Best Tent for Heavy Rain: Ultimate Buyer’s Guide [2020]

There is nothing worse than waking up with wet feet, soggy socks and a soaked sleeping bag. This is something we have all experienced when camping. However, it doesn’t have to be this way. That is why we are determined to help you find the best tent for heavy rain. 

 We know how frustrating it is when your tent leaks so we have scoured the market to find the best tent for heavy rain. We have done this by looking at the specific features which affect a tents waterproof rating. The waterproof rating is determined by the Hydrostatic Head (HH) test. This tells you how many millimetres of rain your tent can withstand before it begins to leak. A tent can have a HH rating of anywhere between 200mm – 10,000mm. However, when looking for the best tent for heavy rain a HH between 3,000mm-5,000mm will be enough to withstand even the heaviest downpours.

So let’s dive in!

Table of Contents

What Should You Be Looking For When Buying the Best Tent For Heavy Rain

 This measurement tells you how waterproof the tent is. It is measured in millimetres and the higher this number the more rain the tent can withstand. A tent is classed as waterproof if it has a HH of 1,500mm or more. To be completely honest, this is nowhere near enough for staying dry in a tent; even in light rain. Instead, you should be looking at a HH of 3,000mm-5,000mm.

This is how well air passes through the tent. This may not seem important but when it is raining it is unlikely you will be able to leave doors and windows open. A good tent will offer excellent ventilation even when it is sealed shut. This is an important consideration because a well-ventilated tent will prevent condensation from building up inside the tent (therefore keeping you dry).

Most tents are manufactured using Nylon or Polyester. The latter of these is treated with polyurethane to make sure they are waterproof. Tents can also be made using cotton, poly-cotton and PVC-Coated Canvas. These all have natural waterproof qualities but are extremely heavy (especially when wet) and therefore are not popular.

 Tent poles are typically made of steel or carbon-fibre. Carbon-Fibre is great because it is ultra-lightweight and easy to pack/store. Steel is better in large tents because the stiffness adds stability. Some manufacturers have started to design inflatable tents. These are an interesting idea but we have yet to be sold on their long-term functionality.

If you are looking for a heavy rain tent it would suggest that you may have, at some point, to either erect or take down the tent in the rain. Having a tent which has a simple and efficient design should be high on your list of priorities. Let us be clear though, a pop-up tent will not be the greatest heavy rain tent – make sure you balance the need for an easy set-up against the need to stay dry.

How heavy your tent should depend on the type of camping you are undertaking. If you are expecting to hike with the tent then look for something lightweight which can also be attached to the external part of your backpack. If you are car camping then the weight is less of a consideration.

With heavy rain, often comes the heavy wind. Look out for wind resistance features such as guide ropes and pole material.

Best Tent for Heavy Rain: At A Glance

  • Top Pick
  • Top value
Top PickTop value
Price$$$$
Key Feature5000mm waterproof rating4000mm waterproof rating
Easy to Pitch
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Best Tent For Heavy Rain: In Detail

Top Pick

The Snugpak Cave tent is our pick for the best heavy rain tent. Snugpak have specialised in making military grade equipment since 2000 and are an industry expert. Both the groundsheet and flysheet have a breathtaking waterproof rating of 5000mm. This tent surprising light at 4.75kg which carries well when packed in the compression carry sack. Snugpak put excellence at the heart of their products and even provide a basic repair kit for your convenience. This tent is perfect for 4 seasons and will be an ideal long term investment. 

  • Doors: Two-point entry with porch to protect from wind and severe weather.
  • DAC® Featherlite NSL® Anodised Aluminium Poles with pressfit connectors, 100% aluminium
  • Waterproof Taped Seams
  • Ten Mesh Internal Pockets for equipment and head-end hanging loop (Five on each side).
  • No-see-um netting 1600 holes per square inch
  • Flame Retardant
  • Supplied with a compression stuff sack
  • Supplied with a basic repair kit
 
  • Pack Weight: 4750g / 167oz
  • Trail Weight: 4280g / 151oz (Fly, Poles & Inner Tent)
  • Packsize: 50cm x 22cm / 20″ x 9″
  • Pitch type: Inner First
  • Vents: 5 Vents
  • Flysheet: 210t 100% polyester ripstop with (5000mm HH) waterproof polyurethane coating
  • Inner tent: 190t 100% nylon inner fabric, with a 50D polyester No-See-Um-Mesh
  • Groundsheet: 100% nylon with (5000mm HH) waterproof polyurethane coating
  • Poles: 100% aluminium
  • 25 Lightweight Alloy Cross-Stakes, with two-spares (23 + 2 Spare Stakes)

Best 1 Person Tent For Heavy Rain

If you are looking for a 1 person tent which will keep you dry in all conditions then this is the tent for you. It is great value without compromising on quality. Snugpak have specialised in making military grade equipment since 2000 and are an industry expert. Both the groundsheet and flysheet have a breathtaking waterproof rating of 5000mm. This tent is ultra-light weight with a trail weight of 2.6lbs and a pack weight of 3.34lb. 

