13 Best Waterproof Tent Sprays + Tips for Keeping Your Tent Waterproof

13 Best Waterproof Tent Sprays + Tips for Keeping Your Tent Waterproof
5 (100%) 1 vote

A leaky tent can kill a camping trip faster than almost anything else.

Re-coating your tent with a good waterproof spray and caring for your tent correctly can prolong its life and save your wallet from replacing it too soon.

Here we will list the best waterproof tent spray options on the market and how to use them to maximize your tent’s waterproofing.

Top 13 Best Waterproof Tent Spray Reviews 2019

Grangers Tent + Gear Repel

Review: Grangers waterproofing spray is one of the few available products that are environmentally friendly and completely free of harmful fluorocarbons (PFCs) and VOCs.

This is a paint on version as opposed to the spray version which is even better in functionality and coverage.

Pros

  • Fluorocarbon and VOC free.
  • Water-based DWR suitable for the outside of PU coated tents.
  • Paints on for effective coverage.
  • Retains breathability of the fabric.

Cons

  • Not suitable for silnylon tents.

Takeaway

This is probably the best DWR product on the market and the best waterproof tent spray for PU coated tents.

Nikwax Tent & Gear Solarproof Waterproofing

Review: Nikwax’s waterproofing spray contains no harmful PFCs or VOCs, unlike many other sprays.

It is suitable for PU coated tents and adds a valuable UV protective element increasing the lifespan of the tent.

Nikwax is at the forefront of providing environmentally friendly waterproofing for outdoor gear and clothing.

Pros

  • Fluorocarbon and VOC free.
  • Water-based DWR with added UV protection.
  • Not aerosol.
  • Easy to use.

Cons

  • Not really suitable for silnylon tents.

Takeaway

A reliable and popular non-toxic DWR product that shares the spot with Grangers above for the best spray for waterproofing tents coated with PU.

Nikwax Concentrated Tent & Gear Solar Proof Waterproofing

Review: This is the product you’ll want if you have a huge multi-person tent and lots of gear to waterproof.

Pros

  • Fluorocarbon and VOC free.
  • Can be painted or sponged on.
  • Concentrated solution just requires some water.
  • Can be painted onto a wet fly.

Cons

  • Likely needs to be reapplied every second season depending on use.

Takeaway

An economic alternative to purchasing multiple small spray bottles.

Revivex Instant Water Repellent

Review: Another excellent PFC free water-based DWR that is a reliable choice for PU coated tents and has no odor.

Revivex from Gear Aid can also be used on other outdoor gear like backpacks and clothing.

Pros

  • Odor free.
  • Water-based and PFC free and silicone free.
  • Easy to use.
  • Retains breathability.

Cons

  • Like the DWRs above, will probably need to be reapplied depending on use.

Takeaway

This is the best waterproof tent spray that is PFC free in aerosol form.

Dry Guy Tent Fabrics & Outdoor Gear Waterproofing Spray

Review: This is water-based DWR developed by a Vancouver company that is suitable for the outside of PU coated tents and other outdoor gear.

Pros

  • Provides effective waterproofing and prolongs lifespan of material.
  • Non-aerosol, easy to use spray bottle.
  • Resists mold formation.
  • Minimal odor.

Cons

  • Claims to be Ecofriendly but doesn’t actually state that it’s PFC free.

Takeaway

If you can’t get either of the products above, this is likely a safe choice for a DWR coating.

Gear Aid Tent Sure

Review: This is a polyurethane coating to replace the PU coating on the inside of the tent fly once it has started to fail.

Pros

  • Concentrated mixture that coats 85 sq. ft. of material.
  • Easy to use bottle has a built-in sponge head.
  • Dries clear in 4 hours.

Cons

  • Not compatible with silnylon.
  • Requires a bit of preparation – old PU layer needs to be removed as much as possible.

Takeaway

This is a top quality product and a great option for re-proofing PU tents.

Atsko Silicone Water Guard

Review: This water-based silicone waterproofing spray is designed to be compatible with a range of materials to provide long lasting water proofing and UV protection.

Pros

  • Suitable for both PU coated and silnylon tents.
  • Easy non-aerosol spray application.
  • Longer lasting than the DWR sprays above.

Cons

  • Not safe to breath or use inside.

