What Fabric Used For Tent Camp

A material world. How to choose the best tent fabric for you

Not all tents are created equal, as the saying goes. If you’re in the market for camping equipment or want to purchase a tent as a present, it’s a good idea to keep this in mind. In reality, as you’ll soon find, the material of a tent is an important consideration throughout the purchase process. Continue reading – this helpful advice will make the process of finding the correct tents less stressful.

Cotton/canvas tents

Cotton or canvas are two of the most frequent types of tent fabrics that you may come across. When you choose a cotton or canvas tent, you may expect to benefit from additional temperature regulation: Cotton is excellent at keeping you warm while also providing excellent ventilation when the temperature rises too high. Cotton is less prone to condensation than other tent fabrics when compared to other tent materials. Don’t forget to add some weathering to your project. Canvas tents, on the other hand, need be subjected to a process known as “weathering” before they are used for the first time.

Alternatively, you could make it ‘rain’ yourself!

If you do not complete the weathering process before to going camping, you may have some water leaking through the tent.

As a result, you may wish to conduct some waterproof testing on your new cotton or canvas tent before taking it on your camping vacation.

PVC-coated tents

A polyvinyl chloride covering on the exterior of a big cotton tent may be seen when purchasing a large tent made entirely of cotton. You won’t have to weatherproof your canvas tent since the polyvinyl chloride coating on it will keep it waterproof from the start, so you won’t have to worry about it before you go camping. There is just one disadvantage to using a waterproof covering, and that is that it makes the tent somewhat more susceptible to condensation. If you want to purchase a PVC-coated tent, it is critical that you select one that has adequate ventilation to ensure that condensation does not become an issue.

Polyester-cotton tents

Here’s a combo that’s both strong and long-lasting in nature. It is not necessary to coat a polyester-cotton mix in order for it to be waterproof; nonetheless, most polycotton tents will have an extra waterproof layer that also serves as a water repellent. Are you looking for a tent that will last for several years? When you have a polycotton tent, it will be one of your best choices. Additionally, when compared to certain other tent fabrics, polyester and cotton are more economical options.

Polyester Tents

Tents constructed entirely of polyester are a popular choice for many people. Because polyester is somewhat more durable than nylon and is available in a number of coatings, many tent manufacturers use this material for their new tent releases because of its long-term durability. You will, however, need to conduct some preliminary study before making a final decision on a certain polyester tent. The coating that is applied to a polyester tent may have an impact on the price of the tent. In an ideal situation, you’d want a polyester tent with a covering that allows for enough breathability while still keeping moisture out.

When it comes to being in direct touch with water, a polyester tent has the advantage of neither shrinking or becoming much heavier. A polyester tent is also less damaged by sunshine, making it an excellent choice for camping in Australia’s hot climate.

Nylon Tents

Camping enthusiasts who want to hike may choose the nylon tent above any other type of tent. Nylon is a lightweight material that keeps the overall weight of the tent to a bare minimum, making it ideal for travel. Nylon tents are also among the most economical types of tents available on the market. Due to the fact that nylon fibers do not absorb water, a nylon tent without an extra coating is also an option. This also implies that when exposed to rain, nylon tents will not get heavier or decrease in size.

  • It is fairly uncommon to come across a nylon tent that has been coated with silicone, polyurethane, or acrylic.
  • The best overall protection will be provided by a silicone coating applied to a nylon tent.
  • In addition, many manufacturers will include a ripstop weave in the fabric of a nylon tent, which makes the tent more stronger and more durable.
  • Whatever type of tent material you pick, we wish you a wonderful camping experience!
  • Now is the time to book your next BIG4 vacation.

What Is The Best Tent Fabric For Family Camping Tents

Camping enthusiasts who wish to go trekking may select the nylon tent above any other type of tent for their needs. Considering that nylon is a lightweight material, carrying the tent will be as light as possible. Aside from being one of the most cheap tents available, nylon tents are also one of the most lightweight. Due to the fact that nylon fibers do not absorb water, a nylon tent without an extra coating is also an option. This also implies that when exposed to rain, nylon tents will not get heavier or shrink.

  • It is not uncommon to discover a nylon tent with a coating of silicone, polyurethane, or acrylic applied to the surface of the fabric.
  • The best overall protection will be provided by a silicone coating applied to a nylon tent.
  • An additional feature that many manufacturers will include in their nylon tent fabric is a ripstop weave.
  • Make sure to look through the specifics of each tent before making a buying decision.

No matter which type of tent material you pick, we wish you a wonderful camping experience! A camping trip is something everyone should do once in a while. Now is the time to reserve your next BIG4 vacation. Accondastores.com published the original version of this article.

Tent fabric comparison

The fly and floor of a tent are the two most significant components. These pieces are expected to be waterproof, and this is true even for the lower parts of tent walls if the fly does not cover the entire tent. Typically, the waterproof tent fabric will be one of the following options:

  • Polyester, Nylon, Polyethylene, UV-Tex 5, canvas (and poly-canvas), Cuben fiber, Gore-Tex, and Vapex are some of the materials used.

