Ask the Gear Guy

Waterproofing a tent


tentsealer-200×148.jpgMy tent leaks! Water runs through the rainfly! What should I do?

– Damp Dan, Simpsonville, S.C.

A. Dear Soggy Sir, there could be a couple of different things going on that could make your tent so leaky.

First, if you fail to properly stake out your rainfly, it’ll just collect the rainwater and conveniently channel it inside your tent. So always keep the rainfly tight with the guy lines taut.

Another good idea would be to re-waterproof your fly. With wear and tear and time, all tents eventually lose their ability to repel water.

Luckily it’s easy — and cheap! — to rejuvenate it. Start with a tube of Seam Grip (about $7). Put your rainfly on top of your tent inside out and carefully reseal all the seams. While you’re at it, apply Seam Grip along the inside perimeter of your tent’s floor, too. Then flip your rainfly over, pitch it properly and spray it with a silicone waterproofer like McNett’s Thunder Shield (also about $7). Do all this and you’ll be Dry Dan from here on out.

Comments about “Waterproofing a tent”

  1. Joe Schmoe says:

    Thank u for the advice! We just treated our new tent… and feel much better heading out for our soon rainy camping weekend.

  2. Rookie says:

    what to use to waterproof very large synthetic tents?

  3. Anonymous says:

    so, if Thompson’s is incompatible with nylon tents, then what should I use on my 8 person nylon tent. I have a compressor and a paint gun that I could use. kSpray cans are too small.

  4. teto says:

    dissolve 100% silicon calk into gasoline and submerge any kind of fabric (including nylon tents) and let it dry outside until the smell is gone. this makes it completely waterproof. same as the expensive sil-nylon you buy at the store

  5. Anonymous says:

    Wow, I got pritty far with what I learned in the boyscotts. I dont think I learned this trick. Useful thogh.

  6. Prarie Boy says:

    I have a question what can you use to waterproof a tent floor? I water proofed the whole tent was wondering if Thompson water seal would work on the floor if mopped on and let dry??? I uses Shield to water proof the nylon it sold at Dicks Sporting Goods worked great.Let it dry in the sun .

  7. murphy says:

    Always use a tarp over a tent to keep it dry. If you can find a building construction site, ask if they have any extra Tyvek. Use plastic tarp clips to tie down 4 corners of Tyvek sheet over tent and/or suspend from rope tied between 2 trees. It’s lightweight, will not rip and it is waterproof. You can also use Tyvek under tent or on inside fllor to cut down on wear and tear.

  8. rained on says:

    Waht can I use on a nylon tent to water proof it?

  9. waterproof says:

    An easy way (and the way I use) to keep my tents dry at night, and protect them from bad weather is to take a standard tarp and attatch it (using strong rope and the hole in the sides of the tarp) to two trees above my tent. The tarp will then hang above my tent and rainwater will collect in it overnight. The tent remains dry and not a drop touches it! This is a perfect, no fail way to stay dry!

  10. boyscout45 says:

    it means to put along the corners INSIDE. an let it dry

    good question

  11. Puertorrican Leader says:

    Do anyone know if I can get this products here in PR???

  12. Eagle121 says:

    I completely agree with ACW with regards to Thompsons Waterseal. I have an official BSA canvas pyramid tent that I bought when I first started Scouting in 1977, and it is still waterproof. When I was using it regularly, I would re-waterproof it every spring. But now, I only use it two or three times a year, and the last time I put a coat of Thompsons on it was in 2000. I used it last summer, and it remained dry during a two week campout, through three gale-force storms. Thompsons is simply amazing stuff. Just don’t use it on synthetic tents though–it will eat them right up…

  13. CampScout10 says:

    My old tent leaked…so I bought a new one that one leaked too! :( Once I did this it stoped leaking!!!:):):)

  14. 427626 says:

    an emergency blanket (not the foil looking kind) works really well as a “ground tarp” inside the tent. I lay mine out inside the tent. it also helps with cleaning-just shake out the tarp instead of the whole tent.

  15. ACW says:

    The best I’ve used for canvas is Thompsons Waterseal. This stuff works on cement, wood decks and YES on Tents. I have a tent that is well over 20 years old and it made it smell like new again. The tent will NOT get hard and brittle. Set the tent up and buy a cheap squirt bottle or use an empty windex bottle and spray from the top down. Wet the canvas good and work your way to the bottom. It stinks and takes a while to dry so do it on a sunny day and have enough time. One gallon will do an 8′ x 10′ canvas cabin tent. The trick is to wet the canvas good, so it is better to have too much than too little. If your tent has mildew issues wash them out with soap and water, let dry before sealing. I have not used this on Nylon tents or materials other than canvas so don’t advise it.

  16. scout 1139 says:

    i dont understand when he says put it along the perimeter on the floor someone explain please????

  17. Dixie Runner says:

    What is the hot setup to waterproof an old canvas military tent that leaks through the canvas. This tent is about 15ft in diameter and about 10ft tall with 6ft sides. I would need several gallons to apply witha roller or a sprayer. Please advise what and where I could find ti. Thank you very much!

  18. Troop29 says:

    Awesome! Last camping trip my sleeping bag was drenched with water! Too bad I didn’t bring one of these along.

  19. Navycoat says:

    I’d like to try this too! It’s good that the products are cheap!

  20. Troop 215 says:

    I’v had the same problem, I’ll try this.

  21. Chris says:

    Cool. I have both products

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