The TETON Sports Mountain Ultra wins our vote as the best waterproof tent out there for a number of reasons. It boasts the ideal mix of sturdiness, durability, portability, comfort, and, of course, outstanding performance in wet weather.
Using a 2000mm PU rainfly, heavy-duty bathtub-style floor, effective ventilation, and heat-sealed seams, this well-designed tent goes the extra mile to ensure your tent’s interior stays dry in even the most biblical downpours.
With a pack weight of 4.5 lbs and packed size of just 25″ x 7.5″ x 7.5″, this is also a good choice for backpacking. It also boasts impressive durability and resilience thanks to its use of T6 aluminum poles, 66D ripstop rainfly fabric, and burly 150D flooring.
Bottom line: The TETON Sports Mountain Ultra’s combo of robust waterproofing, a lightweight design, and a roomy interior make it the ideal pick for bad-weather backcountry adventures and campsite camping alike.
Why Owning a Reliable Waterproof Tent Matters
Need help choosing a “bombproof” tent?
You’re in the right place! In this guide, we will be covering the following:
- The key features a good waterproof tent must have
- A review of the 7 best waterproof tents on the market
- Our personal choice of the best waterproof tent
- Understand the importance of hydrostatic head and sealed seams
When camping, your tent is your first, last, and pretty much only line of defense against the elements. Given this, solid weather resistance is a must-have feature, whether you’re an all-weather warrior or more of a fair-weather-only kinda camper.
After all, weather forecasts can be wrong. Blue skies turn grey, light showers become downpours, and sunny weather turns into the stormy kind a lot more than we’d like.
There are, of course, other factors (capacity, weight, livability, value) to be considered. However, there’s little point in owning a spacious, portable, and affordable tent if it’s not going to deliver on its core functionality, i.e. keeping you sheltered from whatever the weather gods are throwing at you.
Here, we introduce you to seven of the best tents for camping in wet weather out there to help ensure your future camping adventures don’t turn into misadventures on account of your equipment.
Table of Contents
- Best Tent Overall
- Why Owning a Reliable Waterproof Tent Matters
- Features to Look for in a Waterproof Tent
- The Top 7 Waterproof Tents
- Bad Forecast? No Problem!
Features to Look for in a Waterproof Tent
The quality that defines the best tents for bad-weather camping is their ability to keep that bad weather out and keep you dry. Several factors contribute to this ability:
Hydrostatic Head Rating
The amount of water/rain your tent material can resist is measured with the Hydrostatic Head (HH) rating, which is given in millimeters. In short, the higher the number, the more water pressure the fabric can resist before it starts to leak.
The floor commonly has a higher HH rating. This is because it has to withstand more pressure from the weight of the tent’s occupants and their gear.
If you’re expecting moderate or short-lived rain showers, we recommend opting for a tent with a 1,500 mm HH rainfly rating and 3,000 mm floor rating. For harsher environments, a minimum rating of 2,000 mm in the fly and 5,000 mm in the floor is a much safer bet.
Sealed seams ensure that your tent doesn’t spring any leaks in this common point of vulnerability.
When a tent is sewn together, the stitching process creates holes in the fabric. When these seams are left unsealed, rain water can then pass through these tiny holes.
Sealing the seams is, in essence, like putting a plug in the holes. Some manufacturers take it upon themselves to seal the seams at the factory by using tape or special adhesives. However, other manufacturers leave this task to the users. This means you’ll have to buy and apply a sealant to make your tent fully waterproof.
The rainfly is the fabric that covers the outside of the tent and is coated with waterproofing treatments to help keep you and your camping companions stay dry.
Full-coverage rainflys are intended for use in more inhospitable conditions, i.e. high winds and heavy downpours. Most double-walled tents combine an interior layer (“wall”) mostly composed of mesh. As such, their water-resistance comes entirely from the rainfly (the outer layer/wall). By creating another, full layer between the tent body and the elements, a full-coverage significantly reduces the risk of any rain making its way inside your tent.
Partial coverage rainflys only cover the essential parts of the tent, and often only the mesh netting in the canopy. This works well in lighter rain showers and helps keep the weight of your tent down. In wetter, windier conditions, however, a partial rainfly won’t keep water out when the wind’s blowing rain sideways.
