7 Best Waterproof Tents for Heavy Rain (Backpacking Guide 2023)

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What are the Best Waterproof Tents for Heavy Rain and Wind?

In this buyer’s guide we’ll detail the 7 best backpacking tents that’ll keep you dry and protected from the elements. These are the best options if you’re seeking a waterproof tent that’ll keep your backpack light and be able to withstand the rugged elements. Our ranking criteria was based upon a number of factors, including tent weight, price, build material, and user experience. We’ll cover a variety of options across a number of price points and provide insights from our many years of experience on the trail. Whether you’re looking for your first backpacking tent or looking to upgrade for the 2023 season, our guide is sure to provide you with an option that’ll keep you dry and warm during your next thru hike.

While our backpacking tent recommendations are all waterproof, be sure to check out our tips below on how to properly waterproof and seam seal a tent as it’ll help you ensure that you keep your sleeping bag dry no matter how much it rains. We all know there’s nothing worse than getting water inside of your tent and sleeping bag!

We cover tents that are designed for 2-persons or less as these are the most commonly used by long distance backpackers due to weight considerations on the trail. Many of these tents also provide a 3-person option however if you need more space, and we cover these options and their differences in our guide. With these recommendations, you won’t have to sacrifice extra weight in your pack to remain dry and protected from the elements.

Our Waterproof Backpacking Tent Top Picks

Best Overall Waterproof Tent: Mountain Hardwear Aspect 2

Best Ultralight Waterproof Tent: Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2

Best Budget Waterproof Tent: Marmot Tungsten 2-Person

Best 1-Person Waterproof Tent: Mountain Hardwear Nimbus UL 1 

Best 4-Season Waterproof Tent: MSR Advance Pro 2

Honorable Mention 1: Nemo Aurora 2P

Honorable Mention 2: MSR Elixir 2-Person

Best Overall Waterproof Tent for Backpacking

Mountain Hardwear Aspect 2

Packed weight: 3lb 5oz

Floor Dimensions: 88 x 50in

Interior Height: 41in

Manufacturer Warranty: Lifetime

Price: $530

Material: [canopy] 15D nylon, [fly] 20D nylon (1200mm), [floor] 40D nylon ripstop (1500mm)

What we love about the Aspect 2: Ultralight freestanding tent built with durable materials that will withstand the majority of weather conditions, 20D sil-nylon fly and 40D ripstop floor make the Aspect one of the most durable and waterproof tents, Incredibly spacious interior for a 2-person tent, Easy to set up

What we don’t love: High price point for entry level backpackers

The Mountain Hardwear Aspect 2 Tent is our top overall choice for waterproof backpacking tents. The team at Mountain Hardwear never seem to miss, and the Aspect is another example of their excellent engineering capabilities when it comes to backpacking tents. This backpacking tent is built with exceptionally light and waterproof materials, making it a great option for the price. The sil-nylon fly of the Aspect 2 offers rugged weather protection for even heavy rains, as sil-nylon provides incredible moisture wicking compared against other tent materials. 

The freestanding style of this tent allows for greater headroom than many of the non-freestanding competitors near a similar level of performance. Additionally the pre-bent DAC featherlight poles and stakes allow for high performance in windy conditions without weighing you down on the trail. The vestibule area of the Aspect 2 provides enough room for two backpacks and gear. Even then, if the Aspect 2 doesn’t provide you enough space, the Aspect 3 certainly will. The Aspect 3 increases the existing floor dimensions to 90 x 66in and only increases the packed weight and tent price by 13 oz and $50, respectively.

If you’re looking for a high performance waterproof backpacking tent that can withstand heavy wind and rain, we cannot recommend the Aspect enough. The team at Mountain Hardwear even offer a lifetime warranty on the Aspect, which provides even more peace of mind if you choose to select this tent for your next trip or next 20 trips. The Aspect in our opinion is truly the best waterproof backpacking tent for heavy rain and wind.

