10 Best Waterproof Tents to Keep You Dry in Downpours

By Emma
best waterproof tents

After extensive research and a couple of debates, we found the Coleman WeatherMaster 10-Person Tent is the best waterproof tent for car camping. For backpackers, our top choice is the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2.

The Coleman WeatherMaster is our winner because of the excellent quality to price ratio. Though there are some tents on our list that handle the rain even better, the WeatherMaster excels in almost all areas. 

Great craftsmanship, ample convenient features, amazing size and height, and, of course, an impeccable waterproof record make it the best waterproof tent for car camping.

The Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 will handle whatever you throw at it. Unless you spill your water bottle, no drops will ever enter this tent. Besides weather protection, it is ridiculously lightweight and super-easy to set up and take down.

All materials are of top-notch quality to ensure comfort and performance. 

However, all our picks have some great features, so check them out. Maybe one of them suits your needs better than our top picks. 

If you want to learn more about our evaluation process and the essential qualities of a waterproof tent, read our comprehensive buyer’s guide.

Let’s cut to the chase. Here’s our list – 

Best Waterproof Tents – Top Recommendations

Best waterproof car camping tent: Coleman WeatherMaster 10-Person Tent

Best waterproof backpacking tent: Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2

Best budget, waterproof, car camping option: Coleman Sundome Tent

Best budget, waterproof, backpacking option: TETON Sports Mountain Ultra Tent

Best instant waterproof tent: KAZOO Family Instant Cabin Tent

Other notable mentions:

Coleman WeatherMaster 10-Person Tent

  • Space & comfort (30%) – 8/10
  • Weather resistance (25%) – 8/10
  • Build quality and durability (15%) – 9/10
  • Ease of setup (10%) – 7/10
  • Weight & Portability (10%) – 6/10
  • Company history and reputation (10%) – 8/10

Best for: campers who want a durable and reliable large tent; $$

Coleman is the name of the game when you’re looking for solid and reliable quality without breaking the bank. The Coleman WeatherMaster 10-Person tent excels in so many areas, so it’s probably the best choice among larger tents.

Today, we are talking about waterproof tents and the WeatherMaster is worthy of its name. It can handle inclement weather as well as winds up to 35 mph. 

Coleman’s WeatherTec system with inverted seams, welded corners, and waterproof fabric will keep the rain at bay. And your party can have some fun inside the tent, maybe even try to dance the rain away!

Okay, I’m joking about dancing, but I wanted to point out how large this tent is. The floor area measures 17 by 9 feet. With the standing height (peak height 80 inches) throughout the tent, it’s a cozy place in any weather.

Did I mention it’s a cabin tent with almost vertical walls? So, there’s ample space in every direction.

Should the sun come, there’s plenty of mesh to get some breeze. The roof is all mesh for a great view of the skies.

If you’re not impressed enough, it comes with a hinged door and another entryway for easy entry/exit. A room divider will provide some privacy.

Also, side windows have a great, angled design. It allows you to keep the windows open in rain and not a drop will enter the tent. And you’ll maintain great airflow.

The Coleman WeatherMaster is somewhat heavy at 30 pounds, but it is expected considering the size. It is not the best tent for colder weather, but no one can have it all. 

Overall, it’s a great value for money and a very reliable and versatile tent.

Pros:

  • Great build quality and durability
  • Waterproof
  • Standing height all over the tent
  • Mesh roof
  • Great airflow
  • Angled windows can stay open in the rain
  • Hinged door
  • 2 doors and a room divider

Cons:

  • Not suitable for colder weather

TETON Sports Mountain Ultra Tent

  • Space & comfort (20%) – 7/10
  • Weight & Portability (20%) – 6/10
  • Weather resistance (20%) – 9/10
  • Build quality and durability (20%) – 7/10
  • Ease of setup (10%) – 8/10
  • Company history and reputation (10%)  – 7/10 

Best for: Backpackers who want an affordable but reliable tent with a hassle-free setup; $

If you want a tent capable of weathering the storm without splurging money on high-end products, the TETON Sports Mountain Ultra might be your best bet. Actually, it’s not a bet, it’s a safe choice.

