If you spend enough time camping out in the great outdoors, at some point, you’ll get caught in a rainstorm. When you do, you’d better hope that your tent is actually waterproof.
However, while many tents on the market today masquerade as quality outdoor shelters, few actually meet the requirements necessary for full protection from the elements. Indeed, finding the best waterproof backpacking tent can be incredibly difficult, especially if you don’t have a lot of time to research your options.
That’s where we come in the picture. Up next, we’ll walk you through the basics of buying the best waterproof tent so you know what to look for when you’re shopping around. We’ll give you some advice on choosing the right tent for your needs and even review ten of the best rated waterproof tents around. Let’s get to it!
If you don't have time for the details, here are our picks for the best rated waterproof tents:
Table of Contents
- How To Choose A Waterproof Tent?
- The Best Waterproof Tent Brands
- Best Waterproof Tents on the Market Reviews
- The Verdict
How To Choose A Waterproof Tent?
Okay, first things first: how to choose a waterproof tent. While picking a tent might seem like a simple task, it turns out that tents are actually quite complex pieces of gear and deserve quite a lot of consideration before you buy one. Plus, many tents cost a pretty penny these days, so it’s worth knowing what you’re spending your hard-earned money on before you commit to a specific model.
Here’s what to look out for when choosing waterproof tent:
Modern tents come in all shapes and sizes, with some more practical than others. These days, dome and wedged shaped tents are some of the most common, and they provide a decent mix of durability and interior living space.
Tunnel tents provide more headroom and living space, but can be trickier to set up and less storm-proof in high winds. Alternatively, cabin tents and multi-room tents provide maximum living space and plenty of head room (some are so large, you can stand up in them), but are going to be much less durable in high winds and not very practical for backpacking.
The amount of space you need in your tent is wholly dependent on the number of people you normally go camping with. If you usually camp alone, or with just one other person, a 2 man tent might suffice, but if you have more people, you’ll need to search for a bigger shelter.
In general, the quoted capacity of a given tent, however, is the number of people that can fit into a tent, not the number of people that you can comfortably fit into a tent. This means that if you like to have a little extra wiggle room at night, you might opt for a 3 man tent instead of a 2 man tent or perhaps an 8 person tent instead of a 6 person tent. However, doing so means that you’ll likely add both weight and cost to your set-up.
The number and size of the doors in a tent might seem like a minor feature, but it turns out they can actually have a huge impact on your camping experience. Small doors make it difficult to get in and out of your tent at night, however, tents with smaller doors tend to be lighter and cheaper. That being said, a tent with multiple large doors allows people to easily enter and exit the tent without stepping on each other at night.
A tent vestibule is basically an awning that fully covers the doors of your tents and provides you with a sheltered place to store gear or put on your boots when getting in and out of your tent. Tents with vestibules make it easier to keep your stuff dry, as you can leave your packs and wet gear in the vestibule, rather than bringing it in the tent.
However, tent vestibules add weight and bulk to a tent, not to mention cost. But, they do make life a whole lot easier, especially if you have a lot of gear to keep organized when on a backpacking trip.
Most modern tents are made with similar materials, namely, nylon and mesh. However, some forms of nylon are more durable than others, so you’ll want to check a prospective tent’s specs out carefully before you commit to buying it.
We generally recommend buying tents with “ripstop nylon,” which is a type of woven fabric that is more tear-resistant than a similar, non-ripstop material. Additionally, you’ll want to ensure that the inner part of your tent has plenty of mesh on it to help increase ventilation without allowing too many bugs and critters inside your shelter. Finally, high-quality aluminum tent poles will be lighter and easier to pitch than bulky steel poles but do keep in mind that very thin tent poles are more likely to break during a storm.
Pitching a tent is many people’s worst nightmares. Countless TV shows and movies over the years have depicted people struggling to pitch a tent, but the good news is that most tents aren’t nearly as complicated as Hollywood wants you to believe.
However, some tents are certainly easier to pitch than others, so if you’re concerned about your shelter-building skills, you can opt for a quick set-up option when you’re shopping around. The easiest tents to set up are going to be of the “instant” or pop up tent variety, however these often are less durable and bulkier than other models. Alternatively, there are plenty of backpacking tents out there that have a simple, single-pole design for easy pitching in the backcountry.
No one wants to spend their hard-earned money on a tent only to have it fall apart after a few trips. Indeed, durability is one of the top concerns for any tent buyer as when you make an investment in a big-ticket item, like a tent, you want to know it’ll last for years to come.
That being said, durability is often a compromise with cost, weight, and packed-size. Generally, the more durable materials will either be expensive and lightweight, or relatively affordable and heavy. Thus, if you really value durability in your tent, you’ll have to decide if you’re willing to spend a bit more for a lighter model or if you’d rather save your money and carry around a heavier shelter.
These days, campers have plenty of options when it comes to their tents. However, some tents are much heavier than others, which can have a huge impact on your trip, especially if you’re backpacking.
