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How to stop tent leaks


Q. Dear Gear Guy, I have a summer pup tent, and whenever it rains, the tent leaks. The tag says not to waterproof it, but I need to stop the leaks. What do I do?
– Distressed Dylan, from the Internet

seamsealerHmm, that’s a tricky one, Dylan. First thing you should do is make sure you pitch your tent really well, and be sure that all the guy lines are taut. If it has a rainfly, make sure that it is installed correctly. Ideally, there should be an air gap between the fly and the tent, so that the rainfly is not touching the underlying tent.

Next, you could try stringing a waterproof nylon tarp above your tent. That should help.

Finally, I’m not sure why the tag would say not to waterproof it, but if your tent leaks in the seams, you could try using a waterproof seam sealer like Gear Aid Seam Grip.

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12 Comments on How to stop tent leaks

  1. There is a company called “Dry Guy” they have a spray I have used on my rain flys and it works great. You still dont want to touch the inside and have to make sure the fly is pulled tight.

  2. I always have a tarp tied off to the trees for extra protection. Works great.

  3. Remember not all rain flys protect from rain by being waterproof. some work by soaking up the water and leading it to the ground. similer to a wicking effect. Ive had many a nylon tent that durring a rain storm you could watch through the roof screen, the water seeping through the rain fly, clinging to the inside and flowing to the ground along the poles.

  4. Anonymous // May 6, 2015 at 9:25 pm // Reply

    Makes me so glad I don’t camp in tents any more!! None of it works, really. Just keeps your hopes up that it just might.

  5. Anonymous // May 6, 2015 at 7:24 pm // Reply

    I have heard that mosquito spray will make a tent leak. Is that true?

  6. Scouting Mom of 4 // May 6, 2015 at 3:29 pm // Reply

    There could be several reasons for the leak, ideally you would figure out WHERE the leak is coming from. Once I had a tent get wet inside because the groundcover was sticking out a bit from under the tent; and it funneled the water inbetween the groundcover & tent, soaking the tent fabric on bottom.
    Another time the fly wasn’t pulled taunt enough and water pooled in one area and that area leaked through due to the water collecting and sitting there a long time, soaking through.
    I’ve seen small rainflys that are insufficient coverage for hard rains, especially sideways-leaning rains.
    I also have had condesation problems after spraying the full tent. But using seam-sealer only won’t affect breathability; so start there.

    • The ground cloth should actually go inside the tent if the tent doesn’t have a tarp (or something similar) built into the bottom. No matter how hard you try, water will always get between a ground cloth and the bottom of the tent, so you might as well make sure the ground cloth is between you and the water.

      • I’ll debate that with this: at the current cost for a tent I’ll carry a tougher ground lot for under the floor, in case I miss that one thing that will rip through the floor, and a waterproof ground cloth inside the tent. Even if water leaks in the below the tent cloth the inside the tent keeps gear dry.

  7. Bobwhite // May 6, 2015 at 2:31 pm // Reply

    Some spray on waterproofing will clog the pores in the material. If you spray it, it may not breath very well anymore. This can cause condensation inside the tent during the night. Especially if the windows are zipped shut.

  8. MemphisMark // May 6, 2015 at 2:15 pm // Reply

    Get a can of silicone waterproofing spray from Walmart. If it’s already leaking, what difference will it make if you spray it with a waterproofing treatment. And seal the seams as recommended above.

  9. Scouter535 // May 6, 2015 at 2:11 pm // Reply

    You also need a ground cover under the tent .Be aware of where you pitch your tent ,a level spot but not in a low spot. A good tent is a great investment for lots of snjoyment.

  10. Webelos Leader Stephen // May 6, 2015 at 12:16 pm // Reply

    I suspect the manufacturer recommends against waterproofing the tent because of how the tent was made flame retardant. The tent manuals I perused online recommend against applying any products to the tent for that reason.

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