Best Tent Waterproofing Spray to Restore Your Shelter

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If you’re in a rush and want to find out what the best tent waterproofing spray is, we recommend the NIkwax Tent & Gear Solarproof Spray.

Water in your tent? That’s the last thing you want to deal with, especially on an extended camping trip with rain on the way!

Sure, you can pick out a good waterproof tent (and I highly recommend that you do), but even high-quality tents lose their waterproofing capabilities over time. That’s why we’ve taken a look at some of the best tent waterproofing sprays, so you can be prepared to tough out any storm that comes your way.

In this article, we’ll be reviewing the following best tent waterproofing sprays:

Why Waterproof?

white tent on a dirt trail in fog

I mean, shouldn’t your tent already be waterproof right out of the package? And yes, it should be, but there’s often a big difference between what you should get and what you actually get.

Tents may leak for a variety of reasons – perhaps you set it up incorrectly, the manufacturer might not have sealed it properly, or maybe you got a tear in the fabric at some point. Even if you’ve done everything right, and have taken care of your tent like it’s your own child, it will eventually lose its water repelling capabilities from wear and tear, as well as sun exposure. While some of these factors can be attributed to user error, many others can be solved by adding a tent waterproofing spray.

What if My Tent Wasn’t Already Waterproof?

Though it’s a lot rarer nowadays, there are still some tents out there that haven’t been properly waterproofed. These are usually the cheap, crappy variety that are a waste of money and not worth buying for many reasons – but for the sake of example, let’s say you’ve got one sitting in your closet. Can you waterproof a tent that wasn’t waterproof already?

And the answer to that is no. Even the best tent waterproofing spray won’t be able to help you out with this one. If the fabric wasn’t already designed to withstand heavy (or light) rain, no amount of effort on your part is going to change that fact in any significant way.

Spray Bottle vs Aerosol

man holding an aerosol can

Generally speaking, waterproofing spray either comes in an aerosol can or in a spritzer bottle. Aerosol is by far the most convenient, as the pressurized spray ensures a fine mist comes out to evenly coat your tent. The downside is that most aerosol cans are pressurized using harsh chemicals, which most outdoor enthusiasts try to avoid. They’ve certainly gotten a lot better over the years, but still aren’t the healthiest option for you, your tent, or the environment.

Spritzer bottles, on the other hand, don’t have the concerns associated with the harsh chemicals in aerosol sprays. However, they come with their own set of problems, which might make you choose to go with aerosol anyway. For starters, the waterproofing spray doesn’t come out in a nice, fine mist; instead, it’s expelled in larger amounts of fluid that you’ll have to spread around once it’s on the tent. It also doesn’t penetrate as well as an aerosol spray will, which means you’ll probably need to reapply the coating more frequently.

Seam Sealing or Waterproof Coating?

Perhaps you’re here reading this right now because you have a leak in your tent that you want to fix. But how do you know if applying a waterproof coating will solve the problem, or if you need to do something else, like reseal your seams?

First, you’ll need to check your tent over for any punctures that might have appeared. These are usually pretty easy to spot, and if you’ve been getting wet in your tent, you probably have a good idea of where you need to look. If you do have a hole, repairs are pretty simple, but I won’t get into the details here. REI has a helpful guide that can walk you through the steps you should take to repair your damaged tent.

Faulty seams can be a little trickier to spot, simply because it can be hard to determine where the leak is coming from along the seam. Go through your entire tent, scanning for any seam tape that’s started to peel. It’s bound to happen sooner or later, since the tape will inevitably lose its stickiness over time, so it’s good to analyze these spots even if you don’t have a leak yet.

If you don’t have any punctures or faulty seam tape, that means it’s time to add your waterproofing spray. We’ll walk you through the application steps in the next section below.

How to Apply Waterproof Tent Spray

To get the best results with your waterproofing spray, here are a few tips to follow:

  1. Start with a clean tent. Most likely, it’s your rainfly that’s stopped doing its job, so start by giving it a good wash.

  2. Pitch your tent. Once you’ve set up your tent, throw the rainfly on top of it in preparation for the recoating.

  3. Let it dry. Keep your tent in a dry location away from sunlight (which can react harshly with the chemicals in waterproofing sprays), until there isn’t any moisture left on it.

  4. Coat your tent. Apply a generous helping of the waterproofing spray all over your rainfly until its been thoroughly covered. If you’ve over sprayed, use a clean cloth to soak up the extra – there shouldn’t be any liquid that’s dripping or running when you’re done.

  5. Leave it be. Let the coating dry overnight before packing your tent away. 

Hopefully that will do the trick for you, but feel free to repeat these steps as many times as necessary. You might need to apply multiple coatings in order to full waterproof your tent.

Best Tent Waterproofing Spray Reviews

NIkwax Tent & Gear Solarproof Spray

NIkwax is probably one of the better-known waterproofing products on the market, primarily because they make good stuff that actually works. What’s great about the Solarproof is that it protects your tent from harmful UV radiation in addition to repelling water. I don’t think many people realize just how damaging the sun’s rays are for their tent, so having a waterproofing spray that like this will significantly extend the lifespan of any shelter.

