Camping in rainy weather can be a lot of fun, but only if you have a decent tent!
If you aren’t careful, you’re going to wake up with moisture dripping through the ceiling, rising through the groundsheet, and puddling in the corners. (Good luck getting the stink of mildew out of your kit afterward!)
As your sleeping compartment gets damper and smellier, you’ll probably be wondering why the heck you thought camping was a good idea in the first place.
But it doesn’t have to be that way!
This article will give you 15 waterproof tent recommendations that will keep you dry in the rain. Ignore it at your peril.
Best Waterproof Tents Review - My Top 5 Picks
The following tents are my favorite five choices for wet weather.
Whether you’re looking for a spacious family tent or something smaller to fit in your backpack, I’m sure one of these options will be right for you.
Teton Sports Sierra
The Teton Sports Sierra is the best all-rounder for camping in the rain.
It’s made of high-quality canvas, and the zippers and seams are built to last. This means the Sports Sierra will keep you dry for decades, unlike the vast majority of tents, which start breaking down after a few seasons.
The steep sides of this bell tent mean that you’ll have tons of room for standing up and moving around. This makes getting changed a lot easier, and it also means you won’t be stuck in a tiny space when the rain starts falling in earnest.
The steepness of the walls is brilliant for channeling rain away from your rooftop as quickly as possible, reducing the chance of leaks even further.
Why I recommend the Teton Sports Sierra
Although this tent is more expensive and heavier than most nylon tents, I honestly think the investment is worth every cent.
A lot of tents tear after a few uses, but the Sierra has a heavy-duty welded floor that you don’t have to tiptoe around on!
I think canvas tents are massively underrated. They might be a bit heavy and more expensive than your classic tent, but they are easy to put up, and they’re suitable for a huge range of weather conditions.
You don’t need to worry about foul weather; just be prepared for your friends and family to come running to you when their own tents start leaking!
Kelty Late Start 2
The Kelty Late Start is a fantastic little tent for camping in rainy weather. It’s particularly popular for bike touring, and I can see why. This tent goes up in a couple of minutes, doesn’t weigh too much, and won’t break the bank.
I wouldn’t say it’s the best for backpacking, though, because it’s on the heavy side for exploring on foot.
Why I recommend the Kelty Late Start
A lot of pop-up tents are pretty junky. They might set up in a flash, but they’ll come down just as quickly if you get any rain or wind at camp.
The Kelty Late Start is an exception to this rule. It can easily be set up in the dark in less than a minute, but it still offers decent protection from the weather. It’s lightweight and affordable, and users consistently report that it kept them dry in the rain.
This tent proves you don’t have to dump a ton of money into your kit to start enjoying the great outdoors. You’re not going to be dragged down by the weight of your kit as you pedal up those hills, and you can set up your camp in seconds so that you can collapse after a long day on your bike!
Plus, it’s pretty roomy for a backpacking tent. You’ll be able to sit up comfortably, which makes a big difference when the weather is keeping you inside.
If you’re going car camping with your family, the Coleman WeatherMaster is an excellent option.
The large screen room is a perfect area to set up a camping table and chairs. It isn’t waterproof enough for sleeping in, but it will keep the rain off you while you enjoy a game of cards. Plus, the mesh walls will give you panoramic views of your campground.
You’ll have plenty of space to hang out as a family, and the Weathertec system will keep you nice and cozy if the weather gets really bad.
Be careful! Some users did report leaking, while others said the tent stayed dry in a heavy downpour.
If you want to be among the latter, you need to prepare your tent correctly with a waterproof coating. (You should redo this after each heavy rainfall. Then, you shouldn’t have any problems with leaking.)
Why I recommend the Coleman WeatherMaster
Coleman tents come with a built-in weathertec system.
This means the seams and zippers are protected, the floor is welded, and the frame is strong.
Coleman tents aren’t the best in the world, but you really can’t complain for the price! To be honest, I have yet to find an outdoor brand that produces family tents for a better price at this quality.