It is only the first five of them that are important for the family camping tents that you have on this campsite. The other three are either utilized for smaller tents suited for professionals or for winter tents, depending on the situation. Some of the synthetic materials do not require a coating to become waterproof, therefore they may be used directly. In general, nylon is tougher and more abrasion resistant than polyester, but it has the disadvantage of being able to absorb some water, whereas polyester does not.

  1. The most common types of family camping tents are made of polyester or, less commonly, canvas.
  2. As a result, some Coleman tents have extremely thick flooring.
  3. This material is waterproof in and of itself, and hence does not require a coating.
  4. If you camp on a regular basis and throughout the year, this is a material to take into account.

Synthetic materials vs canvas

  • They are unable to be breathed in (except those that are, like the mentioned Gore-Tex). So, as you might have guessed, you’ll have to deal with condensation. Those synthetic materials are poor conductors of heat. Similarly, when it’s cold outside, it’s cold inside, and when it’s hot outside, it’s hot inside
  • Because they are thin, they make a lot of noise when the wind blows through them. This can be aggravating
  • However, Quite frequently, they do not smell pleasant
  • Yes, some have been linked to cancer in the past. These materials, on the other hand, are typically inexpensive. They are light and quick to dry
  • They are also a good choice for outdoor activities. The fact that they are not supposed to be flammable means that they require little maintenance. If you still don’t believe me, check out the video in my separate text.


  • These materials absorb water
  • They are heavy
  • They require extra care and upkeep
  • They are pricey
  • And they are difficult to work with. It would be difficult to see a modern traveller sleeping in a canvas tent
  • The materials used in these tents, on the other hand, are breathable. They are excellent for desert camping
  • Nonetheless, There are no condensation problems, and they insulate considerably better. They are less loud due to their weight
  • They are more resistant to ultraviolet light

Canvas waterproofing

Canvas absorbs water, therefore it must be handled in a way that allows it to retain its breathable properties. There are a variety of waterproofing techniques available, each of which should make it more or less waterproof and cause water to bead. In general, impregnation is utilized for cotton threads to make them waterproof while yet maintaining their breathability. In other cases, it is combined with polyester, and this combination is referred to as poly-canvas. It is intended to combine the best (as well as the worst) characteristics of both materials.

Consider the following excellent Kodiak 8 person tent as an excellent example of a canvas tent: The Kodiak Canvas Flex-Bow Deluxe 8-Person Tent is made of canvas with a flexible bow.

Polyurethane coating

In terms of waterproofing methods, the PU coating is the most commonly used for budget tents, i.e., it is the cheapest waterproofing option available, and it is used in the majority of the family camping tents available on our website. When exposed to visible light for an extended period of time, this coating may become yellow or reddish brown, however this has no effect on the coating’s waterproofing capabilities.

Higher-energy UV light, on the other hand, might promote chemical reactions in the foam, causing it to lose its water-repellent properties over time.

Silicone coating – SilNylon

What is often referred to as theSilNylon is silicone added on nylon. An impregnated thin woven cloth is used in this method, which is impregnated with liquid silicone from both sides. The silicone increases the strength of the cloth while also making it extremely waterproof. As a matter of course, such fabrics are not breathable. This type of nylon is utilized in higher-quality tents because it has excellent stability under extreme UV radiation and temperature fluctuations. Due to the high cost of this material, the costs of tents that use it will be more than those without its usage.

Using this method is less expensive, and you may still use silicone outside, where it is most required.

Another reason for using this combination is that seams made of PU coated material are much simpler to tape, and this is done from the inside as is customary in this situation.

Cuben fiber

Nonwoven fabric with great resistance to ultraviolet light. It is a high-performance fabric with outstanding resistance to ultraviolet light. This is the lightest and most durable of all of the waterproof outdoor fabrics on the market. It weighs approximately half as much as the SilNylon fabric. It does not expand and has a transparent appearance. It is impossible to use such materials in a family camping tent due to the high cost of doing so.


Everything is known about this material, which is the only one of the synthetic materials described above that is breathable. This material is mostly used in 4-season tents that are then utilized by experts, and you will not find it in tents for family camping trips or backpacking trips. As you may expect, such tents are quite pricey.