Best Ultralight Waterproof Tent for Backpacking

Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2

Packed weight: 2lb 8oz

Floor Dimensions: 86 x 52-42in

Interior Height: [head] 39in [foot] 22in

Manufacturer Warranty: Lifetime

Price: $449.95

Material: [canopy] polyester mesh [fly/floor] solution dyed nylon (6 ripstop), polyurethane/silicone coated (1200mm)

What we love about the Tiger Wall UL2: Incredibly lightweight while offering a high level of performance, Vertical wall and dual vestibule design help this backpacking tent feel spacious even for two, Well ventilated and performs well in warmer climates

What we don’t love: Thinner materials will require extra care, Will require the use of a footprint to protect floor, Semi-freestanding design

As far as weight is concerned, the Tiger Wall UL2 is one of the lightest freestanding backpacking tents you can find. Coming in at a packed weight of 2lb 8oz and a minimum trail weight of 2lb 3oz, you’ll be hard pressed to find a tent with a similar weight that can perform in heavy winds and rain the way the Tiger Wall UL2 can. 

Considering its price point and weight, you might think that this Big Agnes tent feels tight inside, however the vertical wall design near your head makes this tent feel much more spacious than it seems. Even then, you could always opt for the Tiger Wall UL3 if you feel that you need more space than what’s offered on the 2-person variant.

This is our choice for backpackers who prioritize weight above all else. While the thinner materials will require some extra care over the long haul, the weight savings that are offered by the Tiger Wall 2 in a semi-freestanding waterproof design are simply fantastic.

Best Budget Waterproof Tent for Backpacking

Marmot Tungsten 2-Person

Packed weight: 5lb 11oz

Floor Dimensions: 88.2 x 53.9-46.1in

Interior Height: 42in

Manufacturer Warranty: Lifetime

Price: $248.95

Material: [fly] 68D polyester taffeta, PU coating (1500mm), [canopy] 68D polyester taffeta, 40D polyester no-see-um mesh, [floor] 70D polyester taffeta, PU coating (2000mm), [footprint] 68D polyester taffeta 190T (2000mm)

What we love about the Marmot Tungsten 2: Great value for price, Included footprint helps increase longevity, 2-person variant provides plenty of room, Can handle heavy winds and rain

What we don’t love: On the heavier side

The Marmot Tungsten is an excellent choice for the beginner backpacker or even an experienced one is budget-savvy. This tent is one of the most durable and weatherproof on the market at its price point for a 3-season backpacking tent. While it is heavier than most of the more premium options, the Tungsten can take a serious beating time and time again, which is a fantastic proposition considering its under $250. We’ve personally used the Tungsten in some heavy rain conditions and it successfully prevented any water from leaking in during our trip.

If you’d like to go a bit bigger, you could try the Tungsten 3-Person Variant, which increases the floor dimensions to 90 x 66in and the weight to 6lb 4oz for only $50 more than the 2-person variant. This is a fantastic option if you’d like the extra space to bring a dog along, if you’re carrying extra gear, or if you’d just like the additional area to stretch your legs at night.

Best 1-Person Waterproof Backpacking Tent

Mountain Hardwear Nimbus UL 1

Packed weight: 1lb 11.8 oz

Floor Dimensions: 86 x 38-28in

Interior Height: 38in

Manufacturer Warranty: Lifetime

Price: $400.00

Material: [canopy] 15D nylon mesh, 15D nylon ripstop (100% nylon) [floor] 30D 100% nylon ripstop (1500mm) [fly] 15D nylon, silicone coating on both sides (1200mm)

What we love about the Nimbus UL 1: Incredibly lightweight while offering a high level of performance, Low profile design helps this tent handle tough winds and rain, Easy to set up

What we don’t love: Thinner materials will require extra care

Are you planning a solo trek and seeking to keep your pack weight as light as possible? The Mountain Hardwear Nimbus UL 1 is one of the best options on the market for waterproof solo backpacking tents. Weighing in under 2 pounds, this waterproof tent is nimble but certainly isn’t weak. The sil-nylon mesh provides excellent support against the weather’s many challenges including wind and rain. The Nimbus UL 1 has fantastic ventilation and is a great choice in a variety of climates for 3-season hiking.

