How to Waterproof a Tent: 6 Tips (and Tons of Tricks) to Keep You Dry
You’re looking forward to your forthcoming camping vacation and are hoping for clear skies to accompany you. But what if it starts to rain? Please do not fret as this piece will teachyou how to waterproof a tent in addition to including 6 recommendations and a slew of methods that will keep you dry.
How to Waterproof a Tent: 6 Tipsto Keep You Dry
When the thunder rumbles overhead, it’s probably not the best moment to ponder about how to waterproof a tent. Instead, look into the faces of your children as they ask, “Will the tent leak?” Ask anyone who has spent a night outside while listening to-drip-drip-drip that that is the worst way to spend a night in the great outdoors. Not only that, but it’s also the most expedient method to turn your vacation into a disaster. Related: How to put up a tent in the rain (with pictures) All of these issues may be resolved by waterproofing your tent before you leave, and we have you covered.
- Learn how to know when it’s time to waterproof your tent by watching this video. How to make a tent watertight
- What are the most effective items to employ
We’ll get to such questions later in this piece, but first, let’s look at how to waterproof a tent and its rain fly. Precautionary note: Before you begin waterproofing your tent, make sure to determine what type of fabric it is constructed of. This article is mostly concerned with synthetic fabrics such as polyester and nylon. Natural fibers may necessitate a different approach and set of items than those described here. Here are six pointers, as well as a slew of ‘how to’ instructions, to assist you.
1. Check the entire tent, seals and rain fly
In the event that you fail to thoroughly inspect the entire tent, you may believe you are in fine shape just to discover seeping or leaking in unexpected locations. As a result, do a comprehensive examination to avoid unpleasant surprises. The fabric of modern tents retains its waterproofing for an extended period of time. However, if you have a well-used tent or if you are the sort who believes that it is always “better to be safe than sorry,” you will want to inspect the fabric before each camping trip.
It is possible for a tent to leak in three different places:
- Through the seams, through the cloth, through the rain fly, through everything.
Read this article to learn how to correctly stake a tent (12 tips)
2. Check every time you go camping
Every camping trip should begin with a thorough inspection of your tent, especially if you haven’t used it in a while or if it leaked the last time you were there. Checking the tent will relieve some of your tension. Each tent will be unique depending on how much use (exposure to the sun’s rays and other weather conditions) it has previously gotten over the years. Checking your tent for leaks is as simple as the following:
- Set up your tent on a bright and sunny day. Set it up in the backyard with the kids to make it more enjoyable. Take a hold of the garden hose and adjust the nozzle to a fine mist spray setting
- Spray the tent while the children are inside. Their job is to inspect the interior of your tent for any signs of water leaking through the seams or seeping through the walls.
This will set your mind at ease while also entertaining the children, since, as you know, children will be running through the hose when they come out, and they will no doubt be having a good time. If you don’t have children, you may just ask a friend, spouse, or another member of your family. It’s also possible to do it yourself and simply inspect the tent from the inside and outside after thoroughly soaking it. You’re having trouble putting the tent back in its bag. This video will demonstrate how to fold a tent like a pro.
When you’re camping, it’s possible that condensation will accumulate on the interior of your tent.
If it’s raining and you notice condensation on the inside of your tent, you might assume that your tent is leaking, but it could simply be condensation that has formed.
Your choice of waterproofing will be determined by the condition of your tent after it has been thoroughly wetted with water.
If you observe a lot of water beading and rolling off your tent, you’re fine to go. If this is not the case, you have some work ahead of you; more on that later. More information may be found at: Best Family Camping Tents.
3. Check your fly separately
Unless your tent is constructed of mesh, it is best to check for leaks without the fly first. After you have examined your tent for leaks, put the fly on it and check for leaks once again. In this manner, you will be doubly protected in the event of a heavy downpour. We’ll speak more about inspecting the fly later on in this piece, but if your fly fails, you’ll know that your tent is waterproof on its own. If your tent is constructed of mesh, you’ll need to put the fly over it first before you can inspect it properly.
4. Choose the right waterproofing
As previously stated, the tent is susceptible to leakage in three areas: the seams, the fabric, and the rain fly. Each of these regions requires a particular type of sealant/waterproofing treatment. As a result, you’ll need to figure out which one is best for your leaking tent. For more information, please see the “how to section,” which follows this section.
5. Wash all gear before waterproofing it
If your tent isn’t brand new, make sure you wash it well before putting any waterproofing solutions to the surface. If you detect flaking product, you’ll want to cleanse those areas with rubbing alcohol before continuing.Product instructions should always be checked before beginning any cleaning or application.Helpful tip: Always read the product directions before beginning any cleaning or application.
6. Consider waterproofing your new tent
Many campers believe that new tents only have waterproofing applied to crucial sections (the floor and the rain fly), so if you’re in question, applyNikwax to the tent and rain fly before you use your new tent to see whether your suspicions are correct. More information on how to do so is provided below.
How to Waterproof a Tent: Seams, Fabric, FloorRain Fly
Tent Seams for Waterproofing: The seams of your tent are the points at which two pieces of cloth come together. You’ll find them running up and down the corners of your tent, by the zippers, around the windows and doors, where the main body of your tent meets the floor, and everywhere else in your tent where the fabric has been sewn together with thread. It is important to check for leaks throughout the whole length of each seam while looking for them. It takes no more than twenty minutes to seal all of the seams once you’ve completed your work and have everything ready.
- Having a clean, dry location to work is essential. Unless the sealant comes with an applicator, you’ll need a small or medium-sized paintbrush. A high-quality sealer such as Gear Aid – Seam Grip WP Sealant Adhesive is recommended. If you prefer to wear gloves, you can do so.
