What Are Waterproof Tents Made Of? (Solved)

Like most campers and hikers, you’ll want to know what materials waterproof tents are made of before making a purchase.

It’s important to understand the difference between weatherproof and waterproof tents since not all materials are created equal!

This post looks at the different materials used in waterproof tents so you can make an informed decision when purchasing your next shelter:

Here’s The Answer To What Are Waterproof Tents:

Waterproof tents are usually nylon and polyester coated with a waterproofing agent. Usually, a tent is made waterproof with a silicon-based or PU coating that seals a tent’s pores. Yet, Dyneema (also known as Cuban fiber) tents have become popular because of their waterproof fabric.

What Material Types Are Used For The Outer And Inner Of A Waterproof Tent?

The inner and outer materials used on a tent can vary, but in most instances, a tent’s inner and outer layer is made of the same materials.

Below we have discussed the tent fabrics that are most commonly used for waterproof tents so that you know what type of fabric to expect when you begin your tent hunt for your next big adventure or cozy weekend getaway.


Nylon is one of the most common man-made tent fabrics worldwide. This fabric has much in common with polyester, which is why some people get confused between the two.

Even though nylon is more lightweight than polyester waterproof tents, this fabric is renowned for being more durable and less prone to ripping and tearing. Unfortunately, although nylon is used for waterproof tents, this fabric is not waterproof on its own.

Nylon becomes waterproof when a silicone waterproofing agent is put on it, making it stronger and last longer than a few other competing waterproof tent types.


Out of all the tent fabrics available, polyester is the most common, and it is also the most affordable, which is why many campers choose a waterproof polyester tent.

Although polyester is not as lightweight as nylon tents, polyester tents are more lightweight than canvas and poly-cotton tents.

Polyester tents are not waterproof on their own and provide minimal insulation. These tents can also be uncomfortable in the summer because polyester is not good at blocking the heat.

Polyester waterproof tents are also more prone to tearing and breaking than other ones. Yet, you should know that they are still reasonably durable, but their strength largely varies based on the brand.

Curiously, it is because polyester cannot absorb, shrink, or expand during heavy rain that it is not waterproof on its own. A polyester tent must have a polyurethane (PU) coating applied to become waterproof.

This coating will make a polyester tent significantly more water-resistant, but you will likely need to keep applying a PU coating because it deteriorates when exposed to sunlight often.


Of all the tent fabrics available on the market, Dyneema waterproof tents are likely the most advanced. These tents are ultra-lightweight and have an incredibly high tensile strength.

They are also the only tents that are wholly waterproof without needing a silicone or PU coating.

This is because the Dyneema fabric is a very high-performance composite non-woven material made from a thin sheet of polyethylene that is laminated between two sheets of polyester. Usually, Dyneema fibers are up to 15 times stronger than steel by weight which is why many people are investing in these costly waterproof tents.

Are Waterproof Tents Made With Breathable Materials?

Whether or not a waterproof tent is breathable will primarily depend on the fabric it has been made of.

For example, nylon and polyester waterproof tents are not breathable and have a very low insulation rating, which is why some are not recommended for winter camping. Polyester tents are also prone to condensation, making camping uncomfortable depending on weather conditions.

Unlike polyester and nylon, Dyneema fabric tents are believed to be breathable, so they are often the first choice for campers who want to camp year-round.

Are Any Of The Materials Used Toxic?

Mostly, waterproof tents are not directly toxic to human beings. However, studies have demonstrated that nylon and polyester could increase the likelihood of a person developing various cancer types.

There is not much evidence stating that humans who camp in nylon or polyester tents are more likely to become ill or develop a disease.

It’s been proven that Dyneema waterproof tents are not toxic to aquatic life or humans. This is another reason why these tents are becoming popular.

What Material Is Used For The Poles?

Usually, waterproof tents feature aluminum or fiberglass poles, with the cheaper waterproof tent options being equipped with fiberglass poles.

Fiberglass tent poles are often long-lasting and durable if proper care is given to ensure they don’t break. Yet, they have been less flexible than other tent pole types, which means they are more likely to snap in rough and splinter in cold weather.

Additionally, these tent poles don’t conduct electricity, meaning you’re likely safe during a storm. Moreover, the key downside is that they are heavy and bulky, making them unsuitable for those seeking a lightweight waterproof tent.

In contrast, aluminum waterproof tent poles are lightweight and more flexible than fiberglass tent poles. This means aluminum tent poles will bend during rough or cold weather instead of snapping or breaking.

However, the biggest downside to aluminum poles is that they corrode, especially if you don’t dry them or store them in a dry environment after use.

What Material Is Used For The Ground Sheet Of A Waterproof Tent?

Usually, a ground sheet or tent footprint is cut to size according to your waterproof tent type and is either netted or meshed.

A ground sheet for waterproof tents, like other tent types, is commonly made from high-density polyethylene.

It might not seem like it, but a ground sheet is incredibly important and an essential tent item because it is placed under your tent to keep you dry and your tent free of dirt. It also protects the bottom of your tent from wear and tear.

How Long Is A Waterproof Tent Expected To Last?

How long a waterproof tent lasts depends on the fabric used.

On average, a nylon waterproof tent will last up to 10 years if used only a few times a year and properly cared for and maintained.

On the other hand, a polyester waterproof tent usually lasts a few years less than nylon waterproof tents. Curiously Dyneema waterproof tents are believed to be one of the most durable tent types, which is why they last longer than nylon and polyester tents on average.

This is likely because it’s believed that Dyneema waterproof tents can withstand intense weather conditions and UV rays better.

Can You Make Any Tent Waterproof?

It is possible to make any tent waterproof, but how waterproof a tent is will depend on the starting fabric and the products you choose.

The fabric will determine how long your tent stays waterproof after you have made it waterproof.

For example, if you have a nylon or polyester tent, you can make it waterproof if its waterproofing has deteriorated. All you would need to do is add a silicone or PU coating to your tent’s fabric, seems, and rainfly.

Yet, the waterproofing process is more complicated if you have a canvas or poly-cotton tent. This is because you usually have to waterproof these tents by first hosing them with water so that the cotton fibers swell and dry before placing a waterproof coating.


How To Waterproof Your Tent

What Is Dyneema, And Is It Hazardous?

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