The 7 Best Tents for Camping in the Rain

Published on 12/15/2023 · 14 min readDon't let bad weather dampen your camping spirit. Discover the top tents that'll keep you dry and comfortable during rainy outdoor adventures!
Hunter Reed, Camping Expert
By Camping Expert Hunter Reed

Photo by Sam Wagner

Camping is a great way to explore the outdoors, and while most of us don’t choose to go camping if there’s a lot of rain in the forecast, rainy weather on camping trips is bound to happen at some point, and it’s important to be prepared when it does! A little rain without the right waterproof gear can be a trip ruiner, but if you have a waterproof tent that can keep you and all your gear dry, it’ll be no problem when you see those gray storm clouds rolling in.

Having grown up camping and been an avid camper all my life, I have had my fair share of rainy camping trips. And let me tell you, there’s nothing worse than waking up cold only to realize your down sleeping bag is soaked. This is a bad situation for any type of camping trip, but it can be particularly hazardous if you are on a backpacking trip and have to pack up wet gear or if the rain continues throughout the next day with no chance of drying your gear out. But luckily for you, you don’t have to make those same mistakes!

In this guide, I’ll go over everything you need to know about rainproof tents and list some of the top options for tents to use in the rain that will keep your gear dry and your camping trip from being ruined.

Do I Need a Special Tent for Rainy Trips?

Photo by Fotangel

First of all, you might wonder if you even need a rain-specific tent. “Won’t my regular tent work just fine?” Yes and no. Most camping shelters have some sort of rainfly and waterproof capabilities, but some tents are better designed to keep rain out than others. If you find yourself camping in a lot of rainy climates or conditions (specifically the Pacific Northwest or high alpine backpacking routes), you’re going to want to make sure the tent you choose to bring has top-of-the-line waterproofing capabilities and is ready to handle some serious rainstorms.

Waterproof tents are not just about the comfort of staying dry and warm during a storm, but if your tent doesn’t have adequate waterproofing capabilities, you and your gear can get soaked, which can be a serious safety issue since your sleeping bag and warm clothes will lose their ability to keep you insulated. Luckily, there are a ton of tent options on the market that are designed specifically to handle heavy rains, and we’ll get into that list below!

Key Features to Look for in Rainproof Tents

There are a few key things to keep in mind and look at when you’re shopping for a tent to accompany you on your rainy camping adventures.

Waterproof Materials

Photo by Anton Balan

The first and most basic thing to look for in a rainproof tent is the materials that the tent, floor, and rainfly are made out of. Most tents are made of ripstop nylon or polyester, durable and resistant to rips and tears, and coated with a polyurethane or silicone coating to make it waterproof. A rainfly with silicone and polyurethane coating will be extra waterproof, but either of these will keep things dry inside your tent during a torrential downpour.

Seam Taping and Sealing

Photo by Wojciech Dziadosz

Seam taping or seam sealing is also super important in keeping things dry. Seams are the most likely potential leak spots in tents because the microscopic needle holes used to sew the tent together are just large enough to let water in. Seam taping is a process where waterproof tape is glued or heat-sealed over those seams to prevent rain from seeping into those seams. Ensure your waterproof tent has this because even if the fly and tent body are fully waterproof, leaking in the seams can still lead to you and your gear getting soaked!

Tent Shape and Design

Photo by Nach Noth

The shape and design of the tent also play a big role in keeping the rain out of your tent. Dome tents are the best shape for rainy conditions because the rain can easily roll off the curved roof of the tent. In contrast, cabin tents have less dramatically curved roofs, which can lead to potential puddles accumulating on the roof and dripping inside. Pay attention to the tent shape you purchase if you plan to use it in rainy weather.

Another feature to look for in rainproof tents is the design of the windows. Some tents have flat windows, whereas others have windows angled downward with an awning over them. A downward-angled window with an awning will let the water drip off and prevent it from seeping through the window. If the windows of your tent are flat against the wall and don’t have an awning covering them, the rain will roll down the walls of your tent and leak inside.

Ventilation

Photo by Guy J. Sagi

Last but not least, pay special attention to the ventilation capabilities of your tent. A fully airtight tent will keep water out, but if there’s nowhere for the moisture from your breath to escape, it will bead up as condensation against the walls of your tent and drip down. You may not have rainwater inside your tent, but you’ll still get soaked without proper ventilation. Most tents mitigate this by having mesh walls on some parts of the tent, mesh windows that can still be used even when it’s raining, or vents on the rainfly that allow airflow without water coming inside.