How to Seal the Seams of Your Tent:
- If possible, choose a location where your tent can dry without being disturbed
- You may even wish to do this inside if you have the necessary room. Check to see that all of the seams are thoroughly clean and dry. If the seams look to be a bit filthy, gently wipe them with a moist cloth or some rubbing alcohol before allowing them to dry completely. If you observe significant peeling of the seam tape, it will be necessary to remove it. Along the seams, apply a thin coating of sealant to prevent leaks. Allow for 8–12 hours of drying time.
Some individuals choose to seal the seams on the inside of the tent, while others choose to seal them on the outside, and still others choose to seal them on both. It’s entirely up to you; just make sure to adhere to the product’s directions. This video will give you a better understanding of how simple it is to seam seal your tent’s seams and floors. However, we recommend that you remove the rain fly so that you can more easily access all of the seams of your tent at the same time. When you’re through with your tent, you may close up your rain flay using tape.
- You may see it on YouTube.
- If the tear is small, you might use tape to hold it together on the other side while applying the sealant on and around the tear.
- Depending on the degree of the rip, you can apply a second coat of sealant after the first (8 – 10 hours) has dried to seal the tear.
- The following product is recommended for sealing tent seams: Seam Grip FC Seam Sealant is a fast-curing seam sealant.
- Many people prefer to apply the lotion with a little paintbrush or sponge brush rather than the brush that comes with the product.
- This product is suitable for materials such as canvas, nylon, polyester, and vinyl.
- For a more demanding application, Seam Grip WP Sealant Adhesive is a good choice.
- Although the product claims to last 8 hours, campers claim it lasts at least 24.
- This sealer may be able to withstand those minor rips better than the product mentioned above.
Check Amazon for the most up-to-date pricing information. According to the previous section, if your seam tape is peeling away, you may need to remove it before applying seam sealer. Depending on how badly it’s pealing, the answer will vary.
How to Waterproof Your Tent Floor
Cleaning and waterproofing the floor of your tent: The floor of your tent is sometimes referred to as the bathtub or tub floor since this area of the tent normally extends a number of inches up the walls of the tent. It keeps the seams off the ground and provides an additional layer of protection from water flowing and/or collecting on the ground during heavy rain. If you keep the floor of your tent clean and waterproof, it will help to protect all of your belongings such as sleeping bags, pillows, backpacks, and anything else that may be sitting on it.
- Having a clean, dry location to work is essential. Gloves and, if necessary, a mask
- To clean the area, use a sponge. Product of preference
Helpful hint: If the surface of your tent floor appears to be sticky or if you notice flaking of the current (old) product, you’ll need to wipe the area with rubbing alcohol before proceeding. However, before going, be sure you read the package instructions. The following are instructions for waterproofing the floor of your tent:
- Set up your tent in a well-ventilated, clean place. The seams and floor of your tent should be washed according to the product recommendations if they are filthy. The tent floor’s seams should be sealed once it has been thoroughly cleaned. Sealing the remaining portion of the tent floor should be done once the seams have been sealed. Allow to dry according to the manufacturer’s directions.
It will be demonstrated in the following video how to waterproof the floor of your tent. Waterproofing the bottom of your tent is a good idea. You may see it on YouTube. The following products are recommended for waterproofing your tent floor: Gear Aid Seam Grip in conjunction with TF Tent Fabric Sealant. A newer version of the product seen in the video above may be used on the seams of your tent floor as well as on the seams of your tent walls and ceiling. Despite the fact that it comes with a built-in foam brush to assist with application, campers claim that it is only useful for the seams.
This product is suitable for use with any synthetic fabric.
Check Amazon for the most up-to-date pricing information.
How to Waterproof Tent Fabric
Waterproofing the tent’s fabric and/or frame: The fabric/body of your tent is the most important component. There are many various types of fabrics that may be used to construct your tent; some give privacy and weather protection, while others, such as mesh, do not. Knowing what sort of fabric or material your tent is composed of is vital since different types of sealant are available for different types of fabric or material. When we consider about how to waterproof a tent, it is easy to forget about the tent itself since we believe that the fly would keep us safe from the elements.
In order to be safe, it’s important to waterproof your tent as well, because “better safe than sorry” is always the best policy.
If you are unsure of the material that your tent is constructed of, a short Google search will be of assistance.
To avoid wasting time and money on the wrong product, it is worth the three minutes it takes to double-check. As previously said, in this post, we will be concentrating on the most prevalent type of tent fabric, which is synthetic. Here’s everything you’ll need to get started:
- Having a clean, dry location to work is essential. A sponge (in case your tent need cleaning)
- The sealant of your choice for your tent
- Gloves and, if necessary, a mask
Applying the sealant is straightforward and should take less than half an hour once all of the necessary components are in place.
How to waterproof the fabric of your tent:
Nikwax tent and gear solarproof instructions are provided below; please remember to read the product directions thoroughly before using the product.
- Set up your tent on a bright and sunny day
- Make sure your tent is moist
- Apply the sealant in a thin layer, being careful not to get any sealant on the mesh areas of the tent. Paying close attention to the seams in particular. Using a sponge, wipe away any excess product. Allow it to dry completely (unless the manufacturer specifies otherwise) before storing it again.
You’ll see in the following video how simple it is to waterproof the tent fabric. We recommend that you first waterproof the tent before putting up the rain fly. More on it in a moment. Tent fabric made of polyester that is water resistant. You may see it on YouTube. Nikwax TentGear Solarproof is a product that is recommended for sealing tent fabric. All-in-one protection against damaging UV rays that may quickly degrade your tent’s sealant and additional water-repellent, Nikwax TentGear Solarproof is a perfect addition to your camping gear.
Check Amazon for the most up-to-date pricing information.
How to Waterproof Your Rain Fly
Waterproofing the tent rain fly: The rain fly is the cloth that spans over the main body of your tent and provides protection from the elements. This is a separate piece of cloth that is placed up once you have completed the setup of your camper. It is the one that will require the most frequent re-coating due to the amount of abuse it receives from the intense sun as well as from wet weather. Don’t forget to seam seal the seams of your rain fly before storing it. See the section above on how to seam seal your tent for further information.
Resealing your rain fly will allow the water to bead and flow directly off the tent without having a chance to touch the inside of the structure of the tent.
- Having a clean, dry location to work is essential. To clean the rain fly, use a sponge or a moist towel. Gloves and, if necessary, a mask
- A sealant of your choosing
How to check the condition of your rain fly: Set the rain fly up on a sunny day and then lightly spritz it with the garden hose to keep it looking good. The water will bead and flow off fast, revealing if the cloth is still waterproof or whether the water is soaking into the fabric and seeping through it. Assuming your rain fly is leaking, it is time to reseal the seams around the opening. Do you want to know how to put up a dome tent by yourself? a useful hint: Make certain you inspect the fabric to determine which sealant will be required, since synthetic and natural fibers may require different types of sealants.
For the sake of this demonstration, we are waterproofing a polyester (synthetic) rain fly.
(See the video in the preceding section about waterproofing your tent fabric for further information.) These instructions are for the Nikwax TentGear Solarproof, which is sold separately.
- Following the waterproofing and drying of your tent, you may put your rain fly over it. If your rain fly is filthy, thoroughly wipe it with a sponge and allow it to dry completely
- Using the hose, wet the bottom of your rain fly
- Sealant should be sprayed onto the rain fly in a uniform layer. When you have a minute, grab a sponge and brush away any excess sealant so that the sealant may cure in a uniform layer
- Allow for a couple hours of drying time.
Nikwax TentGear Solarproof is a product that is recommended for waterproofing your rain fly. As previously said, this product helps to protect against ultraviolet radiation and makes your cloth water repellent while yet allowing it to breathe.
Nikwax is also kind on the environment because it does not include propellant gases, is non-permanent, and is otherwise ecologically friendly and harmless. It has not been tested on animals and does not contain fluorocarbons. Check Amazon for the most up-to-date pricing information.
Waterproofing and You
That’s all there is to it when it comes to learning how to waterproof a tent: the tips and tricks. You can now be assured that you will have a good time on your next camping trip, no matter what the weather conditions are. Are you going to be waterproof before you go out? Have you ever tried to waterproof your own gear? If so, how did it play out for you? Please share your suggestions by leaving a comment on this post.
Tent Waterproofing: Top Tips on How to Waterproof a Tent
It may seem bizarre to have to waterproof tents since one of its primary functions is to keep the rain out, but tent waterproofing is a necessary evil. Even the highest-quality camping tents, however, can degrade with time and lose their ability to protect the user from the elements. In order to give your wilderness home a little TLC, you’ll need to know what you’re doing and how to waterproof a tent when the occasion arises.
Why do you need to waterproof a tent
The majority of half decent tents are waterproof when you purchase them; nevertheless, there are some low-grade tents on the market that simply pretend to be water-resistant when purchased. These tents are not waterproof in any way, and they will begin to melt as soon as there is even a slight suggestion of moisture in the air. Not nearly, to be honest. However, when the wind picks up and the rain starts pouring, they will almost likely be insufficient protection. In this case, applying a tent waterproofing treatment will not make the tent impermeable, but it will increase its water resistance.
Just as dangerous ultraviolet (UV) rays may cause irreparable damage to human skin, so too can continuous exposure to the sun cause irreversible damage to textiles and other materials. Even a couple of weeks of camping in the hot summer heat may do severe damage to your tent’s fly sheet, limiting its ability to withstand heavy rain and other elements. One of the most effective strategies to extend the life of your tent is to keep it out of the sun as much as possible. If you want to camp in sunny areas, continue reading to learn how to do it safely.
Use and age
It is inevitable that fabric that is continuously beaten by the weather, that is coated in filth and dust, that is left to dry out in the sun, and that is then folded up in a bag and left for months, will degrade. As a result of the weather and dirt, water gets absorbed into the fabric, making it less efficient against rain and wind protection. Tent waterproofing treatments, such as DWR coatings, assist to extend the life of tent fabrics by covering the surface of the fabric with a water-repellent coating.
The strength of the tent seams will be compromised as a result of time and exposure to the environment. When you purchase a tent, the majority of them will have fully sealed seams. However, seals can become compromised with time, resulting in leaks at the seams. This issue can be resolved by using a seam sealer.
Identify the problem
Consider this: before you spend a lot of money treating the entire tent and all of its seams with pricey tent waterproofing treatments, figure out which section of your tent is not performing properly. Examine your tent during the next downpour, or put it up in your backyard and spray it down with water to check for the following things: Have you ensured that it is correctly installed? Tents that are improperly set up will not perform as well as they should. Take care to ensure that all of the guylines are properly staked out.
- In order to maintain a proper separation between the inner and outer fly, make sure the outer fly is staked out well.
- Is there any evidence of water leaking through the seams?
- If there is water dripping through the seams, you will need to reseal them using a seam sealer to prevent further water damage.
- It is necessary to pitch your tent on damp ground and then sit in your tent for a period of time in order to thoroughly test this.
