A screen tent, like this Coleman 15’x13′ shelter, makes camping and picnicking enjoyable, despite the bugs.
Mosquitoes are annoying when you’re camping. Even if you have a secure tent or RV, you don’t want to spend all day cooped up just to get away from the bugs!
Screened tents or shelters keep mosquitoes and other insects from biting, while letting you enjoy fresh air and the view. They also provide some shade on a hot day. The ones below have a top that’s SPF 50+ with UV guard, which will also provide a little bit of protection in a drizzle, but you’d want to rig a tarp overhead to keep out any real rain.
Nowadays, with diseases like West Nile Virus starting to be spread by mosquitoes, keeping skeeters away is an even higher priority, and a screened shelter when you’re outdoors is one solution.
Screen shelters come in sizes big enough to fit over a table or small enough for one or two to sleep in. Even the big ones aren’t hard to set up, but the little Genji shelter described below is nothing short of amazing. It’s like a magic trick. It also has a separate waterproof cover, if you also want to use it in the rain.
All the shelters below are good for setting up in the backyard too, in addition to camping or the beach. The first two come in sizes a little more generous than the compact umbrella-table netting discussed here. Even the largest one on this page, though, isn’t quite big enough to fit comfortably over a standard-size picnic table, since the sloped sides limit the room. It has plenty of space for several people on chairs and a smaller table, but if you’re looking for something to go over a big campground table with room to spare, take a look at the screen houses on this page.
Coleman 15’x13′ Screened Shelter Makes Picnicking Fun Again
Coleman Instant Screened Shelter is 15 feet by 13 feet, sets up quickly. See another photo above.
This roomy screened tent sets up quickly. It measures 15 feet by 13 feet on the ground, but since the walls are sloped, figure about half those dimensions that you can use standing up. It’s 7’4″ high in the middle, with a zippered door at both the front and back. The top is covered with a canopy that provides SPF 50+ sun protection, while the sides are a small mesh that keeps out both mosquitoes and the tiny no-see-um gnats.
It has a steel frame, and really does set up quickly. The folks in the video below have the set-up choreographed like something from “Dancing with the Stars” and they can do it in one minute, but real-life people like me can literally do it alone in less than five minutes, and taking it down is just as quick and easy.
Look the tent over closely the first time you set it up, because it’s not necessarily lying right in the box, since it apparently gets shifted around in packing or shipping. Ours was actually inside-out. Once you compare it to the pictures, and start off right, set-up is simple.
The weight is 19 pounds, and it folds up to a package about 4 1/2 feet long and 9″ x 9″. The light weight makes it easy to carry to where you want to set it up, but the frame isn’t exactly built like a brick house. Still, can’t say I’ve had any problem in normal breezy weather, but you wouldn’t want to use it in a strong wind.
It will fit over a standard-sized picnic table, just barely, due to the sloping sides, so a smaller table works much better. The top provides great sun protection and a little rain protection, but rain hits the sloping sides and inevitably starts dripping in. We’ve tied a tarp between trees overhead to keep off the rain, for those days when the weather alternates between drizzle and mosquitoes.
“Lightweight enough it’s easy to lift up onto my car-top carrier. Has to go in diagonally, but it fits. What I love is the set-up. Quick and easy. It has no floor so no worry about walking on it and damaging it. Keeps flies and yellowjackets out of the food, as well as mosquitoes in the evening. Love it.”
“Was skeptical about the quick set-up, but it’s really true, and goes back into its carrier bag just as fast. The zippers don’t work as smoothly as I’d like, but that’s a minor complaint. The two doors are nice because you don’t feel cornered if you’re sitting in the back, since there really isn’t a back. Mine has stood up to wind higher than I really planned, but it survived (had it in backyard, was at work, storm blew through).”
“Love this screen tent. Easy to pack, keeps the bugs out, roomy inside. Works as a sun shelter in the afternoon, keeps the flies away when you’re cooking, then works as a mosquito bar in the evening. We usually don’t bother with the stakes unless there’s a breeze.”
“Didn’t seem very durable first time we set it up, but the lightweight poles have held up despite weekend use all summer, so I can’t complain. Makes a nice outdoor room in the evening. Does the job. Easy to take down and pack away.”
