The 10 Best Waterproof Tents (2020)

Best Waterproof Tents Hero

You’re already thinking, “Aren’t all tents waterproof, dude?” Unfortunately, that’s not always the case – many cheap tents these days either aren’t waterproof or are made so cheaply that they fail to hold up to a storm.

So, in today’s article, we’ll be talking about what makes a tent waterproof. I’m also going to help you understand what to look for and what to avoid when buying. Of course, I’ll also be making some recommendations of tents you can buy to stay nice and dry!

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We often focus on hiking and backpacking gear here at S&TT. In this article, however, all bets are off as we’re going to consider any and all types of tents. From hiking to car camping gear – it’s all fair game this time.

Remember that the best waterproof tent for you may be different from someone else. Budget, size, weight, number of people, and location among many other factors are all important in choosing the right gear for you.

Comparison Chart

Name

Capacity

Weight

Rating

Notes

1P

4 lbs 4 oz

The Lynx 1 is loaded with features and is great for your solo getaway. With the freestanding design and pole clips that quickly attach to the aluminum poles, it sets up easily.

2P

3 lbs 6 oz

Seasons: 3, Number of doors: 1, Number of vestibules: 1, Number of poles: 2, Capacity: 2

3P

4.4 lbs

The bottom of the tent is waterproof. Winterial also makes a footprint that is specifically sized for this tent (sold separately)

9P

35.1 lbs

Best for Outdoor, Camping, Four-or-more-person, Cabin Tent

8P

29 lbs

Best for boating or fishing

8P

34.75 lbs

Extra tall center, straight walls and wall divider for two rooms provides maximum space

10P

35.5 lbs

Included room divider creates a two room tent; Features front and back door access

12P

61 lbs

This 12-person tent requires no assembly because the poles are pre-attached to the tent; just unfold and extend.

9P

36.1 lbs

With its spacious design, LED lighting, and reversible fan, the Coleman Prairie Breeze 9-Person Lighted Cabin Tent makes the campsite feel like home.

REI Co-op Passage 1 Tent 150

1P

3 lbs 6 oz

7000 series aluminum pole set increases space near the head of the tent and for shoulders overall; an aluminum hub enhances architectural stability

2P

2 lbs 5 oz

One of the lightest tents on the market with time-tested field performance

What You Need to Know

Waterproof Materials

Waterproof tents are usually made from siliconized nylon or polyester. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of types of waterproof fabrics based on these principles.

Silnylon and silpoly are both great materials for waterproof tents assuming they’re quality fabrics that are well made. Silnylon tends to be a bit cheaper.

Waterproof Seams

Seam sealing is the process of waterproofing areas where sewn seams occur in a tent.

This is by far the most common area where poor quality tents fail.

Good seam sealing is done with a “watered down” silicone diluted in mineral spirits, applied with a brush. Most commercial operations, however, use seam tape.

Seam tape is usually a heat-bonded waterproof layer applied over top of sewn seams at the factory. These can vary in quality but will invariably begin to peel eventually.

When seam tape begins to peel, you can repair them with the aforementioned diluted silicone process shown in this video.

Keeping Water Out From Below

Make sure you pitch your tent on a slight slope. The slope should be barely noticeable but just enough to encourage water to run off. Sleep with your head uphill to avoid a headache at midnight!

Remember to use a waterproof tent footprint. These help to prevent runoff from pooling under your tent.

No part of the footprint should be visible from under the tent. Roll the edges under to further help prevent running rainwater or splash from getting between the footprint and the tent floor.

Best All-Around Waterproof Tents

Alps Mountaineering Lynx 1

For all around use, it’s hard to pinpoint what exactly makes something the “best”. Instead of trying to nail it down let’s start with a great lightweight, reliable, single person hiking tent and go from there.

  • 4lbs 4oz
  • 1-person tent
  • Gear vestibule for storage

The Lynx one person hiking tent has been on my radar for years. It’s always one of the first tents I recommend for beginners or those looking to keep it cheap.

That doesn’t mean this tent is a poor choice for experienced hikers, however. It’s great for single person trips as long as you don’t mind a pretty heavy tent.

Of course, when I say heavy I mean heavy compared to lightweight and ultralight hiking standards. At 4 pounds it’s about twice as heavy as most ultralight tents but much less expensive!

To make sure this tent stays waterproof, reapply DWR Spray to the outside of the rainfly once per season. If leaks occur, seal the seams on the outside using diluted Silnet.

Kelty has been around a really long time. In fact, they were one of the first brands on the scene in the modern backpacking world.

  • 3lbs 14oz
  • 2-person tent
  • Fully seam-taped

One of the best features of this tent, in my view, is the color-coded poles and clips. There’s no guessing whatsoever when it comes to which poles go into what orientation.

