Waterproof Tents: The Best Waterproof Tents Made Without Harmful Flame Retardants [2022]

A fun camping trip can quickly turn into a nightmare if it begins to rain and your tent starts to leak. This is why it’s important to buy a tent with a waterproof rating of at least 1,000mm.
North Face Assault Waterproof Tent

Tents are an essential part of camping trips. They provide shelter, keep you warm, dry and cozy, in addition to storing your equipment and food. However, not all tents are created equal. Some tents are better suited than others for extreme weather or terrain than others.

This article will discuss the benefits of investing in a waterproof tent to make sure your camping trip goes smoothly, even if you run into rain, snow or heavy wind.

Why You Should Buy a Waterproof Tent

A fun camping trip can quickly turn into a nightmare if it begins to rain and your tent starts to leak. If you’re planning on camping outdoors in bad weather, it’s important to choose the best waterproof camping tent to keep you and your gear dry.

What is Important to Consider When Buying a Waterproof Tent?

Regardless of what type of camping or outdoor activities you do, there are some features that all tents should have. This includes a rain fly (the part of the tent that covers the top and protects against rain), doors with zippers so they can be closed and opened easily, and a bathtub shaped floor that can handle moisture.

The best waterproof tent will stay completely dry inside and create a sealed environment, impervious to leaks and moisture. This is the key difference between a waterproof and water resistant tent. There are additional features to consider when buying a waterproof tent. These include the type of fabric, the shape, and waterproof rating.

Type of fabric

Heavy duty waterproof tents are made with canvas, nylon or polyester and coated with a protective finish that prevents water absorption. Water will slide off without soaking or leaking into the tent’s interior.

Some gear companies like The North Face have created their own proprietary waterproof fabric technology, which we’ll also include in our list.

Shape

Waterproof tents usually have a dome tent, geodesic or slanted structural design so that water and moisture does not collect on top.

Waterproof Rating

A tent’s level of waterproof protection is indicated by its rating on a scale of 1,000mm to 10,000mm. The higher the rating, the more waterproof protection.

Non Toxic Tents

Our curated list of waterproof tents are made without flame retardant chemicals. Scientific research has linked exposure to flame retardants to liver and kidney cancers, respiratory failure and reproductive problems.

The Best Waterproof Tents Without Flame Retardants

Best for Heavy Rain Protection: Mountain Hardwear Trango 4

Mountain Hardwear Trango 4 Waterproof Tent

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Originally released in the mid 1980s, the Trango 4 is the most up-to-date version of Mountain Hardwear’s iconic 3 season tent. It’s a spacious 4 person tent with one of the highest waterproof ratings on the market. The construction has been upgraded with new poles to withstand extreme weather and unexpected conditions. 

With its durable construction and weatherproof design, the Trango 4 can stand up to harsh conditions.  A bonus feature is that the Trango 4 is one of the easiest models to pitch. So whether you’re trekking the Himalayas or camping in your backyard, the Trango 4 has you covered.

Who is the Trango 4 best for?
The Mountain Hardwear Trango 4 is the perfect waterproof tent for families, basecamps, or mountaineering expeditions. It has a huge amount of interior space and the vestibule was recently made even bigger, making it perfect for storing large amounts of gear. Even in the worst weather, this tent is exceptionally sturdy and weather resistant.

Who is the Trango 4 NOT good for?
Backpackers or hikers covering long distances. At 11 pounds, this tent is too heavy to transport very far by foot. It also doesn’t have the best ventilation. With the rainfly on, you may encounter some condensation on the tent walls.

See this YouTube review of the Trango 4:

FEATURES

Design: Freestanding

Rated: Rainfly 2,500mm / Floor 10,000mm waterproof

Capacity: 4 Person

Seasons: 4

Doors: 2

Vestibules: 2

Poles: 5

Peak Height: 50 inches

Floor Dimensions: 96 x 94 inches

Vestibule Area: 16 square feet

Minimum Trail Weight: 11 pounds, 7.5 ounces

Packed Size: 9 x 28 inches

Material: Nylon taffeta

PROS

Watertight shelter is created with a fully taped fly, taped seams, welded corners and welded guy clip anchors

Direct connections at each guyout point creates extra stability between the tent body, frame and rainfly

DAC Featherlite® aluminum poles are coated using technology that reduces dangerous chemicals

Bathtub-style nylon floor keeps the foundation dry

Internal tension shelves

Mesh storage pockets

Removable vestibule storage area

Internal guylines for extra stability

CONS

Heavy weight makes this tent difficult for backpacking or hiking

Inadequate ventilation when the doors are closed

Best for Wind Resistance: Big Agnes Battle Mountain 3

Big Agnes Battle Mountain Waterproof Tent, 4-Season Tent

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The Big Agnes Battle Mountain is the ultimate tent for those who want to take their mountain climbing experience to the next level. With its durable design and high-quality materials, this tent is built to withstand harsh weather conditions and rugged terrain. Plus, it’s easy to set up and take down, so you can spend more time enjoying the view and less time fiddling with your shelter. Whether you’re camping in the mountains or the wilderness, the Battle Mountain is sure to keep you safe and protected from the elements.

