No feeling supersedes that of acquiring a new tent. On the contrary, waking up in the middle of the night only to find your roof dripping is the worst feeling ever. Therefore, as a novice, intermediate or adept camper, you need to assess your tent insightfully before hitting the road.
One thing that is sure about a new tent is the confusion on whether you need to waterproof it or not. Yes, everyone raises at least a brow. Oftentimes, most tents come when already waterproofed. But because there are emerging brands, some of which you hardly understand their manufactures, chances of landing a tent that is not waterproofed is high.
So, should you waterproof a new tent? To be precise, yes you should regardless. Waterproofing is part of the pre-camping practices that you need to work on. However, before doing it, it does no harm to assess the feasibility of your new camping fabric and ascertain whether it is waterproof or not.
How to Know if Your Tent is Waterproofed
New tents that are waterproof come with water repellent coatings. Depending on the type of fabrics and the manufacturing company, the density of the repellent may vary. When buying a new tent, it is an ethical norm to ask for its waterproofing rating.
The waterproof rating is determined through a hydrostatic head test. The rating ranges from 1,000mm to 10, 000 mm. 1,000 is the lowest range that signifies a standard waterproofing. 10, 000mm, is the highest range that signifies a hyper-proofed tent. Ordinary tents feature ratings of about 2,000mm. The rating is highly influenced by factors such as the type of tent (whether single or double-walled), its fabrics and season (whether a summer tent or winter tent)
However, the hydraulic head test is mainly for manufacturers. You may not be in a position to determine your tent’s rating at home.
Other than the test, you can know that your tent is waterproofed by:
1. Assessing the seams and the stitches
The seams refer to the points on your tent where the fabrics are stitched together. In a waterproofed tent, the seams come with an additional waterproof coating. To assess your tent’s seams, erect it and get inside. You will automatically see a transparent coating that has been put into place using heat. If the “tape” misses, then you need to do something.
Alongside the seams are small holes created on the fabrics. Those holes represent the stitches. Check whether the stitches are uniform. They should be smooth with no loose ends or absurd design pattern.
2. Assessing the zips
When it comes to waterproofing, the quality of your zipper cannot be compromised. Camping tents usually come with two types of zippers, the coil zip, and tooth zip. A coil zip, also called spiral zip features a continuous coil made of nylon or polyester that runs alongside it. On the other hand, a tooth zip, also called Vislon or chunky zip features a corrosion-proof plastic that runs along the main zipper. They are more waterproof than the coiled zip. You may need to add some coating around the zipper if your new tent comes with a coiled zipper.
3. Assessing the tent’s entrance
Your tent should feature a design that allows for opening the door without a downpour. A water-proofed fabric should be like a shelter. The fabric forms slight gully-like structures or ridges that enable you to open the door without water puddles pouring down on your accessories.
4. Look out for any type of treatment
Some tents come with additional water-proof treatment for the seams, stitches and other places that are vulnerable to leaking. Look out for the traces of these chemicals before deciding on whether to treat your tent or not.
5. Separately check the fly
The rain fly is the piece of fabric that covers the roof of your tent either fully or partially. In some tents, it comes separately. You can also buy it separately from most stores. The rainfly is purposely to make your tent as waterproof as possible. Its presence signifies extra security. Modern rain flies consist of factory-sealing “tapes” that cover their seam. If the tapes are missing, then you need to go the extra mile and apply one.
How to treat a new tent
Sealing a new tent is downright easy. The seams are still intact and the components making its fabrics still at their apex functionality.
To seal your tent, you will need accessories such as:
- A rag
- Rubbing alcohol
- A water repellant spray
- Seam sealers( Sealers vary depending on the type of fabrics used to make your tent; silicone-based fabric use SilNet whereas polyurethane and leather fabrics take SeamGrip)
- A drop cloth
You can check on the additional ingredients recommended by the manufacturer of the tent. But, if at all you lack the information, you can do with what this article contains.
- Thoroughly clean every single part of the tent from the rainfly to the sewn-in groundsheet. You can use a mild detergent soap to remove lurking dirt.
- Thoroughly rinse the tent and spread it to air dry in a shady spot.
This phase is particularly for keeping your tent clean. Brand new tents may lack the lurking dirt. In such a case, all you need is to wipe the fabric with a wet cloth or vacuum it to remove the dust particles.
You are dealing with a new tent. Therefore, you only need to focus on:
1. The seams
- Erect your tent to make its seams easily accessible
- Take the bottle of the seam sealer and thoroughly shake it for about two minutes
- Open the cap of the bottle and use its applicator top to apply the sealer on the surfaces of your tent’s threads both inside and out
2. The Rainfly
- Do not dry the rainfly completely. The damp surface is ideal for the process
- Spread the rainfly and apply the water repellant spray uniformly on its surface
- Leave the fly to dry for some minutes
- Use a damp rag to wipe the excess coating from the spray
- Leave the fly to air dry under a shade
3. The sewn-in groundsheet
- Check if the groundsheet is attached to your tent or not
- For a loose groundsheet, remove it and treat it as a separate part.
- Look for the stitches and apply your sealer chemical over it
Even when your new tent is waterproof, if you use it without additional sealing the seams will easily develop into wicks. With the wicks, your tent can easily become vulnerable to seeping from both water and morning dew. Coat your fabrics and enjoy a glitz journey full of memories.