If you are planning on going out to the wilderness, you are going to need a tent. The one you are going to choose will be your home for the whole time of the trip if you go camping, backpacking, or if you go to a festival.
The Ultimate Waterproof Tent Guide
I have made a product comparison table that features the best waterproof tents reviewed on the website. The last column contains a link to the review of each product.
|Ledge Sports Scorpion Lightweight 2 Person Tent (92 X 58 - 42-Inch Height, 5.2-Pounds)||Backpacking||2||(5 / 5)||Ledge Scorpion Two Man Tent|
|Kelty Grand Mesa 4 Backpacking 4 Person Tent||Backpacking||4||(4.5 / 5)||Kelty Grand Mesa 4 Backpacking 4 Person Tent Review|
|Coleman Red Canyon 17-Foot by 10-Foot 8-Person Modified Dome Tent||Family||8||(4.5 / 5)||Coleman Red Canyon 17-Foot by 10-Foot 8-Person Modified Dome Tent Review|
|ALPS Mountaineering Meramac 2 Person Tent - Fiberglass Poles (5-Feet x 7-Feet 6-Inch)||Mountaineering||2||(4.5 / 5)||ALPS Mountaineering Meramac 2 Person Tent Review: A Great Mountaneering Tent|
With so many different possible choices on the market, it might be hard to decide which one is the best for you. However there is one trait that all the best tents have, they are waterproof. The reason for this is that no matter how closely you follow the weather forecast, you might be caught off-guard by a sudden rain any minute.
A waterproof tent is not a lot more expensive than one that can’t keep the water out. Taking into consideration that you would have to pay only a little bit of extra to have a completely shelter, this decision should be a no-brainer. There are many different types of products on the market. Much of the differences between these are based on the use they were designed for. On our website you can find the reviews of all types.
Backpacking tents were designed with hikers in mind. These are perfect if you are looking for a lightweight, yet comfortable shelter for a long walk outdoors. You can also use them for camping, or kayak and bicycle trips.
The backpacking tents reviewed by us include:
The Ledge Scorpion 2 Person Waterproof Backpacking Tent. This model is the best, it has a great design, and it is cheap for its quality.
The Eureka Apex 2X has only one flaw: It is heavy for a 2 person, 3 season product. Otherwise it is a very well thought-out product.
The Coleman Sundome has the signature Coleman Weathertech system, which keeps your shelter dry. It is easy to set up, but it doesn’t have a vestibule.
The Slumberjack trail is unfortunately not completely waterproof, you have to apply some seam sealer and waterproof spray to it. However it is free standing, you can use it as an indoor tent.
The Coleman Hooligan has plenty of space, and it is completely waterproof. However it is a bit hard to set up at first, and it is not the lightest backpacking product on the market.
The Wenzel Current Hiker has a design that I donát particularly like, as it has only one door, and it is too narrow for two people, However it is lightweight and cheap.
Family tents were designed for families who want to spend time in the wilderness. They are big, very comfortable, they basically serve as a second home for you and your loved ones. These are not particularly light, but they are big, with plenty of space on the inside.
The Coleman Red Canyon is an exceptionally well designed family tent. It is big, durable and completely waterproof. A perfect shelter for the family.
The Weather Master is one of the most advanced products on the market. It has a screen room where you can have barbecues and hang out, and it also has an electric access port.
The Guide Gear Tee Pee is the easiest to set up, it only takes a few minutes. It has an unconventional design, however it is only a single wall tent.
Kids’ tents were designed for children to play in. They are durable, free-standing and they have plenty of space inside. These are not ideal for backpacking or camping, but they are perfect for spending a night or to in the garden, or playing indoors.
The Wenzel Children’s Sprout has excellent ventilation, it is easy to set up thanks to its simple design. The poles are not the most durable.
The Pacific Play model is strong and durable, but easy to set up. It is very easy to get in and out of the tent. The stakes have to be bought separately.
The above three versions all have different designs, with many different features, but there are some gizmos and gadgets that the best ones all need to have.
These features are:
- a waterproof rainfly
- a vestibule
- a waterproof floor
- durable poles
- a window, or an inner wall made of mesh
- other features tailored for your specific needs
The rainfly is an essential part of any product. The ones that have a rainfly are double-wall ones. The reason for this name is that these ones have an inner wall, which gives structure to the shelter, and they also have an outer wall -the rainfly- that keeps the inside dry.
