Are Coleman Tents Waterproof? The Truth Revealed

By: Ashley Vitiello | Last Updated on December 22, 2023

Coleman Company is one of the world’s leading tent manufacturers and they make tents for an affordable price and a variety of purposes. Most Coleman tents are designed to be waterproof and they are made from materials that are designed to keep water out. But are Coleman tents really waterproof? Many people are curious to know if Coleman tents are waterproof. The answer is yes, but there’s a bit more to it than that. Let’s take a look at the various aspects of tent waterproofing, as well as how a Coleman tent is waterproofed and why they are so highly rated.

Before we get into Coleman tents specifically, let’s talk about what makes a tent waterproof.

Are Coleman Tents Waterproof?

The short answer is yes, but the longer answer is “it’s not that simple”. Coleman tents are designed to be waterproof and they use a number of different techniques to make sure that they stay that way. They use materials with coatings that are specifically designed to repel water, they make sure that all of their seams are sealed (with patented welded corners), and they have a bathtub floor on the bottom with a rainfly over the top.

That being said, Coleman doesn’t advertise the hydrostatic rating on their tents, so we reached out to them to see if we could get an answer. The response was interesting to say the least:

Coleman’s MINIMUM hydrostatic head rating for the fabrics in this tent is 450mm. During batch and periodic testing we find most of the materials test at a much higher rating.

Based on this table, you can see that a waterproof rating this low is well below the typical minimum “waterproof” level of 1200mm. We were surprised with a number so low, but the agent went on to explain more.

Waterproof materials do not 100% translate to a waterproof tent…To make our tents as waterproof as possible we tape all of the rainfly seams, use our Weather Tec inverted seams in other area, and use a patented welded process.

How are Coleman Tents Waterproofed?

Coleman tents use all of the above techniques to make sure that their tents are waterproof. They use fabrics that are treated to repel water, they make sure that all of their seams are properly sealed and they use a bathtub style floor with patented welded corners. That being said, they have an unusually low waterhead rating (450mm) that makes the tent not truly waterproof when it comes to the world of tents and outdoor gear.

Does Coleman Provide Hydrostatic Head Ratings?

Yes, Coleman does provide hydrostatic head ratings for all their tents, but it’s not usually in the product listing. We had to reach out to Coleman to get the hydrostatic head so we could fully understand a Coleman tent’s waterproofing. You can see quotes from our conversation with the Coleman representative above.

Can You Improve The Weatherproofing Of A Coleman Tent?

There are a few things that you can do to make sure that your Coleman tent is even more waterproof. The first is to make sure that all of the seams are properly sealed. You can use a seam sealer to make sure that no water is able to seep through the tiny gaps between the pieces of fabric.

In addition, you can also use a waterproof coating on the outside of the tent. This coating is designed to repel water and make sure that it doesn’t get through the fabric of the tent.

You can hang a tarp over the top of your tent, which provides an extra layer of protection during heavy rains. Don’t let the tarp sit directly on your tent, and instead secure it above the tent using some guylines and trees.

You can also put a tarp under your tent, or use the matching tent footprint to provide more waterproofing to the tent floor. If you do this, just make sure the shape matches the tent’s outline and doesn’t extend past the tent walls, otherwise water will pool under your tent.

Finally, you can make sure your tent is properly set up and well maintained to make sure that it can withstand whatever wet weather comes your way.

The Coleman Skylodge 12 (best 12 person tent) is great for family camping and has a screen room bug-free hanging out, as well as a room divider, and vertical walls with a tall peak height.

What Makes A Tent Waterproof?

There are a few different factors that make a tent waterproof. The first is the materials that are used. Most tent materials are typically made from synthetic fabrics but the fabric itself isn’t what repels water. Even canvas tents aren’t waterproof at first, but the fabric is treated with a waterproofing coating that is designed to repel water. This repellant is what gives a tent its hydrostatic head rating (HH), or waterhead rating.

Here’s a breakdown of hydrostatic head (HH) measurements or waterproof rating. This number is measured in millimeters and the higher the number, the more waterproof the tent is. But what is hydrostatic head and how is it physically measured? At its most basic description, it’s a measurement of how much water it takes before moisture starts to seep through a fabric. Any quality tent should have a HH over 1200mm in order to be deemed waterproof.


Hydrostatic Head Rating
Waterproofing LevelBest Use
0-1000mmHardly Water ResistantIdeal weather in summer
1000-1200mmWater ResistantCan handle light rain
1200-1500mmWaterproofMost three season weather conditions
1500-5000mmVery WaterproofVery wet weather and four season camping
CanvasVery WaterproofFour season, all weather car camping.
A table illustrating the different levels of waterproofing and what is considered waterproof.

