A fun weekend camping trip can quickly turn into a nightmare when your supposedly waterproof tent fails and your sleeping bags get soaked. No one wants to sit in a damp environment and especially not out in the woods. So how can you find the right tent that will actually keep you dry?
Every tent model has its pros and cons, but there is one feature that is non-negotiable: the tent needs to be waterproof – no questions asked. To help you wade through the possibilities (and hopefully no rain puddles), we’ve put together a list of the best waterproof tents for a just about every kind of backpacking and camping scenario.
Whether you’re planning a backpacking trip with a group of friends, or something to use for solo weekend adventures, we’ve got a great selection of the best tents in the outdoor industry. We give an honest breakdown of the pros and cons of each model so you can decide which tent is the best fit for your lifestyle and climate.
Our team has done all of the dirty work testing these tents over the years so we bring you our top picks based on our in the field experience…
Quick Answer: Best Waterproof Tents
- REI Co-op Half Dome 2 Plus Tent – Best Waterproof Tent Overall
- MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2 – Best Waterproof Tent for Hiking
- Big Agnes Copper Spur Tent – Best Waterproof Tent for Hiking #2
- Marmot Limelight 3person Tent – Best Waterproof Tent for the Beach
- Big Agnes Copper Spur Bikepack Tent – Best Waterproof Tent for Bike Camping
- REI Co-op Kingdom 4 – Best Waterproof Tent for Families (Car Camping)
- MSR Papa Hubba – Best Waterproof Tent for Families (Backpacking)
- REI Co-op Grand Hut 4 – Best Waterproof Tent for Festivals
- REI Co-op Passage 2 Tent with Footprint – Best Waterproof Tent under $200
- Kammock Mantis All-in-One Hammock Tent – Best Waterproof Camping Hammock
|REI Co-op Half Dome 2 Plus Tent||Check on REI|
|MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2||Check on REICheck on Amazon|
|Big Agnes Copper Spur Tent||Check on REICheck on Amazon|
|Marmot Limelight 3person Tent||Check on REICheck on Amazon|
|Big Agnes Copper Spur Bikepack Tent||Check on REICheck on Amazon|
|REI Co-op Kingdom 4||Check on REI|
|MSR Papa Hubba||Check on REICheck on Amazon|
|REI Co-op Grand Hut 4||Check on REI|
|REI Co-op Passage 2 Tent with Footprint||Check on REI|
|Kammock Mantis All-in-One Hammock Tent||Check on REI|
The Best Waterproof Tent Overall
There’s a lot going for the REI Co-op Half Dome 2+ tent beyond excellent waterproof design. However, the footprint isn’t included, so if you want to fully waterproof your tent you’ll have to factor this into your final purchase.
We also love the rainfly design of the HD2+. A lot of waterproof tents become stuffy and humid as soon as the rainfly goes on, so even though you’re dry you’re still uncomfortable. The HD2+ fly can be rolled up to allow for more ventilation without removing the entire rainfly. This way if a storm comes in fast, there’s no need to struggle to get the fly on again!
There are also 4 ceiling vents that keep air flowing even when it’s raining and prevents condensation from accumulating in the tent.
In terms of comfort and livability, the HD2+ also scores some good points thanks to the two doors, and vestibules on both sides of the tent where you can store dirty boots and wet gear. It’s also a fairly lightweight tent; while it doesn’t quite measure up to the super light backpacking tents, it’s also not going to totally weigh down your pack.
The HD2+ is small enough for a solo traveler, but still big enough to comfortably accommodate couples traveling together.
Check out our full-length REI Half Dome 2 Plus review
Best Waterproof Tent for Hiking
Sturdy but also ultra-lightweight, the Hubba Hubba NX 2 is a backpackers dream come true. It’s not going to totally weigh down your pack, but it still provides ample living room and good protection from the elements.
First and foremost, this tent did have some problems with design in the past, which lead to some poor overall reviews. However, MSR has updated their model to fix these issues, and the Hubba Hubba NX 2 is now “okay for go” in terms of waterproof status.
The solid structure of the tent provides good protection from the wind and keeps the tent stable if there’s some wind. We also love the rainfly design, which does a good job in never touching the sides of the tent so the interior stays totally dry.
There are also 2 doors with vestibules on both sides where you can store your wet boots and raincoats to keep the inside as dry as possible. For a more detailed look at the design, weatherability, and special features of the Hubba Hubba NX 2, you can check out our in-depth MSR Hubba Hubba review.