Is there any evidence of water leaking through the main fabric of the tent fly? This is most often caused by use, age, and/or UV damage, and necessitates the use of a waterproof tent spray to remedy the situation. The tent appears to be missing a tarp.
How to waterproof a tent
Some individuals waterproof their tent after every few uses, while others do it on a more regular basis. Others may only do tent waterproofing once over the lifetime of their tents! Your tent’s waterproofing frequency is determined by the amount of time you spend in it, how well you care for it, and under what conditions you use it. We recommend that you do this at least once a year, at the start of the camping season.
01 Clean your tent
It is necessary to thoroughly clean your tent before using a tent waterproofing solution, seam sealer, or tent repair tape.
- Set up your tent as soon as possible. Toss some mild detergent or a tech wash into a pail of warm water and set it aside. Clean it with a gentle sponge until it is completely clean, giving special care to the seams. Before drying the tent, spray it with a tent waterproofing agent.
TOP SUGGESTION: Do not wash your tent in the washing machine!
02 Apply a tent waterproofing treatment
- Set up your tent as soon as possible. Make certain that the tent is clean and moist
- Using a spray, brush, or sponge, apply the treatment to the tent fly from top to bottom. Any surplus product should be cleaned up with a wet towel. Allow it to dry completely before putting it away.
03 Seal the seams
- Make sure your tent is clean and dry before you begin. Lay the tent out on a clean, level surface with the inside of the seams facing up
- This will ensure that the tent stays dry. Apply a tiny amount of rubbing alcohol on a dry towel and wipe the seam to remove any remaining stains from the fabric
- Remove any portions that are flaking away with care. Apply the seam sealer using a tiny brush in accordance with the manufacturer’s directions. Allow it to dry completely before putting it away.
The best waterproof tent sprays
Tent waterproofing solutions are available in a variety of various formulations. Some people choose to wash their tents in addition to treating them with waterproofing. Others include ultraviolet (UV) protection. Here are a few of the greatest alternatives:
Nikwax Tent and Gear Solarproof
- One of the most effective techniques of tent waterproofing is really a preventive measure. As a result of the Solarproof treatment, the fabric is strengthened and protected against UV damage, in addition to providing water repellency and strengthening the fabric. Use of your tent should be preceded by the application of this product.
Kiwi Camp Dry Heavy Duty Water Repellent
- In contrast to the Nikwax products, this Kiwi Camp treatment has a high concentration of chemicals. It is recommended to apply two applications for the optimum effects, and it may be used on objects other than tents.
Nikwax Tech Wash
- Nikwax Tech Wash is generally used as a washing treatment for technical textiles, but it also has the added benefit of revitalizing breathability and water repellency. It is a good idea to include some waterproofing as a preventative measure
Star Brite Waterproofing Spray, Stain Repellent + UV Protection
- In the same way as Nikwax Solarwash protects your tent before you use it, this product protects your tent before you use it. However, it should only be used after the tent is completely dry, and it may be used on a variety of various goods.
Scotchgard Outdoor Water Shield
- Waterproof tent spray that is simple to apply and can be applied in a single application
- It may also be used to provide water repellency to other items of outdoor gear.
Cotton canvas is used to construct some of the most comfortable and long-lasting tents for camping and glamping. Bell tents and teepee tents, for example, function exceptionally well in inclement weather. This high level of performance may be attributed to both the structural design and the durability of the canvas fabric. Camping enthusiasts have relied on cotton canvas for generations because of the inherent qualities of the fibers to make a highly waterproof fabric that has proven to be durable and long-lasting.
This is not due to the fact that they are defective, but rather due to the fact that the waterproofness of cotton canvas actually increases when it is wet.
Preventing your tent from becoming wet first can save you money on a time-consuming and expensive canvas waterproofing treatment.
It will become more waterproof when it has been allowed to dry.
Tent waterproofing with a tarp
It’s always possible to add a waterproof tarp to your camping set up if the notion of treating your tent with a chemical-based treatment isn’t appealing to you or if you’ve put off tent waterproofing until the last minute. Build a tarp over your tent in the same manner as you would normally, making sure that your entire tent is completely covered. Consider where the water from the tarp will be draining to, and make sure this area is free of gear, shoes, and other items of clothing. Tent waterproofing may appear to be a time-consuming task, but it will help to extend the life of your tent by many years.
Read our post on eco-friendly camping for additional information on how to be a more environmentally conscious camper. Disclaimer: We utilize affiliate links and may gain a small reward if you make a purchase via one of our links.
How to Re-Waterproof Your Tent
When you join up for Outside+ today, you’ll receive a $50 discount off an eligible $100 purchase at the Outside Shop, where you’ll discover a variety of brand-name goods handpicked by our gear editors. Shelter is one of the most crucial pieces of equipment for your comfort and safety while hiking in the backcountry. In contrast, tents and other items coated with a water-repellent coating become worn out over time as they are used. And leaks may sneak up on you—you normally don’t realize you have a problem until you wake up in a puddle during a thunderstorm, which is when you are most vulnerable.
According to him, the most straightforward method of keeping your tent waterproof is to maintain it properly.
In the meanwhile, here’s what you can do to fix yours if things start to become too sloppy.
When to Re-Waterproof
The first thing you should ask yourself is whether or not your tent need any repair. In most cases, tents do not require annual maintenance if they are stored and cleaned correctly. The fact that you are getting wet might be due to a variety of factors that do not require repair. If your ground tarp is protruding from below your tent, water can pool underneath you and cause flooding. Water can enter a double-wall tent if the fly is not correctly staked out and adheres to the tent body, resulting in the tent being unusable.