Seam sealing

No matter how watertight the tent fabric is, if the seams are not sealed, the tent will not be watertight as well. Some waterproof objects include the following terminology, which you may find in the descriptions of such things:

  • Seams that have been meticulously taped Only the seams that are visible are sealed in this instance. Fully taped seams are common in waterproof coats, but are less common in tents
  • Fully taped seams are not common in tents. All seams have been taped, which should be self-explanatory. This must be included in the requirements of a totally waterproof tent. Seams that have been welded. A combination of heat and pressure is utilized to join the various bits of material together in this instance. Due to the fact that this will not function with all materials, you will find it in thermoplastics materials. The material itself is utilized as a fastener to hold the seam together and prevent it from unraveling. As previously stated, this technology is commonly utilized for tent flooring constructed of the polyethylene indicated above, and you will find it in the Coleman tents provided on our website, such as this Coleman Red Canyon 8 tent.
See also:  How To Make A Indian Pillow Tent

How much waterproofness to expect

The waterproofness ratings of the tents provided on this website are normally in the range of 600 – 3000 mm, depending on the model. To further comprehend the meaning of the phrase, you need be aware that a standard umbrella measures around 400 mm in diameter. In this Core 6 Dome tent and the Coleman Sundome 6, for example, you have 600 mm of headroom; in the Kelty Trail Ridge 6 tent and the Big Agnes Rabbit Ears 6 tent, you get 1800 mm and 1500 mm of headroom, respectively. The greater the number, the greater the likelihood of finding it in the floor material rather than the fly.

Please visit my separate text for further information on waterproof rating.

So that was about tent materials; you might also be interested in learning more about footprints, so please go on this link to learn more. Thank you for taking the time to read this. For any questions or comments, please use the comments box provided below. Thank you. Wishing you a pleasant day.

Tent Fabrics: A Comparison of Fabric Types

These are questions we are frequently asked, and it is a valid inquiry given the planned lifetime and expected heavy use that camping tents are subjected to in the field. The fabric we use is important to us at Seek Outside, but we also recognize that the intended application, construction, and design all play important roles in the overall performance. In the wrong design, a fantastic cloth will never live up to its full potential. This essay will take an in-depth look at the materials that are most typically used for camping tents.

Why isn’t tent fabric both waterproof and breathable?

We’d want to find a hot tent fabric that’s strong, light, and reasonably priced that’s also waterproof and breathable. The likelihood of this occurring is roughly the same as the likelihood of bringing home a live Unicorn for a child’s birthday. There are a variety of causes behind this. For starters, many fabric producers would not provide waterproof / breathable materials for use in tents because of the high cost of production (a bivy being the exception). Second, the same properties that make it waterproof and breathable also make it heavier and less durable.

If a top-of-the-line waterproof breathable jacket costs a few hundred dollars, just think about how much a tent would cost.

If a building is sufficiently aired, then waterproof/breathable fabric becomes obsolete owing to the high cost of such materials.

What is Fabric Denier?

Denier was initially used to describe how thick a cloth was relative to a single thread of silk (1 denier, weighing one gram for 9000 meters of thread), which was used as a standard. This term has evolved over time, and its definitions may be a little ambiguous; nonetheless, in general, it refers to the thickness of a cloth. The fabric of 30 denier is therefore thicker than the fabric of 20 denier. Stronger and harder fabric is commonly associated with heavier denier textiles, however this is not always the case because a great deal of the toughness is controlled by other factors, such as the type of thread or yarn used in the fabric.

In our experience, materials with deniers less than a high-quality 30 Denier tend to get whispy and are therefore unsuitable for prolonged, strenuous use.

Takeaway: If all other factors are equal, heavier Deniers are stronger than lighter Deniers. When the denier is less than 30 Denier, the weight savings are not significant in comparison to the denier.

What is the difference in Nylon and Polyester?

Despite the fact that these are both synthetic materials, polyester does offer a few minor benefits in terms of UV performance, while nylon is ounce for ounce harder. As a result, a shelter constructed of Nylon may be significantly lighter than one made of Polyester. Nylon is also more stretchy and packs more compactly than polyester. Polyester is typically far less expensive and more prevalent in lower-priced items. Takeaway: Nylon is far stronger than polyester. Polyester is less expensive, but it is also often heavier.

What is ripstop fabric and is it an advantage?

Ripstop is a reinforcing pattern in textiles that provides additional strength to assist prevent tears from spreading, thus the name “ripstop.” Ripstop is utilized in higher-quality items; nevertheless, there are some low-cost materials that “look” like ripstop, so be cautious when purchasing. Due to the fact that they offer the appearance of quality or toughness, knockoffs are possibly worse than using nothing but ripstop. In the actual world, this will manifest itself in a tent if there is a hole or a little rip in the cloth.

The ripstop is intended to prevent the tear from tearing any farther down the fabric (think ripping a sheet).

Having this happen on a long journey is not something you want to happen.

What are the different types of Nylon like Nylon 6 or Nylon 6.6?

Nylon 6, Nylon 6.6, Robic Nylon, and Cordura Nylon, which is a nylon 6.6 “high tenacity nylon,” are the most common types of nylon. Nylon 6 is the least costly and weakest of the polymers available, although it is still stronger than polyester in terms of strength. Robic nylon is an improvement over nylon 6.6 in terms of strength and abrasion resistance, although it is still not as excellent as nylon 6.6 in these areas. When compared to Nylon 6, which is labeled “high tenacity nylon,” Nylon 6.6 provides much greater strength and tear resistance.

