The Best Non Toxic Tents Without Flame Retardants Harmful to Human Health [2023]

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A camping trip with family and friends is a time to commune with nature and unplug from the hectic pace of urban and suburban life. However, immersing yourself in nature could also mean exposing yourself to dangerous chemicals, depending on your choice of tent. This article will help you find healthier, non toxic options for your next camping adventure.

What’s a non toxic tent?

Flame retardant (FR) chemicals are commonly used in camping tents, even though scientists have discovered that they have the potential to cause serious health effects in humans. The non toxic tents featured in this article are made without FR chemicals.

While the amount of exposure the average person has to flame retardants via a camping tent during a single outing is not enough to cause immediate problems, repeated long-term exposure over years can be cause for concern.

Health experts are sounding the alarm that these chemicals should be removed from consumer products completely because they are persistent and bioaccumulate. This is means they continue to build up in the human body and natural environment over time with each exposure.

The eco friendly tents in our list range from 2-person to 6-person tents. All of the tents are made without flame retardants, however, some of the tents do include waterproofing chemicals and dyes.

A Brief History of Fire-Retardant Chemicals in Tents

Flame retardant chemicals The Best Non Toxic Tents Without Flame Retardants Harmful to Human Health [2023]

In 1976, the U.S. government passed the “Toxic Substances Control Act“. Ironically, instead of banning dangerous chemicals as the name would imply, these rules required tents to have special flame retardant chemicals. The goal was to reduce the chance of tents catching fire and to keep campers safe. This was a big deal at the time because circus tents were covered in paraffin, and therefore highly flammable.

These fire safety rules, which were helpful 30-40 years ago, haven’t really changed over time. It’s a bit like still using a cassette player when everyone’s streaming music.

In the past, tents were made from materials that could easily catch fire, but these days, thanks to the progress in material science, tents are much less likely to do so.

Yet, the old safety rules still apply, which means modern tents are often treated with the same fire-resistant chemicals as before. This is where we hit a bump in the road because these chemicals might actually be pretty toxic for humans and the environment.

Importance of non-toxic camping gear: Environmental and Health Implications

Research has found that organophosphate flame retardants, which are often present in camping tents, can cause a variety of health problems. Breathing in these chemicals while setting up, taking down, or using a tent can cause symptoms such as headaches and dizziness, and may even lead to more serious conditions like seizures and difficulty breathing. Over time, long-term exposure to these chemicals can also result in muscle weakness and numbness in the limbs.

Additionally, it is important to consider the environmental impact of flame retardants. These chemicals can remain in the environment for extended periods, building up in plants, soil, animals, and potentially affecting ecosystems. While the full effects of this accumulation are not yet known, it underscores the necessity for sustainable options in the camping industry.

Benefits of sleeping in a non toxic tent

Non toxic tent benefits The Best Non Toxic Tents Without Flame Retardants Harmful to Human Health [2023]

Choosing a non-toxic tent for your camping adventures offers a range of benefits that contribute to both your health and the environment. Here are some key advantages:

  • Prevent Exposure to Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs): Traditional tents may include flame retardant chemicals that can release harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are associated with breathing difficulties, skin irritation, and long-term effects on the nervous and reproductive systems. Choosing a non-toxic tent reduces the danger of exposure to these harmful chemicals.
  • Improve Air Quality Inside the Tent: Choosing a non-toxic tent is a good idea because many regular tents have a strong chemical smell, called “off-gassing.” This smell comes from chemicals like flame retardants and other treatments. By choosing a non-toxic tent, you can have a better camping experience with air that’s cleaner.
  • Reduce Harm to the Environment: Non-toxic tents are designed with a focus on sustainability and eco-friendliness. By opting for a tent free from flame retardants and other chemicals, you help reduce the release of these substances into the environment. Additionally, non-toxic tents often utilize materials that are more sustainable and have a lower impact on natural resources.
  • Peace of Mind: Choosing a non-toxic tent demonstrates that you’ve made the decision to prioritize your health and the environment and taken real-world step towards a more sustainable camping experience.

Best Non-Toxic Camping Tents

The North Face Stormbreak

The North Face Stormbreak 2 Review

The North Face Stormbreak is a 3-person, 4-season tent that’s known for its durability, enhanced waterproofing, quick pitch, and relative lightweight design for a tent of this capacity.

Design: Freestanding
Capacity: 3 person
Seasons: 4
Doors / Vestibules: 2
Poles: 2 (Easy setup in under 10 min.)
Minimum Trail Weight:  5 lbs. 5 oz.
Packed Size: 8″ X 22″ (20.3cm X 55.9cm)
Floor Dimensions: 88 x 65 inches
Vestibule Area: 10.8 + 10.8 square feet
Material: 75-denier polyester with 1,200 mm waterproof rating

Big Agnes Bunk House 6P

Big Agnes Bunk House Frame - Best 8 Person Tents
Big Agnes Bunk House - Best 8 Person Tents

The Big Agnes Bunk House 6P is a spacious family tent with front vestibule and shelter mode. High-quality materials, easy setup. Stay dry and organized with ample storage options.

Design: Freestanding
Capacity: 6 person
Seasons: 3
Doors / Vestibules: 2
Poles: 2 (Easy setup in under 10 min.)
Minimum Trail Weight:  18 lbs. 6 oz.
Packed Size: 27.5 x 17 x 7.5 inches
Floor Dimensions: 118 L x 100 W x 78 H inches
Vestibule Area: 56 square feet
Material: 1500 mm polyester taffeta

North Face Wawona 6

North Face Wawona 6 Non Toxic Tent Without Flame Retardants
North Face Wawona 6 Tent

The North Face Wawona 6 is one of the best family tents on the market, with a double-wall design, generous interior space, great ventilation and extra storage space, it feels more like a house than a tent.

Design: Freestanding
Capacity: 6 Person
Seasons: 3
Doors / Vestibules: 2
Poles: 4 (Mediume setup in 15-20 minutes)
Weight: 20 pounds (9.07 kilograms)
Dimensions: 120 W x 96 H x 78 H inches
Vestibule Area: 44.7 square feet (4.15 square meters)
Material: Polyester

NEMO Aurora Highrise

Nemo Aurora Highrise Non Toxic Tent
Nemo Aurora Highrise Tent Mesh Body

The NEMO Aurora 6P has a large, comfortable living space, with extra headspace for upright standing, and large, protected side windows for great ventilation and beautiful views of nature.

Capacity: 6 person
Seasons: 3
Weight:  18 pounds, 14 ounces
Doors / Vestibules: 2
Peak Height: 6.1 feet
Floor Dimensions: 120 x 100 inches (305 x 254 centimeters)
Material: Polyester

Alpkit Roundhouse Organic Cotton Canvas Tent

Alpkit Roundhouse Non Toxic Tent

The Roundhouse has a luxurious, spacious environment that feels like a permanent structure, with an organic poly-cotton shell that significantly improves air quality and ventilation inside the tent.

Capacity: 6 person
Seasons: 3
Weight:  26.94 pounds (12.21 kilograms)
Doors / Vestibules: 2
Peak Height: 9.84 feet (299.9 centimeters)
Floor Area: 6.56 feet diameter (199.9 centimeters)
Material: 65% polyester and 35% organic cotton eco friendly materials

2/3 Person Camping Tents, Ideal for Couples, Backpacking and Car Camping

Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL3

Big Agnes Copper Spur Non Toxic Tent
Big Agnes Copper Spur Tent Mesh Body

The Big Agnes Copper Spur is ultralight, sturdy, and waterproof, with generous livable space and tons of storage compartments.