Of course, backpackers generally prefer to have a lighter tent (they do have to carry everything on their backs!), but sometimes choosing a lighter weight tent means compromising long-term durability, interior tent space, and a higher price. Conversely, having a heavier tent means more effort and expended energy, whether that’s hiking up the trail or carrying your tent from the car to the tent platform in the campground.
Whenever we go camping, we need to find a way to pack and store our tent while en route to the camping site. Regardless of if we’re backpacking or car camping at a campground, the packed size of a tent can make a huge difference in how easy it is to get it to our campsite.
Generally speaking, tents that can hold fewer people (i.e. a two person tent) are going to have a smaller packed size than a larger tent (i.e. a six person tent), so it’s important not to compare apples to oranges here. Instead, it’s worth comparing the packed size of your prospective tent to the packed size of similar models, so you can get an idea of how bulky or compact it is. Of course, tent packed size is more of a concern for backpackers, but it’s important to keep in mind for all campers.
While we all wish we had an unlimited supply of funds available for use on buying gear, the fact of the matter is that most of us are on a budget. So, even if we have our eyes set on a tent that seems perfect for our needs, it just might not be possible financially. Cost is always going to be a deciding factor when buying a piece of gear, and a large investment like a tent is no exception.
Our advice? Spend as much as you’re comfortable with to get the quality tent you deserve. While it’s not always true that spending more means you’ll get a better quality product, when it comes to tents, we often find that cheaper tents are made with less durable materials and will likely need to be replaced more quickly than a more expensive model.
The Best Waterproof Tent Brands
When you buy a big-ticket item, like a tent, you want to know that you’re purchasing from a brand you can trust. Here are our reviews of some of the best rated waterproof tent brands in the game today:
MSR, or Mountain Safety Research is a Seattle, Washington-based brand that produces a large selection of camping and backpacking gear. The vast majority of their equipment is designed specifically for lightweight and technical pursuits, but they make a nice line of camping tents that meet the needs of a wide range of outdoor recreationalists that value quality in their gear.
Founded by the legendary Yvon Chouinard of Patagonia fame, Black Diamond is a producer of technical climbing, skiing, and mountaineering equipment. While most of Black Diamond’s equipment is made for very technical pursuits, their line of camping tents are some of the best in the business for people who spend a lot of time in incredibly harsh environments.
The North Face
Well known outside of the technical climbing and mountain sports world, The North Face is a California-based outdoor apparel and gear company. These days, they are perhaps best known for their line of outdoor-themed casual wear, however, their roots are as a technical climbing gear store and their current line-up of tents doesn’t disappoint in terms of quality or versatility.
Big Agnes is a Steamboat Springs, Colorado-based manufacturer of sleeping bags, sleeping pads, and tents that are designed specifically with durability and comfort in mind. Relatively affordable, Big Agnes makes tents that meet the needs of a wide range of campers.
Similar to Big Agnes, Nemo is a New Hampshire-based company that is best known for its innovative approach to tent manufacturing. Their biggest innovation is their AirSupported Technology, which uses low air pressure beams to keep a tent upright instead of the traditional aluminum tent poles.
Best Waterproof Tents on the Market Reviews
Now that you know what to look for when buying the best waterproof tent, here are our reviews of the top ten waterproof tents on the market today!
1. Nemo Dragonfly 2
The perfect blend of lightweight and functional, the Nemo Dragonfly is one of the best waterproof 2 man tents out there. The Dragonfly 2 features a spacious interior, which allows campers to stretch out and relax at the end of a long day in the mountains.
Made with premium ripstop nylon, no-see-um mesh netting, and durable aluminum poles, the Dragonfly 2 is a solid all-around three-season tent for regular backpackers. The Dragonfly 2 even features a large, 1200mm waterproof bathtub floor to help keep you and all of your belongings dry in a rainstorm. With two doors, two vestibules, and plenty of interior space, there’s a lot to love about the Nemo Dragonfly 2.
2. MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2
The MSR Hubba Hubba NX is a backpacker’s best friend, thanks to its lightweight, freestanding design. The Hubba Hubba NX has enough space to happily house two campers and all of their gear inside the tent and its two vestibules.
As far as waterproofing goes, the Hubba Hubba NX is made with 30D ripstop nylon and is treated with Xtreme Shield polyurethane and a DWR coating to stop water from getting inside your tent, even in the most torrential of downpours. The Hubba Hubba NX’s single Easton Syclon Pole design makes set up easy and resists breaking, even in gale-force winds. Easy to set up, comfy to sleep in, incredibly packable and light, you’d be hard-pressed to find something to complain about with the MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2.
3. Black Diamond Eldorado 2
Built specifically to withstand the harshest conditions on earth, the Black Diamond Eldorado 2 features a modern take on a classic mountaineering tent design. Perhaps the best four-season waterproof two-person tent out there, the Eldorado is a compact, yet internally spacious tent that can be set up from the inside using two internal aluminum poles so you and your gear don’t have to get soaked when you get caught out in a storm.
