Short on time? Our pick for the best tent waterproofing spray is Kiwi Camp Dry Water Repellent.
The best tent waterproofing sprays to help you stay dry on your next outdoor adventure, plus how to use them.
Even the best tents get worn out and need a little TLC from time to time.
If your shelter isn’t shedding water like it used to, it might be time for some spray-on tent waterproofing.
Waterproofing products for tents aren’t exactly new (Scotchguard has been on the market for decades), but in recent years there’s been a handful of companies offering new and interesting water repellent spray for tents.
Gear junkies know that tent spray is a great way to improve your tent’s performance in the rain and extend its life overall.
In this post, we’ll look at different tent waterproofing products so you can choose the right one for your outdoor gear and next camping trip.
We’ll also break down the best tent waterproofing methods to make sure you stay dry in any storm.
Let’s start with our picks for the best products for waterproofing your tent.
Read on for everything you need to know about tent waterproofing spray!
Note: this post contains affiliate links, which help run this site at no extra cost to you so I can keep providing free travel advice and tips.
The Best Waterproof Tent Sprays
#1 Kiwi Camp Dry Heavy Duty Water Repellent
Features: Treats a lot of surfaces, covers a large area in one can, can be double-coated.
Kiwi Camp Dry Heavy Duty Water Repellent is a classic for a reason. It’s simple, affordable, and gets the job done.
This silicone spray is great because you can use it for just about anything, including tents, tarps, shoes, boat covers, and more. If you’re looking for a versatile tent sealant spray that can be used on nearly all of your outdoor gear, this is the one.
This tent water repellent spray is one of the more durable and high-performance sprays on this list. Water rolls right off treated products and its waterproofing lasts for a while.
The Kiwi Camp spray also covers a large area.
One bottle will waterproof at least one large tent and probably two, so you don’t have to buy multiple bottles. This is also a silicon-based spray that still allows for some breathability after it’s applied.
One downside is that while it’s cheap and comes in a convenient spray bottle that’s easy to use, it doesn’t dry as quickly as other products on this list.
If you’re using the Kiwi Camp Dry spray, make sure you have at least 24-48 hours to let the tent treatment cure before packing it away. If you plan to apply a double coat of this spray, it’s best to do it four hours after the first coat.
Another thing to be aware of – this spray may stain fabrics with a lighter color. Do a patch test before you spray down something important.
- Versatile – work for many different fabrics
- High-performance silicone waterproofing
- Covers a large area with one can
- Takes a long time to dry
- May stain some fabrics
#2 Nikwax Tent and Gear Solarproof Waterproofing Spray
Features: UV-resistant properties, biodegradable, contains no fluorocarbons or VOCs.
Nikwax is a go-to for all things gear care, and their waterproofing spray is no different.
Nikwax Tent and Gear Solarproof Waterproofing Spray is one of the most popular choices among serious backpackers and outdoor enthusiasts.
This product is more than just a rain repellent for tents – it can protect gear fabric from degradation due to UV rays.
While it might seem counterintuitive, sun can be just as bad for tent fabrics as excessive water. UV rays break down the waterproof coating on tent fabrics and degrade their overall strength.
It’s practically impossible to see this, but it’s one of the major factors putting wear and tear on your tent. To combat this, Nikwax uses UV-resistant additives in their waterproof spray to make sure your shelter is protected from all the elements.
Another feature that makes this spray one of the best for backpackers is that it’s biodegradable – you won’t be adding microplastics to the ecosystem where you’re camping.
It also uses a mechanical spray nozzle instead of a spray can, so there are zero CFCs.
And unlike the Kiwi spray, Nikwax is water-based. This might seem less than ideal for a waterproofing spray, but this product is solid and reliable.
Many campers swear by it to keep their gear dry and protected. Some even use Nikwax for extra protection on a new tent.
Read our guide to the best camping canopies.
- No CFCs and biodegradable – better for the environment than other waterproof tent sprays
- Contains UV-blocking additives
- Gentle water-based formula
- Manual spray bottle is harder to use
- One bottle only covers about one medium-sized tent
#3 Atsko Silicone Water-Guard
Features: Dries clear, minimal smell, multi-use.
