Arguably the most fearsome adversary any tent camper faces isn’t a bear or a pack of hungry raccoons. It’s rain!
Sleeping in a leaky tent isn’t the best feeling in the world, and the best way to prevent waking up to a soggy mess is to properly (and routinely) waterproof your tent’s rain fly.
What Products to Use for Waterproofing Your Tent?
The most common method for DIY rainproofing your tent involves applying a coat of silicone to the exterior of your shelter’s fabric.
One popular product is Kiwi Camp Dry, but there are several others that will serve just as well:
Most waterproofing agents are silicone based. The silicone bonds to the tent fabric to create a powerful water barrier – but still allows the tent to breathe. Although the silicone might produce an odor directly after application, once it cures and dries you shouldn’t notice any smell.
You can use the silicone spray to waterproof more than just your tent’s rain canopy. Use it on boots, backpacks, and hats. If you want to go further, we’ve even heard of campers waterproofing their jeans and clothing using wax.
How to Waterproof Your Tent’s Rain Fly
The best way to apply a fresh coat of waterproofing is to simply setup the tent and spray it right onto the rain fly. With a big tent like ours, it would be easier to stretch the rain fly out on the ground, but then it is nearly impossible to get all of the wrinkles out of the material.
Most silicone waterproofing sprays don’t come with any sort of applicator. Instead you simply use the aerosol can to spray on the silicone over all surfaces. It’s best to do this outdoors, or in a well-ventilated space (as with any aerosol spray).
If the silicone pools up in a certain area, use a paper towel or rag to spread it out more evenly.
Applying the Kiwi Camp Dry to a tent’s rain fly.
One of the downsides to waterproofing your own gear and tent is that the silicone based waterproofers require a lot of time to dry. Kiwi recommends at least 24 hours, and optimally 48 hours of drying time.
This might present a problem if you’re attempting to waterproof in the spring during the rainy season, or if you live in a humid climate like Florida or the Southeast United States. You might try applying the silicone outdoors, and then leave the tent to dry in a covered area, such as a garage.
How Much Product Do You Need?
A good rule of thumb is a 12 ounce can of Kiwi Camp Dry (or a similar silicone-based product) will cover one four-person tent. If you have a larger tent, or you want to apply multiple coats for extra protection, it’s best to get a couple of cans or buy a three-pack.