The 6 Best Waterproof Tents to Stay Dry in the Rain

Published on 01/19/2024 · 12 min readBrace yourself for the elements with a sturdy waterproof tent. Whether facing a drizzle or a torrential downpour, these tents ensure a dry sheltered trip!
Hunter Reed, Camping Expert
By Camping Expert Hunter Reed

Photo by Nina Lishchuk

Are you heading out on a camping trip but worried about the rain in the forecast? Don’t be concerned. We have you covered! There are plenty of tents out there that are exceptionally waterproof and allow you to have a warm, dry home base for all your explorations. A tent with proper waterproofing can allow you to make the most out of your trips without asking if you should cancel when the weather looks bad.

My name is Hunter, and thanks to my dad's enthusiasm for camping, I’ve been taking camping trips and sleeping in tents since I was a little girl. I’ve had plenty of trips where a rain storm rolled in, and there have been times when I’ve been unprepared, and it’s ruined my day. But there are times when I have been well prepared and could hang out in my tent until the storm passed. A soaked tent can be a real bummer and put quite a literal damper on your camping trip. Not only is it uncomfortable, but if your sleeping bag and pad get wet, you could end up in a dangerous situation because you might not stay warm!

In this guide, we will break down some of the key things to look for in waterproof tents, the top waterproof tents for camping in the rain, and give you a few bonus tips on how to care for your tent so it has a long life and keeps you dry for many future camping trips.

Key Features of a Good Waterproof Tent

When it comes to a good tent to stay dry in the rain, there are three main components you’ll want to look for.

1. Waterproof Materials

Photo by Anton Balan

The first is the most obvious for most campers. When shopping for a waterproof tent, you’ll want to find a tent made of high-quality waterproof materials. Most tents are made of either polyester fabric or nylon, which both have their upsides and downsides. Still, when looking at waterproof tents, you’ll want to specifically look at the waterproof coating that covers the polyester or nylon.

You'll see a few different types of waterproofing in tents, so let’s briefly go over some of the most common:

  • Polyurethane (PU) Coating: PU is the most common type of waterproofing on tents. It’s not too pricey and very effective at keeping water out. The only downside is that PU coating does add a bit of weight to the tent. Over long periods of being exposed to UV radiation and heavy water, it also breaks down a bit faster than silicone or Teflon coating.
  • Silicone Coating: Silicone is used on higher-end tents because it’s more durable and resilient than PU coatings. Tent fabrics treated with silicone are both very water resistant and remain lightweight. Silicone also doesn’t break down as quickly when exposed to the elements.
  • Teflon Coating: Though less common, some tents are processed with a Teflon coating. Teflon is very waterproof, resists stains, and has great durability.
  • Durable Water Repellent (DWR) Finish: While not technically a "coating," DWR is a treatment applied to the tent's outer fabric. It's a water-resistant finish that forces water to bead up and roll off the fabric instead of soaking through. DWR treatments wear off over time, especially with heavy use or cleaning, and must be reapplied.

2. Stable Construction

Photo by Daniil Photos

The next component in a waterproof tent is a stable construction. Even if your tent is made from waterproof materials, if it sways too much in the wind or there’s a low point on the roof where water can easily pool, you’re still at risk of yourself and your camping gear getting soaked in heavy rains.

When looking for a stable construction, keep an eye out for a rounded roof that water can easily roll off, sturdy poles that won’t move too much in the wind, and a full-coverage rainfly that covers the entirety of the tent, including the walls and the roof as opposed to covering just the roof, as some rainflys do.

There are some other features that tents made for wind and snow will have, such as extra seals on the doors and windows to keep sideways rain out or extra guylines on the tent body and rainfly, which allow you to stake the walls of your tent out in more points, which keeps it more stable in harsh weather.

