Do Tents Lose Their Waterproofing & How To Prevent It

Tents need to be waterproof not just for rainy weather but to stop moisture from the air and ground from coming in and soaking your sleeping bag and clothes. If tents lose their waterproofing this can damage much of your gear and result in buying new.

It is not entirely impossible for a tent to lose it’s waterproofing but it also isn’t unknown to happen. Tents that have a higher Hydrostatic Head rating are less likely to lose the waterproofing membrane over those with a lower rating.

In this article we are going to take about how to prevent a tent from loosing its waterproofing, whether a tent can lose waterproofing and what products you can use to keep your tent waterproof.

Do Tents Lose Their Waterproofing?

Generally, most tents are relatively well waterproofed. They are either covered with a waterproof membrane or treated by a waterproofing agent to stop moisture soaking through the fabric. Usually, the waterproofness of a tent depends on the rating of the Hydrostatic Head. The higher it is, the higher the tent’s waterproofness.

Nevertheless, it is always advised to be waterproofed every one or two years, and in some cases, every six months; simply because after some time, the coating might wear away. So, suppose the tent is not waterproofed regularly. When the weather suddenly turns grey and rainy, there could be a massive water leak. Significantly, one needs to consider how much the tent is used. 

When Will I Know If My Tent Has Lost Its Waterproofing?

The best way to know your tent has lost its waterproofness is undoubtedly when you start getting water leaks. However, there are also other less noticeable ways. After a certain amount of time, especially if there is a heavy downpour, the coating at the top of the top starts to tear up. If you are not sure you need to reproof the tent, then to test it out, all you need is a water spray.

If the water doesn’t bead on the outside or it soaks through the tent, then it is time for reproofing.

What Factors Will Affect My Tents Waterproofing?

As mentioned above, the higher the Hydrostatic Head is, the higher is the tents’ waterproofness. However, that is not always true because it also depends on the tent’s fabric, how often a tent is used and for what. Thus, if you are just now looking for a tent, you will need to consider all the above to expand your tent’s durability and waterproofness.

For instance, a higher rating of Hydrostatic Head means a heavier coating which could be damaging if you need a lightweight tent.

Additionally, the weather is indeed a huge factor in a tent’s waterproofing damages. First and foremost, if the tent does not already have a waterproof coating, then with heavy rain, it will gradually tear up. However, even on a sunny day, a tent can be damaged. UV rays can be very harmful in many ways, even for humans. So, after a couple of weeks in the sun, a tent could damage a tent’s flysheet reducing its waterproofness. 

If a tent is used regularly, it will naturally be damaged and lose its waterproofness over the years. Just think about it. A tent is used in all kinds of weather conditions leaving dust, UV rays, and water absorbed. When not needed, it is left crumbled in a corner for long periods, sometimes for months.

This will only decrease the tent’s waterproofness. Furthermore, time and usage will reduce the strength of the tent’s seams, causing leaking. Thus, regular treatment is necessary. 

How To Prevent My Tent Losing It’s Waterproofing

To prevent your tent from losing its waterproofing, it is by always reproofing and treating it. The reproofing frequency depends on the damages your tent might have gone through because of weather and usage. Usually, it should be every six months or one year. The reproofing is done with five simple steps.

  1. Clean your tent

Before starting any treatment, it is necessary to first clean up your tent. As mentioned above, no matter how much you might clean your tent after using it, it is unavoidable to have left of dust or dirt. So, find a good sunny day and set up your tent. Fill a bucket with warm water with a small amount of mild detergent or tech wash.

Then, gradually with a sponge, wash over the tent tenderly, giving more attention to the seams. After having a deep clean of the tent before it dries up, you can start applying the reproofing.

  1. Apply a waterproofing treatment 

After the deep cleansing of the tent, set it up and make sure it is still wet. Then gradually, spray all over the tent with the treatment. Otherwise, you can also use a sponge or a brush. There are several products you could use. Some recommendations are Nikwax Tent and Gear Solarproof, Kiwi Camp Heavy Duty Water Repellent, Nikwax Tech Wash, Star Brite Waterproofing Spray, and Scotchgard Outdoor Water Shield. 

After applying the treatment, wipe off any excess product with a damp cloth. Lastly, leave it outside to dry thoroughly. 

  1. Seal the seams

Most tents might come with sealed seams. However, weather and usage might make the sealant wear out. Thus, it is always a reasonable precaution to reseal the seams. You only need three simple things to reseal the seams, a rag, rubbing alcohol, and a seam sealer. However, be sure to choose the right seam sealer for your tent.

To select the one, you need to be sure what kind of fabric your tent is. For example, a silicone-treated fabric requires a different sealer than polyurethane-coated fabric. If you are uncertain about your tent’s fabric, you can ask the manufacturer. 

After the tent gets fully dry from applying the treatment, lay the tent on a flat surface and preferably on a bright spot. The seams will be sealed on the fly’s underside and the inner side of the tent body. Thus, have the seams facing up for easier access. Then, if you find loose seam tape, gently remove the peeling sections but leave the intact sections in place.

Before applying the new seam sealers, gently clean them with a rag and rubbing alcohol. Lastly, let the seam sealers dry entirely.

  1. Refresh the urethane coating 

Sometimes stuff may flake off of the inside of the rainfly or even on the floor of the tent. If that happens, then you need to apply a new urethane coating. To do so, you will need a sponge with an abrasive side, rubbing alcohol, and a tent sealant that once again you should make sure to get the right type for your tent’s fabric.

To start off the treatment, you should lay your tent’s rainfly and floor flat. Then, gently scrub off the flaking coating with the rubbing alcohol and sponge. After a thorough scrub, apply the new tent sealant’s thin coating to the whole fly or tent floor by following the directions on the bottle sealant. For the best results, let the new coating dry for at least 24 hours.

  1. Refresh the Durable Water Repellent (DWR)

Lastly, suppose the rain isn’t beading up your fly anymore. In that case, it is best to refresh the durable water repellent (DWR) coating of your tent. It is an effortless procedure with only three simple things, a spray-on water-repellent, clean, damp cloth, and water. 

First of all, you need to make sure your tent is wet, so if you haven’t just cleaned it, then spray down the rainfly with clean water. Afterwards, apply the waterproof spray evenly over the exterior of the rainfly. Let it on for a couple of minutes. Then, take a damp cloth and wipe off any excess coating.

And that’s it. It is done. Just let the tent dry up completely, and your tent is ready to go.

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