Best Waterproof Tents For All-Weather Camping

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Don’t let mother nature rain on your parade: The best waterproof tents keep your spirits (and your gear) high and dry while you wait out the rain.
Best Waterproof Tents - Introduction
The North Face Wawona 6: Our choice for the best waterproof tent overall. (photo credit: The Wise Adventurer)

This is The Wise Adventurer’s guide to the best waterproof tents on the market, from lofty car camping palaces to fast and light backpacking shelters. Weathering a proper storm inside a truly waterproof tent is an incredible experience. Staying dry in an all-out downpour with nothing but a razor-thin wall of fabric between you and the elements is kind of exciting, truth be told, and it’s this very experience that only the best waterproof tents can deliver.

After testing and analyzing dozens of the best options available this year, we found the North Face Wawona 6 to be the best waterproof tent overall. We spent several nights inside the Wawona enjoying its large floor plan, stand-up height ceilings, and more covered exterior storage than we could ever use. We’re happy to report that this tent delivers comfort and rain protection in equal measure, and does it all for less money than most of its premium competitors. 

The Wawona won’t be the ideal tent for everyone though, especially for the backpacking crowd, who wouldn’t exactly relish the thought of carrying the Wawona’s 21 pounds of weight into the backcountry. Whether you’re looking for something lighter, smaller, or simply less expensive, rest assured we’ve got a tent in the list below that will suit your needs. 

You’ll also find a handy buyer’s guide down at the bottom of this article, which we’ve designed to help you understand how the best waterproof tents work and how to select the right one for your next trip.

Alright, enough of that, let’s dive into our picks for the best waterproof tents on the market!

ProductOverview
The North Face Wawona 6: Best Waterproof Camping Tent OverallStandout weather protection meets outstanding livability: Massive interior, stand-up height ceilings, and a big gear garage to protect your stuff from weather. See Review
Coleman Skydome 4: Best Waterproof Camping Tent On A BudgetAn affordable four-person tent with a full-length rainfly. Vestibule converts into a pole-supported awning in good weather. See Review
Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2: Best Waterproof Backpacking Tent OverallFast, light, and shockingly comfortable. This award-winning backpacking tent boasts excellent livability and top-shelf materials throughout. See Review
REI Co-op Trail Hut 2: Best Backpacking Tent On A BudgetA value-focused backpacking model with added livability to boot. Versatile rainfly can be adjusted from inside, or rolled up out of the way for star-gazing. See Review
Nemo Aurora Highrise 6A spacious car camping tent with windows that can be left open in the rain. Outstanding materials, interior space, and external storage. See Review
Big Agnes Bunk House 4A roomy cabin-style option still manages to deliver excellent weather protection. Rainfly includes a convertible awning, and can also be used as a standalone shelter. See Review
Mountain Hardwear Trango: Best Waterproof 4 Season ModelAn expedition-proven tent built to withstand the worst weather on the planet. Incredibly tough yet surprisingly comfortable and easy to live with. See Review
Marmot Tungsten 4P: Best Waterproof Hybrid TentA four-person camping tent that moonlights as a spacious backpacking shelter. Simplified setup and dual storage vestibules add livability. See Review

Best Waterproof Tents

The North Face Wawona 6: Best Waterproof Tent Overall 

Best Waterproof Tent - The North Face Wawona 6

Specs:
– Weight: 20.9 lbs (9.5 kg)
– Packed size: 32” x 10” x 10” (81cm x 25cm x 25cm)
– Floor size: 120” x 96” (305cm x 244cm)
– Peak height: 76” (193cm)
– Number of compartments: 1
– Occupancy: 6 person (4P also available)
– Shape: dome
– Best for: Three-season car camping
– Price: $$

We’ve been outspoken fans of the North Face Wawona line of tents for some time, so it should come as no surprise that the Wawona 6 takes our top honors as the best waterproof tent overall. This tent also took top honors in our recent camping tent field test, and our testers all had universal acclaim for just about every aspect of the Wawona. 

From a weatherproofing standpoint, the Wawona is one of those rare outliers that is big and tall, yet 100% capable of handling heavy rains and big winds alike. The Wawona doesn’t use a full coverage rainfly, but because The North Face equipped both the canopy and fly of the tent with the same seam-sealed and 1200mm waterproof rated fabric, we’ve never had it leak a single drop on us. 

