Despite the insects, brambles and breathtaking views, you made it to the other side of a mountain range after a grueling 12-mile journey. You’ve made it to your destination, pitched your tent, and had a hearty supper; now it’s time to relax. You’ve camped in the rain before and always slept comfortably and dry, so the rainclouds approaching your campground don’t disturb you.
Dripping water, on the other hand, awakens you at 4 a.m. Your tent is leaking! There is no time to waste now; you must find a covering for your tent so that the water cannot get inside. Sadly, it’s too late; tonight, you’ll simply be drenched.
A leaking tent may completely ruin an otherwise perfect camping trip. You’ve got options for fixing your tent. What’s more, how can you prevent this from happening to you when you’re out on the trail? Learn how to waterproof a tent like an expert by reading our article.
WHAT DOES “WATERPROOF” REALLY MEAN?
Waterproof or water-resistant tents are common in today’s camping gear. In the first place, what is it that makes a tent waterproof? When it comes to water, molecules are the only way to break it down. Why does a fabric tent keep even the tiniest drops of rain from getting inside?
This does not answer your question. All fabrics are not really waterproof in the sense that no liquid can ever penetrate them. Fabrics are porous by nature, and water will seep through even under harsh conditions. Water will not pass through a waterproof fabric until the water pressure exceeds the fabric’s “waterproof rating.”
Millimeters are used to measure the waterproofness of a fabric (mm). Maximum amount of water that will not pass through fabric when sat over it. When 1,500 millimeters of water sit on top of a 1,500-millimeter-thick fabric, it will not leak.
1,500 mm of water sounds like a lot, which is why you’re thinking that way. That’s more rain in a year than Seattle, Washington, which is known for its frequent downpours, receives. When it comes to rain, it’s theoretically possible to keep a fabric rated at 1,500 mm or above totally dry.
It’s important to keep in mind that groundwater can seep into a tent. Water droplets can be pushed through a tent’s canvas by the weight of your body when you’re camped on moist ground. Even though a 1,500 mm rating is robust enough to protect your tent’s walls and rain fly, it wouldn’t be sufficient for the tent floor or footprint.
To ensure that your tent is operationally waterproof, you should stick to fabrics rated between 3,000 and 5,000 mm. That greater grade helps the tent floor to endure the higher pressure from your body for days at a time while you’re out in the woods.
There are Hyke & Byke tents that are waterproof from top to bottom. The rain fly is at least 2,000 millimeters in thickness. Even in the most harsh three-season situations, they’ll hold up and keep you dry.
HOW DOES WATERPROOF FABRIC WORK?
Layers of synthetic material are used to construct waterproof fabrics. Waterproof fabric can be made with a variety of specifications and layers, but they always have at least two layers in common.
It’s common for camping gear to be made of nylon or polyester, which isn’t waterproof, but is water-resistant and comfortable to wear. Polyurethane-coated membranes can be found beneath that. Even though the fabric is impervious, it is breathable thanks to a layer of small perforations that allow water vapour through but not water droplets.
DWR (Durable Water Repellent) is applied to the fabric’s outer layer, making it completely waterproof. Protects against water by adhering to the cloth and creating a water-tight seal. Combined, the layers create a fabric that is both breathable and watertight.
WHAT CAUSES A TENT TO LOSE ITS WATERPROOFNESS?
The sun’s rays degrade and erode the surface of waterproof textiles, such as tents, jackets, and other garments that are exposed to the elements. Polyurethane coating on the outside fades and loses effectiveness over time, and after a few summers in your tent, you may notice that it doesn’t hold up to rain as well.. When it comes to waterproof jackets, jeans and backpacks, the same holds true.
Also, tent seams are susceptible to deterioration over time. When the seam taping wears off, water will begin to pool around the seams and begin to leak through, then it’s game over. Typically, they are fairly resilient.
A fair remedy to this problem is the purchase of new camping gear, but not everyone has the funds to do so on a regular basis. The good news is that restoring your tent’s waterproof properties is both affordable and simple.
