Waterproofing the tent.

-- Last Updated: Apr-01-07 8:04 PM EST --

It's just about time to start camping. I’m buying a new Mountain Hardware Hammerhead 2 tent today, from REI. (Last day to use the 20% discount coupon.)

In back posts here, I’ve seen the good suggestion to treat the tent periodically with seam seal and water repellent spray. A few questions.

1. Would you do these treatments initially on a new tent like the HH2, or wait and do it later as a periodic maintenance?

2. What do you think is a good practical frequency? (Forgive me if I don’t take the directions on the bottle as gospel.)

3. What are the best brands for seam seal and water repellent, in terms of effectiveness and long lasting?

Here’s what I’ve found so far.

** Water repellent:

Nikwax Tent and Gear Proof. (sold at REI)

Tentsure Fabric Recoat. (sold at Campmor)

Revivex Water and Stain Repellant for Outerwear. (sold at Campmor. I think Kayak Academy might recommend this for dry suits, too. Was listed on the tent accessories page at Campor.)

** Seam seal

REI seam lock.

Aqua seal poly coat

Seam sure (sold at campmor)

Seam sealer 3 (sod at campmor)

Thanks for any suggestions,

Paul S.

.a tail of two tents…
I bought a “bicycle tent” from The Sports

authority many yars ago. Tent cost $49.95

at the time. I sealed the seams with Coughlins seam sealer. At about the same time I came into possesion of a Timberlight from Eureka. I never sealed the seams since it was not really my tent.

Fast forward 8 years…

Both tents have been used well over 70 days in all four seasons. Me and mine have been dry in both and they are still going strong…

I have been in serious gullly washers in both tents…

using the hammerhead 2 for 3 years now and haven’t treated it one bit. Multiple long duration trips and huge downpours and high winds, haven’t leaked or stressed one bit. I tried applying some wax treatement to the fly this year but it still won’t absorb any waterproofing. Just shows the great quality of the Mountain Hardware products.

depends on severa things
1. the manufacturer will recommend seam sealing or not, though most do some say there’s not need, for example I’ve got an Akto from Hilleberg and no seem sealing is required, yet on a TarpTent Double Rainbow it is not only required but laborious and will add several ounces depending on…

2. what to seem seal with. I use mineral spirits to cut GE Silicon II, use a foam paint brush and paint inner and outter seams, usually twice.

3. TEST in your backyard, get the kids and a garden hose and simulate rain from hell-any drips dry and seal again

4. pay attention to where you setup, i’m most often in a hammock and this is more critical for hanging than tenting but location can prevent a lot of wind blow water from getting to you

5. dont forget the floor, to me floor savers have never been needed post many years of hiking and paddle camping, some use them but just a few minutes of perusing the ground has paid dividends in my tent floors life.

Seam Grip

Best product I’ve seen for seam sealing in tents. Most quality tents come with their fly factory seam taped so usually you might need just a bit of this on the floor/lower side seams if they aren’t factory taped. Bibler Tents (single wall expedition-seam taped but for every last bit of protection they reccomend you do this as well) have in the past at least come with a tube of this stuff and a curved tip syringe for precise application–best system I’ve run across yet. Every other seam sealer I’ve used hasn’t come close.

Syringe style I’m talking about:


i would
hit the seams with some sealer, it doesn’t take that long, and adds peace of mind

Good for you !!!
I looked long and hard at the Mountain Hardware Hammerhead, opted for the Trango 3.1…I set it up on the deck this weekend to check it out. Got my 20percent, and my dividend check used up.

I’m psyched now, need to get out paddling, however the weather is NOT cooperating.

I think all tents come with that same warning about sealing the seams, just to cover their liability. Most high end tents are already sealed and you would just be reinforcing it.

Happy camping and paddling


Nice tent!
Good for you too, Donna! You picked a nice one. Are you gonna use it for base camp, or also stuff it in your kayak for overnighters?

Your comment flung me back into analysis at the last hour. In searching for your tent online, as I couldn’t remember the model, I also tripped over the light wedge 3. The LW 3 would have a bigger footprint than the HH 2, which would be nice, but also bigger pack size for getting it in the yak, and reviews said the LW 3 was sometimes cold with no cover on the mesh door. So I stuck with the HH 2. It’s bad to give engineers so many options. We love the analysis, but we don’t come to decisions so easily.

The HH 2 is on back order, sheesh! Customer service person said it should arrive around third week of April.

Paul S.

If you dedice to treat the fly…
Steer clear of aerosol-based treatments. The carriers and propellants are usually not good for the Nylon or Polyester that the fly is made of. It is better to use a wash in or a manual pump spray style treatment. My favorite is good old Nikwax wash in. Put the fly in a bucket, add a bottle of wash in, let it soak for the recommended time, then rinse. If you have a front loading machine, you can use it with great success also.

As far as seam sealing, I have sealed maybe 25 tents and have always used McNutt Seam Grip with wonderful result. It’s worked so well I’ve never even tried any other. I like to but a coating on the edge of the factory seam tape to keep it from peeling up in its old age. I’ve seen that some manufacturers are doing this in the factory now too. Nice tent, hope you enjoy it.


Very important
to do it right after you buy the tent and before you get it dirty. The seam sealer will grip much better to a nice clean tent. It will then be easier in the future also. Usually havet o do it every couple of years. Most of the people that complanin about leaks did not seal the seams. The sealer just closes up the gaps from the stitched threads. If the tents have fabric with silicon impregnated in them, then seam sealer is the thing to use as it will adhere to the silicone. Sometimes plain silicone will not.

Both probably
We don’t go on too many over-niters, it takes to much time to get to where we paddle, and we would just have to turn around and head home as soon as we get there !!

Kind of hard to be a “Sea-Kayaker” and live in the interior of AK. :frowning:

When we have 3 of us, we have a large Kelty we use as base-camp and the Trango will be the in-boat backup on day trips. When it is just the 2 of us, the Trango will be the base-camp, and the lite-weight backpacker tent will be the back-up. It never hurts to be prepared here.

We haven’t even started spring yet, everyone is asking “Where the h*ll is the warmer weather?” Can you say “Cabin Fever?”

At the risk of starting a fire-storm, “Where is global warming when you need it?” (just kidding, sheesh) :slight_smile:

The flexible sealant
I’m pretty sure it’s Seam Grip. It’s what came with my Hammerhead-2, and I had used it on my Eureka tent before that. Both tents arrived with major seams factory-taped but it was “recommended” to use sealant on the seams without the tape. I did it immediately in both cases and never had any leaks even in downpours.

The old-style sealants were awful, dried to a hard crusty stuff. I hope those are no longer being made.

If you’ve got silicone impregnated…
…fabric that you need to seal seems on you want to use a seam sealer specifically made for this application.

McNett Silicon Seam Sealer:


Is that what you were saying, seasalt?

Kifaru, a teepee tent manufacturer (among other things) says you can use a good grade silicone sealant from the hardware store on their product (silicone impregnated fabric).

I used this stuff on a lightweight silicone impregnated tent I built last year and, when cured, is appears very much like the McNett SeamGrip I’ve used on other non-silicone impregnated tent–grips like crazy, is flexible and really works when so many other sealants don’t.