Coleman 10×10 Screened Shelter–Quick, Cool Mosquito Protection
Coleman 10×10 screen shelter sets up quick, keeps out skeeters.
This screened shelter is a smaller version of the one above, so it has all the same good and bad points. It measures 10′ x 10′ on the ground, but since the sides slope, you can stand upright in maybe half that area. It packs up into a carry case, weighing 14.4 pounds.
This smaller model has four sides rather than six, but it still has doors both front and back that seal with zippers. The shade fabric on the top has SPF 50 and UV sun protection.
“Sets up really quick, under a minute. You can tie the doors open and use it for shade when there are no mosquitoes, and zip them closed when evening comes.”
“You have to be careful of the screen. The corner of a table poked a hole in it, which I patched with a little piece of duct tape. The poles seem kind of lightweight too. There are guy ropes coming off the corner that you stake down, and the stakes are small, but in firm soil they hold well even if there’s a breeze. In sand or light soil you might want to replace them with longer stakes.”
“Not really good for rain or shade, since the top is small, but great to keep out skeeters and flies. Nice to be able to leave food out when camping and not be fighting flies and bees. Much easier to set up with two people rather than alone, but goes up very fast with two, literally in seconds.”
Genji Sports Self-Expanded Screen Tent pops up quick, packs away flat
Genji Pop-Up Screen Tent is lightweight, easy to set up.
This Genji Sports screen tent pops up to create a 52″x 82″ shelter that’s 50″ high, then folds down into a flat 22″-diameter disk you can carry in a shoulder bag. The weight is 4 1/2 pounds. It provides shade and bug shelter on sunny days, with screen on all four sides, and a floor to keep something between you and the ground. It includes four stakes if you want to stake it down on a breezy day, plus a carrying case. If you want to use it for a rain shelter when camping, there’s a separate rain cover you can buy as well.
It’s big enough for two people to sit or lie in, very roomy for one, or makes a bug-free playpen for baby outside, with plenty of ventilation to let fresh air in. Clear the ground underneath of anything sharp before you set it up, like rocks, thorns or branches, since they can puncture the floor once you put your weight on it.
Setting it up is simple. Folding it back down takes a little practice. The video shows how it’s done, and it’s not hard once you learn the steps. After practicing a little, it’s like performing a magic trick.
“Sturdy little tent, reasonable price, very lightweight to carry around. It’s not easy to fold up, but if you watch the video and practice, it’s a snap.”
“I heard about this tent was good for letting sugar gliders play. It works great. The screen keeps it cool but makes it enclosed and safe. There’s just one tiny pinhole in the screen after several weeks of use.”
“Have only used it a couple of times at the beach, but very easy to open. Needs staked down on windy days but otherwise I don’t bother. Hope the fabric holds up, it seems a little thin. Roomier inside than I expected.”
“I use this for camping with the waterproof cover. There’s not much privacy with just the mesh, but it gives protection from bugs and is much cooler and lighter than a regular tent. When I want privacy or it rains or is colder, I put the cover over it.”
Coleman 12×10 Hex Shelter Sets Up Fast, Screens Out Skeeters
Coleman Instant Screened Shelter has straight sides, making it roomy, and sets up quickly. See more details.
No, this shelter won’t put a hex on you. It’s hexagonal–six-sided, rather than square–but the best thing about it is the straight sides. The measurements are 12’x10′, with the corners angled off due to the hex shape. The height is 100″ at the center, very generous, but also makes it a little harder for a short person to set up.
Unlike a tent-shaped screened shelter, you can use every inch of the ground-space, with no leaning over when you near the sides, so it seems bigger than it is when you’re inside.
You can fit a full-size picnic table inside, or a 4-foot round table with chairs around it, and enjoy a meal or an evening outside, with no mosquitoes, flies or yellowjackets. There are two screened doors with zippers to seal out the bugs, or when you just want to use it for shade, you can leave off the screens.
It really does set up and come down quickly. They say three minutes, and that’s not far from the truth; I’m guessing it’s about seven or eight minutes, with two people. One person can take it down. If you need something you can move to a site, use for a day or a weekend and bring back home, this is it. If you need a bigger shelter that’s more permanent but harder to move, check out the big Shelterlogic one below.