The setup is super-quick. A couple of users have reported that 9-10-year olds have done it without instructions. And others set it up easily on dark nights. Myriads of users have done it in 5 minutes. So you get the picture – it’s as easy as it gets.

While being affordable, there’s nothing cheap about this tent. From 150D (Denier) fabric and thick, ripstop fly to aluminum poles, this tent is made to be sturdy and durable.

And waterproofness? A 3000 mm waterproof rating indicates it can withstand heavy rain and downpours. User reviews are proof as many of them raved about staying bone dry in all kinds of rainy conditions.

The dimensions are 82” by 63” by 45” (L, W, H) providing a 36 sq ft area. Not a lot, but it’s a backpacking tent. Also, there are 2 vestibules to add another 8 sq ft of space for boots or storing stuff.

This tent comes in different versions for 1,2,3, or 4 persons. The weight ranges from 4.7 lbs for a 1-person model to 10.1 lbs. for a 4-person version. While it’s not the lightest or the most compact backpacking tent, it offers great value for money.

Pros:

  • Very quick setup
  • Highly waterproof
  • Sturdy and durable materials
  • 2 doors and 2 vestibules
  • All-mesh inner tent
  • Comes with a footprint
  • Limited lifetime warranty

Cons:

  • On the heavier side for ultra-light backpackers (2-person model weighs 7.2 lbs)
  • A bit bulky for backpacking (packed size 23.5 x 6.5 x 6.5”)

Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 Tent

  • Space & comfort (20%) – 7/10
  • Weight & Portability (20%) – 9/10
  • Weather resistance (20%) – 9/10
  • Build quality and durability (20%) – 8/10
  • Ease of setup (10%) – 8/10
  • Company history and reputation (10%)  – 9/10

Best for: Backpacker who want uncompromised quality and don’t mind spending a few more bucks to get it; $$$$

If you’re looking for premium quality regardless of pricing, the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 Tent is a great choice. It’s a top-notch product that performs great in all categories.

To begin with, the setup is a breeze and it’s ultra lightweight. So, it’s a dream of every backpacker. But, that’s only the beginning.

Today, we’re mostly focusing on water-repelling abilities. While a 1200 mm hydrostatic head isn’t very remarkable, it’s not all about numbers. 

Most high-end brands, like Big Agnes, use modern technologies to improve water-resistance while maintaining light weight and tear-resistant properties. As a result, numbers are often average, but the performance is exceptional.

To cut to the chase, the Copper Spur can withstand pretty much whatever you throw at it. It means days of constant rain, short downpours and everything in between. I haven’t found a single user review reporting a leaking in any weather.

The only sort of downside of this tent is somewhat limited space. With 29 sq ft it is just under the required 15 sq ft per backpacker. However, 2 vestibules offer an additional 9 + 9 sq ft of room for gear, so I’d say it’s just big enough for 2 people.

And you have to love the vestibules. They can be set in several different configurations to adjust the airflow. And you can use simple trekking poles to turn the vestibule doors into awnings.

All materials are premium quality from silicone-treated ripstop nylon to DAC aluminum poles and light but strong stakes.

Apart from performance, the tent is packed with other important or not so important convenience features. Reflective guylines, reliable zippers, multiple pockets and loops, to mention a few.

Pros:

  • Super-easy setup and breakdown
  • Extra lightweight (3.12 lbs.)
  • Top-notch materials throughout the tent
  • 2 entryways and 2 multi-purpose vestibules
  • Plenty of storage pockets and loops for gear lofts or lanterns
  • Highly waterproof

Cons:

  • On the pricier side

ALPS Mountaineering Lynx 4-Person Tent

  • Space & comfort (20%) – 7/10
  • Weight & Portability (20%) – 7/10
  • Weather resistance (20%) – 8/10
  • Build quality and durability (20%) – 7/10
  • Ease of setup (10%) – 8/10
  • Company history and reputation (10%)  – 7/10

Best for: backpackers who want larger tent at an affordable price; $

When you want to take your family or a couple of friends on a backpacking trip, a larger tent is a must. The ALPS Mountaineering Lynx 4-Person Tent is a great and budget-friendly option.

While most people value this tent a lot, there’s a bit of disagreement about the purpose of the tent. On Amazon, it is listed as a hiking and camping tent, while the manufacturer puts it in a backpacking tents category.