Although the Eldorado has only one door, it’s arranged so that it’s easy for either person to get in or out of the tent without stepping on their camping buddy. Plus, campers can choose to attach an optional vestibule for added gear storage space on longer trips. The downside to the Eldorado? Well, it’s heavier than most two person tents, and quite expensive. But, the weight and cost are well worth it if you’re looking for a completely stormproof two man tent for your adventures.
4. The North Face Mountain 25 Tent
When the skies open up and rain descends upon you in the mountain, The North Face Mountain 25 is precisely the tent you want to have with you. The Mountain 25 is one of The North Face’s Summit Series tents, which means it’s made with some of the highest quality materials on the market today.
The Mountain 25 features two doors and a poled front vestibule for added storage space, as well as a fully seam-taped nylon bucket floor to keep you dry, even when the ground is soaking wet. Plus, the Mountain 25 features a quick and easy set-up option, thanks to its “No-stretch Kevlar” guylines with built-in camming adjusters that are sure to hold, even in the harshest of winds.
That being said, the Mountain 25 is one heavy tent, with a total packed weight of almost 10 pounds. However, if you’re looking for a completely stormproof two-person tent, the Mountain 25 just might be what you’re looking for.
5. Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL MtnGLO 3
The Big Agnes Copper Spur HV is a unique and innovative new take on a camping shelter. This three-person tent offers plenty of interior living space thanks to its steep walls, while the versatile awning-style vestibules allow for extra sun and rain protection for both you and your gear.
The best part? The Copper Spur features Big Agnes’ proprietary MtnGLO technology, which uses integrated LED lights to brighten and illuminate the inside of the tent without having to use a headlamp! At just under 4 pounds, this three-man tent is one of the most functional around in the market today.
6. MSR Pappa Hubba NX 4
If enjoying the great outdoors with your friends is your favorite way to spend your free time, then you won’t want to miss the MSR Pappa Hubba NX 4. This 4 man tent offers an exceptional amount of living space while still packing up to a smaller size than what you’d find with even the best waterproof 2 man tent.
Made specifically for three season use, the freestanding Pappa Hubba NX is a lightweight shelter that maximizes interior living space for added comfort. With two large doors and vestibules for easy access and gear storage, as well as an ultra-durable Xtreme Shield Waterproof Coating, it’s tricky to find something to complain about with the MSR Pappa Hubba NX4, which is why we think it’s one of the best waterproof 4 man tents around.
7. ALPS Mountaineering Lynx 4
Quick and easy to set up, the ALPS Mountaineering Lynx 4 is a spacious four-person tent with plenty of cross-ventilation for camping in hot, muggy weather. The Lynx 4 features a 65 denier polyester rainfly with a UV and waterproof coating while the interior of the tent is made mostly of mesh for plentiful ventilation.
If that wasn’t enough, the Lynx’s two large doors make it easy to get in and out of the shelter at night while the tent’s simple pole configuration makes pitching it easy, even during a storm. The main downside to the Lynx is its weight, which at almost 8.5 pounds, is no lightweight. However, if you’re looking for the best affordable waterproof tent, you won’t be disappointed by the Lynx 4.
8. Marmot Limestone 4
Designed for maximum comfort, the Marmot Limestone is a fantastic tent for friends and small families. This 4 man tent has a huge interior sleeping area with maximum head room and is easy to get in and out of, thanks to its large double door and rear door.
The Marmot Limestone is fully waterproof and seam-taped, with a full-coverage rainfly to keep you and your family dry, even in a downpour. However, the Limestone doesn’t sacrifice ventilation, thanks to its large mesh paneling and integrated vents. Plus, it has a large front vestibule for easy gear storage while on the go. What’s not to love?
9. The North Face Wawona 6
A luxurious palace of a tent, The North Face Wawona 6 is a highly durable, single-walled 6 man tent for maximum comfort in the outdoors. The Wawona features high ceilings that are tall enough for adults to stand under, as well as large windows for plenty of natural sunlight.
Fully waterproof, the Wawona even has large top vents to help keep the inside of the tent dry and cool during the summer months. Plus, the Wawona has a massive front vestibule with a door on each side, so everyone can store their gear and get ready in the morning without having to sit in the rain - perfect for those family camping trips!
10. Coleman WeatherMaster 10
The Coleman WeatherMaster 10 is the ultimate waterproof cabin tent. With enough space for ten people, the two-room WeatherMaster provides an exceptional amount of sleeping space that’s easy to access with its two large doors.
The WeatherMaster is fully waterproof, thanks to its built-in WeatherTec System welded floors and taped seams, but also provides lots of ventilation in the summer months. Oh, and the WeatherMaster 10 has enough room inside for up to three queen size airbeds, making it one of the best waterproof tents for a large family. What more could you ask for?
At the end of the day, you’re only going to choose one waterproof tent to take with you on your next adventure. If we had to choose just one of the tents in our review to take into the mountains, we’d opt for the MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2 for a backpacking trip or the North Face Wawona 6 for car camping.
Each of these tents provides maximum weather protection without sacrificing livability, ventilation, or ease of set up, which makes them some of the best waterproof tents around. However, it’s important that you find the waterproof tent that’s best for your needs. Happy camping!
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