How to Waterproof A Tent

How to Waterproof A Tent

Mar 16, 2023, 00:00:00

When you're camping, you don't want to hear water dripping inside your tent. If this has happened to you before, it's time to make your tent more waterproof.


Are All Tents Waterproof?

Not all tents are waterproof. While many tents are designed to be water-resistant, the degree of water resistance can vary depending on the type and quality of the tent.


Most modern tents are made from materials such as nylon or polyester that are treated with a waterproof coating. However, the effectiveness of this coating can vary depending on the quality of the tent and the conditions it is subjected to. For example, heavy rain or prolonged exposure to moisture can cause even the most waterproof tent to leak.


It's important to note that tents are typically marketed as water-resistant, rather than waterproof. This is because no tent can be completely waterproof in all conditions. Additionally, factors such as wind, temperature, and humidity can all affect a tent's ability to keep water out.


To ensure that your tent is as waterproof as possible, it's important to properly maintain it and take steps to prevent water from seeping in. This may include applying seam sealant, using a rainfly, and choosing a suitable campsite.


Chart of Tent Waterproof Rating

Here is a chart of tent waterproof ratings based on the commonly used Hydrostatic Head (HH) measurement:

HH Rating


Water Resistance

Recommended Conditions


Not recommended


Mild weather, occasional light rain




Light rain, moderate weather




Moderate rain, average weather


Very good


Heavy rain, strong winds




Heavy rain, strong winds, harsh weather conditions


It's important to note that the HH rating is just one factor to consider when evaluating a tent's waterproofness. Other factors such as tent design, materials used, and seam taping can also impact a tent's ability to keep you dry during rainy weather.


The Best Ways to Waterproof Tent


Here are 3 ways to waterproof your tent:


Seal the seams: The seams of your tent are one of the most common places where water can enter. To prevent this, use a seam sealer to seal all the seams on your tent. Apply the seam sealer to the inside of the tent, and let it dry completely before using the tent.


Refresh the urethane coating: Many tents have a urethane coating on the rainfly or the floor that helps to repel water. Over time, this coating can wear off or become damaged, reducing its effectiveness. To refresh the coating, you can apply a new layer of urethane using a waterproofing spray or brush-on product.


Refresh the DWR: DWR stands for Durable Water Repellent, which is a treatment applied to the outer layer of many tents to help them shed water. Over time, this treatment can wear off or become less effective. To refresh the DWR, you can use a waterproofing spray or wash-in product that is designed to restore the water-repellent properties of the fabric.


Sealing Tent Seams

To ensure that your tent stays waterproof, it's important to check and seal the seams periodically. While some tents come with sealed seams, the sealant can wear out over time, causing water to leak through. To seal the seams, you'll need a rag, rubbing alcohol, seam sealer, and a drop cloth to contain spills. Set up your tent in a dry, well-lit area and examine all the seams, focusing on the underside of the fly and inner side of the tent body. Clean the seams with a rag and rubbing alcohol, then apply the new seam sealer. If one seam is beginning to fail, it's best to apply seam sealer to all the seams. Allow the seam sealer to dry completely before using your tent.


Refreshing the Urethane Coating on a Tent

Refreshing the Urethane Coating on a Tent involves applying a new coating if you notice the old one flaking off the inside of the rainfly or tent floor. You will need a sponge with an abrasive side, rubbing alcohol, and tent sealant suitable for your tent. Scrub off the flaking coating with rubbing alcohol and the sponge, apply a thin coating of the new sealant, and let it dry for at least 24 hours before packing the tent away. Wash your hands afterward to remove any residue from the sealant and coated tent fabrics.

Refreshing the DWR on a Tent

To refresh the DWR coating on a tent, you will need a spray-on water-repellent product, a clean damp cloth, and water. Firstly, set up the tent and spray the rainfly with clean water. Then, apply the waterproof spray evenly over the exterior of the rainfly and wipe off any excess coating with a damp cloth after a few minutes. Finally, let the tent dry completely before packing it away.


Additional Ways to Waterproof A Tent

Use a rainfly: A rainfly is an additional layer of waterproof material that you can place over your tent to provide extra protection against rain. Many tents come with a rainfly, but if yours doesn't, you can purchase one separately.


Choose a good campsite: Choosing a good campsite can help to prevent water from getting inside your tent. Look for a site that is elevated and well-drained, and avoid setting up your tent in low-lying areas or near bodies of water.


Use a groundsheet: A groundsheet is a layer of waterproof material that you can place underneath your tent to protect it from moisture on the ground. You can purchase a groundsheet or make one out of a tarp or other waterproof material.


Avoid touching the walls: When you're inside your tent, try to avoid touching the walls with your gear or body. This can cause the waterproof coating to wear off and increase the chances of water getting inside.


Keep your tent clean: Dirt and debris can cause the waterproof coating on your tent to break down, so it's important to keep your tent clean. Use a mild soap and water to clean your tent, and avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasives.


Final thoughts

Waterproofing your tent is essential to ensure a comfortable and dry camping experience. Sealing the seams, refreshing the coatings, using a rainfly and groundsheet, choosing a good campsite, and keeping your tent clean can all help to prevent water from getting inside. Take the necessary steps to waterproof your tent and enjoy your camping trip without any worries about the rain.

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