Best Waterproof Tent for Hiking #2
Since so many waterproof tents are designed for backpackers, we wanted to highlight a second option besides the Hubba Hubba which also has all the makings of an excellent backpacking tent.
Big Agnes has a reputation for producing great quality tents, and the Copper Spur is certainly no exception. The entire tent is made of a ripstop nylon material to create a lightweight yet highly durable tent for all your backpacking expeditions.
A lot of Big Agnes tents have a tapered design and are wider at the head than at the foot. Some people love this feature, others really don’t like it-it’s a matter of personal preference and doesn’t really affect the overall performance.
The Copper Spur also has 2 doors and vestibules over each to provide more cover when it’s drizzling and can be turned into awnings if you have proper trekking poles. Unfortunately, the footprint is not included, which is a very helpful addition to making the tent fully waterproof.
Best Waterproof Tent for the Beach
For those who have tried it, you’ll know that beach camping is a whole new ball game in terms of picking the right tent. A coastal breeze carries a lot of moisture and salt with it, which is hard on most tents and requires a more durable material if you want the tents to last.
The Marmot Limelight can hold up to sea breezes thanks to the good ventilation and sturdy material. It’s a bit heavier than other 3-person backpacking tents, but it’s worth carrying around the extra weight if you’ll be camping on the beach a lot.
Plus, a big bonus to the Marmot Limelight is that the footprint is included, unlike many tent models! This is another crucial feature for beach camping, since it helps protect against sharp rocks grating sand which can destroy a tent floor quickly.
Other small convenience features include color-coded poles and pitch clips and several interior pockets for storage. There’s also an overhead Lamp Shade pocket where you can put your headlamp.
Best Waterproof Tent for Bike Camping
We’ve already described what makes the Copper Spur so great for backpackers. Now, with this new model, the Copper Spur has also become an excellent waterproof tent option for bikers.
The compression sack for the tent comes with a daisy-chain style webbing which can be securely fastened to many different bike frames, and velcro straps are included to keep the tent secure. This way you can easily haul your tent any distance necessary on your bike tour.
Just like the first model of the Copper Spur, the bikepack version is also wider on top and narrower on the bottom. However, there are lots in interior storage pockets, so the smaller space at your feet might not be too much of an issue.
If you want to keep the tent fully waterproof, it’s a good idea to get the footprint, which is unfortunately not included with the tent.
To help with easy set up, the fly has color-coded corners to match with the appropriate straps to hold it in place. However, it’s probably a good idea to get a few more stakes since there have been some complaints that the amount provided wasn’t sufficient to keep the fly in place.
Best Waterproof Tent for Families (Car Camping)
Family camping trips can become quickly ruined by a leaky tent and wet sleeping bags. If there’s a chance you might need to ride out a rainstorm in your tent, you’ll definitely want to make sure that the water stays on the outside.
The REI Kingdom 4 is a highly rated tent which has a few new developments to make it even easier to use. The color coding on the tent, poles, and fly keep everything simple for setting the tent up so even the kids can help.
The most obvious downside to the Kingdom 4 is that the footprint is sold separately. Although the tough seam-sealed and cut-in floor helps with keeping the tent waterproof, it’s a good idea to get the footprint to keep everything dry.
One of the best family-friendly features of the Kingdom 4 are the vertical walls and 2 door set up so no one is climbing over each other to get out in the middle of the night. One of the doors can also be converted into a vestibule for a bit more space to store your belongings.
Since the Kingdom 4 is on the heavier side, it’s better suited for car trips. The tent does come with a backpack carry bag making it easier to transport for short distances.
Best Waterproof Tent for Families (Backpacking)
Backpacking with a family is a completely new ball game in terms of getting an appropriate tent. You need something that’s lightweight, but still able to hold up to poor weather, not to mention be big enough for everyone to have enough space.
The MSR Papa Hubba NX 4 does about the best job of any tent out there to meet all of these requirements. It’s designed for 4 people, although you could possibly fit five depending on the size and age of your kids.
There are two key factors to the Papa Hubba that make it such a great choice. First, the Xtreme Shield waterproof coating has great reviews for doing an excellent job in keeping tents dry. Plus, the poles are made from Easton Syclone, which are lightweight yet incredibly strong to hold up against windy conditions.
The entire tent fits in a small compression sack which makes it easy to pack or even give one of the kids a chance to carry it!
