This page contains affiliate links, and that means that I may earn a commission if you buy something, at no extra cost to you. You can find my full disclosure policy here.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve used and thoroughly rain tested 7 different pop up tents. And in this article, you’ll find everything you need to know about using a pop up tent in the rain.
Pop up tents can be used in the rain, because they’re just like regular camping tents. However, not all pop up tents are waterproofed the same way. Pop up tents with less waterproof features will therefore require more waterproofing work on your end.
Can You Use a Pop Up Tent in the Rain?
Pop up tents can be used in the rain, because many pop up tents are in fact, camping tents. These pop up tents would likely have the same waterproofing features of a camping tent, such as a bathtub flooring, factory taped seams, rainflies and waterproof coatings.
|Pop Up Tent||Full Review||Check Price|
|Teton Sports 2-Person Vista Quick Tent||Read Review||Amazon, Moosejaw|
|Teton Sports 1-Person Vista Quick Tent||Read Review||Amazon, Moosejaw|
|Coleman 4-Person Pop Up Tent||Read Review||Amazon, Moosejaw|
|Coleman 2-Person Pop Up Tent||Read Review||Amazon, Moosejaw|
|Quechua 2 Seconds 2-Person Tent||Read Review||Decathlon|
|Quechua 2 Seconds Fresh and Black 2-Person Tent||Read Review||Decathlon|
|Quechua 2 Seconds Fresh and Black 3-Person Tent||Read Review||Decathlon|
However, not all pop up tents (especially the ones you find on Amazon) are camping tents. Some of them are beach pop up tents, or beach shades, which are much less waterproof. These are not meant for camping, but instead for beach use.
When searching for a pop up tent to be used in the rain, I highly recommend buying pop up tents from brands that specialize in outdoor gear. This is why all 7 of my best pop up tents are from outdoor gear brands, such as Coleman, Teton Sports, and Quechua (from Decathlon).
Related Reading: Can You Use Pop Up Tents for Camping? (6 Answered Questions!)
In the next section, I’ll go through some of the important waterproofing features to look out for in a pop up tent.
Do Pop Up Tents Leak?
Pop up tents will not leak in the rain, as long as they are sufficiently waterproof. This includes having fabric with a hydrostatic head rating of around 1,000mm, having been treated with a durable water repellent finish, and having a bathtub flooring extending up a few inches.
Of course, that is not the complete list of features that a waterproof pop up tent would have. Here a few waterproof features to look out for, explained in more detail.
As a general rule, the greater the rainfly coverage, the more waterproof a tent will be. Some tents will have full coverage rainflies, while others will have only partial rainfly coverage.
A good example of a full coverage rainfly is the Quechua 2 Seconds Tents. The green part of the tent is the rainfly, and notice that it covers the entire tent, from the top, all the way to the ground. As such, you can expect the waterproofing of this pop up tent to be much better than a pop up tent with a shorter rainfly.
You will have a bathtub flooring when the flooring of your pop up tent extends up the edges of the tent. This helps to prevent water leaking into your tent if there’s flooding where you’re camping. This is especially helpful in heavy rains, which can cause minor to major flooding.
Hydrostatic Head Rating
Generally, higher hydrostatic head ratings mean that the fabric is able to withstand larger amounts of pouring rain, as compared to ratings that are lower. For example, a 1,000mm fabric will be able to withstand more rain than a 500mm fabric.
Another very important thing to look out for is whether the seams inside your tent have been factory taped by the brand. Only the seams of the rainfly, as well as the seams of your tent that are exposed to the outside, should be taped. Interior tent seams (like those of pockets, etc.) don’t necessarily have to be taped.
How Waterproof are Pop Up Tents?
How waterproof pop up tents are depends on the brand and how intensively they rain test their waterproof tents. Decathlon does a good job of rain testing their 2 Seconds pop up tents, while Coleman’s pop up tents don’t hold up to rain as well.
Quechua 2 Seconds Pop Up Tents Waterproofing
Of all the pop up tents that I have, I found my Quechua 2 Seconds Pop Up Tents to be the most waterproof (these pop up tents are from Decathlon). In fact, these 2 Seconds Pop Up Tents are very thoroughly rain-tested by Decathlon.
“All Quechua tents are validated in a laboratory (whole tent under 200 L/hour for 3 hours), as well as in the field.”From Decathlon website
In fact, I used the regular 2 Seconds tent over a 3-day period of heavy afternoon thunderstorms, where it was raining for about 3 hours a day.
