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Many campers know Coleman tents to be budget-friendly, entry-level camping tents, which aren’t the most waterproof tents in the market. They’re not meant to withstand inclement weather and torrential storms. But exactly how waterproof are these Coleman tents?
While Coleman tents can withstand a few hours of light rain, they can withstand no more than around 15 to 30 minutes of heavy rain, depending on the length of the rainfly of each individual Coleman tent.
- Are All Coleman Tents Waterproof?
- Which Coleman Tents are Waterproof?
- How Much Rain Can a Coleman Tent Take?
- What is the Waterproof Rating of a Coleman Tent?
- Do Coleman Tents Need to be Waterproofed?
- How Long do Coleman Tents Stay Waterproof?
Are All Coleman Tents Waterproof?
Most Coleman tents are water-resistant, and not completely waterproof. Coleman’s patented Weather Tec system has a few features, such as the tub floors, corner welds, and inverted seams, which effectively shields against light to moderate rain, but not heavy rain.
In this section, I’ll discuss with you the effectiveness of these Coleman-specific features, the results of which I gathered from my dozens of rain tests on my own Coleman tents.
Possibly the most useful waterproofing feature in Coleman’s Weather Tec system is the tub floor that comes with almost all Coleman tents.
These tub floors extend up the sides of the tent, creating a shallow bathtub effect, and keeping any water from light flooding out of the tent. Here’s what one of Coleman’s tub floors look like:
Coleman also features patented corner welds in their Weather Tec system. While these corner welds held up to light rains, I found that water managed to seep in after hours of moderate to heavy rains. This is because each corner weld has not been factory taped.
In this picture below, you can see the corner weld at the top of the picture, and water that had leaked in after 2 hours of moderate rain. This picture was taken in my Coleman Evanston 6-Person Tent.
Another feature in Coleman’s Weather Tec system is the inverted seams. Most of my Coleman tents feature inverted seams, not taped seams.
Important: My testing revealed that while inverted seams could keep out light to maybe moderate rains, it was definitely not as effective against heavy rain as actually taped seams.
In fact, in every single one of my Coleman tents, the seam connecting the bathtub flooring of the Coleman tent to the tent fabric was always the first place to leak.
On the other hand, my tents from other brands, which had factory taped seams instead, held up to heavy rain much longer.
Which Coleman Tents are Waterproof?
Now that we’ve established that Coleman tents are merely water-resistant, and not waterproof, which of these popular Coleman tents are more water resistant? In this section, I go through 3 of Coleman’s most popular tents:
- Coleman instant tents;
- Coleman pop up tents; and
- Coleman Sundome tents (the most popular, of course).
Are Coleman Instant Tents Waterproof?
Coleman instant tents are one of the least waterproof Coleman tents in the market, because the rainfly is extremely small, literally covering only the very top of the Coleman instant tent, and doesn’t offer much rain protection.
This is what the rainfly of my Coleman Instant Tent 4 looks like:
And this is what the rainfly looks like compared to the rest of the tent. Notice how it doesn’t cover much of the tent at all:
As such, a lot of water ran over the tent body, and seeped into the inverted seam at the bottom of the tent. In fact, the inverted seam of the bathtub flooring was the first place to leak after just 10 minutes.
Are Coleman Pop Up Tents Waterproof?
Coleman pop up tents are the least waterproof Coleman tents on the market, as the rainfly is super small, there are no tub floors in these pop up tents, and water will drip right into the tent when you open the door to the tent.
Take a look at just how small the rainfly to the Coleman pop up tent is. It’s even smaller than the Coleman instant tents.
The rainfly didn’t guard against the heavy rain test very well, and after just 15 minutes into the rain test, after I lifted the rainfly, I found that the underside of the rainfly was already wet, and the entire rainfly had already been soaked through, which is very disappointing.
Also, unlike the Coleman Instant Tents that at least had 4 inches of bathtub flooring, the Coleman pop up tent does not have any bathtub flooring at all.
And possibly the worst waterproofed feature in the Coleman Pop Up Tents are the doors. Even though I did my best to not let the door droop into the tent, I noticed so much leaking from just the door itself. There was so much leaking that there were big puddles on the floor from the door.
Is the Coleman Sundome Tent Waterproof?
The Coleman Sundome Tent is one of the more water resistant Coleman tents in the market. Without any additional waterproofing, the Sundome Tent can withstand up to 35 minutes of heavy rain, and a few hours of light to moderate rain.
Notice that the length of the Coleman Sundome Tent is much longer than both the Coleman Instant Tents and the Coleman Pop Up Tents. Especially at the side walls, the length of the rainfly at least covers half the tent body, and didn’t leak at all after 35 minutes of heavy rain.
On the front wall and the back wall of the Coleman Sundome Tent though, the rainfly length is a little shorter, and these 2 walls were the first to leak after 35 minutes of heavy rain, through the bathtub flooring seam at the bottom of the tent.
How Much Rain Can a Coleman Tent Take?
Now that we’ve discussed the Coleman instant tents, the Coleman pop up tents, and the Coleman Sundome tents, how much rain can the rest of the Coleman tents take?