Design: Freestanding
Capacity: 3 person
Seasons: 3
Doors / Vestibules: 2
Poles: 2 (Easy setup in under 10 min.)
Minimum Trail Weight:  3 pounds, 8 ounces (~1.5 kilograms)
Packed Size: 21 x 6 inches (53.34 x 15.24 centimeters)
Floor Dimensions: 90 x 70 inches (228.6 x 177.8 centimeters)
Vestibule Area: 33 square feet (3 square meters)
Peak Height: 43 inches (109.22 centimeters)
Material: Ripstop nylon


Nemo Dagger OSMO non toxic tent
nemo dagger osmo 2 The Best Non Toxic Tents Without Flame Retardants Harmful to Human Health [2023]

The NEMO Dagger OSMO’s spacious design and superior ventilation make it pleasantly livable and well-suited for long excursions.

Design: Freestanding
Capacity: 2 person
Seasons: 3
Doors / Vestibules: 2
Poles: 1 (Easy setup in less than 10 minutes)
Minimum Trail Weight:  3 pounds, 6 ounces (~1.3 kilograms)
Floor Dimensions: 90 x 50 inches (228.6 x 127 centimeters)
Floor Area: 31.3 square feet (2.9 square feet)
Vestibule Area: 11.4 + 11.4 square feet (1.02 + 1.02 square meters)
Peak Height: 42 inches (106.68 centimeters)
Material: Ripstop nylon

Mountain Hardwear Mineral King 2 Tent

Mountain Hardwear Mineral King Non Toxic Tent
Mineral King Tent Mesh Body

The Mountain Hardwear Mineral King 2 is budget-friendly tent lightweight enough for short backpacking trips, and spacious enough for longer excursions.

Design: Freestanding
Capacity: 2 person
Seasons: 3
Doors / Vestibules: 2
Poles: 2 (Easy setup in less than 10 min.)
Minimum Trail Weight:  6 pounds
Floor Dimensions: 88 x 54 inches (223.52 x 137.16 centimeters)
Vestibule Area: 18.3 square feet (1.7 square meters)
Peak Height: 43 inches (109.22 centimeters)
Material: Polyester

REI Co-Op Half Dome Tent

REI Co-op Half Dome Non Toxic Tent
REI Half Dome Tent Mesh Body

The REI Half-Dome backpacking tent is a best-in-class product that checks all the boxes – it’s lightweight with large interior space, superior ventilation and plenty of storage.

Design: Freestanding
Capacity: 3 Person
Seasons: 3
Doors / Vestibule: 2
Poles: 1
Weight: 4 pounds, 13 ounces (~2.1 kilograms)
Peak Height: 44 inches (112 centimeters)
Floor Dimensions: 90 x 78 inches (227 x 198 centimeters)
Vestibule Dimensions: 22.5 square feet (2 square meters)
Material: Nylon

Hyperlite Mountain Gear UltaMid

Hyperlite Ultamid 4 Non Toxic Tent
Hyperlite Ultamid 4 Non Toxic Tent

The Hyperlite UltraMid is one of the lightest backpacking tents, at only 1.7 pounds, with a shell made from 100% waterproof Dyneema® composite fabric, a fabric that is stronger and longer lasting that carbon fiber.

Capacity: 2 person
Seasons: 3
Doors / Vestibule: 1
Poles: 1
Weight:  1 pound, 7.7 ounces
Peak Height: 5 feet, 4 inches
Floor Dimensions: 83 x 107 inches (211 x 272 centimeters)
Material: Dyneema Composite Fiber (DCF) fabric

Alpkit Tetri

Tetri Non Toxic Tent

The Alpkit Tetri’s unique geodesic, three-pole design make it sturdy and well-equipped for all types of weather.

Capacity: 2 person
Seasons: 3
Doors / Vestibules: 1
Weight: 6.6 pounds (3 kilograms)
Floor Dimensions: 126 x 58 x 43 inches (320 x 149 x 110 centimeters) (L x W x H)
Material: Polyester

Lucky Sheep

lucky sheep organic cotton tent The Best Non Toxic Tents Without Flame Retardants Harmful to Human Health [2023]

Lucky Sheep’s organic cotton canvas tent harkens back to old school tents of yore, with breathable, non-toxic fabric coated with beeswax for waterproofing.