Even though the tent is made to technically fit 4 people, we don’t recommend more than 2 people for this tent. Considering that you will likely be using it in snowy or rainy weather, you need to dedicate additional space for all the gear you’ll have.

Who is the Battle Mountain best for?
The tent is perfect for trekkers and mountain climbers camping along rocky, uneven surfaces at high elevations in snowy and windy weather. Designed based on input from mountaineering expert Chhiring Dorje Sherpa who has climbed Mount Everest 16 times, the Battle Mountain was created by people who live and breathe mountaineering adventure. The tent boasts upper and lower internal guy lines that ensure that you can tether the tent down for maximum stability, without risk of wind blowing the shelter down. The tent is also equipped with a vestibule that provides extra storage space and a built-in rainfly to keep you dry and comfortable. 

Who is the Battle Mount NOT good for?
Campers over 6 feet in height. The Battle Mountain provide a mere 44 inches of peak height, which is a little less than 4 feet tall. This is because the tent is optimized for extreme wind, so it’s designed to lay low to the ground. However, if you’re 6 foot or taller, this tent may feel cramped.

Check out the Big Agnes YouTube explainer of the Battle Mountain 3:

FEATURES

Design: Freestanding

Rated 1200mm waterproof

Capacity: 3 Person

Seasons: 4

Doors: 2

Vestibules: 2

Poles: 3

Peak Height: 44 inches

Floor Dimensions: 86 x 88 inches

Vestibule Area: 13 + 6 square feet

Minimum Trail Weight: 7 pounds, 15 ounces

Packed Size: 22 x 8 inches

Material: Dominico undyed ripstop polyester / nylon ripstop

PROS

All seams are waterproof and taped with PVC-, and VOC-free polyurethane tape

Dominico® ripstop polyester fabric provides exceptional rip resistance in heavy storms and UV resistance in hot weather

Windows with mesh ventilation provide superior airflow and minimal condensation

Fully close-able fly vents

DAC NSL aluminum tent poles

Color-coded hub pole design for easy setup

Vestibule zippers with storm flaps

High/low internal guylines

Gear loft included

CONS

Short peak height

Best Ventilation in a Waterproof Tent: The North Face Assault 3 FUTURELIGHT

North Face Assault Waterproof Tent

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The Assault 3 Futurelight waterproof camping tent is designed for high altitudes and severe weather. The tent is constructed to create an airtight space, with a breathable 3-layer fabric to keep airflow moving inside the structure.

The North Face FUTURELIGHT fabric is touted as the most advanced breathable waterproof technology in the world. The company has an entire line of FUTURELIGHT waterproof gear, including the Assault 3 waterproof tent. This durable, seam-sealed 3-season tent offers a high level of breathability and protection against rain, snow and wind. It is The North Face’s answer to Gore Tex, and an attempt to set themselves apart in the crowded world of waterproof textiles and technology.

Who is the Assault 3 best for?
This tent is perfect for campers who prioritize good ventilation inside their waterproof tent. FUTURELIGHT was specifically created to improved breathability and prevent yucky condensation and humidity that can occur in airtight spaces. Plus, there’s no rain fly to add to moisture buildup inside the tent. Read this interesting review in Gear Junkie from a skier that tested it over a 3 day backcountry expedition in Aspen, Colorado.

Who is the Assault 3 NOT good for?
This tent has the shortest peak height, 42 inches. Tall campers beware. It also may not be as reliably waterproof as a shelter with a rain fly, especially in periods of extended rain showers.

Check out the Lat44outdoor YouTube Review:

FEATURES

Design: Freestanding

1500 mm shell / 3000 mm floor waterproof rating

Capacity: 3 Person

Seasons: 4

Doors: 1

Vestibules: 1

Poles: 4

Peak Height: 43 inches

Floor Dimensions: 60 x 90 inches

Vestibule Area: 14.5 square feet

Minimum Trail Weight: 6 pounds, 5 ounces

Packed Size: 8 x 23 inches

Material: Nylon

PROS

Waterproof, breathable laminate, 3-layer nylon constructed from recycled materials

Designed to decrease condensation accumulation in humid environments

X-tent structure for easy setup

Backdoor escape hatch

Detachable vestibule

Two top vents

DAC Featherlite NSL tent poles

CONS

1 door

Does not have rainfly

Very short peak height compared to other waterproof tents

Best Lightweight Waterproof Tent: REI Co-Op Arete ASL 2

REI Co-op Arete Waterproof Tent

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The Arete ASL 2 is one of the most lightweight waterproof tents and is one of the best deal on the market. Even though it doesn’t perform as well as the other waterproof tents on our list at keeping out heavy wind, rain, and snow, the Arete ASL 2 provides enough weather protection for most people’s camping needs at a decent weight.

Who is the REI Arete ASL 2 best for?
The REI Arete ASL is the perfect tent for beginner campers because it’s lightweight, inexpensive and easy to set up. It’s also a double wall tent strong enough to handle light to moderate weather, making it a good choice for those who want to go fast and light. The ASL also has an interior fabric that handles condensation well, which keeps the interior of the tent well-ventilated and dry.

Who is REI Arete ASL 2 NOT good for?
This tent isn’t the best choice for those who want storm protection in the most extreme weather. It doesn’t fare as well in moderate-to-strong winds or heavy rain.

FEATURES

Design: Freestanding

Capacity: 2 Person

Seasons: 4

Doors: 1

Vestibules: 1

Poles: 4

Peak Height: 43 inches

Floor Dimensions: 88 x 57 inches

Vestibule Area: 8.7 square feet

Minimum Trail Weight: 5 pounds, 10 ounces

Packed Size: 6 x 6 x 20 inches

Material: Nylon taffeta floor / Nylon ripstop rainfly

PROS

Eco-friendly solution-dyed mesh that meets bluesign criteria to reduce harmful chemicals

4-pole design increases structural stability and interior space

No-wick welded construction prevents moisture from leaking through vulnerable areas

Larger than average interior space for the weight

Adjustable vents creates cross-flow air circulation

Color-coded, Dead End pole sleeves

Fully close-able inner tent

Corner and roof storage compartments

Reflective guylines included

CONS

Small vestibule

1 door

Footprint not included

Waterproof tent FAQs

      1. What are the best waterproof tent fabrics?

Waterproof tent fabric is usually made from either ripstop nylon or polyester because these fabrics are inherently durable and water-resistant. Ripstop fabrics are ready to use right out of the box and do not require applying waterproof coating the first time you use them.

  • RIPSTOP NYLON OR POLYESTER fabric is constructed with thread woven together to form a series of squares that are too small for water droplets to pass through. As a result, ripstop fabrics are much more durable and long-lasting than normal fabrics.
  • CANVAS tents also provide great waterproof protection and typically have better air quality than nylon and polyester. However, you will need to apply waterproofing spray to the canvas tent because exposing it to rain. Otherwise the fabric will start to mildew when it becomes wet.
  • DENIER measures the thickness of a fabric’s threads. It is represented as a number such as 40D Nylon or 100D Polyester. The higher the number, the stronger the fabric thread. 

2. What chemicals are used in a waterproof tent?

In nylon and polyester tents, the waterproof coating is usually made of silicon or polyurethane. If the tent is made of canvas or poly-cotton, the coating is usually made of wax.

3. What is silicone waterproof coating?

A silicone waterproof coating is applied to nylon or polyester fabric to make it stronger, silicon-reinforced, waterproof, and tear-resistant. Silicone permeates and blends into the fabric to create a new reinforced layer, so that it repels water, dries rapidly, and is simple to shake off excess.

Silicone coating provides very effective waterproof protection. However it can block the fabric’s breathability and result in a more slippery surface.

4. What is polyurethane (PU) waterproof coating?

A Polyurethane (PU) coating is applied to polyester and nylon fabric as a secondary protective layer that adheres to the surface of the tent fabric. Polyurethane does not permeate the fabric, but sits on top to create a waterproof barrier.

Polyurethane is not as strong and reinforced as silicone, but it is more affordable, and has greater breathability. Polyurethane is also more sensitive to UV exposure and degrades more rapidly than silicone.

5. What is the best shape for a waterproof tent?

Dome tent, tunnel tent and traditional A-frame shapes are the best waterproof tent shapes because they ensure that the water quickly falls from the tent to prevent moisture from collecting on top and eventually leaking inside the tent.