That unique fly design also means that the Wawona is a fantastically breathable tent, as fresh air can easily slip into the tent through a pair of massive mesh windows. Combine that all-weather construction and spacious interior with a huge external gear garage that’s large enough to stash anything from mountain bikes to a table and chairs, and you’ve got one of the most livable tents on the market that also happens to sell for a good $100 less than the competition. 

Drawbacks here are few and far between, but the one gripe our testers shared about the Wawona was its setup time. Because the rainfly only works with the pole-supported gear garage fully staked out, pitching the Wawona can take a bit longer than some of the simpler designs on our list. There’s still no better camping tent out there in terms of performance and value though, and you just can’t go wrong with the Wawona. Read our full test and review of the North Face Wawona 6…

Pros:Cons:
– Massive, feature-rich interior
– Large exterior gear garage
– Outstanding value for the money
– Pole-supported vestibule takes more time to pitch



Coleman Skydome 4: Best Waterproof Tent On A Budget

Best Waterproof Tent - Coleman Skydome 4

Specs:
– Weight: 13.8 lbs (6.3 kg)
– Packed size: 25” x 9” x 9” (64cm x 23cm x 23cm)
– Floor size: 96” x 84” (244cm x 213cm)
– Peak height: 55” (140cm)
– Number of compartments: 1
– Occupancy: 4 (2 & 6P models also available)
– Shape: dome
– Best for: Three-season car camping
– Price: $

On the opposite end of the spectrum, we’ve got the Coleman Skydome 4, which delivers all the essentials and a few creature comforts to boot for well under $200. 

The new Skydome 4 was an easy choice for this list because it combines a roomy floorplan and respectable peak height with a full-length rainfly that’s built to handle serious precipitation. We feel that this new model is a clear cut above the usual Coleman fare, which often relies on single wall designs or partial flys, yet it still comes in at a very Coleman price.

Coleman also includes a few extra livability perks in their latest skydome including a floor layout that’s fit for a queen-sized air mattress and a fast-pitching clip-in canopy design. Our favorite feature of the lot though is the integrated awning on the front of the vestibule, which sits far enough away from the front door of the tent that you can actually leave it open in light rain for extra ventilation without letting water into the tent. 

As is the case with most Coleman shelters, the main drawback to the Skydome 4 is its material quality. The bathtub-style floor fabric feels nice and tough, but the canopy isn’t the kind of material we’d want to leave out in the sun and rain for weeks at a time. The same could be said for the fiberglass pole set and plastic hardware, which are plenty robust enough for casual camping, but wouldn’t be our first choice in serious wind. 

Pros:Cons:
– Super affordable
– Full-coverage fly for upgraded weather protection
– Queen-size mattress compatible
– Quick and easy to pitch
– Material quality can’t compete with more premium offerings
– Not our first choice in heavy winds



Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2: Best Waterproof Backpacking Tent Overall

Best Waterproof Tent - Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2

Specs:
– Weight: 3.1 lbs (1.4 kg)
– Packed size: 19.5” x 6” x 6” (50cm x 15cm x 15cm)
– Floor size: 88” x 52” (224cm x 132cm)
– Peak height: 40” (102cm)
– Number of compartments: 1
– Occupancy: 2 (1 and 3 person also available)
– Shape: Dome
– Best for: Three-season backpacking
– Price: $$$

Few backpacking tents have garnered as much acclaim as the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 (try saying that one three times fast), and one look at this superlight shelter is all you need to understand why casual backpackers and thru-hikers alike all sing its praises. 

Starting with the obvious, Big Agnes has made an impressively light and compact backpacking tent that still manages to deliver a respectable 29 square feet of floor space, and it’s made that much sweeter by another 18 square feet of exterior vestibule storage. 

Speaking of vestibules, we also love the two-door, two-vestibule design, which makes the Spur ideal for sharing with another hiker. Big Agnes also went a step further by engineering both vestibules to function as pole-supported awnings (trekking poles, that is), which boosts living space and ventilation in sunny weather or even light rain. 

On the waterproof side of the equation, the Copper Spur HV UL2 is likely one of the only backpacking tents with a 1200mm-rated rainfly we’d recommend without a second thought. Because Big Agnes uses a silicone-treated nylon fabric (which is doubly protected by a polyurethane coating), they can get away with a much thinner and lighter material without sacrificing any stormworthiness. 

