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The Best Waterproof Tents: Reviews and Buying Guide

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Originally posted on August 10, 2018. Updated on April 23, 2019.

Some of the best memories in life happen when things don’t go according to plan. The ability to make changes on the fly and enjoy any situation mother throws at you is when the best memories are made. When unexpected rainfall hits you can grab your stuff and go home or hunker down and make the best of a wet weekend.

Hiding from bad weather under a tarp while wondering if your tent, sleeping bag, and clothes inside get soaked is miserable. It leaves you wondering why the hell you ever went camping knowing there was any chance of rain. A safe and dry shelter is a must have requirement for anyone who loves camping.

Whether you are an experienced camper or a rookie adventurer, finding the best waterproof tent will make rainy days a little more enjoyable.

Best waterproof tents

We took a deep dive into the world of waterproof tents and found 7 that stand out from the crowd. Here are our picks for the best waterproof tents to make your camping experience enjoyable, regardless of the weather.

Coleman Sundome 2 Person Tent

  • Capacity: 2 person
  • Wall type: Double walled
  • Packed weight: 7.2 pounds
  • Seams: Factory sealed

The name Coleman is synonymous with camping and their outdoor products are an example of their lasting success. The Coleman Sundrome 2 Person Tent sets up quickly with continuous pole sleeves, meaning you only have to slip it in one time. With a little practice, you’ll have this tent up in under 10 minutes.

This waterproof tent uses a patented WeatherTec system with tub style flooring, inverted seams, and corner welds to keep you dry. It comes with a hooded rainfly that completely covers the windows and has a small awning in front creating a dry place for your gear.

The inside of the tent is deceptively large, measuring 7 x 5 feet. You can fit a queen size mattress inside comfortably and they also have 2, 3, and 6 person sizes.

Pros

  • Large door for easy access in and out
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to set up
  • Zippers are durable and made to last

Cons

  • Windows don’t close
  • Mesh vents are not covered with the rainfly
  • Seams need extra sealing
Sale
Coleman Sundome 2 Person Tent
7,747 Reviews
Coleman Sundome 2 Person Tent
  • Dome tent with spacious interior allows you to move comfortably
  • Easy setup in only 10 minutes
  • WeatherTec system with patented welded floors and inverted seams to keep you dry
  • Large windows and a ground vent for superior ventilation

ALPS Mountaineering Zephyr 3-Person Tent



  • Capacity: 3 person
  • Wall type: Double walled
  • Packed weight: 6.1 pounds
  • Seams: Fully taped

ALPS in another well known outdoor brand with a reputation for making quality gear. The ALPS Mountaineering Zephyr 3 person tent is more comfortable with two people, 3 people is a tight fit. The setup and breakdown take 5 minutes on both ends after a little bit of practice.

There is a slope to the roofline which makes for plenty of headroom inside. There are twin doors in the tent that make getting in and out super easy. The entire upper portion of the tent is mesh, so on a clear night, you have a great view of the stars.

The tub of the tent is made of reinforced material, it could be slightly thicker but it still does the job. The rainfly gives you another layer of protection and extends out to give you a vestibule outside of each door. The rainfly also buckles to the tent making it a more secure attachment than using cordage.

Pros

  • 2 doors for easy access
  • Light packed weight
  • Double vestibules

Cons

  • Water tends to pool on top
  • Low ceiling
ALPS Mountaineering Zephyr 3-Person Tent
115 Reviews
ALPS Mountaineering Zephyr 3-Person Tent
  • There's no assembly frustration with our Zephyr Tent series; this free-standing, aluminum two-pole design can be setup in no time
  • Polyester tent fly resists water and UV damage while adding two vestibules for extra storage
  • Great ventilation with two mesh doors and entire mesh walls
  • Fully equipped with #8 zippers, mesh storage pockets, gear loft, aluminum stakes and guy ropes

Kelty Grand Mesa Tent

  • Capacity: 2 person
  • Wall type: Double walled
  • Packed weight: 4.75 pounds
  • Seams: Fully taped seams

The Kelty Grand Mesa Tent is a 2 person tent with a solid build. You can fit two people inside comfortably, however, finding room for your gear will be a challenge.

The seams are fully taped throughout and the tub floor is made of thick waterproof material. The upper walls are made of mesh and both the floor and fly are made of polyurethane-treated polyester. The color coded rainfly clips makes setting it up as simple as matching colors, after all, fumbling around with a rainfly gets old quick.

The freestanding design makes setting it up and moving it around a surprisingly simple endeavor.

