Matt Johnson

Are Bell Tents Waterproof?

Author: Matt JohnsonPhotos/Graphics: Mike HawthornePublished: Feb 2, 2022Updated: Dec 10, 2023

Bell tents are versatile and are also constructed to be waterproof. With water-resistant polycotton skin and sturdy poles, your bell tent will be able to handle the most serious of downpours.

While these shelters will protect you from the elements, you might be surprised to learn that there is a fatal flaw: water accumulation around the base. Don’t worry, though. We have a solution for that as well.

Glamping and bell tents go hand-in-hand.

It would be difficult to enjoy the comfort of a bell tent without first experiencing nature’s beauty. For many, glamping is perfect for any type of weather.

Setting up your glampsite and decorating your bell tent are all part of the fun. Maybe you’re setting up a glamping business and want to put up several bell tents to highlight the glamour. Although not required for an authentic glamping experience, bell tents and glamping often go hand-in-hand.

However, you might find yourself in inclement weather on your trip, and you want to make sure you and your gear stay warm and dry. With a high-quality bell tent, you won’t have to worry about getting soaked.

Bell tents are well constructed.

Let’s start off by breaking down the construction of luxury bell tents. You’re going to be surprised at how sturdy they are. These aren’t your Coleman backpacking tents; these are durable, sturdy, and rugged tents that can withstand not only rain and snow but heavy winds as well. That is if you set them up correctly.

These tents are constructed to allow water to flow freely to the ground and push wind around them. The high-pitched roof is more aerodynamic than traditional tents resulting in better wind flow around the structure resulting in less stress on the design.

Bell tent poles are also more durable. Most are constructed from steel or aluminum but heavier than a traditional camping tent. This, compounded by the multiple guy wires, results in a sturdiness not found in other tents. These tent poles need to be heavy-duty because the canvas can be pretty heavy.

So how about waterproofing? Sure, the steep roof lets water run off efficiently, but will it stop water from soaking through?

Waterproofing material to keep you dry.

Most bell tents are made with water-resistant polycotton skin. It’s basically a heavy-duty canvas that keeps you dry on those rainy days.

While the water does run off quickly, don’t expect the water to seep through. Make sure you zip up or close off the door; otherwise, water may get in there. But more on that later.

In addition to waterproofing, the polycotton skin also protects from UV rays and mildew. This is important because you don’t want your canvas to fade while it’s exposed to the sun’s harmful UV rays. Also, when you pack it up and store it between seasons, you won’t want it to grow mildew. Of course, ensure it’s dry before you stow it.

Can water get in elsewhere?

If you button up the tent right, you won’t have any problems with water entering. Although bell tents are usually waterproof, in a heavy rainstorm you might find water elsewhere.

One of the most common places for water to accumulate on these tents is around the base. As we discussed, they’re designed to allow the water to flow off to the sides. This is great for the roof and repelling precipitation but bad for the ground around the tent.

You’ll want to dig a small moat around the base to resolve this issue. It doesn’t need to be deep, only 3-6″ wide and about 3″ deep. This should depend on how much rain you’re expecting to receive, but that’s a good starting point.

The key to success is directing the water in the moat away from your accommodations. You’ll have to assess the terrain at your glampsite before doing this; however, determine which way the water will naturally flow and direct the water that way.

Final thoughts on these weather-resistant glamping pods.

Bell tents are an excellent choice for those seeking to take their glamping experience to the next level. They are sturdy and durable, so you can rest assured that most bell tents are waterproof.

However, if your bell tent does get wet, it may not keep moisture from accumulating on the ground around the base of your tent. To prevent this, consider digging a moat near where water will naturally flow during heavy rains. This should help divert any accumulation away from your accommodations.

If you’re looking for an all-season solution to enjoying a memorable glamping experience without getting soaked, this is your best option.


Matt Johnson

Senior Content Writer

Matt is an experienced camper and glamping enthusiast with a Master's degree in Wildlife Science from Texas A&M University. Authoring posts for GlamperGear, he shares his wealth of knowledge on picturesque campsites, luxurious accommodations, and the best gear for outdoor adventures. His passion for nature and knack for comfort in the wilderness make him an expert guide for your next camping endeavor.

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