A Guide to Labrador Tents, Including Set-up

A Guide To Labrador Tents including Set Up

We all know that camping is fun and allows us to connect with nature, our loved ones, and ourselves. Whatever type of camping you prefer, it can be a nourishing and immersive experience for everyone.

There are many different tents you can use for each season, including high-quality tents that can withstand the elements. But for extreme winter conditions, Labrador tents are the go-to tents as they are easy to set up on any type of terrain, including uneven surfaces. However, in extreme rain and wind, you need to pick the right location so that they can remain stable.


The heart of your campsite is your tent. No matter how comfortable your camp may be, if you do not have a good camping tent, your camping experience will not be as satisfactory as you want it to be. If you want to invest in a good tent, check out our article on the best tents for camping where we listed and reviewed the top tents available in the market today. 


What Is a Labrador Tent?

Labrador tents are traditional canvas tents made of canvas with tie-out points and wood frames. These tents were used by Labrador Inuits as temporary dwellings for their winter hunting trips. They used wooden poles or whalebones and sealskin as covering. To this day, Labrador tents are still used as shelter during winter camping trips, but instead of whalebones and animal skin, campers use wood and canvas.


Durability of Canvas

Canvas tents are durable, breathable, waterproof, add extra insulation, and are environmentally friendly. They can withstand harsh and varying weather conditions, like wind, cold, and heat and can repel snow and rain.


Advantages of Labrador or Canvas Tents

1. Stay Cooler

Canvas or Labrador tents are constructed with heavy, thick materials like cotton or other synthetic materials, and sometimes, a blend of both. Since they are thicker than other tents, they offer more protection from the sun. Thus, it can be significantly cooler inside a canvas tent than in a synthetic tent.

Any tent made of any material can eventually heat up under direct sunlight, but canvas tents will allow you to stay inside longer, even if the sun is up all day.

2. Sun Protection

Although Labrador tents offer more sun protection than lighter and synthetically-made tents, it is still important to set up your tent in an area that receives as much shade as possible. Since canvas tents are thick, less sun can get through the interior, which means you can sleep longer as it still stays dark inside, even in the early morning.

3. Retains Heat

The reason why Labrador or canvas tents stay cooler in the summer is the same reason why they also stay warm in the winter. In chilly conditions, Labrador tents allow the heat from the inside to get insulated and keep it from escaping. The thicker the tent’s fabric, the better the insulation.

4. Longevity

If you are looking to camp for one or several weeks, you should consider setting up your own Labrador or canvas tent instead of using a lightweight nylon or poly tent. Labrador tents are durable and can withstand long exposure to the sun, rain, and wind and can also withstand daily wear and tear. When canvas material or any camping gear are well taken care of, they can last for decades. However, with the nature of canvas tents, they can still last longer than synthetic nylon or poly tents when used ruggedly.

5. Breathability and Condensation

Synthetic nylon or polyester tents can also retain heat, even if they are made of lightweight materials, but this heat retention comes at a price.

Synthetic tents are made primarily of nylon and polyester. Thus, they are not breathable and smell bad after some time. Non-breathable tents cause condensation if it is humid outside, which can turn your camping trip into a muggy occasion.

Although not every canvas is made out of cotton, cotton canvas tents have the advantage of being more breathable than nylon and polyester tents, which means they are less likely to inspire condensation. It is also advisable that your tent have proper ventilation to avoid condensation.

6. Sustainability

Synthetic materials are, unfortunately, not biodegradable, which means it can take decades before it decays. Cotton tents, on the other hand, are made of organic materials or sourced from cotton plants, which means they are biodegradable and decompose back into their original composition when left in the dirt over time. However, you have to keep in mind that not all Labrador or canvas tents are made of cotton. Some are also blended with synthetic materials to make them more resistant to rotting.

7. Repairable

Although most tents, even nylon and polyester ones, are repairable, they still have their limits wherein damage may seem extensive and are not worth fixing. Sun-damaged synthetic tents can be more difficult or impossible to repair. On the other hand, Labrador or canvas tents can be easily repaired or patched up, and then, protected with waterproofing treatment to seal the seams.

Although canvas tents are pricier than nylon and polyester tents, they make a good investment that can last. And if damaged, they are easily repaired and used again. You won’t need to replace them often as these tents are tough and can be patched up many times.

8. Heat Resistance

Although Labrador tents are not fireproof, they can better withstand higher temperatures. That is why most canvas tents are specifically equipped with stoves, which cannot be done with nylon or polyester tents because heat can easily warp and shrink synthetic fabrics, and thus, cause permanent damage.

9. Wind Protection

If you’ve ever tried camping in a thin nylon or poly tent in windy weather, you know that uneasy feeling when the wind is harshly blowing the tent like crazy and it feels like the wind will take it away from the campsite. However, you can prevent this from happening if you choose a good location and high-quality tent with features that can make it more stable in windy conditions.

10. Customization

Another advantage of Labrador tents is that since they are made of canvas, they can be customized to fit your needs. You can pick the thickness, type of canvas, dimensions, door entrance, and size of windows. If you are purchasing made-to-order canvas tents, most manufacturers will give you the freedom to build a tent that can meet your needs.


Setting up a tent in moderate weather conditions may be intimidating enough for many, but the prospect of attempting this task in the snow complicates things to a ridiculous degree. To help ease your worries about this task, read our article to learn everything you need to know about setting up a tent in the snow.


Labrador Tent Set-up

Step 1:

You will need to cut five sticks, each with a 4 to 6 inches diameter. Four of these will be used as bipods and the fifth one will be used as the main ridge pole. You want to make sure these sticks are not rotted to prevent the tent from collapsing.

Step 2:

If you are in a snowy area, pack the snow down with your snowshoes and make it firm and leveled. If the wind and weather are favorable, many campers pitch their Labrador tents on thick frozen lakes.

Step 3:

Once the area is prepped, assemble the logs in an A-frame and tie them together using cords. String up the canvas accordingly to create a nice Labrador tent. It helps to set up the tent around trees, so that it’s easier to tie it down. However, large rocks, tent pegs, and larger sticks can suffice to secure the tent.

Step 4:

Once you are done assembling the frame and canvas, you have to make the flooring. Weight down the walls with logs or snow and use a tarp, plywood, sleeping pads, or use Spruce or Fir boughs. Fir boughs can serve as a well-insulated and comfortable bed. If using boughs, you should check the restrictions in the area as some places do not allow the harvest of boughs.

Step 5:

Once you’ve made the frame, added the canvas, and finished your flooring, it is time to throw your camping gear in.



What’s great about Labrador tents is their versatility. No matter what season you choose for your camping trip, a Labrador tent is always a good option for shelter. They are also very durable and can withstand extreme weather conditions.

Labrador tents are the ones you should use in the snow. It is best to experience these types of tents in snowy terrains as these conditions are what they were made for. That being said, feel free to set up your Labrador tent in any season as it can be comfortable for a prolonged stay outdoors.

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