Pros

  • Small footprint
  • Design and shape make it more weather resistant
  • Low price point

Cons

  • Heavy packed weight
  • Limited headroom
Sale
Kelty Grand Mesa Tent
207 Reviews
Kelty Grand Mesa Tent
  • Kelty Grand Mesa 2, this two person camping tent provides excellent value and performance for 3-season use, offers solid construction and functional design.
  • Freestanding design is easy to move around for ideal campsite placement, Includes Stuff Sack and Stakes.
  • Color-coded clip construction that eliminates the hassle of feeding poles through cumbersome tent sleeves.
  • Seasons: 3, Number of doors: 1, Number of vestibules: 1, Capacity: 2, Number of aluminum poles: 2

ALPS Mountaineering Meramac 3-Person Tent

  • Capacity: 3 person
  • Wall type: Double walled
  • Packed weight: 7.1 pounds
  • Seams: Factory sealed seams


This tent has a freestanding design making the setup process quick. There are dual doors so you can enter and exit without disturbing your camping buddy. Both doors are zippered and the side panels are meshed as well, allowing the tent to breathe easily.

In terms of weather protection, there is a 75D 185T polyester fly with 1500mm coating for protection. The tub of the floor is made of 75D poly taffeta floor. Both of these design features mean as much rain protection possible.

It is marketed as a 3 person tent, however, you should always subtract one person to get the actual size. The rainfly doesn’t go all the way to the ground and the vestibules are pretty small.

Pros

  • Quality material
  • Easy to setup
  • 2 door system

Cons

  • Side windows don’t shut
  • Weak zippers
  • Thin floor
ALPS Mountaineering Meramac 3-Person Tent
145 Reviews
ALPS Mountaineering Meramac 3-Person Tent
  • Easy assembly with a free-standing, two-pole design and shock corded fiberglass poles
  • Polyester fly resists water and UV damage, while providing an awning over each door
  • Fully equipped with storage pockets, gear loft, steel stakes, guy ropes, two awning covered doorways, two zippered windows and large side mesh panels
  • The ALPS Mountaineering Meramac Tent is on our best sellers list; a perfect tent for your next adventure

MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2-Person Tent

  • Capacity: 2 person
  • Wall type: Double walled
  • Packed weight: 4 pounds
  • Seams: Precision stitched seams

The MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2 Person Tent is an extremely lightweight tent, coming in at just under 4 pounds. It’s free standing tent and extremely easy to get up, taking just a few minutes once you have pitched it a few times. The rainfly is color coded, so you don’t have to fumble around and try every variation, you nail it on the first try.

The rainly is made of 20D ripstop nylon and the floor uses 30D ripstop nylon. With the rainfly in action, this tent can handle everything from light to heavy rains.

The tent body contains two doors with mesh paneling for maximum ventilation. The rainfly rolls up while staying attached to the tent so you can peak at the stars in the evening. The tent comes with nearly everything you need… Poles, rainfly, guylines, and pole system.

Pros

  • Weather resistant material
  • Unified pole system
  • Durable construction

Cons

  • Small fly doors
  • Rainfly doesn’t touch the ground
  • Need a footprint
Sale
MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2-Person Tent
146 Reviews
MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2-Person Tent
  • 3-season, 2-person backpacking tent that offers the most livable accommodations in a lightweight freestanding design
  • Pole geometry maximizes space with 29 sq. feet of floor area, interior peak height of 39 inches, plus 17. 5 sq. feet of vestibule area
  • Complete setup weighs 3. 9 lbs. and packs down to 18x6 inches; minimalist setup option uses footprint, poles, and rainfly and weighs 3. 5 lbs.
  • Includes DuraShield Coating and DAC Featherlike NFL poles

Marmot Tungsten 3 Person Tent

  • Capacity: 3 person
  • Wall type: Double walled
  • Packed weight: 6.2 pounds
  • Seams: Factory taped seams

The Marmot Tungsten 3 person tent is a 3 person tent by name but more comfortable for 2 people. There are two doors on opposite sides making getting in and out in the middle of the night a simple task. The rainfly also provides a vestibule on both sides, providing a place for you to leave the dirt and mud outside your tent where it belongs.

The floor and fly of the tent are made of PU coated, 68 denier polyester coating with taped seams. The top of the tent is made with a mesh coating for clear nights under the stars.

The inside of the tent stays dry in wet conditions. There is not a lot of condensation build up and the tub base is sealed extremely well. Overall this tent is lightweight, easy to setup and holds up well in the wind.

