Choosing The Right Shelter Size For Your Needs

Choosing The Right Shelter Size For Your Needs

Modern rapid deployment shelters are robust, lightweight and highly customizable. They come in a variety of sizes, shapes and configurations. When it comes to selecting the ideal shelter size, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Whether you’re planning a camping trip, organizing an event, or needing a shelter for EMS, civil protection, and defense purposes, the size of your shelter plays a crucial role in meeting your requirements. In picking the shelter’s size, there are a few factors to consider:

  • The number of persons and/or the size of the materials that the shelter will host,
  • Climate conditions: will the tent be used in extreme weather conditions? In this case additional accessories might be required, which have an impact over the shelter’s size and shape.
  • Weight and deployment speed. As a rule of thumb, smaller shelters are lighter and have a shorter deployment time than big tents.

From compact 20x20 shelters to much larger structures, each size offers distinct advantages depending on your specific needs. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular shelter sizes, their uses, and which shelter will best suit your needs.

Understanding the Options

Among the most popular shelter sizes are the 20x20’, 20x30’, and 20x40’ configurations. While 30' and 40' wide systems are common, end customers often expand their shelters to customized lengths to suit their unique purposes. Modular tents are also an option, easily extending the shelter’s size.

There are some common usages for multiple shelter sizes; both smaller and larger shelters can be used for camping and emergency sheltering. However, the exact size can depend on the number of people that the shelter needs to house.

Smaller Shelters (20x20, 20x30)

Naturally, smaller shelters will accommodate fewer people and ensure less storage space. Smaller shelters cater to more intimate gatherings and emergency situations where space is limited.

Some of the most common use cases for these shelters are:

Sheds and Command Posts: In an EMS, civil protection, and defense situation, smaller shelters are ideal for storage or as operational centers. Typically, they can accommodate up to 40 people in a 20x20 shelter and up to 60 people in a 20x30 shelter.

Emergency Shelters: Providing rapid relief in crisis situations, these shelters can house approximately 40 individuals in a 20x20 setup and up to 60 in a 20x30 configuration.

Decontamination Shelters: Decontamination shelters are typically smaller, as they are equipped with specialized systems and accessories for decontamination purposes. LANCO’s decontamination shelters range in size from 6x6 to 10x15 ft.

Larger Shelters (20x40 and Up)

For more expansive events and operations requiring more space, larger shelters are the best bet.

Field Hospitals: Field hospitals often need to offer comprehensive medical facilities as well as accommodate inpatient treatment. A 20x40 shelter can comfortably house up to 80 patients, with larger setups accommodating even more.

Event Spaces: Depending on seating arrangements, a 20x40 shelter can accommodate approximately 150 standing guests or around 100 seated guests with tables and chairs, depending on the seating configuration. Larger configurations provide even greater flexibility, by offering additional floor space to accommodate more people.

Mobile Kitchens and Dining Areas: These tents not only need to accommodate culinary operations comfortably but also need to include chairs and tables for guests to sit and dine comfortably. Depending on the seating configuration, a 20x40 tent can accommodate up to 100 people.

Considerations Beyond Size

Beyond capacity, several factors differentiate smaller and larger shelters.

Weight and Portability: Smaller shelters are generally lighter and more portable, making them suitable for rapid deployment and transportation. Larger shelters, while offering greater space, may require heavier materials and specialized equipment for setup and relocation.

Setup Time and Labor: Smaller tents typically require fewer people and less time for setup compared to larger structures. While a 20x20 tent may only require a small team for assembly, larger tents necessitate more manpower and may take longer to erect. For LANCO shelters, the manpower required for deployment depends on the type of shelter. Our inflatable shelters, regardless of size, can be set up quickly by 1 to 3 persons. Our exoskeleton-framed shelters can be set up in less than 10 minutes but can require up to 5 persons.


By carefully evaluating these factors and understanding the capabilities of different shelter sizes, you can confidently choose the right option to meet your needs, whether you're planning for emergencies or organizing an event.

At LANCO, we produce low pressure, high pressure and exoskeleton shelters. The smallest shelter is the ARZ 50, with a base area of 64 ft², and the biggest one is the AZM 11-6, with a base area of 2676 ft². In between, we produce tents of pretty much any size you can think of. We also have the capacity to manufacture custom-sized and shaped shelters. To learn more about our rapid deployment solutions, reach out today.