I was getting ready to buy a new tent for our outdoor adventure trip and I started wondering, are tents waterproof? If not, how do I make one waterproof? So I decided to do some research to get my questions answered and hopefully, it will help you out as well.
Are Tents Waterproof and Will They Leak?
Some are water resistant, which is not the same as waterproof. A tent that is water resistant is designed to resist or slow down the penetration of the rain. This means that it won’t protect you fully and it even leaks in the seams.
You’d like to think that all tents are waterproof because they are designed to sleep outdoors. But the truth is that not all tents are designed to sleep in the rain. This is why you need to pay attention to what type of elements protects you against and not just if it’s a 3 season tent.
This is why it’s so important to choose the right one for the elements that you’ll be camping in.
Don’t worry, I’m going to share some tips on what to look for so you’ll understand whether you’re getting the right one or not.
What Are Waterproof Tents Made Of?
You’ll want to pay attention to the fabric that is used for the product. Waterproof tents are mostly made from nylon or polyester.
They can also be designed from a PVC coated canvas or polycotton. (although these are not popular among campers.
Polyester tents are coated with an extra protection of polyurethane, to provide that extra layer of protection.
Just like when you’re buying clothing, you need to make sure that you read how it was designed.
How to Waterproof a Canvas Tent?
If you have an old tent or teepee, there are some steps that you can take to ensure it keeps you dry when camping in the rain.
As a tent gets older, you’ll need to make sure you’re treating it to ensure that it still provides the protection you need. The UV rays will eventually break down the protection of the exterior of the tent.
One of the biggest mistakes that most people make when trying to waterproof a canvas tent is coating the outside and seams with a material that contains plastic. This can stop the rain, but it disrupts the ability to ventilate.
The trick is to waterproof it without covering up the pores between the fibers, which make it breathable. This is what makes it so challenging to do it correctly without messing it up.
If you have an acrylic canvas tent, avoid using a silicone treatment. You’ll want to use a fluoropolymer-based product.
Before using any type of treatment, you’ll want to make sure that you clean the tent thoroughly. I’ve written a blog post that will walk you through step by step on how to clean a tent.
How to Do It Without Chemicals?
This video will show you how to season a tent without using any chemicals. It’s pretty amazing at what he shares.
Best Tent Waterproofing Products
If you’re not the type of person to use homemade remedies and just want to buy the products that work, well, there are tons of great products you can use to protect your outdoor gear.
All you have to do is browse online and you’ll find tons of products you can use.
The first one I found can be purchased at REI and it’s called Nikwax waterproofing spray. The cool thing is that it can be used to protect all your outdoor gear.
If you do purchase it, make sure that you use it on your rain gear and your tarp.
Starbrite was another one that I found just by doing some research online. It can be purchased at Amazon and it also provides UV protection, which can help your tent last longer.
Texsport Polyurethane is great for backpacks and tents. It’s a great way to protect your seams from leaking.
There Are Lots of Products
There is literally an endless supply of products that you can purchase to help you protect your tent.
If it’s time to refresh the Urethane coating, make sure that you find a product the right type. Every tent is different and Silicone-treated fabric requires a totally different sealer than your polyurethane-coated fabrics.
Take the time to read the instructions before you make your purchase. The last thing you want to do is use the wrong product on your tent.
You’ll end up ruining your tent and having to purchase a brand new one. Be sure to check out the camping gear section if you’re ready to invest in brand new equipment.
What Is The Best Method to Use?
Everyone does it differently and it all comes down to your budget and how you want to do it.
There are companies that will do it for you for a fee. Some charge upwards of $50 or more. It really just depends on the company that you work with.
You can purchase a product online and do it yourself. It’s going to require a little bit of work to do it yourself.
However, it will save you money in the long run. You’ll also learn how to properly take care of your outdoor equipment, which is a plus.
Especially, if you’re planning on camping more often. You’re going to have to learn how to keep your equipment ready for use.
There is no right or wrong way to do it. Just choose if you want to hire someone to do it for you or if you want to tackle the project for yourself.
If it’s reached the point that it can’t be treated anymore, maybe it’s time to shop for a brand new replacement?
How to Shop the Right One?
Most of the times they will tell you what seasons the tent can be used in, but that doesn’t always necessarily mean it is waterproof.
If you’re purchasing your camping gear from a retailer like Walmart, you’ll definitely want to make sure that you’re buying the right one. Even though their prices are lower then most places, they are not always the best places to purchase camping gear.
Here are some tips that will help you buy the right one.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask: Don’t hesitate to walk into your local outdoor store or REI retailer and ask them which tents they would recommend for people who are camping outdoors in the rain.
Get Recommendations: Ask your family and friends who love camping what they recommend. You’ll be surprised at how much time you can save, just by getting some recommendation from people you know.
Take the time to shop for your new outdoor shelter. The last thing you want to do is buy the first or cheapest one you see only to realize that it doesn’t protect you.
The best thing to do to prevent headaches is to make sure that you purchase one that is already waterproof and ready to use. Of course, every tent is going to need to treated eventually.
But if you buy one that is perfect and can handle the outdoor elements. You’ll be able to use it for at least a year before it has to be treated.
Regardless of whether you think you’ve purchased the right one, you’ll want to test it out before you sleep in the outdoors.
That’s why I always recommend you set it up and test it out in your backyard before taking it out to the campsite.