I’d say it’s a sort of hybrid. It has 1, 2, and 3-person versions that certainly belong to the backpacking world. This model is the same but the size makes it a decent car-camping tent as well.

In any case, it performs well. The waterproof ratings are 1500 mm and 2000 mm for the fly and floor, respectively. But user ratings speak better than numbers. 

One user raved about staying completely dry in the rainstorm “worthy of Noah’s ark deluge”. One swallow doesn’t make a spring, but dozens of happy users corroborate the claim that the tent is highly waterproof.

Truth be told, a couple of users have reported minor leaks in heavy and persistent rain. But overall, it’s safe to say that this tent handles the elements very well.

The designated capacity is a bit overrated as usual. The tent offers 64 sq ft of floor room plus 2 vestibules that add 25 sq ft. So, it’s comfy for 2 to 3 campers.

Weighing 8.6 lbs, it’s on the heavier side for the backpacking tent. Still, considering the size, I’d say it’s even lightweight. And it’s ultra lightweight for car camping trips.

Pros:

  • Quick setup
  • Waterproof
  • Lightweight considering the size
  • Extra-large zippers
  • Upper half of the inner tent is all mesh for better ventilation

Cons:

  • Modest floor thickness. It’s not too thin, but it is probably the first part of the tent that will eventually give in.

Quechua Waterproof Pop Up Fresh & Black Camping Tent 

  • Space & comfort (30%) – 6/10
  • Weather resistance (25%) – 8/10
  • Build quality and durability (15%) – 8/10
  • Ease of setup (10%) – 9/10
  • Weight & Portability (10%) – 7/10
  • Company history and reputation (10%) – 7/10

Best for: campers who like to sleep longer and to set up a tent in a matter of seconds; $$

If you don’t like to get up as soon as the sun comes up, you’re not alone. But, modern tents like the Quechua Waterproof Pop Up tent can save your day. 

It has a blackout fabric that blocks up to 99% of sunlight. So the inside of the tent will stay very dark and fresh until you wake up and open the doors.

Also, you can completely pitch it in less than a minute. A long setup process is not a hindrance for everyone. But, even the die-hard, old-school campers will appreciate a fast setup if the storm is brewing or when the sky opens up.

While I love new and advanced features, performance is still the most important part of the equation. The Quechua Fresh & Black is not just convenient but also a reliable tent. 

It will keep you cool in the heat, but it will handle the inclement weather as well. This small tent can withstand tropical rain and winds up to 30 mph. A 2000 mm waterproof rating is great for the class.

So, if you’re not camping in the middle of the monsoon season it will stay bone dry in summer showers and downpours.

It’s not the largest tent out there, but 48.5 sq ft of space is more than enough to accommodate two happy campers. But the ceiling is quite low and close to the ground, so it can feel a bit cramped.

It’s also a lightweight camping tent, weighing 8 pounds. Note it’s not suitable for backpackers, though. The packed weight is 11.7 lbs. Also, the carry case is circular with a diameter of 33.5 inches. So it’s not the most compact package.

Pros:

  • Super-quick, instant setup
  • Blackout fabric to keep the tent darker and fresher
  • Can handle heavy rain
  • Tested to withstand winds up to 30 mph
  • Lightweight (not for backpacking, though)
  • Sufficient ventilation

Cons:

  • Bulky circular carry bag (33.5” diameter)

Coleman Sundome Tent

  • Space & comfort (30%) – 6/10
  • Weather resistance (25%) – 7/10
  • Build quality and durability (15%) – 7/10
  • Ease of setup (10%) – 8/10
  • Weight & Portability (10%) – 9/10
  • Company history and reputation (10%) – 8/10

Best for: campers who want a basic and affordable tent that gets the job done; $

You want a simple, budget-friendly, and reliable tent? It sounds exactly like The Coleman Sundome Tent. It’s one of the best-selling tents for a good reason. It won’t cost you a fortune, but it will perform great.

It is available in different sizes for 2, 4, and 6 persons. The medium version measures 9 by 7 ft at the floor level and offers a decent peak height of 4’ 11”.

There are no bells and whistles, but each and every feature is solid and functional. 

For starters, the setup is conventional but easy. Even kids or inexperienced campers will set it up easily in10 minutes, 15 tops.