Top 7 Tents for Rain

Now that you understand the basics of what to look for, let’s get into our list of the best waterproof tents for camping in the rain.

1. North Face Wawona 6

The North Face Wawona 6 is a great option for campers who want a good amount of interior space and typically find themselves camping in rainy, high-wind weather. The body of the tent and the rainfly are both exceptionally waterproof, made from a durable polyester and polyurethane coating with fully taped seams. The shape of this tent is unique, with a large pole-supported vestibule right outside the sleeping part of the tent. This extended vestibule offers a ton of storage space (a “Gear Garage,” as North Face calls it). Another unique thing about the Wawona 6 is that the rainfly isn’t full coverage and only covers the top section of the tent.

Though some might look at this and think it will impact the tent’s water resistance, it’s designed like this to stay breathable despite any bad weather, preventing the inside of your tent from getting wet from condensation. Since the tent's body and rainfly are waterproof, you can rest assured that this tent will keep you and all your gear dry in downpours. The only downfall of this tent is that the pole-supported vestibule does take a bit longer to set up than other tents, and the packed weight of this tent is over 20lbs, meaning it’s not a great option for backpackers. Looking for a smaller version of this tent? Check out the Wawona 4.

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2. Nemo Aurora Highrise 6

The Nemo Aurora Highrise is another great six-person option. It will keep you dry on any rainy camping trip you find yourself on. Though it doesn’t have the large gear garage that the Wawona 6 has, it has a large interior space with almost vertical walls and plenty of headroom, making it comfortable enough for you and five of your favorite camping buddies to hang out as you wait out the storm. It has two rain-friendly windows angled downward so they can be left open to offer ventilation even if it’s raining, and two doors with a vestibule outside each.

It has a durable polyester body and rainfly fabric, with the only difference being that the rainfly fabric is coated with a polyurethane coating to keep it waterproof. The thick, bathtub-style floor keeps everything dry inside, even if there’s a sudden stream running under your tent due to heavy rains. At 15lbs, it’s a bit heavy for anything other than car camping, but this is a great pick if you’re after a durable car camping tent that will have you sleeping soundly without worrying about your tent leaking.

3. Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2

If you are looking for a backpacking-specific tent to use in heavy rain, the Copper Spur HV UL2 might be the perfect fit for you. It has a lightweight design, but Big Agnes didn’t skimp on any waterproofing capabilities. It has a full-coverage rainfly made of ripstop nylon with a dual silicone treatment and polyurethane coating, making it the best in waterproofing. It has lightweight poles, two doors on either side of the tent for easy entry and exit, a vestibule outside of either door for easy access to your gear, and a quick setup system to pitch your tent fast and get out of the rain sooner.

Though it is a bit pricier since it is more technology-packed to keep the weight low without compromising on durability, it’s a great option for campers who want to cut weight in their pack wherever they can and don’t mind spending some extra money on a tent that will last for many years.

4. Coleman Skydome 4

Are you looking for a waterproof tent that won’t break the bank? The Coleman Skydome 4 offers that. It has a spacious interior, a full coverage rainfly, and an integrated awning that provides plenty of ventilation even in light rain. Though it only has one door and one window, which might be a dealbreaker to some campers, the door is extra wide to accommodate quickly moving in a lot of gear if you’re trying to set up camp in a downpour. It also has a quick five-minute setup with attachable clips on the body of the tent, pre-attached poles that are easy to use, and inverted seams with welded corners, adding an extra measure of water prevention inside the tent.

It weighs 13lbs and is light enough for backpacking, though it is generally intended for car camping. The poles and frame on this tent will stay strong in winds up to 35mph, and the rainfly and floor fabrics are made from polyester with a polyurethane coating that will keep the water out without making it too warm inside the tent. Overall, it’s a great budget option for campers who don’t want to spend much money but want to stay warm and dry when a storm rolls in.

5. Marmot Limestone

The Marmot Limestone is a simple four-person tent that can keep you dry on your car camping trips and avoid the frustration many campers deal with when setting up an overly complicated tent. It has color-coded poles, clips, and rainfly attachments, making it easy to pitch your tent quickly. Inside, it has almost vertical walls offering enough headroom to sit up comfortably, several storage pockets and internal sleeves for stowing gear, and a seam-taped floor to prevent water from seeping in. Though it has two large D-shaped doors on either side, it has only one large vestibule when the rainfly is used.