Well, I bought and tested 14 different Coleman tents, and here’s how long each Coleman tent stayed dry while under heavy rain:
|Coleman Tent||Dry under Heavy Rain|
|Coleman Sundome 6||~30 minutes|
|Coleman Sundome 2||~30 minutes|
|Coleman Sundome Dark 6||~30 minutes|
|Coleman Elite Sundome 6||~30 minutes|
|Coleman Evanston 6||~30 minutes|
|Coleman Carlsbad 4||~30 minutes|
|Coleman Skydome 4||~15 minutes|
|Coleman Montana 8||~15 minutes|
|Coleman WeatherMaster 10||~15 minutes|
|Coleman Red Canyon 8||~15 minutes|
|Coleman Instant 10||~10 minutes|
|Coleman Instant 4||~10 minutes|
|Coleman Pop Up 4||~10 minutes|
|Coleman Pop Up 2||~10 minutes|
I found that the main factor affecting each Coleman tent’s ability to stay dry under heavy rain is the length of the rainfly. The longer the length of the rainfly, the longer the Coleman tent can stay dry under heavy rain.
What is the Waterproof Rating of a Coleman Tent?
The rainfly of a Coleman tent is usually treated with a minimum waterproof rating of 450mm, which means that the rainfly can withstand 450mm of water pressure bearing down on it before leaking.
Is this a high waterproof rating? No, it’s not. It’s actually fairly low. Most tents are treated with a waterproof rating of anywhere between 1,000mm to 5,000mm (possibly more), and Coleman’s waterproof rating doesn’t fall anywhere between that.
This could explain why several of my Coleman tents had rainflies that were soaked through after just a 15 to 20 minute rain test. This included my Coleman Pop Up Tents and my Montana 8 Tent as well:
Also, bear in mind that only the rainfly is being treated with a minimum waterproof rating, and Coleman doesn’t mention whether the tent body underneath the rainfly is also similarly treated.
Take my Coleman WeatherMaster 10 as an example. While the rainfly is made of 75D polyester taffeta and treated with 450mm of water resistance, the tent body is made of only 68D polyester, with no mention of what the water resistance is.
This explains why Coleman tents are not meant to be subject to prolonged heavy rains and inclement weather. These tents are simply not as weatherproof as other tents out there.
In fact, take a look at Coleman’s testing video:
While it seems impressive that more than 35 gallons of water is sprayed on the tent, bear in mind that this is only over 10 minutes, which is not a long amount of time. When I continued my own rain test on my Coleman tents, the leaks and weaknesses only started appearing after the 10 minute mark.
Do Coleman Tents Need to be Waterproofed?
Coleman tents need to be waterproofed if it will be subject to more than 30 minutes to 1 hour of heavy rain. If so, seam sealant is to be applied to at least the inverted flooring seam inside the Coleman tent.
Apply Seam Sealant
As I mentioned earlier in this blog post, the first place to leak in any Coleman tent is usually the inverted seam connecting the bathtub flooring to the tent body.
As such, if you’re expecting prolonged heavy rains (or any heavy rain at all, just to be safe), I highly recommend buying seam sealant and using it to seal at least the bathtub flooring seam. This will allow your Coleman tent to stay dry for much longer under heavy rain.
I also highly recommend sealing the corner welds in the Coleman tent; I found that mine aren’t usually sealed and would leak after a couple hours of rain.
If you’re up to it, you can also use this same seam sealant to seal the other inverted seams in your Coleman tent, such as the inverted door seams, which are also usually not sealed.
Use Waterproofing Spray
We’ve also learned that Coleman tents have a minimum waterproof rating of just 450mm on the rainfly, so you could also buy a bottle of waterproofing spray.
I would recommend not just using the waterproofing spray on the rainfly, but also on the tent body itself. This is because the rainfly doesn’t provide full coverage protection over the Coleman tent body, and quite a bit of water would run over the tent body itself.
Any part of your Coleman tent that touches water will always be vulnerable to leaks.
How Long do Coleman Tents Stay Waterproof?
On average, Coleman tents will stay waterproof for about 1 to 2 years. However, this length of time can vary depending on how often the Coleman tent is used, and how intense the direct sunlight, heavy rain, and other inclement weather the Coleman tent is exposed to.
The more intensive the use of a Coleman tent, and the more elements it is exposed to, will decrease the amount of time a Coleman tent will stay waterproof.
Tip: If you use your Coleman tent fairly frequently, I would recommend re-applying seam sealant and waterproofing spray every 1 year (possibly less, depending on your preference).
Even if you don’t use your Coleman tent often, time will still take a toll on your tent, and you may want to re-apply waterproofing measures on your tent every year.
To check whether your Coleman tent’s waterproofing needs to be reapplied, you can always set up your tent and conduct a rain test on your tent with a water hose, like what I do at home as well:
Sometimes, you wouldn’t even need to conduct a rain test or hose test. If your tent has been kept in storage for an extended period of time (1 year or more), you would probably need to reapply waterproofing.
Sometimes, you might even see the waterproof coating flaking, or the seam sealing flaking away, so you’d need to re-apply waterproofing:
Here’s a great video from REI on how to waterproof a tent: