There are typically two distinct kinds of fabrics used for tents, both of which you will need to take into consideration. The vast majority of tents, such as A-frame and dome tents, are constructed out of a nylon with a permeable “rip-stop” coating, such as the The North Face Roadrunner 3 Tent, which is a three-person, three-season tent. This particular type of nylon is more durable and permits a greater flow of air through the fabric.
Traditional cabin or wall tents, such as the kind sold at K-Mart, are typically made of a polyester-cotton blend or even waterproof poplin. You might be able to find one of these tents there. Rip-stop nylon is used in the construction of more modern and superior cabin-style tents, such as the EQUIDOME 6-PERSON TENT manufactured by EUREKA!
These are not set in stone regulations but rather general principles to follow. Some cabin tents are nylon and some A-frame tents are a cotton blend. You will be hard pressed to find a dome tent in anything other than a nylon though.
The rain fly should always be made of a tough waterproof fabric. In general the rain fly will be nylon waterproofed with polyurethane or polyurethane and silicone coatings.
The floor of the tent should be made of a waterproof ripstop nylon or polyethylene. You’ll always notice quality tents have floors that are thicker than the side walls. The floor material should run a few inches up the side walls to create a tub effect for better waterproofing.
The windows and door screen will be made of a fine-meshed polyester to keep out the bugs and debris but allowing air to flow through the camping tent when needed.
The fabric should be mildew resistant and fire retardant. This will be the case on most quality camping tents.
Aluminum and fibreglass are the two types of poles that you will typically see with camping tents. Most of the poles with the better camping tents like these are aluminium.
Typically you will see descriptions for the better aluminium pole as aircraft, anodized, tempered or 7000 series Easton. Any of these terms would indicate a quality tent pole. Cheap aluminium poles are generally not held together by a shock cord, not very flexible and are ¾” in diameter or larger.
Fiberglass poles are not as lightweight or as durable as aluminium poles. They are generally found with cheaper camping tents.