The Smart Prepper

Life is hard, it's harder if you're stupid – John Wayne

October 05, 2015

Waterproof Tent

Why Waterproof a Tent

Waterproof TentWhen I turned twelve I was finally able to go to scout camp. This was my first time away from home and really camping by myself. I took a cheap tent purchased from a garage sale. The material of the tent was like paper for lack of a better way of describing it. After two days at scout camp there was hail and heavy rains. My tent was completely torn to shreds and soaking wet on the inside. There really is nothing like being wet and everything you have soaking wet to really drop moral. The following year I took and built what all my friends called the biodome. I simply took lots of plastic sheets and wrapped the tent. I made a small entrance into it. This ultimately kept me dry from the rain, but not the condensation or humidity. At nights all the moisture from my breath was trapped inside my plastic sphere. By year three I figured out how to stay dry. I got a tent that had a good rainfly on it that I could pull off and let the inside cool. The rainfly was not 100% water resistant and so I used a water proofing spray to give it the extra punch that I needed. Now with every tent I have purchased I use this spray once a year to make sure my family and I stay dry.

How to Waterproof a Tent

There are several ways to waterproof a tent. While I prefer to buy either a nice canvas tent or a tent with a rainfly, I will always spray the tent down with Scotchgard Outdoor Water Shield, 10.5-Ounce. This helps give the finishing touches for your waterproof tent.

  • Tarp (Tarpaulin) – Any generic tarp usually works well. Just remember you pay for what you get. I have gone through several thin cheap tarps over the year because any wind and they take a pretty bad beating. I generally prefer the thickest available or even a canvas tarp.
  • Plastic Sheets – Plastic works great and is really cheap. Just get a couple of rolls and tape them together to make a large tarp. The biggest drawback to plastic is it does not breath well.
  • Water Shield Spray – If you use just your tent with no tarp or just the rainfly with the tent I highly recommend spraying it down. I have never had water leak when I do this.
  • Heavy Canvas – Heavy canvas tents usually resist water for a long time before getting soaked. I personally think they are comfortable, but they are  heavy and expensive. Also note that canvas is heavy when dry. It is even heavier when it is whet.
  • Rainfly – While you can buy rainflies after the tent is purchased, the best is to just get a tent with a great rainfly.
  • The Ground – There is a common mistake I see campers often make and that is they have a tarp or plastic on the ground and they don’t roll it under the tent. If you forget to stuff the excess tarp or plastic under the tent then all the rain water the tent receives goes down the sides and right between the tent floor and the tarp below. This will make for a very wet and unpleasant experience.