Apart from a little bit of leaking from the back corner seam, which was just a few drops of water, the rest of the tent body was remarkably dry. And this slight leaking was because the factory seam on my tent had degraded; if I had re-sealed it, my tent would have been completely dry.
Here are all the waterproofing features that my Quechua 2 Seconds Tent have:
- 2000-mm rated PU-coated polyester flysheet
- Full coverage rainfly
- 120g/sqm polyethylene groundsheet
- Bathtub polyethylene flooring
- Thermobonded taped seams
Teton Sports Vista Quick Tents Waterproofing
Next up, we have the Teton Sports Vista Quick Tents. I put the 1-Person Quick Tent through one hour of non-stop heavy rain, and the inside of the tent was still completely dry.
However, 1-2 hours is about the limit for these Teton Sports Quick Tents. At the 1-hour mark, my rainfly was already starting to dampen.
Here’s all the waterproofing features that my Teton Sports Vista Quick Tents had:
- Bathtub polyester flooring (2-Person Quick Tent only)
- Factory taped seams
- Almost full-coverage rainfly (gap of ~2 inches)
You could also purchase the elite extended rainfly separately for better rain protection, but of course, that’s additional cost.
Coleman Pop Up Tents Waterproofing
And my least waterproof tents are the Coleman Pop Up Tents, with minimal water resistance. The entire pop-up tent was completely soaked after just 15 minutes of heavy rain. Even the rainfly was soaked through.
This is because Coleman didn’t add sufficient waterproofing features to their pop up tents. Let me explain.
First, the rainflies of the Coleman Pop Up Tents are absolutely tiny. They cover only the roof mesh in the tent, but nothing else.
Second, Coleman Pop Up Tents do not have a bathtub flooring, which will allow for a lot of leaking if you’re sitting in a flood of water.
Third, the seam tape of the Coleman Pop Up Tents weren’t as well applied as I expected it to be, which will result in water flowing in through the tiny holes of the seam.
Fourth, the door design of the Coleman Pop Up Tents make it terrible for use in heavy rain. Even if you don’t let the door droop back into your tent, a lot of water trapped in the door will still flow down into your tent, making a soggy mess in your tent. This was exactly what happened to me.
Related Reading: Are Pop Up Tents Good in Wind?
How Do You Make a Pop Up Tent Waterproof?
You can waterproof your pop up tent by sealing all the seams, as well as reapplying the coatings on the interior and exterior of your rainfly. This are the exact same steps you’d need to take to waterproof a regular camping tent as well. Because after all, many pop up tents are camping tents.
Seal Tent Seams
When I was rain testing my 7 pop up tents, the biggest vulnerability was this – the tent seams, especially those on the flooring of the pop up tents.
While all my pop up tents came factory taped, I’ve had these pop up tents for a while, and the seams naturally wore out over time, allowing water to drip in.
To solve this problem, simply buy seam sealant and apply it to the seams that you found have been leaking. (Hint: These are usually on the flooring, at least for me.)
Reapply Tent Coating
For the coating on your rainfly, simply brush off any flaking coating on the interior and apply sealant after, as well as spray on waterproofing spray on the exterior.
Here’s a wonderful video from REI that explains it all:
What is the Best Pop Up Tent for Heavy Rain?
The Quechua 2 Seconds Fresh and Black Tent is easily the best pop up tent for heavy rain. Complete with a full coverage rainfly, bathtub flooring, taped seams and 2 large vents that can be left open in the rain, this tent is not only well protected against heavy rain, but well-ventilated as well.
The polyester rainfly of the Quechua 2 Seconds Fresh and Black Tent has 2,000 millimeters of water resistance, and provides full coverage protection from the rain. I checked the rainfly seams, and they all seem to be taped.
Throughout all of my rain tests, from the 1-hour light rain test to the 3-day heavy rain test, I never once found the tent body to be wet. All the walls and the roof stayed completely dry because the protection from the rainfly is just that good.
The polyethylene flooring has 5,000 millimeters of water resistance, and the bathtub feature extends up to about 5 inches high.
I found this especially useful in case there’s minor flooding. When it rains for many hours at a time, my yard would be partially flooded, and my Quechua 2 Seconds Fresh and Black Tent would end up sitting in like an inch of water.
And no water would leak into the tent through the flooring because of the bathtub feature, which is seriously awesome.
Even on days with super heavy rain, I was able to leave the 2 large vents partially opened, and no water will leak in. I found that no water would leak in through the small rear vent as well.
With ample ventilation on rainy days, as well as plenty of waterproof features, the Quechua 2 Seconds Fresh and Black Tent is my tent of choice for heavy rain.
All My Resources on Pop Up Tents: