For many of the top camping destinations, especially in the United States, there will always be a possibility of rain. Now, there are some areas of the country that are more prone to heavy rains, but even in the desert regions, torrential rains occur from time to time.
If you’ve ever been out camping in a surprise rainstorm, then you know the importance of quality, waterproof gear. Most importantly, you will know the value of having the best waterproof tent for heavy rain.
There have been times when I’ve been out camping in Utah and Arizona when a monsoon rolls in unexpectedly. When in those scenarios, not only is there heavy rain, but high winds too. Luckily, by that time in my life, I had invested in a sturdy and waterproof sleeping gear that kept me warm and dry throughout the storms.
I have not always been so lucky, though. I have spent a few miserable nights freezing cold, and soaking wet. That’s why I spent a little extra upfront and invested in high-quality waterproof equipment.
Luckily, the places I generally camp are not very cold, so exposure to wet, severe conditions wasn’t a dier concern. In some climates, however, having gear that cannot withstand wet weather and heavy rain can potentially be life-threatening.
In this article, we will break down the differences between waterproof, water-repellent, and water-resistant materials. Additionally, we will layout the best waterproof tents on the market today, and give you the insight you need to make a worthwhile tent purchase.
Waterproof vs. Water Repellent vs. Water-Resistant
The primary thing to realize when you’re shopping for the best tent for heavy rain and wind is the difference between waterproof, water repellent, and water-resistant materials.
There are so many tent companies out there advertising their water-resistant tents, but that won’t help you in heavy rain. Another common term used for a variety of materials is water repellent. These terms all mean different things, and when searching for the right tent, you should always look for waterproof.
What Defines Waterproof Material?
When a tent is waterproof, it means that it will not allow water through the fabric. Truly waterproof materials are essentially impervious to moisture.
However, just because you buy something that is waterproof doesn’t mean it will stay that way forever. Over time, a fabrics waterproofing will start to diminish and fade. You can work around this by using waterproof coatings and sprays like Nikwax.
The reason a fabric becomes less waterproof with time is that these fabrics have a waterproof coating. It is the coating on the fabric that makes it waterproof, not the fabric itself. So, once that waterproof coat starts to fade, the fabric goes back to being more water repellent or water-resistant instead.
How soon a tent needs re-waterproofing will depend on how often you use it and how high of quality it is. If you’re unsure about if your tent needs to have a waterproof coat applied, test it out before your trip. This will save you the headache of dealing with wet gear down the line.
If you want to know more about how to re-waterproof a tent, REI breaks down how to waterproof your tent correctly in this video.
What Does Water Repellent Mean?
Some tent fabrics will be water repellent. This may seem like it would be the same as being waterproof, and it is to an extent.
When a tent is water repellent, it has a coating that helps bead up water, so it rolls off. However, a water repellent material can only withstand a certain amount of moisture before it begins to seep inside the tent.
You can think of a water repellent tent as a step up from being water-resistant, but not quite as effective as waterproof. A water repellent tent will usually be enough to protect you from a light shower or mist, but will not withstand heavy rains or storms.
What Does Water-Resistant Mean?
When a tent is water-resistant, it is primarily due to the type of fabric used, not necessarily a coating. Some companies may use a coating to help protect the tent more, but then you are encroaching into a water repellent level material.
Water-resistant fabrics are what they say they are, and they help keep some moisture out. This can be light rain, but not for extended periods of time. Since the water-resistance is mostly up to the fabric itself and not a coating, the materials can only keep so much moisture out.
The most common water-resistant fabrics are nylon and polyester. These are chosen most by manufacturers because of how tightly woven that fabric is. When the material is tightly woven, there is less of a gap for moisture and water to get through it completely. Eventually, water will seep through, but with such a small opening, it takes much longer.
Best Waterproof Tents for Heavy Rain
The tents are not separated by size or price. They also are not ranked according to their waterproof performance.
Geartop Portable 2 Person Tent
- Material: Flysheet is 20 D 360 T PU 8000 MM waterproof silicon coated squares nylon. The inner tent is made with 210 T breathable polyester and high-density fine nylon mesh. The floor is 210 T PU 5000 MM waterproof coated polyester.
- Size/Weight: 83” L x 47” W x 39.4” H; 6 lbs 1 oz
- Price: $$
As far as durable, waterproof tents go, this is an extremely affordable option. With nylon and polyester materials throughout, water-resistance is a given. Then, add in the waterproof coating with waterproof silicon coated squares, and you have a full-on waterproof tent ready for the wildest of conditions.