It is easy to see why two layers of waterproof material can be better at keeping the interiors dry, than only one wall. Two walls are essential for preventing condensation as well.
Condensation occurs when the humidity inside turns into liquid water as it meets the cool wall. The reason why double wall tents are less prone to condensation is because these products have a little space between the two walls. Even though the outer wall might cool down in the cold night air, but the air in the little space between the walls prevents the humidity from meeting the cold outer wall. Although the humidity might connect with the inner wall, that wall remains warm throughout the night.
Double wall shelters are also warmer. It is harder for the warmth inside to escape through two walls. The products reviewed on this website are mostly for three season use. Such products are designed for spring, summer and autumn use. They are not fit for camping during the winter, because their structure is not durable enough to withstand heavy snowfalls.
The rainfly can be made of two materials, either coated polyester traffeta or silynylon. Coated polyester traffeta is a material frequently used for the manufacturing of waterproof gear. It is used for umbrellas and rain coats among others. Make sure that you don’t buy simple polyester traffeta rainflys, as this material is not waterproof. The polyester must be coated in order to be fit for manufacturing waterproof rainflys.
Silynylon is nylon that was soaked in silicone on both sides, hence the name. The silicone makes the nylon waterproof, and it also makes it more durable. Silynylon is a popular material for manufacturing all kinds of backpacking gear, as it is very light and waterproof at the same time. If you own a backpack, a bivy bag, or if you have ever been to an ultralight backpacking trip, the chances are that you have come across silynylon at one point or another. The biggest downside to silynylon is that it produces poisonous fumes if it catches on fire, so no matter what happens, don’t inhale the fumes.
The vestibule is one of the key features of any good shelter for backpacking. The vestibule is an extension of the rainfly over the door of your shelter. It is basically an extra room that is separated from the inner part by the door. The vestibule doesn’t have a floor underneath it, so it is unfit for sleeping, and in most cases it is not big enough for such use.
The vestibule is a must, because it serves as a gateway between the outside world and the inside of your waterproof tent. You can take off your wet or muddy gear inside the vestibule, so that you don’t bring any dirt inside where you sleep. You can also leave all your gear and shoes inside the vestibule when you go inside.
The vestibule is also the place where you can do all kinds of extra stuff. The vestibule is a good place to cook if it rains outside. However make sure that the windows are open, so that you don’t die of carbon-monoxide poisoning.
The vestibule is extremely handy if you hike with your dog. Your dog can sleep in the vestibule, while you close the door of your accommodation. If you leave the vestibule open the dog can go out freely if she needs to take care of business, and you don’t have to wake up every single time to open the vestibule.
I recommend you to purchase a tent that has as many vestibules as many people can sleep in the shelter. So a one person version can have one vestibule, but definitely buy one with two vestibules if you are looking for a two person tent. The reason for this is that more people will have more gear, and you will need all the space to store that gear. Obviously a six person shelter won’t have six vestibules, but as a general rule of thumb the more vestibules, the better.
The floor is just as important as the rainfly. The floor stands between the inside of your accommodation and the water and humidity on the ground. Even if the rainfly is perfect, and doesn’t let any water in, if the floor leaks your outdoor home will not be useful.
The floor of a the products reviewed on this website is usually made of nylon. A special reinforcing technique is applied to the nylon that transforms it into a ripstop fabric. A special coating is applied to the ripstop in order to make it waterproof. Ripstop nylon is the material used for manufacturing hot air balloons, so it is very good at keeping the warmth inside.
The most important feature of the floor apart from its water repellent ability is its thickness. The thicker it is, the more it is going to be able to stand the damage that the stones and debris on the ground will inevitably do to the floor.
In order to prevent damaging the floor, it is a good idea to lay down a tarp underneath the floor. The tarp will prevent the ground from touching the floor, which will guarantee that the floor stays intact. A tarp is usually very cheap, and can be replaced very easily, but the same doesn’t go for the floor of your shelter. Once it is torn, or holes show up on the floor, it is very hard to make it waterproof again. Manufacturers offer special tarps for some models, but you can order tarps of all kinds and sizes, which are just as good as custom made ones.