I like the fact that the main tent body has separate rooms. This will give you a lot more privacy if you are camping with other people. You can use one room as a changing area, or have separate sleeping zones.
I also love the angled windows, which allow fresh air to circulate even when it’s raining. (This will also prevent condensation!)
Alps Mountaineering Zephyr
A lot of so-called backpacking tents weigh a ton. (Well, not an actual ton, but close enough!) Make sure you check the weight and dimensions before going ahead with a purchase.
The Alps Mountaineering Zephyr is 5.5 pounds. That’s on the heavy side for long-distance thru-hiking, but it would be absolutely fine for a couple of nights spent hiking and camping on the trails.
You’ll probably share the weight with a camping buddy anyway, so I would have no problem using this tent for a wild camp.
Why I recommend the Alps Mountaineering Zephyr
I love this tent because it is well-ventilated, waterproof, and well-designed.
There are two separate vestibules, so it’s comfortable to share with a buddy. You can each put your kit in the vestibule on your side of the tent, so you can reach all your stuff without climbing all over each other.
This also frees up more space inside the sleeping compartment, which is essential for a good night’s sleep.
There are two separate doors, which means you can come and go from the tent without getting someone else’s elbow in your ribcage. Always a perk!
Nemo Wagon Top - Most Reliable Family Tent for Wet Weather
The Nemo Wagon Top is not the cheapest of tents, but it’s the most reliable family tent for wet weather that I have come across. Users literally describe this thing as ‘bomb-proof,’ so you don’t have to lose a wink of sleep worrying about the weather!
Why I recommend the Nemo Wagontop 6
The Nemo Wagontop is an excellent choice for a family that doesn't want to be held back by the weather. It’s super spacious and has high ceilings, so tall people can stand up and walk around comfortably.
The tent materials are heavy-duty, so they aren’t going to disintegrate or tear like the cheap tents that are flooding the market right now. Despite those thick and impenetrable walls, the tent has a light and airy feeling thanks to large windows and a protected screen room.
I think it’s better to get the best tent that you can afford instead of continually replacing cheaper ones as they break. While it might not be in everyone's budget, the Nemo Wagontop is designed to last for the long term.
10 More Waterproof Tents for Camping Worth Considering
You should have found a tent that suits you among the five that I mentioned above. But if you want some more ideas to chew over, here are another 10 great options for rainy weather.
MSR Habitude 4
The MSR Habitude 4 is a great all-rounder. It’s technically suitable for four people, but I would recommend that at least two of those people be children. Otherwise, you’re going to feel cramped!
The dome shape of this tent makes it brilliant for wet and windy conditions. At the same time, there’s a surprisingly high center height of 6 feet, so you’ll be able to stand up and move around comfortably.
I also love the integrated porch light. You can pop it on in the evening when you have to go to the bathroom, and you’ll be able to find your way back ‘home’ without tumbling over your guy lines and waking up everyone!
Nemo Dragonfly 2
The Nemo Dragonfly 2 is an ultralight backpacking tent. (Yes, a real backpacking tent, not one of the thousands of posers you’ll find on the market right now!)
It weighs 1.19 kilograms, which is perfect for two people sharing. You can easily split the tent into the two separate stuff sacks so that you can share the weight between your packs. (Just don’t lose each other on the trails, or neither of you is going to have a place to sleep!)
The Dragonfly 2 comes with diffusing light pockets that will turn your head torch into a lantern!
What I really appreciate about this brand is that it is taking active steps to protect the environment. For example, it is formulating waterproofing compounds that do as little harm to nature as possible.
Big Agnes Guard Station 4
The Big Agnes Guard Station 4 is a stormproof tent with a strong exoskeleton pole system.
This means the tent is sturdy enough to resist heavy wind and rain, but you get to max out on living space because the pole system is on the outside.
The single-wall construction means you don’t have to worry about the inside of the tent getting wet before you throw a rainfly over it. Just pop up the waterproof layer and you’re good to go.
This also means you might have more problems with condensation, though, so you have to decide which is more important to you.