3. Good Ventilation

Photo by Chaponi Berica

The last important component of a waterproof tent might seem very counterintuitive. Good ventilation is not only a key feature for warm nights sleeping in a tent where you need airflow, but it’s also important to keep the inside of your tent dry during rainy days or in cold weather. If your tent doesn’t have good ventilation, the rain might stay out, but if you’re sleeping or hanging out in your tent, the moisture in your breath will accumulate on the walls of your tent, eventually drip off the walls and onto you and your gear.

If a tent has a mesh body with a waterproof rainfly, this will allow the condensation to gather outside your tent on the inside of the rainfly and drip off the rainfly instead of inside your tent. Some tents and rainflys have a kickstand vent, allowing you to get some airflow in your tent while still being sheltered from the rain. Adequate ventilation is vital to staying dry in storms, so don’t skip over this when looking for your waterproof tent!

Top 6 Waterproof Tents for Camping in the Rain

Now that we have the basic key features covered, let’s get into our list of the top waterproof tents for your next rainy camping trip.

1. MSR Hubba Hubba NX Two-Person Tent

This is the most versatile tent for campers who like to do a little bit of everything, from backpacking trips to car camping and from rain to shine. It has a sturdy design that will keep you dry on rainy nights but is still light enough that it won’t weigh down your backpack on the trail. The Hubba Hubba NX has a symmetrical design and Easton Syclone (a type of carbon fiber composite) poles, which are quick to set up and won’t have you feeling like you're going to blow away in windy conditions.

As for the waterproof component of this tent, it’s covered in a DuraShield coating. The DuraShield coating is an advanced PU material that can withstand extreme heat and humidity without breaking down. DuraShield has been shown to last three times longer than classic waterproof coatings on tents, meaning your Hubba Hubba NX will keep you dry on camping trips for years to come. Both the tent and rainfly have fully taped seams to avoid any leaks in the seams, and the rainfly has two built-in kickstand vents to allow adequate ventilation to keep the condensation away.

2. Mountain Hardwear Trango Four-Person Tent Red

If you’re more of a mountaineer or see yourself going on any winter camping trips, the Mountain Hardwear Trango will be able to keep up no matter how extreme your expeditions are. The Trango has a higher price tag but is quite a fortress in heavy rain, wind, and snowstorms. The walls, floor area, and fly are made of a super durable and waterproof nylon ripstop with a waterproof coating.

Unlike most other waterproof tents, which might still get a few drops inside if it’s particularly windy during a rainstorm, the doors and windows on the Trango have snow flap seals, keeping out any rain that’s coming at you sideways or any snow flurries that might get whipped up by a light breeze. It is worth mentioning that although this is a great tent for heavy rain and snow, it’s not as well-ventilated as the three-season tents on this list, so if you’re looking for an all-around tent that you can use on warmer spring, summer, and fall trips, this won’t be the best tent. You’re better off with a three-season tent!

3. Big Agnes Bunk House Four-Person Tent

For car campers who want a comfortable, durable home base during their camp adventures, the Bunk House is a great option. It has a double wall construction and a high interior ceiling (with a peak height of 6.25ft), so if you do have to wait out any storms in your tent, it won’t feel cramped and stuffy. The rainfly has an extended design that offers a large vestibule that can keep your gear dry outside the tent or give you a place to pitch your camp chair to watch the storm without getting soaked. This tent has two fully mesh doors, which offer some ventilation, and the tent body and rainfly are made from a durable waterproof nylon material, which provides some breathability while still keeping the rain out.

Another cool feature of this tent is that if you get a sudden downpour as you arrive at camp, you can quickly use the rainfly, poles, and stakes to set up a rain shelter to keep you protected until the rain passes. The Bunk House has 16 internal pockets for staying organized on your trip and a carry bag that can be worn as a backpack, so it’s easy to take it to and from your car. Though it’s a great waterproof camping tent for car campers who want something burly, it will be too heavy for backpackers, so if that’s the type of camping you plan on doing, it won’t be the best option. If this tent sounds great, but you want something slightly bigger, you’re in luck! The Bunk House 6 also comes in a six-person option.

