How to Repair a Tent
As you embark on numerous camping trips, you will find that to your tent will eventually develop a tear or a seam will begin to leak. These are common repairs that come with tent ownership. Making repairs to the tent and the rainfly are relatively simple, depending on the severity of the problem. Here are ways to repair tears, seal leaks, splint tent poles, and re-apply waterproof.
Small to medium size tears in your tent can easily be fixed with a patch kit. These kits can be found at most outdoor retailers. If you don't have a kit, you'll need rubbing alcohol, a rag, scissors, and some repair tape or mesh. First, prep the area with the rubbing alcohol and rag. Then, cut the repair tape to fit the area, but allow an extra inch. Once it's cut, round the edges of the tape (this will increase its longevity). You'll then apply the patch, moving slowly so as to ward off bubbles. If the area is in a high-tension place, like the roof, patch both sides. Let the patch cure for at least a day. For larger holes, you'll need a sewing awl and strong waxed thread. In some cases, you can pull either side of the hole together, but in others, an entirely new patch is needed. When stitching, keep the stitches short and close. A double seam would be the strongest option here.
If a couple of the seams in your tent are becoming weak, or you're noticing them peel, they must be sealed again. Set your tent up in a well-lit or sunny area so you can inspect all the seams. In this process, you'll be sealing the underside of the fly and the interior of the tent. You'll first need to remove the peeling or cracked sealing tape from the seams, if any. Next, prep the problem seams with rubbing alcohol and a rag. Then, apply your sealer. (NOTE: Make sure you know what your tent is made of before applying a sealant! If you do not know, check with your tent manufacturer). Once you've addressed all the seams, let them completely dry.
Broken poles can make your trip a crappy one if you don't have pole repair sleeves. These are also called splints and should definitely be essentials in your bag. You can also use a tent stake in lieu of a repair sleeve. In each case, you'll straighten out the pole, fit the splint onto it, and secure it with duct tape or a similar repair tape. This is a situation that, when you get home, you'll need to replace the broken poles.
In time, your tent's waterproof coating will erode away, flaking off in pieces. Once this happens, you must apply a new urethane coating before heading back out. Otherwise, a rainstorm could leave you soaked and miserable in your tent. Again, check the tent's material before purchasing a waterproof sealer. We also recommend you use gloves in this process, as the flame-retardant chemicals could irritate your hands. Do this in an open area, too! To begin, scrub away all the flaking coating with an abrasive sponge and rubbing alcohol. Now you're ready to apply the sealant, following the bottle's directions. Let the tent dry for at least 24 hours. For the rainfly, you'll need to pick up a bottle of DWR (durable water repellent). Great options for this are Nikwax Tent and Gear Solarproof. Spray the fly with water, unless it's just been washed. Spray the DWR onto it evenly and let it sit for a few minutes. Then, wipe off any excess with a damp cloth. Let the fly dry before storing it.