Of course, the gear loft and gear vestibule add a lot of organization and storage to the tent. I’ve never been much for gear lofts – those mesh “shelves” at the top of the tent – but gear vestibules for storing wet gear outside of the tent are great!

Since this is a two person tent you can always split things up so that the weight is more even from one person to the next. Do it right and you’ll both be carrying just 1lbs 15oz of the tent which is very lightweight!

You’re unlikely to have waterproofing issues out of the box, but someday the seam tape will peel. Remember to repair it to prevent leaks down the road.

Winterial is a tent brand that has made my lists before but it’s one I haven’t had a chance to test in the field yet. Fantastic user reviews and an extremely affordable price make this tent a sure-win though.

  • 4lbs 7oz
  • 3-person tent
  • 2-door design

Once you cram more than two people into a tent, going to the bathroom at midnight becomes a problem. Fortunately, with two doors, you probably won’t have to climb over anyone to get out of this tent.

To reduce the weight per person, spread the poles, rainfly, and tent body out among the hikers in your group.

While the rainfly reaches all the way to the ground on both sides of the tent, condensation may become an inadvertent problem. Fortunately, there are vents near the top of the tent. To further reduce condensation, pitch the rainfly up a bit to promote a breeze.

There are also vent screens that you can leave open when it’s not raining to stay cool on warm nights.

If you don’t trust the bathtub floor of the tent to keep water out you can always order the separate footprint to pitch with the tent. I’d recommend ordering one to protect the floor of your tent and reduce water ingress.

Best Family Waterproof Tents

Coleman Elite Montana Tent Hero

Let’s get right into the big guns with this palace of a tent that can handle up to 9 people. CORE might not be a household brand, but it’s hard to argue with the affordable quality and raving users.

  • 30lbs 8oz
  • 9-person tent
  • Instant 60-second setup

I gotta be honest, I can’t imagine how anything this big can be set up in one minute. However, if it is possible then this tent can do it. It happens because the telescoping tent poles come pre-attached to the tent body itself. It’s similar to a pop-up canopy in this way.

I do like that the manufacturer specifically took the time to heat seal all the seams on this tent. It’s a step that can’t be skipped on a quality waterproof tent.

Remember that over time these seam taped seams may eventually begin to peel and leak. Use the silicone sealing method to repair and improve the waterproofness of the seams on your tent.

While the tent does come with 20x steel tent stakes, you may want to get 4-6 extra sturdy ones for the corners and center if you plan to camp in any nasty weather.

Because of the extremely large, vertical profile of these tent walls, I advise pitching the tent with the short side into the wind.

Maybe it’s because this tent is the official tent of the National Parks Foundation that it’s so insanely popular. Or maybe it’s because Coleman is such a well-known brand. Of course, it could be due to the fact that this tent comes with built-in lights.

  • Aprox. 25lbs
  • 8-person tent
  • Lighted and non-lighted models

It’s 2018 and I guess it was really only a matter of time before built-in lights found their way to tents. I’ll be honest though, there are plenty of lightweight LED lanterns available that you could hang in any tent so don’t make your buying decision just on this factor.

One thing I like about this tent for family camping is the hinged door. Kids are awful with tent zippers and floppy doors, but having a structured hinged door can help with entry and exit.

Of course, all these features (and the sheer size) means you won’t be carrying this tent around. It’s ideal for setting up at a campground where you can get the car, truck, or RV right up close.

Some users complain about poor to mediocre waterproofness but that can easily be solved by seam sealing the rainfly with a silicon mixture as we talked about earlier. This is a process I always do on any tent, regardless if it has taped seams.

Browning isn’t a normal name in camping gear, but they’ve been making outdoor gear for years. This tent is great for privacy and reliability when you’re out camping with a ton of people.

  • 34lbs 11oz
  • 8-person tent
  • Divided private rooms

Let’s rule something out – these tent walls aren’t soundproof. Yes, there is an inner divider which is great to separate two families, kids and parents, or living and sleeping space. That privacy, however, is limited almost exclusively to visual privacy – fabric walls don’t stop sounds!

Note: Each room has its own entry door.

Like most large family tents in this category, the Big Horn has an all-mesh ceiling. That means you should have the rainfly up and assembled at all times as a midnight shower means a very wet tent if you’re not ready! On the plus side, though, the mesh allows tons of ventilation to combat condensation.

Compared to the CORE 9, this tent is going to take more work to pitch. Since you’re probably only pitching once for a long weekend though I don’t think pitching time should matter too much. When you’re juggling the dog and kids though, every second seems to count…

Best Large Waterproof Tents

Ozark Trail Cabin Tent

It doesn’t get much bigger than a 10-person tent for camping. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen one this big, but bigger can be better.

  • 35lbs 8oz
  • 10-person tent
  • 7ft 2in center height

With straight walls and a tall ceiling, there’s little chance you’ll need to stoop low to walk around this enormous tent. What you may need to do, however, is reinforce the tent stakes in high wind.