There are two main reasons why guy lines are necessary. First, they make sure that your shelter stays put no matter how hard the wind is blowing. Second, they help to ensure your rainfly doesn’t sag or get blown against the inner canopy. The former of these issues increases the risk of rain seeping through and the latter reduces the airflow between the two layers that’s needed to stave off condensation.
Construction & Shape
The best shape and style of tent for your needs depends on a few variables, most notably the conditions you’re camping in, whether you’re car-camping or wild camping, the number of people in your group, and your trip’s duration.
Below, we’ve added an at-a-glance list of tent types along with a brief description of their best use:
Dome Style Tents
Dome tents use two or three crisscrossing poles that create a rounded profile. This shape provides stability in moderate winds and sheds rainwater quickly. In contrast, tents with flatter walls and roofs tend to buckle in the wind and pool rainwater on top, making them more liable to leakage.
Cabin-Type & Canvas Bell Tents
These two styles are popular choices for base-campingor long-duration camping. They typically offer far roomier interiors and more headroom. For the most part, they’re also durable, rugged, and boast superior waterproofing and stability compared to other designs.
On the downside, most options in this category are both heavy and bulky. However, because they’re designed for car-camping only, their lack of portability and size shouldn’t be an issue. Just make sure you have a buddy to help with the carrying and pitching!
Small, lightweight, and easy to pitch, this style is the best option if you plan on putting in some miles on the trails before making camp. While not as roomy as car-camping tents, they make up for this with portability and highly functional designs that aim to provide a good balance between weather-resistance, weight, and livability.
Intended for use by gram-counting minimalists, bivies (aka “bivy bags”) are miniature, lightweight variations of ridge tents. They use just enough material to provide shelter for a single person, so aren’t the roomiest option by a longshot. On the plus side, they usually offer superior water resistance and can weigh as little as 1.5 pounds.
If you plan on camping in particularly harsh weather, geodesic is the way to go. Geodesic shelters are very similar to dome tents, but use additional crisscrossing poles to give maximum support to the fabric and added stability in high winds.
The key features to look for in a waterproof family tent are comfort, livability, and capacity.
The most common style in this category are tunnel and multi-room tents.
Tunnel tents use a series of arched poles to give them their tunnel-like shape, which helps to maximize headroom and cubic footage.
Multi-room models are, as the name suggests, the ideal tents for campers who like to have a little bit of privacy. These typically use a design that combines of dome and tunnel configurations. They usually have a sleeping area on either side that is connected by tunnels to a larger living area.
Both of these tent types tend to be heavy and bulky and, as such, are suitable for car camping only.
Size, Capacity & Comfort
Before choosing your backcountry bolthole, think carefully about the size of your group and if you’re going to need extra space for friends, gear, or pets. Also bear in mind, however, that the bigger the tent, the heavier it’s likely to be. That’s why you need to consider your goals and purposes before deciding on the ideal size.
As a general rule, we recommend looking for a shelter that offers a minimum of 14 square feet of floor space per adult sleeper. Naturally, this number will increase or decrease depending on the size of the sleeper(!), but bear in mind that sleeping mat sizing is fairly uniform.
As regards headroom, backpacking models tend to offer significantly less of it than car-camping varieties. Regardless, a backpacking tent with a center height under 32 inches is going to feel coffin-like, even for shorter campers. If car-camping, weight is less of an issue, so you should aim to find a tent that will let the tallest member of your group move around without ducking.
Finally, if you anticipate bringing along lots of gear, be sure to plump for a tent that has a decent-sized vestibule or two. As a rule of thumb, 3-4 square feet of vestibule space should be more than enough for the average camper.
If your tent doesn’t have a vestibule, it’s worth making sure it has the same amount of extra storage space inside.
ProTip!: Tent manufacturers don’t adhere to uniform sizing when attributing their tents a person rating. As such, a 6-person tent from one brand might be much bigger/smaller than a 6-person model from another. To reduce the risk of cabin fever, be sure to gauge capacity by a tent’s square footage, not by its person rating.
Weight & Packed Size
Packed weight and size are specs that give you an idea of how easy or difficult a tent will be to carry.
