How are Tents Made? A Step-by-Step Guide

Discover the step-by-step process of creating tents, from fabric choices to worker safety. Learn how exactly how a tent is made so that you make the best purchase for your new tent.
How are tents made?
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Do you want to understand how tents are made? Are you an eco-friendly camper looking for a tent that won’t harm the environment or your health? Non toxic tents are becoming increasingly popular, as consumers and outdoor enthusiasts alike look to explore safer alternatives.

In this blog post we’ll discuss the manufacturing process of modern camping tents, including raw materials, design & cutting, waterproofing, UV protection and other chemicals treatments.

We’ll also cover the risks that some of these elements they may pose to both consumers and workers involved in their making – as well as how it can affect our planet’s delicate ecosystems.

Finally, we will review some cool brands making the best non toxic tent available today so you can make an informed decision when selecting one for yourself.

I. The Manufacturing Process of Tents

The manufacturing process of tents is a complex one, involving many steps and materials. From sourcing the raw materials, to design and cutting, to applying waterproofing treatments, and UV protection coatings, there are several components that go into making a tent durable enough for outdoor use.

Tent raw materials

Step 1 – Raw Materials

The first step in producing a tent is sourcing quality raw materials. Tent fabric must be strong yet lightweight so it can withstand harsh weather conditions while still being easy to carry on camping trips. 

Common fabrics used in tents include nylon, polyester, and cotton canvas and as well as breathable laminates like Gore-Tex® Pro Shell or eVent® fabrics. 

In addition to these main components, other elements such as zippers, poles, guy lines and stakes are also necessary for assembling the tent correctly.

Step 2 – Design & Cutting

The tent design and cutting process is where the magic happens and the blueprint for the tent is brought to life. Designers work with manufacturers to create a structure that is easy to assemble, functional, weather resistant and looks good.

They also take into consideration factors such as the type of tent, ground tent or rooftop tent, intended use, and the weather it will be used in, such as rain, snow or wind.

Once the design is complete, the raw materials are sourced and everything is sent to manufacturing facilities where the tent fabric is cut to exact specifications.

At the manufacturing plant, the fabric is placed on large tables and precision machines are used to cut the fabric into the correct shape.

This process is incredibly important as it sets the foundation for the rest of the manufacturing process because each piece must fit together perfectly when assembled later. Any mistakes can have a ripple effect on the rest of the production.

Waterproofing treatments

Step 3 – Waterproofing Treatments

After all of the pieces have been cut out according to their respective patterns, they’re then treated with waterproofing agents such as DWR (durable water repellent) or silicone based sprays.

Waterproofing is one of the most common chemical treatments used on fabrics today. It helps keep moisture out by creating a barrier between the material, keeps the interior of the shelter dry and prevents condensation while still allowing air flow through small pores in the fabric itself. 

However, some of the chemicals used in waterproofing products can be dangerous because they contain per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a type of fluorocarbon.

PFAS, also known as ‘forever chemicals’, have been linked to health problems such as cancer, hormone disruption, and developmental problems. PFAS can also be dangerous to the environment by contaminating ground water and harming wildlife when they run off from the production facility.

The good news is that there are safer alternatives available in water-based, PFAS free waterproofing treatments, and fabrics made from inherently waterproof materials, like Gore-Tex or eVent, which are designed to be breathable and waterproof without the need for additional treatments.

The brands below make fluorocarbon-free waterproofing treatments that are for tents and outdoor gear. Please be aware that not all of their products may be PFAS free, so double check the labels before buying.

    1. OrganoTex®
    2. Nikwax
    3. Grangers
    4. Gear Aid
    5. McNett
    6. Stormsure
    7. Gear Aid
    8. Gear Wash
    9. Gear Aid
    10. Greenland Wax
    11. Bees Wax

Step 4 – UV Protection

Finally, once everything has been properly sealed against moisture, it’s time for protection against UV sun rays which can cause discoloration over time if left unchecked. 

UV protection is another popular chemical treatment that is applied to tent fabrics to help prevent fading caused by exposure to sunlight. UV protection works by blocking out ultraviolet rays. 

Companies often apply special coatings such as titanium dioxide nanoparticles onto their fabrics which act like sunscreen for your gear – blocking out damaging sunlight before it ever reaches you.

Step 5 – Other chemical treatments and coatings

After the tent has been cut, constructed and prepared for water and sun, it is sometimes treated with various other chemicals, like fire retardants, dyes,  glues and even formaldehyde.

Unlike waterproofing and UV treatments, the additives used at this stage are largely superficial and aren’t necessary to have a high-quality tent.

Thus, because of the significant health and environmental risks these chemicals pose, we recommend buying non-toxic tents made without some or all of these chemicals. 