Washing the tent by hand with a mild soap and drying it in the shade is the first step, then tackle each piece one at a time.
Tent seams are often taped at the manufacturing. Over time, the lamination will begin to peel away, enabling water to seep into the structure. If your tent is single-walled, these seams are on the body of the tent; if your tent is double-walled, these seams are on the fly of the tent. You’ll need to reseal them using a silicone sealant designed for this purpose; Young recommends Gear Aid’s Silnet ($8). Turning the tent or fly inside out first will make it easier to apply the glue to the interior of the seam, which will save time later.
Smooth it out with the help of a popsicle stick (you want the thickness of butter on toast, about a millimeter).
Allow the sealant to dry for approximately six hours in the shade after it has been applied. Young has been using the same resealed tent for more than a decade, and it has lasted him that long with proper care.
It is necessary to first examine the tent fly inch by inch for any little tears or rips. If you do manage to locate them, Young advises mending them with Gorilla Tape or Tenacious Tape ($5), both of which are water-resistant options. The waterproofing of the material can be restored after the fly has been repaired. A single-walled tent is likely comprised of a waterproof-breathable material similar to Gore-Tex, which requires a technical waterproofing solution such as Nikwax TX.Direct ($22), which is available at sporting goods stores.
This product increases waterproofing while also preventing solar damage.
Wipe away any excess with a rag and allow it to dry completely.
The Tent Base or Ground Cloth
Because they are in constant touch with the ground, the base of the tent body and the ground fabric are the most susceptible to wear and tear. Fortunately, the procedure of repairing the fly is extremely similar to the process of repairing the fly. Once again, begin by scrutinizing each piece for rips, and then repair them using your preferred waterproof patch. The cloth can then be waterproofed with a spray or by washing it. Allow the tent foundation to dry in the shade with the fly removed.
How to Waterproof a Tent: Helpful Tips for Staying Dry While Backpacking
Yes, you did it—you trekked a dozen kilometers deep into a mountain range, battling bugs, brambles, and some of the most beautiful sights along the way. Congratulations! The trip to your campground was exhausting, but once you arrived, you put up your tent, cooked a nice dinner, and settled down for a good night’s sleep. Your campground isn’t bothered by the approaching rain clouds since you’ve tented in the rain before and always slept comfortably and dry. This time, though, it is the sound of running water that awakens you up at 4 a.m.
It is imperative that you quickly put something over your tent to prevent the water from coming in.
When it comes to camping, nothing spoils a good time quite like a leaking tent.
However, what should you do before to hitting the trail to ensure that this does not happen to you is even more crucial.
What does “Waterproof” Really Mean?
The vast majority of contemporary tents are waterproof or at the very least water resistant. But what is it about a tent that makes it waterproof in the first place? After all, water is a molten liquid that can be broken down into its constituent parts, which are called molecules. So, how does a cloth tent manage to resist even the slightest drops of water? Unfortunately, the answer is no—at least not completely. In scientific terms, no fabric can be considered totally waterproof in the sense that no water will ever be able to pass through.
- Water, on the other hand, will not pass through a waterproof fabric under normal conditions unless the water pressure exceeds the fabric’s “waterproof rating.” It is customary for fabrics to be measured in millimeters for their waterproofness (such a technical phrase!) (mm).
- As a result, a fabric with a water-resistance rating of 1,500 mm can bear the weight of 1,500 millimeters of water sitting on it without bursting.
- In fact, it’s more rain than the city of Seattle, Washington, which is known for its heavy rainfall, receives in a year.
- However, if you’re camping in a tent, you’ll want to take into consideration groundwater that comes up from below.
- Furthermore, because your body weighs more than rain, a 1,500 mm rating, although sufficient for rain fly and tent walls, would be insufficient for the tent floors or footprint.
- Because of the greater rating, the tent floor can resist the increased pressure from your body for several days at a time when you’re out in the wilderness, if necessary.
Even in the most harsh three-season situations, they’ll hold up and remain dry for months on end.
How Does Waterproof Fabric Work?
Typically, waterproof fabric is constructed of many layers of synthetic material. The specs and layers of waterproof fabric produced by various manufacturers will change, but they will all have at least two layers in common. Outside textiles for camping gear are often made of nylon or polyester, which are not waterproof but are water resistant and feel good to the touch despite not being completely waterproof. Immediately behind it is a coated membrane, which is often constructed of polyurethane.
The fabric’s exterior layer has been coated with a Durable Water Repellent (DWR), which makes it completely waterproof.
When all of the layers are joined, you’re left with a fabric that is both breathable and entirely water-resistant.
What Causes a Tent to Lose its Waterproofness?
During their lifetime, tents, outerwear, and other waterproof textiles are worn down by dirt and oil particles that become embedded in the fabric, and the sun’s fading and eroding effect on the fabric’s surface. With continuous usage, the polyurethane coating on the outside of the tent fades and loses its effectiveness, and after a few summers in your tent, you may notice that it isn’t holding up as well against rain as it used to. The same is true for water-resistant coats, jeans, stuff sacks, and backpacks, among other things.
They’re normally fairly durable, but once the seam taping begins to wear away, water will accumulate around the seams and begin to leak through, thereby ending the game.
The good news is that you may quickly and economically restore the waterproofing properties of your tent to its original condition.
How to Waterproof a Tent
In the event that you have lately tented on a wet night, you may already be aware of the source of the leak in your tent. The trouble with water leaks, on the other hand, is that they almost never begin at the location where you first discover them. If your tent’s waterproofing has been compromised, there may be more than one leaky location to be found. Look for holes or rips in every inch of your tent and inspect it thoroughly. Some leaks are caused by something as simple as a micro-tear in a piece of cloth.
