Many gears and equipment are required to arrange the camping trip when you plan for your camping trip. And choosing the right tent is the most crucial part. You might think about what tent fabric material is suitable for you and what tent fabric is made of. Asking and rightly answering these two questions will help you avoid any inconvenience while residing in a tent. So we have written this article to answer all these questions and help you choose the right tent type for you.

What Are Tent Fabrics Made Of?

A few decades ago, tents were made of cotton and other natural materials, but now tents are made of synthetic materials, which are lighter and resistant to water. However, even the best tent material can be a pain if it’s the wrong one for your needs. Here’s how to choose the suitable tent fabric for your next camping trip.

Polyester Fabric Tents

polyester fabric tents

Polyester tents are the most common type of tent you probably see. Whether pop-up tents, cabin, instant, family tents, all made of polyester material, all kinds of tents. Most likely, you would also end up buying a polyester tent for your camping trip.

Polyester is heavier than nylon fabric tents, but it’s more rigid and sturdy than nylon tents. Polyester tents perform better than nylon tents against ultra-violet (UV) rays. UV rays are very harmful to the body, so you need a tent with excellent UV protection.

Alot of polyester tent manufacturers like to put a blend of coating on the tent and label them with their coating name, like weatherTec protection used by the Coleman brand. The same goes for the other brands as well.

Another benefit of polyester is that it does not shrink when it gets wet, so it’s perfect to be water-resistant, but still, it has to be coated to make it completely waterproof. As polyester material is cheaper and more durable, alot of tents are made from synthetic polyester material. Most of the dome tents available in the market are made of polyester material.

Nylon Fabric Tents

nylon fabric tents

Nylon fabric tents are a prevalent type of tent fabric. This type of synthetic fabric is primarily used in smaller tents like pop-up tents 2-person tents as nylon is very lightweight than polyester to make smaller tents lightweight. The primary purpose of smaller tents is to be lighter and easy to set up and carry.

Nylon material is very thin and robust and lightweight so you will see them in most backpacking tents, especially. Nylon tents also have different types. There are low price nylon tents and high price nylon tents for heavy outdoor camping like expeditions.

One of the significant drawbacks of nylon tents is that there is not as protective against the sun’s UV rays as the polyester tent is. So you have to be careful about leaving a nylon tent in the sun. Nylon tents are coated with material like silicone to make them waterproof, and it also helps protect against the sun’s UV rays.

Cotton or Canvas Tents

cotton cnavas tent

The next type of tent fabric is cotton or canvas tents. A canvas or cotton tent is a luxurious type of tent and gives you an excellent camping experience if you have one. Cotton canvas fabric tent provides incredible ventilation and keeps you cool inside when it’s warm outside and keep you warm inside when it’s cool outside. Tents made from cotton canvas fabric are not popular today, but they still do come.

Cotton fabric provides more excellent insulation as compared to synthetic fabric material tents. But the downside of cotton canvas tents is that they are significantly heavier and bulkier than other tents. These tents also take more time to set up. These tents are now very rare as most manufacturers do not make them, but you can still find them. But they are costly.

Cotton tents are mostly known for glamping, and they have a yurts-like style, which is not ideal for camping or hiking activities. One thing to know about canvas or cotton tents is that they have to be weathered in, which means that if you take a brand new cotton canvas tent out in the rainwater will probably leak through, and it’s going to be leaking inside.

Poly-Cotton Fabric Material Tents

As the name suggests, Poly-Cotton fabric tents are tents made of polyester and cotton blend. The idea behind this is to add the features of both fabric types that are lightweight, breathability, and insulation in one tent. The poly-cotton tent did not come in a smaller size and usually come in a large cabin-style tent.

These types of tents are more costly than the above three types costing around thousands of dollars are used mainly by experienced professional campers who camp in groups. Poly-cotton tents have mostly 65% cotton and 35% polyester ratio. If you are an experienced camper and need a giant size tent with the feature of both cotton and polyester, then a tent made of polyester and cotton can be an excellent option for you.

Cuben Fiber Made Tent

Cuben Fiber Tent is one of the best materials for tents and outdoor gear. This fabric is a light, high strength, and waterproof fabric. It’s called Dyneema Composite Fabric (DCF). This fabric is used to make industrial applications used outdoor and gear that get contact with water, such as yachtings, windsurfing, ultra backpacking equipment like tents and backpacks.

This material has excellent waterproofness and gives excellent breathability. That’s why it’s very commonly used in outdoor equipment. This fabric is also high strength and extremely lightweight. These tents are ultra waterproof and can be used in any weather condition without worrying about getting wet inside them. But they are reasonably more expensive than traditional polyester and nylon tents.

What Tent Fabric Are Waterproof

The waterproofing of tent fabric is of the utmost importance in protecting the inner tent from the elements. Still, the very best waterproofing is useless if the seams are not sealed or if the waterproofing is not applied to the whole of the tent fabric.

There are two main types of waterproofing: one is a surface treatment applied to the fabric’s outer face and is generally a very thin application. The other type is a material incorporated into the fabric when the tent is made. This is the most effective waterproofing but is more expensive to apply.