When backpacking or hiking longer distances before you set up camp, you should prioritize weight and packability when choosing. Ideally, your tent should weigh roughly 2-4 pounds per person, though some more robust models with enhanced waterproofing may weigh as much 5 pounds per person.
With regard to packed size, solo hikers should look for a model that measures around 16-20 inches by 6-8 inches to save on pack space. If camping in a group, look for models with components that can be shared out among carriers. This will allow one person to carry the inner, one the outer, and another the poles and pegs, for example.
If you plan on car camping, then weight and packability aren’t so much of an issue. In this case, even heftier options like the Kodiak Canvas Flex-Bow should fit easily in your trunk and won’t be too tricky to schlep from your vehicle to your pitching location.
Ventilation & Breathability
These two attributes help to ensure there’s enough air circulating inside your tent to regulate the temperature and prevent condensation.
Most double-wall tents use mesh in the upper part of the inner tent to help air circulate. Others use an entirely mesh inner both to maximize airflow and provide panoramic views when used without the rainfly.
Lastly, a two-door system also helps keep things fresh and condensation-free, letting fresh air enter one door while letting stale, warm air escape out the other. A windows-and-doors combo, of course, will work even better!
There is almost always a trade-off between breathability and weatherproofing. If you plan on camping in cool conditions, then we’d recommend prioritizing weather-resistance. If you plan on camping year round, on the other hand, then the best policy is to find a tent that offers a good balance between the two.
The Top 7 Waterproof Tents
Kodiak Canvas Flex-Bow 6
Best for Livability
If you plan on camping for a longer period of time, then we highly recommend the Kodiak Canvas Flex Bow. It’s very durable, rugged, and waterproof thanks to its reinforced canvas materials, and borders on palatial in its dimensions.
The Canvas Flex-Bow is manufactured with varying grades of Kodiak’s proprietary Hydra-Shield canvas. The walls are made from breathable, silicone-treated, 8.5-ounce Hydra-Shield canvas, and the floor from polyester-reinforced 16-ounce vinyl. This makes the Flex-Bow not only a winner in terms of style (if vintage is your thing), but also just about as rugged, durable, and rain-resistant as they come.
The Flex-Bow also boasts a generous 10 x 10 feet of floor area, a 6-foot ceiling height, and a large awning that provides ample coverage for outdoor cooking and kicking back at the end of the day.
The only shortcomings we can find in this tent are its hefty weight and size. Weighing in at a little over 70 pounds and packing down to 30 x 15 inches, this is a car-camping-only kinda tent unless you happen to have a team of yaks, horses, or Sherpas to do the carrying for you.
Additionally, due to its sheer size and the weight of its canvas walls, some might find setting this one up a long and tedious process.
- Solid build
- Plenty of headroom
- Large awning for cooking/kicking back outside
- Very heavy and cumbersome
- Tricky to set up
MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2
Best Tent for Backpacking
If you’re looking for a reliable backpacking tent with just enough features, comfort, and space for long-term livability, then the MSR Hubba Hubba NX might just be the tent for you.
The MSR Hubba Hubba NX is a true all-rounder. It’s durable, highly waterproof, relatively lightweight, and offers a decent amount of space for two people.
The inner tent fabric is a combination of DWR-treated, high-tenacity nylon and copious 15-denier mesh for enhanced ventilation. The rainfly has a HH rating of 1200 mm, meaning it’s ideal for three-season adventuring, and features color-coded corners to simplify pitching.
To top it all off, there’s a 30-denier, raised bathtub floor that boasts precision-stitched seams and a HH of 3000 mm. This means you can pitch up in even boggy ground without having to worry about groundwater finding its way inside your tent.
Other loveable features in the NX 2 include its new Easton Syclone Poles, which feel like a big upgrade on their predecessors in terms of sturdiness in windy conditions, its adjustable rainfly, and two large, side-entry vestibules.
With 29 square feet of floor space and a peak height of 39 inches, the MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2 is fairly spacious for a 2-person backpacking tent. That roomy interior is also nicely ventilated thanks to all that mesh in the tent body and its use of a cross-ventilating rainfly with a kickstand vent.