If you’re looking for something a bit cheaper and more versatile, the Atsko Silicone Water-Guard is an ideal choice.
This waterproofer is more than just a silicone spray for tents, it can be used to treat footwear, outdoor gear, sleeping bags, and even leather and suede.
One especially good feature of this silicone waterproofer for tents is that it’s breathable, which helps your gear perform better and more comfortably.
This waterproofing spray might seem similar to the Kiwi spray at first glance, but there are some important differences.
First, this spray doesn’t have a strong smell like most other waterproofing sprays. It also goes on clear, so it’s practical for use on clothing and other more delicate items.
Like the Kiwi Camp water repellent, it comes in an aerosol spray bottle, so it’s easy to use and quick to apply over a wide surface area. The aerosol spray also works great for putting down an even layer of product on your tent.
In order to work well, this spray needs 72 hours to cure, so plan accordingly. In other words, it won’t do much good to spray your tent down a few hours before a storm.
While Atsko Silicone Water-Guard is more expensive than the Kiwi cans, it covers a lot of gear well and it gives you the flexibility to rain-proof just about anything you might want.
- Treats many different fabrics, including leather and suede
- Dries clear
- Minimal smell
- Long drying time
- More expensive than Kiwi Camp or Scotchguard
#4 Scotchgard Heavy Duty Water Shield
Features: Useable on many fabrics, lasts up to a season.
Scotchguard has been the classic, go-to waterproof sealant for tents since it was first introduced in the 1950s. It’s the industry standard for cheap tent waterproofing.
While the formula has changed slightly over the years, it still comes in the same easy-to-use can and provides the same reliable waterproofing.
Like the Kiwi and Atsko silicone sprays, this one can be used on just about anything you might want to waterproof, including outerwear, rain gear, umbrellas, patio furniture, backpacks, luggage, and more.
It’s safe to use on polyester, nylon, polypropylene, and cotton, so you can be sure it’s safe to make any tent waterproof.
And for such an affordable product, this tent spray lasts a long time. One spray can has enough waterproofing for 60 ft² of nylon fabric or about 20 ft² of a heavier fabric, like canvas.
And if you run out midway through the job or want to add a second coat, it’s widely available and easy to find at any hardware store.
- Treats a large area
- Lasts up to a whole season
- May stain some fabrics – do a patch test beforehand
- Works best on uncoated surfaces
#5 Gear Aid Seam Grip TF Tent Fabric Sealer
Features: Sponge applicator, flexible sealant.
Note: This sealant is only for nylon tents, so make sure you’re not using it on a polyester tent.
If you have a little extra time on your hands and you want the absolute best waterproofing you can get for a nylon tent, the Gear Aid Seam Grip TP Tent Fabric Sealer has you covered.
Gear Aid Seam Grip is specifically designed to refresh the polyurethane coat on your tent fly or floor that breaks down over time.
This rain guard for tents isn’t a spray at all but comes with a sponge applicator that allows you to apply it precisely where you need it. This makes it easy to use and great for spot touch-ups if there are small areas of your tent that need attention.
The downside is that applying the product over a whole tent takes much longer than a normal spray bottle. If you have the time and patience though, the Gear Aid rain repellent for tents is one of the best.
It dries clear and flexes perfectly with nylon, so it’s nearly unnoticeable.
While it’s a small container, this tiny bottle will cover more than 85 ft² of fabric – enough for most medium-sized tents. It’s also small enough to throw in your bag for touch-ups on the trail and only takes four hours to cure, so it’s actually practical to bring on a camping trip.
If you’re looking for something different from the standard sprays for gear waterproofing, and you want serious, long-lasting coverage, Gear Aid Seam Grip Tent Sealer is a good choice.
- Highly effective at restoring a tent’s top coat
- Flexible and nearly undetectable on nylon
- Small enough to travel well
- Not made for polyester tents
- May take longer to apply than spray bottles
#6 Gear Aid Seam Grip TF Tent Fabric Sealer
Features: Protects against UV damage, comes in bulk.
