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, however, 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 me 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?

It’s pretty self-explanatory.

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 still leak, especially in heavy rains.

It is important to do your research before purchasing a tent. Or you can read this post, where I plan on helping you pick some of the best waterproofing products as well as why I think this.

Tent Waterproofing Vocabulary Made Easy

While these terms are not really 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 Does a Tent Need To Be Waterproofed and How You Can Tell.

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

How You Can 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.

There are also sprays that can be used directly on fabric to help initially waterproof your tent or restore it once it begins to fail.

Each type of fabric may require a different type of waterproofing.  It’s always a good idea to consult your product information.  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.

Without further ado, though, here are some of the best waterproofing products and why you need them.

Kiwi Camp Dry Heavy Duty Water Repellent

This product bonds to leather and fabric to create a great water barrier. Not only does it work great on camping supplies like tents, but it also helps protects outdoor cushions and shoes.

It is odorless and colorless, so you can spray it on any color and not notice it’s there except for it’s excellent waterproofing protection. There’s also enough of it to cover a 6 person tent twice.

One of the biggest cons with this product is it sometimes takes 2 coats to adequately cover tents.

Gear Aid Seam Grip

Please keep in mind this is a seam sealer, not a full tent spray. It is meant to be used on the seams of fabrics, not over the entirety of the fabric.

It works on nylon, polyester, canvas leather and vinyl. It dries clear and creates a waterproof and flexible rubber seam. One ounce can seal 12 inches of seam.

The one problem with this little tube of sealant is the difficulty with which is applied. While it comes with a tiny plastic brush, I suggest grabbing an actual paintbrush to apply this. It makes the job quite a bit easier.

Atsko Sno-Seal Water-Guard Extreme Repellent

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This extreme water repellant makes fabrics and leather waterproof yet breathable. It is scent free when dried and creates a great seal for tents as well as for shoes, golf bags, umbrellas and luggage.

As always, it is recommended to spot test this and all sprays before using them on an entire surface. While I haven’t used it on whites, I’ve heard a nasty little rumor that it leaves them with a yellow tint.

Scotchgard Heavy Duty Water Seal

This spray takes only one coat to deliver water protection that will last the whole season. That means less time waterproofing and more time spent in the great outdoors.

This spray can be used for polyester, nylon and polypropylene, as well as cotton, leather and suede. This means it’s great for tents and luggage as well as boat covers and golf bags. It will cover 60 square feet of light nylon or 20 square feet of coverage on heavier fabrics.

Do you have a waterproofing spray that you swear by?

Have you used one of these? Give me your best tent waterproofing products by dropping me a comment.

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

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