So your long awaited camping trip is finally here and you are so excited that you are finally going to spend some time with your buddies around some camp fire, roasting wild birds, watching sun rise and set at a land far away from home!
Now you got everything you need for the trip including tents and camping showers all packed up and you are just waiting for your buddies to put their things in the car so you can hit the road. But hold on a second! Did you hear what the weatherman just said? The rains will be coming down in buckets late in the evening and might go on till morning!
We know you hate the sound of water dripping inside your tent – we hate it too. Good news? You can waterproof your shelter so that you and your sleeping bag don’t wake up sloppy after the downpour. Better get late for the trip than spend days or weeks in a cold, wet tent.
We are going to explain 2 quick steps on how to waterproof a tent, so that you can have a fun filled camping adventure without worrying about getting soggy when you sleep. But let’s find out what you need to do before you start.
Locate The Leak
We are assuming you have already unpacked your tent and ready to get to business. Alright? Now, find out which areas need waterproofing.
Did you have a waterproof coat before that came off? How about your tent’s floor, does it leak? Do you feel like you need a waterproof fly for the tent?
How you answer these questions will determine how well you will make your shelter impervious to water and how dry your nights will be. However, there is no rule on how to waterproof a tent because each area of the tent has a way in which it should be maintained and cared for.
To locate the leak, get a wide-open container and fill it with water. Your bathtub or kids summer pool could also get the job done. Put the tent into the water and push it to the bottom. If you see small bubbles of air escaping to the surface, that is your leak and the area you should start working on.
Remove the tent from the container and put it out in the shade to dry. Most tents are not UV protected and that’s why we recommend putting it under a shade. But if yours is, you can just let it dry under the sun to hasten the process.
Clean Your Tent
Waterproofing will only be successful if your tent is clean and dry. If you try it when your tent is dirty and wet, any layer of the sealant you apply will only stick to the dirt and will fall off as soon as it starts to rain. This is the last thing you need, right? You have already delayed your trip to work on the tent so don’t let it be for nothing.
If you had dipped your tent in the container to check for leaks, then probably the only thing you need is to make sure the tent is completely dry. To clean your tent, get some lukewarm water and soft sponge. You don’t want to use anything rough on the fabric as this could tear it.
And don’t even think of letting the washing machine do the job for you as the constant turning and rocking could damage your tent for good. Sure, a washing machine will save you time but it will stretch and tear your expensive fabric making it unusable. Also, avoid using detergents as some could be too harsh on the fabric and would end up bleaching or ruining it. So get something gentle and you will be happy with the results.
Waterproofing Your Tent – Step One
Get A Rain Fly
Many campers still don’t know there is a part of a tent designed specifically to prevent rainwater from reaching the tent and wreaking havoc. The rain fly or simply “fly” is a crucial part of camping gear that every person who loves spending the nights in the woods must have. Think of it as a raincoat that keeps the water away from your tent and keeps it dry.
Most rain flies are rectangular and come in different sizes. You just have to get the one that covers your tent properly.
To set it up, get a rope, about 400 cm in length, and cut it into four equal parts. Take one piece, tie one end to one corner of the fly and the other end to a tree just above your tent. Do the same with the other corners of the rain fly such that it floats on top of your tent. Even when it rains the water will just collect on top of this piece of fabric and will not reach your tent.
You Need A Ground Sheet Too
The whole purpose of this guide is to show you how to waterproof a tent, which means we have to consider everything that locks the water out. Now, a rain fly will be something you don’t want to leave behind during your camping trip and so is a ground sheet.
The floor is one of the most important parts of your tent as this is where you sleep, and put your luggage. However, it can be the most useless if water sneaks in and soaks up your sleeping bag, blanket, or anything else that is meant to give you comfort at night.
Not all tents come with a groundsheet so you need to buy or improvise one to keep water and moisture off the tent. And sometimes the tents that do actually come with it, the material is just too thin that it wears out quickly. To make sure you are always on the safe side invest in a good quality polyethylene footprint where you can pitch your tent.
Combining a groundsheet with rain fly gives you double protection. But since you don’t have much time to start searching the market for the best offers, you can make one using a thin tarpaulin sheet. You will have saved yourself some bucks and time, as you still need to make that trip.