Even if a fabric is highly water repellant, the seams of a tent are also important. They need to be properly sealed to make sure water doesn’t seep through the weak points, and they use a seam sealer treatment that’s made just for this. Tents also utilize inverted seams to help with the level of waterproofing, which means the seams are sewn so they are located on the inside of the tent before being properly treated.

A couple more basic things to ensure your tent is as waterproof as possible:

  • Bathtub style floor that raises up at least 6 inches.
  • Rainfly that covers all the mesh parts on the tent walls.

You can take this a step further and check for these features – they make for an even higher waterproof rating.

  • A full coverage rainfly that extends all the way towards the ground will provide more protection than one that only covers the upper portion of the tent.
  • A waterproofing rating on the tent floor that surpasses 1200mm or more.

There are some other features to consider when you’re shopping for a generally high quality car camping tent:

A good waterproof tent is going to be one that fits all the qualities you want in a camping tent, as long as you’re willing to provide a little extra waterproofing in the form of additional coatings and/or tarps. If you don’t want to provide this extra gear and intend on needing the weather protection, perhaps consider getting a tent that fits all the features listed above.

How Are Tents Waterproofed?

When it comes to the level of waterproofing on a tent, there are a few different techniques that manufacturers use. The first step is to use a waterproof coating that is applied to the outer material of the tent, and this includes the floor as well as the outer layers. This coating is designed to repel water and keep it from seeping through the fabric of the tent.

Once your main material is waterproofed, you can take other steps to further the tent’s waterproofing. As stated above, tent companies will use a seam sealant to reinforce the seams on the sides and floor of the tent. Having a bathtub floor will help secure the lower portion of the tent walls, and an integrated rainfly will help protect the exterior. Some rainflys aren’t full coverage, and you may want to take extra steps to secure that kind of tent in rainy weather conditions (e.g., hanging a tarp over the top of the tent).

All these steps make for an entire tent that’s ready for heavy rains, wind, and yucky weather.

We already knew that most Coleman tents took these WeatherTec steps towards waterproofing, but we didn’t realize how low the HH measurement would be. So that means a Coleman tent may or may not be waterproof depending on who you talk to.

If you frequently camp in rainy conditions, we would recommend covering your tent with a tarp or purchasing a higher quality tent with a better waterhead rating. However, if you enjoy fair weather camping, then a Coleman tent would provide adequate weather protection in light rain and wind up to 35 mph.

This Coleman tent is the Skydome 8 (it made our list for best 8 person tents and is one of the best Coleman tents), which is one of the few tents that actually has a waterhead rating in the product listing. It’s still not very high though, with a 600mm fly and body and a 1500mm floor.

FAQ

Will Coleman tents hold up in very heavy rain?

While Coleman tents are designed to be able to withstand even the heaviest of rains, they aren’t exactly waterproof. Their WeatherTec design uses a bathtub style floor and sealed seams (in addition to some other features) to help keep water out, but their hydrostatic head rating is unusually low at only 450mm, which is well below what’s considered “waterproof”.

Are most tents waterproof?

Most tents are designed to be waterproof, but it’s important to do your research to make sure the tent you’re buying is actually waterproof. Look for tents that are made of fabrics that are treated to repel water, as well as tents that have a Hydrostatic Head rating of at least 1200mm.

Do Tents Lose their Waterproofing?

Yes, tents can lose their waterproofing over time. This is especially true if the tent is not properly set up and maintained. If a tent is set up in an exposed area or if it is not taken care of properly, then the waterproof coating can start to wear away and the seams can start to come apart.

Are Coleman tents machine washable?

No, you should never machine wash a tent since the tent fabric is not designed for washing machines or dryers. If the tent is dirty, first sweep out any larger particles, then use a sponge and mild soap water to scrub away dirt. Let it dry completely before storing it away.

Conclusion

No matter what tent you choose, it’s important to make sure that it is properly set up and maintained so that it can withstand whatever wet weather comes your way. With Coleman tents, make sure you take the proper steps to further the tent’s waterproofing so it will offer more protection during heavy rain and strong wind. Happy camping!

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About The Author

Ashley is an adventurous soul who loves all things nature, especially warm sunshine, wildflowers, scenic snacking, and mushrooms. She is an avid outdoor enthusiast who has spent years enjoying time outside doing things like hiking, camping, and rock climbing.
Her goal with Know Nothing Nomads is to make these hobbies easily accessible through knowledgeable content and how-to's based on all the stuff she's learned on her journey. If she isn't writing an article, she's probably in a forest looking at big mountain views and tiny pieces of moss on the side of the trail.

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