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How to Weatherproof a Tent

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If you are an outdoor enthusiast, then you appreciate the importance of owning a weatherproof tent, as it is the last line of defense between you and the harsh weather. A tent also guarantees a good night’s rest after a day of hiking, climbing, excursions or exploring the wild. New tents usually come with a weatherproof polyurethane layer, but over time and with exposure to the elements, this protective layer can get damaged, thin or wear out completely. This, in turn, can expose you to rain, sun or wind, while on a camping trip. To avoid such a scenario, the solution lies only in tent maintenance. A routine weatherproof procedure is simple, inexpensive, and extends the life span of your tent considerably.

If you’re interested, take a look at our CORE 10 person cabin tent review for a good look at a tent with a well-done weatherproofing system.

Before we dive into the maintenance procedure, it is important to identify why and how your tent’s weather resistance may deteriorate.

Age – If your tent has been constantly in use for a long period of time, then its weatherproofing should be examined. An old tent is a perfect candidate due to its high levels of wear and tear caused by the constant exposure to various weather conditions and patterns.

Storage Conditions – The effectiveness of the tent’s weather coatings can be reduced by the method of storage. If a tent is stored in poor or damp conditions, chances are it will be less effective at resisting rain and wind.

Sponge illustrationCleaning Procedures

Cleaning your tent requires the use of soft materials like sponges. Materials with a rough surface will wear out the polyurethane layer and damage the seams that are responsible for your tent’s weather resistance. Always pick a warm and sunny day while performing the procedures below. This will help to ensure the tent fully dries. If that is not possible, consider carrying out the tasks indoors. A garage or a spacious, airy room will work fine, although outdoors is always the best venue if possible. Ensure you have the below materials available while performing the required tasks:

Seam sealant

Just like the lead actor in a movie, a seam sealant is the most important item in the weatherproofing process. There are two main ways in which to apply the seam sealant to the seams; spraying it, or through extrusion. When buying a seam sealant, ensure that it is the right one, and that it is compatible with the material your tent is made of. To be sure, you can confirm via the tent’s manual, or get in touch directly with the manufacturer. If that information is difficult to come by, purchase a versatile seam sealant that works with almost all tent materials available such as leather, nylon, silicon coated, canvas, natural fabrics, vinyl or waterproof laminates. This is to prevent any damage to your tent.

Cleaning materials are used to remove any dirt or dust that may have formed a layer on your tent. Have the below handy while you work:


Rubbing alcohol


Soft brush


Weatherproofing Procedure – Let’s Get Started

1. Clean the fabric

No successful weatherproofing can be done without cleaning the tent to remove caked on dirt. If the tent is not cleaned, the seals will not set properly due to the dirt/dust on the fabric. Improper sealing will severely hamper the weather resistance of your equipment.

For best results, use warm water and a sponge with a soft surface to gently clean the exterior of the tent. Avoid sponges with rough surfaces as they might tear the seams.

2. Clean the seams

Weather elements usually leak into the tent through the seams. The stitching loosens up over time, and this is where most of your efforts will be focused as you work. Give the seams that most often encounter rain, puddles and run-off water special attention. This includes seams on the tent floor and those on the fly.

Take a clean cloth, wet it with a little alcohol and wipe gently over the seams. To remove any remnants of the old weatherproofing polyurethane and any tent fabric material that may be peeling off, use a toothbrush.

It is important to note at this stage, that the seams can either be on the interior or exterior of the tent. Depending on the sealant purchased, you will need to seal the correct side. There are interior and exterior sealants, make sure you check out the manufacturer’s label for the details.

3. Dry the tent

Allow the seams to dry for a few minutes, and then set up your tent, with the side you intend to work on being on the exterior. Pitch the tent in a well-ventilated area and tighten it, so that the seams are stretched, to better allow the sealant to penetrate. If there are seams located in hard to reach areas, you can try pitching the tent inside-out to access them with ease.

4. Seam sealant application

Apply generous amounts of the sealant on the seams all around the tent, which is a process that should take approximately one hour depending on the size of the tent.

Allow the sealant to dry and apply a second coat to ensure there are no gaps or spots that have been missed, and dry the tent again.

If you’re interested, read our review of the Coleman Prairie Breeze cabin tent, one of the best tents for rain and wind we have reviewed.

Testing with Water

Sprinkler on grass to test tent weatherproofing

To guarantee that your tent will not leak during your next outdoor adventure, set it under a sprinkler and turn the water on for a few hours.

Alternatively, you can use a hose. Check the tent’s interior to see if there are any leaks. In case leaks appear, allow the tent to dry, and apply more sealant to the seams that may still be leaking until you are satisfied your tent is completely waterproof.

Camping experts recommend weatherproofing your tent on a regular basis. Once every 3-4 years for those every once-in-a-while campers and outdoor enthusiasts, or twice a year for more frequent tent users. It is also advisable to regularly inspect your equipment for any damage or visible signs of wear and tear to prevent weather-related surprises before heading out. This is also a good time to follow the correct cleaning procedures to eliminate smells. Besides, there is nothing as unpredictable as the weather.