Weatherproofing Your Tent
by Warren L. Smith
Think your tent is weatherproof? Many campers do, only to find themselves waking up drenched in the middle of the night. If you prefer a dry sleeping bag, make sure your camping tent really is weather-ready.
When you purchase a new tent, read the label carefully. This means to also read between the lines. Understanding some common terms can help you decide just how waterproof it really is.
Many people mistakenly believe that if a tent is water- or weather-resistant it will not leak. In reality, the material will resist leaks in a light or short rainfall. Weather- or water-resistant tents usually have not had any additional weatherproofing treatment. Instead, the word resistant refers to the inherent ability of that tent's fabric to keep rain out. In a light rainfall that lasts a few minutes to a couple hours, it will probably do fine. However, if it rains heavily or for several hours straight, water may begin to penetrate the fabric.
If you camp frequently or in areas where regular rain is likely, you should consider greater protection. There are three options available in this case:
1. Purchase a camping tent that is waterproof. A tent labeled as waterproof is reasonably assured not to leak. It also means that the fabric has been treated with a sealing agent. It may also mean that it is made from a type of material that is more naturally resistant to water. The material might also be more tightly woven to keep rain out.
2. Purchase a rainproof cover or tarpaulin. Some people prefer this method. Tents that are rain-sealed or have fabric that is tightly woven sometimes don't breathe well. Using an untreated tent may allow for better airflow. A rainproof cover or tarp can then be draped or hung over the entire tent to keep water out.
3. Treat your tent with a sealant. You can increase the water-resistance of the fabric by applying a chemical sealer. Sealants can be purchased in most hardware and camping supply stores.
If you decide to apply a sealant to your tent, there are a few things to remember. Like any product, you may get what you pay for. If you skimp to save money, you might end up getting soaked anyway. Read labels to make sure the sealant that you purchase will work for the type fabric that your camping tent is made of. It's best to buy one that is designed specifically for tents, rather than an all-purpose sealant.
Be sure to follow the directions carefully. You will usually have to apply at least two coats. Even if the label does not specify two coats, you should do this anyway. Apply sealant outdoors to avoid inhaling fumes. Allow to dry thoroughly between coats. You should allow a minimum of 24 to 48 hours of drying time. This will ensure that the sealant adheres strongly to the fabric. Allow the second coat to dry another for 24-48 hours before using your tent.
Tent seams are very prone to leaking. This includes the stitching around zippers. It's important to note that spray sealants do not always provide the best coverage for seams. To rainproof seams, you should use a brush-on gel or wax. Apply at least two coats (both to the outside and the inside of seams) and allow each coat to cure between applications.
Finally, give your tent a test run before you hit the woods. Pitch it in the backyard and make sure it really does stand up to rain. If you can't wait for a downpour, give it a good soak with the water hose and see how it performs. If water is still breaching the fabric, apply another coat of sealant and try again. This will ensure that you stay warm and dry the next time you camp out.
About the Author Warren L. Smith offers a fountain of information on Camping, such as Camping Tips, Family Fun, Hunting, Fishing, Tents, Equipment, and Wilderness Tips. For the best, up to date information, go to: http://www.CampingBreak.com
Weatherproofing Your Tent