What Materials are Used to Make a Tent? [Popular Camping Tent Materials]

Tents, of all makes and sizes, are made out of a variety of materials. Some common tent fabrics are nylon, cotton canvas, polyester taffeta (the most durable), and oxford carpet.

With the advancement of materials, tents are now made out of both durable and breathable synthetics and durable but less breathable natural fabrics.


Here is a list of more materials that tents can be made out of:

Top 11 Camping Tent Materials

1. Oxford Carpet

Oxford carpet is an affordable way to make a tent out of but is not as breathable as other options. Usually it is used for roofing and interior walls of tents. It is made by weaving wool or synthetic fibers (usually nylon) with one another.

2. Polyester

Polyester is a synthetic fabric, which means that it is man-made. Polyester fabrics are usually easy to clean, and they are usually provided with breathable qualities to them. However, some synthetics have a tendency to scratch and leave marks on the tent walls if not cared for correctly.

3. Polyester Taffeta

Polyester taffeta is very similar to Oxford carpet except that it is a bit more durable than Oxford carpet and it can withstand moderate degrees of wind.

Polyester taffeta comes in hundreds of colors, most commonly white (which isn’t very breathable), black, gray, red, yellow, turquoise, and pink. Polyester taffeta can be found at many fabric stores as well as online retailers.

4. Nylon

Nylon is the most commonly used fabric for tents. It is very light and breathable. It can also withstand moderate amounts of wind, however it can be damaged by strong wind. The Zpacks Tarp is made out of this material and also comes with a bug net.

Nylon tents are usually very inexpensive, inexpensive because nylon has an inherent tendency to tear and fray especially if they are not treated carefully according to instructions or if treated incorrectly.

5. Waterproof Tarpaulin

A waterproof tarpaulin is a piece of fabric that is made to be used as a shelter. It is usually made out of polyester or nylon. Waterproof tarps are most usually one time use tarps because they are not durable enough for more than one or two days of use.

They also tend to be very heavy and can cause the tent to cave in easily if it isn’t anchored properly. They are usually four to eight-foot in width and have a single door. They are also very expensive.

6. Synthetic Fabrics

Synthetic fabrics are fabrics that were created in a laboratory or by a testing lab to imitate human skin (also known as man-made). Synthetic fabrics, like many other synthetic products, come in pairs: one side is usually called the non-woven and the other is called the woven side.

The non-woven side is usually the more durable, heavier side and is typically exposed to the outside of the tent. The woven side is usually covered by the non-woven side.

7. Cotton Canvas

Cotton canvas, especially lightweight cotton canvas, is very breathable. It can come in a variety of colors as well as several different weights. This fabric is a great alternative to cuben fiber tents because it is not affected negatively by water and snow.

8. Cuben Fiber

Cuben fiber fabric is the most common tent material today. A cuben fiber tent is usually made out of three layers of cuben fiber, however, in some types of tents there are more layers than that.

Cuben fiber tends to be very breathable and temperature regulating as it can keep in a person’s body heat when cold and release the heat when it’s hot.

9. Silk

Silk can be used as a tent that is very lightweight and breathable. There are many types of silk, some have the same benefits as cuben fiber and others do not.

It does require care to keep from fraying and it can’t withstand heavy winds. Overall this material is not recommended because it doesn’t last very long under heavy use or extreme temperatures.

10. Gilona

Gilona is a synthetic fabric that is often used for tent doors. It tends to be very heavy and can fray easily, however it can withstand high degrees of wind.

It has a very high melting point (around 1310°F) compared to most fabrics, which allows it to be exposed to higher heat without the risk of melting completely.

Gilona doesn’t breath as well as nylon or cuben fiber, however, it does not absorb water but may be a good tent for winter that can be used in light rain or snow.

11. Polypropylene

Polypropylene is a synthetic fabric that tends to be very breathable. It can withstand high wind and rain, however it can’t handle too much water and won’t last very long if exposed to high heat.

What About The Tent Poles?  What Materials are Used for Tent Poles?

Tent poles are usually made from aluminum, which is a great material because it is lightweight and strong. But here are other options:

1. Carbon Fiber Poles

Most carbon fiber poles are made from carbon fiber tubes which are then wrapped with fabric. They are usually very strong and long-lasting, however if they hit hard against something they can snap and break.

2. Aluminum Poles

Most aluminum poles are made from one solid piece of aluminum, however it is possible for an aluminum pole to be made out of two pieces. Aluminum is a very versatile tent pole because it is light and strong, however if it is put under a lot of strain it can snap and break.


There are many options for tents on the market today, but depending on the conditions of where you will be camping, whichever type of tent you choose is going to be the most appropriate.

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