The majority of the time, though, leaky tents are a bit more difficult to fix.
Start by wetting the ground underneath you with a hose.
After that, go inside the tent and look for any signs of water that has made its way inside. Check the tent seams, walls/rain fly assembly, and tent floor/bathtub assembly for problems, since these are common trouble areas.
Supplies You’ll Need
- Oil-based rubbing alcohol is used to clean tent seams and surfaces in order to remove oil, grime, and other particles that inhibit proper sealing. Cloths, both wet and dry
- To clean the tent and remove dirt and grease, use water and soap. The use of DWR tent waterproofing spray, which is readily available online or at your local camping supply store
- Seam sealer, which works in a similar way to domestic superglue and is simple to get by online or at an outdoor-oriented store
Seal The Tent Seams
Repairing one of your tent’s seams is a wonderful idea, but it’s much better if you can fix all of them at once. It takes less than an hour to seal your tent seams, and it is rather simple (excluding drying time). Take the following steps:
- Tent seams should be cleaned. After wiping down each seam with a moist towel, apply rubbing alcohol to the area. The glue that was initially used to hold the tent seams together is now your adversary, and the rubbing alcohol will assist you in getting rid of it so that the seam sealer may do its function
- Tent sealer should be applied using a brush. Tent seams should be sealed using a specific sealant, which should be applied with a brush or popsicle stick to cover the whole seam. You don’t want it to be too thick or too thin since it will be uncomfortable. A thin layer of around a millimeter thickness is ideal
- Excess should be wiped away and allowed to dry. Excess sealant should be gently wiped away with a clean cloth or towel. Let the tent seams dry for at least 6 hours indoors or in the shade before putting your tent away for the night.
The seams of your tent will stay entirely secure and watertight for many years after they have been properly installed. The majority of the time, sealing your tent seams is a one-time, permanent solution. The seams will only need to be resealed once every 8-10 years unless you’re trekking in tough circumstances for months at a time.
Restore Waterproof Surfaces
It’s time to recoat your tent’s urethane coating with a new layer of durable water repellent (DWR) coating to keep it looking as good as new. This will extend the life of the tent by several years and only takes approximately 20 minutes to complete, excluding drying time. If you believe your old, trail-worn tent may benefit from a fresh coat of DWR, even if it hasn’t yet sprung a leak, it’s definitely worth the effort to give it a makeover! Here’s how it’s done:
- Set up your tent as soon as possible. When your tent is fully put up, either in your garage or garden, the quickest and most effective approach to refresh its DWR is to wash and wipe the tent clean. It is recommended that you wash your tent after each lengthy journey as part of your standard post-trek procedure after each trip. Preventing dirt and oil from getting into your tent before refreshing the DWR is critical to extending the life of your tent’s DWR coating. Take a towel or sponge and dip it in soapy water before wiping out every surface of the tent thoroughly. Once the tent has been thoroughly cleaned, you can proceed to the following step—there is no need to dry the tent at this point—which is to coat the tent with waterproofing spray (DWR). Apply a generous amount of DWR spray on the tent’s exterior, from top to bottom. Simply spray the tent’s outside surface, and the coating will soak into the fabric and bind with it when the tent is allowed to dry completely. Make certain that you cover every inch of the tent and that no fabric is left untouched
After you’ve completely covered the tent with DWR, wipe it down with a dry towel to remove any excess DWR and ensure that the tent has a clean, even finish. Once this is done, allow it to dry for at least 12 hours or overnight in a dry environment. When you’re finished, your tent will be restored to its original, completely waterproof condition. No more stressing about the weather while planning your next backpacking trip—rain or shine, you’ll be prepared with everything you need to sleep well while on the road!
Tips For Tent Waterproofing
Tent waterproofing can be viewed as a preventative step rather than only a remedy to a particular issue. Because applying a waterproofing treatment is so simple and inexpensive, you may believe that you should reapply it every year at the start of a new camping season. However, this is not the case. It’s perfectly OK to do so, but it’s not frequently essential. In general, good tents for camping will survive for at least four to seven years before they begin to naturally wear down and require a new layer of waterproofing.
Should I Use DWR Spray on My Backpack, Sleeping Bag, etc.?
If your camping gear is comprised of nylon or polyester, it’s likely that it has been treated with a water-repellent coating. Your tent’s waterproofing will decrease with time, and so will the waterproofing of your hammock-compatible sleeping bag, ultralight down sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and backpack over time. It is possible that you may need to update the DWR coating on your backpack and sleeping pad every few seasons, but your sleeping bag should not see enough wear and tear to require this.
What Seam Sealer and DWR Spray Should I Use?
What you choose to do is mostly up to you; seam sealers and DWR sprays from a variety of manufacturers all employ the same basic components.
Because of their long-standing reputation for quality and high level of trust in the backpacking world, many individuals choose Nikwax-branded gear. To be honest, no sealer brand is likely to be notably superior than any other in terms of performance.
Never Have a Leaky Tent Again
The process of learning how to waterproof a tent is almost as simple as the process of actually waterproofing it. Make sure you understand where the leaks are coming from, maintain your tent clean, and replace the DWR and seam sealant every few years to ensure that your tent continues to function at peak levels. Since when have you examined your tent to make sure it isn’t leaking? Do you have any waterproofing recommendations for our readers? Please share your thoughts in the comments box below!