The distinctions are tiny, yet they are found in the way they pull apart.

We believe the distinction is due to the fact that Cordura appears to be made of a long fiber that has been overlapped, whereas part of the generic nylon 6.6 appears to break much more neatly when pressed.

Summary: Cordura and Nylon 6.6 are both High Tensile Nylons that are significantly stronger than the competition.

How do waterproof fabric coatings work like PU and Silicone?

Silicone or polyurethane (PU) textiles, or a combination of the two, make up the majority of hiking tent materials. Plasticized polyurethane coating is popular and has been around for quite some time. PU coatings actually weaken the cloth, causing it to break more readily. This is a thicker coating. Over time, PU hydrolyzes, emitting a foul odor and causing the waterproof covering to peel away from the surface. This is what happened if you’ve ever taken a tent out of the closet after a lengthy period of storage and noticed a foul odor coming from it.

  1. Silicone coatings are also more durable than polyurethane coatings since they do not hydrolyze.
  2. There are several advantages to using these coatings, but the major reason we like them is that they have less tackiness, which is ideal in sandy locations.
  3. Simply said, most consumers would not be able to tell the difference between straight silicone coating and Sil/PU blend coatings, and in many circumstances one might argue that the blend is a superior coating while not being as strong as the pure silicone.
  4. From a production standpoint, PU coatings may be seam taped, but silicone coatings must be seam sealed before application.

As a result, the cost of PU textiles is lower than the cost of silicone materials. In a nutshell, the following is true: In comparison to polyurethane (PU) coated fabrics, a silicone or silicone mix coating produces a stronger, lighter fabric.

What is Dyneema or Cuben Fiber?

When it comes to conventional tent materials, Dyneema will provide the finest strength to weight ratio – but at a price that is likely to be the most expensive. Dyneema is a lightweight fiber that is extraordinarily strong for its weight, and the tent material is essentially a ripstop pattern of dyneema fibers layered between layers of mylar film to form the structure. Dyneema is extremely waterproof because to the impermeable laminated layers, and it has an incredible strength to weight ratio compared to other materials.

Because dyneema has a lower melting point than silnylon, ember holes will be larger in a hot tent application.

On the bright side, dyneema is easier to repair than silnylon, so if you do happen to develop a hole or rip in your material, it is simple and quick to patch it using mylar tape, and the tape is a permanent solution.

How does UV effect these fabrics?

This is complicated since Dyneema materials are not affected by ultraviolet light. Although ultraviolet rays have an influence on nylon materials, color is extremely significant. Bright nylon colors such as pink, yellow, and other vibrant hues may fade extremely fast in heavy UV exposure. The influence on subdued hues such as our green or brown or grey is, on the other hand, not nearly as significant. There is a significant contrast in color between the two. The main takeaway is that color is really important.


Nylon is a stronger material than polyester, and nylon 6.6 is a more durable material than nylon 6. There are a variety of coatings available, but a silicone coating will be the most durable, followed by a silicone mix at the top of the scale. A PU coating will be the least effective. Simply said, whether you are reliant on your tent for protection, in isolated locations, or through prolonged periods of severe weather, these are the characteristics you should seek for. If you are seeking for a fabric that is both light and robust, and has a tiny pack size, have a look at these textiles.

Tent Fabric 101: Nylon vs Polyester vs Dyneema/Cuben

Fabric selection, like other elements of tent design, is a delicate balancing act. Different fabrics have their own set of advantages and disadvantages, and picking the “perfect” cloth is simply a matter of deciding which concessions to accept. Which qualities are more important to you: lightness, strength, or cost? You can choose two options, but you can’t have all three at the same time. A widespread misconception is that by purchasing a costly goods, you are inevitably purchasing the “best” and most durable thing available.

  • On a gravel road that your late-90s station wagon could easily handle, you could easily wreck a high-end sports car in a matter of seconds.
  • A top-of-the-line tent for thru-hikers would almost certainly disintegrate in winds that a basic four-season tent would be able to handle with ease.
  • The same is true for those who are considering acquiring a tent.
  • When the rain begins to fall, do you plan to retire inside your van as soon as it begins to drizzle?
  • It’s doubtful that you’ll be faced with a choice between two similar designs made from a variety of fabric options.

The purpose of this page is not to serve as a shopping guide, but rather to offer users with a very basic overview of the strengths and drawbacks of the three most prevalent fabrics used in tent and tarp design: nylon, polyester, and DCF (Dyneema Composite Fabric, formerly known as Cuben Fiber).

Alternatively, you may email us at [email protected] if there’s something specific you’d want to know more about. The image in the header is courtesy of Rainy Pass Repairs. Thanks!


