Are Tents Waterproof? 3 Ways To Check Waterproof Level

Are Tents Waterproof
Waterproof Tents

As an adventure lover, it is common to ask, “Are tents waterproof?” No one wants to ruin their camping trip by getting drenched in the rain. Hence, bringing a waterproof tent while camping is essential to enjoy your adventure to the fullest. In this article, you will get an overview of waterproofing a tent. 

Generally, tents do not have waterproof quality. A store-bought tent is usually water-resistant but not waterproof. To determine whether your tent is waterproof, check the Hydrostatic Head value, tent fabric and tent seams. If your tent is not waterproof, you can make them waterproof by sealing the seams, applying urethane coating and waterproof spray.

Are you interested to learn more about tents waterproofing? If so, continue reading this article to explore the waterproofing quality of tents.

3 Ways to Determine the Water-Resistance Level of Your Tent

All tents have a basic water-resistance level. It is a misconception that expensive tents have high waterproof levels. Basically, the water resistivity of a tent does not depend on its pricing. The pricing mainly rises depending on the durability of the tent. But in the case of water resistivity, the hydrostatic head (HH) value, tent fabric type and the tent seams matter.

If your tent has a standard water-resistant level, it can bear light rains. However, you will find water leakage if you bring them out in heavy rain. To make your tent 100% waterproof, it needs waterproof coatings on the fabric.

Now to determine whether your tent is waterproof, follow the below methods-

See The Waterproof Ratings

See The Waterproof Ratings
See The Waterproof Ratings

The manufacturer provides waterproof ratings to the tents to help you determine the waterproof level of your tent. By seeing your tent’s hydrostatic head (HH) value, you can quickly tell how much water pressure your tent can withstand. 

Do you need clarification about how to check the HH value? Well, do not worry; this article will clear your confusion. The HH value starts from 1000 mm and ends at 10,000 mm. That means 1000 mm is the lowest value of your water-resistance level. The higher the value rise, the water-resistance level rises with that.

So, if you want a camping tent that can withstand heavy downpours, look for an HH value from 5000 mm to 10,000 mm.

See The Tent Fabric

See The Tent Fabric

There are two types of tents depending on the fabric. One is nylon, and the other type is polyester. Both of the materials are lightweight, which makes them suitable for tents. However, neither nylon nor polyester is waterproof. The tent manufacturers make them waterproof with a tent waterproof spray known as Durable Water Repellant (DWR) spray. 

There are two types of DWR coatings on a waterproof tent cover. They are silicone and polyurethane coatings. Manufacturers mostly mix two waterproof coatings to make the tents waterproof for longer.

However, the problem is that the DWR coating usually gets off after exposure to heavy rain and snowfall. So, you have to check whether the DWR coating of your tent is alright. If the coating is peeling from the fabric, you need to use a tent waterproof spray to make it waterproof.

Check The Tents Seams

Check The Tents Seams
Check The Tents Seams

To avoid water leakage problems on your camping trip, you must check the tent seams properly. Every tent has stitches that help to create the overall structure of the tent. However, stitches create tiny holes in the tent, and water may leak through these holes. So, to avoid water leakage, tent manufacturers use taped seams or seam sealers alongside the stitches. 

Over time, the seam sealant or the taped seams get worn out, resulting in water leakage. To make your tent waterproof, you must seal the seams properly. So, checking the tent’s seams before taking it outdoors is essential. Besides this, you must check the zipper area as well.

How To Waterproof A Tent Cheap

If you have a tent in your house which is not waterproof, there is no need to buy a new tent at a higher price. You can easily waterproof your tent without spending a lot of money. The below steps will guide you through how to waterproof a tent DIY at a cheaper rate. 

Note: Before waterproofing your tent, you need to clean and dry the tent.

1. Seal The Seams

Seal The Seams

Tent seams are essential to help your tent to stay dry even in heavy rainfall and snowfall. Most tent seams are sealed with seam sealer, which can wear off over time. To make your tent waterproof, seal the seams with a sealant. 