The most common waterproofing treatment applied to the outside of the tent fabric is a silicone impregnated coating. This treatment is applied to the outside of the material and is generally only applied to the seams. This is a very effective waterproofing treatment, but it is not waterproof as the seams still need to be sealed. If a tent is waterproof, then the waterproof treatment needs to be applied to the tent fabric. The seams still need to be sealed.

There are different waterproof ratings used in the industry, and these ratings are standard across all types of tent fabric.

Following are some of the ratings that define the waterproofness level of tents fabric.

Waterproof RatingWhat it means
0 – 1000 mmWorks well in light rain drizzling works perfectly in summer season 
1000 – 1500 mmFor use during Light to average rain
1500 – 5000 mmWorks extremely well during heavy rain showers and storm 
5000 mm + Best for expedition where rain showers continuously and conditions are extremely wet

What are Tent Poles Made of

Tent poles play a vital role in holding the tent’s structure and make the tent sturdy enough to withstand high winds and not to add much weight to the overall weight of the tent. Choosing the correct tent pole type is as essential as the tent fabric. 

Tents poles are made up of different metals and combinations. The most common material are aluminum, fiberglass, and steel poles. Carbon fiber and composite steel are also used, but they are very rare.  

Each of these materials has advantages and disadvantages based on strength, weight, flexibility, durability, and price.

Fiberglass Tent Poles

Fiberglass is a glass material made of long and thin strands of glass that are made by heating sand. The material is used in the construction of tent poles because it is flexible and can be detached easily from each other. Waterproof tents are not easy to find, but some companies can manufacture a tent for you, but you will have to pay a high price for it.

The tent poles are made of fiberglass and are very flexible, not too hard to move them around. There are many benefits of having a fiberglass construction for a tent. The biggest and the most important is that you can quickly move the tent from one place to another. 

The disadvantage of fiberglass poles is that they are incredibly light, so to give the tent sturdiness and strength, fiberglass needs to be used in more ratio, making the tent heavier and bulky.

Aluminum Poles Tent

Aluminum poles are used in nearly all tents, from backpacking to large family tents. These are more robust and provide excellent strength to the tent.

Aluminum pole tents are more expensive than fiberglass pole tents, but they value the money. The aluminum poles tent is designed for strong winds and rainy conditions. The tent is also lightweight, portable, and easy to set up. 

One disadvantage of aluminum poles is that they are prone to corrosion, but tent manufacturers do anodize aluminum to prevent the stakes from getting rust. So they are scarce chances of getting rust on the pole. Also, wipe the tent poles with a dry cloth to prevent corrosion and then pack them back into the bag.

Steel Poles

Most canopy tent has a frame made up of alloy steel. Steel poles are mainly used in larger tents to provide more stability and strength to the large tent canvas. As canopy tents have an open structure with just a shed on top, heavy winds crossing from the sides can cause the tent to Shut off unexpectedly. 

Steel poles are much heavier than aluminum but provide great strength, stability, and sturdiness to the tent. Steel poles cost-effectively provide you with excellent stability and high quality without any additional cost.

Which Tent Type is Best For You

To decide which type of tent material will be best for you. You need to analyze what kind of camping you are going to, whether it’s backpacking camping car camping. Also, it would help if you examined the weather condition and seasons. The weather conditions of the place where you are going, how often rain pours there, and how windy it could be there. Are you camping during the summer or winter season? 

Backpacking Camping

If you are backpacking camping in any weather condition, a tent with nylon fabric and aluminum poles will be best for you. As nylon is a lightweight fabric and aluminum also being lightweight provides outstanding strength and durability to the tent.

Car Camping in Normal Sunny Days

If you are going for recreational car camping during regular sunny days, then a polyester tent with fiberglass poles. Fiberglass is not the best, but it provides excellent stability to the tent at no additional cost. Otherwise, if you can put some extra money, you can go for aluminum or steel pole tents. 

Camping in Cold Weather

If you are going camping during the cold season, you can choose a cotton canvas tent with steel poles as they provide excellent protection against cold winds and rain and help you stay insulated in low temperatures. You can also buy a polyester tent with aluminum poles and a heater to keep warm during cold weather. 


So now you have a clear idea about the different types of tent fabric and pole material with the pros and cons of each. Now you can choose the right tent for you by making a combination of tent fabric and pole material that suits your camping season and weather conditions at the camping site. 

I hope you enjoy reading our post and found it helpful and helpful in deciding which tent to choose for your camping trip.


Meet our camping blog author, Mark Allen! Mark is an avid outdoors enthusiast who grew up camping and hiking in the Pacific Northwest. He has since explored the wilderness of many different regions across the United States and Canada, and has a deep passion for sharing her experiences and knowledge with others. Mark has been writing about camping and hiking for over five years, and has contributed to a variety of online publications and print magazines. Her writing style is approachable and engaging, and she loves to share tips and advice for beginners just getting started in the outdoors.