Top 4 Materials That Camping Tents Are Made From

We may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post. Thanks for the support! 👍

If you enjoy tent camping, the tent is obviously going to be one of the biggest determining factors as to if you are going to enjoy it or not! Because of this, you want to consider all of the different materials out there today!

So what are camping tents made of? Most camping tents you find for a family-style camping experience will likely be made of Nylon or Polyester, however, for the more serious campers, Canvas and PVC tent is also an option!

Let’s talk a little bit more about each option, and why it might be right for your purposes!

1. Nylon

This is an extremely commonly used material, mainly because it is relatively inexpensive, as well as lightweight.

Because of this, you will find it in tons of different stores, and widely available.

While it doesn’t hold up to constant use and abuse in comparison to materials like PVC or Canvas, it still works well for most uses like backpacking, and overnight camping.

Its great strength-to-weight ratio makes it perfect for most people and is why it continues to be the most popular choice.

If you want to go for a Nylon tent, this one is a great value!

2. Polyester

This material is used heavily on tents that need to be waterproof! While it is more expensive than nylon, it does prove to be the better tent overall. It isn’t nearly as elastic when wet, meaning your tent won’t sag quite as much when it gets wet in the rain.

It is also relatively lightweight, making it a decent option for those backpacking and day camping. However, it by no means is as lightweight as nylon. This tent here is what you will find with Polyester!

3. Canvas (Cotton)

A great example of a canvas tent with an awesome backdrop

Are you looking for something better than the last two options? Canvas is great for people who are looking to build a more permanent tent structure, or for something that is going to be used for years to come.

You will find this type of tent in use at teepees, large tents, and companies that regularly host camping events. For camping, you are probably most familiar with tents like this one from.

The downsides to canvas tents are that it is heavy and expensive. Meaning backpackers, overnight campers, and people on a budget likely won’t gravitate towards this style of tent.

4. Tarp (PVC)

PVC material is not nearly as common of material in camping tents as the other three options on this list. However, you likely have witnessed the material in use when you have gone to a wedding or outdoor party.

Many of those large tents that have a dance hall inside tend to be made of this material. It holds up to wind and rain extremely well, however, it is heavy and expensive, making it not a super usable material for the standard camper.

You also will find tarp tents that are open ended, meaning they are open to the elements. Here is a great example of one of those.

What are lightweight tents made of?

Most lightweight tents today are made strictly of nylon, which is not shocking given the fact that it has been used for years now. In addition, you will find lightweight tents made of polyester as well! Nylon is both water-resistant and extremely lightweight.

While it won’t be as strong as other materials, you will find that many manufacturers treat the fabric for water-resistant protection to ensure that your tent isn’t going to blow away in a bit of wind!

What are waterproof tents made of?

As mentioned above, waterproof tents are generally made of either Nylon or Polyester. However, they are treated with a waterproof spray that makes the water bead up and rolls off of the tent.

That said, while they may be advertised as waterproof, they will allow water to make its way through if water can pool upon it.

What is a polycotton tent?

A polycotton tent is a canvas tent that has been made of cotton and polyester.

The downfalls are almost identical to regular cotton tents! They are heavy and expensive, meaning they aren’t practical for most people looking for a camping experience. However, the upsides to polycotton are that they are better than cotton, meaning it will be easier to clean and last longer.

Some manufacturers advertise their tents as the best of both worlds! However, this may not always mean that it is what you want all the time. That said, for camping events like weddings or company outings, polycotton can hold up well to heavy use.

Frequently Asked Questions

What material are most tents made of?

Most tents today are made primarily of nylon or polyester. Nylon is lightweight and easy to clean, but it isn’t as strong as the other options. Polyester, on the other hand, won’t be as lightweight but is stronger than nylon!

Are tents breathable?

Most tents are made of breathable materials. There are plenty of manufacturers who will tout how their tent is 100% breathable. However, all of them will be some variation on the nylon or polyester material.

What are Army tents made of?

Army or Military tents are typically made of heavy canvas. In addition, they have been treated with a wax substance that makes them water-resistant and easy to clean. These tents often come in large pieces so you will need assistance assembling them! However, once they are assembled, these types of tents can take a lot of punishment.

Can you cook in a camping tent?

I never recommend that you cook inside of your tent. This can cause dangerous gases to build up inside of your tent that you are not aware of. Secondly, having a fire (which is generally used to cook) can catch your tent on fire and cause significant damage to it, or worse, yourself.


Regardless of what type of tent you choose, make sure you are getting the right one for your purposes! While most people will likely choose a nylon tent for its lightweight, and affordable structure, there are of course other options like polyester, PVC, and canvas.

My favorite? You can’t go wrong with a canvas tent. They hold up to the elements well, are easy to clean, and can even be used for commercial purposes with ease.