Additionally, this tent is excellent for alpine expeditions, which is definitely a consideration to take into account if you’ll be using it in the snow. There is a snow skirt, and it has a dual-wall construction. The snow skirt helps to hold in warmth as well as keep moisture from collecting inside the rainfly.
You can guarantee that every aspect of this tent’s construction had waterproofing as a top priority. The seams are all double-stitched and sealed to keep moisture from leaking in there. Plus, the zippers all have a fly over the top of them to prevent water seepage as well.
Black Diamond Fitzroy
- Material: Fully waterproof and seam-taped ToddTex single-wall fabric and fuzzy nexus lining with a PU laminate floor.
- Size/Weight: 93” x 60” x 43” x 40”; 7 lbs 1 oz
- Price: $$$$
Despite the lack of a rainfly, the Fitzroy is a strong contender in our search for the best waterproof tent for heavy rain. Cutting out the need for a rainfly keeps this tent minimalistic, but does not skimp on quality or materials.
Every aspect of the tent is well thought out, and you will be able to count on it keeping you dry no matter the weather conditions. Black Diamond went a step further on moisture control by adding a fuzzy nexus lining to prevent interior condensation buildup.
Be sure to read the directions carefully on this tent the first few times you set it up. If you don’t, you may miss instructions vital to interior airflow, and you could even break a pole or two.
The North Face Mountain 25 Tent
- Material: 40D Nylon fly with silicone coating and water-resistant finish. 40D nylon ripstop canopy and lightweight nylon mesh.
- Size/Weight: 86” L x 54” W x 41” H; 9 lbs 13 oz
- Price: $$$$
The North Face Mountain is a tent designed and manufactured for the extremes. Many mountain adventurers trust this tent to keep them warm and dry even in the toughest of environments.
Although this is on our waterproof list, the materials are listed as water-resistant. North Face made the tent with nylon materials that are water-resistant and added a coating to make them more waterproof.
Don’t let the water-resistant claim fool you. This tent is constructed well enough that you should be able to withstand even the most intense rainstorms.
ALPS Mountaineering Meramac 6 Tent
- Materials: Nylon taffeta with a polyester fly and freestanding fiberglass two-pole design.
- Size/Weight: 120” L x 120” W x 72” H; 16 lbs 1 oz
- Price: $$
ALPS Mountaineering makes a lot of affordable tents that are also high-quality. This one made the list as it is excellent for families or groups that are camping together. It is rather large, so not a great backpacking size, but awesome for car camping.
ALPS Mountaineering designed the tent to be waterproof by factory sealing seams, using polyester and nylon materials, and by using a waterproofing coating. Beyond that, they used a nylon taffeta floor. Taffeta is a tightly woven fabric made from silk. Whether the taffeta fabric is nylon or polyester, it is waterproof. Plus, they use a 1500 mm coating for extra waterproofing.
Overall, for the price, you are getting a quality waterproof tent. Just because you are car camping doesn’t mean you’re immune to extreme weather! It is roomy, well ventilated, and designed intentionally with the weather in mind.
Marmot Tungsten 2 Person
- Material: Canopy fabric made from 40-denier polyester taffeta fabric and floor/rainfly made from 68-denier polyester taffeta fabric.
- Size/Weight: 88” L x 54/46” W x 42” H; 5lbs 4 oz
- Price: $$$
Marmot went all out on this tent design. To ensure the tent is fully waterproof, they made the Tungsten out of polyester taffeta. We learned earlier about how effective taffeta fabrics are in keeping moisture at bay.
The only downside to polyester taffeta versus nylon taffeta is the weight. For the size being a two-person tent, it is a tad heavy. This can be a great solo tent for car camping, but long hauls will be hard backpacking. Plus, fitting two people inside can be difficult. There is plenty of vestibule space to store gear, though, so that should clear up interior space quite well.
The freestanding design, along with color-coded poles/clips, makes this tent a breeze to set up. Having a quick, easy tent to set up is a blessing in rainy weather, making this a phenomenal choice for the best waterproof tent for heavy rain. The faster you can get out of the rain, the better!
Alps Mountaineering Lynx 1 Person
- Materials: Free-standing, aluminum two-pole design with a polyester rainfly. Walls made mostly of mesh, and all fabric has a 2000mm waterproof coating. The floor is made from polyester taffeta.
- Size/Weight: 90” L x 32” W x 36” H; 4 lbs 1 oz
- Price: $
If you’re looking for a lightweight, easy to set up the tent just for solo trips, this is it. Not only does Alps Mountaineering boast quality materials, but they also strive to make uber affordable products without cutting corners.