In tent design, fabric selection is a delicate balancing act, just as it is in many parts of life. The advantages and disadvantages of different fabrics are distinct, and picking the “perfect” cloth is essentially a matter of deciding which concessions to accept. Which qualities are most important to you: lightness, strength, or affordability? There is no way you can have all three, but you may choose two of them. Buying an expensive goods automatically entails purchasing the “best” and most durable thing, according to a popular misconception.

  • On a gravel road that your late-90s station wagon could easily handle, you could easily wreck a high-end sports car in an instant.
  • When exposed to winds that even a basic four-season tent can withstand, a top-of-the-line tent for thru-hikers would most likely disintegrate.
  • Individuals who are interested in acquiring tents should have this in mind as well.” Are you planning to camp on a mountain where you’ll perish if your tent breaks during a thunderstorm?
  • Once the specifications have been set, it is frequently straightforward to determine which cloth is the most appropriate.
  • Rather than this, the type of shelter you want to purchase will very definitely dictate the type of cloth you use.
  • Note from the editor: This article is part of a continuing series aimed at providing users with thorough information on design, materials, and construction so that you can make informed purchase decisions that are tailored to your specific requirements and budget.
  • Rainy Pass Repairs provided the image for the header.
See also:  Lynx One Person Tent How To Assemble


Polyester, which was once relegated to the realm of low-cost and car-camping tents due to a scarcity of high-quality formulations, has recently experienced something of a renaissance as advancements in high-end polyesters, particularly on the lightweight end of the spectrum, have significantly improved its once abysmal strength to weight ratio. However, while we still largely use nylon in our tents, poly offers a number of advantages that make it a viable alternative for specific applications, and its usage is becoming increasingly common.

  • When compared to nylons of the same weight, polyester has a lower tear strength on average than nylon.
  • Newer polyester materials, on the other hand, have much enhanced strength over their earlier equivalents, and they are becoming increasingly used in lightweight tents.
  • We’ll be putting several lightweight polys through their paces in our lab to see how much of a difference there is between nylons and polyesters of the same weight we can expect.
  • Particularly problematic in humid or damp situations, when nylon’s absorption can cause a loose flysheet and difficulties in pitching the tent due to droopy flysheet.
  • Resistance to the sun’s ultraviolet rays Polyester is often considered to be more UV-resistant than nylon, according to popular belief.
  • Although studies indicate that polyester in general is significantly more UV-resistant than nylon, we’re holding off until we can conduct an apples-to-apples comparison of lightweight coated textiles like those used in tents.
  • For lightweight textiles, the color and denier of the fabric, rather than the composition of the fibers, may make a greater impact in the fabric’s long-term UV protection than the fiber composition.

Polyester has shown tremendous promise in tents, but we will continue to rely on nylon as a primary material until we have completed enough testing to be certain that the benefits of poly exceed the negatives of poly.

Dyneema Composite Fabric

When it comes to tent textiles, Dyneema Composite Fabric, often known as DCF, is the latest entrant on the scene. The material was previously known as Cuben Fiber, but the name was changed to Dyneema Composite Fabric after Dyneema bought Cubic Tech, the business that manufactures the material. Cuben Fiber is the name that many people still use to refer to the material. First and foremost, because I am well aware that there are some purists out there who will call me out on this, I am aware that some people would say that DCF is not technically a fabric, which I acknowledge.

  1. If you don’t mind my saying so, it is a composite.
  2. It is possible to make DCF by sandwiching Dyneema fibers between two layers of plastic film (similar to Mylar).
  3. Strength Dyneema (a brand name for ultra high molecular weight polyethylene, often known as UHMWPE) is a lightweight polyethylene fiber that is exceptionally strong for its weight.
  4. As a result, DCF textiles may reach the same strength as nylon while weighing significantly less.
  5. As a result of Dyneema’s low stretch and excellent strength to weight ratio, it is a very sought material for sails as well as a wide range of industrial uses.
  6. Seam failure due to needle hole expansion is a typical problem with films and nonwovens, hence seams must be bonded and/or hot taped to prevent this from happening.
  7. It is beneficial to place the tape on the inside of the container (as is common practice for most manufacturers) in order to reduce its exposure to ultraviolet light.

Coatings increase weight and are prone to failure, thus removing them results in a lighter final cloth with greater durability and longer life expectancy.

It will not decay or weaken when subjected to frequent exposure to sunlight, like nylon will.

The fact that the outside layer of DCF is made of Mylar (remember that the Dyneema fibers are on the inside) makes it particularly prone to abrasion (if you’ve ever tried to use an emergency blanket more than once, you’ve probably had direct experience with this).

This isn’t a big problem for most shelter applications, especially the basic tarps that are popular among thru-hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts.

For example, When a tent is buffeted by the wind, tent pole clips and pole hubs can be more than abrasive enough to wear through a DCF fly.

Because of the abrasion resistance issues, I believe that DCF will only be used as a substitute for nylon in currently available double-wall tent designs, primarily as a UL statement piece, purchased by those who have a lot of money but not enough time to do their homework before making a purchasing decision.

