How To Choose The

Best Waterproof Tent

Table of Contents
  1. 01. What You Must Know
  2. 02. The Tents
  3. 03. Top Pick
Table of Contents
  1. 01. What You Must Know
  2. 02. The Tents
  3. 03. Top Pick
1

What You Must Know

1

What You Must Know

Camping is a fun and relaxing activity, but you can’t always predict the weather. Rain can come out of nowhere, especially in the mountains, which is why I must insist on choosing the best waterproof tent before you leave for your trip!

It’s the best way to make sure you will return happy and relaxed instead of cranky and with a cold.

Is it Really Waterproof?

Just because it says waterproof on the label, it doesn’t necessarily mean the tent will stay bone dry if it rains. So, before we dive deeper into how to choose the best product, let me first explain how to identify the type of protection a tent can offer.

In most cases, you’ll find two types of tents: with a rainfly and without. The rainfly is usually present in double-walled tents and represents the outer layer designed to provide protection from the elements (rain, sun, wind). For the single-walled tents, the rainfly is somehow integrated into the cover, which is thicker and sturdier, in order to provide the same level of protection.

Now, the cover is usually made of nylon or polyester, which are not exactly waterproof materials. To get them there, the fabric gets a polyurethane (PU) coating. So, if you see something like ‘3000 PU’ in the specs, you should know it’s about this coating.

Quick note: tent fabric can also be coated with silicone, but because the result is smooth, taped seams will not stick.

Furthermore, to give you an idea of the type of rain the tent will withhold, check the Hydrostatic Head measurement (usually expressed in mm). This ranges between 800mm and 10,000mm but there is no specific rating to say which is best. Still, it is commonly accepted that the fabric needs to have 1500mm in order to be deemed waterproof.

For instance, a rainfly of 1500mm will work in light, while for mid to heavy rain, you’ll need 2000 – 3000mm and above. So should the floor, since it is in direct contact with the humid ground and supports more abuse.   

How to Choose the Best Waterproof Tent

To make sure you’ll be satisfied with your choice, below I listed the features to consider when choosing a tent for rainy days.

The Tent Floor

Since the floor is the part of the tent that gets in direct contact with the ground, it needs to be hardy. This is why they are usually made of polyester or nylon (hire mm ratings), but you may also find PE and PVC tent floors.

Now, for a design that will protect you from water, I recommend choosing a bathtub floor (the sides turn up at the edge, so the inner fly starts a few inches above the ground). This way, if there is water on the ground, it won’t spill over the edges of the floor.

Taped Seams

The seams are among the weakest points in a tent. Furthermore, because of the pressure exercised by poles and pegs, the seams may come loose at the corners, which breaks the seal and lets the water inside.

To prevent this from happening, producers use tape to seal the seams and keep water at bay. Moreover, there are even seamless models that eliminate this problem completely.

Zippers

Just like with the seams, the zippers can leave water inside the tent if they are not properly sealed and protected. For this, make sure the tent comes with taped zippers and that they are covered on the outside, so the water would go over them.

Double vs. Single Walls

As you will see in the examples below, tents can have one durable, coated fly, or they can come with an inner and outer fly. I prefer the double-walled tents because the inner fly lets the air move through, while the outer fly keeps the humidity away.

Now, depending on the type of tent and its intended purpose (day camping, backpacking, car camping, and so on) the rainfly can cover the entire tent, or it can cover only the top. This aspect is important for breathability. Windows and doors can stay open on the inner fly, while the outer fly covers the entire tent.

With or without a Footprint

A footprint is an extra piece of fabric that goes under the tent, increasing the level of protection.

Furthermore, in humid weather, the footprint decreases the chances of water going through the tent of your floor.

So, if you want a tent that will keep you dry no matter what, you may want to choose one with a footprint.

2

The Tents

2

The Tents

Night Cat Camping Tent 3-4 People

The Night Cat is a rather large tent (can fit 2 adults and 2 children) and comes equipped with a hydraulic pressure mechanism that makes installation a breeze.

I like the rainfly because it covers the top of the tent and the sides, but doesn’t get to the ground, which allows the air to circulate. As a result, you won’t get too hot during the night, and there’s a neat upside: the rainfly can be used separately, as a pavilion.

The other aspect I absolutely love is the installation mechanism. The poles are already installed, and you only need to raise the system up and fix it in place. The entire activity takes about 1 or 2 minutes, whether you’re installing it or taking it down!

However, you should keep in mind that this is not a compact, lightweight tent. So, I wouldn’t recommend it for a backpacking trip.

In terms of design, the Night Cat is built with two doors, which create easy access and good ventilation. It also has windows secured with mesh fabric, to keep the creepy crawlies out when you want some fresh air during the night.

Overall, the tent is durable (made with 210D Oxford tent fabric) and features an abrasion-proof floor that helps keep the water out. Still, I wouldn’t use it in rain that promises to get heavier, since it wasn’t designed for windy weather and heavy rain.

PROS
  • Roomy enough for a queen size mattress
  • Mesh fabric to keep bugs away
  • Fiberglass poles for durability and reduced weight
  • Fast setup and take down
  • Rainfly is waterproof (190T PET fabrics)
  • Perfect for family camping trips
  • Indoor pockets for extra storage
CONS
  • A bit on the heavy side
  • Not compact when packed
  • The seams at the corners may wear faster
Hyke & Byke Yosemite 1-2 Person Ultralight Tent

This is the kind of tent I would love to have on my next biking trip!

It is lightweight (5.5 lbs.) and compact, so you can easily put it in your backpack without hogging too much space. Even though it doesn’t look big, the tent is roomy enough so two grown adults can fit inside without any discomfort. Furthermore, there are two vestibules where you can deposit your gear and accessories. Inside, there are pockets at every corner, and a ceiling loft shelf for headlights and other items you may need during the night.