The ripstop fabric is resistant to tears, so the tent should last for many camping adventures without giving up on you.
For the tent’s size and strength, the 5.13-kilogram weight is pretty impressive. It’s too bulky for any thru-hiking, but you could use it for a family backcountry adventure as long as you aren’t planning on hiking too far.
Black Diamond Bombshelter
The Black Diamond Bombshelter is a simple but effective tent for rainy conditions.
It has a semi-geodesic design with four intersecting poles for maximum wind resistance in a storm. The great thing about these poles is that you can pitch them from the inside of the tent, so you don’t have to worry about rain soaking your living space during set-up.
Sometimes the simple things are the best.
This tent might not have many extra features, but it’s a lightweight 4 season tent that you can trust to keep you dry. (I’d rather have a simple waterproof tent than a junky one with a built-in porch light!)
The Black Diamond Bombshelter is a backpacking tent, so it’s going to be pretty snug. The good news is that it has two vestibules, so you can keep your kit out of the sleeping area without worrying about it getting wet outside.
Marmot Limestone 6
The Marmot Limestone 6 comes with sealed seams and a full-coverage rainfly, so you can trust it to take care of your family in foul weather.
The color-coded poles make pitching easy, and the angled vents will prevent condensation without letting rain find its way inside the sleeping compartment.
This is technically a six person tent, but I wouldn’t recommend that you use it with more than four people. It’s too heavy for backpacking, anyway, so you may as well use it for car camping and be as comfortable as possible!
Kelty Wireless 6
The Kelty Wireless is an affordable freestanding tent.
It has two doors and two vestibules, so you’ll find that sharing it with your camping buddies is much more comfortable and relaxed.
It’s simple to set up, but it’s the kind of tent for which you’ll want a second pair of hands to pitch. ("Grab that corner for me, will you?" You get the drift.)
The rain fly of the Kelty wireless comes right to the ground. This means you’ll be well protected from bad weather, and the inner tent won’t lose too much heat in the cooler months.
It might not be the best choice for summer because heat will soon accumulate in the sleeping compartment.
Kodiak Canvas Flex Bow
You already know how I feel about canvas tents! If you want something that’s going to last a lifetime, this is the kind of tent to go for.
The Kodiak Flex Bow is durable and watertight, but it’s still nice and breathable. This means you don’t have to worry about condensation in the cold months or overheating in the summer.
The tent has four large windows with no-see-um mesh, so you can enjoy the views of your campground without being eaten alive by insects. The center height is 6 feet and 6 inches, so taller people can stand up comfortably.
Rab Latok 2
The Rab Latok 2 is a great little tent for camping on the trails. The shelter is lightweight and super quick to pitch, so it’ll keep you safe in the mountains without breaking your back on the hike up there!
The vestibule system is optional, but you should definitely get it. The last thing you want to do is bring your kit into your sleeping area. Backpacking tents are tight enough as it is.
What’s cool about this tent is that you can pitch it from the inside. This means you can set it up in the rain without getting yourself or your kit wet. You’ll be thankful for that if you’ve been hiking all day and you’re on your last pair of dry socks!
MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2
The MSR Hubba Hubba is great for wet and windy weather, but it’s not the best choice for really cold conditions.
You can set up the quick pitch system in just a few minutes, and the rainfly has a good-quality waterproof coating.
Although the tent has a low center height, it is surprisingly spacious for a two person shelter.
This is because it comes with two large doors that open into two oversized vestibules for gear storage, allowing you to make the most of your interior floor area for sleeping and relaxation.
Big Agnes Copper Hotel HV UL 2
The Big Agnes Copper Hotel HV UL 2 is brilliant for rainy weather camping.
It has an enormous vestibule area, so you can store all your kit out of the rain and even cook your dinner on a little camping stove if you don’t feel like braving the outdoors.
Plus, the entire tent is fully seam-taped with PVC-free tape to ensure that water can’t sneak in during a rainstorm. Don’t be intimidated by the size. This tent is super easy to set up and is surprisingly lightweight and compact once you take it down.