Here’s how it works.
HOW TO WATERPROOF A TENT
FIND THE LEAK
If you’ve recently tented in the rain, you may already know where your tent is leaking. The difficulty with water leaks, though, is that they don’t always begin where you first notice them. If your tent is no longer waterproof, there may be more than one place where it is leaking.
Look for any holes or tears in your tent’s fabric. In certain cases, a small tear in the cloth is all that is needed to cause a leak. A patch will suffice if that is the case. Leaky tents, on the other hand, are more difficult to fix.
You can test the leak by setting up a tent in your backyard. In order to imitate rain when camping, you can use a hose to moisten the ground beneath you before setting up your tent. Then, get inside the tent and check to see if any water has made its way in. Attention should be paid to the seams of the tent seams, the walls/rain fly, or the tent floor/bathtub.
SUPPLIES YOU’LL NEED
- The use of rubbing alcohol to remove grease, grime, and other particles that impede the good sealing of tent seams and surfaces
- Wet and dry towels
- Clean the tent with soap and water to remove dirt and oil.
- Your local camping supply store or the internet is a good place to look for DWR spray for waterproofing your tent
- Like household superglue, seam sealer can be purchased online or in an outdoor-oriented store.
SEAL THE TENT SEAMS
Repairing all of your tent seams is a smart idea if one of them is leaking. In less than an hour, you can seal the seams of your tent (excluding drying time).
These are the instructions:
- Clean the seams of the tent Rub alcohol should next be applied to each seam after the damp cloth has been used to clean it. If you’re using rubbing alcohol to remove the glue that held the tent seams together, the seam sealer will be able to do its job.
- Apply tent sealer using a paintbrush. Use a brush or popsicle stick to cover the entire seam with a tent seam sealant. Don’t go overboard with the thickness or thinness of it. A layer of around a millimeter is ideal.
- Remove any extra water and allow to air dry. Wipe away any excess sealant using a clean cloth or rag. When you’re finished, let the tent seams air dry for at least six hours, either indoors or out of direct sunlight.
Your tent’s seams will remain watertight and safe for years to come after they’ve been properly sewed. For the most part, seam sealing your tent only needs to be done one time. To keep the seams from drying out and cracking, you should reseal them once every 8 to 10 years.
RESTORE WATERPROOF SURFACES
If your tent’s urethane has worn thin, it’s time to apply a fresh coat of durable water repellent (DWR). When done correctly, this will extend the life of the tent by several years. A fresh coat of DWR on an old, trail-worn tent is well worth the investment even if the tent hasn’t yet had an issue.
In order to do so, this is how:
- Set up your shelter. When your tent is set up in your garage or lawn, the simplest approach to refresh its DWR is to spray it down with a hose.
- Clean and sanitize your tent. After every long walk, you should wash your tent as part of your post-trek regimen. To ensure that your tent lasts as long as possible, thoroughly cleaning it before applying a fresh coat of DWR is a must. Soak a rag or sponge in soapy water, then wipe down all of the tent’s surfaces. You don’t have to wait for the tent to dry once you’ve cleaned it (yet).
- Spray a waterproofing agent on your tent (DWR). Apply a generous amount of DWR spray to the tent’s outside. As the coating dries, it will adhere to the tent’s fabric, so you just need to spray the tent’s exterior. The tent should be completely covered, so don’t leave any fabric unattended.
Clean the tent with a dry towel to remove any excess DWR and provide a clean, even layer of the DWR. Drying time should be 12 hours or overnight in an area free of moisture.
Then your tent will be completely dry again. Rain or shine, you’ve got what you need to sleep well while backpacking—no more weather worries while planning your next excursion!
TIPS FOR TENT WATERPROOFING
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I WATERPROOF MY TENT?
Not merely a fix, but a preventative step, tent waterproofing may be seen. At first glance, it may seem like an unnecessary expense because it is so simple and inexpensive to apply a waterproofing spray. However, it’s not always required to do so. At the very least, good backpacking tents will last at least four to seven years before they begin to deteriorate and require a fresh coat of waterproofing.
