I've been researching tents to replace some low-quality dome tents that each have had a partial rainfly. Every tent I've owned that has had a partial rainfly has performed horribly in the rain (I pitched them correctly and used guylines when available). I have a tent that has a full-coverage rainfly and has performed quite well.

What are the pros and cons of a full-coverage rainfly?

I'm mostly interested in three-season responses aimed at temperate and subalpine climates, but wouldn't mind four-season/winter responses, as well as other climates.

Disclaimer: The images linked were chosen arbitrarily to illustrate my description. I have no affiliation with the tents or brands pictured.

1 Answer 1


The obvious cons of the full-coverage rain fly (FCRF) are the added weight and volume in the pack. And, it probably takes a bit more time to pitch and take down simply because of the added material to manipulate. Because your bio says you want to go ultralight, these cons may be very important to you.

A possible con is that snow may weigh down the FCRF more and faster than the partial because it has more area, but banging from the inside to clear off snow usually works OK (my experience is only April through Nov.)

Another con to the FCRF is that you are more disconnected from the outside. Being connected vs not getting wet is a personal decision.

(Curious: If you want to go ultralight, why aren't you asking about bivvy sacks vs tents?)

Pros: The FCRF will not only keep you drier, but warmer, especially if it is windy.

A pro to the FCRF that I like is that, except in heavy, driving rain you don't have to bring your boots inside to keep them dry -- the overlap of the fly protects them very well. My preference is for the FCRF.

  • 1
    Bivy Sacks are....small. I've slept in them before, but I sleep on my stomach, so it's a bit of a challenge when I want to stay dry. ~ I aspire to Ultralight, but my approaches tend to be unconventional (E.g.: my food weight for three days tents to be no more than 4 lbs).
    – Zach L
    Commented Sep 25, 2015 at 22:03
  • 2
    @ZachL you may be interested in tarps or tarptents then. The "overlap of the fly" is commonly called the vestibule, and decently-sized ones have been fairly common with most of the tents I've used (FCRF, of course). I usually keep all my "outside" gear there, such as pack and boots, and only bring clean/dry items into the tent itself.
    – requiem
    Commented Sep 26, 2015 at 4:25
  • @requiem Thanks for the clarification. I hadn't heard anybody call the vestibule an "overlap" before. I've taken to placing my shoes and a few odds & ends into the vestibule.
    – Zach L
    Commented Sep 26, 2015 at 7:08
  • 1
    @ZachL Vestibule was hiding in a recess of my brain when I wrote "overlap".
    – ab2
    Commented Sep 26, 2015 at 15:38

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