Finally, this very trail-worthy little shelter weighs in at just 4 pounds and 13 ounces and packs down to 18” x 6”. This makes it one of the most portable 2-person options on the market.
Sadly, the Hubba Hubba does also have a few downsides. The most notable is the tendency of its fly to flap around in high winds. Secondly, its lack of sealed seams means you’ll have to spend some time prepping before hitting the trails in wet weather.
- Reliable and comfortable
- Durable materials
- Good ventilation
- Two-door design makes it easy to get in and get out
- Easy setup
- Rainfly a bit “flappy” in high winds
- Unsealed seams
Coleman WeatherMaster 6
The Coleman WeatherMaster is a roomy, cabin-type family camping tent that packs in plenty of decent features at an affordable price.
This 6-person, tunnel-style shelter uses a combo of steel poles and smaller, fiberglass supporting poles to provide coverage for a whopping 153 square feet of floor space. Divided into a 99-square feet main compartment and a 54-square foot screen room, this configuration makes it ideal for families or campers keen to store their gear outside the sleeping area.
The WeatherMaster’s 80-inch ceiling, large windows, and mesh build help to keep the interior ventilated, well-lit, and among the most livable spaces you’re likely to find outside your actual home!
For weather protection, the WeatherMaster uses Coleman’s patented WeatherTec system, which includes 1,000-denier patented welded floors and inverted seams, and a 75-denier polyester taffeta fly.
The fly’s coverage, however, is mostly limited to the roof, meaning this isn’t the best bet in wet and windy weather. Weighing in at 32 pounds and with a packed size of 41 x 10 inches, this is also not a tent you’d like to be lugging around over long distances.
- Roomy, comfortable, and well-ventilated
- Mesh build makes it great for stargazing
- Welded floors protect against groundwater
- Rainfly lacks coverage
- Not the most robust
- Difficult to pitch
Geertop Portable 4
Best for Bad-Weather Backpacking
The Geertop Portable 4-Person 4-Season Backpacking Tent wins our vote as one of the best waterproof tents out there on account of its impressive weather-resistance, spacious interior, durability, and all-around livability.
The Geertop’s inner tent material is a combo of durable 210T polyester and nylon mesh panels that help regulate interior temperature. The floor is made from 210-denier PU-coated nylon with an impressive HH rating of 5000 mm, while the fly is constructed with 3000mm HH, tear-resistant polyester. To top it all off, the seams in the floor and fly are doubled-sealed for added leak resistance.
Measuring 94.4″ x 82.6″ (54 sq. ft.), the interior makes for a super-spacious shelter for three people or a decently room one for four. No matter how many of you there are, however, the Geertop Portable’s sure to feel plenty livable thanks to its 53-inch peak height, double-doored design, and duo of large vestibules for cooking and gear storage.
This shelter weighs just a little over 9-pounds, which makes it a little heavier than other 4-season options. That said, a little extra poundage seems a small trade-off given the Geertop’s durability and robust waterproofing.
And the downsides? Other than its slightly garish yellow coloring and slightly heavy pack weight, there’s little else of note.
- Manageable weight
- Easy to set up
- 2 large vestibules
- Solid waterproofing
- Poor-quality zipper
- Poor ventilation with the rainfly on
- Not the roomiest 4-person tent
Black Diamond Eldorado
Most “Bombproof” Tent
This incredibly well-made tent strikes a great balance between comfort, durability, compactness, and take-anywhere kinda ruggedness and waterproofing.
The Black Diamond Eldorado is a single-wall tent designed for use in particularly harsh environments. Like most single-wall tents, it offers outstanding weather-resistance, using a 7,000mm HH rainfly and 10,000mm floor made with robust, tear-resistant, triple-layered ToddTex fabric.
In terms of ruggedness and rain-resistance, they don’t get much better than that!
Unlike many other single-wallers out there, however, the Eldorado also scores highly on livability. While only offering 31 square feet of living space and no vestibule, it has a decent 43-inch center height and combines breathable fabric with a duo of ceiling vents to regulate interior temperature and ward off condensation.
Using a two-pole design, the Eldorado is also very easy to pitch, and, surprisingly, more robust than many of its 3 or 4-pole competitors. Designed for use in the Greater Ranges, this is a tent you can count on to stand firm in the strongest winds and even handle heavy snow loading.
