For some, camping is a summertime activity to be done in good weather with clear skies. For others, camping is an extreme sport that can be done in any conditions. The reason that camping is so fun for some people is the element of survival and returning to our roots with nature. However, if you’re going to be out camping in harsh conditions, you’re going to need to know what precautions that you need to take to keep you, your family, or your friends safe and dry.

One of the things that you need to learn how to do is how to make a tent waterproof. For those camping in inclement weather, rain is certainly a burden on both your safety and your ability to enjoy your camping trip. We can’t stop rain from coming down, but there are things that we can do to make our tent waterproof so that the water can’t get in and we can hang out safely in our tent.

This guide is going to show you how to waterproof a tent and stay out of the elements as much as possible when you are camping.

Ways to Waterproof a Tent

If you are trying to learn how to rain proof your tent and ensure that you can stay dry on your camping trip, you should first know your options. There are three basic ways that you can waterproof a tent. We’ll walk you through each of them and tell you how they work.

It’s important to keep in mind that you don’t have to use one of these methods exclusively. You can usually use multiple of these methods in conjunction with each other to stack the effects of your waterproofing efforts.

Seam Sealing

The first method of waterproofing a tent is to seal the seams. There are dozens of products out there that you can use to apply to the seams of your tent. This sealer, when applied, will help to prevent water from entering your tent through the seams. The seams are a common weak spot in a tent and it’s something many campers deal with on a regular basis.

Use Urethane Coating

Urethane coating usually comes with a tent when you purchase it, and it’s applied to the inside of the rainfly and the floor of tent. You can refresh these surfaces to increase their durability and effectiveness against rain and other elements that might come in to your tent.

Refresh the Durable Water Repellent

Durable water repellent coatings help the rainfly and outer surface of your tent to shed water more easily away from the tent. This comes in a spray, which is easily applied to the outer layer of your tent. This is perhaps the easiest method of waterproofing your tent.

Why Waterproof a Tent?

There are a couple of reasons that one might have to want to waterproof their tent. The first reason is that they have a cheaper tent that they wat to continue using, but hasn’t been effective in the rain and moisture. Instead of having to invest in a tent that does offer that protection, you can simply try to rainproof your existing tent so that you don’t have that problem anymore.

The risks with these methods are obvious, though. While these waterproofing methods are meant to be very successful and effective, they aren’t always perfect. Trying to apply these methods to a tent that wasn’t designed to be out in the elements could prove futile and be a waste of time and money. You should always consider whether it is worth it to try and waterproof a tent that wasn’t meant to be waterproof in the first place.

The other reason that someone might be looking to waterproof their tent is that they have a tent that was waterproof in the past, but it has lost some of its waterproof qualities. This can be frustrating, especially if it’s a tent that you like and has proven to be very effective for you. If you notice that rain is coming in through very specific areas, your tent might not be beyond saving.

If you can identify where a leak is coming in, you can use one of the methods that we mentioned to waterproof that spot of the tent and hopefully remedy the situation. For example, if you notice that water is dripping in through some of the seams that previously held water out, you might want to try a seam sealer. This could help restore your tent to like new condition and prevent you from having to invest heavily into another waterproof tent.
Do This Before Waterproofing

Before you begin the process of waterproofing your tent, it’s important to be prepared. The first step that you need to take before waterproofing a tent is to clean your tent. Your tent cannot be waterproofed effectively until the surface is clean inside and out. You should always clean the entire tent before waterproofing, but it is especially important to do this on parts of the tent that you will be putting product on.

If you don’t clean the tent before waterproofing, your applied product won’t be able to properly seal on the tent and you won’t experience the benefits of the work you just did. That’s why you should thoroughly clean the tent before anything else.

Once you know the tent is clean, you can assess for its weaknesses. Find out where the leaks are coming from. An easy way to do this is pour water all around the tent and see where it comes in. Since the tent is clean, it should be quite easy to see where the water is getting in and where the problem areas are.

Finally, once you know where the weaknesses of your tent are, you can start shopping for products to waterproof your tent. The reason that you should do this step last is because you need to know where the water is coming in to effectively determine what product you need. Once you know what part of your tent is vulnerable, you can buy the correct product to treat that vulnerability.

How to Use Tarps for Waterproofing

A popular way to increase the waterproofing of your tent is to place a tarp under the floor of it. This isn’t 100% effective, but it can help in many ways. If you are considering using a tarp to help waterproof your tent, you should know that it is often quite effective, but shouldn’t be the only measure that you take.

The best way to use a tarp to help waterproof your tent is to place it under the floor of the tent. This helps in two ways. The first is that it helps prevent water from ever even touching the floor of your tent. This is extremely helpful as a first line of defense. The second way that it helps is by protecting the bottom of your tent from damage. Damage caused by rocks and foliage is one of the most common ways that water will find its way into your tent.

Protecting your tent from the rough ground with an affordable tarp is a great measure that you should be using each and every time you set up your tent. If you are going to use a tarp as part of your moisture prevention strategy, be sure to only use a waterproof tarp, as anything else won’t be any more effective than your standard tent floor.

How to Waterproof a Tent Cheap

Some people need to know how to waterproof a tent on the more affordable side. This is often the case if they have invested in a large tent that they like but it doesn’t come with the waterproofing features that some more expensive tents tend to come with. We’re very sorry to report that while it can be done, the chances that it will ever truly be waterproof are slim. Some tents just aren’t designed to be put through harsh conditions.

However, there are certainly things that you can do to help your situation, even if you’re on a budget. As we stated earlier, using a tarp is a great option if you are looking to affordably help waterproof your tent. A tarp will help to protect it from the ground and keep water from reaching the floor of your tent. Another thing that you can do that won’t break the bank is to buy a cheap tent waterproofing spray. These sprays typically range anywhere between $13 – $40. You should be able to find one that is in your price range fairly easily.

Finally, you can get another tarp and hang it above your tent. If you do this, make sure that your camp site has proper drainage and you won’t be putting yourself in a worse situation. Putting a tarp above your tent can help to shield you from rain and provide a pleasant barrier from the sun as well.


There are a variety of ways that you can waterproof a tent, and most of them are pretty affordable. Whether you are looking to shore up some wear and tear on an old waterproof tent or improve an existing normal tent, you should be able to find the right way forward using the methods that we outlined.

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