Looking at a camping trip with the kids but worried about getting rained out? A high-quality waterproof tent is your family’s first line of defense against inclement weather in the great outdoors.
Since lightweight nylon replaced the classic canvas tents of the 1960s, campers now have many exciting options when it comes to easy-to-use waterproof tents. Here’s what to look for in tent materials and construction to get the most for your money, plus our recommendations for the best all-weather tents currently on the market.
This post is part of our favorite outdoor gear series
TL;DR: Jump straight to our favourite family waterproof tents
Best overall waterproof tent for families: Coleman WeatherMaster 10-Person Outdoor Tent
Best deluxe waterproof tent: Eureka Copper Canyon LX 6-Person Tent
Check out all our top picks below! But first:
Key Features to Look For In A Waterproof Tent
Single- And Double-Walled Nylon Tents
Until recently, campers had to choose between weight and durability. Today’s tents can be both lightweight and well-constructed.
Most tents are made of nylon or a related fabric. However, nylon can be waterproof or breathable, not both. Tent manufacturers have solved this problem by making double-walled tents. The outside wall is treated with PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) or similar waterproofing chemicals. The inside wall is untreated, usually made of rip-stop nylon that will breathe and remain comfortable on warm, humid nights.
In recent years, some manufacturers have created single-wall tents. The nylon is waterproof, but the tent designs vent well. The result is minimal condensation inside the tent. The idea is good, but–for now–you get what you pay for in single-walled tents. Lower-priced tents can be flimsy and more cheaply constructed.
Also, double-walled tents take advantage of a sandwich of air to provide better insulation. This can be important for comfort on extremely cold or sweltering nights.
If you’re shopping for a durable family tent, a double-walled tent is smarter unless you can afford the highest-priced single-wall tents.
Seams are a vulnerable point on all tents. Always look for double-needle stitching; this looks like each seam was sewn twice, with two parallel rows of stitches.
The best choice is usually a lap-felled seam. This is a seam where the fabric is folded back over itself, so the stitching passes through four layers of fabric, not two.
Each seam should be flat, with no wrinkles or skipped stitches. Look for about ten stitches per inch along the seams. If you have far fewer than that–as little as four stitches per inch on some tents–those seams will pull apart after a few uses. At the other extreme, if you see twelve to fifteen stitches per inch, the fabric can be weakened by those tiny holes and may tear under pressure.
Every seam should be sealed. Be sure to ask about this. This means that the seam has been treated so that rain won’t penetrate along the stitching lines.
When buying your tent, ask about resealing the seams. Some manufacturers recommend this every six months or yearly; if so, pick up a resealing kit when you buy your tent. This will make maintenance easier.
Layers For Stress
Every tent has stress points. The most obvious is where there are peaks and corners and where clips or sleeves will pull on the tent fabric. Be certain that each of these areas is well reinforced. Look for an extra layer of fabric, or be sure it’s made of heavier nylon similar to oxford cloth.
Likewise, look at the grommets where you’ll be staking the tent. There should be considerable reinforcement there since this is where tents can experience the most stress.
Clips Or Sleeves
Today’s tents are supported with thin tubing, usually made from aluminum or fiberglass. These tubes come in sections, held together with shock cording. As you set up your tent, you’ll attach these tubes to clips or feed them through sleeves made from the same material as the tent walls.
Clips are likely to hold the tent’s walls more tightly, but sleeves last longer over years of wear. So, many manufacturers are combining clips and sleeves. For durability, choose a tent with more sleeves than clips. Where clips are used, they should be closely spaced to distribute stress.
A Bathtub Floor Is Best
One of the most important things to look for is a heavy, bathtub-style floor in your tent. This means that there are no seams where the tent meets the ground. The tent floor should be waterproof, and this fabric should extend several inches up each side of the tent.
In addition to a solid, waterproof floor, most campers use a ground cloth that fits underneath the tent’s floor to protect the tent from sharp rocks and moisture. It’s smart to buy one when you select your tent, and it should be slightly smaller than the floor of your tent.
If you’re going to carry your tent very far, weight can be important. Lighter is generally better for hikers. However, heavier tents are likely to stand up to wear year after year, perfect for families. Consider the trade-offs carefully.
Think about the weather at your planned camping destinations. Most tents won’t stand up to steady, heavy rain day after day. But, some tents are specifically designed for rain and heavy snow.
Look for a rain fly (that second outside wall for your tent) that fully covers the tent down to the ground. This adds more weight, but it’s a smart investment in rainy areas. A soggy tent will spoil your camping trip, and untreated nylon can wear out sooner if regularly exposed to rain.
If you are camping in warm weather and bugs will be a problem, balance the importance of fine netting at the door and windows against the durability of a heavier mesh. Bug spray is not a solution; like some hairsprays, bug spray can damage tents’ waterproof coating.
You can find our complete guide to camping in the rain with further tips for staying high and dry over here.
Can You Set It Up?
Before deciding on a tent, see if you can set it up in the store. Most sporting goods stores allow space for this.
If you’re confused about which poles go where you may prefer a tent with color-coded tubing and sleeves. Similarly, a fly that has to fit “just so” may be draped over your tent if you’re tired when it’s time to set it up.
