Taking care of your tent is really important if you want it to last longer than a season. A well-maintained tent should last for years and once you know how it’s not that hard to keep it in good shape. Part of this process is knowing how to waterproof your tent.
All new tents are coated with a waterproof coating. This means that when water hits the surfaces, it forms beads and slides off. Over time this coating wears off and it’s down to the user to reproof it. You’ll know it’s time to reproof your tent when water droplets are soaking into the material instead of running off. Seams are especially vulnerable and a broken seam can also let in water. Checking seams is a vital part of the reproofing process.
How often should I waterproof a tent?
How often you waterproof your tent depends on how often you use it and the conditions you use it in. It’s usually done on a needs must basis. So if you see the performance of your tent drop, it’s time to reproof. To maintain the performance of your tent, it’s also necessary to protect the material it’s made out of. This includes reducing its exposure to direct sunlight, keeping it clean (wipe it over after every use) and storing it away dry.
How to waterproof a tent
- Pick a dry day. Reproofing your tent needs to be done outside and the tent will need to stay outdoors while it dries fully.
- Pitch up the tent. Choose a spot out of direct sunlight. Make sure the tent is clean and wipe off any excess dirt.
- Check for damage. Check all the seams and poles for damage and repair if necessary. Use a seam sealer on the seams that are coming apart.
- Apply the waterproofer. Make sure to wear plastic gloves to apply the coating which can either be wiped or sprayed on. Complete one section at a time and apply a generous coating. Wipe off any excess with a cloth.
- Allow to dry. Once you have coated the whole tent allow it to dry. Make sure it’s not in direct sunlight and away from any unnatural heat sources.
When waterproofing, pay attention to the tent’s fly, the seam between the groundsheet and side panels and the areas around the door zip.
Once your tent is completely dry, fold it up and store it in a cool, dry area. Do not rest your tent bag on its end as this can damage the poles. Always place the tent down flat.
If you’re planning a camping trip this winter, check out my free guide on how to safely heat your tent.