Capacity: 2 person
Seasons: 3
Doors / Vestibules: 1
Weight: 6.6 pounds (3 kilograms)
Floor Dimensions: 10 foot diameter
Material: Polyester

What to look for when choosing non-toxic camping gear

Non Toxic camping gear The Best Non Toxic Tents Without Flame Retardants Harmful to Human Health [2023]

When it comes to non-toxic camping gear, there are several factors to keep in mind to ensure a healthier and safer camping experience. Here is a checklist of key features to look for non-toxic camping gear:

  • Flame Retardant-Free: Look for tents that are explicitly labeled as flame retardant-free to reduce your exposure to these toxic chemicals.
  • Eco-Friendly Dyes: Choose tents that use natural or low-impact dyes, which are less toxic than conventional dyes.
  • Materials: Look for tents that are free of phthalates and PFCs used in waterproofing treatments.
  • Low Offgassing: Offgassing refers to the release of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which are often found in camping gear. VOCs can contaminate indoor air quality and even cause respiratory issues or other health concerns. Look for camping gear made from materials with low offgassing properties such as cotton, hemp, wool, silica gel, and natural waterproofing treatments.
  • Safety Certifications: Look for certifications or labels indicating non-toxic materials and eco-friendly manufacturing practices.
  • Environmental Impact: Look for gear made from sustainable materials, such as recycled or recyclable materials, and consider the overall durability and longevity of the products to minimize waste.
  • Care and Maintenance: Proper care and maintenance of camping gear play a crucial role in minimizing chemical exposure. Follow manufacturer instructions for cleaning and storing your gear, and consider using non-toxic cleaning products when needed. Regularly ventilate and air out your gear to reduce any potential buildup of moisture or mold.
  • Product Research and Reviews: Take the time to research and read reviews of camping gear to find brands and specific products that prioritize non-toxicity and safety. Look for reputable manufacturers known for their commitment to environmentally friendly and non-toxic practices.

TABLE 1: Certification Standards Comparison

Certification NameKey CriteriaDescription
Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)Prohibits the use of certain substances, including chemical flame retardants and limits on the emission of harmful chemicals such as formaldehyde and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs), as well as a variety of hazardous chemicals, pesticides, phthalates, lead, arsenic, and other heavy metals. Lays out percentage requirements for how much of a product must be certified organic.GOTS is a certification standard for textiles that ensures products are produced without harmful chemicals and with minimal impact on the environment.
OEKO-TEX Standard 100Limits the levels of chemicals allowed in certified products depending on what type of product it is. Certain flame retardant chemicals are not allowed.OEKO-TEX Standard 100 is a certification standard for textiles that ensures products are free of harmful substances and safe for human use.
REACHRequires companies to register and report information on the use of chemicals in their products. Restricts the use of certain hazardous chemicals.REACH is a European Union regulation that aims to protect human health and the environment from the risks posed by chemicals.
BluesignEnsures that products are produced with minimal impact on people and the environment. Limits the use of harmful substances in production processes4.Bluesign is a certification standard for textiles that ensures products are produced sustainably and with minimal impact on the environment.
GreenGuard GoldLimits emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from products to improve indoor air quality5.GreenGuard Gold is a certification standard for indoor air quality that ensures products emit low levels of harmful chemicals.

Video Case Studies

YouTuber Dan Becker does a deep dive on Nemo and Big Agnes.

Tent Case Study #1

Nemo Hornet Two-Person Tent:
The Nemo Hornet tent boasts the smallest footprint among the three tents. This compact design allows for easy setup in various campsite locations. Its rain fly features a large open back end, providing excellent ventilation and heat dissipation.

While the vestibules are reasonably sized, they could have been slightly larger. However, tying off one vestibule is simple, and the inner tent can be attached to the vestibule for additional space. Keep in mind that the tent’s interior is more suitable for one person, although it can accommodate two with some compromises. Headroom may be limited, especially for taller individuals, but the tent’s overall construction, including seam sealing, is of high quality.

Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2:
The Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 strikes a balance between space and footprint size. It fits well in various camping areas and offers an ideal amount of vestibule space. Unlike the Nemo Hornet, this tent features a two-zipper door, making entry and gear handling more convenient. It also provides better headroom due to the brow pole that widens the top of the tent.