It is a well-ventilated tent with lots of mesh and ground vents. If the weather gets ugly, the rainfly will keep the inside of the tent dry. The fly doesn’t fully cover the tent, but it extends enough to prevent side rain from getting into the tent.

While Coleman does a great job with inverted seams, welded corners, and PU (polyurethane) coating, don’t expect this tent to withstand torrential rain. After all, it’s an entry model for mild weather, hence the name.

Still, you’ll be fine in light and moderate summer rains. Or in winds up to 35 mph.

It’s a lightweight and portable camping tent. Furthermore, it comes with a protected power cord port. So, you can recharge your devices while keeping the water and bugs at bay.

At the end of the day, this tent is not the best in any single department. But it is good and solid in every category. It is difficult to find a better value for money. 

Sure, seasoned campers will probably want some more advanced features. But, newcomers and occasional campers will be very happy with this tent. It has stood the test of time with thousands of user reviews.

Pros:

  • Very affordable
  • Lightweight
  • Easy setup and takedown
  • Great airflow
  • Great entry-level tent for new campers
  • E-port

Cons:

  • Not for colder weather

KAZOO Family Instant Cabin Tent 

  • Space & comfort (30%) – 7/10
  • Weather resistance (25%) – 9/10
  • Build quality and durability (15%) – 7/10
  • Ease of setup (10%) – 9/10
  • Weight & Portability (10%) – 7/10
  • Company history and reputation (10%) – 6/10

Best for: Couples who want weather resistant, fast-pitching tent for versatile camping and field trips; $$

If you prefer summer camping trips but hate getting wet, the KAZOO Family Instant Cabin Tent is a great option. Okay, all tents on our list are waterproof, but not all of them can be erected in 10 seconds.

True, it will take another minute or two to stake it down, but you have to admit it’s a lightning-fast setup.

This model is also called KAZOO Saturn and it is billed as a 3-person tent. In reality, you have to downsize the number of occupants or upsize the tent. This model also has a 6-person version.

Why do you have to upsize/downsize? The declared capacity shows how many sleeping pads can fit into the tent with no spare room. And you probably have some gear, right?

The floor area measures 78” by 78” which is great for 2 people. Cabin-style design comes with nearly vertical walls to provide more room. The maximum height of 53” is more than enough to sit comfortably in the tent.

I love the versatility of this tent. In nice weather, it is super airy with huge mesh windows and 2 doors. With a couple of poles and guylines, you can turn the door into a porch-like area to provide a sunshade.

Should the rain come, the tent is up to the challenge. Tents in this class rarely feature a full-coverage rainfly. This one has it, and it’s made of strong, ripstop polyester. A waterproof rating of 3000 mm is impressive for a 3-season tent.

It’s also lightweight for a camping tent, weighing 11.9 pounds.

Pros:

  • Super-quick setup. You can fully pitch it in up to 3 minutes.
  • Can withstand heavy rain
  • Full-coverage rainfly
  • 2 doors that can be turned into awnings
  • Almost vertical walls for more usable space
  • Durable construction with aluminum poles (frame) and aluminum-fiberglass combo for the roof

Cons:

  • Modest airflow with the rainfly on

Kelty Wireless Car Camping Family Camping Tent – 6 Person

  • Space & comfort (30%) – 7/10
  • Weather resistance (25%) – 8/10
  • Build quality and durability (15%) – 8/10
  • Ease of setup (10%) – 8/10
  • Weight & Portability (10%) – 7/10
  • Company history and reputation (10%) – 8/10

Best for: groups of 3-4 intermediate-level campers who want a high-quality tent at a reasonable price;$$

Kelty is well known for manufacturing reliable and durable tents at reasonable prices. This model is no different.

The Kelty Wireless has sound quality and a couple of advanced and innovative solutions. They make it a perfect choice for intermediate-level campers who want more than an entry-level tent but won’t splurge money on high-end products.

For starters, quick-corner technology makes the setup a breeze. It takes just a couple of minutes. There’s a small flaw in the 6-person tent design, though. 

You are supposed to put up both poles and clip them at the center. With 2 and 4-person models, it’s super-easy, but the 6-person model is tall and it’s difficult to reach the center point of the roof. 

