Best Tent Waterproofing Products (and Why You Need Them)

If you have been camping in the rain, you understand the importance of a waterproof tent.  If your tent leaks, it could potentially ruin your whole trip.  This post contains some of the best tent waterproofing products and why you need them.

Before we dive into the products, let’s talk tent waterproofing and why you need it.

(Let’s also talk about how this post features affiliate links. These are links that earn us a commission if you make a purchase. No extra cost to you.)

picture of tent with text the best waterproofing products and why you need them

What is waterproofing?

As the name implies, waterproofing products help make your tent more waterproof, stopping moisture from entering your tent if it rains or snows.

While most tents are sold with a certain degree of water-resistance, they may not be completely waterproof. It is important to do your research before purchasing a tent.

Tent Waterproofing Vocabulary

While these terms are not discussed in this post, they are good terms to know when doing your own research into tents and their components.

hydrostatic head (HH)

Hydrostatic head is the tent waterproof rating, indicating just how waterproof the tent is.  The higher the number, the more waterproof the fabric and the more water pressure it can withstand before it begins to leak.

This is not the only factor to consider, however.  Tent design, waterproofing product use, climate and geography can also come into play when talking about tent waterproof-ness.  

Urethane coating

Urethane derivatives are sealants used for rain flys and floors of tents, as well as for other outdoor items such as backpacks.

DWR

Durable weater repellent (DWR) is a coating that comes standard on most raingear, including tents. However, the standard DWR used by companies may not be enough to keep your tent dry.

How often do you need to waterproof your tent? How can you tell if your tent needs to be waterproofed?

Tents should be waterproofed when water no longer beads on them or they visibly retain water.  This is most commonly tested by spraying your tent with water.  Using a hose and saturating your tent will show whether water beads on the outside or if water soaks through anywhere.

water beads on fabric

What else can you do to waterproof your tent?

Seam sealing, which involves checking the seams on your tent, should be done at approximately the same time as waterproofing.  Seams, especially ones between different types of fabric, are a prime place for water to seep into your tent.

Seam sealer vs fabric

Each type of fabric may require a different type of seam sealer.  It’s always a good idea to consult your product information.  However, there are some seam sealers that will only work on certain fabrics and some that work on many.  Be sure and read your products so you choose and use the correct ones.

Typically, silicone fabrics need silicone-based sealants. Polyurethane tents need a urethane-based sealant.

Tips for cotton and canvas tents

Cotton and canvas tents need special treatment when it comes to waterproofing them.  Although they come with a water-repellent coating, they need to be weather treated before use.

This is because cotton and canvas fabrics are  woven and contain small holes.  Spraying these fabrics with water allows them to swell and contract, essentially closing all of the holes in the fabric. This process may need to be repeated several times, and should be done for new tents as well as tents that have been in storage for a while.

Using a waterproof product on your cotton or canvas tent is also a good idea.

How to reseal seams

  1. Set up your tent on a dry, warm day without a chance of rain.
  2. Clean all seams with rubbing alcohol and a clean cloth, removing ay pieces of seam sealer that may be flaking off.
  3. Apply seam sealer as per instructions and allow to dry.
  4. Repeat for both inside and outside seams.
Kiwi Camp Dry Heavy Duty Water Repellent, 4-10.5 oz cans
Atsko Silicone Water-Guard 10.5 oz
Nikwax Tent & Gear SolarProof (Spray-On), 500ml
Gear Aid Seam Grip WP Waterproof Sealant and Adhesive for Tents and Outdoor Fabric, Clear, 1 oz
Atsko Sno-Seal Water-Guard Extreme Repellent Aerosol, 10.5-Fluid Ounce
Scotchgard Heavy Duty Water Shield, Repels Water, Ideal For Outerwear, Tents, Backpacks, Canvas, Polyester And Nylon, 13 Ounces
Kiwi Camp Dry Heavy Duty Water Repellent, 4-10.5 oz cans
Atsko Silicone Water-Guard 10.5 oz
Nikwax Tent & Gear SolarProof (Spray-On), 500ml
Gear Aid Seam Grip WP Waterproof Sealant and Adhesive for Tents and Outdoor Fabric, Clear, 1 oz
Atsko Sno-Seal Water-Guard Extreme Repellent Aerosol, 10.5-Fluid Ounce
Scotchgard Heavy Duty Water Shield, Repels Water, Ideal For Outerwear, Tents, Backpacks, Canvas, Polyester And Nylon, 13 Ounces
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$30.37
$6.57
$18.25
$6.99
$13.46
$10.48
Kiwi Camp Dry Heavy Duty Water Repellent, 4-10.5 oz cans
Kiwi Camp Dry Heavy Duty Water Repellent, 4-10.5 oz cans
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$30.37
Atsko Silicone Water-Guard 10.5 oz
Atsko Silicone Water-Guard 10.5 oz
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$6.57
Nikwax Tent & Gear SolarProof (Spray-On), 500ml
Nikwax Tent & Gear SolarProof (Spray-On), 500ml
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$18.25
Gear Aid Seam Grip WP Waterproof Sealant and Adhesive for Tents and Outdoor Fabric, Clear, 1 oz
Gear Aid Seam Grip WP Waterproof Sealant and Adhesive for Tents and Outdoor Fabric, Clear, 1 oz
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$6.99
Atsko Sno-Seal Water-Guard Extreme Repellent Aerosol, 10.5-Fluid Ounce
Atsko Sno-Seal Water-Guard Extreme Repellent Aerosol, 10.5-Fluid Ounce
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$13.46
Scotchgard Heavy Duty Water Shield, Repels Water, Ideal For Outerwear, Tents, Backpacks, Canvas, Polyester And Nylon, 13 Ounces
Scotchgard Heavy Duty Water Shield, Repels Water, Ideal For Outerwear, Tents, Backpacks, Canvas, Polyester And Nylon, 13 Ounces
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$10.48

Kiwi Camp Dry Heavy Duty Water Repellent

Pros

  • Pack of 4 cans
  • Can be used on shoes, jackets, backpacks, and more
  • One can can cover a 7-person tent twice

Cons

  • Requires second coat in most cases
  • Silicone-based

Atsko Silicone Water Guard

Pros

  • Dries clear
  • Can be used on shoes, bags, tents and more
  • Effective with one coat

Cons

  • Takes 72 hours to cure
  • Cannot spray indoors\
  • Over-saturation may discolor fabric

Nikwax Tent and Gear Waterproofing and UV Protection Spray

Pros

  • Uv protectant
  • Cleans while applying
  • No PFCs or VOCs

Cons

  • May stain lighter colored materials
  • Not as durable as some others
  • Not suitable for silnylon tents

Gear Aid Seam Grip

Please keep in mind this is a seam sealer, not a full tent spray.

Pros

  • May also repair small tears and holes in tent
  • Requires only one application
  • Dries clear

Cons

  • May remain slightly sticky after drying, recommended to duct with baby powder
  • Silicone sealer, cannot be used on other fabrics

Atsko Sno-Seal Water-Guard Extreme Repellent

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Pros

  • Works on tents, boat covers, backpacks, shoes and more
  • Also protects against UV and mold/mildew

Cons

  • May discolor light fabrics

Scotchgard Heavy Duty Water Seal

Pros

  • Needs only one application
  • Safe for use on polyester, Nylon, polypropylene, cotton, leather, suede and more

Cons

  • Must be used in well ventilated area

Do you have a waterproofing spray that you swear by? Have you used one of these? Give us your best tent waterproofing product by dropping us a comment and letting us know.

If you’re looking for our recommendations for tents, check these out:

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