The 5 Best Tent Waterproofing Sprays & How To Apply Guide

by Ally Mash | Last Updated:   October 6th, 2021
The 5 Best Tent Waterproofing Sprays & How To Apply Guide


There are a few events that can make a camping trip unpleasant. Some of these events are predictable, others aren’t. A leaky tent is one of those things a camper can never predict.

When you combine a leaky tent and a thunderstorm, you get a camper’s nightmare. The only way to avoid being in such a situation is to waterproof your tent fabric.

For this reason, I’ve written this article to tell you about the best tent waterproofing sprays. I will also be providing you with valuable information such as the importance of waterproofing and how to waterproof your tent.

IN A HURRY? HERE ARE OUR TOP PICKS…

Review of The Top 5 Tent Waterproofing Sprays

Nikwax Tent and Gear Waterproofing Spray

The Nikwax tent spray is regarded as one of the best waterproof tent sprays for several reasons. This waterproof tent spray isn’t just good for waterproofing your tent, but it will also protect it from UV rays.

Additionally, the application of this product will make your tent fabric longer lasting. You may even use it a worn outdoor gear. What’s more, you don’t have to put in a lot of work to use this waterproof spray.

As you apply the product, it will remove all forms of dirt from the fabric. This will save you a lot of valuable time. It is also easy to use and one spray bottle will be enough to waterproof large areas.

Furthermore, the Nikwax tent spray is made of nontoxic materials. So, you don’t have to worry about harming the environment. You can rely on it to keep your gear nice and dry. It is great for new tents too.

Pros
  • It offers UV protection
  • It is easy to use
  • It can be applied to various outdoor gear including tarps, backpacks, rainfly, and more
  • It is environmentally friendly
  • You can waterproof a 7 person tent with one bottle
Cons
  • It is not the most durable product

Kiwi Camp Dry Heavy Duty Water Repellent

The Kiwi Camp Dry Heavy Duty Water Repellent is a good tent waterproofing spray to have on a camping trip. You will find it to be affordable, effective, and easy to use. This silicone-based spray can be used on a wide variety of outdoor gear. You may use it on your tent, boat covers, tarps, boots, and more.

It is also a high-performance waterproof tent spray. The results gotten from this product are usually long-lasting and prevents water from getting through treated materials. You won’t have to use multiple spray bottles to cover large areas too. A bottle is sufficient for one large tent.

Additionally, this silicone-based waterproofing spray allows materials to breathe after application. There is nothing complicated about using it too. It comes with a mist applicator that ensures smooth waterproofing.

However, you shouldn’t note that materials coated tent waterproofing spray won’t get dried quickly. Hence, your tent should be given within a day or two to cure after application. For double coats, keep the coats up to four hours apart.

Pros
  • It is versatile
  • It is a high-performance silicone-based tent waterproofing
  • A container is enough for a large tent
Cons
  • Doesn’t dry quickly
  • Light-colored fabrics may get stained. So, you should carry out a spot test before application.

GEAR AID Seam Grip TF Tent Fabric Sealer

The GEAR AID Seam Grip is the right product for you if you have some extra time and need the best waterproofing product for your nylon tent. This product was produced to restore PU coating on aging tents. However, it is not suitable for other fabrics such as polyester.

Also, this tent waterproofing product doesn’t come with a spray. Instead, it features a foam applicator that allows users to target the necessary spots. As a result, you should find this product easy to use. It is also an excellent option for spot touch-ups when only small areas need waterproofing.

Additionally, the product flexes with nylon and disappears after application so there’s no chance of creating a mess. A bottle should be enough to cover a medium-sized tent despite its small size. It is also easy to carry around cures in about 4 hours.

The downside of using this product it takes more time to apply it over an entire tent. So, it’s not a good option when you are in a hurry. But if you want a different product from the usual tent waterproofing spray, this is the best option.

Pros
  • It is portable
  • It is an excellent solution for worn out and fading nylon tents
  • It has a foam applicator brush for easy application
  • It is colorless
Cons
  • It is not suitable for polyester tents
  • It takes a longer time to apply

Atsko Silicone Water-Guard

The Atsko Silicone Water-Guard is an affordable and versatile tent waterproofing spray. This silicone spray wasn’t made to just waterproof your tent, you can also be applied on other camping gear. Materials it is suitable for include sleeping bags, boots, leather, and more.

One of the best features of this tent waterproof spray is its breathability. This will make your tent much more comfortable. Also, this waterproofing spray doesn’t leave a strong odor like other products. It leaves no traces and is suitable for delicate materials such as clothing.

