How to Waterproof a Tent

When out camping you can run into a pop-up rainstorm. We all do our best to prepare for what weather is ahead but there is never a guarantee.  Mother nature has her own schedule and way of doing things. And, there is nothing worse than waking up to the sounds of drips inside the tent. Fortunately, you won’t have to hear those or deal with the puddles as you are going to learn how to properly waterproof a tent!

Some tents do not come waterproofed.  This is something you need to add to them.  And, others will be waterproofed but it will wear out over time.  The fabric rubbing together when it is rolled up and put away over and over again along with it standing against the outdoor elements can wear out the waterproofing done at the factory. 

You will need to set up a tent for this. This can be done in your backyard or the garage, just be sure to have ventilation. You will want good lighting as you will seeking out every square inch of the seams of the tent, this can be a challenge in the dark. And make sure your tent is clean.

Things you will need to waterproof your tent:

  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Know what type of tent you have:  The options are polyurethane coated fabric or silicone treated fabric
  • Correct sealant for your type of tent
  • Dropcloth to help with any dripping
  • A rag

First, you will need to prep that area with rubbing alcohol. This will clean the seams and prepare them for a better bond with the seam sealer. Carefully going over every seam to clean it. Inspect the seams as well, in case there is some loose seam tape still remaining.  If there is gently remove it.

Next, read the directions of the seam sealer so you have a good idea of what you are doing. For most, it is pretty straight forward.  Brush the seam sealer on as directed by the instructions. Be sure to apply it generously. When the entire tent’s seams have had the once over, let it dry completely.

Next, you will want to refresh the waterproof coating. This is the coating that goes onto the entire tents outside. This coating usually comes in spray form. But, you will need to clean the walls of the tent with your rag and rubbing alcohol first. This allows for better adhesion of the waterproof coating you are about to apply. Just like with the seam sealer, you will need to know which kind of tent you have and find the appropriate sealer for that style of tent.

Take your time. Do this when you have a little extra time so that you ensure you get the entire tent. This will take time. But, you want this done right or there really is no point in doing it at all.

You can test your seams and waterproofing with a hose to ensure you didn’t miss a spot but covering the tent in water and going inside to take a look.

Our friends at Rei have made a video about how to waterproof a tent:


I have been camping and going outdoors for over 15 years! My first experience was when I joined the scouts. There I learned a lot. From building a campfire to set up a really big tent. Then I know this is awesome. Around 2005 I also started Geocaching. This is a lot of fun. And every time we go camping we look at the map to see if there are some nice caches around.

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