How to Waterproof a Tent: Staying Dry While Camping

How to Waterproof a Tent: Staying Dry While Camping

When you go camping, the last thing you want to worry about is whether or not your tent will keep you dry. Waterproofing your tent ensures that you stay safe and dry no matter what the weather throws at you.

So let’s find out how to waterproof a tent.

Key Takeaways –
– Waterproofing your tent is important for staying dry while camping
– There are a few different ways to waterproof your tent, including using a waterproofing spray or applying seam sealant
– Be sure to regularly waterproof and maintain your tent to ensure optimal protection

When you go camping, the last thing you want to worry about is whether or not your tent will keep you dry. Waterproofing your tent ensures that you stay safe and dry no matter what the weather throws at you.

So let’s find out how to waterproof a tent.

One option is to use a waterproofing spray, which can be easily applied and will create a protective layer on your tent’s fabric. Another option is to apply seam sealant on any seams or holes in the fabric, as these are common areas for water to seep through.

In this post, we’ll walk you through the steps for waterproofing your tent using both methods. Follow our step-by-step guide, and you’ll be ready to camp in any weather.

How To Waterproof a Tent - Fabrics, Seams, and Zippers

How To Waterproof a Tent – Fabrics, Seams, and Zippers

When you’re out camping, the last thing you want is for your tent to leak. Waterproofing your tent will help to keep you DRY and COMFORTABLE, even if the weather takes a turn for the worse.

There are three main areas that you should focus on when waterproofing your tent: fabrics, seams, and zippers.

Tent Fabric

The majority of tents are made from synthetic fabrics like nylon or polyester. These materials are relatively waterproof, but they can still BENEFIT from an extra layer of protection.

A good waterproofing spray will create a BARRIER that repels water and prevents moisture from seeping through. Be sure to apply the spray evenly, and don’t forget to treat the tent fly (the outer layer of tent fabric that covers the tent).

Pro Tip: Apply the tent waterproofing spray in a well-ventilated area, and follow all label instructions carefully.

Tent Seams

Most tents have taped seams, which means that the needle holes have been sealed with tape to PREVENT water from coming in. However, over time this tape can become damaged or come loose.

Once again, a waterproofing spray will help to PROTECT the tent seams and prevent leaks. You can purchase seam sealer at most outdoor stores if your tent doesn’t have taped seams. Simply apply the sealer to the needle holes, and allow it to DRY according to the instructions.

Refreshing the tent’s urethane coating (DWR coating) on the seams is a more PERMANANT solution, but it should only be done by an experienced professional.

using zippers to stay dry camping

Pro Tip: Check your tent seams before each camping trip to ensure they are still sealed and intact.


Zippers are another COMMON source of a leaking tent. Waterproof zippers are available, but they can be expensive. A cheaper and EASIER option is to treat the zippers with a silicone-based lubricant.

This will help to repel water and prevent leaks. Just be sure not to get any lubricant on your tent’s fabric, as it could cause problems with adhesion later on.

Tent Floor

The tent floor is also an important area to waterproof. A ground cloth or tarp can provide added protection from MOISTURE and keep the bottom of your tent dry.

Be sure to choose a ground cloth or tarp slightly larger than your tent’s footprint, as water can collect underneath it and seep through any gaps.

Tent floors are often made of polyurethane or nylon, and a waterproofing spray can be used to add an extra layer of protection.

Pro Tip: Pitch your tent on a raised, level surface to prevent the pooling of water underneath it from wet weather.

So how do you actually waterproof your tent? let’s find out.

waterproofing your tent

How To Waterproof Your Tent Step-By-Step Guide

Now you know all the areas you need to waterproof, let’s get to it. Here’s a step-by-step guide for waterproofing your tent:

1. Set Up Tent In a Dry, Open Area

Before you start, set up your tent in a dry, open area with enough space to work. This will make it EASIER to apply the waterproofing spray or sealant evenly and thoroughly.

2. Clean Tent Fabrics

First, clean any dirt or debris off of the tent fabrics with a damp cloth. This will ensure that the waterproofing spray ADHERES properly and lasts longer.

Did you know rubbing alcohol will help remove any stubborn dirt or stains from your tent fabric? Just be sure to spot-test in a small, inconspicuous area before using it on the entire tent.

Pro Tip: Use a rubbing alcohol and water mixture rather than rubbing alcohol on its own. This will prevent the fabric from drying out and becoming brittle.

3. Apply Waterproofing Spray or Tent Sealant

Follow the instructions for your chosen waterproofing method, and apply it evenly to all fabrics, seams, and zippers. Be sure to treat the rain fly as well. Allow it to dry before packing up the tent.

4. Repeat As Needed

Waterproofing your tent is not a one-time thing. Over time, the waterproofing can wear off and need to be REAPPLIED. Make sure to check your tent before each camping trip and re-waterproof it as needed.

Pro Tip: Never leave your tent wet or damp for extended periods of time, as mold and mildew can develop. Ensure your tent is completely dry before packing it up for storage.

Now that you know how to waterproof a tent, you can stay dry and comfortable on all of your camping adventures.

dry camping

Frequently Asked Questions

How Often Should You Waterproof a Tent?

The frequency with which you need to waterproof your tent will depend on how OFTEN you use it and what type of weather conditions it is exposed to.
If you live in an area with a lot of rainfall or if you frequently use your tent in wet conditions, you will need to keep your tent waterproof more often. You can PROLONG the life of your tent by waterproofing it at least once a year and more often if necessary.

Can I Use Other Products to Waterproof My Tent?

Many products on the market claim to be waterproof fabrics, including sprays and liquid sealants. However, it’s IMPORTANT to ensure you use a product specifically designed for tent fabrics. Using other products could potentially damage or weaken your tent materials.

Are All Tents Waterproof?

No, not all tents are waterproof. While some tents may have waterproof coatings or taped seams, others may only be water-resistant or not waterproof at all. When purchasing a tent, look for one labeled as “waterproof” or has a Hydrostatic Head rating of 1,500 mm or higher.

Do I Need to Waterproof My Tent if It Comes with a Rainfly?

Yes, even if your tent comes with a rain fly, it’s important to waterproof BOTH the tent and rain fly fabrics. The rain fly can help to PROTECT against some moisture, but it is not a substitute for waterproofing your tent. This will ensure that you stay dry in all weather conditions.


Waterproofing your tent is essential for comfortable and enjoyable camping trips. You can keep yourself dry in any weather by taking the necessary steps to waterproof all fabrics, seams, and zippers.

Remember to clean and re-waterproof your tent as needed to prolong its life. Happy camping.

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Lisa Hayden-Matthews

Lisa Hayden-Matthews

An avid Skier, bike rider, triathlon enthusiast, amateurish beach volleyball player and nature lover who has never lost a dare! I manage the overall Editorial section for the magazine here and occasionally chip in with my own nature photographs, when required.

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