Cotton tent and waterproof

Are cotton tents waterproof? We get asked this question a lot and we understand very well why it is a sticking point for many. Who wants to sleep in a leaky tent?

Many also ask why our cotton tents are not listed with a water column rating.

In this article we explain the connection, because it's a bit complicated.

Water column indication and tents

To find the answer to the question of why cotton tents are waterproof but don't come with a hydrostatic rating, we need to look at the material from which the tents are made.

Tents in the classic sense, such as igloo tents, are made of polyester - the same material as most rainwear.

Water column test

A hydrostatic head test is performed by clamping the material in the bottom of a box or cylinder and then filling it with water until water begins to flow. Then you read off how many millimeters of water column the cylinder has reached and thus get the water column.

While polyester is very waterproof, as you've probably figured out, it's not breathable either. That's why you quickly get clammy when you cycle to work in classic rainwear, and that's why condensation forms on the inside of your igloo tent.

Today, all polyester tents are hydrostatically tested to determine how waterproof the tent is. The higher the number, the more water the tent can withstand.

The water pressure test

In a hydrostatic test, the material is clamped to the bottom of a box or cylinder and then filled with water until the water flows through. When that happens, you read how many millimeters of water the cylinder has reached, and you have your water column pressure.

water pressure test

Glamping tents and their equipment

In contrast to "normal" tents, glamping tents are made of cotton. Cotton has little chance of surviving a hydrostatic test as it is a material that "works with water" and does not repel it like polyester.

When the cotton gets wet, the cotton fibers expand. As it expands, the cotton compresses more, making it waterproof.

Pour a bottle of water directly onto a cotton towel, it will shock the towel and not give the cotton a chance to expand.

Waterproof and hydrostatic head rating of cotton tents

Luckily, rain doesn't fall like columns, so a hydrostatic head test is an unfair way to rate a cotton tent's waterproofing.

But how waterproof are cotton tents? Even if we don't have a water column specification, cotton tents are still waterproof and can easily withstand heavy rain for days - we guarantee that.


Like most other cotton tents on the market, our tents are not made from 100% cotton, but from a cotton blend (ours 35% cotton, 65% polyester) that combines the best of both materials.

You get a waterproof tent that is breathable at the same time. In addition, our tents are splash-proof and have a water-repellent impregnation, which provides additional waterproofing and protection against dirt and thus prevents mold.

Like anything else, cotton tents require maintenance. You don't have to treat it several times a year, but we recommend cleaning it regularly and servicing it once a year to keep the tent performing at its best.