What to Consider When Choosing a Waterproof Tent
Working out which tent to buy can be pretty overwhelming. If you feel out of your depth, this next section should help you make a good choice!
The best waterproof fabric in the world won’t keep you dry if your tent has any design flaws.
Here are some key features to consider when looking at the construction of different waterproof tents:
Pole Shape & Design
Wind resistance and waterproofing go hand in hand because if your tent collapses in the wind, it won’t keep you dry.
In general, half-dome, A-frame, and geodesic tents perform better in wet and windy conditions than cabin-style models.
This is because cabin tents, while very comfortable, often have high ceilings and flat roofs. They tend to collect rain on the canopy, and they don’t do so well in windy conditions. Once the rain has pooled on the roof, it will slowly start seeping into your sleeping area.
Half-dome, A-frame, and geodesic tents have steep walls and rounded roofs, which help get rid of rain or snow as quickly as possible.
You’re much more likely to stay dry in a tent with a full rainfly.
While some tents with large side windows and partial-coverage rainflys claim to be waterproof, it’s unlikely that their windows will keep you dry when rain enters at an angle.
If the tent doesn’t fully reach the ground and you are camping on hard ground, rainwater can splash back off the floor and into your sleeping area.
While a full-coverage rainfly will give you better protection, it will also reduce your tent’s breathability.
To make up for this, you want to have a couple of vents in your sleeping area. Ideally, these vents will be angled so you can crack them open without letting in any rain.
Note: You need to keep your vents open to prevent condensation from building up on the tent walls. (Don’t mistake this for leaking; it’s just your breath!)
Vestibules make camping so much more comfortable.
For a start, you can store your kit in them, which gives you more space to spread out in your sleeping area. It also means the door is sheltered from the rain, so water doesn’t start pouring in as soon as you open the tent and rush to get your shoes on.
In larger tents, the vestibules offer a covered space to hang out with your family. If you’ve got a backpacking tent, you’ll probably have only enough room to pop your rucksack in there. (I wouldn’t recommend leaving your shoes in your vestibule. If they get damp, you’re going to have a hellish hike the next day!)
If you share a tent with anyone else, a second vestibule would be nice. This helps keep your things organized and close at hand.
Peak Height & Interior Living Space
If you’re going to be ultralight backpacking, you won’t be able to stand up in your tent.
But if you’re car camping with your family, it’s a good idea to find a tent in which everyone can stand up comfortably. This will make getting changed a lot easier, and you’ll feel a lot less claustrophobic if the rain is keeping you inside.
For taller people, a teepee tent will be your best bet. These tents still have sloping walls to channel away water, but they handle the wind better than your standard cabin-style tent.
There are a few things to think about when it comes to tent fabric:
- Single vs. Double Wall
- Fabric Thickness
- PU & HH Ratings
- DWR Coatings
I’ll give you a brief overview of these, so you know what to look for. Don’t worry; it’s really not as complicated as it sounds!
Single vs. Double Wall
As you shop for a tent, you’ll notice that some are “single-wall” while others are “double-wall” models.
Single-wall tents are lighter weight, and they aren’t necessarily any less waterproof than a double-wall tent. When you’re setting up in rainy weather, a single-wall model is less likely to get wet inside.
With a double-wall tent, you usually have to first pitch the inner tent, which is going to get rained on until you wrestle the outer wall over the top.
But I prefer double-wall tents by far.
They don’t let in as many insects, they keep you warmer, and they have fewer problems with condensation.
In an ideal world, you’d want a double-wall tent that you can pitch from the inside. This way, you get all the benefits of a double-wall model without worrying about the inner tent getting wet in the rain.
Fabric Thickness (Denier)
Fabric thickness is measured in denier. You might see this written as ‘D’ in a product description.
Thicker fabrics tend to be more waterproof and long-lasting, but they are also heavier and more expensive.
Heavier fabric is likely the better choice for a car camping tent, as it will usually last longer and be more waterproof.
However, a backpacking or mountaineering tent made with thinner fabric can be just as waterproof so long as it’s cared for properly and frequently re-treated with DWR and polyurethane (more on that next).
