March 15, 2017 / Comments (0)

Polycotton Tents Buying Guide

Vango airbeam polycotton tent

Vango AirBeam Illusion TC 800XL Tent

Unless you’re an experienced camper who keeps on top of all the latest industry developments and has a good understanding of all the various terms and jargon thrown around, then we can imagine buying a new tent can be somewhat of a daunting prospect.

Read more: Inflatable Tent & Air Tent Buying Guide

One term you may have seen mentioned over the past couple of years is ‘polycotton’, and we wouldn’t blame you for wondering exactly what that means and why you should care about it. This buying guide will tell you all you need to know about polycotton tents and showcase some of the best ones we have in stock…

What is a polycotton tent?

It’s not rocket science to work out that polycotton is a mix polyester and cotton. Most polycotton tents will see around a 35% polyester to 65% cotton ratio, although this can vary from tent to tent. Polycotton tents come in as many shapes and sizes as any other type of tent, so you can get everything from large polycotton air tents to small tipi style tents.

Due to the higher amount of cotton than polyester, they’re more similar to a canvas tent, but incorporate the properties of both materials. They also require a ‘weathering’ process before they are waterproof, which we’ll get onto shortly.

The benefits of polycotton tents

So now you know what polycotton tents are, but what does that mean for you as a tent buyer? There are various advantages of polycotton tents that should make you consider them when looking to buy a new tent.


Breathability is talked about a lot when it comes to outdoor clothing, such as walking boots or waterproof jackets, but it’s also important for tents, and one of the main benefits of polycotton tents is their increased breathability and ability to adapt to the surrounding environment.

What this means is that when the weather is warm outside, the inside of the tent will stay as cool as possible. Conversely, when it’s cool outside, your tent will be warmer inside and more comfortable.

Being breathable also means that condensation is highly reduced. The breathable fabric allows the moisture to pass through to the outside, again making your tent a much more comfortable place to be.


Another key benefit of polycotton tents is longevity. Polycotton is incredibly durable and will stand up to the Sun’s UV rays better than polyester, meaning it’s much less likely to deteriorate. Polycotton tents are a generally a little pricier, but this should easily be offset with how much longer they will last you.

Kampa Studland polycotton air tent

Kampa Studland 8 Classic Air Tent

Things to consider when buying a polycotton tent

While we think polycotton tents are some of the best you can buy, it wouldn’t be fair of us not to mention a few minor considerations you should be aware of.

Increased weight

As polycotton tents are usually around two-thirds cotton, they can be a little heavier and your pack size will be a bit bigger. However, if this isn’t really a problem for you and you have space in the car, then it’s absolutely worth it.


As we’ve mentioned, polycotton tents do tend to be a little more expensive than other similar tents. But, again, it’s a longer lasting and better performing product, so it should last longer if you look after it, thus making the extra money well worth it.

Polycotton tents vs polyester tents

Polyester tents are hugely popular and they do have some incredible benefits, but polycotton has given them some real competition. So which should you choose? Here are some of the main points to bear in mind…

  • Breathability – Polycotton tents are more breathable than polyester, meaning they’ll be cooler in warm weather inside the tent and vice-versa, when the weather is cold outside. Condensation is also reduced massively, thanks to the breathability factor.
  • Longevity – Polyester is susceptible to deterioration and discolouring from UV rays, whereas polycotton is a much more durable material and will cope with this much better.
  • Weight & size – Being mainly cotton, polycotton tents are heavier and bulkier than polyester tents. If compact and lightweight camping is important to you, then polyester is the one to go for.
  • Price – Polyester is a cheaper material than polycotton, which makes polyester tents less expensive, although they’re not as hardwearing and may need to be replaced sooner.

How to weather your polycotton tent

Most polyester tents are treated with a waterproof coating (some cheaper tents aren’t) and are sealed with a seam tape across all the seams. Polycotton tents also have this coating, but do not have taped seams – this is where the weathering of your polycotton tent comes into place.

When tents made from polycotton are being stitched, during the production stage, there will still be exposed space between the stitch hole and the thread so, in theory, this is actually a place where water can get into your tent. Stay with us here – there is a very easy solution which will set you up for the rest of your tents life:

  1. Pitch your tent – We highly recommend doing this before your camping trip, but we are well aware that this sometimes isn’t possible. You may be able to get away with going through this process on your camping holiday.
  2. Go through the ‘wetting’ process – Leave your tent out in a light rain shower or wetting it yourself with a hose for around 10 minutes.
  3. Let your tent dry – This is were the magic happens. During the drying process the thread within the stitch holes expands and completely fills any space or exposure where water could potentially get through.
  4. Pack your tent away – This is the weathering done and dusted. This shouldn’t need to be done again, throughout the rest of your tents life.

We always recommend using tent waterproofing products on your tent, every 2-3 years which will keep the fabric performing to the best of its ability.

What are the best polycotton tents?

Here are just a few of the best polycotton tents we have available at Winfields Outdoors. Click the buttons on each tent to learn more about them.

Vango AirBeam Illusion TC 800XL Tent

View the Vango AirBeam Illusion TC 800XL

Kampa Hayling 4 Classic Air Pro Tent

View the Kampa Hayling 4 Classic Air Pro Tent

Kampa Studland 8 Classic Air Tent

View the Kampa Studland 8 Classic Air Tent

Vango Rosewood Tipi Tent

View the Vango Rosewood Tipi Tent

Zempire Aero TXL Air Polycotton Tent

View the Zempire Aero TXL Air Polycotton Tent

View our full range of polycotton tents, available now with free delivery & 0% finance options.

Last modified: April 18, 2018

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