What is a screen house for? A screen house tent offers a compromise; appreciate the scenic views and fresh air without sharing food with the wasps and flies. Set up a screen house in your backyard or alongside your campervan and watch the stars at night without waking up with itchy mosquito bites.
Screen houses have plenty of practical uses. They offer shelter from light rain and wind, UV protection, and a defensive barrier for pests. For this reason, screen houses are ideal for day trips to the beach, picnics, sleepovers in the backyard, or small garden gatherings.
Instead of covering yourself with sticky bug repellent, take a look at our list of the five best screen houses for camping and outdoor dining. We’ve even separated our selection into categories to help you choose the right screen house for you.
When it comes to convenience, versatility, quality, and value for money, the Quick-Set Escape Screen Shelter is our top pick. Measuring 11.5 x 11.5-feet wide, it offers plenty of space for a picnic table and cooking equipment. Thanks to the generous center height, 90 inches, it’s also comfortable to stand up inside and cook without bending.
Furthermore, it takes less than a minute to set up. Just take it out of the storage bag (included) and unfold. The fiberglass poles snap into central hubs on the sidewalls and roof, and there are stakes and guy ropes included for windy days.
When it comes to weather protection, this screen house has a water-resistant roof, taped seams, and built-in roof flaps that will help protect from side winds.
The side walls are no-see-um bug mesh that should keep out most things that bite. Additionally, the tent has attachment points for weather panels (sold separately), so you may be able to use this shelter in wet and windy weather.
- Water-resistant materials
- Easy setup
- Option to add weather panels
- More expensive (but still good value)
At under $100, the Ozark Trail Instant Screen House gets our vote for the best budget screen house. Despite its very reasonable price tag, this screen house still offers a generous 10 x 10-feet floor space and a wide zippered entrance on two sides. Although it’s slightly shorter than others on this list, the 84-inch centre height is still tall enough for most people.
Like all instant screen houses, this one is quick and easy to set up. It features a folding frame with steel poles that snap into place. Durable steel stakes and guy ropes are also included.
One drawback is that the walls are slightly sloped, which makes it less resistant to heavy rain. That said, the heavy-duty mesh walls and polyester material should withstand light showers. It also provides 50+ UV protection, perhaps a smart choice for days at the beach or sunny picnics.
- Affordable price
- 50+ UV protection
- Easy to pitch
- Lighter than other screen houses (18 lbs)
- Not the most durable
- Slightly shorter than competitors
The Back Home Instant Screen House from Coleman is one of the most popular screen houses on the market. It’s made from high-quality materials, easy to pitch, and has an attractive hexagonal shape. It’s also reasonably priced for such a spacious screen house. Although it’s not as quick to pitch as a pop-up tent, it should take less than five minutes to set up.
This screen house tent has a large double-door zippered entrance on either side. That will come in handy when you’re carrying food from the BBQ to the picnic table. Additionally, at 12 x 10-feet, it’s almost as spacious as the Quick-Set Escape, and its vertical walls offer plenty of headroom.
We also like that the screened walls are detachable, allowing it to function as a canopy. Plus, the roof material has a UV guard that provides UPF 50+ sun protection making it a popular choice for families with young kids.
- UV resistant
- Detachable screen walls
- Not much rain protection
When you need something that’s stylish and easy to pitch, the Alvantor Screen Tent is our top choice. Just take this pop-up screen house out of the bag, let it set itself up, then stake the corners.
Whether you’re a family of five, a couple, or a group, the Alvantor Screen House is suitable for all as it’s available in four sizes (6 x 6, 10 x 10, 12 x 12, or 15 x 15-feet).
The smallest size is comfortable for two to three people. In comparison, the largest option is comfortable for up to 15 people, making it a practical screen house tent for summer garden parties or sleepovers in the backyard. Furthermore, at 15 lbs (10 x 10-feet version), it’s light enough to carry to a beach or park.
Although the six mesh walls don’t provide much rain protection, they do an excellent job of ventilating the tent whilst keeping out flies, mosquitos, and no-see-ums. Unlike other models on the market, the Alvantor has two large doors that are zippered all the way around. This, combined with a tent skirt, should keep most pests at bay.
- Available in four sizes
- Seconds to pitch
- Doors are zippered on all sides
- Looks great
- Folding takes some practice
If you’re looking for a screen house that you can use in all conditions, the Hasika All-Weather Screened Shelter is our top choice. With roll-away waterproof zippered panels on all four sides, UV protection, and no-see-um mesh screen walls, this shelter is suitable for sunny days and overnight camping as well as wet and windy weather.
Another bonus is that these weather panels have metal eyelets in the bottom corners, allowing you to prop them up on poles for extra shade. The main body of the tent has four screened walls. Two walls have zippered T-doors so you can enter on either side. Moreover, the Hasika All-Weather Screened Shelter has a built-in groundsheet that should help keep the sand and dirt out of your tent.
At 8 x 8-feet, it is smaller than others in our top five and, because of its 71-inch center height and sloped sides, taller people will need to bend inside. For this reason, we don’t recommend this Hasika screen house for cooking. However, it’s a great option for summer camping trips, beach days, and picnics.
- Built-in groundsheet
- Suitable for sleeping
- Lightweight (12.3 lbs)
- Less spacious
- Not suitable to use as a cooking shelter
Frequently Asked Questions
WHY DON’T SCREEN HOUSES HAVE GROUNDSHEETS?
Most screen house tents don’t have built-in groundsheets although they may have attachment points for groundsheets. Most are made without groundsheets because this allows you to put a screen house over things like picnic tables and garden pools.
Screen houses without groundsheets are also more practical for picnics as they are safer to cook inside. Additionally, you don’t need to worry about cleaning up spilt drinks or cookie crumbs.
CAN YOU COOK INSIDE A SCREEN HOUSE?
Yes, because of the high roof and ventilated sidewalls, it’s safe to cook inside most screen houses. However, you should never put a camping cooker too close to the walls as tent materials are usually flammable and always check the manufacturer’s recommendations.
CAN YOU CAMP IN SCREEN HOUSES?
Yes, you can camp in a screen house, but they are best for summer camping, backyard camping, or to use alongside the main family tent or campervan. This is because most screen houses are not fully waterproof and don’t provide much warmth or wind protection.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A SCREEN HOUSE AND A NORMAL TENT?
A screen house is a type of tent but with a few specific features. Firstly, most screen tents are taller than regular tents so that you can stand up inside.
Secondly, most also have vertical walls, which optimize the inside space but are less resistant to strong winds. The most significant feature that screen houses have is mesh walls instead of solid walls. Screen houses protect from bugs and allow a breeze to pass through but offer little weather protection compared to a normal tent.
ARE SCREEN HOUSES EASY TO PITCH?
Most screen houses take less than five minutes to pitch and some take just a minute or two. The reason screen houses are so easy to pitch is that most have pop-up frames or folding frames with poles that snap into a hub when unfolded.
The best screen house can protect you from bugs and bad weather without blocking your outdoor views. These quick-pitch shelters are affordable and practical whether you’re looking for a bug-proof shelter for summer stargazing trips, an outdoor dining area, or a shaded play space for kids.