The list of premium features goes on and includes top-of-the-line DAC NFL poles, a full set of Big Agnes’ premium Dirt Dagger UL stakes, and an abundance of interior storage and organization. Our only real complaint with the Copper Spur is its price tag, which at well over $500, can be a tough pill to swallow for casual backpackers. We’ll also note that Big Agnes’ emphasis on the Spur’s ultralight intentions means the fabric of the tent is a bit thinner than some more budget-minded options, but that’ll be a welcome tradeoff for anyone wanting the comfort of a proper tent without the extra weight penalty. 

Pros:Cons:
– Impressively light and compact
– Two doors/ two vestibules/ two awnings
– High-tech materials throughout
– Expensive
– Ultralight materials on the thin side



REI Co-op Trail Hut 2: Best Waterproof Backpacking Tent On A Budget 

Best Waterproof Tent - REI Co-op Trail Hut 2

Specs:
– Weight: 5.9 lbs (2.7 kg)
– Packed size: 18” x 8” x 8” (48cm x 20cm x 20cm)
– Floor size: 88” x 52” (224cm x 132cm)
– Peak height: 40” (102cm)
– Number of compartments: 1
– Occupancy: 2 (4P also available)
– Shape: Dome
– Best for: Three season backpacking
– Price: $

If REI Co-op’s in-house brand is known for one thing, it’s delivering quality camping goods at fair prices. The REI Trail Hut 2 replaces the popular Passage 2 in REI’s lineup as the Co-op’s most affordable model, and it adds a few modern refinements backpackers will appreciate.

Chief among them is the use of an additional ridge support pole, which pulls the side walls of the Trail Hut outward for improved shoulder room inside the tent. This extra width complements the Trail Hut’s already above-average floor space of roughly 32 square feet, which is rectangular to allow sleepers to lie head to toe for maximum comfort. 

A full-length rainfly with dual exits takes care of waterproofing duty, and includes two sizable vestibules for an extra 19 square feet of external storage. We’re also big fans of the Trail Hut’s door-integrated ventilation scheme, which can be opened and closed via a pair of zippers from inside the tent. This allows you to fine-tune airflow in the middle of a rainstorm without getting wet, and it’s a wonder more models don’t use similar designs. 

Our main issue with this budget-friendly backpacker is its weight, and at nearly 6 pounds, the two-person Trail Hut weighs more than some premium three-person models. That weight includes both the Trail Hut’s included footprint and a full bag of stakes though, and it’s relatively easy to shave more than a pound off the Trail Hut as needed. We’ll also note that Trail Hut is a bit more expensive than the outgoing Passage, but considering all the improvements and enhancements, it’s still an excellent value overall.  

Pros:Cons:
– Inexpensive
– Built to last
– Nails all the basics plus a footprint
– Bit heavy for a two-person model
– More expensive than the old Passage 2



Nemo Aurora Highrise 6

Best Waterproof Tent - Nemo Aurora Highrise 6

Specs:
– Weight: 18.8 lbs (8.5 kg)
– Packed size: 26” x 10” x 10” (66cm x 25cm x 25cm)
– Floor size: 120” x 100” (305cm x 254cm)
– Peak height: 77” (196cm)
– Number of compartments: 1
– Occupancy: 6 (4P also available)
– Shape: Dome
– Best for: Three-season car camping
– Price: $$

We had the pleasure of testing the new Nemo Aurora Highrise during our recent camping tent field test, and it’s easily one of our favorite options on the market. With stand-up height ceilings, a roomy floor plan, and two big doors/vestibules for easy access and ample exterior storage, it checks all our major boxes for a roomy car camping tent. 

What makes the Aurora Highrise special, however, is its unique frame design. By using two extra-long support poles, Nemo was able to pull the walls of the Aurora Highrise out beyond vertical, which adds interior space but also gives the Highrise the special feature that landed it on our list: Rain-friendly windows. 

Because these support poles extend well beyond the body of the tent, they create an “awning effect” once the rainfly is in place. This allowed us to leave both windows wide open for extra views and tons of airflow in everything but the most intense wind-blown rains. Our testers also lauded the Aurora Highrise for its bright colors and unique printed floor, high-quality and highly-durable materials, and excellent all-around build quality. 