With two people, sitting up inside the tent may feel a bit cramped, but the vertical walls and thoughtful design enhance comfort. The Tiger Wall UL2 does not have a built-in light diffuser, but it offers a gear pocket to hold a headlamp for interior illumination. The tent’s manufacturing quality, including color-coded and adjustable corners, ensures durability and easy adjustments during setup.

Marmot Super Alloy:
The Marmot Super Alloy tent completes our top three list. While it may not be as well-known as the other two tents, it deserves recognition for its performance. This tent strikes a balance between space and portability, making it suitable for a range of camping situations.

It offers ample vestibule space for gear storage and a comfortable interior with sufficient headroom and vertical walls. The Marmot Super Alloy does not include specific features like a light diffuser or adjustable corners, but its overall construction is reliable and well-sewn.

Tent Case Study #2

Luxury and Comfort: Big Agnes Copper Spur Tent
The Big Agnes Copper Spur tent, specifically the Mountain Glow version, offers a luxurious camping experience. While it may be slightly heavier compared to other models, this tent provides ample storage and space.

What sets it apart is the built-in lighting and the innovative vestibule that can transform into an awning, enhancing your outdoor comfort. If you desire a camping experience that feels akin to staying in a hotel, the Copper Spur tent is an excellent choice.

Ultralight Minimalism: Big Agnes Scout Carbon Tent
For those seeking an ultralight option, the Big Agnes Scout Carbon tent is worth considering. This tent is renowned for being the lightest two-person tent available on the market. Its single-wall design, while reducing weight, sacrifices a vestibule and offers limited space for two individuals.

However, its Dyneema construction provides exceptional durability despite its delicate appearance. The Scout Carbon tent is ideal for solo adventurers or pairs looking to minimize weight while maintaining reliability.

The Sweet Spot: Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL Tent
The Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL tent strikes a balance between luxury and weight savings. Available in two versions, the standard UL and the newer Platinum UL made from renewable materials, both offer remarkable performance.

The Tiger Wall UL tent provides a spacious interior, easy setup even in the rain, and weighs around two and a half pounds. Choosing between the two versions depends on your preference for weight reduction and budget considerations.

Understanding Toxicity and Camping Gear

TABLE 2: Common Tent Materials and their Toxicity Levels

MaterialToxicityEnvironmental Impact
PolyesterCan contain harmful chemicals such as phthalates and PFCs used in waterproofing treatments, which can have severe consequences for health and the environment.Polyester is a synthetic material made from petroleum, which is not biodegradable and contributes to pollution. However, some companies are using recycled polyester to reduce environmental impact
NylonCan contain harmful chemicals such as PFCs used in waterproofing treatments.Nylon is a synthetic material made from petroleum, which is not biodegradable and contributes to pollution. However, some companies are using recycled nylon to reduce environmental impact
CanvasCanvas is a natural material made from cotton or hemp, which is less toxic than synthetic materials. However, it can still contain harmful chemicals such as pesticides and fungicides used in farming.Cotton farming requires a lot of water and pesticides, which can have negative environmental impacts. Hemp is more sustainable than cotton because it requires less water and pesticides
Organic CottonOrganic cotton is grown without the use of harmful pesticides and fertilizers, making it less toxic than conventional cotton.Cotton farming requires a lot of water and pesticides, which can have negative environmental impacts. However, organic cotton farming is more sustainable than conventional cotton farming because it uses less water and does not use harmful chemicals
HempHemp is a natural material that is less toxic than synthetic materials. It is grown without the use of harmful pesticides and fertilizers, making it more sustainable than conventional cotton.Hemp requires less water and pesticides than cotton, making it more sustainable than cotton
Eco-Friendly AlternativesSome companies are using eco-friendly alternatives such as recycled polyester and nylon, organic cotton, and hemp to reduce environmental impact and toxicity levels.Eco-friendly alternatives are more sustainable than conventional materials because they use fewer resources and do not contain harmful chemicals

The Hazards of PFCs in Outdoor Gear

Per- and poly-fluorinated chemicals (PFCs) are often used in outdoor gear to make it waterproof and dirt-repellent. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, PFCs have been found to be persistent) in the environment and bio-accumulative in wildlife, and studies have shown that exposure to some PFCs can lead to adverse health effects in humans, including developmental effects to fetuses during pregnancy or to breastfed infants (source: .