All-in-all, this may not be the tent you want to take in the high alpine, but it will pull through in a rainstorm. If you’re car camping, motorcycle touring, or backpacking, this tent does the trick. It is not going to be as roomy as some folks hope, but if you’re of average height and build, it will work fine for you.
MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2-Person (With XTreme Waterproof Coating)
- Materials: Floor fabric is made from 30D ripstop nylon, and the tent is equipped with Easton cyclone poles. All tent fabric has a 3000mm Xtreme waterproof shield coating polyurethane and DWR.
- Size/Weight: 28 square foot floor with 39” H; 3 lbs 8 oz
- Price: $$$$
MSR has long been known for durable and trustworthy camping equipment, and this tent is no different. What makes the MSR Hubba Hubba stand out on our list is the XTreme waterproof polyurethane and DWR coating. This type of waterproof coating will last up to three times longer than other types of waterproofing.
Other than the Xtreme coating, MSR made sure that other aspects of the tent could hold up in extreme conditions as well. They made break-resistant poles along that can withstand high winds while adding extra space inside the tent.
For the quality of materials, the tent is lightweight and a great option for three-season weather.
- Materials: WeatherTec system featuring welded corners and covered seams with waterproof fabric throughout.
- Size/Weight: 84” L x 84” W x 52” H; 8 lbs 11 oz
- Price: $
The Coleman Sundome is a fantastic tent for families and couples that love car camping adventures. This is not a suitable tent for backpacking due to the size and weight, but you can choose from a two-person, three-person, four-person, and six-person sleeping size.
Coleman does not directly disclose the materials used for the different parts of the tent, but they do claim them to be waterproof. To reinforce the waterproof materials, they added a brilliant WeatherTec system that keeps water out ultimately. This system includes welded corners and covered seams along with heavy-duty flooring.
All of this extra material is what adds to the tent’s overall weight, but if you are setting up a basecamp for the weekend, this tent will do the trick. Plus, even for the largest size, this tent can be set up in 15 minutes or less.
V Vontox Waterproof Backpacking Tent
- Materials: 201T Polyester and PU 3000 coating with the floor made of 150D ripstop oxford fabric. Equipped with aluminum poles and stakes.
- Size/Weight: 86.6” L x 48.4” W x 43.5” H; 5 lbs 3 oz
- Price: $
Vontox may be a lesser-known brand for outdoor equipment, but they make high-quality gear at an extremely reasonable price. No joke, this tent can be set up in 8-minutes or less. It is super lightweight and easy to pack down. Although it isn’t extremely heavy, it is generally preferred as a car camping or motorcycle tour tent, not a backpacking tent.
On top of all of that, you have a complete weather-proof package. Not only is it waterproof, but the tent design itself gives incredible structural integrity to withstand high winds as well.
To reinforce the waterproof fabric choices, Vontox made sure that all seams were taped and that the rainfly was waterproof as well. Sometimes, tents can get stuffy with the rainfly on, but Vontox made sure their tent ventilation was top notch. Plus, if you aren’t expecting weather, the mesh vents and windows give you a stunning view of the night sky.
Eureka Copper Canyon
- Materials: Steel/fiberglass frame and poles with 75D 190T polyester taffeta fabric throughout. Plus a 1200 mm waterproof coating. Mesh is a 68D polyester no-see-um fabric.
- Size/Weight: 10’ L x 10’ W x 7’ H; 23 lbs 2 oz
- Price: $
This particular Eureka tent model is the best family tent for rain. It is exceptionally tall and wide (notice the size above is in feet, not inches). The fabric is a polyester taffeta throughout, making it extremely waterproof. Plus, there is a tub style floor to keep water from seeping into the base of the tent.
As a cabin-style tent, it is nice to be able to stand up inside, and you could even pack cots to sleep on during your adventure. The sheer size and durability of materials make it a perfect car camping or extended basecamp tent.
How to Choose the Best Tent for Rainy Weather
Choosing your ideal tent becomes much easier as you narrow down specifics. Such as how often it will be used and in what conditions. This could be making sure it holds up in rainy weather, extreme sun, or even high winds.
Since you’ve already narrowed down the parameters to the best tent for rainy weather, you need something durable and waterproof. There are a few particular items to look at when you are shopping around that ensure quality waterproofing by the manufacturer.
Although your personal budget is always a factor in your decision, we aren’t going to include it here. We were sure to include tents in a variety of price ranges above, so hopefully, that gives you a starting point for your shopping journey. So, once you’ve decided on your budget, you should start to look into these other aspects that we broke down below.