Our main concern with the Aurora Highrise is that because it’s a relatively new design (Nemo just launched it in 2022), its long-term durability is still relatively unknown. We’ll also point out that the six-person model costs the same as the North Face Wawona 6 above, but doesn’t include the Wawona’s gear garage. It’s a bit easier to pitch and has the added benefit of a full-coverage rainfly though, so you really can’t go wrong with either. Read our full test and review of the Nemo Aurora Highrise (4 person model)…

Pros:Cons:
– Outstanding material quality
– Windows can stay open during rain
– Super spacious interior
– New design = Unknown long-term durability
– Bit spendy



Big Agnes Bunkhouse 4 

Best Waterproof Tent - Big Agnes Bunkhouse 4

Specs:
– Weight: 16.2 lbs (7.3 kg)
– Packed size: 27” x 17” x 6” (67cm x 43cm x 15cm)
– Floor size: 92” x 90” (234cm x 229cm)
– Peak height: 72” (183cm)
Number of compartments: 1
– Occupancy: 4 (6 person also available)
– Shape: Dome
– Best for: Three-season car camping
– Price: $$$

The Big Agnes Bunk House is another big-and-tall cabin-style tent that we’d be more than happy to wait out a storm in. This was another favorite from our recent field test, and it’s hard to overstate Big Agnes’ attention to quality and detail. 

The star of the show here is the Bunk House’s rainfly, which is the definition of full coverage and fully waterproof, but it does much more than just keep you dry. Fancy a nice shady hangout on a sunny day? The front vestibule converts into a sizable pole-supported awning with room to relax underneath. The fly even functions as a standalone shelter without the inner tent when desired, which means this waterproof tent doubles as a shady cabana for picnics and beach days as well. 

We also love that the Bunk House is one of the easiest large tents out there to pitch, especially after recent updates for 2023. Big Agnes now makes the entire canopy of the Bunk House a simple clip-in design (the outgoing model used a pole-in-sleeve setup), so it’s quick and easy to erect, even when pitching solo. 

In terms of drawbacks our main gripe with the Bunk House is that it’s awfully expensive for a 4P model, and actually costs more than some 6P options on our list. We’ll also mention that the Bunk House has had a few minor design updates since we last tested it in 2022, so while we don’t have hands-on experience setting up the new clip-in design, we expect the fly and its sturdy guyline layout to be as stormproof as ever. Read our full test and review of the Big Agnes Bunk House 4…

Pros:Cons:
– Cabin-style design is extra roomy
– Still handles heavy wind and rain
– Full-coverage fly doubles as a standalone shelter
– Expensive for a 4P model



Mountain Hardwear Trango 4P: Best Four-Season Waterproof Tent

Best Waterproof Tent - Mountain Hardwear Trango 4

Specs:
– Weight: 12.7 lbs (5.8kg)
– Packed size: 28” x 9” x 9” (71cm x 23cm)
– Floor size: 96” x 94” (244cm x 239cm)
– Peak height: 50” (127cm)
– Number of compartments:
– Occupancy: 4 (3P & 2P models also available)
– Shape: Dome
– Best for: Four-season camping, mountaineering
– Price: $$$

Waterproofing is important, but when the seasons change and temperatures drop near freezing, three-season tents just won’t cut it. That’s where a rugged four-season shelter like the Mountain Hardwear Trango comes into play. 

The Trango has been the go-to for hardcore expeditions and mountaineering pursuits since 1995, which means Mountain Hardwear has been steadily improving this shelter for nearly three decades at this point. The Trango has been our tent of choice for high-elevation camping this year, and our testers all agree that every inch of this shelter is as bombproof as they come.

As far as waterproofing goes, this tent is designed to handle everything from multiple feet of windblown snow to 24-hour downpours, and keeps moisture of any description at bay with a 2000mm rated rainfly and an absolutely bonkers 10,000mm rated floor. The poles are top-of-the-line DAC Featherlite NSL aluminum, both the canopy and fly are secured to the frame using locking clips, and there’s even an internal guy system within the tent for unmatched stability in high winds. 

