How to Waterproof a Tent: The Ultimate Guide

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  • Post last modified:August 23, 2022
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When you go camping, you want to be sure that your tent will keep you and your family dry. If it rains while you’re out in the wilderness, you’ll be glad you took the time to waterproof your tent! In this guide, we will teach you how to do that. We’ll cover everything from how to prepare your tent for waterproofing to how to apply the sealant properly. So whether you’re a beginner camper or an experienced outdoorsman, this guide has something for everyone! Continue reading and you’ll know how to waterproof a tent!

You may be wondering:

  • How do you determine when your tent needs to be waterproofed?
  • How is a tent waterproofed?
  • Which products work the best?

Let’s focus on how to waterproof a tent before answering those queries in this article.

Before you begin waterproofing your tent, make sure to determine what fabric it is composed of.

Synthetic fabrics like polyester and nylon are the main topic of this article. Natural fibers could need different cleaning methods and materials than those suggested here.

Step 1. Check the entire tent and its parts for any leaks

You can do this by setting up the tent in your backyard and spraying it down with a hose.

Look for any areas where water is seeping through. These are the areas you will need to focus on when waterproofing your tent.

A tent may leak in four different places:

  • seems
  • tent fabric itself
  • rain fly
  • ground cloth

Mostly check the seams of your tent, as they are often the most vulnerable spots. The majority of tent seams are factory-taped. The lamination will eventually wear away, enabling water to seep inside over time. These seams are on the fly if your tent is double-walled and if it is single-walled, they are on the body. If you see any cracks or gaps, seal them with seam sealer before proceeding.

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Step 2. Apply tent seam sealer if needed

So after checking tent seams you found that some of them are not taped or damaged. Applying a seam sealer is an easy process that will make sure no water gets in through these cracks.

Steps on how to apply seam sealer:

  1. It is helpful to first flip the tent or rain fly inside out because you will be applying it to the interior of the seam.
  2. Start by cleaning the seams with rubbing alcohol to remove any dirt or oils.
  3. Apply the sealer to the seam using a brush or your fingers. The thickness of the sealer should be about 1 mm.
  4. Be sure to work it into the cracks and crevices.
  5. Allow the sealer to dry completely before moving on to the next step.

The best tent seam sealer in my opinion is this:

Gear Aid Seam Grip Seam Sealer

I applied this seam sealer to my tent 6 years ago and it is still going strong! Even though I use my tent very actively.

Bonus tip: if you find one seam that is leaking the chances are that the other seems to be not far behind. So it is a good idea to go ahead and seam seal the entire tent just to be safe!

Step 3. Patch waterproof tape to tent fabric, rain fly, or ground cloth if needed

If you found out that your tent is leaking through tent fabric, rain fly, or ground cloth then you need to patch it with special waterproof tape.

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Steps on how to apply waterproof tape:

  • Clean the spot with rubbing alcohol to remove any dirt or oils.
  • Simply apply the tape where it’s leaking

The best waterproof tape in my opinion is this:

Gear Aid Tenacious Tape Repair Tape

Step 4. Apply waterproofing solution to tent fabric, rain fly, and ground cloth

So after you fixed seams with seam sealer and a tent with waterproof tape it’s time to make it really waterproof.

I found probably the easiest way how to waterproof a tent by using this waterproofing kit.

Steps on how to apply the waterproof solution using Nikwax Hard-Shell Outerwear Care Kit:

  • Wash your tent with Tech Wash solution in your washing machine. It’ll remove any dirt and prepare your tent for waterproofing.
  • After washing with Tech Wash, wash it again with TX. Direct Wash-In solution. This will actually cover your tent with waterproofing material.

So it’s that simple and there’s no need to dry the tent between the cleaning and waterproofing steps.

Nikwax Hard-Shell Outerwear Care Kit


So now you know how to waterproof a tent the right way! Just follow these four steps and you will prolong the life of your tent significantly. Do you have any tips on how to waterproof a tent? Share them in the comments below!

Happy camping!


Do tents need to be waterproofed?

Most of the tents are more or less waterproof but they all have their limits. The seams of the tent are usually the weakest point when it comes to waterproofing. By applying a sealant to the seams of your tent, you can be sure that water will not be able to get inside and ruin your camping trip!

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When to waterproof my tent?

When to waterproof your tent largely depends on how often you plan on using it and how severe the conditions are that you will be using it. If you use your tent a few times a year and it is not going to be exposed to severe weather conditions, then you may not need to waterproof it at all. But, if you are using your tent regularly and/or in harsh weather conditions, then it is a good idea to waterproof it at least once a year.

Should you waterproof the floor of a tent?

There is no need to waterproof the floor of your tent unless you are using it in severe weather conditions. If you are using your tent in harsh weather conditions, then it is a good idea to waterproof the floor as well as the seams of the tent. This will help to keep water from getting inside and ruining your camping trip!

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