Outdoors blog

Camping, Equipment

Are tents waterproof?(the full detailed answer)

Some tents are waterproof. Some are water resistant. All tents leak a little. Water can condense on inside of tent making it wet.


Waterproof or water-resistant?

Many don’t realize the difference between waterproof and water-resistant. This is good information for people even if they aren’t interested in camping as it is basic knowledge. Water-resistant means that the level of protection against water is lower.

In this case, it will keep some of the water out, but eventually, let the water in once it gets very wet. On the other hand, waterproof means it is completely resistant to water, and will not let one single drop inside. Tents come in both forms so there shouldn’t be any confusion between those two terms.  


Waterproof rating

The waterproof rating is the best indicator in recognizing if tents are waterproof. At the time of purchase, the rating is always marked on the product; looking at that can give you a fair idea of whether your tent is waterproof. 

The rating is called the Hydrostatic Head (HH). Different hydrostatic head levels correspond to different waterproof levels. The minimum level of HH to be waterproof is 1000 which is only helpful for light showers. If the level is upped by 500 to 1500, it will also be good for light showers, and a little more, but it won’t be able to withstand heavy rainfall and leakage. Level 2000 is very common among 3 season tents as it can outlast heavy rain and winds. Lastly, level 3000 is the most resistant, it keeps you dry in all conditions, including extreme weather such as rainstorms, and hefty winds.

The trend is that as the level of HH climbs higher, so does the level of resistance against water. People usually go for the level 2000 as it helps quite a lot on most occasions.

Sometimes, despite the HH rating, some decide to put the PU rating as well which stands for Polyurethane rating. This means that the fabric was specially treated with a waterproof coating. The same trend applies here: the higher the level of PU, the more protected the tent is. 


Waterproof tent features 

Some crucial features define waterproof tents. If you are looking for a waterproof tent, you’ve got to have these features in your tent.

Firstly, the tent needs to have a bathtub floor which is basically a floor that consists of waterproof fabric and material. 

Next, the walls need to be proofed. There are two types of proofing. On one hand, there is the single wall which only has one layer of water-resistant fabric. On the other hand, the double wall has an inner wall made of water-resistant nylon along with a rain fly on the outside. The double-layer is known to be more protective as a result of the extra protection. Lastly, the seams of a waterproof tent are treated with a waterproof sealant. This is also a crucial feature in waterproof tents.


Waterproof it yourself?

If you’ve bought a non-waterproof tent for past holidays but you need a waterproof one for your next trip, what do you do? Do you just despair, throw it away, and buy a new one? No, because there is a way you can render your tent waterproof by yourself! Here are some waterproofing methods:

  1. Rainfly: Either you can tighten the fly you already possess, or you can buy one and fix on top of your tent.  
  2. Tarp: You could buy a big tarp and fix it above your tent to repel the water.
  3. Ground cover: A water soaking, resistant cloth placed on the ground of the tent should do the trick of a bathtub floor.
  4. Seal the seams: The method is used by many. It consists of using a sealant to seal the seam. Before using the sealant, it is advised to clean the seams with alcohol.
  5. Renew the:

(i) Urethane coat: You could buy a urethane spray and coat the tent with it.

(ii) Silicone coat: A silicone coat could be sprayed on the outside tent. 

Both these help with the waterproofed tent’s finishing as it gives a final shine to the package. 

DWR finish: This gives a complete final finishing. DWR stands for Durable Water-Resistant spray.

When you buy a house, you wouldn’t want it to leak. We all know water damage is a pain. So why discriminate with tents. Having a waterproof tent, especially when trekking during the monsoon or in places with unpredictable climates, is imperative. Learning how to figure out if a tent is waterproof or not is a skill needed by any camper. And it starts with the stitching and waterproof covering. 

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