  • Doors: Single-point front entry with ample porch
  • Aluminium Poles with pressfit connectors, 100% aluminium
  • Waterproof Taped Seams
  • Ten Mesh Internal Pockets for equipment and head-end hanging loop (Five on each side)
  • Supplied with a compression stuff sack
  • Supplied with a basic repair kit
  • Flame Retardent
  • Pack Weight: 1520g / 54oz
  • Trail Weight: 1200g / 42oz (Fly, Poles & Inner Tent)
  • Packsize: 48cm x 14cm / 19″ x 6″
  • Pitch type: Inner first
  • Flysheet: 100% polyester ripstop with (5000mm HH) waterproof polyurethane coating
  • Inner tent: 100% nylon inner fabric
  • No-see-um netting 1600 holes per square inch
  • Groundsheet: 100% nylon with (5000mm HH) waterproof polyurethane coating
  • Poles: 100% aluminium
  • Ten Mesh Internal Pockets for equipment and head-end hanging loop (Five on each side)
  • 16 Lightweight Alloy Cross-Stakes, with two-spares (14 + 2 Spare Stakes)

Best 3 Person Tent For Heavy Rain

We are so high on Snugpak that it comes as no surprise that they have a third tent in our best tent for heavy rain list. This tent has similar qualities as others in this list and has the added benefit of a vestibule. Both the groundsheet and flysheet have a breathtaking waterproof rating of 5000mm. 

  • Doors: Single-point front entry with ample porch
  • Vents: 3 Vents
  • No-see-um netting 1600 holes per square inch
  • Aluminium Poles with pressfit connectors, 100% aluminium
  • Waterproof Taped Seams
  • Ten Mesh Internal Pockets for equipment and head-end hanging loop (Five on each side)
  • Flame Retardant
  • Supplied with a compression stuff sack
  • Supplied with a basic repair kit
 
 
  • Pack Weight: 3400g / 120oz
  • Trail Weight: 2930g / 103oz (Fly, Poles & Inner Tent)
  • Packsize: 43cm x 21cm /  17″ x 8″
  • Pitch type: Fly-First
  • Vents: 3 Vents
  • Flysheet: 100% polyester ripstop with (5000mm HH) waterproof polyurethane coating
  • Inner tent: 100% nylon inner fabric
  • Groundsheet: 100% nylon with (5000mm HH) waterproof polyurethane coating
  • Poles: 100% aluminium
  • 18 Lightweight Alloy Cross-Stakes, with two-spares
 
 

Best Backpacking Tent for Heavy Rain

The clever design of the Naturehike Cloud-Up makes it a great versatile 3-season tent. This flexibility makes it an ideal pick as a heavy rain tent. The inner tent is comfortable and breathable whilst offing a 4000mm water-resistant coating which will keep you dry during storms and heavy showers. 

  • 4000mm water-resistant.
  • UV 50+ sun protection guarantee. 
  • Lightweight Aluminium poles
  • Incredibly light so is perfect for backpackers.
  • Beginner friendly set up.
  • Clever design of the layers gives great versitility and can be used across 3 seasons. 
  • Comes with accessories: carry bag, tent stakes, foot print and wind ropes
  • Can be bought as a 1, 2 or 3 person tent. 
  • Mesh canopy with additional window offer maximum ventilation & prevent condensation.
  • Weight: 3.75lb
  • Outer layer size: 24″ vestibule.
  • Outer Fabric: 210T Polyester or 20D Silicone Nylon
  • Floor Fabric: 150D Anti Tear Oxford cloth
  • Inner Fabric: Breathable Flyscreen mesh
  • Pole: 7001 Aluminium Alloy 
  • Zips: Duraflex zips and clips
  • Pegs: Aluminium 
  • Packed: 450mm x 120mm x 120mm

  • Assembled: 2300mm (L) x 1200mm (W) x 1000mm (H). 