If you’re interested in the Nimbus UL 1 but would like to increase the size available, check out the Nimbus UL 2. While not an optimal 2-person tent due to the entryway style on this tent, this is a fantastic option for someone looking to solo camp with their dog or is carrying a lot of gear. The Nimbus UL 2 is also incredibly lightweight at 1lb 15.1oz and provides an increased floor dimension of 86 x 42-52in.

Best 4-Season Waterproof Tent for Winter Backpacking and High Wind

MSR Advance Pro 2

Packed weight: 3lb 3oz

Floor Dimensions: 82 x 42in

Interior Height: 44in

Manufacturer Warranty: 3 years

Price: $799.95

Material: [rainfly] 20D ripstop nylon 2 ply 1000mm, [floor] 30D ripstop nylon 3000mm polyurethane DWR, [mesh] 15D nylon micro

What we love about the Advance Pro 2: Fantastic performance in cold and windy conditions, Easy to set up, Incredibly light for a 4-season tent without sacrificing performance

What we don’t love: Too tight for 2 large adults, Better suited as a 1 person tent, Not optimal for warm summer conditions

The MSR Advance Pro 2 is an excellent choice for a winter backpacking tent. This incredibly durable 4-season tent will help keep thru hikers dry and warm on alpine and winter hikes. In terms of set up, the Advance Pro 2 is one of the easiest 4-season tents as it allows for you to set it up from one standing position rather than having to move around. This is a huge plus in tough wind, rain, or snow for backpackers.

While not a true 2-person tent, the Advance Pro 2 is exceptionally light for a 4-season tent, and therefore is a great consideration for any solo-hikers. The floor space provided within the tent is sure to provide you with enough space to layout comfortably with all of your gear. As is the case with most 4-season tents, the ventilation of the Advance Pro 2 makes it suboptimal for hot summer conditions, however it’s a great option for those who live in colder climates or frequently hike in alpine terrain.

Waterproof Backpacking Tent Honorable Mention 1

Nemo Aurora 2P

Packed weight: 5lb 7oz

Floor Dimensions: 88 x 52in

Interior Height: 44in

Manufacturer Warranty: Limited Lifetime

Price: $299.95

Material: [canopy] 30D polyester, no-see-um mesh [fly] 68D PU polyester (1200mm) [floor] 68D PU polyester (1200mm)

What we love about the Aurora 2P: Incredibly spacious interior for a 2-person tent, Easy to set up

What we don’t love: One way zipper on both doors, On the heavier side

Another excellent option to consider is the Nemo Aurora 2P. This design is one that works well in a variety of environments and climates, and you’ll certainly have ample space for two average sized adult backpackers and gear. While the Aurora does come in at over 5 lbs, you can easily split this weight between two packs if you’re hiking with a partner.

The Nemo Aurora provides an excellent value amongst waterproof backpacking tents. For under $300 you get a spacious and durable tent that’s sure to last you a number of seasons. Nemo brands are known for excellent build quality.

If the Aurora 2-person variant doesn’t provide you with enough room, check out the Aurora 3-person. For only a $60 upcharge, this tent offers a spacious floor plan of 88 x 72in and weighs in at a 6lb 8oz packed weight. The Aurora 3p is an excellent choice for 2 adults and a dog, for instance.

Waterproof Backpacking Tent Honorable Mention 2

MSR Elixir 2-Person

Packed weight: 6lb

Floor Dimensions: 84 x 50in

Interior Height: 40in

Manufacturer Warranty: Limited 3 year

Price: $319.95

Material: [rainfly] 68D polyester, DWR, [canopy] 40D nylon DWR, [mesh] 20D nylon micromesh, [floor] nylon, DWR

What we love about the MSR Elixir: Included footprint helping for longevity, Durable and long lasting material, Adaptable rainfly and vestibule, Easy to pitch

What we don’t love: Struggles with ventilation in more hot and humid environments, On the heavier side

The MSR Elixir 2-person is a fantastic backpacking option that’s durable enough to last thousands of miles on trail while keeping you dry along the way. This tent has a variety of benefits including a free footprint, an easy pitch process, a versatile rainfly/vestibule area, and a fantastic price point for the performance. We’d recommend the MSR Elixir to anyone that’s hiking in more temperate environments. While the Elixir performs excellently in the wind and rain, the heavier polyester material utilized in the rainfly and the placement of vents make it such that this tent performs best in cooler climates, and can perform suboptimally in tropical or subtropical environments.