Best Waterproof Tent for Festivals
If you’re planning on visiting a festival, you might not want a super fancy and expensive tent which might be at risk of getting damaged. Festivals are fun, but the party atmosphere and close quarters to other festival-goers increases the risk of accidents.
However, you certainly don’t want to deal with the frustration of getting wet if it rains during the event. Finding a tent that’s a balance of quality without being overly expensive can be difficult.
The REI Grand Hut 4 is certainly big enough for a group of friends visiting a festival, but it’s also one of the more budget-friendly waterproof tents on our list. It’s not going to hold up to quite the same level of rough weather as some options, but it’s still very durable and well-designed.
In terms of comfort and livability, the Grand Hut 4 scores high marks thanks to the two large D-shaped doors, multiple pockets at various levels, and a convenient bag to carry the tent, poles, stakes, and guylines.
Unfortunately, the footprint is sold separately; you might be able to get away with a heavy-duty tarp, but having the footprint is definitely the best way to ensure effectiveness of the tent.
Best Waterproof Tent under $200
When “cheap” and “backpacking tent” are included in a description, it usually results in poor quality. However, even though the REI Co-op Passage 2 tent might not be quite as durable as other models, it still does an excellent job keeping out bad weather for a far lower price.
The X-pole set up makes it easy to get the tent up in just a few minutes, but still provides reasonable stability for windy conditions. Thanks to the rectangular floor and two doors on either side, getting the tent properly oriented is a breeze.
And of course, there is the huge bonus that this tent actually comes with a footprint! You can also roll the fly up so you can see the stars on clear nights or allow for extra ventilation during the day, but then quickly shut it if it starts raining.
Overall it’s a great entry-level tent if you’re serious about wanting to give backpack camping a try, but you don’t want to invest too much money in case things don’t work out. Once you get comfortable with the Passage 2, you can consider upgrading to a more heavy-duty model.
Best Waterproof Camping Hammock
As hammock camping becomes more and more popular, we wanted to make sure to include at least one hammock model in our list of the top waterproof tents. Although it won’t give you quite the same comfort in the rain as a traditional tent, the Kammock Mantis will still certainly keep you dry!
The hammock has a Dragon net canopy made of no-see-um mesh which will keep the bugs out but still give you a view of the stars. As soon as it begins to look cloudy, you can roll the rainfly down quickly, even in the middle of the night.
Probably the biggest trick to hammock camping is to make sure you’re able to find proper trees to set it up. Once you’ve identified a spot, the Kammock Mantis only tables a few minutes to be set in place with a knotless suspension design.
In terms of weight and size, camping hammocks usually leave other tents in the dust, which is one reason why lightweight backpackers have come to prefer them.
Best of the Rest
Now that we’ve given you our top picks for waterproof tents for a variety of camping adventures, here are some other excellent models to consider if you still haven’t quite found the right tent for you.
Companies are constantly improving their tents, and fixing old issues with past models. If there’s a tent you already love, but it’s getting old, you might be in luck and find a new and better version on the market.
For one person camping trips, the Quarter Dome SL 1 is a great bet for a waterproof tent. It’s easy to set up, the true “quarter dome” structure means that the sidewalls are much more vertical, and the stake-out vestibule gives you extra space for wet items to stay outside the tent.
The door is also on the side of the tent, unlike some one-person tents which have the door on the top or bottom forcing you to crawl in. Setting the tent up is also made easier thanks to the color coding on the poles.
If you want to keep the Quarter Dome SL 1 truly waterproof, it’s critical to get the footprint, or at the very least a heavy-duty tarp. The floor is made out of relatively durable material, but it won’t hold up on its own to a torrential downpour.
For some campers, the trapezoidal shape is also less desirable, but the Quarter Dome SL 1 still gives you a reasonable amount of space compared to some one-person tents and is still lightweight and easy to pack up.
Need something a little bigger? Check out our in-depth REI Quarter Dome SL 2 review
This is a great tent for couples who want a budget-friendly 2 person waterproof tent. The pole design allows for more headroom than many 2 person tents, and there are 2 doors so you don’t have to crawl over each other to get out.
Each door has a zip-cover which can be pulled back and stored in the nearby pocket when the weather is nice and to let in more air. There are also high and low ventilation points which helps prevent condensation from building up and keep air flowing.
However, the footprint isn’t included, which is really a necessary component to really make the tent waterproof. If you have a sturdy tarp, this may also do the job well enough in most weather conditions.