Because this tent uses vertical walls like many large tents in order to save usable interior space, it creates a wind hazard. Of course, you can solve this problem by avoiding camping during nasty storms, but if one crops up you’ll want to be ready.

Pro Tip

Pitch large straight-wall tents near sheltered trees where winds will be lower.

This tent fits two full-size queen mattresses on either side of the interior divider. In lieu of mattresses, however, you can fit up to 10 people comfortable in sleeping bags.

One thing that makes me pause, however, is that the manufacturer simply claims “water resistance” instead of waterproofness. Users seem to feel that the tent is waterproof, though I wouldn’t trust it in apocalyptic weather.

Ozark Trail makes camping gear of all sorts and has been at it for a while. Their equipment is usually reliable and affordable and this tent sits squarely in the mold.

  • Aprox. 60 pounds
  • 12-person tent
  • Porch awning

If you’re the type to sit on the porch and sip a cup of coffee in the morning, you can now take that to the campground with you. Outside the two doors of this tent is a waterproof awning section held up by a separate pole!

Of course, all this luxury comes at a price – a heavy weight to carry! This tent tips the scale at about 60 pounds so you may need all 12 people to help carry it to the campsite!

There are 7 total windows on this tent and all are fully adjustable. That means good views and a good breeze no matter which direction you pitch the tent – every time!

While the seams are fully taped from the factory, I recommend checking them and patching any repairs with diluted silicone sealer like Silnet for longterm waterproofness that won’t fail you.

Inside the tent can be divided into 3 separate square rooms with thin privacy walls so you can reasonably head out with 3 individual 4-person families if you really wanted to!

While the seams are fully taped from the factory, I recommend checking them and patching any repairs with diluted silicone sealer like Silnet for longterm waterproofness that won’t fail you.

Inside the tent can be divided into 3 separate square rooms with thin privacy walls so you can reasonably head out with 3 individual 4-person families if you really wanted to!

  • Aprox. 36 pounds
  • 9-person tent
  • Dome lighting and fan

Let’s just get right to it – the tech feature everyone seems to love about this tent. Inside is a wall switch which controls the ceiling fan and light. This throws off plenty of LED lighting to illuminate the tent at night and the fan helps keep warm summer nights enjoyable.

You can run the fan off batteries though some users have reported success by using rechargeable battery packs for long-lasting, affordable power.

Of course, the tent itself does come with a waterproof rainfly that covers with ample room to keep water out!

My favorite feature, however, is the easy-to-set-up Insta-Clip suspension for the tent poles. You can get set up and ready to go in no time.

Best Lightweight Waterproof tents

REI Co-op Passage 1 Tent Hero
REI Co-op Passage 1 Tent

For solo hikers on a budget, you can get everything you need at a reasonable price and weight with the REI house brand. They’re reliable and have a great warranty!

  • 3lbs 6oz
  • 1-person tent
  • Seam-sealed polyester fly

Because REI makes their own brand gear you can trust this stuff. Honestly, even if you take it out of the box and it leaks there’s an REI store in most big cities so you can return or replace your gear at an actual store. That peace of mind is invaluable to some.

Of course this tent, at a low-budget price, isn’t going to be the lightest waterproof tent on the market. It’s not supposed to be. It is, however, a fantastic pick for weight, price, and quality.

Nemo was a new brand to me about 10 years ago when I first encountered them. Since then, they’ve taken the lightweight backpacking gear world by storm.

  • 2lbs
  • 1-person tent
  • Single pole design

This tent is about as light as it gets while staying within the bounds of conventional backpacking tents. At just 2 pounds for a single person, you’ll be plenty lightweight on the trail.

Of course, that low weight comes with drawbacks. the tent itself is a slim, tapered design with very little room to move around inside.

A single hubbed pole is all that’s used to keep this tent up but it works great!

While the triangular guy-outs are designed to help you keep the tent inner space as large as possible but there’s not much to be salvaged when your tent is this small, to begin with.

Note: This tent is also available in the 2-person model.

Conclusion

No matter what kind of waterproof tent you’re looking for, we should have one on this list for you. Remember that waterproofness is a quality where you tend to get what you pay for.

When it comes down to it, I always recommend that people not try to cut corners on waterproofness. Seam sealing the tent yourself can be a good way to ensure waterproofness but start with a quality tent you can trust for years of service.

Remember that the best waterproof tent for your needs is probably much different than the next person. Choose wisely and you’ll have a reliable waterproof outdoor shelter for years to come.


About the author

Casey Fiedler

Professional ski instructor and backpacking guide, Casey Fiedler went to school with CWC and NOLS for Outdoor Education and Leadership. Want to read more about what it takes to lead great adventure trips? Casey writes about outdoor education at caseyfiedler.wordpress.com

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