Unless you are using some very exotic or old tent, or a handmade one, the fabric of it is probably nylon, or polyester, or cotton already waterproofed… Whatever, it wears out, and you may need to renew the coating with a special spray.
The Best Sprays to Waterproof Your Tent
- Kiwi Camp Dry Heavy Duty Water Repellent – Top Pick
- Star Brite Waterproofing Spray
- Nikwax Tent & Gear SolarProof
- Rust-Oleum 278146 Shield H2O Outdoor Fabric Spray
- Texsport Polyurethane Waterproof Seam Sealer
Here are the best waterproof tent sprays I have run into. Let the raindrop on the outside. If you have done everything right, it will be dry and warm inside it. But how does one do it right? It depends on your tent, though there are versatile solutions like one by KIWI and some others I will introduce you to.
1. KIWI Camp Dry Heavy Duty Water Repellent: The Top Pick
You might have run into KIWI shoe accessories by SC Johnson, so this is a brand to trust, even when it comes to such non-mainstream things as a water repellent spray. Spray it down on the fabric and use a cloth to apply evenly. The repellent is great with nylon and polyester equally, so no matter if you need to waterproof nylon or polyester rainfly, it’s a great choice. It can also be applied to weather and shoes.
One can is enough to process a four-person tent about four times, or a larger one two or three times. Don’t try to save on it. Better remove some extra liquid after processing than enjoy floods of liquid when under the tent in the rain. After applying, let it dry for four hours, and then it’s ready.
It’s by no means a panacea, being meant for applying on already water-resistant materials. But tents are made just of these. It depends on both your manner and the tent condition how much of this you will need. The instruction is written very carefully, so following it is the key to success.
- Easy to apply;
- Dries fast;
- Made by reputable manufacturer;
- Affordable price.
- For water-resistant fabric only;
- May leave stains on sensitive materials.
- KIWI Camp Dry Heavy Duty Water Protect provides a tough, long lasting and breathable water protection that becomes odorless when dry
2. Star Brite Waterproofing Spray
Not as famous as SC Johnson, Star Brite is also a respectable manufacturer, established in 1973 and operating in Alabama. Among its wide array of chemicals for car, boat, or home care, there is a place for a versatile waterproofing spray. It may look like a household cleaner than a professional tool, but it does its job properly.
This one is petroleum-based, and it feels when you start to spray it out: it may take more pumps than water-based sprays for it to start. But, along with waterproof qualities, the coverage it forms also protects the fabric (or whatever surface it’s on) from stains and UV. The spray comes in 22-, 64-, or 128-oz variants. Even the smallest, 22-oz bottle is enough to cover 80 square feet of fabric. As is, it provides heavy-duty coverage; it can be used when diluted with mineral spirits.
You need to apply it several days before you’re about to use the tent. The reason is the odor it leaves on the processed fabric. It takes several days for it to wear out, though, in the end, it does.
As for compatibility, it works well on 100% nylon, canvas, cotton, polyester, or acrylic (that is, the materials your tent is probably made of). However, the vendor warns you against using it on “laminated”, “coated”, or “backed” fabric types which require its water-based analog.
- Versatile (though not absolutely);
- Protects from stains and UV as well;
- Comes in various size options;
- Can be used diluted or as is;
- Made in the US.
- Strong odor in the first days after;
- Harder to pump;
- Incompatible with some already protected fabrics.
- ULTIMATE PROTECTION FOR OUTDOOR FABRICS - Waterproofing plus UV and stain protection for boat covers, car covers, bimini tops, sail covers, tents, jackets, backpacks, boots, awnings, patio covers and more
3. Nikwax Tent and Gear Solarproof Cleaning & Waterproofing
Finally, the first non-American brand, but neither China nor Indochina, is straight from the UK, with its noble charm. The spray by Nikwax is also meant for waterproofing tents and other surfaces, cleaning and protecting them from UV as well. In addition, it’s supposed to do good to already weather-proof fabrics, adding an extra (or replacing) level of coating.
There are several versionы of this spray, but the water-based Solarwash is primarily meant for cleaning. So what you need is the Tent & Gear Solarproof variant. It’s water-based, so it’s the best fabric waterproofing spray if your tent is made of material incompatible with the previous one by Star Brite. Wash the tent before applying it, but don’t dry: it works better.
It also comes in various size options. The smallest bottle is 17 oz., and it’s enough to process an entire 3- or 4-person tent. Wash the tent before applying the spray. Yet with some particular materials, it may not work as expected, causing even more trouble than before. Read the instructions carefully to save trouble. The spray is not that expensive but very efficient.
- Compatible with many materials;
- Easy to apply;
- Does not require serious preparations;
- Comes in various sizes.
- Requires some extra caution;
- Still requires a seam sealer.