As for the weather protection, waterproof ratings of 1200 mm for the fly and 1800 for the floor will keep you dry in rainy conditions. According to user reviews, the tent’s performance in rain exceeds the expectations.

With the dimensions of 118” x 106”, it is not very large, but 2 vestibules provide additional space to store your gear. A peak height is 78 inches, so it’s comfortable for easy changing of clothes and moving around the tent.

The upper part of the tent is all mesh to provide airflow or skygazing opportunities. However, in warm and rainy conditions it might get hot inside due to lack of ventilation. 

The rainfly fully covers the tent and if you can’t leave the vestibules open, you’ll barely get any airflow.

Pros:

  • Very quick setup
  • Waterproof
  • Sturdy and durable
  • 2 doors and 2 vestibules
  • Tall ceiling
  • No-see-um mesh for ventilation and bug-protection

Cons:

  • Ventilation can be a problem with the rainfly on

Marmot Limestone 6P Tent

  • Space & comfort (30%) – 8/10
  • Weather resistance (25%) – 9/10
  • Build quality and durability (15%) – 8/10
  • Ease of setup (10%) – 8/10
  • Weight & Portability (10%) – 7/10
  • Company history and reputation (10%) – 9/10

Best for: campers who want top-notch quality and don’t mind spending money to get it; $$$$

If you want a tent that performs great, come rain or shine, the Marmot Limestone is one of the best choices out there. True, it comes with a hefty price tag, but the quality and features justify it.

While it’s a top-notch product that shines in pretty much every department, it stands out for its great weather protection. Waterproof ratings are 1500 mm and 3000 mm for the rainfly and floor, respectively.

But, it’s the craftsmanship, high-quality materials, and coating technology that provide impeccable performance. Dozens of users have reported staying bone dry in heavy rain or holding on in strong windstorms.

The floor area has 83.3 sq ft, which is not huge, but 2 vestibules provide enough space to store your gear and make it comfortable. While you can pack 6 people into the tent, it is comfortable for no more than 4 people.

Pre-bent, DAC aluminum poles provide more space at the bottom of the tent. The peak height of 76 inches further improves comfort.

This model has a smaller, 4-person version too. It has a 60 sq ft floor area and a maximum height of 61”.

Both models feature 2 doors and 2 vestibules. Vestibules can be turned into awnings to get a sunshade in nice weather.

The roof is all mesh and roughly half of the tent walls are mesh as well. The rainfly is full-coverage, but it comes with air vents to secure the airflow in wet conditions.

One small downside: a backdoor has no mesh cover. It’s not a big deal, but it would further improve the airflow. This way, bugs can get in if you leave the door open making the backdoor a sort of “emergency” exit.

As expected, there are plenty of storage pockets.

Pros:

  • Easy color-coded setup
  • Highly waterproof
  • High-quality materials
  • Can withstand moderate winds
  • Standing height
  • 2 doors and 2 vestibules
  • 8 storage pockets

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Back door has no mesh

NTK Laredo GT 8 to 9 Person 10 Camping Tent

  • Space & comfort (30%) – 7/10
  • Weather resistance (25%) – 9/10
  • Build quality and durability (15%) – 6/10
  • Ease of setup (10%) – 7/10
  • Weight & Portability (10%) – 7/10
  • Company history and reputation (10%) – 7/10

Best for: larger groups or families who want a waterproof tent for warm weather;$$$

The NTK Laredo GT Tent is designed for warm weather but capable of withstanding some serious downpours. And you won’t find too many extra-large tents that handle the rain so well.

To begin with, it’s easy to pitch this giant. Color-coded instructions make it simple and relatively fast. It will take 10 to 15 minutes.

Once you set it up, you can marvel at how large it is. The floor area measures 15 by 10 ft providing ample space for up to 7 campers.

The tent has an extended dome structure with a maximum height of 6’ 2”. The walls are steep, so you can probably stand up anywhere in the tent.

The inner tent has lots of mesh on the roof as well as on the walls. It provides great views and airflow.

One caveat, though. There are no covers on mesh panels. So, the view goes both ways. And you can forget about any privacy unless you put on the rainfly.

The fly covers the whole tent apart from the door area. However, it extends above the entrance to block the rain, so it gets the job done.