On the other end of the spectrum from the Gear Aid sealant, Star Brite Waterproofing Spray comes in bulk sizes so you can waterproof an extra-large tent (or many smaller ones) without having to worry about running out of product.
Star Brite Waterproofing Spray can be used on a lot of surfaces, but it’s especially popular in the boating community (where waterproofing is serious business). It also contains some UV protectants to keep sun damage off your gear.
This silicone-based spray dries relatively quickly in six hours and it can be applied to just about any unlaminated fabric.
It doesn’t have a harsh smell or leave a visible residue behind. It also won’t affect the breathability of fabrics, so it’s a good choice for items other than tents.
If you do need to waterproof a massive tent, Star Brite has you covered with sprays by the gallon and half-gallon. However, you’ll need to apply them with a rag or use your own sprayer.
Be aware that this product isn’t recommended for fabrics that are laminated, coated, or backed, so make sure you’re using it on the right kinds of gear.
If you have something enormous to waterproof though, Star Brite is the best choice.
- Can be purchased in bulk
- Has UV protection
- Works well on many fabrics
- Larger sizes don’t come with a spray bottle
- Silicone formula is less gentle than water-based
Why Do You Need Waterproofing Spray?
These products (also called DWR sprays) are good for more than just waterproofing your tent. Here are some of the other reasons your gear might benefit from one.
Sun damage is one of the major factors that degrades a tent and shortens its lifespan. The UV rays break down the waterproof barrier and weaken the fabric of a tent.
Using UV-resistant water repellent will help preserve tensile strength and prevent the water-resistant tent coating from falling apart.
Age & Use
All tents break down with time and normal wear. The waterproof coating on modern tents is especially thin – you can’t expect it to last forever.
Refreshing the water resistance is a great way to prolong the life of a tent that’s still structurally sound, just starting to become porous.
In some cases, even a new tent won’t be very waterproof.
If you’ve had issues with water soaking through your rain fly already, or you just want to be sure your budget tent is ready for a storm, you can use a waterproof tent product to improve your gear’s performance in wet weather.
What to Look for in a Waterproofing Spray
Which Type of Fabric It’s For
Most tents are made with polyester or nylon fabric and you’ll need to use a different type of spray depending on what your tent is made out of.
If your tent is made out of an unusual material like canvas, be sure to find a product specifically designed for it.
Most waterproofing sprays are either silicone or water-based.
Silicone spray for tents is the classic choice and it waterproofs very well, but it’s best with certain nylon fabrics. Water-based sprays are gentler and generally compatible with more fabrics.
Your waterproofing spray won’t stay on the tent forever. When it washes off, those chemicals enter the water stream.
To minimize your impact (especially if you’re camping in an ecologically delicate or protected area) choose a water-based spray that uses biodegradable ingredients.
Waterproofing sprays, particularly the cheaper ones, tend to carry a heavy smell.
If you’re sensitive to smells or want to use it inside your tent, choose one with minimal scent and allow plenty of curing time.
How it Dries
Does it dry clear or opaque? Will it bother you if you can see where you applied the spray? Generally, it’s best to use a spray that will dry clear and flexible.
Also, keep in mind drying time. It might take you several days to get your whole tent properly sprayed and dried. Choose a faster drying spray if you’re short on time.
Tips for Using Waterproofing Spray for Tents
- Wash your tent before applying waterproofing spray. Sealant won’t stick to dirty surfaces.
- Read the directions entirely before starting. Different products work in different ways – some need to be applied to a wet surface, others to a dry surface.
- For the sealant to work properly, make sure you allow your tent to dry for the full amount of time. You won’t get the full waterproofing effect if the tent is put away wet.
- Find a clean, dry outdoor area to work. Some sprays have fumes that shouldn’t be indoors.
- Use your waterproof tent spray periodically (more frequently than you’d use a seam sealer). It’s quick and easy to apply, but most will wash off after a few camping trips.
How Do I Waterproof My Tent?
Does waterproof spray work on tents? Yes, but only if used properly. And it does not double as a seam sealer.
These products treat just the outer coating on the rain fly and the bottom of the tent, not the inner seams.