Materials & Waterproof Coating
The primary qualifying factor when looking for a tent that can withstand any amount of rain is the materials used. If they do not use proper materials or a waterproof coating, you can ensure that it will not even be water-resistant.
Some items to look for when you are reading about waterproof tent materials include:
- DWR coating
- Silicone Coating
- Waterproof coating
Nylon or polyester taffeta fabric will be the best at maintaining waterproofness naturally, but even so, they should have some kind of waterproof coating. Another critical thing to remember is that your tent fabric will not stay waterproof indefinitely. Invest in a coating you can apply yourself and always test your tent for waterproof capabilities before your adventures.
Type of Seams and Overall Design
The types of seams and overall design of the tent has some overlap with materials used, but it was necessary to devote an entire section to just design. Even if the tent is made from quality materials, that alone does not give it full waterproofing.
Look for these design features when searching for a waterproof tent:
- Taped seams
- Welded corners
- Covered, heavy-duty zippers
- Bathtub style floor
- Mesh ventilation covers
- Proper ventilation
- Vestibule for gear
The major thing that you need to look at is if there are areas that moisture could potentially seep through during a rainstorm. Are the seams compromised? Are the zippers going to break or let moisture in? Will water run in at the base of the tent?
All of these are questions to ask yourself when you’re looking at tents. This is best done in person if possible. Then you can truly get a feel for the quality of materials and the size of the tent.
One item that you may find strange that was added on the list for design is proper ventilation. Now, this won’t really impact whether or not rain can get inside, but it will play a factor in condensation. If the tent is not adequately ventilated, condensation can buildup. If there’s moisture building up inside, the quality of materials on the exterior becomes somewhat obsolete.
As per the name, the rain fly is an essential part of a tent when it comes to a downpour of rain. This could have been included in the design aspect, but there are a lot of considerations when it comes to the rainfly.
First, does the tent even have a rainfly? The Black Diamond Fitzroy made our list despite the lack of a rainfly. This is because the tent is specially designed for rain and extreme conditions. There is no need for a rainfly!
In most cases, tents without a rainfly can only be used in dry weather. I love sleeping with the rainfly off when possible, but it is necessary to have if there is a downpour.
Many of the best waterproof tents for heavy rain have durable, waterproof rainfly made with taffeta and a waterproof coating. Not only that, but they will also ensure that there is coverage completely to the ground.
Some rainfly’s will leave a gap at the bottom to provide more airflow, but that also allows wind and rain to come into the tent. Since many people store gear in the vestibule, this could lead to problems the next morning.
Size, Weight & Capacity
A personal consideration that you should make is how big you want the tent to be. Beyond that, you should think about the activities you will be doing.
Are you going to be car camping? Do you plan on bringing this backpacking? Do you want to pack this for a thru-hike? What climate or season will you use this in most often? Are you camping alone or with your family? How much gear will you need to store?
There is a multitude of questions to ask yourself before you even start shopping. The size and capacity are another good reason to go and look at tents in person. Although a tent says that it is a three-person tent, it doesn’t mean a lot until you lay down inside. Not everyone is the same height or build, so you may need to search for tents according to your size.
Beyond size and capacity, consider the overall weight. If you are looking for a waterproof tent that you can bring backpacking, you need lightweight materials. Many small tents will have ways to eliminate weight when you pack them down, but that often means omitting the rainfly. So, consider the entire weight in your purchase. If you plan on strictly car camping, this should not be a huge concern.
The last consideration may only seem relevant to some readers, but it is worth noting. The warranty of a product can tell you a lot about the integrity of the company. Plus, it gives you a way to get repairs or replacements if something does malfunction.
There are only a few companies that offer lifetime warranties, and even still, they are limited. However, sometimes you buy a tent, and there are manufacturer errors. Don’t be out a few hundred bucks just because there was a factory defect.
All in all, at least take a few moments to check into the companies warranty before you purchase.
Finding the best waterproof tent for heavy rain will take some time. It can be frustrating to spend hours sifting through reviews and customer comments, and that’s why we put together our top ten tents for you. We hope that this gives you a good starting point in your tent buying journey.
Even if you don’t end up buying a tent that we listed, be sure to keep our tips on how to choose a waterproof tent in mind. The most important thing is the materials used! If there are quality materials, the rest of the tent is usually up to par.
Well, happy researching and with our tips, you’ll have no problem staying dry on your next camping adventure
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