Takeaway

A different option to the treatments usually given by tent manufacturers that may or may not work for your tent. Recommended to test a small patch to make sure it’s compatible.

Atsko Sno-Seal Water-Guard

Review: This is a non-silicon based waterproofing spray that includes UV and mildew protection and is one of the longest lasting DWRs on the market.

Pros

  • This is a heavy duty DWR with UV protection and fungicide.
  • Lasts multiple seasons before needing to be recoated.
  • Uses CO2 as the propellant in the aerosol can which is better than isobutane and propane.

Cons

  • Aerosol needs to be shaken continuously while in use to avoid blocking.

Takeaway

An extremely long lasting waterproofing treatment ideal for the outside for PU coated tents.

Scotchgard Outdoor Water Shield

Review: This is not an environmentally-friendly option, but is an effective water proofer for PU coated tents that is long lasting.

Pros

  • Provides long lasting waterproofing for tents.
  • Single coat application.
  • Leaves no discoloration.

Cons

  • Uses isobutene and propane as propellants in the aerosol can.
  • Uses petroleum solvents that are not environmentally friendly.

Takeaway

A popular choice for a range of materials including parasols, backpacks and outdoor furniture.

Kiwi Camp Dry Heavy Duty Water Repellent

Review: This is a silicon-based spray that is not quite as effective at repelling water as the Scotchgard or Atsko sprays but still a popular choice as far as water repellent sprays go.

Pros

  • Effective silicone based option that may be compatible with silnylon tents as well as PU coated.
  • Retains breathability.
  • Odor-free after drying.

Cons

  • Uses isobutene and propane as propellants in the aerosol can.
  • Uses petroleum solvents that are not environmentally friendly.
  • Requires a second coat after the first has dried.

Takeaway

A very popular choice that has been around for a while.

303 Fabric Guard Water Repellent

Review: This water repellent spray is designed for the boating world so it’s pretty serious stuff, which is good and bad.

It’s a very effective water proofer, but it may not be compatible with all tent materials and it’s definitely not environmentally friendly or safe to breathe.

Pros

  • Water, UV and stain repellent.
  • Resists mold and mildew.
  • Not aerosol.
  • One bottle covers 40-75 sq. ft.

Cons

  • Likely contains PFCs and VOCs.

Takeaway

Not specifically designed for tents so it wouldn’t be a first choice for expensive tents but is probably fine for cheaper tents.

Gear Aid Sil Net Silicone Seam Sealer

Review: This is a silicone seam sealer for tents that have been waterproofed with silicone and is usually the only kind of treatment a silnylon tent will need.

Pros

  • Easy to use requiring only one application with a paintbrush.
  • Suitable for ultralight tents.
  • Durable and flexible.
  • Permanent.
  • Can also be used to fix holes and small tears.

Cons

  • Remains a little tacky after use so recommended to dust with talcum powder.

Takeaway

The best seam sealer for silnylon tents.

Coleman Seam Sealer

Review: This is a water-based seam sealer for urethane coated tents and should be the first step in re-waterproofing your tent if you think it’s sprung a leak.

Pros

  • Comes with foam pad for application.
  • Quick drying and easy to use.
  • Can also be used to fix small holes and tears.

Cons

  • Applicator could be better.

Takeaway

This is the product you need to try before you bother with a DWR for your PU coated tent!

How to Choose the Best Waterproof Tent Spray

wet tent in the rain in the woods

Fluorocarbon (PFC) and VOC Free

This is really important, and worryingly not talked about enough in the outdoor industry.

Many waterproofing materials contain harmful fluorocarbons and VOCs that take a really long time to break down in the environment and the human body.

The chemicals have been found to contribute to cancer, birth defects, heart disease and weakened immunity.

A study in 2015 found that the drinking water in many areas of the U.S. was contaminated with PFCs from the manufacturing of non-stick and waterproof products. Greenpeace even found PFCs in remote parts of the Arctic.

Spraying your tent with these chemicals will waterproof them, but will also expose you, your family and the environment to their harmful effects.

The best waterproofing spray for tents will ideally be PFC and VOC free.

Spray Nozzle vs. Aerosol

Regardless of whether the spray is free of PFCs and VOCs, you still don’t want to be breathing it in or getting any in your eyes!

Aerosol sprays also require propellants that reduce ozone and contribute to air pollution.

