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Waterproofing Your Tent Why, When and How

Waterproofing Your Tent: Why, When and How?

Let’s face it: nobody wants to get rained on when they’re camping.

One of the worst sounds you could possibly hear is rain pounding your tent, which is why it is so important for you to waterproof your tent every now and then.

This brings us to a very important question: how often should you waterproof your tent?

The answer is that there is no specific rule on how often you should waterproof them.

What you can do is check your tents regularly to see if they need waterproofing.

Now, I’m sure you have a bunch of questions about waterproofing your tent. Fret not, they all will be answered here in this article. Read on to find out more! 

Why do you have to waterproof your tent?

Protecting you from rain is a basic requirement of any tent. If it is not able to do that, you might as well not bring one at all.

What most people may not know is that water getting into your tent will encourage mould to grow inside that will shorten its life and eventually destroy it.

Research has shown that tents that last the longest are kept the driest, so you are also prolonging the tent’s lifespan by waterproofing it.

Waterproofing your tent also brings another additional benefit, which is increased protection from UV rays.

These UV rays can wear down a tent’s life quickly as they are damaging to the fabric used in tents.

When tents are waterproofed correctly, the coating helps to reduce these damaging effects, kind of like how sunblock helps to protect humans from skin cancer and sunburn.


When to check if it’s time to waterproof your tent

As a general rule of thumb, you should check if your tent needs waterproofing prior to every camping trip.

In fact, this not only applies to waterproofing but it is also imperative that you look out for any problems such as tears, mould or faulty parts.

By doing so, you are minimising the risk of any complications with your tent while you are spending time in the great outdoors. 


We recommend coming up with a checklist and conducting an inspection a few days before you leave for your camping trip.

Include things like a pole check, zipper check and, of course, a waterproof check.

For those who are a little more forgetful, you can also include waterproofing tools in your packing list so that you can waterproof your tent right at the campsite.

This is also useful for last-minute touch-ups right before you start your outdoor adventure.

How to waterproof your tent

There are three things you need to look out for when waterproofing your tent. If you see any of these red flags while checking your tent, it’s time to get your waterproofing tools out and get to work.


Firstly, it’s when you notice flaking inside your tent’s rainfly or floor. The flakes you see here are actually from the urethane coating on your tent, which is partially responsible for waterproofing it. If you see these flakes on your tent’s rainfly or floor, use something coarse (such as sandpaper) to scrub off the old coating and apply a fresh coat of tent sealer. Always remember to read the instructions on the bottle carefully because each sealer has different drying times. Applying a fresh coat of tent sealer is very easy to do and will keep water from getting into your tent from the roof and floor.


Secondly, it’s when you don’t see water forming droplets on your tent. This means that your tent requires a new coat of durable water repellent (DWR). All you have to do is wipe down the entire rainfly with a damp rag to get rid of any excess water, spray a thin and even layer of repellent on the exterior of the rainfly, and give it a few minutes to dry. Once it has dried, wipe off any excess repellent. Again, read the instructions on the bottle carefully so you don’t miss any special instructions. If this is done properly, water should come together to form droplets and slide right off your tent.


Lastly, it’s when you see some loose or leaky seam tape. This process is a bit more tedious than the first two, but is crucial in ensuring your tent is fully waterproof. You can turn your tent inside out to make this easier. The seams in your tent should always be tight and factory sealed. If you see any seams coming off, remove them, apply some sterilising alcohol, let it dry and then use a seam sealer to patch it up. Always remember to check if you have the right sealer and sealant for your tent. Different tents are made of different fabrics such as silicone or polyurethane and are compatible with different products. You should be able to find this information on your tent’s box, website, or even on the tag on the inside of the tent.


Additional notes

When doing any sort of maintenance on your tent, such as waterproofing, always make sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. This applies to your tent and any other tools or chemicals you might use while waterproofing your tent. Check every box, bottle and instruction manual to make sure you’re not doing anything to ruin your tent. For some tents, there are sections in the instruction manual on waterproofing that might come in handy.


Prevention is better than cure, so always remember to keep some extra waterproofing tools on hand in case of emergencies. These tools are inexpensive and fit easily into your camp bag. Campers should always be ready for anything when they are out in the wild, and this is just one way they can do so.



Although there is no specific rule on how often you should waterproof your tent, inspecting and waterproofing it is essential in ensuring its longevity. Remember: a tent is your temporary home in the wilderness, so give it the same time and attention you would give to your own home. 


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