Best Tent To Set Up In The Rain

This is a top pick budget pick when looking for the best tent for heavy rain. It’s half mesh walls increase ventilation whilst the vestibule prevents overcrowding the interior with your gear. It also comes with aluminium poles which are incredibly easy to set up and offer extra stability when erect. This tent is will stand up to the toughest conditions. Finally, it is excellently priced and offers great value for money. 
  • Free-standing two-pole design with 7000 series aluminium poles
  • Easy assembly with pole clips that quickly snap over the tent poles
  • Polyester fly with 1500mm coating resists UV damage and stays taut
  • Factory-sealed fly and floor seams provide best weather protection
  • Polyester taffeta floor with 2000mm coating
  • Extra large #8 zippers
  • Two doors and two vestibules
    Mesh storage pockets, gear loft included. 
  • Weatherproof fly buckles on for maximum adjustability and protection
  • Vestibules for gear storage and extra weather protection
  • Half mesh walls increase ventilation
  • Base size: 7’6 x 8’6
  • Center height: 52″
  • Vestibule depth: 35″
  • Tent area: 64 ft²
  • Vestibule area: 25 ft²
  • Minimum weight: 7 lbs. 15 oz.
  • Total weight: 8 lbs. 10 oz.
  • Packed size: 6″ x 23″
  • Pole diameter: 11 mm
  • Fly Fabric: Polyester, 1500mm
  • Floor Material: Polyester taffeta floor, 2000 mm
  • Body Material: Not listed 

2nd Best Tent To Set Up In The Rain

This tent has an awning-style vestibule which provides an extended living space, which is great for both drizzle and sun protection. The pole design creates steeper walls which offers even more living space. The four way high volume hub offers strength, stability and greater protection from the rain. This is a versatile tent which is built for three-season use. 

 
  • Four-way high volume hub design resulting in steeper walls without adding weight.
  • Two doors and two vestibules with storm flaps.
  • Large dual zipper door with discrete seams allows for easy entry and smooth closure while creating a clean, modern design.
  • Quick Stash on tent body door makes stowing unzipped door quick and easy.
  • Proprietary random rip-stop pattern nylon.
  • Two-tone mesh provides privacy while allowing for star gazing transparency.
  • Massive ceiling pocket provides great storage space.
  • Media pockets located above sleeping area.
  • Velcro tabs connect fly to pole structure.
  • Ready to pitch; with pre-cut guy lines and tensioners attached to fly.
  • Reflective guylines and webbing on tent corners.
  • Easy grip zipper pulls.
  • Packed Weight: 3 lb 1 oz
  • Packed Size: 4 x 19.5 in
  • Floor Area: 29 sq ft
  • Head Height: 40 in
  • Vestibule area: 9 sq ft (x2)
  • Number of Doors: 2 
  • Canopy Fabric: Patterned double ripstop nylon/polyester mesh
  • Floor Fabric: Silicone-treated patterned double ripstop nylon with waterproof polyurethane coating
  • Rainfly Fabric: Silicone-treated patterned double ripstop nylon with waterproof polyurethane coating

Best Waterproof Family Tent: Small

This is a spacious tent which is easy to set up. There is an E-port for wires which can be brought into the outside if there is an electrical hook-up. It will outlast rain and wind with its durable steel and fibre-glass frame. There is also two high-stash storage pockets which offer extra storage and will keep your valuables close at hand. The near vertical walls are excellent for cots and airbeds. 
  • Durable, steel and fiber-glass frame features pole sleeves corner hubs, and quick clips for simple 1 person set up.
  • Near-vertical walls create lots of standing room and are ideal when camping with air mattress and cots.
  • Large mesh windows with waterproof curtains offer scenic views and plenty of ventilation.
  • Extended fly coverage over the door provides extra weather protection and dry entryway.
  • The zippered E-port lets you easily run an extension cord inside.
  • There are plenty of stash pockets and a gear loft to help keep things organized.
  • Floor Size: 8ft x 8ft.
  • Interior Height: 7ft.
  • Minimum Weight: 17lbs 3oz.
  • Pack Size: 9in x 27in.
  • Floor Area: 64ft x 2.
  • Doors: 1. 
  • Storage Pockets: 2.
  • Gear Hammock: 2.
  • Poles: Continuous Pole Sleeves, Clips, Hubs, Rings and Pin.
  • Secondary Pole: Fiberglass.
  • Inner Fabric: Polyester Taffeta.

Best Waterproof Family Tent: Large

This is a great family tent. It is spacious yet functional. The heavy duty rainfly will protect you from whatever the weather throws at you, whilst the spacious interior will give you all the room you need to relax. The colour coded poles are a neat feature which makes this awesome tent beginner friendly. If you are after a large best tent for heavy rain- this pick is for you.  

