Tent Fabrics: A Comparison of Fabric Types

Tent Fabrics: A Comparison of Fabric Types
Andrii Kovalenko November 15, 2021 5 mins read time


Principles of choosing a tent made of different materials

Travellers cannot do without a tourist tent. To purchase a product that will last long and perform basic functions, you need to understand the types of fabric of which it is made. This way you could choose the best option at an affordable price.

Many people want a waterproof and breathable tent. But when it comes to a hot tent, such characteristics are inappropriate. It takes a lot of materials to make a quality tent. It will be heavy and won’t be able to cope with the main tasks — providing a place for rest and protect from bad weather. Winter models require even more materials, so the cost will be very high.

Therefore, you can choose a single or double wall tent with good ventilation. It will be comfortable and warm inside (especially if you are lighting a stove), and cold air will not pass through the fabric. Check out the options used to make the best tents to get a high-quality and durable product.

camping fabric

Denier of fabric

Denier is a unit of measure used to estimate the density of textiles. The higher the denier is, the harder the tent material will be. But the indicator may turn out to be wrong, because each product has its own parameters, which are considered optimal.

The higher the den number of fabric is, the heavier it will be. But this doesn’t mean that its quality will improve too. Materials that are less than 30 den can be quite thin. They wear out quickly. If you buy a tent made of such fabric, you will probably have to choose a new one for the next season.

You can choose a nylon tent of 7 denier density, which will be several times lighter than a 30 denier product. It will be cheaper but of questionable quality. It is worth carefully studying every characteristic of the fabric so that your tent serves you as long as possible.

Nylon and polyester

Both fabrics are synthetic, but polyester has its special characteristics. It allows less UV rays in, but in practice it turns out to be very heavy. The cost is lower compared to other textiles. Models made of nylon are lighter, the fabric is more elastic, and the quality is fully consistent with the high price.

There are several types of nylon:

  • 6;
  • Robic;
  • 6.6;
  • Cordura.

The most unreliable of these is nylon 6. The stronger option is Robic, which has a long service life. If you want an even higher quality tent, choose the model made of nylon 6.6, which is a high-strength material. Such fabric is less likely to tear and will better protect you against bad weather.

Cordura is based on nylon 6.6. It has good characteristics and is less prone to tearing than other material. Nylon has long fiber, which is strong and durable.

tent material

What is ripstop?

Many types of fabric have a reinforcing pattern called ripstop. So they become more durable, and individual threads of the main canvas will not slide apart and tear from the slightest touch.

This pattern is used in the manufacture of high quality products. You may come across cheap knockoffs that look like original fabrics. Such models will be stronger than if they had no pattern at all. But in order for a tent to get the best properties, it is worth making sure that the ripstop is original.

The main purpose of such a pattern is to prevent the complete rupture of textiles. If the tent clings to the branches or if you accidentally rip it, the ripstop will prevent the hole from getting bigger.

what is a tent made of

Polyurethane and silicone are the best waterproof materials

Most camping tents are made of silicone, polyurethane, or a combination of these fabrics. Polyurethane is more common. But the absence of silicone in the composition will lead to the appearance of holes on the surface. The material absorbs moisture, which causes an unpleasant odor over time. The waterproof coating would begin to flake off and the tent would lose its properties.

To buy a higher quality and waterproof tent, choose a model made of silicone. It is durable, doesn’t absorb moisture and will last much longer than similar polyurethane models. Tents made of a combination of silicone and polyurethane are most often chosen for travelling to places where there is a lot of sand. Its small particles won’t adhere to the coating, which will might lead to deterioration of textiles.

At first glance, the difference in materials is not noticeable. You might think that a tent made of a mixed fabrics would be stronger. But in fact, it turns out that silicone has better characteristics, including waterproofness.

Seam tapes are used to connect the polyurethane parts, while in silicone models, the seams are sealed. This is an additional reason why silicone tents cost more.

Description of Dyneema (Cuben Fiber)

One of the most expensive tent materials is Dyneema. It is light-weight and very strong. On its coating, you will see the ripstop pattern of the fibers of this fabric. They are connected by layers of mylar.

The main characteristics of Dyneema are as follows:

  • excellent waterproof performance;
  • low stretching;
  • low melting point.

The fabric has several layers, so you won't get wet even in the heaviest rain. The material doesn’t stretch well; during the installation of a tent, stakes and hinges will have a large load. Make sure the stakes are strong enough to prevent the tent from falling in strong winds.

The melting point of this fabric is lower than that of others. If the model is designed to fit a stove inside, there will be wider holes in the coating. You can purchase a special stove designed for such tents.

Dyneema also has its advantages — it is much easier to patch. If small holes appear on the coating, you can use mylar tape to fix the tent.

tent fabric

Influence of ultraviolet radiation

UV rays can affect the nylon fabric. The material will quickly lose its original color and look less attractive. Fibers break down and over time the tent will become unusable. Problems are especially noticeable on tents of bright colors. If your tent is grey or brown, the coating will be less sun faded.

If you go camping on sunny days, it is best to choose waterproof Dyneema tents. Regardless of the color of the coating, UV radiation will not negatively affect the surface, and the tent will retain its original appearance for a long time.

Now that you have studied the main characteristics of tents made of various materials, we can summarize. The most durable is the nylon 6.6 coating. The quality of silicone products is not inferior, the third place is taken by a combination of silicone and other fabric. Polyurethane is less strong and durable.

When choosing the right product, pay attention not only to its characteristics but also to the region you are going to. The weather will also affect the quality of your holiday. Your tent should be well protected from rain and wind, be warm enough and let in fresh air in hot weather. Choose models of the highest quality materials and enjoy your vacation.



🏕  Will the tent fade in the sun?

Nylon models can lose color, while Dyneema coating will retain its perfect color even after a week of exposure to UV rays.

📦  What is the strongest fabric for a tent?

You can opt for nylon coating. This material has good waterproof qualities and good wind protection.

💡  How does ripstop affect the fabric quality?

If the surface of a tent made of nylon, silicone or other fabric has a ripstop pattern, your tent will not tear completely. There may be small holes in it, the size of which will not increase, so you will just have to put on a patch and continue to use the tent.


Michael Campbell

Michael Campbell said:

So many tents! How will I ever choose?:)

Lilly James

Lilly James said:

If you’re planning on going winter camping, I’d definitely recommend nylon coating! It’s guranteed to protect you against wind or snow/rain.

Cade Plant

Cade Plant said:

I didn’t even know there were so many tent fabrics to choose from;)

Zakaria Atherton

Zakaria Atherton said:

Customers don’t pay nearly enough attention to tent fabrics, but they are so important!

Dean Bautista

Dean Bautista said:

I have never seen this info before, thank you

Indigo Hunter

Indigo Hunter said:

I love Dyneema, but it’s very pricey

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