Rainproof Your Tent

Tent under tarp
Many tents are water resistant, not waterproof. Make sure you’re protected either way.

Rainproof your tent!

Making sure your tent is water proof is one of the big things you can do for the life of your tent and the comfort of you and your family, and while it takes a little time it isn’t difficult.

Ways You Can Rainproof Your Tent:

  • On a dry, sunny, warm day set your tent up in the back yard. (You can also do it in the garage or basement if you don’t have a yard big enough.)
  • Stake out or stretch out your rain-fly upside down beside it, taut so the needle holes show.
  • Check the seams on your tent. If your seams are tape-sealed it will look as if they have a narrow band of tape sewn in the length of the seam. These are waterproof and do not need to be treated.
  • Go inside and check the seams on the tent floor. If they are not tape sealed, you will have to treat them and any other seams that are not tape-sealed.
  • Clean the seams you want to treat using a cotton swab and household alcohol. This will get rid of any dirt that may be clogging the seams, and which will degrade the sealant if not first removed.
  • Use a good silicon seam sealant, like Seam Grip (see customer reviews here) . Apply the sealant to the seams of the tent floor inside so it doesn’t wear away.
  • Do the same to the fly.
  • Allow to dry a few hours.

If you want to add some more waterproofing:

  •  Spray the inside of your tent fly with a waterproofing spray, like Aqua Armor Fabric Waterproofing Spray for Tent & Gear. Most dealers will tell you to only spray the tent fly. This is because waterproofing spray has a tendency to interfere with the breathability of the fabric, and if you’re using most waterproofing sprays this is correct. The Aqua is a bit pricey but it allows the fabric to breathe, so you can do the whole tent if you want (see customers’ opinions here).
  • Once the seam sealer and/or spray has dried, pack up your tent and you’re ready for camping.
  • A note while camping: Make sure the tarp under your tent doesn’t stick out anywhere. If it does, the rain will run down the fly, land on the piece extending from the tent and run underneath. Tuck the tarp under or buy a tent footprint, which is a ground sheet the shape of your tent.

Finally, when you are camping, don’t push your gear so far to the side that the tent side wows outward. No matter how waterproof the tent is, the walls will get wet if not properly treated and pressure is applied. In fact, if you can keep all your gear from touching the sides of a tent you don’t have to worry much about the rain at all. It’s just that sometimes you’re on a slope, and sometimes when you’re sleeping your sleeping bag can travel so it rests against a tent wall. If that happens, and it rains, you will be glad you took the time to rainproof your tent!

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