How to waterproof an inexpensive tent
Q. Several years ago, I purchased an 8-person tent from Wal-Mart at a reasonable price. Even while it’s been fine for camping in our backyard with the family, we’re planning on visiting a few of state parks soon, so the ease of rushing into the house if it starts to rain won’t be available. The tent was labeled “weather-tec” or something along those lines, which basically means it will keep you dry. I really don’t want to spend the money on a new tent. What do you think the situation will be if it starts to rain?
- Greetings, Keith.
- Your instincts are correct – there is a significant likelihood that your tent will not be completely waterproof after all.
- What they normally lack in terms of durability and weatherproofness, and they are frequently heavier than high-end camping gear, are these characteristics.
- First and foremost, you may get a basic tarp from your local hardware shop (which will most likely cost you less than $15) and place it above your tent.
- You may also use a waterproofer like Nikwax Concentrated TentGear Solar Proof ($13-$39;), which you would mix with water to cure your tent, as a second option.
- Because of the size of your tent, you’ll most likely need to utilize the entire 1-liter pouch, which costs around $39 dollars.
- Will it be able to transform your Wal-Mart tent into something suitable for an Everest expedition?
How to Waterproof a Tent: Step-By-Step Guide to Waterproofing
Using these ideas, methods, and strategies, you will be able to have a comfortable and dry camping vacation at any time of the year. The primary function of your tent is to keep you dry. This is why waterproofing is critical for both a working tent and a pleasant camping vacation. Water resistance should be checked on a regular basis in all tents, from the cheapest pop-up to the most expensive camping tent. You’ll need to waterproof your tent from time to time if you want to ensure that you remain dry while camping.
So, what is the best way to waterproof a tent?
Everything you need to know about waterproofing tents will be covered in this post, including how to waterproof a tent fly and which materials are best for your specific tent.
This tutorial is written with the novice in mind at all times.
Let’s get this party started! Please keep in mind that this post contains affiliate links, which assist me to maintain this blog at no additional cost to you, allowing me to continue to provide free travel information and ideas.
Why Do You Need to Waterproof a Tent?
So why would you need to waterproof a tent in the first place? In the first place, being wet makes it difficult to feel comfortable, and staying warm becomes practically impossible. In addition, most of your equipment will not function properly if it has been exposed to water. Sleeping bags and down coats that have been soaked lose their loft and warmth. Blisters are caused by wet hiking shoes. Tents for camping must be waterproofed in order to be effective. The majority of contemporary shelters have sealed seams, however some inexpensive tents do not.
Even with high-end items, the tent coating tends to erode over time and must be reapplied to maintain its effectiveness.
Does Waterproofing a Tent Work?
Quick and simple response, “Yes.” Long answer: Yes, but only up to a certain degree. The fact of the issue is that no tent is flawless, no matter how thoroughly the seams are sealed or how many times you use waterproofing spray. In severe weather, even the best-made tent will be subjected to a small amount of water seepage. While a little water in the corners is one thing, sleeping outside in the middle of a rainstorm is something else different! It will significantly limit the quantity of water that gets into your tent during typical rain storms if you waterproof your tent.
Do You Need to Waterproof a New Tent?
It is imperative that you waterproof your tent as soon as possible if the tent seams are not sealed and the tent fabric does not have a coating or treatment applied. This is especially typical with low-cost tents. However, the majority of tents on the market now are at the very least water-resistant. On a lower-end tent, you might want to consider improving the water repellency, but it is not necessarily required.
When Should You Waterproof a Tent (or Re-Waterproof a Tent)?
It’s ideal to wash and maintain your tent just when it’s really essential, rather than on a regular basis or on a predetermined timetable. The frequency with which you will need to re-waterproof your tent will be determined by how frequently you will use it. When you see that the coatings on your tent are becoming worn, you may re-waterproof it. We’ll teach you how to check your tent for this later on in this article.
5 Steps to Waterproof a Tent
When washing your tent, you’ll need the following supplies: mild detergent and a sponge or cloth; water; a tub; and a shady and dry spot outside.When repairing your tent, you’ll need the following supplies: rubbing alcohol; correct patches; and sealant.If you’re applying tent sealant spray or re-sealing the seams, make sure you start with a clean tent.The water repellent products won’t stick properly to a dirty surface.
These types of soap degrade the waterproof coating on your tent fly and fabric.Instead, use a product designed specifically for water repellent gear, such as Nikwax Tech Wash (which you can get here fromAmazonorREI).If you don’t, you’ll strip the coating and further damage your tent’s waterproofing.Tip2– When cleaning your tent, be gentle.
For a more in-depth cleaning guide, check out REI’s video and guide to cleaning your tent, which addresses mold, pine sap, and other tricky problems.Note: If your tent is brand new or already clean, you can skip this step or simply spray your tent with water and wipe it down with a damp cloth.Once your tent is clean, inspect it for rips or tears in the fly, mesh, or tent fabric.If you When it comes to mesh fabric and tents with a silicon coating, there are specific patches available.You’ll want to cut any frayed threads and clean the area with rubbing alcohol before placing any patches.If you’re new to tent repair, this REI video will walk you through the procedure step-by-step.
Step 2: Identify Problem Areas
If your tent is clean, dry, and in good shape, it’s finally time to consider tent waterproofing. Leaks should be the first thing you look for. Set up your tent outside and spray it down when you’re through. Make careful to let the water flow for at least a few minutes to get the closest representation possible of a real downpour in your home. Those spots where the water is seeping in will require further care. Following that, watch for peeling and delamination of the sealant on the seams and the tent fabric as a sign of a problem (both the fly and the bottom portion of the tent).
It is beneficial to turn the fly inside out on the top of your tent for easy inspection and sealing during the tent’s closing check.