To put it plainly, if you’re camping in harsh conditions, this tent has no equal. Unfortunately that unparalleled quality comes at a price, and the Mountain Hardwear Trango 4 is easily the most expensive tent on our list by a healthy margin. Chances are the Trango is overkill for about 99% of campers out there, but if durability and uncompromising weather protection are what you’re after, the Trango makes a great tent year-round, and the best in the business when the weather is at its worst. Read our full test and review of the Mountain Hardwear Trango 4…

Pros:Cons:
– Incredible weather protection
– Built for the harshest environments on the planet
– Utterly bulletproof materials
– Very expensive
– Overkill for most people



Marmot Tungsten 4P: Best Waterproof Hybrid Tent

Best Waterproof Tent - Marmot Tungsten 4P

Specs:
– Weight: 9.3lbs (4.2 kg)
– Packed size: 25” x 8” x 8” (64cm x 20cm x 20cm)
– Floor size: 93” x 82” (236cm x 208cm)
– Peak height: 52” (132cm)
– Number of compartments: 1
– Occupancy: 4 (3, 2, and 1P models available)
– Shape: Dome
– Best for: Three-season car camping or backpacking
– Price: $$

Hybrid tents are designed to pull double duty as both extra spacious backpacking tents and compact car camping tents. Sure, you could technically car camp using any of the backpacking tents above, but none of them can compare to the 4-person floor plan of the Marmot Tungsten 4P

We had the pleasure of including the Tungsten in a recent testing trip, and we’re fans of what Marmot has done here: In all its glory, the Tungsten is a 4P camping tent with roughly 53 square feet of floor space, an included footprint, and a full-length rainfly with double vestibules for added livability. Leave that footprint at home along with any extra stakes and guylines, and you’re left with a 4 person tent that weighs under 8 pounds and can easily be divided between two or three backpacks. 

This is also one of the easiest pitching tents we’ve ever used, and Marmot’s combination of clear color coding and a linked pole system makes the Tungsten an absolute breeze to pitch by yourself. Ventilation is also a highlight here, and the rainfly’s double vents combined with an abundance of mesh in the canopy keep this tent breathing easily, even in heavy rain when it’s all zipped up. 

All things considered, this is a very nice tent at a reasonable price, but our biggest complaint with the Tungsten is that its versatility can also be seen as its major weakness. There are much smaller and lighter backpacking tents out there, and much larger and more spacious camping tents. Still, the Tungsten is the only four-person model we’ve tested that we’d actually consider taking into the backcountry, and if you’re looking for one tent to wear multiple hats, the quality and livability of the Tungsten are top notch. Read our full test and review of the Marmot Tungsten 4…

Pros:Cons:
– Works as a large backpacking tent or a compact camping tent
– Smart pole design makes for quick and easy pitching
– High-quality full-coverage fly is super solid in wind and rain. 
– Bit expensive for what it is
– Heavy for a backpacking tent
– Small for a camping tent



Buyer’s Guide To The Best Waterproof Tents

In a perfect world, all tents are 100% waterproof and capable of weathering anything from afternoon sprinkles to all-day downpours. Unfortunately marketing claims and real-world performance don’t always see eye-to-eye, and as some of you have no doubt experienced firsthand, there’s nothing worse than having your tent give up the ghost in the middle of a nighttime rainstorm.

This is where the best waterproof tents earn their keep. There’s simply no doubt that any of the tents above will keep you dry in a rainstorm, and that’s peace of mind worth paying for.

So what makes any waterproof tent worth buying? Here are the criteria we use when evaluating a shelter.

Space and Comfort

As is the case with pretty much every tent out there, more space generally means more comfort, as having room to spread out always beats being cramped up against the wall or face-to-face with your loudly-snoring mate. A little extra room for the dog to hang out is always a bonus too, as is having extra space to stash extra gear.. 

Best Waterproof Tent - Space and Comfort
Even the 4P version of the Nemo Aurora Highrise includes standup height ceilings, which adds a ton of livability in any camping tent. (photo credit: The Wise Adventurer)

We’d say space is particularly important in a waterproof tent, because chances are you’ll be waiting out a storm in it at one point or another. Having a little extra headspace or enough elbow room to sit up and play cards is a great way to keep cabin fever at bay, and if you can find a tent that’s tall enough to stand up in, that’s even better. 