The 2 clip-on poles are easy to install, as you don’t have to worry about putting them through the tent fabric. You just set the poles and clip the fabric on. Also, the Yosemite tent comes with aluminum alloy stakes and reflective guy lines with tension lock cord adjustments for increased safety and stability during windy days.

I like the bathtub floor, taped floor seams, and coated PU 2000 rainfly which will keep rain out even if you’re caught by a storm. Furthermore, the tent comes with an 8-inch footprint (PU 5000 durability) that goes underneath the tent, increasing the level of protection from the cold and humidity. Still, you should know that the footprint doesn’t extend to the vestibule area, where your gear should be.

Finally, the mesh walls encourage ventilation, keep bugs out, and maintain a constant temperature during the night. Since the tent is designed for two people, there are two doors (for easy access) which use YKK double zippers to open and close.

PROS
  • 2 vestibules for gear & accessories
  • Coated rainfly that withholds heavy rain
  • Mesh walls for ventilation
  • 2 doors for accessibility
  • Easy to mount
  • Bathtub floor
CONS
  • The carry bag is a bit thin and rips easily
  • Doesn’t come with instructions
  • May be a bit heavy for backpacking
Abco Tech Pop-up 2 Person Tent

With a pop-up design, the Abco Tech tent is perfect for casual campers. I’ve seen it work in a wide range of situations, from using it at the beach to installing it on a camping site, in the mountains.

I like that it’s spacious enough for two people (88.6” in length and 47.2” width) so, if you grab a pair, it’s perfect for a night outdoors with the family. In fact, it fits perfectly in a family car (due to its round shape)!

While it doesn’t have a separate rainfly, the walls are fitted with two doors and two windows. Moreover, the doors feature a combination of inner zipped screens and outer zipped nylon cover so you can easily switch in between them. The nylon cover on top can be rolled up and fixed with ties when you want ventilation and rolled down when you want privacy (the same goes for the windows, only without zippers).

In terms of protection against rain, the nylon cover is thick and repels water, but I wouldn’t use it in high-humidity conditions. Furthermore, due to its pop-up design, the wind can easily get under the tent, so make sure you use the provided stakes to pin it to the ground!

Overall, the Abco Tech is a nice tent to have around for an outing with the friends or family, or for kids’ sleepovers, but it’s not something I would recommend on a longer hiking trip.

PROS
  • Pop-up design
  • Durable materials
  • Thick nylon cover
  • Useful carry bag
CONS
  • No space for gear
  • Folding up can be a bit difficult
  • Not suited for long camping trips
Coleman Cabin 4-Person Tent

If you’re planning a long car camping trip with your friends or family, the Coleman Cabin tent may be the right choice. The tent measures 8 by 7 feet and has 4 feet and 11” in height, which means you can easily fit a Queen size mattress inside and move around freely.

Now, I bet you’re thinking that it would be a pain to install such a mammoth of a tent, right? Well,

Coleman made our lives easier by adding an instant setup system where the poles are pre-assembled. This means that all you need to do is take it out of the bag, pull up the poles and fix them into place, and lay the floor flat by pegging it to the ground. It should only take about 60 seconds!

True, the tent is heavy and big for backpacking, but it fits nicely in a car!

The integrated rainfly is durable (150D polyester), thick, and fitted with vents to improve airflow. Moreover, the tent is designed with welded floors and inverted seams, so the inside will stay bone dry even during heavy rain.

Finally, all Coleman tents are designed to withstand 35+mph winds without sustaining any damages.

PROS
  • Spacious – fits 4 people
  • Easy to set up and take down
  • Integrated rainfly with vents
  • Durable poles
  • Rainfly resists heavy rain
  • Can withhold wind speeds of 35+mph
CONS
  • Big & heavy for backpacking
  • Can’t open side vents during the rain
  • Guy lines are not reflective
Wnnideo Instant Family Pop-up Tent

If you’re planning a camping trip with the family or a bunch of friends, have a look at the Winnideo tent. It is big enough to fit everyone comfortable (4 adults or 6 children) and it can be set up in just one minute.

The durable poles are already installed in the bag, so you’ll only need to unfold everything and put them in place.  The cool thing is that, when folded, the tent fits into a compact carry bag, which is quite surprising considering its size.

I like the dome shape and the fact that it has two doors – this way you won’t have troubles getting out of the tent when everybody wakes up in the morning. Furthermore, it has windows and vents at the top (covered with mesh to keep the bugs out). It also comes with a 10 by 8 footprint which can be used as a tarp, a picnic blanket, or a waterproof cover.

The tent is delivered with a removable dome that uses hooks to be fixed in place. This goes at the top and protects the upper vents from rain or sun rays.

Overall, the Winnideo is a fantastic family tent, with a design that can withstand wind and rain.

PROS
  • Spacious design
  • Durable poles
  • Rain-resistant cover
  • 2 Large doors
  • Mesh-covered windows
  • Sets up in one minute
CONS
  • A bit heavy for backpacking
  • Doesn’t come with instructions
3

Top Pick

3

Top Pick

OUR CHOICE
Abco Tech Pop-up 2 Person Tent

At the end of the day, I find the Abco Tech tent to be my favorite because it’s lightweight, easy to carry around, and ideal for a quick camping trip with friends and family. It’s also well designed, and even though it is a single-wall model, the cover is thick and comes fitted with vents.

I also like that it pops up out of the carry bag and it doesn’t need any other adjustments besides pegging. So, it’s the easiest to install on the list!

Furthermore, if pegged correctly, the tent will withstand mild winds, and the entire structure is durable and sturdy. The zippers and seams are protected by cleverly-designed covers, and the floor is thick enough to keep everyone inside safe.