Do Tents Leak When It Rains and What to Do to Prevent This

I’d decided to get all the camping gear out of the garage and give it a good sorting out. Truth is, I’d stashed it away in a hurry after we’d got back from the last trip and stuff had got pretty jumbled up. My youngest, who has been like a permanent shadow for the past few weeks and even though twenty questions isn’t his name it should be, stood watching me. Every two minutes he’s, dad, dad, dad, what’s that, dad? It’s been never-ending, and although I think it’s great he’s developing an inquiring mind, the constant dad thing is wearing a bit thin. Out of sheer desperation, I even tried to convince him his mum’s got a secret box of chocolates hidden in the kitchen. Did he budge? Not a chance.

I glanced over at him and thought, here we go. He’s got that thoughtful look on his face which means – question pending. I wasn’t wrong. He looked up at me and in all seriousness asked, Dad, do tents leak when it rains?

Do Tents Leak When It Rains Or Don’t They? Yes, they can do is the simple answer to the question of whether tents leak or not. Heavy rain can pass through the micro-pores of the tent fabric, or you might have a flaw in one of the tent’s seams which is allowing water to seep through into the interior.

The tent might be of poor quality and just not up to coping with inclement weather. Even if the tent is a good one, the original UV coating may have got worn allowing the waterproofing underneath to become damaged and let in water. It may even be, you have innocently used a strong detergent to clean your tent and inadvertently caused the tent to lose its water-resistant qualities. Is there anything you can do to stop a tent from leaking? Yes, there is.

More info: Check out our best tent for heavy rain buying guide.


How To Prevent A Tent From Leaking

A great way to prevent having problems with a leaking tent is to condition your tent when you buy it. The process of conditioning, also known as weathering, involves pitching your tent in the garden and spraying it with water from a hosepipe. Dampening the tent in this way helps the stitching of the seams to expand and fill any micro-gaps around the thread. Some drops may even leak inside, just make sure the tent is fully dry before you pack it away. It may seem a bit of a faff, but the effort will pay dividends in preventing your tent leaking when you get caught in a storm on a camping trip.

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Another good tip for preventing a tent from leaking is to keep all your equipment well away from the tent sides. It’s one of those quirks of physics which most campers learn the hard way. Anything pressing against the tent walls can alter the HH resistance of the tent fabric and cause it to let in water well before it would under normal circumstances.

How To Protect Your Tent When It Rains

One good preventive measure to help stop your tent from leaking if you get caught in bad weather is to use a tarpaulin. Tarpaulins, or tarps, are sheets of water-resistant fabric. They can be made from canvas or waterproofed polyester and need to be of a big enough size so that when extended it covers your tent completely.

Unless you’re camping in the woods and can string the tarp from nearby tree branches, you’ll need to construct a supporting frame from spare tent poles. That can prove to be a tricky operation, so to save frustration on the day, practice putting it up before you go on a trip.

Having the tarp extend a couple of meters out from the tent entrance is also a good idea. It will provide you with a dry space where you can shed wet clothing or damp boots which will help keep the inside of the tent dry. If you’re fortunate enough to have good weather, the “tarp room” will come in handy as a cooking space or even a playroom for the kids.

Related Questions

If my tent leaks, can I fix it? Yes, you can fix some leaks. If the tent is leaking through a seam, you can use a commercial seam sealant to solve the problem. Wait until the tent is dry and then paint the sealant on the seam allowing it plenty of time to dry properly before using the tent or packing it away.

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What can I do if my tent’s got a hole? Accidents happen sometimes and if you’ve ripped a hole in the tent fabric and need to repair it, use a waterproof patch. Most patches are self-adhesive and come in a variety of sizes. They should only be applied to dry tent fabric. Once in place, the patch can be given an additional application of reproofing spray to make sure it stays waterproof.

Can I fix a leak while I’m camping? For unexpected situations, like a seam coming unstitched or a tent pole snapping, it’s a good idea to carry an emergency repair kit which contains strong thread, fabric patches, spare guylines and pole repair sleeves.

Can you reproof a leaking tent? Yes, it is possible to reproof a tent. If your tent is getting old or you purchased it second hand and are not sure if its waterproofing is up to scratch, then to prevent it from leaking when you go camping reproof it. There are plenty of good products on the market which is ideal for the job. All you need to do is pitch your dry tent somewhere outdoors on a day when it’s guaranteed not to rain, then paint the waterproofing liquid onto the tent panels with a paintbrush and leave it to dry. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions to get the best results. Once done, you’ll find your tent will be as waterproof as it was when it was new.