Weather Resistance

Weather resistance is the main selling factor of any good waterproof tent, so chances are this is where you’ll want to start your search. Most tents worth owning measure their waterproofness using a method called “hydrostatic head testing”, so hydrostatic head ratings (or HH for short) are a metric you’ll want to be familiar with. 

There’s a long boring explanation on how HH testing works, but the main thing to understand is that HH ratings describe the amount of water pressure a given fabric can take before leaking. These measurements are expressed in millimeters, and the higher the number, the better.

Best Waterproof Tent - Weather Resistance 1
The Big Agnes Bunk House’s high HH rating combined with a high-quality DWR treatment allows the fly to shed moisture with ease. (photo credit: The Wise Adventurer)

As a general rule of thumb, any properly waterproof tent fabric should carry a HH rating of no less than 1200mm, as this is typically considered the minimum requirement to keep heavy and/or driving rain at bay. Higher numbers are better, of course, but they can also come with an extra weight penalty, so depending on whether you’re shopping for a spacious camping tent or a superlight backpacking shelter, you’ll want to weigh those options carefully.

We also recommend looking for a significantly higher HH rating in the fabric of your tent floor. Because the floor fabric is subject to extra pressure from the weight of your body, additional waterproofing is needed. Ideally we like to see a minimum of 3000mm in a tent floor for this reason.

In addition to fabric ratings, there are two other factors you’ll want to keep in mind here: Seam sealing and rainfly design. 

Best Waterproof Tent - Weather Resistance 2
A close-up of the seam stitching on the Mountain Hardwear Trango, which expands when wet to firm an even tighter seal. (photo credit: The Wise Adventurer)

Seam sealing is important because it seals all of the tiny needle holes left in the seams of your tent when the fabric is sewn together. A tent without sealed seams is simply not a waterproof tent, and you shouldn’t even consider models without taped/sealed seams in the rainfly and floor at minimum. 

Speaking of the rainfly, when it comes to waterproofing, we always prefer a full-length rainfly whenever possible. This isn’t a dealbreaker one way or the other as we’ve had success with a handful of flys that doesn’t quite reach the ground or leave a portion of the canopy exposed, but if you’ve got the choice between full coverage and something less, full coverage is ideal for peace of mind. 

Ventilation

Ventilation is another crucial aspect of any good waterproof tent, and you could argue that ventilation plays as much of a role in the comfort equation as space and/or storage. The longer you spend inside a tent without good ventilation, the hotter and stuffier it becomes, and if the ventilation is bad enough, this can even lead to drops of moisture making their way inside due to dripping condensation from breath and body heat.

Best Waterproof Tent - Ventilation
A close up of the vents on the Marmot Tungsten 4: These large ports give hot air somewhere to escape at the top of the tent, which reduces condensation while also pulling cooler air inside from the bottom. (photo credit: The Wise Adventurer)

The solution? We recommend looking for a double-wall tent with a minimum of two sizable vents integrated into the rainfly. A fly with multiple vents gives hot and moist air somewhere to escape, while also allowing cooler fresh air to make its way inside between the fly and the canopy.

We’ll also note that some models nowadays come with covered windows that can be left open rain or shine. These designs usually cost a bit extra, but there’s nothing like having extra airflow and a view of the outside world to keep claustrophobia to a minimum. 

Ease of Set-up

Ease of set-up isn’t the most important metric to keep in mind here, but it certainly comes in handy when you arrive at a campsite where it’s already raining. The faster your tent goes up, the less moisture gets inside, and the faster you can start drying out and warming up. 

Best Waterproof Tent - Ease of Setup
Color-coded poles, like these found on the North Face Wawona, take a lot of the guesswork out of pitching your tent.  (photo credit: The Wise Adventurer)

When it comes to easy pitching, we look for tents that can be set up by a single person with minimal drama, especially when evaluating compact backpacking tents. Color-coded poles, clip-in canopies, and “instant tent” designs with pre-attached poles all make for easier pitching, but with a few odd exceptions, we’ve found most modern tents can be pitched by one adult in ten minutes or less.  

Durability

Good outdoors gear can be a big investment, and durability is the make-or-break factor that decides whether that investment is long-term or short-lived. We look for two main contributors in assessing a tents durability: Fabric quality and hardware quality. 