Step 3: Seal Tent Seams
Clean your seams well with rubbing alcohol and remove any big flakes of sealant that have come loose (do not scrape or peel off any sealant that is still firmly bonded to the surface). You’ll be sealing the seams on the underside of the rain fly as well as the interior of the tent during this procedure. To seal the seams, use a tiny brush to apply your sealant onto the seams in a thin coating that is approximately 1 mm in thickness. Make careful to brush away any excess that may have gotten outside of the seams before it has a chance to dry out completely.
Whenever possible, be sure to apply the right sealer for the fabric and coating of your gear.
To determine the product you require, consult the manufacturer or the label on the tent.
Step 4: Refresh Polyurethane Tent Waterproofing
In addition to the seams, the fabric inside your tent fly and ground piece has a lighter water-resistant coating composed of polyurethane or, less typically, silicon that helps to keep the cloth from becoming soaked. Fabric that has become dull and flaky, or that has become drenched with water, can be refreshed by applying another coat of coating. In contrast to tent water repellent spray, this is a spot treatment rather than a general purpose solution. You’ll be spraying it to the sections of your tent that require the greatest protection, such as the underside of your fly and the interior of the tent (and, no, you cannot use the same DWR spray product that you’ll be putting on the outer fly).
To apply the sealant, first clean the afflicted area until it is smooth, then treat it with rubbing alcohol before applying a thin coating of sealant to the affected region.
Continue to keep your gear out of the sun and allow it to dry for at least 24 hours after it has been cleaned. Be sure to inspect the area of the cloth where the fresh coat was applied to ensure that it is glossy and smooth before packaging it away.
Step 5: RainflyFloor DWR Coating
It is necessary to periodically reapply a durable waterproof coating (DWR) on the outside of the tent fly and ground cloth before it can be considered waterproof. In order for water to bead up and flow off the fly instead of soaking through it, the coating must be applied in a certain manner. Due to the fact that this coating doesn’t stay as long as a waterproof sealer for tents and seams, you should anticipate to have to reapply it more regularly. Depending on who you ask, these tent sealing spray treatments can last anywhere from a few months to only a few rainstorms.
Some even feature built-in UV-blockers, which can assist your product stand up to the potentially harmful effects of the sun’s radiation.
Allow the spray to linger for a few minutes before wiping away any excess with a damp towel if necessary.
How to Waterproof a Canvas Tent
Canvas tents are among of the most durable and elegant tents available on the market, but they require extra attention to maintain their quality. The method for waterproofing a canvas tent is somewhat different from the method for waterproofing a nylon tent. Set the tent up outside and allow it to get wet and dry a few times before moving it inside. This causes the fibers to shrink, which provides natural waterproofing to the tent (this is referred to as “weathering”). If you follow these steps, your canvas will be generally rain-proof, although it may still require a refresh every now and then.
How to Waterproof a Tent With a Tarp
Using a tarp to “waterproof” your tent implies that it will not be truly waterproof, but that does not rule out the possibility of it working. You may read REI’s instructions for a few alternative options for rigging up your tarp to keep you dry without having to completely waterproof your actual tent here.
More Tips for Waterproofing Your Tent (And What to Avoid)
- DOuse your tent with the appropriate supplies. Before you begin sealing your tent, double-check that the sealants you’re using are suitable with the fabric
- When washing your tent, avoid using strong detergents or chemicals. You will damage the waterproof coat and cause more harm than good if you do not leave enough time for things to dry completely. This will demand time and forethought – you may need to wait a few days between each stage to allow everything to dry completely
- DO get the appropriate tent for your trip. Even if a cheap tent is effectively waterproofed, it will not hold up as well as a high-quality tent.
Please see below for our reviews of the finest 4-person tents, 6-person tents, 8-person tents, 12-person tents, huge camping tents, 3-room tents, instant tents, pop-up tents, inflatable tents, water-resistant tents, warm and insulating winter tents, and cabin tents.
Are There Any Downsides to Tent Waterproofing?
No, not at all. A completely waterproofed tent will be less breathable than a non-waterproofed tent, but this is preferable than a damp tent. However, if you have a new tent or one that doesn’t leak when it rains, waterproofing your tent may not be as vital until you see a significant amount of water flowing into your tent from the outside. Instead, use your money to purchase other wonderful outdoor equipment.
What is the Best Waterproofing Spray for Tents?
A long-time favorite, Kiwi Camp Dry Heavy Duty Water Repellent can waterproof just about every piece of camping equipment, from tents to shoes and backpacks. Furthermore, because the cans are long-lasting, you’ll be able to cover an ordinary tent with just one can.
Because it is non-toxic and biodegradable, Nikwax Tent Spray is an excellent choice for backcountry camping. Nikwax Tent Spray is a wonderful choice for backcountry camping. UV protection is included in Nikwax waterproof spray, allowing you to get more use out of your equipment.
Conclusion – What to Remember When Waterproofing Your Tent
If you came to this page seeking for information on how to make a tent waterproof, you should now have more than enough suggestions and knowledge to go forth and seal seams with confidence, right? If I were to leave you with one piece of advice, it would be to look up your tent’s manufacturer’s instructions and follow them to the letter. These precautions will pay off in the long run; your tent will reward you and will keep you dry for years to come. Camping is a blast! INFORMATION ABOUT THE AUTHOR Kristi Allen is a woman who lives in the United States.
The North East is where she grew up hiking and backcountry skiing, and she has traveled more than 15,000 miles throughout the United States and Canada on her quest to see every national park.
With intentions to return to Asia in 2021, she is now traveling throughout the United States by van.
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With The Atlas Heart, Mimi hoped to build a community of travelers who were motivated to experience the globe for themselves.
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