Once packed, the tent is a little bit longer than other 2 person tents, and it’s a bit heavier than some backpacking tents. Because of this, this tent may be better off for car campers or shorter weekend trips.
We love the MSR Mutha Hubba NX 3 for all the same reasons as the 2-person model mentioned above. This is a great tent for close friends, small families, or couples who want a little bit extra room.
There are two large vestibules on this tent as well, providing ample space to keep all of your wet belongings outside of the tent. It’s also a very compact 3-person tent, which makes it a great option for backpackers.
Like the Mutha Hubba NX 2, this model also had a few issues with weatherability, but these were addressed by the company and all the issues were resolved.
If you want a little bit more detailed information on this tent, you can also check out our in-depth MSR Mutha Hubba review.
This is another great ultralight backpacking tent for groups of friends or small families. Big Agnes delivers again for an excellent, durable yet lightweight tent which is made to withstand a bit of rough weather.
The steeper walls of the tent and height make it comfortable to sit up inside to ride out a storm. There are also two vestibules which make it easy to exit from either side of the tent so as to not crawl over each other at night.
Another great feature of the Sillwater is the large ceiling storage bin where you can put gear, electronic devices, or flashlights for easy access.
Both the floor and the rainfly are made with a 1500mm waterproof polyurethane coating; however, to keep the tent in good condition for a longer time, it’s recommended to also use a footprint (which will also help keep out water). But-you probably already guessed it-the footprint isn’t included and only comes as a separate purchase.
If you’re in a serious group of backpackers, investing in a tent like the NEMO Dagger 3 might be a good idea. It’s certainly not a cheap tent, but its durable design also means it will last for many trips as long as it’s properly cared for.
One of the best features of the NEMO Dagger 3 are the two very large vestibules. Having enough space to keep everyone’s wet things safe but outside of the tent can often be a challenge, but not when you have this tent!
Another cool thing to note is that the NEMO Dagger 3 comes with a dual-stage stuff sack, so the load can be split between two people for more evenly packed backpacks. It’s also light enough to be totally manageable for 2 people, but large enough that 3 people can still use it together.
The NEMO Dagger also has good ventilation thanks to the strut vents and no-see-um mesh sidewalls which keep air flowing even when it’s raining out.
How to choose the Best Waterproof Tent
There are a lot of factors to take into consideration when shopping for a waterproof tent. How often do you plan on using it? Car camping or backpacking? Solo travel or with a big family?
These are just a few of the questions you’ll need to ask before finalizing a purchase. To help you plan a bit, we’ve broken down the critical features of good waterproof tents to help you know what to look out for.
For backpackers, every ounce matters, so getting a lightweight tent is absolutely necessary. However, unfortunately is usually the heavier material which does a better job at keeping out the wind and water of a rainstorm.
Tent technology has come a long way, so there are lots of excellent quality lightweight tents which are also durable and strong. One thing to keep in mind when calculating weight is whether you’ll be including the tent footprint or a tarp. Having a footprint makes a big difference in terms of how effective a tent is against the wind, but it also adds a bit more weight.
A lot of tents now have cool extra features, which can add comfort and convenience to your camping trip. The packing is what isn’t so convenient in this, and generally speaking the more extras the tent has, the bigger and more difficult it is to pack and carry around.
If you’re planning on car camping, this isn’t so much of an issue, but for backpackers a tent with a simpler design may be more beneficial in the long run.
For backpacking trips, one of the biggest questions is how many people will be traveling together. Solo backpackers will definitely want a 1-person tent or perhaps a camping hammock depending on the terrain.
If you’re traveling as a couple, family, or group of friends, you’ll need to decide just how cozy you’re comfortable being. It’s also a good idea to look for a tent with a larger vestibule (preferably 2) so you can keep wet gear outside the tent which is often half the battle of keeping the inside dry.
Type of Waterproof Material
Over time, a lot of travelers develop a personal preference for tent material based on camping experience, season, and climate. There’s no absolute right answer to “the best” waterproof material for tents, but there are some obvious pros and cons to certain materials.
Polyurethane coating (PU) is one of the most budget friendly options for waterproofing tents. It’s relatively lightweight and lasts for a long time. It might get a bit brown when exposed to direct sun over time, but this won’t change the effectiveness of the product.
On the opposite end of the price spectrum from polyurethane, Gore-Tex is both breathable and waterproof, making it highly desirable but also very expensive. Unless you want military-grade tents, it’s not realistic to get a standard camping tent made entirely of Gore-Tex.
Gore-Tex is ideal for 4-season tents which need to stand up to harsh winter conditions as well as hot summer afternoons. Often tents are made with a combination of Gore-Tex and other materials to make them more affordable.
An important point to remember is that regardless of how well a material keeps out water, the tent is useless if the seams aren’t sealed. The three main methods of seam sealing are critically taped seams, fully taped seams, and welded seams.
To be classified as waterproof, a tent must have fully taped or welded seams. Especially for tent floors, welded seams are usually used to keep water from leaking in.
If you want to add a bit more protection to your tent, there are some extra sealant products like the Gear Aid Seam Grip Seam Sealer which can be used to repair a tent or strengthen the waterproof coating on seams.
With or Without a Footprint
After looking through our list of tents, it’s pretty obvious that not many models come with footprints included. This sad but true fact means that you’ll usually need to budget for also getting the footprint if you want to truly waterproof your tent.
Sometimes even the toughest tent bottoms can allow some water to seep in if it’s wet enough. A footprint provides an extra layer of protection, plus can make sleeping in the tent more comfortable.
Many travelers will substitute a footprint with a decent tarp. The benefits to using a tarp are that it is more budget-friendly and that it’s easier to replace. The downsides are that the tarp won’t match the exact size of the tent and usually tarps are heavier.
In terms of lifespan, a footprint will greatly increase the number of times you can use a tent without the waterproof coating wearing off. Having the footprint between the tent bottom and ground prevents the coating from being worn off so quickly from use.
The final decision about whether or not to get a footprint is up to you. However, when it’s a matter of possibly waking up wet feet because some water got in the base of your tent, it’s definitely recommended to include a footprint in your packing list.
Extra Waterproof Coating
No matter how good of a waterproof tent you have, time will inevitably take its toll. The waterproof coating will begin to wear off as the tent is bumped, you move around inside the tent, and from time in storage.
From the outset, there are numerous things you can do to help prolong the life of your tent or rescue it if you begin to have problems. There are several waterproof coating sprays and sealants which you can purchase either to repair your own tent or provide some extra security.
Especially if you’re planning on embarking on a long backpacking trip where you might not have easy access to camping stores where you can repair or replace tents, putting on an extra waterproof coat is like insurance for your trip.
REI has some excellent and budget-friendly products like the Nikwax TX. Direct Spray-On Water-Repellent Treatment. It’s an easy purchase to make with your tent, and one that can save you a lot of money and time in the long run.
Getting a new waterproof tent is great, but in order to keep it in good working condition, you need to make sure that you’re storing it properly. Think of a tent as your house-even if it’s only being used infrequently, during that time it is the roof over your head.
Packing a tent dry is one of the most important things to maintain a good waterproof coating. Having water held on the tent surface can eventually wear down the waterproof coating or cause mold to form.
Of course, sometimes it’s not possible to pack a tent dry when you’re on the trail. If you absolutely need to pack a tent when it’s wet, just make sure you fully dry it as soon as possible.
It’s also important to make sure that you don’t leave the tent exposed to direct sunlight for long; many tents are protected against visible light rays, but the UV light of the sun can damage the materials.
Final Thoughts on the Best Waterproof Tents
Camping is simultaneously one of the most rewarding and most challenging endeavors! Whether you’re hiking for miles with your tent on your back or simply taking the car out to the cabin for a weekend getaway, getting the right camping equipment is one of the most important steps.
Even if you’re not planning on camping in a wet climate, having a waterproof tent is always good insurance so you can take whatever comes. Weather can change in an instant, and having a great waterproof tent can make the difference between a soggy night and a cozy camping trip.
Whether you’re just a beginner camper or you’ve been on the trail for a long time, hopefully, you’ve found a tent that looks like it will work for you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions at the retail store or send questions to the manufacturer to make a fully informed purchase!
What are your thoughts? Did this best waterproof tents review help you? Anything I didn’t answer? Let me know in the comments below – thanks guys!
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Chris Lininger is a writer, photographer, and guide from California. He is an advocate for off-beat responsible travel and the preservation of the world’s wild places and spaces. Chris is also a founding member of Epic Backpacker Tours and leads expeditions to Pakistan throughout the year. He is currently riding out the pandemic in Bali. Follow his adventures on Instagram.