Now, to seam the seams of your tent, you will need the below-mentioned materials-

  • Rubbing alcohol 
  • A rag 
  • A Seam sealer depending on your tent’s fabric type

Once you collect the materials, follow the below guide to learn about how to waterproof tent seams– 

  • Set The Tent: Set your tent in a bright and dry place. You have to check the seams, so without a dry and bright place, it is impossible to check them. Remember, place the tent inside out to easily reach and seal the seams. 
  • Remove The Peeling Bits: If you see the previous seams coming off, then gently remove them. 
  • Prepare The Seams: Clean the tent seams with rubbing alcohol. Put some rubbing alcohol on the tent and clean it with a rag. 

Apply The Seam Sealer: After the seam is dry, apply the sealer using a small brush. Next, wait a few hours to dry the sealant before packing the tent.

2. Apply An Urethane Coating

Recoat The Urethane Coating

Urethane coating is essential for tent floors and rainfly. This coating makes the tent waterproof by not letting the water invade the tent. 

To apply a urethane coating on your tent, you will need the following materials-

  • An abrasive sponge 
  • Rubbing alcohol 
  • A Tent Sealant depending on your tent’s fabric type 

After collecting these materials, follow the instructions below to learn how to waterproof a tent floor and rainfly. 

  • Lay Your Tent: To apply urethane coating, you first need to lay your tent floor or rainfly. 
  • Scrub The Tent: Apply rubbing alcohol and gently scrub the tent with a sponge to remove the flaking coating. 
  • Apply The Tent Sealant: Now you need to apply a thin layer of tent sealant on the tent floor and rainfly. Then, wait at least 24 hours to let the urethane coating dry. 
  • Remove Residue: Lastly, when the tent sealant is completely dry, remove the residue of the tent sealant by using your hand.

3. Apply Durable Water Repellant (DWR)

Apply Durable Water Repellant

To increase the water resistance level of your tent, you can apply DWR coating on your tent rainfly. The DWR coating helps the tents stay dry during heavy rainfall. 

You will need the following materials to apply DWR coating on your tent-

  • A tent water repellant spray 
  • A clean wet cloth 
  • Water 

Now, to waterproof the tent cover, follow the below-mentioned step-

  • Set The Tent Up: You need to set the tent properly so that the whole rainfly gets the DWR to spray equally. 
  • Spray Water: Take a small amount of water and spray it over the exterior part of the rainfly. 
  • Apply The DWR Spray: Without waiting for the water to dry on the rainfly, apply the DWR spray. After a few minutes, take a damp cloth and wipe off the excess DWR coating. 
  • Dry The Tent: Before packing the tent, allow it to dry for at least 24 hours. 

That is all about waterproofing your tent at a cheaper rate. Without rushing to the stores, you can easily make your tent waterproof at home.


Are Tents Completely Waterproof? 

Many believe that tents are waterproof from scratch. However, it is a misconception. Not all tents are waterproof. It is very rare to find a completely waterproof tent. Tents are usually water-resistant, which does prevent the water from penetrating but delays it. You can make your tent waterproof using seam sealer, tent sealant and waterproof spray. 

Are Tents Waterproof In The Rain? 

A Tents water resistivity in the rain depends on its waterproof ratings, fabric type and tent seams. Tents will not leak in heavy rain if they have urethane and waterproof coatings on the tent floor and rainfly. 

How Long Do Tents Stay Waterproof? 

The longevity of the waterproofing of a tent depends on its usage. So, the thumb rule is to waterproof your tent every one to two years if you use your tent for two-three weeks a year on average. 

Do Tents Need To Be Waterproofed? 

Yes, tents need waterproofing occasionally, depending on their usage rate. It does matter whether you have a cheap or an expensive tent; it needs waterproofing to stay dry during the rainy season.

Final Words

Now that you have read the article, you got your answer to the question, “Are tents waterproof?” In short, tents are not waterproof, so you have to make them waterproof by using a waterproof coating and sealing the seams. 

Remember, do not fall for the waterproof ratings and believe the tent is fully waterproof. It does not matter how high the Hydrostatic Head value is; it cannot make a tent waterproof. The higher HH value mainly delays the penetration of water into the tent. 

So, it is vital to waterproof a tent by yourself once every two-three years to avoid water leakage. Enjoy your camping trip with a waterproof tent!

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