If you’re getting water inside your tent, the first place to check for leaks is the seams. The tent seams are a natural leak point because of all the tiny holes. This is why most companies seal the seams.
If your tent has unsealed seams, or if it needs a thorough re-waterproofing, you may want to start with sealing the seams of your tent. No spray can fix leaky seams, so make sure yours are well sealed before continuing on.
After that, you may want to refresh the waterproof coating on the inside of your tent fly and body, which is different from the coating on the outside. If your tent requires a full re-waterproofing, our guide will take you step-by-step through the process.
How Often Should You Waterproof Your Tent?
When it comes to re-waterproofing tents, sealing the seams of your tent or touching up the inner coating can be done as often as necessary.
Check the seam sealer by spraying your tent with water or look for areas that are peeling off.
Rain guard for tents wears out quicker, so you can re-apply your spray product as often as you like. Some people use it before every camping excursion, although it still works well if you apply it less often.
In general, twice a season is a good rule of thumb: once in the spring to prep your gear and once in the middle of summer.
Looking for tent recommendations? Check out our guides to the best 4-person tents, 6-person tents, 8-person tents, 10-person tents, 12-person tents, 3-room tents, instant tents, pop-up tents, inflatable tents, tunnel tents, waterproof tents, insulated tents, winter tents, tents with stove jacks, and cabin tents.
What Do You Need to Waterproof Your Tent?
To do a full waterproof tent refresh, you’ll need a seam sealer, tent fabric sealant, waterproof spray, and a couple of days to let everything cure.
For a simple waterproofing spray for tents, all you need is your spray product, a clean tent, water, a cloth, and a shady spot for drying.
How to Apply Tent Waterproof Spray
- Start with a clean rain fly. Follow the instructions on the bottle to see if it should be wet or dry to start.
- Coat the outside of the fly and floor in a thin, even layer of spray. Let it sit for a few minutes if directed by the packaging.
- Wipe off the excess spray with a cloth and allow it to dry (preferably in an outdoor space) for the full amount of time.
Frequently Asked Questions About Tent Waterproofing Spray
Can You Waterproof a Nylon Tent?
Yes! Nylon tents are easy to waterproof. Silicone waterproofing sprays are usually a good choice for nylon tents.
Do Tents Lose Their Waterproofing?
Yes. Any product with a waterproof coat will eventually wear out with time and use. With cheaper gear, this may happen faster.
How Often Do Tents Need Waterproofing?
This is different for every tent and every style of camping! Check out our guide to learn how often you need to waterproof your tent.
Can You Waterproof an Old Tent?
Yes. Just make sure to fix any holes and seal the seams well before beginning. You might also want to top up the rainguard more often than a newer tent needs.
Can You Make Homemade Waterproofing Spray For a Tent?
Yes, but it’s not recommended. Homemade waterproofing spray with silicone will wash away faster and won’t be as gentle as designated gear spray.
If you want to make your own waterproof tent product, a 1:1 solution of silicone and mineral spirits is the most common recipe.
What’s the Difference Between Seam Sealer vs. Tent Sealer Spray?
Seam sealer is a thick paste that you paint directly onto your seams and only the seam. Tent sealer spray can be used to treat all the fabric, but it won’t seal a seam.
Conclusion – What is the Best Waterproofing Spray for Tents?
If you’re a casual camper who wants something affordable and easy to use, Kiwi Camp Dry Water Repellent is the perfect choice.
Kiwi Camp water repellent spray is cheap, simple, and can be used on a lot of outdoor products so you can use it to waterproof all of your gear.
If you’re looking for something to protect a high-end backpacking tent, go with Nikwax Solarproof spray. The Nikwax Tent spray will take care of your tent and the environment.
Its UV resistance is good for thin fabrics and, as a biodegradable product, it’s safe for the ecosystem where you’ll be camping.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kristi Allen is a freelance journalist and travel writer from the US specializing in all things outdoors. She grew up hiking and backcountry skiing in the North East and has driven 15,000 miles across the US and Canada in an ongoing quest to visit every national park. Kristi covered politics before moving abroad and lived in Peru, Italy, and China. She is currently exploring the US by van with plans to return to Asia in 2021.
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