Fabric quality refers to the construction and thickness of a tent’s fabric in the floor, canopy, and rainfly. Generally speaking, we prefer tents with higher denier fabrics, as those fabrics are denser (and therefore more abrasion/tear-resistant) than lower denier fabrics. These ratings are expressed in numbers like 10D, 40D, and 100D, and the higher the number, the tougher the fabric. 

Best Waterproof Tent - Durability
When it comes to durability, expedition tents like the Mountain Hardwear Trango are king. Just look at the thickness and quality of these DAC Featherlite poles… (photo credit: The Wise Adventurer)

Hardware quality refers to the toughness of a tent’s poles, stakes, and other “hard parts” like pole clips, rainfly clips, and guyline attachments. When it comes to poles, tents with either all aluminum frames or carbon composite frames typically score the highest, and we consider name-brand poles from folks like DAC or Easton to be the best in the business. 

Fiberglass poles are another popular option, especially on more budget-friendly models. If you’re considering a tent with a fiberglass or partially fiberglass frame, we recommend looking for the thickest poles you can find, as larger-diameter fiberglass is much better suited to heavy wind and other common stresses. 

Weight and Packed Size

Depending on whether you’re shopping camping tents or backpacking shelters, weight and packed size may or may not be particularly important to you. 

If it’s a nice spacious camping tent you’re after, we generally recommend buying as much tent as you can reasonably afford, both in space and quality. The only caveat to keep in mind is that your tent needs to fit both in your vehicle and somewhere inside your home, so keep your storage and transportation limitations in mind when referencing packed size. 

Best Waterproof Tent - Weight and Packed Size
Not all tents are created equal: Here’s the Marmot Tungsten 4 and Nemo Aurora Highrise 4 seen side by side: Which would you rather carry for a few miles? (photo credit: The Wise Adventurer)

Backpacking tents, on the other hand, should be as small and light as possible without sacrificing any undue comfort. Most folks shopping backpacking tents are looking for a two-person model, and the best models typically come in somewhere under four pounds. Of course superlight gear also tends to be super-expensive gear, so if you’re looking for a waterproof backpacking tent at a more affordable price, anything under five pounds will be manageable for your average hiker. 

The same rules apply to the packed size of a backpacking tent: The smaller the better, but with small dimensions generally come large price tags. The main limiting factor here is the amount of room inside your pack though, so just make sure you’ve got room for your tent left over after factoring in other big-ticket items like your food, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad.

Value

There are some truly impressive tents in the list above, but as you’ve read, some of them deliver the goods for considerably less money. At the end of the day, value will always be subjective both to your budget and your intended use, but we have a few “bare minimum” value requirements for a tent to make the cut.

The most important in our opinion is durability, because both a $1000 tent and a $100 tent are worthless if they fail the first time you take them out. Generally speaking, we’ve found more premium tents tend to last longer than budget-focused builds, but if you’re only camping or backpacking a few times a year, chances are you don’t need the latest and greatest to have a great time. 

Best Waterproof Tent - Value
More tent for your money is the name of the game when it comes to value, which is why brands like Coleman have remained popular despite their less-robust designs.

We recommend paying close attention to the material quality of any tent you’re considering, as well as any existing first-person reviews you can find. Less expensive doesn’t always mean cheap, which is why tents like the North Face Wawona just keep landing back on our lists year after year.

Conclusion

Best Waterproof Tent - Conclusion
Our top pick, the North Face Wawona 6, in all its majesty. (photo credit: The Wise Adventurer)

Taking all the above factors into account, we found the North Face Wawona 6 to be the best waterproof tent overall. We love the Wawona because it combines weatherproof construction with excellent material quality and tons of external storage, and does it all at a price that’s almost too good to believe. 

If you’re more the backpacking type, you simply can’t go wrong with the Big Agnes Copper Spur UL 2. This award-winning shelter is super light and compact, yet sacrifices nothing in terms of protection or livability thanks to its intelligent design and top-shelf materials. 

Of course if you’re looking for rain protection on a budget, we’re big fans of both the Coleman Skydome 4 and REI Trail Hut 2, depending on whether you’re car camping or bedding down in the backcountry. Both tents deliver proven waterproofing for less than half the price of their premium competition, so you’ll have plenty of cash left over for all your other camping essentials. 

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