  1. Price DCF is a high-end, space-age substance with a correspondingly high price tag.
  2. DCF, on the other hand, is rarely less than $20-$30 per yard.
  3. It’s doubtful that the price of DCF will come down until someone creates a product that can compete with the company’s strength to weight ratio.
  4. DCF is not a solution for the problems associated with durability in lightweight shelters.
  5. While its applications are very limited due to its exorbitant price and low abrasion resistance, it performs several functions better than any other material available.
  6. In the field of shelter design, there is no such thing as a magic bullet.
  7. Despite the fact that nylon has well-balanced properties, it is not without its drawbacks in most outdoor applications.
  8. The advancements in fabric weaving and coating technologies indicate that gradual improvements in materials may be expected to continue, but nothing fundamentally new (to the best of my knowledge) is on the horizon, so this is what we have to deal with for the time being.

When it comes time to choose your next adventure home, perhaps this has provided you with some insight into tent fabrics and a better knowledge of the many shelter alternatives accessible to you.

What material are tents made of?

Throughout this blog article, you will learn about the various tent materials and tent fabrics, as well as their advantages and disadvantages, so that you can make a more educated selection when purchasing your next camping tent. So you’ve decided to purchase a tent for the first time. You’re probably looking through numerous brand websites or looking through Amazon listings to find out which tent is the best fit for your needs and budget. Although there are many factors to consider when choosing a great tent, the most significant is the fabric used to construct it.

  1. It is the subject of this article to talk abouttent materials and tent fabrics.
  2. Having said that, I am a bit older and a little wiser now, and I am willing to share what I have learnt over the years.
  3. Tent materials that are most commonly used are either natural cotton canvas or man-made textiles such as Nylon 6 and Polyester.
  4. Tents made of polyester and nylon are sturdy, lightweight, and simple to clean and maintain.
  5. However, each of them is best suited for a certain application scenario.
  6. Are you planning to go camping in the freezing winter or the warm summer?
  7. Choosing an appropriate tent material is usually a matter of striking a balance between weight, strength, and cost.
  8. Let’s take a look at the most commonly used tent fabrics, their properties, drawbacks, and applications so that you can make a more informed decision when purchasing your next camping tent.

What are tents made of?

A wide variety of materials (including some proprietary textiles) are used to construct tents; however, cotton canvas, Nylon, and Polyester are the most commonly used for commercially accessible tent construction. Each of these tents is designed to cater to a distinct portion of the camper audience and is used for a specific purpose. Let’s take them one at a time and examine their advantages and disadvantages.

Cotton canvas

Cotton canvas tents are composed with either 1-1 basic cotton weave or cotton duck weave cotton canvas, depending on the style. The weave is made up of two-ply threads that are twisted together to give the cloth its added weight.

Because of its unique composition, canvas is far stronger and more durable than regular cotton or any other fabric. It is built to resist the extreme weather conditions seen in the wilderness, which is why it is utilized for lengthy camping excursions or for temporary off-site living situations.

Advantages of canvas tent material

Cotton canvas is one of the most long-lasting textiles available. A large number of people utilize them for long-term camping and living. Because of their popularity, they are unquestionably the most extensively utilized temporary dwelling solution, and for good reason.

  • Canvas tents are among the most durable and sturdy tent fabrics available. They are also among the most affordable. It may easily survive for 10 to 15 years because to the particular weave architecture used in its manufacture. The abrasion resistance of cotton canvas is also superior to that of nylon and polyster. Tear-Resistant: The canvas tent material is extremely durable and resistant to tearing. In the first place, cutting through canvas cloth is really difficult. Even if this does occur, the criss-cross structure of the weave prevents the rip from spreading farther than it already has. Water Resistant: The finest feature of cotton canvas is its ability to withstand water damage. When it comes to cotton, it is not water repellent, but it does have the quality of keeping water
  • When it comes into contact with water, the weave tends to swell as a result of the water retention, which results in the tent being naturally water resistant. When you have a sturdy canvas tent, you won’t have to worry about putting up a tarp for extra protection too frequently. The tent is responsible for all of the hard lifting. Canvas is extremely effective in insulating, which is why it is so widely used in construction. Because of its heavy weave, cotten has the ability to block out noise, heat, and wind, making the inside of the tent extremely comfortable and safe. Additionally, canvas tents are quite easy to keep warm in the cold. Low Heat Retention: Cotton has low heat retention capabilities as well, which allows it to keep its cool during the summer.

Disadvantages of canvas tents

You’re probably thinking to yourself, “This is it.” “I’m going to get a cotton canvas tent.” Prior to jumping to conclusions, it’s important to weigh the pros and downsides of cotton canvas cloth.

