What is a waterproof rating for camping gear?

Waterproof ratings specify the levels of waterproof performance for the gear rated, so you know what to expect from the product and what kinds of weather conditions you can use it in.

Example: 1500mm waterproof rating means the fabric can withhold up to 1500mm of water pressure before it seeps through the fabric.

Image Credit: @blazing_bushcraft

Image Credit: @blazing_bushcraft

How is waterproof performance achieved?

Waterproof performance is based on the ability of the fabric to resist water penetration. On top of quality fabric, you should also take into account product build, design and production, so a reliable manufacturer is important.

Note: Waterproof coatings don’t change the waterproof rating; it’s simply a surface treatment to help the fabric shed water.


Image Credit: @the_walking_robin

What waterproof rating do I need for my tent?

That depends on what types of settings we’re looking at, but basically...


  • <1000mm means it’s water resistant, not waterproof, and fine for temporary use in light rain. 
  • 1000mm~1500mm is a good range for lightweight gear that’s waterproof, and with good maintenance it can hold up for long-term use. 
  • 1500mm~5000mm is for use in moderate rain for an extended time and it will keep you dry. However, if we’re talking about camping out in a storm then you need to consider the wind resistance, tent structure and other factors. There are special gear for extreme environments that are safer to use in those conditions.

Most OneTigris tents have a 1500mm waterproof rating to strike a good balance between functionality and a lighter load, with a few hot tents of higher waterproof ratings more suitable for winter use. 


Image Credit: Backwoods Biker

Image Credit: Backwoods Biker

Additional tips from Team 1TG

1. Aside from quality fabric, good craftsmanship is important, such as reinforced stitching, waterproof zippers, etc.

2. Tent floor ratings may be higher than the tent body, unless it’s made from PVC or other completely waterproof materials.

3.  The higher the waterproof rating doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a better choice because the gear will be heavier. Generally speaking, ratings over 5000mm is for extreme weather conditions.

4. Good maintenance is the secret to longer shelf life. Always check the campsite for sharp objects before setup, and make sure the gear is dry before storage. Read more here.