Water based, scent free, and biodegradable, this waterproofing spray is more ecofriendly than a lot of other options that you’ll find. Just remember to shake it up prior to spraying, otherwise it won’t work as well. In addition to your tent, you can also use this spray to waterproof other items, like an awning, boat cover, backpack, or umbrella.

Pros:

– A waterproofing spray that actually works
– Protects your tent from UV radiation
– Scent free
– Biodegradable
– Spray on application

Cons:

– Coating a tent uses most of the contents of the bottle

Sof Sole Silicone Waterproofing Spray

Generally speaking, silicone is the way to go if you want a truly effective waterproofing spray. You may have a few kitchen utensils made from silicone, so you already know how well the material sheds water without absorbing any of it.

Sof Sole’s silicone spray comes in a convenient aerosol can for easy application. If you remember what I mentioned earlier, it’s much easier to get a consistent, even coating when you’re using an aerosol can – exactly what you want when it comes to waterproofing. The downside, of course, is that you get some harsh chemicals mixed in.

You’ll likely want to spray on at least 2 coats of this waterproofing for optimal performance. Keep in mind that it’s not for breathable material (such as Gore-Tex), as it can damage or discolor the fabric.

Pros:

– Easy to apply
– Silicone based spray
– Works well when enough coatings are applied
– Dries quickly

Cons:

– Has an odor

Atsko Silicone Water Guard

Atsko’s silicone water guard is one of my favorite waterproofing agents for a number of reasons. First, the price in ridiculously cheap (under $10) for a 10.5 ounce can of waterproofing that the company says works best with one application. Now you don’t need to use a whole can just to make sure it does its job!

Most of the bad reviews you’ll find are from people who didn’t use it properly, probably because they didn’t follow the instructions. From my experience, when done correctly, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better waterproofing option than this one.

It does dry in 24 hours, but keep it in a location protected from the wind, rain, and sun for longer. Once 72 hours have passed, your tent will have fully cured, and you’ll be safe to pack it away again.

Pros:

– Cheap
– Very effective
– Only requires one coating
– Silicone
– Still lets the material breathe

Cons:

– Spray in a well-ventilated space, as the fumes will irritate your lungs

Scotchgard Outdoor Water Shield

From the creators of Scotch Tape and sticky notes, I present to you the Scotchgard outdoor water shield! A grand entrance for what would seem to be a mediocre product at best, if you looked at the reviews on Amazon. So, is it actually worth it?

As usual, it often comes down to how well you can follow instructions. When used correctly, and on the items that it was designed to protect, it certainly does a great job of waterproofing. If you don’t use it as directed, or spray it on something like an outdoor pillow or cushion, chances are you won’t be satisfied with the results.

For a tent, though, it does the job wonderfully. However, considering how small the can is, you may go through the whole thing before you’ve had a chance to thoroughly coat your rainfly and tent floor. I’d suggest getting the 2 pack of this outdoor water shield for big jobs like that.

Pros:

– Great for thin material
– Easy to apply
– Maintains breathability
– Relatively inexpensive

Cons:

– Fumes are noxious when spraying
– Doesn’t work quite as well as some other products

Gear Aid Tent Waterproofing Spray

When possible, I prefer to avoid harsh chemicals, especially when they’re going on a shelter that I’ll be sleeping in for many nights. That’s why I’m such a big fan of this waterproofing spray by Gear Aid, simply because it’s so much gentler than most of the other options in this review. In fact, it’s so gentle that you can even spray it directly on topo maps to keep them waterproof too!

Unfortunately, it only comes in a small 5 ounce can. More than likely, this won’t be nearly enough to coat your entire tent, so you’ll need to purchase a couple of these. The price per ounce is a little higher than what you’d find with other products, but I believe it’s worth the extra cost to have a quality waterproofing spray like this. It even comes in an aerosol can for easy application, and it doesn’t have the nasty odors or residue that other sprays have.

Pros:

– Gentle on materials
– Can be used on maps
– No nasty odors or residues
– Easy to apply

Cons:

– Comes in a painfully small can

In Conclusion…

No matter how good your tent might have been when you got it, it’s eventually going to lose its waterproofing capabilities. Normal wear and tear, sun exposure, and other factors make sure of that. And when that day comes, do you really want to fork over a few hundred bucks to get a new tent? Or would you rather get a $10 waterproofing spray to restore and otherwise great shelter?

Seems like a no-brainer to me, but you want to make sure the product will actually do its job well, while minimizing the amount of harsh chemicals used. We thought NIkwax made the best tent waterproofing spray for these very reasons, and have happily used it on several of our own tents over the years.


Spencer Yeomans

Spencer Yeomans

A lover of the outdoors, and especially the mountains, Spencer has always enjoyed pushing people to step outside their comfort zones. His mission is to help others get out of their homes to have fun and stay active in nature.

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