The size of a wall tent you need depends on several basic factors.
- How many people need to sleep in the tent?
- Are you sleeping on the floor or sleeping on cots?
- Are most of the people adults or children?
- Will the tent be for sleeping only or do you need space to congregate or to cook?
- Is the tent going to be for your family, a group of scouts or a group of unrelated adults?
Before we bought our first wall tent, we read that we should consider 20 square feet (sq ft) per person for sleeping and 30 sq ft per person if more space was needed for cooking or other activities. The first tent we bought (12 X 14) has 168 sq ft, so using 20 – 30 sq ft per person, the tent should sleep 5 – 8 people.
Table 1 shows the number of people that various sized tents can sleep using the 30 and 20 sq ft calculations.
Table 1. Tent Size, Square Footage and Number of People each Tent can sleep.
|Size||Square||Tent Sleeps||Tent Sleeps|
|(Feet)||(Feet)||@30 sq ft||@20 sq ft|
Note – Our newest wall tent is from Elk Mountain Tents, so Tables 1 and 2 have been updated to include the 13 foot wide tents available from Elk Mountain tents. Additional floor plan diagrams have also been added to show additional 13 foot wide tents.
If people were sleeping on the ground, especially if some of them are children, the larger numbers based on 20 sq ft per person is reasonable. You might get away with packing teenagers in like chord wood, but paying customers will not be very impressed. Even very good friends wouldn’t be able to sleep very well and might not stay good friends for long.
If the tent is going to be used for kids at camp or even as an emergency shelter, bunk beds could be built two or three beds high to accommodate more people. Bunk cots are also available. This may not be the most comfortable situation, but everyone would be inside out of the wet and cold.
Cots add Comfort, but Require More Space
Cots may be more comfortable than sleeping on the ground, even on good pads, but cots take up more space. The average sized cots range from 72 – 75 inches long and are about 25 inches wide which is 12.5 -13 sq feet and XL (and larger) sized cots are about 80 – 85 inches long and 31 to 40 inches wide wish is 17.2 – 23.6 sq feet. So a 12 X 14 foot tent could hold up to 8 regular sized cots or 6 large cots. But unless we plan to use wall tents for temporary shelter following a disaster, we are not trying to jam as many people in them as possible.
It might be mathematically possible based on square footage, to fit a certain number of cots into the area of different sized tents, but it may not be realistic. Mathematically, we should be able to fit 8 cots into our tent (12×14), but I can not visualize but six cots fitting into the tent. Even then, some cots would have to touch each other and there would be very little space between the cots. It would be possible to sleep close together, then pile cots on top of each other after everyone rolled out of the sack in the morning, to create more room to move around.
Wood Stove Requires 36 – 40 square feet
Most people buy wall tents with the intention of camping during the Winter. Part of the appeal of the wall is the ability to heat it with a wood or pellet stove. Obviously, if there is a hot stove in the tent, there will be less room for cots.
Wood stoves come in several sizes. Small stoves are sufficient to heat small tents and larger stove are needed to keep larger tents warm. It is recommended that some of the largest (16×20) tents may need two stoves. Our stove is a mid sized stove, 14 inches wide and 24 inches long. Based on where the smoke stack is placed in the front corner of the tent, and buffering the stove by 3 feet out into the tent space, the mid-sized stove takes up 36 square feet and that larger stoves take up about 38 square feet. You can obviously move around and stand closer to the stove when necessary, but you should never leave cots, tables or anything else that may catch fire within three feet of a hot stove.
Before we bought our first tent, I drew floor plans to see how many cots and tables would reasonably fit into different sized tents. We also plan to use a wood stove during cold weather, so the stove and a safety buffer around the stove had to be considered. These floor plans helped us decide the size tent we needed. Generally, for tents, bigger is better, but size adds weight, costs more and it takes a larger stove and more wood to heat a larger tent. In the end, I think we got the best sized tent for the two of us.
Table 2 below was created from the scale diagrams. The table includes various tent sizes, the space required for the stove and the safety area around a hot stove, the Maximum number of cots I could fit into the area and the area, the number of cots I recommend be used in that space and the actual square footage that the recommended number of cots use.
Table 2. Tent Size, Space for Stove, Maximum Number of Cots, Recommended Number of Cots and the Space per Recommended Number of Cots.
|Size||(sq ft)||Number||Number||(sq ft).|
|(feet)||for Stove||of Cots||of Cots||per Cot|
Wall Tent Floor Plans and Headroom Diagrams
All Diagrams (Figures 1-15) are all scaled the same, with one foot equal 3 squares (4 inches per square). The human silhouettes are all 6 feet tall.
All cots and tables are 32 inches wide and 76 inches long. Cots are 20 inches high and tables are 28 inches high. The red areas represent the safety buffer around the wood stove, which is black.