  • 2 rooms, 2 doors, 3 windows offering a spacious and well ventilated interior. 
  • Full cover rainfly which is double layered for extra protection. 
  • Roomy unit pockets and gear loft for extra storage. 
  • Inner mesh is ultra thin offering a breathable, no-see style mesh which will keep you safe from even the smallest insects. 
  • Unique barrier bathtub-style construction means you will not wake up in a puddle. 
  • Heavy duty carry bag with compression straps and ID label for clever storage of your tent. 
  • Seasons: 3
  • Sleeping Capacity: up to 10 persons
  • Number of Doors: 2 doors 
  • Inner Fabric: polyester 
  • Floor Material: polyethylene 
  • Outer Material: 100% waterproof Polyester with polyurethane coating- 2500 mm water column
  • Frame: fiberglass rods 
  • Dimensions: H x W x D: 205 x 245 x 530 cm | 6.73 x 8.04 x 17.39 FT
  • Weight: 12 Kg | 26.45 lb

How to Stay Dry: What Do You Do In A Tent When It Rains?

How Do I Keep Water Out Of My Tent?

Seam Sealer

This is a waterproof gel which is created for use on the seams of your tent. One of the more common reasons a tent becomes less waterproof is because the seams begin to wear and the chemicals applied to make them waterproof need to be renewed. No tent will be completely waterproof until the seams are sealed. 

How do I know if I need to use seam sealer?

You can tell by looking at the condition of your tent seams. If they have a glossy look and are smooth to touch it usually means they are in good shape and you do not need to use seam sealer. If the seam is frayed or exposed then there is huge potential for leakage so you will need to apply seam sealer. 

Best Seam Sealer For Tents

Waterproof Spray

Most tents are manufactured using waterproof treatments. Over time, this will begin to wear off, making it vital that you replenish and replace it. To do this, you need to use a waterproof spray or DWR coating. 

DWR coating can be used on all materials such as rainflys, tarp and footprints so this is a sound investment which will help keep you dry.

How do I apply Waterproof Spray?

Firstly, begin with a clean and dry tent. Make sure you have cleaned any debris and dust off the fabric of the tent. Failure to do this will interfere with the adhesion of the product. 

Secondly, make sure you follow the manufacturers instructions. Each spray will be unique in how it should be applied to your tent. 

Thirdly, spray the tent onto the fabric. Ensure it is evenly coated across the entire material. Any area not covered will not provide protection from the rain. 

Finally and if possible, apply heat to the material. Ironing the fabric is ideal. This will help the spray marry with the fabric offering even more protection. 

Best Waterproof Spray For Tents

Tarp & Footprints

The best tent for heavy rain will all come with a tarp and footprint. Sometime’s these are included inside the fabric of the tent (rather than being removable). We will discuss what a tarp and footprint is in the FAQ’s but to briefly recap. 

A tarp is a cover which is placed above the tent. It acts like a waterproof cover. 

A footprint goes underneath the tent. It protects the floor from rocks and sharp objects. A footprint will be waterproof and adds insulation for those cold nights. 

Best Waterproof Tarps For Tents

Best Waterproof Footprints For Tents

Frequently Asked Questions

Whether or not a tent can withstand rain is determined by its Hydrostatic Head (HH) measurement. HH is measured in mm and indicates the force of water needed before fabric or material begins to leak. Imagine a column of water 2 metres high (2000mm); the weight of that water being forced down onto a material creates a given pressure, generating the hydrostatic head measurement. The greater the column of water, the greater the pressure and the more waterproof a fabric will need to be in order stop the water penetrating the fabric.

Therefore the best tent for heavy rain will have a high HH rating – this means that the number of mm it can withstand will be higher. Basically put, 5000mm is better than 1500mm. 

This is tough to answer because it comes down to personal circumstance. The higher HH tents are usually premium tents and cost more money. Also, you may not need a tent with a HH of 5000mm because you will never be in conditions which require that level of water-proofing.

Putting this into context, a power-jet washer for your driveway has a typical HH of 1000mm for 980bar of pressure. For a tent to be classed as waterproof it must have a HH of least 1000mm. For the best heavy rain tent you will want to be looking at HH of at least 2500mm.  

The best tents for heavy rain are, by their nature, well sealed. This is often only possible by compromising on ventilation. This can lead to a build up of condensation in the tent. Therefore, your tent is not leaking and the water inside the tent is condensation. This is a fine balancing act and for top end tents this is usually not an issue. For budget tents with a high HH rating you may need to do some manual ventilation. You can do this by opening doors and windows to allow the air to flow through the tent. 

Water-resistant tents are able to resist moisture and minimise moisture seeping into the fabric. Water-resistant tents will not prevent moderate to heavy rainfall from entering the tent.