If the two person variant doesn’t work well for you, there’s a one-person and three-person variant for you to explore as well. All of these tents offer fantastic value and durability.

Backpacking Tent Buying Advice

One of the most important pieces of gear for backpackers is a good backpacking tent. We understand how difficult it can be to find the right piece of gear for you with so many options available, so we’ve outlined some tips for buying the right waterproof backpacking tent to suit your needs.

Consider tent weight and dimensions carefully

When choosing a backpacking tent, size and weight are two critical factors to consider. You want a tent that is lightweight and easy to carry in your backpack, but you also want a tent that provides enough space for you and your gear. Tents are usually labeled with the number of people they can accommodate. Keep in mind that the number listed may not be the most comfortable for you, especially if you’re tall or have a lot of gear. It’s a good idea to look for a tent that has extra space, either in the length or width, to make sure you have room to move around.

Check the tent set up

Setting up your tent should be easy and straightforward. Look for a tent that comes with a simple, intuitive setup that you can handle on your own. When hiking in inclement weather, you’ll be thankful that you’ve got a tent that’s not a puzzle to set up so that you can get comfortable quicker at the end of the day.

Look for durability in a tent

Backpacking tents need to be durable enough to withstand the rigors of the outdoors. Look for tents made from high-quality materials like sil-nylon, ripstop nylon or polyester. These materials are lightweight, yet durable and can withstand wear and tear. Additionally, make sure the tent has strong poles and sturdy zippers. You don’t want to be stuck in a rainstorm with a broken zipper or collapsed tent poles.

Managing Rainfall and Seam-Sealing your Backpacking Tent

Despite the fact that all of our recommendations are waterproof, it is highly recommended to always water check your waterproof backpacking tent prior to taking it out on a trip. You can do this by pitching your tent in your backyard or another area and running hose water over the tent for five or ten minutes in different areas. Then check the interior of your tent to ensure there’s no moisture seeping in, and if there is you can identify the problem locations and spot treat them with the proper sealant for your type of tent.

Despite the fact that these tents are waterproof, it is critical to ensure that all seams are sealed before taking your tent out for your first trip. Seam sealing a backpacking tent is an essential step in preparing your gear. The process of seam sealing involves applying a waterproof sealant to the seams of your tent to prevent water from seeping through the tiny holes created by the needle and thread during manufacturing.

The materials that require seam sealant typically depend on the type of tent you have. Most backpacking tents are made from nylon or polyester, and the seams on these materials will require seam sealant. Additionally, if your tent has a polyurethane (PU) coating or a silicone coating, these materials will also require seam sealant.

To seam seal your backpacking tent, you will need a few materials, including:

  • Seam sealer: A waterproof sealant that is designed to seal the seams of your tent.
  • Small brush or applicator: A small brush or applicator will help you apply the seam sealer to the seams of your tent.
  • Clean cloth: A clean cloth will be used to wipe off any excess seam sealer that may get on the fabric of your tent.

To seam seal your backpacking tent, follow these steps:

  • Set up your tent: Set up your tent in a dry, well-ventilated area.
  • Locate the seams: Identify the seams on your tent that need to be sealed. These will typically be the seams that are exposed to the outside of the tent, such as the fly or rainfly seams.
  • Apply seam sealer: Using a small brush or applicator, apply the seam sealer to the seams of your tent. Be sure to apply the seam sealer to both sides of the seam, if possible.
  • Wipe off excess seam sealer: Use a clean cloth to wipe off any excess seam sealer that may get on the fabric of your tent.
  • Allow to dry: Allow the seam sealer to dry completely before packing up your tent.

Seam sealing your backpacking tent is an important step to take to ensure that you stay dry and comfortable during your outdoor adventures. By taking the time to properly seal your waterproof backpacking tent, you can be sure that you are well-prepared for any weather conditions that may come your way.