Cabin tents are the worst shape for rain. The flat surface of these tents allows rain to gather and build pressure on the tent ceiling, resulting in leakage.

6. What is the best waterproof tent floor?

The best waterproof tents will have a bathtub shaped tent floor. This means that the waterproof fabric of the tent floor will extend upward 2 inches – 10 inches, similar to the sides of a bathtub. However, instead of keeping water in, your bathtub shaped tent floor will keep water and wind out of your tent.

7. Should you have a partial or full coverage rain fly for your waterproof tent?

You should have a full-coverage rain fly for heavy rain and wind over an extended period of time. This will create a sealed environment and prevent leaks. Partial rain flys are only good for light rain and don’t serve to completely prevent leaks. 

8. How long does a tent stay waterproof?

Depending on your use, tents can start to lose their waterproof coating within the first year. The more you use a tent, the less waterproofing it will have over time. This happens from exposure to dirt, rain, sun uv rays and strong wind. These natural elements can break down the water-repellent coating on the tent walls and fabric with repeated use.

As the water repellency decreases, water will soak into the tent fabric instead of running off.

9. How often should you “reproof” a tent?

It is recommended to periodically “reproof” the waterproof coating of the tent fabric using waterproofing spray to help extend the water repellency of your tent. As a general guideline, you should waterproof your tent once a year. If you camp more than 4 weeks per year, you should reproof 2 – 3 times per year.

You may alternatively wait until the tent begins to leak before reproofing it, but this is not recommended.

10. What are the best waterproofing sprays without hydrocarbons, fluorocarbons or VOCs?

Waterproofing sprays are an important tool in maintaining your tent. However, these sprays can be toxic. It’s important to make sure you use a water-based, non aerosol, odorless spray that does not contain toxic fluorocarbons or VOCs.

Nikwax TX.DirectWaterproofing spray solution that provides long-lasting water repellency without compromising the tent fabric‘s inherent wicking capabilities. Nikwax protects against moisture while still allowing the fabric to breathe.

Grangers Performance Repel PlusWaterproofing spray formula made with Bluesign® approved non toxic ingredients to provide superior water repellency and maximum breathability.

11. How are tents rated waterproof?

Waterproof tent ratings are calculated by measuring the amount of water that can stand on fabric before it permeates the surface. Waterproof tents are usually constructed from water-resistant materials like polyester or nylon, and also include a rainfly for maximum protection.

In addition, waterproof tents have fully sealed seams, protected vents and bathtub shaped floors to ensure that the elements cannot sneak inside your watertight environment.

These waterproof tents are also made without flame retardant chemicals. Flame retardants can cause major health problems, including liver and kidney cancers, respiratory failure and reproductive problems.

12. What is the highest waterproof rating for tents?

Waterproof ratings for tents are typically measured in millimeters and range from 1,000mm (the lowest level designated waterproof) to 10,000mm. The higher the grade, the stronger the tent waterproof protection. Ratings are calculated using a hydrostatic head test. However, waterproof ratings do not include the impact of wind-driven rain.

13. What is the Hydrostatic Head (HH) waterproof rating?

Hydrostatic Head (HH) is a method for assessing the waterproofness of a material. The final measurement in millimeters corresponds to the height of a column of water that would need to stand on the material before the water could permeate the fabric. Other factors such as wind resistance and the shape of the tent also impacts the fabric’s waterproofness.

14. How waterproof is a >1,000mm hydrostatic head?

HH ratings of 1000mm and less means that the fabric is water resistant, but not waterproof. Tents with this rating can withstand light rain for a short period of time, but will start to leak with prolonged exposure.

15. How waterproof is a 1,000mm to 1500mm hydrostatic head?

HH ratings of 1000mm to 1500mm certifies that the fabric is waterproof and can handle light to moderate rain without moisture penetration.

16. How waterproof is a 1,500mm to 10,000mm hydrostatic head?

HH ratings of 1,500mm to 10,000mm means that the waterproof tent material is tested to withstand moderate to heavy rain without leaking.

17. How do you keep your waterproof tent dry in the rain?

In addition to selecting a high quality waterproof tent, there are also additional steps you can take to keep your tent as dry as possible.

  • Your tent body should be constructed with waterproof rated materials such as polyester, nylon or canvas
  • A wide, waterproof ground tarp or footprint should be placed below as a barrier to prevent moisture from the ground from seeping inside.
  • You should have a full coverage waterproof rain fly covering the tent. This helps to create a completely watertight environment.
  • Pitch the tent at the highest point of a slope or hill, so that water can drain away.
  • If there are heavy winds, place your tent in the same direction that the wind is blowing.

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