Sleeping in a tent during a summer rain can be a relaxing experience. However, nothing can ruin the experience more than for the tent to not be properly waterproofed prior to using or assuming that an older shelter is ready for anything that Mother Nature can throw its way.
Waking up to water dripping through the ‘waterproof’ rain fly or the small tributary that seems to be making its way down the center of your tent can be a disturbing feeling, especially at two in the morning.
Once waterproofed, always waterproof doesn’t apply in the outdoor realm. Time, heat, ultraviolet light and the storage of gear have a way of degrading the water repellency of even the most expensive technical fabrics.
While we will be going over the steps to re-waterproof that pre-existing shelter, the same holds true for a new tent as well.
Here is an overview for waterproofing your way to a wonderful wilderness (or campground) experience:
Always use a tarp or preferred custom-cut ‘footprint’ (made by many tent manufacturers) that has the same floor plan as the tent. While this adds a first layer of defense against moisture from below, it also prevents rocks and other objects from damaging the tent floor.
Clean your tent. Using a non-abrasive sponge, cold water and non-detergent soap, gently clean the tent fabric to remove any debris. Allow the tent to dry completely.
Gently peel away any flaking existing sealant. Reapply a thin coat of paint-on polyurethane sealant on worn areas.
A product that we really like for increasing the life expectancy and effectiveness of your tent is Nikwax Tent and Gear Solarproof. While the name can be a little misleading, Solarproof adds Durable Water Repellency (DWR) and helps to protect your tent from ultraviolet light.
••• Solarproof is water based, non-aerosol, non-flammable, non-hazardous and environmentally friendly. It contains no harmful solvents or volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and is completely fluorocarbon free.
And, finally, never store your tent wet. Upon returning home from any camping trip, allow your tent to adequately dry before storing. Never machine dry a tent or rain fly.
Plan your next trip.