The product is packaged in an aerosol spray bottle. This makes it easy to apply even on large tents. Also, the aerosol spray bottle will allow you to spray your tent evenly. However, this waterproofing spray usually needs up to 3 days to cure.

So, you should ensure that your tent won’t be needed for a few days before applying it. It is an excellent waterproofing spray for people on a tight budget.

Pros
  • It doesn’t leave strong odors
  • It will allow you to cover large surfaces in a shorter time
  • It doesn’t require double coating
  • It leaves no traces after drying
Cons
  • It takes a lot of time to cure/dry

Scotchgard Heavy Duty Water Shield

Since the 1950s, Scotchgard has been the go-to waterproofing spray for several tent owners. While there have been a few changes over the years, the product has retained its easy-to-use can. It also offers a rare combination of affordability and effective waterproofing.

However, what truly sets this product apart from others on this list is that it’s suitable for more than just nylon and polyester tents. Scotchgard’s waterproofing spray is a fantastic product for canvas tents. It waterproofs nylon tents too.

Additionally, it is affordable and 100% environmentally friendly. You can also apply it to your outdoor furniture, rain gear, boots, jackets, and more. All results should be long-lasting.

On the downside, you can cover up to 20 Square feet of heavy fabrics with one can. This means that you may have to exhaust two cans or more on one tent.

Pros
  • It is affordable
  • Treated fabric will remain breathable
  • It can be used to waterproof your tent and other camping gear
  • The odor will be gone completely after a few hours
Cons
  • You will need at least two cans of this waterproofing spray to treat your canvas tent

Our top Choice

We have gone through the tent waterproofing products and other relevant information. Now, you should always be prepared for the rainy nights in the wild.

The best waterproofing product is the Nikwax Tent and Gear Waterproofing spray. It is a top choice for waterproofing both new and old tents.

It is also suitable for protecting several camping gears including tents, boat covers, boots, tarps, and more. The product includes UV-resistant additives to shield materials from the sun and help them last longer.

What’s more, its water-based formula and mechanical spray nozzle mean it is safe for the environment. In conclusion, this product is perfect for keeping your camping tent nice and dry. Apply one bottle before leaving for your trip and have an extra bottle in case of emergencies.

Why Is Tent Waterproofing Necessary?

Waterproof tent with rain drops

Though most tents come from the manufacturers waterproof, they all lose this property after some time. Below are some of the reasons why your tent may start shedding water:

Sun Damage

Whether in the wild or on the beach, you use your tent to shield yourself from the sun. What you do not know is that long exposure to ultraviolet rays will cause your tent fabric to wear out. UV rays weaken tent fabrics by breaking down their waterproof coating. This would result in a significant problem for you when it rains.

Use

Another factor that can contribute to wearing your tent fabric is how frequently it is used. Tents that are frequently exposed to dirt, washed and dried in the sun, rumpled up in bags tend to deteriorate faster.

Damaged Seams

Tent seams are also affected by time and use. Though the majority of tents are produced with sealed seams, the seals don’t last forever. When they do break down, it results in leakages.

If this is the case for you, then perhaps it’s better to get a tent seam sealer to solve your problem.

Low-Quality Materials

Any half-decent tent should come from the factory waterproofed. However, there are low-quality tents that offer very little water resistance. If you purchase this type of tent, it will begin to downgrade after a short while.

Whether you already have water dripping through your tent fly or need to reinforce your new tent’s water resistance, you should get a hold of the best waterproofing spray.

How to Find the Best Tent Waterproofing Spray

Some factors can help you find the best tent waterproofing spray for your needs.

Let’s highlight these factors below:

Fabric

The first step you should take before investing in a waterproofing spray is your tent’s fabric. Most products are usually made for specific types of fabrics. However, the ones made for polyester and nylon tents are more popular. You can also get a waterproofing product for canvas tents if you have one.

Ingredients

The majority of the tent sprays that are available on the market are either silicone or water-based. Silicone sprays are very effective when used for waterproofing but they are more suitable for nylon tents. On the other hand, water-based products are suitable for more fabrics thanks to their mildness.

Environmental Impact

Even the best waterproof tent sprays do not stick to tents forever. When the chemicals do start to break down, they eventually end up in streams. This could endanger the lives of people and other creatures that depend on such streams for survival. Hence, it is always good to make use of water-based products made of nontoxic materials.

Odor

Some waterproofing products leave odors on tent gear after application. This is more common and severe with low-quality waterproofing sprays. You should use products that leave very little odor, especially when treating the inner part of your tent. You should also give it sufficient curing time.

How It Dries

You need to consider how the spray appears when it becomes dry. Would you be more comfortable if there is no trace of the treatment? Normally, the best waterproofing sprays become clear and flexible once dry.

