What is the Best Way to Seal Tent Seams?

As we get closer to spring, I’m looking at getting all of my gear together and set for the upcoming season. I received a new tent for Xmas and I want to seal the seams. What methods and materials have worked well for you?

Seam Seal
I’ve used stuff (literally) called ‘Seam Seal’ which I bought locally at campmor. Follow the directions and absolutely make sure it’s dry before you pack your tent away. The stuff is liquid to begin with but becomes sticky when not fully dried. It has a built in applicator and is only a couple dollars I think.


We have used the same stuff…
on our tents.But I’m tempted to try Thompsons Water Seal.I read in one of Cliff Jacobsons books that he uses it to waterproof the entire tent.It seems it would be easier to apply and save time.Maybe someone who has used it will reply.

Thompson’s Water Seal
I’ve heard the same thing about Thompson but I’m reluctant to try on a tent. I’ve used the stuff on maps and such with great success. For a tent, well, I’m too sure.

Water seal
I tried it on my tent, by the end of the season the rain fly cracked on the fold lines. Don’t know if i used to much or what. I have seen people put it on old wind breakers to make them water repelent.

Seam Seal

Many tent fabrics are treated at the factory with some sort of water repellent. In many cases the seams are taped and do not require (or so the manufacturer says) seam sealing. My Sierra Designs tent came with a tube of Seam Grip.

One tip I can offer is to let the seam sealer dry and then go over the sealed areas with talcum powder. This will prevent the sealer from sticking to itself when the tent is packed away. I’m pretty sure I read this in the instructions of a seam sealing product I used in the past.

Your best bet is to go to the tent manufacturers website and see what they recommend.

Seam Seal
Check out a product called Seam Grip. Seam Seal goes on thin and usually endss up cracking. You have to reseal every couple of years. I have been using seam grip for about 6 years. The tents i originally seam sealled with Seam grip haven’t had to be redone. It takes a while longer to do it,but patience is key. Use a plastic injector to put a bead along the seam. Make sure to seal all the seams on the tent fly and the seams on the bottom part of the tent. Insiide and out. You need to leave your tent set up for 24 hours preferably out of the elements for seam grip to cure. Seam Grip also makes a great repair product for rips, punctures in nylon, polyester etc. You can get it at REI

Seam Grip
forget any other product … Seam Grip is THE stuff to use. doesn’t crack or peel, lasts for years, remains “plastic” in freezing temps, and on and on.

Thompsons is primarily a wax
It’s fine on wood and such, but I would never trust it on a tent.

Yep, it’s the best

Seam Seal, And Camp Dry
I use Seam Seal on the seams and then sprayed down the whole tent with “Camp Dry” silicone spray.

Careful doing that indoors. I did it in the garage and had to vacate the toxic fumes.

I did several tents like that. One I gave my son. He took it to a very windy, rainy, Oregon Coast boy scout camp out, and reportedly had the only dry tent in camp.

Seam Grip - Mcnett Outdoor
After seam sealing about 150 tents, I can tell you that this is the best product available.

I would not recommend using a silicon-based spray on tents ot tent flys. The carriers used in liquid silicon products can worsen the effects of UV rays on synthetic materials. Instead I recommend using a polymer-based treatment like Gore’s Revivex or Nikwax’s TX-direct.


Before you use either seam sealer
be sure you get all the sand/dirt out of the seams. I use soapy water and a nylon scrub brush then rinse with clean water. Let it dry thoroughly. THEN put on the sealer. When I use Seam Seal, I put it on the inside AND outside of the tent/rainfly seams. I usually do all my tents just before camping season. That way I have no surprises.

Whadda ya’ use…
on an older tent whose seam sealer is cracked after repeated years of application?

“Camping season”?.. Didn’t know that
there was a “season”. We camp year round! Why put your equipment “away”? All that means is you have to find storage for it & gt it out in the spring. If you use it year round it is “ALWAYS READY”.

Sealing tent seams, eh? How about not using a tent, buy a tarp… OR buying a rainfly.

Those are my easiest & cheapest (Uh-oh, I said it!!! I meant to say “less expensive”…lol) alternatives for seam sealing. Otherwise just go buy a can of camp dry & spray the crap out of your tent. Never used it & never had a tent in such “rough shape” to use it, so I couldn’t tell ya how good it works…

Paddle easy,


P.S. If you put a tarp up (slightly bigger than your tent) above where you are gonna put your tent, you will never set up or take down a wet tent. Done it thousands of times. Right Longshadow & Norhtman??

Seam Grip
from Mcnett. Turn the tend inside out and shake. Vacuum seams. Isopropyl alcohol swabs for seams let dry apply. Leave tent up. Apply talcum powder after full cure. you might never have to repeat this, unless you are keeping yor tents fo a long time.

Using silicone" Not so sure Unless your tent is siliconed, (Like Hilliberg). Nothing would stick to it afterwards. Like if you need to reasel the seams, or recote.

Recoat III fron campmore if my non-silicone tent were not waterproof!

Store you tents in laundry bags in a dry place, never tight in stuff sacks.

Hey coffeell…
Camping season for me is September through May. After that it’s to @#$%*&! hot for me. Last September I bought a used camper for the summertime, but just don’t have the heart to use it. Feel’s like I’d be cheatin’ on the tent, and defeating my purpose of camping.

The tarp idea is great. Been doing that for years.


Considering it was
-16 about two weeks ago, believe me, there is a definitely a camping season

Yep. What Meat Said.
I have worked in the outdoor retail industry for over 30 years. I have sold a bazillion tents, sealed seams on a ton, rented them out, took them back in, worked in Customer Service when a customer had an equipment failure. I’ve seen way too many tents ruined by the application of the wrong stuff. Do not use Thompson’s Water Seal on your tent or other outdoor gear. Use it on your deck or your fence, your wood shingles, maybe. Heck if you want to seal wood there are better products than Thompson’s but that belongs on a different message board.

Like Meat, I recommend the Nikwax product and Seam Grip. After using Thompson’s on your tent it may repel water like there’s no tomorrow but there will be fewer tomorrows left for it. Also, it does not seal the needle holes that the thread passes through forming the seams. It only makes the parts and pieces water repellent.

A tip that makes sealing some rainflys easier is to set up the tent and install the rainfly upside down. That way the seams are usually more easily accessible and you won’t end up getting the rainfly all stuck to itself.

Can’t make a silk purse…
out of a sow’s ear. All of our gear has a realistic lifespan. Your tent may have been to it’s last round up. If the seams are in the condition you describe it will be really hard for you to apply any seam sealer successfully. A bummer, I know.

The good news is that many quality tents come with the important seams already sealed.