With a 2500 mm waterproof rating, this tent can withstand heavy rain and regular downpours. Many users were happy to get through torrential rain storms staying completely dry.

The floor is made of reinforced polyethylene for additional protection against rain and abrasion. 

On the downside, there are few things left to be desired. Considering the size, it would be convenient to have a room divider and multiple doors. But, it’s a one-room, one-door tent.

Overall, it’s safe to say that this model is large and very reliable in rainy conditions with a couple of shortcomings.

Pros:

  • It’s huge
  • Highly waterproof
  • Generous height throughout the tent
  • Lots of mesh for great airflow and stargazing
  • Almost a full-coverage rainfly

Cons:

  • No covers on mesh windows
  • Only one door and no room dividers

How to Choose the Best Waterproof Tent

Almost all tent manufacturers say their tents are waterproof. But in the real world, their performances vary wildly. So, how to separate the wheat from the chaff?

It’s not that difficult if you know where to look. We have a detailed article on how to tell if a tent is waterproof. But here’s the run-down.

Waterproof Ratings

The first step is to check out if the manufacturer reveals the waterproof rating. It is also called a Hydrostatic Head (HH) and it is measured in millimeters. Generally speaking the higher the better.

Hydrostatic Head

The hydrostatic head shows the height of a water column that fabric can withstand before it starts to leak. So, a 2000 mm HH means the tent fabric can hold up to a 2000 mm high water column.

Translated to the field, it’s roughly the amount of pressure that equals tropical rain. As a result, the 2000 mm waterproof fabric can handle light rain almost forever, but it will leak immediately if a torrential downpour provides stronger pressure.

What Is a Good Waterproof Rating

It varies from country to country but on average it takes at least 1000 mm to call the fabric waterproof. In reality, it will hold light and maybe moderate rain.

For heavy rain, you’ll need a rating between 1500 mm and 2500 mm. Anything above 3000 mm, means the fabric will repel downpours regularly.

This was an unwritten rule for years. However, recently, high-end companies are managing to use modern technologies to enhance water resistance. For example, some MSR tents with a 1200 mm rating can handle very heavy rain.

It gets complicated, but I’ll make it simple – trust high-end brands like Big Agnes or MSR more. Well, at least when it comes to waterproof ratings. Budget options will rarely exceed the designated ratings.

Coating Matters More Than Fabric

Tent fabrics aren’t waterproof until they undergo a coating process. The quality and the thickness of the coating ultimately decide the level of water resistance.

Most commonly, polyurethane coating is used for polyester and silicone coating for nylon fabric.

Note that the coating deteriorates over time. UV rays and mechanical damage can wear it out. So, even with the best fabric, you will need to refresh the coating every year or every couple of years.

Ultra-High Waterproof Rating Is Not Always Good

Yes, I have said the higher, the better. But, the higher level is achieved by applying a thicker coating to the fabric. It adds weight and reduces the tear strength of the fabric.

That’s why innovative companies search for balanced solutions and not too high waterproof ratings.

Seams

Even the highest waterproof rating won’t mean a thing if the seams aren’t sealed. Seams are places where two pieces of fabric are sewn together which makes them vulnerable. So, they need to be additionally sealed.

There are 3 ways to do it, and all of them are effective. Taping is the most common procedure. A waterproof tape is basically merged with the fabric by heat and pressure. The outside taping is a must, while it’s even more effective if done on the inside of the fabric.

Inverted seams are sewn on the inside of the tent. It’s just a clever solution so the stitches aren’t exposed.

Welded seams refer to the process of welding two pieces of fabric together. So there are no holes or gaps for water to creep in. It is commonly used to seal the floor or corners.

Tent Floor

A tent floor is the third and final piece of the puzzle to make the tent waterproof. 

If the water builds up on the ground, it will seep through the weak floor. That’s why the tent floor needs to be thicker. Also, the floor is in direct contact with the ground so it is more exposed to mechanical damage and abrasion.

So, look for tents with a thick floor and higher waterproof ratings. And there’s another tip up my sleeve – a bathtub design. Many tents feature floor fabric that extends a couple of inches up the tent walls. 

It’s another clever solution to enhance the protection against the water on the ground.