Apply A Water Sealant
…and a good quality one for that matter. Waterproofing your tent will only be successful if you use a sealant agent that is strong enough to stick to the fabric. Most sealants come is spray or liquid form.
The process is quite simple though. You don’t need to be an expert in sealing or patching up things to do it. All you are required to have is a sealant, a clean tent, and yourself.
Make sure to read the instructions of your sealant beforehand to know exactly what is required of you. Some products work best on a wet fabric while others require that the tent be completely dry. Knowing what works for your sealant is important, as it is the only way to ensure successful waterproofing. Once everything is clear, you can get the ball rolling!
Before anything else, make sure you have closed your tent completely so that no liquid particles from the spray sneak into your shelter. Shake the can properly and start spraying the outside in a sideways motion. The can should be held about 2 feet from the surface of the tent to allow a wide coverage. Leave it for a few hours to dry.
If you don’t trust the quality of your sealant, you can repeat the process once the first coat has dried up just to be on the safe side. However, make sure you are doing this out in the open because inhaling the fumes from the spray could be harmful to your health.
These need to be diluted with water and then applied directly to the tent. You can use a sponge or brush to rub the sealant onto the tent and then leave it for a few hours to dry. Repeat the process if necessary.
There are other products that would require you to dip the tent into the solution and leave it there for a couple minutes. If this is the sealant, you got for the job, get a wide plastic container, soak your tent for the specified time and then hang it out to dry.
What about a leaky seam? How do you get it fixed?
The best way to waterproof a seam is to use a liquid seam sealer. To get the best sealer for your seams, you need to consider the fabric of your tent. Good thing is that this information will be provided in the product description. To apply a liquid sealer on the leaky seams, use a fine brush and then give the sealant some time to dry before repeating the process.
If your tent is waterproofed and the coating is completely dry, then there is nothing else stopping your from packing it away, getting your bags in order and going ahead with your trip. Sure, the process of making the tent watertight may have consumed a lot of your valuable time but trust us it is better this way than waking up soaked wet in the morning.
How To Keep Warm In A Tent
Apart from waterproofing your tent, it is important to stay warm during the getaway as this could either make or break your cold weather picnic. We have already shown you how to waterproof a tent and right about now we are going to lay out tips on how to beat the cold out of your tent. Ready?
1. Get Quality Sleeping Bag
One of the best ways to stay warm inside your tent is to invest in a high quality sleeping bag. If possible, get one that is temperature regulated. Always pack up a sleeping bag linear too. This undervalued item will increase warmth in your sleeping bag and provide additional comfort.
2. Use A Heater
There are heaters that are made specifically for tent users. Get one for yourself and you will completely forget how cold the weather is. One thing to remember though, don’t leave the heater running all night. Just switch it on for a few hours prior to sleeping and when you wake up in the morning.
3. Get A Sleeping Pad
Placed under the sleeping bag, a sleeping pad will keep you warm and add a few degrees of comfort. Researchers argue that what you lie on plays a major role in keeping you warm that what you actually cover yourself with.
4. Bring A Thermal Blanket
A thermal blanket reflects the heat from your tent heater back to you. To reap maximum benefits of this piece of camping gear, attach it to the ceiling of your tent. This will get more heat reflected back to you and you will stay warmer than when using an ordinary blanket.
5. Select A Good Site For Your Tent
Never set up your tent in a place where cold air settles. If you are hiking in valley floors or low areas, make sure you set your tent at least 45ft above the floor of the valley. It is also important to keep it ventilated to reduce dampness and condensation inside the tent as this will keep you warm during the cold nights.
6. Wear Something Warm
It is always wise to pack up some warm clothes when going for a camping trip. Jackets, dry socks, and stocking hats will go a long way in keeping you warm. Put these in a dry bag so that even if rainwater splashes on your luggage, things won’t get soggy.
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Waterproofing a tent is way cheaper than getting a brand new one every time you want to go camping. The above tips on how to waterproof a tent give you all the information you need to keep water and moisture away from your tent. Get a rain fly, locate the leaks on your tent, and apply a sealant and you are good to go. Also, take all the necessary measures to stay warm, as this will make the trip more enjoyable.
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