How to Waterproof a Tent

Your tent is one of the most important things you have to prepare when you're planning a camping trip or family outing. Whatever the forecast for the day or weeks ahead is, you need to make sure that your tent is properly waterproofed before you leave home.

There is nothing worse than being woken up in the middle of the night to find your family in the middle of a puddle just because your tent had been leaking all along.

When you waterproof your tent, you'll be guaranteed of a dry night and better camping experience than if you hadn't prepared your tent well for the wet season. Waterproofing can make a huge difference on your camping trip.

Be safe by waterproofing your tent long before you leave for the trip. In this article, we will show you how to waterproof your tent easily using readily available materials.

Before you get started, make sure you have the following materials:

  • A good tent
  • A high-quality waterproofing spray (see our recommendation below)
  • High-quality seam sealer
  • Sufficient outdoor space for the work

It will also be important to choose the right day with the right weather to complete the tent waterproofing project. The best day to do this kind of work is on a dry day without too much wind.

You'll also want to choose a day with the least humidity because you will be spraying on the sealant which will need the best conditions for proper drying. You will probably be spraying using an aerosol can so you should avoid doing it on a windy day to prevent the spray from being blown away or mixing dust with the sealant.

waterproofing a tent

Step 1: Clean the Tent 

Your first task will obviously be to clean the tent thoroughly. Use a damp cloth to wipe down the tent material and ensure that you have removed all the dirt, mud, and stains from the fabric. If the fabric is soiled or dirty, it will not absorb the sealant and the chemicals in the sealant will not bond completely to the fabric and repel moisture.

If you have enough time, you can blow the tent fabric with a vacuum to get rid of any particles that would have remained after cleaning it with a damp cloth. Leave the fabric to dry properly before you move to the next step. It is important to dry the fabric sufficiently before you apply the sealant. This is because the sealant will not work on wet fabric.

Once the tent is dry, you can then move it to a well-ventilated area preferably outdoors or in a large airy room where you can open windows for better ventilation.

You’ll also need to wear gloves and safety goggles, especially if you are sensitive or have an allergic reaction to sprays. Most sealants have a strong odor so be well prepared to avoid risks and allergic reactions.

Step 2: Get the Best Waterproofing Spray

There are many tent waterproofing products that you can buy from your local hardware or any camping supply store but we highly recommend the Kiwi Camp Dry Heavy Duty Water Repellant

kiwi camp dry spray

Kiwi Camp Dry Water Repellant

  • Made for waterproofing tents
  • The silicone bonds to fabric to prevent water from penetrating your tent
  • Odorless (No chemical smell!)

I think I bought 4 bottles of this in a two week span. Water proofed two tents, a backpack and some tennis shoes…

This is one of the best tent waterproofing sprays today because it is made of silicone which bonds perfectly to fabric or leather to create a tough and efficient water barrier. It also allows the fabric to breathe and is ideal for all types of tents, tarps, outdoor gear, hunting gear, patio furniture covers, and boat covers just to mention a few.

Kiwi Camp Dry Heavy Duty Water Repellant is also completely odorless when you let your tent to dry properly.

Step 3: Apply the Waterproof Spray to the Tent

It is quite easy to waterproof your tent when you have a high-quality water repellent. Get the spray and hold it around 6 to 8 inches from the tent fabric and start applying a light even coat all over the outer surface of the fabric.

Make sure to overlap each spray stroke you make to ensure that you don’t leave any gap or hole on the fabric. Remember to apply the waterproofing spray along the entire outer lining of your tent.

After you have applied the first coat, leave the tent to dry in a windless area for between 4 and 6 hours depending on the day’s weather and the instructions on the spray. Once the tent is completely dry, you can then apply the second coat in just the same way as you did before.  

Step 4: Apply the Seam Sealant

Most seam sealant products come with a handy applicator normally attached to the bottle. Use the applicator to apply the sealant on every seam on your tent. Pay attention to seams located around zippers, which is one of the most likely places for water leakage.

There are good seam sealants on the market today but for the best results, we highly recommend the Gear Aid Seam Grip Waterproof Sealant. This is a tough seam sealant and adhesive for all types of tents and outdoor fabrics. It is available in clear color and can be used on tent fabric of any color.

Gear Aid Seam Grip Waterproof Sealant

Gear Aid Seam Grip Waterproof Sealant

  • Dries overnight into a permanent rubber seal
  • One tube can seal up to 12'2 of seams
  • Durable material blocks water and other liquids from getting into your tent's seams

Our tent ripped at the zipper, where we couldn’t see the seam. It was shredded. This stuff worked perfectly! Use this before paying for a new tent!!!

You can even use the Gear Aid Seam Grip Waterproof Sealant to repair holes and waterproof seams in tents, awnings, camp gear, tarps, and much more. It is a strong waterproof formula that dries overnight to create a permanent rubber seal.

Once dry it flexes easily with the fabric without peeling off or cracking for a long time. A single 1-ounce tube of Gear Aid Seam Grip Waterproof Sealant can seal up to 12 feet of seams. It comes with two applicators for both sealing and repairing fabric. Do not pack your tent until the seam sealant is completely dry. You should leave it overnight before packing.        

When you add a sealant to the tent’s seams, you’ll be providing an extra layer of waterproofing to your tent. You’ll be sure that your tent is completely waterproofed and protected from rain and moisture. Take time to waterproof your tent regardless of the season or weather forecast and you’ll be assured of a safe camping experience.