Greenpeace found that several top outdoor brands, such as Jack Wolfskin, The North Face, Patagonia, Mammut, Norrona, and Salewa, still use PFCs in some of their products. This brings up concerns about the possible long-term effects of these chemicals on people and the environment.

Flame Retardants: Containing the Fire, Escaping the Risks

Flame retardants have been used since the 1970s and can be found in loads of everyday products – from camping gear to furniture and baby products. While some flame retardants have been phased out, they still persist in the environment. Exposure to them has been associated with adverse effects on the nervous and reproductive systems, and in some cases also linked to cancer.

Sensitivities to mold and chemicals

Sensitivities to mold and chemicals refer to adverse reactions or heightened sensitivity that individuals may experience when exposed to these substances. Here’s a closer look at each sensitivity:

Mold Sensitivity: Mold sensitivity, also known as mold intolerance or mold allergy, occurs when individuals have an exaggerated immune response to mold spores. Exposure to mold can trigger various symptoms, including nasal congestion, coughing, sneezing, wheezing, itchy or watery eyes, throat irritation, skin rashes, and in some cases, severe respiratory issues. People with mold sensitivity may experience these symptoms when exposed to even small amounts of mold.

Chemical Sensitivity: Chemical sensitivity, also referred to as Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS), is a condition in which individuals experience adverse reactions when exposed to various chemicals present in everyday products, such as cleaning agents, fragrances, pesticides, and certain building materials.

The symptoms can range from mild to severe and may include headaches, dizziness, fatigue, respiratory problems, skin irritation, brain fog, and gastrointestinal issues. Individuals with chemical sensitivity often have a heightened sensitivity to a wide range of chemicals and may need to avoid specific environments or products.

Asbestos in fire retardants

FR chemicals can also contain the highly toxic substance, asbestos. Learn more about asbestos in fire-resistant materials from and check out our article on how to identify asbestos in camping gear.

2016 Duke University Study on Flame Retardants in Backpacking Tents

A 2016 report conducted by Duke University scientists revealed that humans interact with significant amounts of flame retardants when they use backpacking tents.

Genna Gomes, a doctoral student at Duke and principal author of the research paper Characterizing Flame Retardant Applications and Potential Human Exposure in Backpacking Tents, sought to determine if flame retardant chemicals inhaled while camping could be absorbed into the body.

Twenty volunteers were asked to to erect tents made in 2014 and tested to contain organophosphate flame retardants (OPFRs). All the tents used in the study fulfilled the CPAI-84 flame resistance standard.

The participants’ hands were swabbed by the researchers before and after they put up the tents, and each swab was analyzed for OPFRs. They evaluated each tent for four different OPFRs before having volunteers put the tents together.

After erecting the tents, the volunteers had significantly more OPFRs on their hands than before, in some instances up to 29 times more of one particular chemical, TDCIPP.

While the quantities of OPFR chemicals found were very small – millionths to hundred-millionths of a gram – consistent exposure can cause these chemicals to accumulate in the body over time.

Children in particular appear to absorb these chemicals more readily because they tend to be more tactile, frequently touching surfaces and other objects.

“The researchers tested the air space inside 15 different tents for a set of known flame retardants. Based on their measurements, the researchers estimated that campers sleeping for eight hours inside the tents could potentially inhale compound levels ranging from a few nano-grams per kilogram of bodyweight to 400 nanograms per kilogram of bodyweight.”

The study was published in Environmental Science & Technology, “Characterizing Flame Retardant Applications and Potential Human Exposure in Tents.”