Chemical treatments and coatings used in tent manufacturing also contribute to air pollution from volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These VOCs not only harm the environment but can also cause respiratory issues for people living near production facilities. Additionally, these chemicals can leach into soil or water sources when disposed of improperly.

Non Toxic Tent Brands

Fortunately, there are now several brands offering tents made without hazardous chemicals. While these brands may not be 100% free of all toxic chemicals, they reduce their environmental impact significantly while still providing durable protection against weather elements like wind and rain.

Brands who make non toxic tents without fluorocarbons, formaldehyde, fire retardants and toxic dyes: 

Big Agnes Tents

Big Agnes produces sustainable tents made from recycled materials, like recycled plastic bottles. The company also uses water repellent coatings on its fabrics that are free of per-fluorinated compounds (PFCs).

REI Co-Op Tents

REI Co-op has recently launched a line of eco friendly tents called “Camp Dome”. These tents feature a breathable membrane fabric made from recycled plastic bottles that helps keep moisture out while still allowing air flow inside the tent.

The poles used in these tents are constructed from aluminum alloy sourced from post consumer waste streams and they come with an energy efficient LED light system powered by solar panels or USB power banks.

Nemo Tents

Finally, NEMO Equipment Inc offers premium camping equipment designed to be both durable and environmentally conscious at the same time.

All fabrics used in NEMO’s products meet bluesign® standards, meaning they contain no hazardous chemicals and have been tested for worker safety throughout production process as well as environmental impact before being released into marketplaces around the world.

Another great option is Terra Nova Equipment Ltd., which manufactures high quality camping gear using sustainable practices. Their products use only fluorocarbon-free waterproofing treatments and all seams are sealed with solvent-free polyurethane tape instead of toxic glues or sealants.

They also use organic cotton fabric for some of their tent models as an alternative to synthetic materials like nylon or polyester.

In addition to using safer materials, some manufacturers have taken steps to reduce their carbon footprint by investing in renewable energy sources such as solar power or wind turbines at their production facilities.

This helps offset emissions created during the manufacturing process while helping promote sustainability initiatives within the industry overall.

Key Lesson: Modern tents are made from a different raw materials and chemicals. While these offer benefits like waterproofing agents and UV protection, they can also pose health risks. For this reason, it’s important to know exactly how your tent is made to determine if it is safe and to also consider investing in a non toxic tent.


II. Tent Fabrics

Fabrics are a major factor in the overall quality and performance of a tent. The most common tent fabric materials include nylon, polyester, cotton canvas, and silicone-coated nylon. Each material has its own unique advantages and disadvantages that should be considered when choosing a tent.

Camping tents


Nylon is lightweight yet strong and durable making it an ideal choice for camping tents. It’s also waterproof and can handle wet weather conditions well. However, it does not provide much insulation from cold temperatures or UV protection from the sun.

Nylon is also susceptible to UV damage over time which can cause tears or rips in the fabric if exposed too long without proper protection from sunblock treatments or coatings.


Health Risks:

Environmental Impact:

Camping tents


Polyester is another popular option for camping tents due to its durability and strength while still being lightweight like nylon. Synthetic tents are made from polyester because it is strong, and provides superior resistance against UV rays than nylon.

However, like nylon, polyester does not offer the same insulation benefits as nylon or cotton canvas, so campers should take this into consideration during the winter. It’s best to choose a cold weather tent that’s specifically designed for cold temperatures.


    • Durability
    • Hydrophobic water resistance
    • UV resistance
    • Lightweight
    • Low maintenance
    • Cost-effective

Health Risks:

Environmental Impact:

    • Micro-plastic pollution
    • Polyester is a petroleum based product that contributes to oil extraction and fossil fuel pollution
    • Polyester is non-biodegradable meaning it will persist in landfills for hundreds of years

Cotton canvas

Cotton canvas is heavier than both nylon and polyester but provides superior warmth retention properties due to its breathability. This allows air flow, prevents condensation and helps keep you warm at night and during cooler temperatures.

Cotton canvas also has excellent water repellency qualities making it resistant against rain showers however; heavy rains may eventually penetrate through after prolonged exposure since there isn’t any waterproof coating applied on these types of fabrics like there would be with coated nylons .


    • Biodegradable natural material made from cotton or hemp
    • Natural insulation to regulate temperature inside the tent
    • Breathable
    • Sustainable, renewable resource

Health Risks

    • Allergic reaction to natural fibers
    • Dust mite allergies.
    • Fungal growth
    • Chemical exposure to pesticides and fertilizers
    • VOC Off-gassing

Environmental Impact

    • Water Use
    • Soil degradation and deforestation
Key Lesson: Tents are made from materials like nylon, polyester, and cotton canvas. Each has its own benefits, health risks and environmental impact.

