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I'm currently looking to buy a new tent. The old one had a floor that was said to withstand a hydrostatic head of 10000 mm, but the tents I find in the stores here go to at most 3000 mm for the floor, at least in the light-weight category.

Is that still sufficient to keep me dry in Pacific Northwest weather? What about camping on snow?

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For the snow, the chances of getting wet are low. However, Snow accumulation on the tent can be problematic. You should choose a tent that can withstand the accumulation and be slippery enough to let the snow slide down. – Amine Aug 14 '12 at 14:21
up vote 8 down vote accepted

Hydrostatic rating on a tent is the highest column of water a material can withstand for up to one minute before the water starts to penetrate (assuming good seams, no damage etc)

The ratings translate as follows (have seen these quoted in a couple of places, this is from

  • 1000mm or less is considered shower resistant and will soak up rain and get damp after a heavy shower
  • 1500mm is considered the realistic minimum requirement for summer (and mainly dry) camping
  • 2000mm is the recommended minimum if you intend camping in your tent year round
  • 3000mm is mainly used on family tents so they can withstand a couple of weeks of rain!

For floors, the thing to watch is that pressure on it can lower the effective hydrostatic head, so if you are camping in very wet areas, a 10000mm rating can be very useful - often this is quoted for the groundsheet, and up to 15cm up the sides of a wet weather tent. If you can't get a high rated tent, just go old school and use a groundsheet under your tent.

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What surprises me is that none of the tents at, e.g.,, has a floor rating above 3000mm, whereas the comparatively cheap Vaude Hogan Ultralight has 10000mm for the floor and 5000mm for the fly. Or are these numbers prone to be inflated? – Lagerbaer Aug 14 '12 at 21:51

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