Health statistics

  • Exposure to flame retardant chemicals has been linked to various health problems, including developmental delays, reduced IQ, hormone disruption, and cancer.
  • A review of the scientific literature on flame retardants concluded that they can have “serious environmental and health impacts,” including neurological, reproductive, and immune system effects.
  • The World Health Organization has identified several flame retardant chemicals, including polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), as persistent organic pollutants that can pose a threat to human health and the environment.

Non Toxic Tent FAQs

Why should you buy a non toxic tent?

The health risk of fire retardants may significantly outweigh any protection these chemicals offer. Health effects of flame retardants used in tent fabrics may include kidney and liver cancers, neurological damage, respiratory illnesses, reproductive toxicity and fetal development.

What are flame-retardants?

The term “flame retardants” , also known as “fr chemicals”, refers to a variety of substances added to flammable materials to prevent or delay the spread of fire. These chemicals are added to fabric in different parts of the tent, including the rainfly, canopy and floor.

Why are flame retardants dangerous?

The health risk of retardants may significantly outweigh any protection they offer. Health effects of flame retardants used in tent fabrics may include kidney and liver cancers, neurological damage, respiratory illnesses, reproductive toxicity and fetal development problems.

US states like Massachusetts, Maine and New Hampshire have started prohibiting specific fr chemicals in consumer products , but oftentimes flame retardants are used to meet regulatory flammability requirements of a specific state. FR chemicals are much more restricted in Europe , and in some cases have been completely banned because of the health risks.

These levels are below what is permitted by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, however they far exceed the levels legally allowed in Europe. In fact, several flame retardants have been completely banned in Europe, and a larger ban of chemicals in the EU is planned for 2022.

Which certifications should non-toxic tents have to ensure they meet safety and environmental standards?

Non-toxic tents should have certifications that verify their commitment to safety and environmental standards, including MADE SAFEForest Stewardship Council CertificationOEKO-TEXEnvironmental Working Group (EWG)bluesignUL GREENGUARD, and Design for the Environment (DfE).

MADE SAFE is the first non-toxic certification in America verifying that finished products are made from a base of materials, components, and ingredients not harmful to human health.

FSC certified products meet rigorous environmental, social, and economic criteria designed to protect lands, ecosystems, and workers. DfE-certified products must meet requirements related to human health.

How can non-toxic tents be designed to minimize allergens and provide a healthier camping experience?

Choosing tents made with materials that are low in volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can help reduce exposure to harmful chemicals, and thus reduce allergic reactions and provide a healthier experience.

Why do tents contain flame-retardants?

Flame retardants are used to keep combustible materials from spreading. Regulations for these chemicals in tents stretch back to the 1970s, when they were put in place to safeguard fires from paraffin-treated canvas event tents used at circuses and fairs.

However, most people no longer use these type of old fashioned tents. Tent regulations haven’t been revised since the 1990’s, even though outdoor gear technology has evolved significantly.

In addition, flame retardants do not degrade easily, and can persist in the environment for years. These substances can also build up in the biological systems of people and animals over time.

Do flame retardants stop a tent from becoming flammable?

Flame retardants DO NOT stop a tent from becoming flammable. Regardless of whether they have been sprayed with a fire retardant chemical, all tents exposed to an open flame will burn. No such thing as a fireproof tent exists.

What steps are taken to minimize off-gassing from materials used in non-toxic tents?

Off-gassing is the process of releasing volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air from everyday products. To minimize off-gassing from materials used in non-toxic tents, it is recommended to choose materials that are low in volatile organic compounds (VOCs)

What are the most common types of flame-retardant chemicals?

These come in a large number of variations and are frequently classified according to whether they contain bromine, chlorine, phosphorus, nitrogen, metals, or boron.