- Restores and adds water-repellency to weather-proof fabrics
4. Rust-Oleum 278146 NeverWet
The spray by Rust-Oleum, another British company that’s been around since 1921, looks quite household. Still, it shows excellent results on tents, as well as other outdoor equipment. Moreover, the manufacturer grants a very long-lasting effect which is confirmed by users (including me).
One 11-oz. bottle is enough to cover from 20 to 60 square feet of fabric, depending on its type and properties. The method of its application is no different from others: first, you clean the fabric, then apply the spray to it, and then let it dry for 24 hours before taking the tent out there with you. Prepare yourself that an 11-ounce bottle is rather small and may be insufficient to process all of your tents, including the rainfly, so you will end up getting several. Its long-lasting effect, though, pays for this.
There are few limitations: though the product is not advertised as versatile, it’s only not recommended to use on carpets and upholstery, being compatible not only with nylon and polyester, but with cotton, leather, and lots of other materials as well. If you’re looking for a non silicone waterproof spray, being aware of risks that silicone brings, this one’s for you to consider.
- Almost versatile for outdoor equipment;
- Silicone-Free (if it matters);
- Absolutely crystal clear, no stains;
- Long-lasting effect;
- Reasonable price.
- Takes rather long to dry;
- You will need more of it than you expect.
- Weight: 11 Fluid Oz
5. Texsport Polyurethane Waterproof Seam Sealer: The Best Non-Silicone Option
Texsport, a manufacturer established in the 1950s, has a lot to offer, including alternatives to most of those I presented above. But this one stands a bit aside from the others: even if you have already chosen your personal best waterproof spray for tents, you will still need this one, it seems – for the seams.
It’s compatible with various synthetic fabrics (starting with nylon and polyester, but not only), and it’s strong enough to protect it from any water drops, dirt, or even dust. Yet it comes as a spray. So if you have got used to seaming sealers in tubes, you may find the spray version not dense enough for that. Heh, you may end up using a seam sealer with another seam sealer! Not sure, though, if it makes a good campfire story.
It seems the perfect solution for making your tent waterproof again. When dried, it has no odor, and no taste keeps the water away and doesn’t let a single drop through. The 13-ounce bottle is not enough to process an entire tent or even more. But given how great it recovers (literally) old tents, it may be quite worth this. If your tent requires something polyurethane-based instead of a silicone waterproof spray, this is to think of.
It’s quite normal for these substances to be flammable, so if the manufacturer warns you that this seam sealer is “extremely flammable”, you better believe it and keep away from an open fire. And not the sealer can only, but the fabric you have applied it on too.
- Can be used on seams and on the entire tent;
- No smell or odor after drying;
- Easy to apply on tent and seams;
- Not as dense as other seam sealers;
- One can may be too little;
- Extremely flammable!
- Seam Sealer ideal for tents, backpacks, outerwear and all other synthetic fabrics
To choose yours among all the tent waterproofing products we have around, you need to form some knowledge about how they work and how they combine with various fabrics. You will eventually learn how they react to certain conditions, how your treatment affects the result, and so on. But here are the basics to learn before you start waterproofing your outdoor equipment.
How does tent waterproofing spray work?
In short, it forms a thin water-resistant film on the surface of the fabric. How to form it depends on properties of both the waterproofing tent spray and the tent itself. That’s why it’s not enough to spray it all over the tent: you also need to wipe it with a cloth. Here is a more detailed scientific explanation.
How to waterproof your tent with a spray?
First of all, you need to wash it and make sure there isn’t a single hole (and if there is, fix it). Then lay it flat to access the entire surface. After that, use the spray equally on all the surfaces of the tent. Then remove the excess of the fluid with a cloth and let it dry. When dry, the tent is waterproof, but you can additionally process its seams with a seam sealer.
The instructions may differ in details (for example, when it comes to the necessary time of drying. Nevertheless, the principle remains.
How to make the waterproofing last?
- Choose the right coating. The best tent waterproofing spray will do no good when applied to the wrong fabric.
- Make sure you have applied the spray according to the instructions.
- Don’t spare your spray, but neither should you overuse it.
- Use the tent under the condition it’s meant for. Otherwise, the best waterproof coating will be insufficient.
Is Spray Enough to Make the tent waterproof?
Along with the regular spray you apply to the fabric, and you will probably need another one for seams. The tent sealer spray for seams is sold separately – and it is separate, given that regular fabric and seams have different densities and different structures, as well as different, are requirements for their flexibility. So seams need more processing with a more powerful water repellent. But when it comes to the fabric itself, yes, the right spray will do the work.
All the sprays I have recommended in this review have their pros. Manufactured by famous American and British vendors, they may be dangerous when misused but useful when treated right. So first, I would recommend checking what sort of spray fits your tent (the manufacturers of both the tent and the spray should specify that in manuals and on labels). Then choose the best one within the correct category. Then, I hope your tent will provide you a warm and dry home feeling when you are out backpacking.
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