  • One of the most significant drawbacks of a cotton canvas tent is its substantial weight. To set up a wall or bell canvas tent, you’ll need at least two other people. For hikers, it’s nearly impossible to transport
  • The huge weight necessitates the use of hefty poles to hold it upright. Consequently, the canvas tent is inconvenient for backpackers and other light travelers. In addition, because canvas is a natural fabric, it is susceptible to mold and mildew growth, making it far more difficult to maintain than other types of tents. Cotton also has a tendency to change color when exposed to high temperatures. It is possible for your tent to turn yellow if it has been exposed to excessive heat, oil, or dust. Because I used it to cover my RV while it was parked during the off-season, I destroyed an otherwise excellent canvas tarp. If your canvas tent is not properly maintained, the same thing might happen to it. Cotton canvas tents are also highly expensive when compared to other tents that are more affordable. In the event that you are only an infrequent camper, this may not be a good value for money.
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The TETON canvas tents are excellent options if you need to accommodate several people in one location. Their costs are a touch costly ($500 or more), but they are well worth it in the end. Check Amazon for the most recent pricing information (Link:TETON Sports Family Tent)

Nylon 6 and Nylon 6/6

Nylon is a synthetic thermoplastic polymer fabric derived from petroleum wastes that is used to make garments. Nylon, which was first created by DuPont in the 1930s, has found use in a variety of applications, including the fabric for camping tents. It is one of the most often used textiles in tents today, and it is also quite affordable. A synthetic polymer compound, it may be created with various molecular configurations, resulting in a variety of varieties depending on the arrangement. The Nylon 66 (also known as Nylon 6.6, Nylon 6/6, or Nylon 6:6) and Nylon 6 are two of the most often used nylons for tent fabric production.

Advantages of Nylon tents

Because of its numerous environmentally beneficial features, nylon is the undisputed monarch of tent materials in the commercial world. The following are the most significant.

  • Fabric’s strength-to-weight ratio must be taken into consideration while evaluating its strength. Canvas, as previously established, is sturdy, but it is also quite heavy. It is an excellent measure of how strong a cloth is without being overly heavy when the strength to weight ratio is high. When compared to alternative tent materials such as polyester and canvas, nylon offers a significantly higher strength-to-weight ratio. That is to say, it is extremely durable while being lightweight. Stretchability: Nylon has a good amount of stretch. Despite the fact that you may say “so what?” it is quite significant. Because stretching spreads pressure over a wider surface area when a material is subjected to load, it reduces the likelihood of failure at the point of force. When you combine this with its great strength, Nylon is essentially a badass tent material choice. Resistance to Abarasion: Nylon is also known for its excellent abarasion resistance. Whenever a material is rubbed against a harder surface (such as the earth or sand particles in high-speed wind), the substance’s surface loses its strength and finally fails. Nylon, which is very resistant to abrasion, can endure any abrasive force encountered in the outdoors. Portable and lightweight: Because of its superior strength-to-weight ratio, adequate tensile strength can be packed into a thin fabric layer, making Nylon tents both lightweight and portable. They also do not necessitate the use of a more robust and heavy support system (poles, guylines, pegs, and so on)
  • Low upkeep: When compared to canvas cloth, nylon tents require relatively little care. They do not grow mold or mildew and are therefore suitable for camping in moist regions for an extended period of time. You may also store them without having to take any particular precautions during the off-season. Tents made of nylon are also very easy to clean

Disadvantages of Nylon tents

Listed below are a few downsides of Nylon tents that may render them unsuitable for use in certain settings.

  • Water absorbing: Nylon fabrics are not naturally waterproof or even water resistant. Instead, they absorb water and absorb it quickly. They grow sagging and heavy as a result of absorbing water during a wet night. The added weight of the water causes the tent walls to droop since they are made of flexible material. Waterproofing your tent to a certain amount will help to alleviate this problem. UV Degradation: Nylon is more susceptible to UV radiation (than polyster) and will decay over time if exposed to UV light on a constant basis. If you plan to camp at high elevations, this might be a concern because UV exposure is significantly higher at higher altitudes than at lower altitudes. Using an appropriate UV protection spray should help to limit the long-term exposure. Nitrile canvas is also less permeable than cotton canvas, and its condensation rate is significantly lower than that of cotton canvas. By applying a waterproof covering to the exterior of the tent, the beatheability is reduced even more
  • Nevertheless,

In terms of product recommendations, the Coleman Sundome Series comes highly recommended if you are on a tight budget. However, for a more durable tent, I would choose the Big Agnesline or the Marmont series.


Despite the fact that nylon tents have traditionally been the most popular choice, polyester tents are making their way into the market. They have several unique characteristics that make them a suitable alternative to Nylon tents in specific situations.

Properties of Polyester tents

Polyester is less flexible and more stable than Nylon, which is less stretchable and more stable. Although this makes polyester tents more prone to rupture when subjected to point stresses, it also makes poly tents more sturdy in general. They keep their form even when exposed to wind and rain. Toughness: Polyester tents have high tensile strength and are not prone to tearing when stretched out. Although when compared to the same weight of Nylon fabric, they are less sturdy, a little thicker weave may easily equal the strength of Nylon in many situations.