SHOULD I USE DWR SPRAY ON MY BACKPACK, SLEEPING BAG, ETC.?
It’s highly likely that your nylon or polyester backpacking gear has been coated with some kind of DWR. Like your tent, the waterproofing of your hammock-compatible sleeping bag, lightweight down sleeper bag, sleeping pad, and backpack will wear down over time
A new DWR coat for your backpack and sleeping pad might be necessary every few seasons, but not for your sleeping bag. DWR-coated sleeping bags are stiffer and more difficult to pack down into a small space.
WHAT SEAM SEALER AND DWR SPRAY SHOULD I USE?
Many different types of seam sealers and DWR sprays employ the same fundamental ingredients, so the choice is yours. When it comes to quality and confidence in the backcountry, many people preferNikwax products because of their long history and reputation. No sealer brand, however, will be significantly superior to the rest.
NEVER HAVE A LEAKY TENT AGAIN
It’s almost as simple to learn how to waterproof a tent as it is to do so. To maintain your tent working like new, keep an eye out for leaks, keep it clean, and reapply DWR and seam sealant as needed.
When was the last time you had your tent thoroughly inspected for any signs of water damage? Do you have any advice for our readers on waterproofing? Please share your thoughts in the space provided.
Sealing Tent Seams
When the sealant on a tent’s seams wears out, water can seep in and ruin the tent.
- A piece of trash
- Using alcohol as an anesthetic.
- Make sure you purchase the proper type of sealant for your tent before applying it. Unlike polyurethane-coated fabrics, silicone-treated fabrics require a separate sealer to be applied. Most tents employ polyurethane-coated textiles, but verify with the tent manufacturer if you don’t know what type of fabric your tent is composed of.)
- A tarpaulin to contain any splatters (optional)
Sealing seams can be accomplished in the following ways:
- In a dry, sunny location or a brilliantly lighted room, set up your tent so that you can easily inspect all of its seams. The inner side of the tent and the underside of the fly will both have sealed seams. To get to the seams, it’s best to turn the fly inside out.
- Underneath the fly, look for peeling seam tape and gently remove it, but leave intact pieces in place.
- Clean the seams with a rag and rubbing alcohol to get rid of any dirt or debris.
- Sew the seams together using the fresh seam sealer.
- You may want to seal all of the seams if one of them is showing signs of deterioration.
- Dry the seam sealer completely before using it again.
Refreshing the Urethane Coating on a Tent
It’s time for a new urethane coating if you’ve noticed peeling on the interior of your rainfly or the floor of your tent.
We have everything you’ll need to get started:
- Abrasive side of sponge
- Using alcohol as an anesthetic.
- Make sure you obtain the proper kind of sealant for your tent. Unlike polyurethane-coated fabrics, silicone-treated fabrics require a separate sealer to be applied. Most tents employ polyurethane-coated textiles, but verify with the tent manufacturer if you don’t know what type of fabric your tent is composed of.)
This is how you put the sealant on the tent:
- Gently brush the flaking coating off your rainfly or tent floor by laying it flat and using rubbing alcohol and a sponge.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the sealant bottle and apply a thin layer to the entire fly or tent floor.
- Allow at least 24 hours for the new coating to dry before putting your tent away.
- To remove any residue from the sealant and coated tent fabrics, wash your hands with soap and water.
Refreshing the DWR on a Tent
Your fly’s DWR coating can be reapplied if rain no longer beads up on it. We have everything you’ll need to get started:
- A water-resistant substance that can be sprayed on.
- a moist, clean cloth
In order to use the waterproof spray, follow these instructions:
- Afterward, spray the rainfly with a fresh coat of DWR, which doesn’t require drying time if you just washed your tent.
- Spray the rainfly’s exterior with waterproofing solution and spread it out evenly.
- Wipe off any remaining coating with a moist towel after a few minutes.
- Before storing the tent, make sure it is entirely dry.