The best design when it comes to the floor is what’s called a bathtub design. This means that the floor reaches up on the sides of the wall, and it is sewn together together a bit higher on the wall. This is very handy, because if it rains heavily, and water collects into a puddle around your shelter the water won’t pour inside as the seam will stay above water.
As far as seams go, you should go for products that have inverted, factory-sealed seams. Inverted seams mean that the stitching is on the inside, so water doesn’t pour in through the tiny holes. Factory-sealed seams are made by the manufacturer with a tiny piece of waterproof fabric being double stitched between the wall and the floor of the product in order to prevent the water from pouring in between the two layers.
The floor can be attached to the wall in one of two ways. The floor can be standard, or it can be sewn-in. The air can ventilate between the floor and the wall if the floor is standard. Such ventilation means that condensation won’t be a problem, but you might have problems with insects crawling into the shelter.
Sewn-in floors are better in my opinion, because you will have more insect protection. However having a shelter with good ventilation becomes even more important if it has a sewn-in floor, because the air won’t be able to escape between the floor and the wall.
The poles are one of the most important parts of the accommodation, they add structure and stability to the design of your tent. The poles are the pieces that keep the wall in a steady structure.
The poles can be attached to the wall in two ways. Either you have to insert the poles into tiny tunnels on the wall, or you can attach the poles to the wall with clips. The downside to inserting the poles into a tunnel on the wall is that you might pierce through the fabric if you are not paying attention. The downside to a clip attachment system is that the clip might come off the pole during your sleep. If you had the rainfly on while this happened you would have to remove the rainfly, and reattach the pole. This whole process might take up a significant amount of your time., not to mention that it is quite unpleasant if it is raining while you do it.
Poles can be made of three materials: fiberglass, aluminium and wood. Most poles nowadays are made of fiberglass. Fiberglass poles are lightweight, and durable. Aluminium is durable, but not as light as fiberglass. Wooden poles break easily, so never use wooden poles. Most manufacturers sell poles on their own, so even if you have a product with wooden poles, you can easily replace them with fiberglass poles.
Most products reviewed on this website have shock-corded poles. These poles consist of multiple small parts, with a wire running through the smaller parts, that allows you to insert them together. Shock-corded poles are standard nowadays, it would be very hard to find ones with poles that are not shock-corded.
There are a few tips that you have to keep in mind when using shock-corded poles. First, you should grab the pole in the middle. If you grab the pole on one end, you put too much pressure on the other end of the pole, which might eventually break it. Rule number two is not to whip the pole around. Doing so would tear the wire inside the pole. If the wire is damaged, you can’t replace it, you need to buy a new pole.
Great waterproof shelters all have at least one window. The window will allow the air to ventilate. This is crucial as the humidity inside will be allowed to escape this way. This will prevent condensation, not to mention that it will make your shelter much more livable during the hot days of summer.
It is even better if the inner wall of the shelter is made of mesh. This will allow the air to move freely all the time, and you won’t have to spend time or attention to opening the window time after time.
The above are not the only features that the products reviewed on the website can have. They can have many other gadgets that can make the life of a camper a lot easier. These are smaller features, that are not essential, but they can be nice to have at times. You should not decide on which one to buy based on solely these features, but they should be taken into consideration. I advise you to take these into consideration if you have found multiple products that meet your needs. In such a case you should go for the one that has more handy gadgets that you are longing for.
One of such gadgets is an internal gear loft. This is a small pocket on the inside of the top of the dome of the shelter. It is perfect for storing a few small objects inside it, such as a flashlight, your cell phone or your wallet.
Another way to store a few objects inside is in the pockets. Most products have at least one pocket on the inside of the inner wall. These pockets have a similar purpose as an internal gear loft, you can store a few smaller objects in them.
Some versions have a hook inside, on the top of the dome. The point of having such a thing is similar as the point of having an internal gear loft. You can hang your flashlight on the hook.
The best waterproof tent for your needs depends a lot on what you want to use it for. A backpacking tent is very different from a family shelter, not to mention how different the ones designed for kids are. However all great products have the above features. I hope that you have found the article helpful.