Canvas Vs Nylon Tents: Which is the better choice?

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Are you planning to buy a tent for camping soon? Choosing the right tent can be a difficult task. There are countless brands to choose from and what’s more, there are different types of tent fabrics too. Knowing which kind of tent fabric is well suited for your needs can make your purchase a positive experience and it can help avoid inconveniences and surprises down the road. The right tent fabric can also contribute to the success of your outdoor adventure. How you may ask? Let’s say, you are on an ultralight hike and your priority is to reduce the weight of your pack as much as possible. In this case, the best tent to carry in your backpack should be nylon as they generally weigh less than Canvas.

This is why in this blog post, I’m going to compare these two popular tent fabrics: canvas and nylon. Deciding between a canvas or nylon tent could is not easy, as both have their advantages and disadvantages. I’ll also be listing some good examples of both tent fabric types to make the comparison more grounded. Generally, canvas tents are well known for being long-lasting. However, Nylon tents are cheaper for a person on a budget.

Most tents on the market are nylon and polyester (majority) and canvas and cotton are in the minority. Now, let’s look at the pros and cons of each fabric type.

Canvas Tents 

A canvas tent is made of cotton material, enhanced with fibers that make it waterproof and make the weave tighter to protect you better in wet conditions. The thick canvas fabric is very strong and durable and can last many years with great care. They tend to be heavy and require maintenance to last over the years. Canvas fabric has better breathability and has good insulation to keep the tent warm in colder climates.


  • Waterproof during rainy days
  • Good weather resistance
  • High durability
  • Easily mended


  • Bulky and heavy, 
  • harder to pack and carry 
  • Expensive 

Nylon Tents

Nylon Tents are made out of artificial fabric that is highly durable and resistant to wear and tear compared to canvas tents. It is versatile and cheap and also used to manufacture products other than tents. They have decent water-resistant qualities and perfect for one person or lightweight journeys. 


  • Lightweight
  • easy to carry and pack
  • Cheaper than other tent fabrics


  • Not biodegradable

Comparison between Canvas and Nylon tents

Each tent fabric type has its strengths and weaknesses. I’m going to compare canvas and nylon tents in four categories: weather resistance, durability, weight, and cost.

Weather resistance

Frequently used tents or tents under harsh weather conditions would naturally not last long. Canvas tents are made with cotton material and it will hold its own against rainy weather in most cases. However, during heavy rains or storms, the tent can become soaked and water can get inside. Canvas tents remain waterproof during rainy days. This is because, during rainfall, the fibers of the canvas will swell and make the weave tighter in wet conditions. On the other hand, Nylon tents aren’t completely waterproof and are more likely to leak water during rainfall. You can always buy waterproof tent sprays, but that would cost extra money. 


An important thing you should consider when choosing a tent is durability. The durability of your tent would weight heavily on the frequency of its usage and how you maintain it. When it tears apart, it can easily be fixed by sewing the fabric together. Furthermore, canvas tents are biodegradable which means they are much more environmentally friendly than nylon tents which won’t decay easily and could harm the environment. Nylon tents however are made with thinner material, which makes it less strong compared to a bulkier canvas tent. 


Nylon tents are lightweight and you can pack it easily without any help, which is a great option for hikers. A canvas tent, on the other hand, is heavier because of its thick cotton fabric. It is harder to pack away by yourself and carry unless you have a vehicle for transportation.


Compared to a canvas tent, nylon tents are more affordable, which is perfect for a person on a tight budget. There are nylon tents available for about half of a canvas tent’s price. If you take good care of the tent, a nylon tent can last for a long time.

For lightweight travel

A nylon tent would be best for hiking, backpacking, or solo travel where low weight tent can be advantageous.

For camping with family or friends

A canvas tent may be better since it is more sturdy and weather resistant. A nylon tent can still be a good choice if you are on a budget.

For camping on a budget

Nylon tents are the clear winners here. They are almost always the low-cost budget pick compared to canvas tents, which are way more expensive even though they provide more comfort and weather protection.


Both canvas and nylon tents have their niche of benefits and advantages they provide. Deciding on which tent type to buy would depend on your budget and particular needs. Either way, they are both time-tested fabric tent types that can be solid additions to the rest of your camping gear.

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