Pros

  • Color coded clips
  • Quick assembly
  • Footprint included

Cons

  • Poles struggle in high winds
Sale
Marmot Tungsten 3 Person Tent
19 Reviews
Marmot Tungsten 3 Person Tent
  • Updated Color
  • Footprint included
  • Seam Taped Full Coverage Fly with Vents,
  • Free-Standing Design,

Winterial 3 Person Tent

  • Capacity: 3 person
  • Wall type: Double walled
  • Packed weight: 4.4 pounds
  • Seams: Factory sealed seams

The Winterial 3 Person Tent is ideal for use in Summer, Spring, and Fall. It is made of durable nylon material and made to withstand both high winds and heavy rains.

It includes a removable rainfly so you stay dry and can enjoy the sky on clear evenings. There are two good size screens on opposite sides that provide adequate ventilation so you don’t have condensation build up or muggy nights. There are also two large doors.

The setup is quick and easy, even for one person. The tent packs up nice and neat into a compact space, making this tent easy to pack anywhere. It’s good to have a groundsheet, however, that can be said for all tents.

Pros

  • Great in rain and wind
  • Easy to setup
  • Rainfly attachment is simple

Cons

  • Tough to repack
  • Rare zipper issues
  • Small inside

Pack some twine to string across a couple trees and use this as a place to dry out your wet gear. When your clothes are wet it’s easy to toss them in a pile to take care of when you get home. Hanging clothes will usually dry within a day or two and you avoid that musty smell wet clothes tend to get.

Sale
Winterial 3 Person Tent
111 Reviews
Winterial 3 Person Tent
  • FEATURES include: Rain Fly Vented Roof ,Two Durable ALUMINUM Tipped Tent Poles Screen and Solid Zippered Doors
  • EASILY holds 3 people. Comparable to Coleman and Alps Mountaineering
  • 4 Metal Stakes; Open Dimensions: 82 x 64 x 46 inches, Pack Dimensions: 23.8 x 4.4 x 4.1 inches / 4.4lbs
  • PERFECT for any outdoor trip, lightweight and is very compact when folded

Why you need a waterproof tent

Waterproof fabric has grown leaps and bounds over the last few decades and it shows in the overall quality of tents. The fabric used today to waterproof tents comes water resistant straight out of the box and doesn’t require too much preparation at home.

The days of scrambling to get an extra tarp over your gear when mother nature decides it’s time to rain are over. A well designed waterproof is designed to withstand rainfall and includes a rainfly for added protection.

Everything that you need to keep dry at all costs, things like a Kindle or cell phone, need a dry place to call home. You should be able to keep everything important inside a waterproof tent with full confidence that it will stay dry.

Seam sealant is always good to have as a backup. A tent with seams already sealed is the only way to go, but having a backup plan is never a bad idea.

Advantages of waterproof tents

  • No need to waterproof at home
  • Seams are sealed
  • Keeps you dry (of course)
  • Includes a rainfly

Waterproof tent buying guide

Most tents come with some sort of water-resistant material, however, waterproof tents take this to the next level. While most tents say they are waterproof, similar to the way all food is labeled organic, not all tents are waterproof. This guide is designed to inform you of features to look for when considering adding a waterproof tent to your gear.

Tent shape

The shape of your tent plays an integral role in keeping the inside dry. The most common tent shapes are domes and A-framed. Each tent has it’s own set of benefits and challenges.

An A-frame tent is designed to let the water run down the sides by having a steep angle on both sides of the tent. They offer the most headroom, however, the footprint is going to be narrower than its domed counterpart. Wind can be a problem for A-framed tents, they tend to be more susceptible to failure and damage when the wind picks up.

Domed tents have more rounded edges and the water tends to run down the sides. In heavy rainfall, it’s important to make sure the rainfly is covering any and all openings, otherwise, water tends to get inside. These tents tend to handle high winds better, due to their more aerodynamic design and a lower center of gravity.

Rainfly

A rainfly gives you an extra layer of protection when you really need it. The rainfly is an exterior piece of fabric that’s specifically designed to repel water while maintaining airflow in and around your tent. One of the best features of a rainfly is the ability to use it when you need it and remove it when the weather permits.

Installation of the rainfly is an important consideration of each and every tent installation. There are clips along the rim of the tent to attach the rainfly and it’s important to make sure all the openings are protected. If you don’t have a rainfly, consider buying on or use a tarp for extra coverage.

Wall construction

Tents come with two choices of wall construction: single walled and double walled. A single walled tent is a single layer of fabric that should be both waterproof and breathable. Breathability is an important factor in single walled design, if a tent isn’t breathable you can expect condensation to form on the inside that will get everything inside damp.