Additionally, you should know how long a tent requires to cure. Some products require a few days to cure completely. Hence, you should be careful about the product you choose if you will be needing your tent in a short while.

Aerosol or Spray Bottles

A tent waterproofing product may either come in an aerosol or spray bottle. Each of these options has its advantages and disadvantages.

You will find an aerosol spray to be easier to use as it is operated with only a click of a button. It also tends to go deeper into fabrics. However, aerosol sprays are not environmentally friendly and tend to use up more products.

On the other hand, spray bottles are similar to spritzers. You can control the spray by pulling the trigger manually. This will give you more control over the quantity of the product you use. However, it is a bit harder to spray evenly with this option.

How to Identify the cause of Tent leakage

Woman and boy choose a camping tent in the store

Before you start applying a waterproofing spray on your tent, you need to understand where the problem is coming from. This could save you a lot of time and money.

Below are some steps that you can take to identify the problem:

Is the Tent Properly Set Up?

The problem with your tent may be because you didn’t set it up correctly. First, check if the guylines are properly staked out. Your tent should be staked out in a way that stretches the fabric. Also, the outer fly should be staked out to create room between the inner and outer parts. Finally, the vents should be left open to limit condensation.

For more information check out our guide on how to set up a tent.

Are the Seams Leaking?

Leaks are likely to occur through the tent seams because they go through a lot of stress. If you discover that the tent seams are leaking, then you have to get them resealed. You will need a tent seam sealer for this.

Is the Groundsheet in Good Condition?

To carry out this check, you have to first set your tent up on wet ground. After that, spend some time inside to see if there is a leak in the groundsheet. If you have a leaky groundsheet, you can fix it with a waterproofing spray. You may also purchase a tent footprint or tarp.

Is the Tent Fly Leaking?

A leak in the tent fly may be a result of age, use, or the elements of the weather. However, you can fix the leak with one of the best waterproof tent sprays.

Does the Tent Have a Hole?

If you discover that water is seeping through a hole in your tent, you need to grab your tent repair kit. Check out this article to learn how to repair tent mesh.

How to Waterproof a Tent

Tent with waterproof fabric

After getting the best tent waterproofing spray, you can then finally begin to waterproof your tent. There’s nothing complicated about waterproofing a tent once you follow the steps below.

Clean Your Tent

The first step you need to take is to clean your tent. This step is essential because the presence of dirt will make the treatment ineffective.

  1. Pitch your tent.
  2. Create a mixture of warm water and mild detergent in a bucket.
  3. Carefully scrub the tent. Be extra careful around the seams.

Waterproofing Your Tent

Follow these steps to give your tent the best waterproofing:

  • If you have set up your tent, set it up before proceeding.
  • Be sure that it is clean.
  • Spray the entire tent with the product and try to do it evenly.
  • After some minutes, you should wipe off any excess application.
  • Give it time to dry.

You may also watch this video to learn more about how to waterproof a tent:

Canvas Waterproofing

Canvas tents are high-quality and luxurious camping tents. They are manufactured from cotton canvas with bell tents being excellent examples. These tents are known to stand strong in the worst weather conditions thanks to their structural design and the durability of the fabric.

However, leaks tend to occur in canvas tents the first couple of times that they are exposed to rain. This is usually not due to a fault in the fabric. The waterproofing property of canvas tents doesn’t become fully effective until it gets wet. Once this happens, the cotton weave will tighten and close up all gaps.

Hence, before you panic, you should get your tent wet first. Set up your canvas tent and soak it up using a hosepipe before going on your next camping trip. Its water resistance will improve greatly once dry.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do new tents require waterproofing?

Though the majority of tents produced in recent years come waterproofed, some low-quality tents do not. So, it will be a good idea to waterproof your tent before taking it on a camping trip.

Do tents lose their waterproofing?

Regardless of quality, all tents lose their waterproofing with time and usage. However, lower-quality tents lose their waterproofing faster.

How often should tents be waterproofed?

Though there is no specific time frame for waterproofing, you shouldn’t wait until there is a leak. If you use your tent regularly, you should try to waterproof it every season. If not, you can do it once every couple of years.

Is there a difference between seam sealing and waterproofing?

Waterproofing is meant to be done before your camping trip as it is a preventative measure. On the other hand, a seam sealant is used to fix an existing leak.

Can I make a waterproofing spray at home?

Yes, some tent owners make use of homemade waterproofing sprays. However, this isn’t recommended as they wash away faster.

Ally is an avid outdoor enthusiast who has spent most of his free time backpacking through South America, Iceland, Vietnam, and Europe. He loves sharing his experience through blogging. His mission is to get more people in the mindset of protecting our planet by sharing its beauty.