As a result, they produce better tents for camping in rainy weather.

When compared to Nylon, they do not disintegrate as quickly when subjected to prolonged exposure.

In high-altitude tents with canopy fabrics made of Nylon, they are frequently used for rainfly fabric due to this (as well as their greater water resistance). If you’re planning a short-term camping vacation and need a lightweight, portable option, Big Agnespolyester tents are a great choice.

Tent material selection table

In this case, the comparison between cotton polyester and nylon is rather evident since polyester and nylon have essentially identical qualities, but cotton does not have these features. If you’re still having trouble deciding which tent to buy, this table may be able to provide you with a subjective summary based on my personal experience as a textile engineer who has worked for a company that manufactures tents and other camping equipment for the past two years.

Properties Canvas Tent Polyester Tent Nylon tent
Breathability ++++ ++ ++
UV Resistance ++ +++++ +++
Portability ++ ++++ +++++
Quick Drying + ++++ +++
Tear Resistance + + + + + +++ ++++
Susceptible to shrinkage +++++ + +
Long term use +++++ ++ +++
Stretchability +++ ++ +++++
Inherent water resistance +++++ ++++ +++
Abrasion Resistance +++++ +++ ++++
Require Maintenance +++++ + +

Canvas against polyester versus nylon as a tent material

Best tent material for cold weather

As we covered at the outset of this essay, the decision on which tent fabric to employ comes down to the purpose of the tent. It’s essential to have a solid, strong structure for cold and harsh weather since it will provide the best possible protection against chilly breezes, snow, rain, and powerful winds. If you’re going to be camping out of your truck or car, a cotton canvas tent is your best bet for staying comfortable. The extra effort of transporting it to and from the car/truck and putting it up is worth it because of the benefits.

However, if you are camping, hiking, or trekking and need something that will not weigh you down, a Nylon tent is the best option for you to consider.

Best tent material for hot weather

After a lengthy trek in hot and sunny weather, you’ll need a cool location to rest your weary bones. Tents made of nylon or polyester are both excellent choices for summer camping. The fact that they are lightweight, portable, and simple to assemble makes them an excellent choice for hot and exhausting summer evenings. Tents made of polyester have somewhat better breathability than tents made of nylon. Aside from that, the exact tent you purchase should be equipped with screen mesh to allow for optimum ventilation.

Best tent material for backpacking

When hiking, since weight is a major consideration, I would choose nylon tents over polyethylene tents because of their less weight when packed. Because the majority of backpackers travel during the summer months, nylon tents are a natural choice.

Tent Materials – FAQs

When you use ripstop fabric, you are using a specific form of fabric that is resistant to tears or rips. This is accomplished by the use of a special reinforcement process that involves weaving the yarn in and out of the fabric at regular intervals.

The crisscross pattern prevents the ‘rip’ from spreading and making it more tear-resistant than a straight cut. Ripstop fabric is available in both Polyester and Nylon versions.

What is Dyneema or Cuben Fabric?

Dyneema, sometimes known as Cubin, is a novel nonwoven material that is being utilized in tents. Their structure is composed of polyethylene with a high molecular weight. In comparison to nylon and polyester, these materials are relatively lightweight and provide superior tear and abrasion resistance than those materials. These materials, on the other hand, are not particularly economical and do not have a lot of stretchability.

Are cotton tents waterproof?

Yes. Tents made of cotton are waterproof. Cotton is not inherently water resistant, but once it has absorbed enough water, the cotton strands expand and prevent additional water penetration, thereby making it almost waterproof. Cotton is not naturally water repellent.

What are the effects of finishes on fabric?

When camping in the outdoors, tent materials are typically treated with a waterproof and non-flammable coating to protect them against rain and fire. These coatings may have an effect on the breathability and strength of the cloth to a certain level. Furthermore, completed textiles require significantly more attention than non-coated fabrics, as the finishes have a tendency to flake off in heavy rains or when exposed to ultraviolet light.

What are waterproof tents made of?

Waterproof tents are made of either polyester or nylon, but they are covered with a waterproofing layer to keep out the elements. Depending on the material, it might be made of silicon or polyester to seal the holes and prevent water from leaking in. Some materials, such as Dyneema, are naturally waterproof and do not require any additional covering.

Tents fabric material – Conclusion

No matter whatever fabric you choose, you will wind up finding both bad and good aspects to it in the process. It is all about organizing your vacation and identifying aspects such as the length of time you will be there. What part of the country do you wish to camp in? Do you prefer a hot and dry campground or a chilly and damp one? Is plastic something that appeals to you, or do you want a natural insulated environment in which to rest your head? If you can discover the answers to all of these questions, you’ll be able to determine which one to purchase.

The decision is based on my own personal experience using them over a long period of time when camping, as well as input from others who have used them.

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