Double walled tents are more common in waterproof tents for the simple fact that they offer more ventilation and protection. Often the rainfly is considered the second layer, so in reality, a single walled tent becomes a double walled tent ease.

Sealed seams

Even if your tent is made of waterproof and breathable material, you will still get wet if the seams aren’t sealed. Stitched seams are a point of failure in waterproof tents, the small holes from the stitching give the water a place to enter the tent.

There are a two different ways that a tent is protected. Taped seams are covered with a waterproof tape which protects the seams. Welded seams are the more efficient option, meaning the seams have no stitching and are joined together in the manufacturing process as one piece.

You want to look for “fully seam sealed” which means that every single seam in the tent is sealed for maximum water resistance. “Critically seam sealed” is another option, however, this means that only the upper portion is sealed, leaving the lower portion vulnerable to leakage.

Ventilation

Ventilation is important for all tents, however, it is especially important for waterproof tents. Due to the material waterproof tents are made of, condensation tends to gather on the inside your tent and having adequate airflow will limit water vapor build up on the inside.

Tubbed flooring

You have probably seen tents that have a reinforced floor with a material that resembles rubber. This is what is referred to as tub flooring and it is waterproof. A reinforced floor that extends up a few inches from the ground on every side is going to protect the underside when water builds up.

Groundsheets

A groundsheet is similar to a rainfly, it just sits underneath your tent. A common place for water to build up is underneath your tent and the last thing you want is water seeping in from the bottom. A groundsheet can be cut to fit your specific tent, sometimes the manufacturers offer them, or a tarp from the garage does the job as well.

Vestibule and exterior storage

A vestibule is a mud room for your tent. It’s a place to take off your wet and muddy gear so you don’t track any mess inside of your tent. It’s a nice perk to have and you can always make your own with a tarp and a couple of sticks.

Not having a vestibule area means that you have to find a place to keep your gear or bring wet gear inside the tent with you. Not having a vestibule isn’t the end of the world, however, it sure does make life easier.

Tips for staying dry in the rain

The weather has a mind of its own and no matter how many times you check the weather report there’s always a chance that it can rain. It doesn’t have to force you to pack up and head for the couch. Use these tips to stay dry on rainy days.

1. Choose a waterproof tent

Your tent is the first line of defense in rainy weather. Finding the best waterproof tent that you can afford goes a long way in the battle against wet weather. Choose a tent that will guarantee everything inside stays dry no matter what the sky does.

2. Camp on high ground

Location is everything when pitching your tent. Avoid placing your tent in dips and low points, these are the first places that water builds up. You want to find high ground and pitch your tent away from the flow of rainwater.

3. Use tarps to cover the common areas

If you camp enough, rain is unavoidable. The last thing you want is everyone running to their tents to stay dry. Suspend a tarp over the common areas so that everyone has a dry place to chill out and relax.

4. Dress in layers

Using the proper gear and layers will keep you comfortable. A moisture wicking base layer and a waterproof shell layer is a good place to start. Be sure to pack a couple sets of each so you have a dry set to change into.

5. Avoid cotton

Cotton is the worst material for wet and cold weather. It absorbs water at a high rate and once it wet, it stays wet. Opt for polyester, wool, or synthetic fabrics that wick away moisture and retain body heat.

6. Bring extra plastic bags

Large garbage bags are a great way to add another layer of protection to your gear and supplies that you want to stay dry. You can throw a bag around literally anything and the plastic should keep most of the water out.

7. Use a bivy sack

Bivy sacks are a lightweight and waterproof shelter originally used by climbers on multi-day outings. They are also another layer of defense inside your tent. You can set up a bivy sack inside your tent and place it around your sleeping bag. A dry sleeping bag is a comfortable sleeping bag.

8. Pay attention to the weather forecast

We all know that weather forecasts are not 100% accurate, however, they do give you a decent idea of what’s to come. Plan for the best and prepare for the worst.

9. Enjoy the experience

You may not be able to control the weather, however, you can control your attitude. Camping in the rain isn’t ideal and nobody prefers rain over the sun. Learn to enjoy the rain, dance in the rain, and laugh in the rain.

What did we learn?

Camping is a great escape and bad weather is something that happens from time to time. That doesn’t mean that you should avoid camping in the rain altogether, however, being prepared for rain makes all the difference in the world.

Spend some time planning for the rain and make sure that all your gear is able to handle some rainfall. The best memories in life happen when we have the chance to make an otherwise miserable situation enjoyable. So take the leap, find the best waterproof tent, and get outside.

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