It's the kind of question that pops into your mind when your are lying on your back, watching the droplets form inside the tent and swell - until they take the plunge and drop on your face.
Water Resistant vs Waterproof
First of all, not all tents are created equal. Some tents are made with waterproof fabrics and materials, while others are not. So, it's important to know the difference between water resistant and waterproof tents before making a purchase.
Waterproof tents are made with fabrics and materials that have been treated with a waterproof coating. Durably Water Resistant Coatings reduce the surface tension of the tent fabric so the water rolls off rather than sinking in. This coating helps to repel water and keep the inside of the tent dry.
Water resistant tents, on the other hand, are made with fabrics and materials that are not treated with a waterproof coating. The weave of the fabric can make a difference though, which is why new canvas tents are water resistant.
Extreme Weather Conditions
Another thing to consider is that even the best waterproofed tents can still leak in certain conditions. Heavy rain, for example, can cause any tent to leak. If you're expecting bad weather, it's always a good idea to bring along a tarp or some other form of shelter that can act as a backup in case your tent does start to leak.
If you've ever opened up your tent to find it wet and clammy inside, you're not alone. It's a common problem that can be frustrating, especially if you're trying to camp in comfort. But why does this happen?
When warm air hits the cold surface of the tent walls, condensation forms. This is perfectly normal and happens with any type of enclosed space - your home, office, car, etc. The key is to ventilate the tent so that the air can circulate and the condensation can evaporate.
Opening the doors and windows of your tent will help, but if it's still humid inside, you might need to get a little creative. One way to do this is to prop open the doors with sticks or rocks so that there's a cross-breeze. You can also put a fan inside the tent - just make sure it's placed high up so that it doesn't blow directly on you.
No matter how good your tent is straight from the manufacturer, its water proofing will need maintaining. The best way to do this is to use a waterproofing spray or sealant.
How To Waterproof A Tent
There are plenty of ways to waterproof your tent, but we think the simplest and most effective method is using a waterproofing spray. These sprays work by creating a barrier between your tent fabric and the water, and they're really easy to use. Just make sure you follow the instructions on the bottle carefully.
Each manufacturer will have application advice specific to their brand. so be sure to read individual instructions carefully before applying the spray. Nikwax, for instance, have a great video explaining how their product should be applied:
When applying your waterproof layer, pay particular attention to toxicity of the spray and whether the aerosol is flammable. Water based are less toxic than silicone based waterproofing sprays.
Special attention should be taken with the seams as this is the vulnerable part of the tent's surface.
Spray-on waterproofing is a great way to keep your tent dry, but it's not the only way. You can also buy waterproofing treatments that you can apply to your tent fabric with a brush or sponge. These treatments will also create a barrier between the fabric and the water, but they can be a bit more time-consuming to apply.
So, are tents waterproof? The answer is both yes and no. Some tents are made with waterproof materials, but even the best ones can still leak in certain conditions. If you're planning on camping in bad weather, be sure to puts some time into maintaining the waterproof layer on your tent. If your plan is to stay dry and comfortable in your tent, we have a variety of sprays we would recommend.