The gray areas represent large cots or tables and the black areas on top of the gray cots represent average sized cots for comparison.
I will start with floor plan diagrams for the wall tent sizes that we have (12 X 14 & 13 X 13), then start over with the smallest tent size of 8 X 10 feet and work up to 16 X 20 feet.
12 x 14 Wall Tent Scale Diagram
With only two of us using a 12 x 14 foot tent, we have plenty of room, including the table and the stove.
There is room for a third cot and fourth cot, but the floor space is drastically reduced (Figure 1).
Figure 2 shows the scale drawing from a side view to see the headroom of a 12 foot wide, 8 foot tall tent.
13 x 13 Wall Tent Scale Diagram
A 13 X 13 foot tent is actual one square foot larger than a 12 X 14 foot tent, but I think has more options for floor planning.
As example, small cots can fit end to end in the 13 foot space, but can not fit in 12 feet.
We also have a folding table that fits end to end with a cot in the 13 foot space, but will not fit in the 12 foot space.
Like the 12 X 14 tent in Figure 1, there is room for a 3rd and 4th cot, but there are more options about how to make them fit (Figures 3 & 4).
Without the wood stove, 6 cots will fit into the 13 X 13 foot tent, but four cots will fit very comfortably, with lots of room for gear.
8 x 10 Wall Tent Scale Diagram
An 8 x 10 wall tent is very small (Figures 5 & 6).
If using a wood stove, I don’t see any way of putting more than 2 cots in the tent and only on one cot can be large to keep out of the three foot buffer that is recommended around the wood stove.
When not using the stove, there will be room for another cot, but there will not be enough room for two people to walk past each other (Figure 6).
10 x 12 Wall Tent Scale Diagram
The 10 x 12 Wall Tent (Figures 7 & 8) is also small, but is able to hold two large cots without invading the safety buffer around the stove.
If necessary, as many as 6 small cots could be fit into the tent if not using the wood stove.
At least the 10 foot wide tent is large enough for two people to pass with cot or tables on each side when not using a stove (Figure 8).
12 x 16 Wall Tent Scale Diagram
A 12 x 16 Wall Tent may be able to hold five large cots when using a wood stove (Figure 9), but some of the large cots encroach on the buffer area around the stove.
The tent would be more comfortable for everyone if the number of cots was limited to four.
Without the wood stove, as many as six cots could be fit into the tent.
The headroom of the 12 x 16 tent is the same as the 12 x 14 tent as shown in Figure 2.
13 x 16 Wall Tent Scale Diagram
One foot more width might not sound like much, but a 13 X 16 Wall Tent will hold five large cots when using a wood stove (Figure 10), without any of the large cots encroaching on the buffer area around the stove as compared to the 12 X 16 ft tent in Figure 9.
The tent would be have lots of room if the number of cots was limited to four or if some of the cots were average sized.
14 x 16 Wall Tent Scale Diagram
A 14 x 16 Wall Tent easily holds the five large cots even with the wood stove (Figure 11). If necessary, seven cots can be fit into the tent with the stove and without the wood stove, as many as eight cots (not all large cots) can be fit into the tent.
But the extra 16 square feet gained over the 13 X 16 tent does not create much more usable space, especially if all the cots don’t need to be large anyway.
Figure 12 shows the 14 x 16 tent is wide enough to fit three rows of cots or tables if necessary. The roof of the wider tents are starting to get lower, but a 6-foot person’s head will not touch the roof unless they are standing at the edge of the tent.
16 x 20 Wall Tent Scale Diagram
A 16×20 Wall Tent will easily hold eight cots when using a wood stove (Figure 13). The tent could hold as many as nine or ten cots if necessary, but it will be much more comfortable if cots are limited to eight or less. As many as twelve cots can be fit into a 16×20 tent when not using the wood stove.
Figure 14 shows the 16 foot wide tent is wide enough to easily fit three rows of cots or tables. The roof of this wide tent is low enough that people 6-foot tall or taller will touch the roof along the sides of the tent.
16 x 20 Wall Tent Scale Diagram with Two Stove
A 16×20 Wall Tent with two stoves loses some cot space to gain the extra heat, but the tent is large enough to easily hold seven cots. It may be able to hold as many as 10 cots if necessary. The headroom and width of the 16 foot wide tent is shown in Figure 15.
If you are considering buying a wall tent, we hope these diagrams help you make the decision about what size tent you need. When we bought our first wall tent, our decision was between a 10 X 12 or 12 X 14 foot tent. We decided on the larger tent and have never regretted it. Our newest tent from Elk Mountain Tents is the 13 X 13 tent. Now, we can invite friends and family and not give up our privacy at the same time.
Our advice on tent size is this: If in doubt, choose the larger of the sizes you are considering.