An assembled tent can stress certain areas, and your tent will last far longer if it’s always set up correctly and completely. Choose a tent that you can set up easily in the store, and you’re less likely to look for shortcuts if you arrive tired at the campsite.
Setting up your tent should be fun for the entire family. Colour coding can make tent assembly into a game if you have small children. The ease of setup can vary significantly from one tent to the next. Test several, and compare before you buy a waterproof family tent.
The tent you choose should be well constructed of the best materials you can afford. Take good care of it; your tent will provide your family with years of enjoyable camping.
6 Best Waterproof Tents For Families
A fun weekend outdoors can easily change into a nightmare when your supposedly waterproof tent does not work as it should. This will mean that your sleeping bags, sleeping pads, and everything on the floor will be soaking wet. And who wants to sit in a damp environment in the woods? Most certainly not your kids!
Here are our top picks of the best waterproof tents that will come through for you and the whole family, irrespective of the backpacking and camping scenario.
Best All-Seasons Tent: Coleman WeatherMaster 10-Person Outdoor Tent
The Coleman brand has earned a reputation for producing some of the most high-quality and durable outdoor gear- and the Weathermaster ten people is no different. The frame is built strong enough to withstand strong winds using re-designed poles and guy-out triangles.
You do not have to worry about rain dampening your camping experience because this tent has a weatherTec system inverted seams and patented welded floors. It also has a zipper cuff that protects the hinged door from water leakage, making it one of the best waterproof tents for camping.
One of the best family tents on the market, it is spacious enough to comfortably fit three queen-size air beds, measuring 17 x 9 feet with a 6-foot 8-inch center height. It also includes an E-port, internal storage door, and hinged doors with a room divider for extra privacy.
Best Deluxe Waterproof Tent: Eureka Copper Canyon LX 6-Person Tent
If you are looking for the best waterproof camping tents that can easily take in the whole gang, then you got it! The Eureka copper canyon can comfortably tent up to 12 people without nudging, thanks to its generous interior space.
It’s easy to set up and uses nearly vertical walls, providing up to seven feet of headroom. What’s more, should you need two separate rooms it has a divider to do just that! Its square corners work well with cots ( baby won’t even notice the difference!) and air mattresses.
What we love about the Eureka Copper Canyon LX:
- Durable construction with easy setup
- Spacious ( i.e., 13-foot by 10-foot floor space) with seven feet of interior height space for your family members
- Divider to create two rooms
- Zippered power port for internal electrical supply
Best Affordable Waterproof Tent: Coleman Dome Tent with Screen Room
The Coleman dome tent with a screen room is an inexpensive waterproof option with a famous brand name. It has plenty of room for your whole family ( provided you do not mind sleeping in the same room). It’s lightweight and includes a screened porch complete with a floor. The attached screen room is excellent as it helps keep bugs away on family camping trips and provides extra storage room.
The Coleman dome tent’s main room can accommodate six people with adequate ventilation thanks to its four large windows.
Best Waterproof Backpacking Tent: MSR Hubba Hubba 2 Tent
In the tent world, the MSR Hubba Hubba is pretty famous for good reasons. It’s amongst the most popular backpacking tents that are great for your family whether you enjoy car camping or backpacking. Talk of versatility!
The MSR hubba hubba tent is a small family tent that is one of the lightest, most practical, and weather-resistant. It can handle bad weather as it is a rainproof tent. It comes in two models: the standard model with or with an outer shield polyurethane coating.
What’s more, this tent has its carry case and weighs just 3.5 lbs: making it great as it packs down very small.
What We Love About the MSR Hubba Hubba 2 Tent:
- Two doors for easy access and two vestibules for storage
- Ultra-compact compression sack
- Full coverage 3000mm rainfly is excellent in heavy rain
- Built-in rain gutters
- Mesh pockets in each of the corners
Best Large Family Waterproof Tent: Wenzel Klondike 8 Person Water Resistant Tent
The Klondike tent from Wenzel is one of the best options in the most waterproof tents that will comfortably fit your family and friends. With its caravan style, it brings in a unique experience and also makes it incredibly spacious. The mesh screen porch is almost the same size as the physical sleeping area; thus, you can not run out of space.
With the spacious screen porch, you can decide to put a couple of extra beds for the outdoor indoor experience that kids love. The two large windows and a large ground vent will ensure your whole family is well-ventilated.
It’s a fully waterproof tent made from water-resistant polyester double stitched, lap-felled seams.
What we love about the Wenzel Klondie 8-Person Tent:
- Plenty of ventilation with mesh roof vent and zippered windows
- Double stitched,lap-felled seams
- An excellent option for families with kids due to its spacious size
- Gear loft for extra storage
- One door to the main area and another door to access the porch
Best Small Family Waterproof Tent: Coleman Sundome Tent
If you are looking for a tent that will host your festivals or occasional family camping trips, it’s the Coleman Sundome tent. And yes, it’s one of the best camping tents for rain as it is waterproof and comes with a rain fly.
Measuring 10 by 10 feet, it has a square base that is a simple shape and a pole design, making it easy for even an inexperienced camper to figure out. This would be the real deal if you were looking for that tent that will make your kids great at pitching.
And with your kids around, you do not have to worry about spills as its floor is made of tarp-like polyethylene, making it easy to clean and mop as it does not hold moisture.
More reading for family campers
Before you head off on your next family camping trip, you may also enjoy:
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