Water-repellent is a coating which is applied to the outer fabric of the tent. It will prevent more water than a water-resistant tent but is still not waterproof. It will repel light rain but anything more and the fabric will begin to let in the moisture. 

Waterproof tents have a HH of at least 1,500mm. In theory, they should prevent rain from entering the tent. However, most tents which are advertised as waterproof do not do this. Instead, you still find water entering the tent. A true waterproof tent will have a high HH level, good ventilation and is well-constructed.

The best tent for heavy rain will come with an in-built footprint or with one which you can attach. A footprint has other benefits. It helps to protect the inner tent fabric from tears and rips will keep the inside of the tent clean from mud and dirt (it is much easier to clean a removable a footprint than inner tent fabric). A footprint will also add insulation to your tent for those cold camping nights. 

Tarp, or tarpaulin, is a cover made from strong, yet flexible materials. Tarp is used to protect you from the wind, rain and sun. At a minimum, they are water-resistant but most will be waterproof. Tarp is extremely versatile and can be used to add waterproofing to the floor of the tent or as an additional roof. In some hot climates people will forgo a tent and just use a tarp as a cover. 

You can put tarp under your tent but I personally prefer using a footprint as these are more cushioned and have better insulation qualities which can help keep you warm. 

There are many ways to set up tarp as an additional roof above your tent. The easiest method is to create a simple frame with two poles. If you don’t have poles you could always use natural objects such as study trees. If using poles, add guylines to increase stability. Once you have a stable base, you can use the poles and guylines to hang the tarp over. To change the shape of the tarp all you need to do is amend the angles of the guylines.

Most tents are treated with a waterproof coating. If you have just bought your tent this should last for a while so you don’t need to worry. 

If you have an older tent the waterproof fabric will become less effective over time. This could be the result of natural wear & tear, UV damage or the fabric fraying because of structural problems such as rips and tears. You should be able to see if the waterproof coating is waring off because the tent fabric will begin to flake.

Fortunately, there are some easy ways to replenish the waterproof coating. Below these FAQ’s we recommend our favourite waterproof spray and seam sealer. Go check these out if you think you need to reapply a coating to your tent. 

 

 

If you already own your own a tent then there are things you can do to improve its waterproof rating. This is really easy to do and will help save you money. You can make a tent more waterproof in a few ways In this article we discuss how you can do this before recommending some of our favourite products. 

As a general rule, if you are using a tent for less than a month a year you will only need to reapply a waterproof coating every 2-3 years. 

If you apply seam sealer and waterproof spray to your tent regularly you will be saving yourself a load of money compared to buying a new tent. If you are looking for other shortcuts then I would probably urge caution. What might seem like a bargain idea now may not be so hot when you wake up in a wet puddle with all of your gear soaked from a night of heavy rain. 

Yes, you can sleep in a tent with mold but I would advise cleaning as much off the fabric as possible. Scientific studies have shown that long term exposure to mold can affect people who have asthma and/or other chest problems. 

That being said, as a one-off you will be fine with exposure to mold. 

All of the waterproof sprays we have recommended have been researched and tested by us independently. All of these worked on new and a variety of old tents. They also worked well across different material types and tent styles. 

Most tents have a waterproof coating and seam sealer applied as standard by the manufacturer. I would always recommend carrying some seam sealer and spray with you as part of your gear so it can be applied if your tent begins to leak. 

A 2,000mm tent will endure a 2-metre column of water-bearing down on it before it leaks. This sounds a lot but it is the equivalent of a light-moderate rain shower. 

1,500mm is widely accepted as the measurement tents need to meet in order to be classed as waterproof (beware that this is not an international standard so always check your tents HH measurement before buying). 

That being said, 1,500mm will keep you dry in light rain. It may withstand a very short heavy shower. But, in prolonged rain, it will begin to leak. For the best tent for heavy rain, the minimum HH measurement you should look at is 3,000mm. 

When you touch the tent fabric you draw water to your finger. Since it is often humid inside a tent when it is raining the condensation will build-up until you get a drop. This is why you should avoid putting objects such as your bag or boots on the tent fabric on a wet evening. 

 

Conclusion: Best Tent for Heavy Rain

In this article we have discussed the properties a features of the tents designed for heavy rain. The best tent for heavy rain are, in our opinion, manufactured by Snugpak. These tents are renowned for their ability to withstand heavy rain with a HH rating of 5000mm. We are also reassured that Snugpak develop tents to a military standard and supply these to the British Army and Special Ops unit – simply, put they must be good. 

If you already own a tent it may not be necessary for you to buy a new tent to withstand heavy rain. Instead, you could use seam sealer and waterproof spray to renew and regenerate your tent fabric – restoring it to its original state. 

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