should have sturdy pole structures and quality materials. However, even if you start with a quality design, you will likely need to supplement your screen house by adding extra stout stakes and possibly extra tent guyline cord to better secure your shelter against gusty winds. Finally, you’ll want to position your screen shelter so winds are more likely to hit a corner of the shelter and flow around rather hit a sidewall straight on.
If wind is a problem, we recommend that you choose a screen shelter with many guy line tie-down points and then buy the extra stakes, including a couple Orange Screw Ground Anchors, which are great for sandy or loose soils (and made it into our guide to the best gifts for campers). In addition, screen houses with extra material along the bottom let you place heavy coolers or rocks on top of the base fabric to help stabilize the shelter in windy conditions.
A screen tent or screen house is a tent-like structure with mesh walls and a solid fabric roof for shade and rain protection. The best screen houses, screen shelters, and screen tents are great for camping and picnics when you want a place to eat or visit ‘outside’ — but also want protection from pesky insects.
What is a screen house used for?
Screen houses are great for camping and picnicking when you want a space to eat or hang out away from insects, sun or rain. Outdoor enthusiasts like to take screen houses camping so they have a protected space for eating, playing games, and visiting. They’re particularly great for family camping. Many screen tent shelters have two doors and are sized large enough to place over standard size picnic tables.
Are screen tents waterproof?
By design most screen tents are highly water-resistant but not fully waterproof in stormy conditions. More specifically, most screen house tents have water-resistant roof fabrics that can shed light rain. However, some screen shelter roof designs let rain water pour over the roof and down the mesh tent walls, which could let water inside the shelter. The best screen shelters include fully waterproof roofs as well as roof and wall designs that keep water outside of the shelter. Even so, screen shelters with roll-down walls are susceptible to wind-driven rain. Because screen shelters that come with floor kits don’t have fully-sealed ‘bathtub’ style waterproof floors like true camping tents, some water can get underneath the walls.
Can you sleep in a screen tent?
Yes! In good weather situations, you can easily sleep inside of a screen tent. However, screen tent shelters don’t have fully-sealed floors and walls, so it’s possible that some insects or rainwater could get inside the screen tent. If you plan to sleep in your screen tent, we recommend that you use camping cots to ensure that your bedding won’t get wet in rainy conditions.
What is no-see-um mesh?
No-see-um mesh is simply a mesh screen with holes that are too small to let tiny flying midges, commonly called “no-see-ums,” from passing through the mesh. For comparison, no-see-ums are much smaller than mosquitoes (and sometimes difficult to see). There are thousands of species and many of them bite. The best screen tent shelters have mesh screens that prevent no-see-ums from entry.