4. The North Face Wawona Four-Person Tent

The Warona four-person tent is another great option for comfort-loving campers who want to have a ton of interior space and sleep peacefully, knowing they’ll stay nice and dry no matter what weather comes in. The whole upper part of the tent body is mesh, so when the rainfly is off, this is a great tent for stargazing, and when the rainfly is on, the inside stays well-ventilated. If you’re generally camping in spring, summer, or fall with varying weather, including storms here and there, wind, and nice, sunny days, this versatile option can do it all.

Like the Bunk House, the rainfly on the Wawona has an extended vestibule with a screened porch for either pitching a chair or storing your gear out of the rain. The tent's body is made from ripstop polyester with a waterproof PU coating, and the rainfly is made from a similar but slightly more waterproof version of this combination. Again, this one is a bit heavy for backpackers, but for car campers, this is a great option to keep you dry during all your camp outings.

5. Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 Tent

Okay, backpackers, this one’s for you! The Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 is lightweight, compact, and ultra-waterproof. For a super lightweight backpacking tent, the Copper Spur can hold its own in inclement weather. Though it doesn’t have quite the same amount of space as a car camping tent, it’s pretty roomy compared to other backpacking tents. It has a gear loft on the ceiling and awning-style vestibules that offer more storage space outside the tent so you can have more room inside it.

Condensation doesn’t stand a chance in the Copper Spur because the whole upper of the tent mesh and has two low vestibule vents to ensure great ventilation. The rainfly has extra guylines, allowing for extra connection points, and it has internal Velcro, which allows it to connect to the tent's frame so it doesn’t flap around in the wind. As for the waterproofing, both the fly and the floor are made from silicone-treated ripstop nylon with a PU coating, making it one of the most waterproof options.

6. Coleman Skydome Four-Person Tent

The Coleman Skydome four-person tent is a great waterproof car camping tent that won’t break the bank. It has a spacious interior with almost vertical walls and can fit up to four people. It’s equipped with Coleman’s WeatherTec system, which includes a bathtub-style floor to keep rain from seeping into the bottom of the tent, inverted seams to provide a tighter seal against rain, and strong composite poles that can withstand up to 35mph winds.

If setting up your tent has always been a pain point for you, you’ll also love the fast setup of the Skydome. The poles come pre-attached to the tent's body, so if you’re worried about getting that tent set up before the rain rolls in, you can relax, knowing that setting it up only takes five minutes. It’s a bit big for backpacking, but this would be a great choice if you want to prepare for your casual car camping trips.

Tips on Maintenance and Storage

Photo by Cory Seamer

The better you take care of your tent, the longer the waterproofing will last, so here are a few pointers on keeping your tent in good condition for years to come.

  • Never store your tent wet or damp. If it was raining when you took camp down, unpack your tent when you get home and dry it out before storing it until your next trip.
  • Wipe off any dirt or mud before storing. Dirt or mud can get caked on and get into the fibers of your tent, which can impede the waterproof capabilities.
  • Never store outside or in direct sunlight. Sunlight or fluctuating temperatures will break down the waterproof coating, and storing your gear outside can allow critters or pests to chew through parts of your tent.
  • Re-waterproof your gear if it starts to leak. If this happens, you’re not out of options. The manufacturer might cover water leaks in a newer tent under warranty. And if it’s not a newer tent, you can purchase some gear waterproofing spray and apply it yourself.

How to Find the Right Waterproof Tent for You

Photo by Milan Ilic Photographer

Hopefully, you have a pretty good idea of what to look for in a waterproof tent, but if not, no worries! Here at Curated, a team of Camping and Hiking Experts is ready to answer all your questions and help you find the right gear to stay dry and comfortable on your next trip. You can chat with an Expert here anytime for free, personalized advice that fits your exact situation and needs. Happy camping!

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