Waterproof Rating and Testing For Tent Fabric

When you hear the word waterproof, you might think of those yellow rain jackets, but in the tent world, the fabric must be entirely different from that. A tent made from rain jacket material would be super heavy and the environment inside would be way too hot and damp to be comfortable. Tent fabric must be breathable, UV resistant, and waterproof. Because these properties are tricky to achieve all at once, tent fabric is produced in a wide range of waterproof levels. The higher the waterproof level, the more expensive the fabric.

So how is the waterproofing of tent fabric rated and tested? The minimum rating to be considered waterproof is 1000mm. This rating means that the fabric will hold back a one inch diameter, 1000mm high column of water for more than one minute before a single drop will travel through the fabric. You may notice the letters PU before or after a given waterproof rating. These letters indicate that a polyurethane waterproof coating has been applied to the inside of the tent fabric. Rightline Gear’s tent fabric is rated at 2000mm PU, twice the minimum rating.

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We have a testing rig at Rightline Gear that is similar to the one pictured above. We use it to make sure that our tents are made from fabric that meets our standard of performance.  Both our tents and their rainflys are made from 2000mm PU rated fabric.

The waterproof coating on our tent fabric is applied during production and should last for many years. If your tent is getting older, or it has seen a lot of use, you may need to refresh the waterproof coating. There are several fantastic waterproofing sprays that help your tent repel water. We recommend products by McNett for this purpose.

As Always, our goal is to keep you dry!

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