PU & HH Ratings
Most manufacturers will list a PU (polyurethane) or HH (hydrostatic head) rating for their tents. The idea behind these ratings is that they can express the “waterproofness” of a fabric.
However, like all specs, a PU or HH rating isn’t as straightforward as it seems.
In general, a higher PU or HH rating means a tent is more waterproof. But this isn’t always the case.
Keep a close eye on user reviews because if there is a design flaw, such as poorly sealed seams, the highest PU and HH ratings in the world aren’t going to keep you dry.
DWR (durable water repellent) is a chemical treatment applied to the outside of a tent fabric to encourage water to bead off instead of soaking through.
This chemical treatment helps maintain a fabric’s breathability because it stops water droplets from clogging the tiny pores between fibers, which are critical for ventilation.
However, DWR can wear off quite quickly throughout the course of regular camping trips. To keep your tent in good working condition, plan to reapply it after every three to six months of use.
You can typically buy DWR in a spray bottle and then apply it to the outside of your tent to refresh its waterproof properties as needed.
Seam Sealing & Seam Taping
The final thing to consider is the seams on your rainfly.
Seams are the lines where different fabrics are sewn together. The tiny needle holes frequently leak in heavy rain.
To prevent this from happening, you want a tent with sealed seams. Alternatively, you could do it yourself. (It’s not very hard, though it requires a tube of Seam Grip and a free afternoon.)
You’ll need to re-seal your tent seams once in a while, usually after six to 12 months of use, as seam tape and seam seal both wear out over time.
Worn-out seam tape is one of the major reasons why people complain that their tents are “no longer waterproof.” In reality, the tent is still waterproof; it just needs a bit of a helping hand to get back to peak performance.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Makes a Tent Waterproof?
Many factors work together to make a tent waterproof. These include the quality of materials, the waterproof treatments used, the tent design, and how well you’ve set it up.
Are Any Tents 100% Waterproof?
No tent is 100% waterproof. However, if you get a decent tent, take good care of it, and pitch it well, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t keep you dry in really wet conditions.
Can You Make a Tent More Waterproof?
You can make a tent more waterproof by sealing the seams with a bit of Seam Grip and regularly reapplying the DWR and polyurethane coatings.
How Long Will a Tent Stay Waterproof?
A tent will stay waterproof through about 90 to 120 nights of regular use. However, particularly harsh conditions can wear away a tent’s DWR, polyurethane coating, and seam tape much more quickly.
Does a New Tent Need to Be Waterproofed?
Whether or not a new tent needs to be waterproofed depends on whether it comes with factory taped or sealed seams. If it does, the tent can generally be considered waterproof and be taken directly into the mountains.
Is 3000mm Waterproof Enough for a Tent?
It depends. While a tent with a 3000mm rating is theoretically better than one with, say, a 600mm rating, this is just one of the four components of tent waterproofing. Tents with a 1500mm rating can outperform those with a 3000mm rating if they are better designed.
So long as you get a good tent with sealed seams and protected zippers, there’s no reason why camping in the rain can’t be a wonderful experience.
Listening to the rain patter on the roof as you play card games around the camping lantern is a pretty awesome way to spend the weekend with your family.
But if you’re camping in the rain, you need a tent you can trust!
I highly recommend the Teton Sports Sierra. The high-quality canvas and reinforced seams will keep you cozy and dry in horrible conditions, and the tent is built to last a lifetime.
If you need something lighter and more affordable, the Kelty Late Start 2 might be the one for you. It’s an excellent value and easy to set up, so you can get it up in a flash and take shelter from the rain as soon as possible!
I hope you found this article helpful, and I wish you many happy camping adventures, come rain or shine!
More to read:
Gaby is a professional outdoor educator, guide, and wilderness medicine instructor. She holds a master's degree in outdoor education and spends most of her time hanging out with penguins and polar bears in the polar region. When she's not outdoors, you can find her traveling, reading Nietzsche, and drinking copious double espressos.