What is A Rainfly? Do you need one?

Last Updated on

As the name insinuates, a rainfly is basically an extension that protects your tent from rainfall. Most rainflys also shields your tent from wind, snow and the sun too. Some tents are sold rainflys that come with their own poles and guy lines to set them up. The other way to install one is to buy a seperate rainfly on its own and attach it to your tent.

Is a rainfly necessary?

No they are not necessary. Many tent designs do not have rainflys and they work perfectly fine. However, a tent with a rainfly can provide many advantages compared to a tent without one with little to no drawbacks.

If you already own a tent, but the tent has meshed doors, roofs or windows and water keeps getting in, you would benefit a lot from buying a rainfly. A large section of tents have a roof mesh for ventilation or star gazing, and these designs would definitely need the protection that comes with a rainfly. After attaching the rainfly, it will keep your interior space not only watertight, but also ventilated and protected.

Some rainflys have an extended awning that you can use to store and dry gear like shoes and other items outside tent, while still being protected from rain. A tent vestibule does the same job.

Advantages and disadvantages of Rainflys


  • Water-proof design
  • Extra protection from sun, snow and wind
  • Insulates the tent


  • Heavy
  • Takes up space in your pack
  • Little bit more expensive


The rainfly is designed to keep the windows and entrances of your tent dry and safe from elements. Most windows and doors are not made to shield the interior from rain, snow and sun. The rainfly by design is water-proof and does a decent job at shielding the interiors and entrances.

A rainfly absorbs and takes the brunt of sun’s harsh rays so that the damage to your tent is reduced significantly. Also by absorbing the sun’s heat, a rainfly ensures your tent’s fabric does not overheat either. These features of a rainfly tent can be somewhat useful in dry and hot conditions.

Most tents have only a mesh or screened roof so they won’t function at all outside if it rains. This is where an integrated rainfly helps in keeping your tent’s interior watertight and keeps your personal belonings, camping gear and other items dry.


Rain flys have a few drawbacks like making your camping pack slightly heavier to carry. This should not be an issue for normal or car camping trips where you don’t have to physically carry your camping pack. The added weight from a rainfly is very low and unlikely to negatively impact your camping journey unless it is an ultralight camping trip where being lightweight is prioritized. Tents with rainflys are usually more expensive too but considering the benefits the comes with it, it is well worth the extra price.

It doesn’t rain where I am going during this time. Do I still need a rainfly?

Weather forcast might say no rain or snow but things can quickly change. It never hurts to be prepared. This is why a rainfly is such a advantageous item to have on your tent considering the benefits it offers.

Alternatives to rainfly



Cheapest alternative to rainflys are tarps. They are easy to pack and carry arround. Attaching a tarp to tent can get a bit tricky if you have no experience doing it before.

Few rainfly accessories


4-Person Instant Tent Rainfly Accessory

This tent rainfly from Coleman is affordable and designed to provide extra weather protection for 8×7 feet coleman 4 person instant tents. Overall it is an efficient and cheap way to protect and keep the interior dry at a low cost.

Note: It might not fit other tent sizes or brands other than coleman.

N8URE outdoors ULTRA-Lite Rain fly

This ultra-light 10’x10’x16′ rainfly tarp serves multiple purposes and can function as a tent and hammock rainfly tarp. Hiking, camping, hammocking are all activites where the N8URE rainfly excels at. It is puncture-resistant, inexpensive and the rainfly alone weighs only a meagre 2 pounds so it won’t need much room in your pack.

Final thoughts

Rainflys are extremely useful additions to an outdoor trip. Even if you are not expecting rain, the rainflies provide extra protection from other elements and well worth its price.

Leave a Comment