The only downsides to the Eldorado are its lack of sealed seams and relatively hefty weight. At 5 lbs 1 oz, there are plenty of lighter 2-person tents out there. That said, few of those alternatives will offer quite the same strength or night on impregnable protection against the elements…
- Compact packed size
- Durable and rugged
- Excellent stability in high winds
- Three-layer, tear-resistant construction
- Superior performance in heavy rain
- Less ventilation than double-wall tents
TETON Sports Mountain Ultra
Combining a light pack weight with a roomy interior, solid waterproofing, easy pitching, and ripstop fabrics, the TETON Sports Mountain Ultra is a standout 3-season tent for solo adventurers.
In terms of waterproofing, this tent doesn’t quite fall into the “bombproof” category. However, its 66-denier, ripstop, PU-coated rainfly boasts a HH rating of 2000mm, which makes it more than capable of fending off even heavy downpours for hours, even days, on end.
It also features a highly waterproof, 150-denier, bathtub-style floor, and heat-sealed seams, both of which help to ensure you won’t be springing any leaks while catching your Zs.
On the inside, things are pretty impressive, too. While the Mountain Ultra only offers around 18.5 square feet of floor space, it’s 39.5-inch peak height, micro-mesh canopy, gear loft, and sizable vestibule make it all very livable.
We also found the tent very portable and easy to carry thanks to its 4.5 lbs pack weight and manageable pack size (25″ x 7.5″). And when you get to your campsite, setup is a piece of cake. The burly, T6 aluminum poles are color-coded and the tent uses a super-simple cross-and-ridge system that lets you convert it from packed to pitch in circa 3 minutes (4 for slackers!).
There are only two not-so-positive things worth mentioning with the Mountain Ultra. Firstly, it doesn’t boast the same lifelong durability as some of the pricier tents in our review. Secondly, attaching the footprint can be a little tricky. Given that it costs a fraction of the price of its competitors and is otherwise easy to pitch, however, these flaws are far from dealbreakers.
- Relatively light
- Easy to assemble
- Impressive ventilation
- Sturdy and robust
- Footprint is tricky to attach
NTK CHEROKEE GT 6
Best for Families
The NTK Cherokee GT is a great choice for families or groups of friends looking to strike the ideal balance between weight, interior space, and waterproofing.
Weighing in at just 15.21 pounds, this shelter is one of the lightest 6-person models on the market. Once pitched, it also stands at a very livable 5 foot 9 inches high and boasts just under 100 square feet of floor space, making it ideal for families on multi-day trips.
In terms of waterproofing, the Cherokee GT is no slouch either. It uses a 2,500mm HH, full-coverage rainfly, heat-sealed seams, and a durable thermoplastic coating that together can ward off even the most torrential rain showers.
Other endearing features found in this tent are the highly breathable, no-see-um micro-mesh fabric used on the inner tent, a bathtub-style floor, and extra thick, color-coded nano-flex fiberglass poles that interconnect with chrome-plated ferrule hardware to make setup a cinch.
The only notable downside to this tent is that it doesn’t have a vestibule, meaning that you’ll have to sacrifice some of your interior space for gear storage. Also, there’s a slight lack of interior storage pockets considering the tent’s size and the fact that it’s marketed as a tent for families.
- Quick and easy to set up
- Good ventilation
- Spacious and comfortable
- Ideal tent for outdoors-oriented families
- No vestibule
- Not enough wall pockets
Bad Forecast? No Problem!
When the rain comes to town, many campers are apt to kick back with a weekend of Netflix, DIY, and dreaming of where they might have been with a more favorable forecast. Arm yourself with any of the above bad-weather shelters, however, and you’ll be good to go no matter what the weather’s doing.
Each of the above tents offers something a little different. All things considered, though, the TETON sports Mountain Ultra was a standout winner. It’s tough, reasonably light, roomy, and an absolute winner when it comes to keeping the wet-stuff where we like it—outside our tent!
So, how did you like our review? If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to leave them in the box below! And if you’d like to share this article with your friends, share away!
Last update on 2021-03-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API