Are Canvas Tents Waterproof?

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Canvas tents are well-liked in the camping community. First and foremost, they are better for the environment. Many tents are made with plastic or other man-made materials that can be a real problem to both make and get rid of. Canvas tents are not like this at all.

Do Canvas Tents Need Waterproofing?

With other tents being impressive, a lot of people will wonder about the durability of a cotton canvas tent. For example, are canvas tents waterproof like polyester tents? Many believe canvas tents need sealing with a waterproofing spray prior to use.

You don’t really need to waterproof your canvas tent. Though some manufacturers may add a silicone waterproofing product for additional protection, there is no need to apply a waterproofing barrier to your canvas tent. But, before your camping trip, you’ll most likely have to season a tent just out of the box.

A quality canvas is waterproof and will not leak provided it is periodically seasoned per the manufacturer’s instructions. This generally involves wetting the tent and letting it fully dry a number of times in order to tighten the cotton canvas fiber.

The Seasoning Process

You need to season a canvas tent, especially if it is a new tent. To carry out the seasoning process, you’ll first need to set up your tent outside in an area that’s okay to get wet. Then simply hose down the tent fabric well and allow the tent to dry. Be sure you wet the entire tent. Every square inch of it should get wet. Repeat the process several times – wet it and let it dry. Also, be sure to allow the tent to fully dry between intervals. Each time you go through the process, it causes the canvas to shrink a little to eventually form a tight weave for a waterproof barrier.

There is a difference between being waterproof and water-resistant, by the way. Many confuse the two as being the same. They are far different, with many waterproof tents actually being designed differently than water-resistant ones. Most of the time, this is done to avoid any possible water collection at the top.

Why Consider A Canvas Tent?

Overall, canvas tents have been incredibly useful for years. Let’s discuss them further, just to ram home how great they are.

Environmental Reasons


We briefly mentioned this above, but we wanted to refer back to it to further expand on the topic.

You’ll notice how canvas tents are made with, well, canvas. Of course, canvas itself is made from either cotton or linen material. Both are naturally occurring materials, coming from specific plants.

Of course, cotton comes from the cotton plant. Meanwhile, linen is made from flax. If you did not know, flax is technically an herb. Therefore, it can be useful in medications with multiple other uses. The textile industry discovered how great flax was for cloth and began using it.

They could use an endless supply since it can be grown, making it great to use. Cotton is utilized for numerous things, including clothing. Therefore, canvas tents come from an all-natural source.

Ultimately, that has given tents made of canvas a longer shelf-life. Since they are all-natural in material, they can be made better and use more of the material. That, in turn, them a better value as they are built to last.

In fact, many of these types of tents were in use for centuries. Possibly the biggest period they were known to have been in play was in the Old West when it was being settled by Americans. Of course, they were likely also used by men and women during the California Gold Rush too.

Amenities Of Canvas Tents

canvas cabin tent

We already referenced how they are environmentally friendly. Yet you should also know that since they tend to be made better, they will often last longer. Compared to tents that use plastic or similar materials, tents made from canvas can last a decade longer or more before needing to be replaced.

Simply saying a tent can last a decade should be considered impressive these days. Yet saying they could last as long as most other tent types then AT LEAST a decade longer than that? Talk about impressive! If you take proper care of one, they could last a person their entire life.

On top of being waterproof, canvas allows tents to keep warm inside during cold weather. When you see people camping on cold mountains or in places like Alaska or Antarctica, they are usually camping in a canvas-type tent.

That’s if they are not wanting to stay indoors inside normal homes, that is.

They are great for cold weather, but they are hit and miss when it comes to warmer weather. Due to canvas being a good material, it won’t just randomly burst into flames under the hot sun. Yet canvas can still get burnt from the sun.

This is why many versions are made with specialized material that is on the outside. This material or potentially cream substance is used to protect the canvas from such burning incidents. Yet it might only last for a certain period of time.

A Survivalist’s Dream

canvas tent in front of mountains

A lot of people love canvas mostly due to how flexible it is. These tents fit in pretty much any environment, all 4 seasons of the year. How many other types of tents can do this, and still produce the same level of longevity?

We’ll tell you, NONE!

Survivalists love them, and some actually feel using one could be considered too luxurious to actually call themselves “survivalists.” It’s true, as many have pushed against using them for years and might live in one during times they want to take it easy.

Thus, they are like a dream scenario for those trying to survive. It’s not a wonder that Kings and Queens often used canvas tents during major events for shade. They’d also use them when on the move. Proving just how impressive they truly can be.

As long as you take care of canvas tents, they will surely take care of you.


The biggest downside to canvas tents, ultimately, is how much they cost. The average cost for even a smaller version could be several hundred dollars at minimum for a new version. It does take a good bit to make them, and these tents are made with high-quality materials. Therefore, you’re going to likely see them cost more because the manufacturer puts a lot into these tents overall.

Think of this higher cost as an investment into the last tent you’ll need to buy. At least the last one you’ll buy for a very long time. Ultimately, if you have to give up maybe a thousand dollars to achieve this instead of $500 every few years or so, you’re financially better off anyway.

If you’re looking for a great low-cost waterproof canvas tent, White Duck has a great assortment of wall, bell, and cabin tents in various sizes. Most are under $1000. White Duck produces authentic canvas tents of super-high quality, and they even add a silicone-based waterproofing product for additional waterproofing and protection against UV rays as well as mildew. They offer fast, free shipping, 24/7 customer support, and free returns.

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