III. Consumer Safety

Many tents on the market today contain chemicals and coatings that can be dangerous to both consumers and the workers who make them. 

Traditional fabrics used in tents often contain flame retardants, waterproofing agents, UV inhibitors, fungicides and other chemical treatments that may be hazardous to human health. These chemicals have been linked to cancer, reproductive issues, endocrine disruption and neurological problems in humans. 

Consumers looking for eco-friendly alternatives should look for non-toxic tent materials such as organic cotton or hemp canvas, made without chemical treatments or coatings, or as little as possible. 

Additionally they should seek out companies that use fair labor practices when producing their products so they know their purchase is helping protect worker safety as well as consumer safety.

When shopping for a tent it’s important to read labels carefully so you know what type of fabric your tent is made from and if there are any additional chemical treatments applied before purchasing it. 

It’s also important to remember that just because something says “eco-friendly” doesn’t necessarily mean its completely safe – always do your research first.

IV. Worker Safety

In addition to potential health risks for consumers using these products, workers making tents may also be exposed to harmful substances during production or manufacturing processes.

The production of tents is a labor-intensive process that involves multiple steps and materials. The safety of workers in these facilities should be a top priority for any tent manufacturer, as they are exposed to potentially hazardous chemicals during the manufacturing process.

One of the most common hazards in tent factories is exposure to chemical treatments and coatings used on fabrics. These chemicals can cause skin irritation, respiratory problems, and even cancer if not handled properly. 

To protect workers from these dangers, manufacturers must provide proper ventilation systems and protective clothing such as gloves, masks, and goggles when handling these substances. Additionally, employers should ensure that all employees have been trained on how to safely handle chemicals before allowing them to work with them.

Another potential hazard in tent factories is noise pollution caused by machinery used during the manufacturing process. This can lead to hearing loss over time if not addressed properly. 

To reduce this risk, employers should provide their employees with ear protection such as earplugs or headphones while working near loud machinery or other sources of noise pollution.

Finally, it is important for employers to take measures to prevent accidents in the workplace due to unsafe conditions or improper use of equipment.

This can be done by providing regular safety training sessions for their employees and ensuring that all necessary safety precautions are taken at all times while working with heavy machinery or hazardous materials like chemical treatments and coatings used on fabrics. 

Additionally, employers should create an environment where workers feel comfortable speaking up about any concerns they may have regarding worker safety without fear of retribution from management or coworkers.

It is essential to ensure that workers in the production of non-toxic tents are safe and protected, as their well-being is paramount. Now let’s look at how these tents affect the environment.

Key Lesson: Tent manufacturers must take steps to protect their workers from chemical treatments, noise pollution, and accidents by providing proper ventilation systems, protective clothing, ear protection and regular safety training.

V. Environmental Impact

Traditional tent manufacturing involves chemical treatments and coatings that can be harmful to consumers, workers and the environment.

For this reason and with the rise of eco-friendly products, many consumers are making the choice to buy a non toxic tent. 

Chemical treatments and coatings

Fabrics used in traditional tents often contain chemicals such as formaldehyde or flame retardants which can have negative health effects on those who come into contact with them. 

Additionally, these chemicals can leach into soil or water sources when disposed of improperly.

Chemical treatments and coatings used in tent manufacturing also contribute to air pollution from volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These VOCs not only harm the environment but can also cause respiratory issues for people living near production facilities.

Key Lesson: Eco-friendly tents are made with non-toxic materials and sustainable practices, such as recycled fabrics, fluorocarbon-free waterproofing treatments, organic cotton fabric, breathable membrane fabric from recycled plastic bottles and aluminum alloy sourced from post consumer waste streams.


Why do tents have Prop 65 warning?

Tents have Prop 65 warnings because they contain chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm. These chemicals include lead and phthalates which are used in tent fabric, poles, zippers and other components. In addition, tents may also contain flame retardants that can emit toxic fumes when heated. By including a warning label on tents sold in California, consumers are made aware of the potential risks associated with using these products.


In conclusion, non toxic tents are an important consideration for anyone looking to purchase a tent. They offer many advantages in terms of consumer safety, worker safety and environmental impact. While there may be some drawbacks such as higher costs or limited availability, the benefits far outweigh any potential negatives. Non toxic tents provide a safe and sustainable option for outdoor enthusiasts who want to enjoy their camping experience without worrying about exposure to potentially harmful chemicals or toxins.

Are you looking for sustainable and eco-friendly tents that won’t harm the environment? Look no further than Fair Trade Finder. Our blog content will provide information on how to identify non toxic tents, as well as tips and advice on where to buy them at an affordable price. Join us in our mission of creating a more equitable world through fair trade products!

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