The rainfly and tent floor are made from treated ripstop polyester for enhanced waterproofing, and the body of the tent is made from a more breathable polyester that offers ventilation inside the tent. The rainfly is full coverage but has two mesh windows designed to be accessible while keeping water out even in a downpour. The Limestone weighs 13lbs, so it could be used as a backpacking tent for campers who don’t mind carrying extra weight. Still, the main downfall of this tent as a backpacking option is that it doesn’t pack down particularly small, so it will take up quite a bit of room. It’s primarily meant to be used as a car camping tent for campers who don’t want all the bells and whistles but just a simple tent that will reliably keep the rain out.

6. MSR Access 3

The MSR Access 3 is a four-person, four-season tent for light snow, heavy rain, and high winds. It’s a ski touring/backpacking-specific tent to keep you dry and sheltered without adding more weight to your backpack. It weighs just under 4lbs but has a lot to offer. The full-coverage rainfly and bathtub floor have MSR’s XTreme Shield waterproofing, consisting of ultra-durable ripstop nylon fabric with both a silicone and polyurethane coating. The tent's body consists of ripstop nylon with a durable water repellent coating, so even if some moisture does get past the rainfly, it will still roll off the body instead of dripping inside and soaking your gear.

Though this is a great year-round option for car camping, backpacking, summer, and winter, the walls of this tent are a bit thicker than the walls on any three-season tent. With that in mind, if you have no intention of camping in the winter months or ever encountering snow, the Access 3 is probably overkill, and you’d be better off with a three-season tent. It also comes in a smaller size, the Access 1, if you’re looking for a one-person tent.

7. Mountain Hardwear Trango

The Mountain Hardwear Trango is another four-season tent. It's sturdier than the MSR Access 3, meaning it can withstand heavy rains and winds, but if that rainstorm turns into a surprise snowstorm, this tent can still keep you dry and comfortable. The Trango was designed as a mountaineering tent for extreme weather conditions. It’s easy to set up with quick clip attachments large enough to attach with gloved hands and heat-sealed to the tent's body, ensuring they won’t rip off or come loose in heavy storms. It has triple-sealed windows to keep the water out but still allow you to peek out to check out the weather. Inside the tent are tons of pockets, a gear loft, guy lines, and shelves so you can easily hang any wet gear to dry overnight.

The tent's walls are a durable ripstop nylon. At the same time, the floor and rainfly are an even more durable form of ripstop nylon treated with a silicone and polyester coating to add extra water resistance. The main downfall of the Trango is that it is pretty pricey, and it will be overkill for most campers who don’t plan on making any winter trips. If you have plans to camp all winter long and want something that can do it all, the Trango is well worth the investment.

A Few More Tips for Camping in the Rain

Now that you have some options for rainproof tents, here are a few other steps to ensure your tent and gear stay dry no matter the weather!

  • Use a Footprint: Some tents come with footprints and others are sold separately. A footprint is a tarp-like material that attaches under your tent to reinforce the floor. If you are pitching your tent in a wet area, it can give you an extra layer of waterproofing while also giving the floor of your tent extra protection from holes and tears. Even when it’s not raining, it’s a great idea to use a footprint to avoid any damage on the tent floor, which might go unnoticed on a fair-weather camping trip but become noticeable when water leaks in the hole or tear during a rainy trip.
  • Stake Your Tent and Fly Out: Most rainflies have guy lines attached to the sides of the fly, which can be staked out to provide more stability in wind and rain. Staking out all the points on your rainfly will maintain the structural integrity of your tent and allow water to roll off your fly further away from your tent, keeping the area around your tent free of puddles.
  • Choose a Good Campsite: If you expect rain, ensure the site has high ground that’s not in a wash or too close to a river that might rise with heavy rain. Pitching your tent in a wash could mean that when it starts raining, the water will go directly through the area your tent is pitched in. This can not only soak your gear, but it can also be super dangerous in areas prone to flash floods!

Find the Right Rainproof Tent for You: Reach Out to an Expert

Photo by chaponiberica

If, after careful consideration, you’re still unsure which tent is the best option for you, reach out to a Camping & Hiking Expert here on Curated for free, personalized advice. We would be happy to help you find the perfect gear to stay dry on all your adventures!

Curated experts can help

Have a question about the article you just read or want personal recommendations? Connect with a Curated expert and get free recommendations for whatever you’re looking for!

Shop Camping & Hiking on Curated

The North Face Wawona 6 Tent: Golden Oak
Nemo Aurora Highrise 6 Person Tent · Atoll/Oasis
$499.95
Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL Tent
$549.95

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