Polyester Canvas Tents Vs Cotton Canvas Tents—Which is better?

Polyester Canvas vs. Cotton Canvas

When you invest in a canvas tent, what are some of the things you look for? If you are like most, you are looking for a tent that is durable, spacious and inside your price range. You want a tent that you can rely on, one that you can use year after year in any condition— rain or shine. But which wall tent is going to be ‘the one’? Which one will be durable enough, spacious enough, and priced just right? The answer is simple: the Elk Mountain Tent with its unique polyester fabric.  A tent made to last life time.

Most wall tents on the market are made of cotton, but if you really want the most bang for your buck, be sure to buy a polyester tent. Now, there are many reasons why you should consider a polyester wall tent over a cotton one, but before we get into that, let’s look at the pros and cons between polyester wall tents and cotton wall tents and then dive into the details.

Polyester Canvas Tents

Pros Cons
Rot & Mildew resistant

Doesn’t Shrink



Some do not Breathe as efficiently

Cotton Canvas Tents

Pros Cons

Softer to the touch



Easily Combustible

Has to be treated regularly


Ok, let’s dissect this information now by first examining the pros and cons of a polyester wall tent.

Polyester Wall Tents

As listed above, the pros of a polyester wall tent include their durability and waterproof capabilities, their rot resistance and the fact that they don’t shrink.

Durability of Polyester Wall Tents

Polyester is a tough material. It can take a beating, which is something you want when you are out and about in the great outdoors. Our polyester is a type of synthetic material that it is much more resistant to tearing than its cotton counterpart.

Waterproof Ability of Polyester Wall Tents

As mentioned before, polyester wall tents are essentially made of synthetic material making them waterproof. No more having worry about rain ruining your next big hunting trip or being woken up in the night by icy water dipping on your face the next time you go camping. The weather is unpredictable when you are outdoors, but with a polyester wall tent, you will be prepared for anything.  People often ask if they need a rain fly.  The short answer is no.  However, the rain fly will give you that extra protection from the elements, including UV rays that will break any material down over time.

Polyester Wall Tents Don’t Shrink in Storage

We’ll touch on this a little more when we visit the cons of cotton wall tents, but shrinkage is a pretty big issue with large tents. Luckily, polyester tents don’t do that. You can store it in pretty much any condition and you won’t have to worry about it shrinking at all, which means you can rest assured that it will fit its frame every time.

Polyester Wall Tents are Rot resistant

This is another thing that sprouts from a con of the cotton wall tent list, but it is worth mentioning nonetheless. If tents made of organic material are stored with any moisture they can be subject to mold and rot—another situation that will put a damper on things.   We found rot to be the number one reason someone is looking to replace their tent.  However, with a polyester wall tent, you won’t have to worry about that. Polyester is not organic making it unsusceptible to rot and mold.

Polyester Wall Tents Don’t Breathe Well

While they are waterproof, some polyester wall tents also don’t allow the air to flow as freely as a cotton tent would. We have not found this to be an issue with Elk Mountain Tents.  Polyester is a tight knit synthetic fabric so depending on polyester used, air might not flow as well. However, we have not found that to be the case with our tents.  We have also helped eliminate this concern by providing vented eaves and windows with every tent. If properly designed, the ventilation on a polyester tent should breathe just as well as a cotton tent would.

Let’s take a minute now to check out the cotton wall tents

Cotton Wall Tents Breathe

In contrast to what we said earlier about polyester tents, cotton tents are very breathable. Their organic nature and looser weave lets more air through its walls than polyester would. This doesn’t mean that they expose you to the elements, but rather that they allow for a healthy airflow.

Cotton Wall Tents are Soft

It is said that cotton wall tents are very soft compared to polyester. This is because cotton is made from the cotton plant which is very light and fluffy, or rather lighter and fluffier than its polyester counterpart. This is, however, not that big of a difference. It takes a very sensitive touch for a person to be able to tell the difference between the two.

Cotton Wall Tents Shrink

We mentioned this a little earlier, but cotton wall tents can shrink over time and especially after the first time it comes in contact with water. Just like a cotton shirt will shrink in the wash, it is possible for a cotton wall tent to also shrink. This is something that happens because the fibers are flexible and malleable while the fibers in polyester are not. There have been many an outdoorsman or woman that have gone to set up their tent after a few months or years in storage to find that it is too small for its frame.  Cutting a frame to fit while you are trying to set up camp is no fun.

Cotton Wall Tents Can Rot

Since cotton is an organic substance it is susceptible to rot. This means that if a cotton canvas tent is stored in a moist environment they will rot and fall apart over time.

Choosing the right tent is of vital importance for those who love the great outdoors, so it is best to know what you are getting yourself into. The polyester wall tents we offer at Elk Mountain Tents are sturdy, durable and ready to take on anything so be sure to check them out! If you want to know more be sure to email us at [email protected] or check out our FAQ page.