A regular spray nozzle, as opposed to an aerosol spray, will give you a lot more control over where the substance ends up and expose you to less harmful gases.

Silicone, Polyurethane or DWR (Durable Water Repellent)?

The product you need depends on the material of your tent fly and the waterproofing treatment that your fly was given by its manufacturer.

You can’t use a silicone spray on a polyurethane coated tent and vice versa, they just don’t mix.

High-end tents mostly use silnylon fabric for the tent fly which is made with a silicone polymer. The silicone is embedded within the fabric and recoating with a silicon spray is rarely necessary.

99% of the time sealing the seams with a good silicone seam sealer and making sure you ventilate your tent well is all you need to do. Using non-silicon DWR sprays is a bit of a waste of time with silnylon tents but a good silicon-based spray may work.

Mid-range tents more commonly use polyurethane coatings (PU) on the inside of the material and a DWR layer on the outside.

The PU will eventually peel off and need re-coating but if you look after your tent well, this could take years.

The DWR, on the other hand, wears off very quickly and refreshing it with a good DWR spray can help with waterproofing through encouraging the water to bead and drip off rather than soaking into the material.

But it’s the DWR component of waterproofing that often contains PFCs so you should try and find a product that is PFC free.

If your PU coated tent is dying a slow death and needs reviving, redoing the PU layer on the inside of the rainfly and finding non-PFC DWR for the outside is your best bet.

Tips for Keeping Your Tent Waterproof

person standing on brown wooden dock in the rain

Choose a Decent Waterproof Tent

Choose a tent that’s designed to cope well with rain in the first place. Don’t do what some people do and think they can save some money by buying a cheap tent and then spraying it with waterproofing spray.

No amount of waterproof spray will make up for a bad tent.

Choose a good quality, waterproof tent from a reputable brand and then only resort to waterproof spray once it’s had a serious amount of use and needs some help.

The better quality your tent, the less likely you’ll need to bother with spray, ever.

Pitch Correctly

It doesn’t matter how waterproof your tent is if you don’t pitch it correctly. If the fly touches the tent inner, it will eventually leak.

The rain fly relies on surface tension and the hydrogen bonds between water molecules to keep the water on the outside of the tent.

As soon as you touch the fly from the inside, you break the surface tension and allow the water molecules to soak through the tent.

Keeping the fly tight and taut and not touching the inner is really important.

Ventilate

On a similar note to pitching correctly, ventilation is key to staying dry inside your tent when it’s raining.

When it’s raining and the outer surface of your tent is wet, any condensation from your breath or sweat inside the tent will build up and can start to drip, making you think your tent is leaking.

Most of the time, your tent is not leaking, it just needs more ventilation!

Keep the vents open and try and make sure there’s a decent gap between the mesh inner and the rain fly to allow for as much ventilation as possible.

Seal the Seams

Often sealing the seams of your tent can be enough waterproofing to give your tent a new lease of life.

To choose the right kind of seam sealer you need to know if your tent was treated with polyurethane or silicone waterproofing.

Choose a dry, sunny day to seal your tent seams so you can work outside in the fresh air and allow them to dry quickly. Make sure the seams are clean and dry before applying the sealer.

Dry Thoroughly Between Uses

Rinsing your tent (especially if you’ve used it near the sea as salt water is a killer for tents) and then letting it dry thoroughly before packing it away will prevent the formation of any mildew and prolong the life the of the fly.

Even leaving tent damp for 24 hours in the boot of your car and permanently damage the PU coating.

Store Your Tent Correctly

Storing your tent in a dry, dark place is really important for prolonging the life of the waterproofing.

UV damages the waterproofing that the manufacturers provided and shortens the life of your tent.

Finally, don’t rely on your tent as the only line of defense against wet weather. Check out our article on backpacking in the rain for useful tips and information on handling a wet hiking trip.

Making use of good quality equipment like dry bags that are the best way to ensure you’ll have a dry sleeping bag to climb into at the end of a day walking in the rain.

So there you have it.

Everything you need to know about waterproofing your tent and the best waterproof tent sprays.

Drop a line in the comments section if you’ve had success re-waterproofing your tent and don’t forget to download our free ebook!

ebook cover 3d

Get 50 Solo Travel Safety Tips eBook for FREE

No more reading loads of posts about solo traveler safety. Get your 50 point safety list in one eBook. Be ready, stay safe!

Comments