The weight is about 45 pounds when packed up, but it’s not that bad, since it has a wheeled carry bag so you can roll it to the site, rather than carry it. It’s got a steel frame, a heavy-duty solid top with 50+ UV sun protection. The poles have feet, so you can either stake them in place with tent pegs on grass, or weight them down on pavement. They’re also adjustable in height so you can level it on an uneven surface. There are guy ropes also, to hold it in the wind, though it’s not something you’d want to leave up in a high wind.
Setting up the Coleman shelter.
That’s the good news. The bad news is not really bad, but… rain. This shelter isn’t meant to be left up in a heavy rain. If water starts to pool on the roof, creating excess weight, it can damage the frame, especially if the wind gets blowing. At least it’s quick and easy to take down.
“We’ve used this every weekend this summer, with no fading, and it’s still holding up. Sets up and takes down very quickly. Nice to have a bug-free zone for eating and relaxing. It fits nicely packed in its case, but is kind of heavy. Glad the case has wheels.”
“This is an attractive shelter, bright on the inside when lit with lanterns at night. The screen is fine enough to keep all the bugs out but doesn’t obstruct your view so you don’t feel closed in. The straight sides make it seem bigger than a tent-style shelter. It fits over a campground picnic table with no problem.”
“Another review said the plastic brackets on the poles came cracked, so I checked mine when it arrived and they were fine, but probably good to look. The roof covering seems kind of thin but it has held up so far. First time setting up took a while, but after that, it really was speedy. The metal frame itself seems sturdy.”
“We have this on our deck and leave the frame bolted in place by the flat legs, and add the canopy when we want to use it. That way no worries about wind or rain. The zippers have held up to lots of use.”
Shelterlogic 10×20 Screen Shelter Has Sturdy, Long-Lasting Frame
The Shelterlogic 10×20 screen shelter makes a big, sturdy outdoor screened room safe from the bugs. See more details.
This screen shelter is made by the same company that builds carport frames, so it’s sturdy and big. It makes a screened enclosure for outdoor parties, weddings, art shows, flea markets, anyplace you’re trying to cut down on bugs and need some shade. My friend, who’s a caterer, loves this thing. Buffets covered with flies aren’t attractive.
This has a heavy white, waterproof cover, treated to resist UV light and protect you with 50+ UPF rating, so it’ll last in the sun. The frame is gray powder-coated steel to protect it from rust. It’s 20′ x 10′ and 9′ high in the center, 6′ high at the edges.
The mosquito netting attaches with little bungee cord loops, so it doesn’t seal completely around the edges, but for those using this size shelter, you’ll probably have people coming and going, letting a few bugs in as they do. What this does is cut down on mosquitoes and other bugs tremendously.
The doorway opening is on the side, by a corner post. You can set it up so the door is near any of the corner posts, and it zips, or rolls up to keep it open.
Here’s a peek at the manual (pdf file), so you can get an idea what’s involved in setting it up.
This probably isn’t a shelter you want to set up every weekend at the campground, but if you need a sturdy, solid shelter to set up and leave up most of the summer in the back yard or at a summer camp, or to last under hard use at flea markets or festivals or outdoor receptions, something like this will do the job. Like with any screen shelter, though, be careful of high winds.
“I use this for catering and it really does cut down on insects, even though I leave the door rolled up so people can come and go. Set-up requires getting all the parts laid out in order, and at least two people, but the metal frame slips together easily and the screen ties on, so no tools. A step ladder or at least a chair to stand on is a must, but the result is a big, airy screened-in room. We used to use a quick-set-up camping-type shelter and it wasn’t sturdy enough. Only thing I don’t like is I wish there was a second door on the other side to make the crowd-flow work better. Hi, Liz. This is my review.”
“The metal frame has stood up to a summer outdoors with no rust, and the canopy has handled the rain and sunlight. It comes with guy lines and spikes, but we replaced the spikes with longer ones since we get a fair amount of wind here. The screen is nice because it lets a lot of air in and with the shaded roof, it’s really comfortable inside in hot weather, but definitely install good guy ropes because the wind can catch the roof like a sail.”