  • Brominated FR chemical (BFRs): Often found in electronics, furniture, and building materials. BFRs can cause endocrine disruption and other health effects in humans.
  • Organophosphates FR chemical (OPFRs): Most commonly found in camping tents, long-term exposure to OPFRs can cause a number of health effects, including neurological problems, depression, headaches, diarrhea, and nausea.
  • Tetrabromobisphenol A FR chemical (TBBPAs): Typically used to make computer electronics, TBBPAs can cause toxicity in reproductive organs and the brain, and disruption of the endocrine system.
  • Polybrominated diphenyl ethers FR chemical (PBDEs): Commonly found in furniture and electronics and easily inhaled in the air and dust. PBDEs may reduce infant birth weight, as well as impact brain development. US manufacturers of these chemicals voluntarily stopped making and importing them in 2004 and 2009. The FDA created a rule in 2012 to completely stop the importation of PBDEs.
  • Hexabromocyclododecane FR chemical (HBCDs): Often found in foam products, HBCDs can have negative reproductive, developmental and neurological health effects in humans.

Why do tents have Prop 65 warning?

“Proposition 65”, also known as the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, is a California legislation that mandates a warning label on items that contain specific chemicals. Tents contain fire retardant chemicals which are banned in the state of California.

There are seven US states and Canada that have rules about how fire retardant chemicals must be used on tents, even if they are made of lightweight synthetic materials. These US states include California, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Louisiana, Minnesota, and Michigan.

To make matters more confusing, fire retardants have been banned or restricted in 12 states, including New York and California, as well as South Korea, the European Union, and Canada as well. This makes it hard for manufacturers to sell products that can be universally sold in every market.

Are non-toxic tents designed to be easily recyclable at the end of their lifecycle?

Some tent materials like nylon or polyester can be technically recycled, while mixed-materials or silicone-coated ones may not be recyclable. Purchasing high quality tents that are repairable is a good way to extend their lifecycle. There is also the option of giving old tents away to non profits like Tents4Homeless, and Teens to Trails.

Shopping Tips and Return Policies

When it comes to shopping for non-toxic tents, there are several shopping tips and return policies to consider. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  • Research and Product Labels: Before making a purchase, it’s important to research and review the product descriptions, labels, and specifications of the tents you are considering. Look for tents that explicitly state they are made without toxic flame retardants, PVC coatings, or other harmful chemicals.
  • Material Selection: Pay attention to the materials used in the construction of the tent. Look for tents made from sustainable and non-toxic materials such as organic cotton, hemp, recycled polyester, or nylon without harmful chemical treatments.
  • Ventilation and Off-Gassing: Consider the tent’s ventilation system and potential off-gassing. Non-toxic tents generally offer improved indoor air quality and reduced chemical odor compared to conventional tents.
  • Return Policies: Familiarize yourself with the return policies of the retailer or manufacturer from which you plan to purchase the tent. Check if they offer a satisfaction guarantee or a return period during which you can assess the tent’s performance and decide if it meets your expectations.
  • Customer Reviews and Recommendations: Read customer reviews and seek recommendations from trusted sources. Other campers’ experiences can offer valuable insights into the quality, durability, and non-toxicity of specific tent models or brands.
  • Warranty: Check if the tent comes with a warranty. A warranty can be an indication of the manufacturer’s confidence in the product’s quality and can provide coverage in case of any manufacturing defects or issues.
  • Price Comparison: Compare prices of non-toxic tents across different brands and models. While non-toxic tents may sometimes be slightly more expensive than conventional options, it’s important to find a balance between quality, affordability, and non-toxicity.

Additional Information, Studies, Resources

  • A Review of a Class of Emerging Contaminants: The Classification, Distribution, Intensity of Consumption, Synthesis Routes, Environmental Effects and Expectation of Pollution Abatement to Organophosphate Flame Retardants (OPFRs)
  • Environmental Working Group (EWG): EWG is a reputable organization that provides research and resources on environmental health, including information on toxic chemicals and their impact on human health and the environment.
  • National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS): NIEHS is a part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and focuses on researching environmental factors that affect human health. They provide valuable information on the health effects of toxic chemicals, including flame retardants and phthalates.
  • Green Seal: Green Seal is a certification organization that sets environmental standards for various products, including camping gear. Their website provides information on eco-friendly and non-toxic products, including tents.

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