Rainfly

A full-coverage rainfly is the safest option to stay dry. But, if the fly covers only the roof, your walls, doors, and windows may be exposed especially in wind-driven rain.

A partial-coverage fly can get the job done, just make sure that exposed sections are also waterproof and sealed.

Zippers and E-Ports Protection

Water is notorious for finding ways to creep in. So, zippers and E-ports are potentially weak spots as well. All exposed zippers should be protected with flaps to avoid leaking. The same goes for power cord ports or any other exposed openings.

User Ratings

Smart people learn from other people’s experiences.

So, check out user ratings to see how the tent performed in real-life conditions. There are hundreds and sometimes thousands of user reviews available for popular and high-quality tents.

While you can’t trust one or two grumpy users, if dozens of reviewers agree on something, it is very likely to be true.

Material Quality

Material quality largely affects the tent’s overall quality. The fabric can be highly waterproof, but any holes, even the smallest ones will allow some dripping if it rains.

Look for ripstop fabrics as they are stronger and don’t tear easily. Also, the D (Denier) count shows how dense, thus, strong and durable the fabric is.

Tents are commonly made of polyester, nylon, and canvas (cotton). 

Canvas is a strong, durable, and breathable material. However, it’s very bulky, heavy, and expensive. Therefore, canvas tents are not as common as they used to be.

Polyester is the most popular tent fabric due to its great quality-to-price ratio. It’s lightweight and relatively strong and durable.

Nylon is stronger but more expensive than polyester. It is more often used to manufacture lightweight and sturdy backpacking tents.

Tent poles are equally important. They are typically made of steel, fiberglass, and aluminum.

Steel poles are very strong. But, they are very heavy. Typically, large cabin tents have steel poles to make the structure more stable, while lighter fiberglass poles are used for the roof.

Fiberglass poles are the most common as they provide decent quality at a low price. On the downside, they are not as strong as steel or aluminum poles and break under excessive pressure.

Aluminum poles are lightweight, strong, and flexible. The only downside – they are expensive.

Tent Size & Capacity

Almost all tents declare the capacity. But, don’t trust them. Okay, I am joking, but the point is that the given number shows a maximum sleeping capacity with no room for gear, or anything else.

As a general rule of thumb, downsize the number of occupants by at least 2. 

The safer option is to check out the dimensions. If you’re new to camping, common wisdom has it that backpackers need 15+ sq ft per person while car campers need at least 20 sq ft per person.

Tent Height

The higher the tent, the more comfort you get. But, there’s a trade-off. Taller tents are more expensive (more materials needed), heavier, bulkier, and more challenging to accomplish the protection against the elements (think of wind).

Commonly, family and car camping tents are taller to provide a home-like feel and comfort. Backpacking tents are shorter as backpackers prioritize weight and portability.

Tent Weight

Tent weight is not too important on family and car camping trips. So, you can afford a few more pounds to get more comfort and convenience in return.

On the other hand, on long backpacking or hiking trips, your back will feel every additional ounce. So, for backpackers, the rule is, the lighter, the better.

Tent Ventilation

You should also look for well-ventilated tents. It’s not just to avoid stuffy air. A decent airflow will keep your tent cooler in hot weather, and prevent condensation if the night temperature drops a lot.

Two things determine the quality of the ventilation: the amount of mesh and air vents. Ground vents are particularly effective as they enhance high-low air circulation.

Final Verdict

We’ve done it. Highly waterproof tents can enhance your camping experience and save you some ruined trips.

While the competition was tough, the Coleman WeatherMaster 10-Person Tent won our hearts as the best family or car camping tent. It has a perfect blend of basic and advanced features. What’s more, you won’t have to break the bank to get it.

It’s large, it’s comfortable, and it can weather the storm.

The Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 is a clear winner in the backpacking category. It’s a top-notch product to satisfy the neediest backpacker. It is packed with advanced features. But, most importantly, it will stand strong even if it is raining cats and dogs.

If you have specific desires or you run on a tight budget, our list will have something for everyone. Now you know what to look for, so go for it!

AUTHOR

My name is Emma, and I’m a city dweller who jumps on every opportunity to get out and enjoy nature! I’ve gone on a number of car camping and backpacking trips over the past few years. I created this site to inspire others to get outside and to make the process easier for you.