Wondering about tent material? Check out this helpful guide to tent materials ratings and what they mean.
What You Need to Know About Tent Materials and Their Ratings
Tents can be a big investment and it’s important to know the quality of the product you are purchasing. A main factor in the quality of a tent is the material it’s made of. Knowing what the ratings of tent materials means can help you make the best decision when comparing tents. Let’s take a look at tent materials and what to look for when comparing. I’ll be comparing a nylon vs polyester tent.
Common Types of Tent Materials
The most common tent materials you’ll run across when looking at tents are nylon, polyester, and canvas. Nylon and polyester are the most commonly used materials for the widely used dome tents. Canvas is typically used for the bell tents and teepees that you see more and more people using for glamping.
These three materials are used to make camping gear like tents, footprints, and backpacks.
Nylon is a synthetic material made up of petrochemicals. It is know for its strength and durability making it perfect for tent making. The nylon fibers are tightly woven together to form the fabric that we see used in camping gear, clothes, and so much more.
Polyester is also a synthetic material made of petrochemicals. Its fibers are woven together to make textiles in a similar way to nylon. It is a low-cost and durable material that is widely used in clothing and other textiles.
Differences Between Nylon and Polyester Tents
The main differences between polyester and nylon, in regards to camping gear, is that polyester is more waterproof while nylon tends to absorb water.
Nylon, however, is known to be more durable because of its ability to stretch. This is a pro and a con as polyester tents to hold its shape better but nylon is difficult to tear.
Nylon also costs more than polyester.
Canvas tents are mostly made of 100% cotton canvas. More specifically, they are usually made of duck canvas which is double threaded. Canvas is durable and has natural waterproof tendencies making it a no-brainer for tent material. It is also breathable, letting humidity pass from inside the tent to the outside making it more comfortable inside.
Differences Between Canvas and Nylon or Polyester Tent Material
Canvas is made of natural cotton material whereas nylon and polyester are made of plastics. It is more breathable and is naturally water resistant.
Nylon and Polyester aren’t made of natural material so they are less likely to develop mold or mildew unless organic material, like dirt etc., are left on it.
Canvas allows you to repair tears and holes while it is difficult to do so with nylon and polyester. Even with nylor or polyester ripstop, the threads are hard to patch.
Which Fabric is Best for Tents?
We have used each type of tent and have found that there are pros and cons to each type of material. It all comes down to personal preference along with what tent style you are looking for and your budget.
There are a few other things to consider when choosing a tent when comparing materials. You need to make sure that you check the material ratings as well as the fabric itself.
Nylon and Polyester Tent Material Ratings
Nylon and Polyester are rated by D (Denier) and sometimes by T (Thread Count). PU ratings are used for measuring how waterproof the material is.
Find nylon and polyester tents here.
T and D Tent Ratings
The T and D ratings will tell you how tough and durable the material is.
The D, or denier, rating refers to the weight of the material. Denier is a unit of denisity meaning that the higher the D-rating, the heavier and more superior the material. You may see higher D-ratings for the floor and tent footprints and lower D-ratings for sidewalls and canopies.
You’ll see denier ratings commonly varying from 150-210D for tents.
T stands for thread count and works in the same way as the bed sheets you purchase. The count is the number of threads woven in 1 square inch of material. The higher the count, the tighter and stronger the weave.
Most tents that publish their thread count are around 190T.
You might also come across “Ripstop” materials. Ripstop means that the weaving of the material was reinforced in a way that makes it more tear and rip resistant.
PU Tent Ratings
PU stands for polyurethane. Tent materials with a PU rating have been treated with a polyurethane-based coating that creates a waterproof membrane.
PU1000mm is the minimum rating fabric can be to be considered waterproof. The number in mm is the amount of pressure the fabric can withstand before allowing water to pass through. The higher the PU number is, the more waterproof the fabric is.
Common tents range from PU1000mm to PU2000mm in waterproof capability.
Cotton Canvas Tent Material Ratings
Canvas is rated by weight in ounces. Much like the Denier ratings with polyester and nylon, canvas weight in ounces will tell you how heavy and durable the canvas is.
Common cotton canvas tents range from 8.5oz to 10.10oz in weight.
Canvas is naturally water-resistant but isn’t fully waterproof. The organic material naturally swells when wet making it hard for water to get through. However, to make the material practical for camping, most canvas tents are coated with a waterproofing treatment. They are also commonly treated to repel mold and UV rays.
Find canvas tents here.
Choosing the Best Tent Based on Materials
Hopefully this information has helped you understand what to look for when comparing tent materials. You’ll first need to decide what type of material you want. Then, you can compare material ratings that fit your needs and your budget.
You can also choose to add things like waterproofing and canopies to make your tents more durable on your own. This option is usually more affordable but can be a lot of work.