Spoiler Alert: Conquerwild named the Nikwax Tent and Gear Cleaning Spray as the best tent waterproofing spray overall!!
If rain decides to pay you a visit on your camping trip, it shouldn’t have to catch you by surprise. When it comes to staying dry inside your tent, we can’t just sit around and hope for the best. It’s important to actively prevent leaks and excess moisture from entering your shelter. An important part of prevention is finding a good waterproofing tent spray.
These protective repellents usually come in easy-to-use spray bottles and are able to extend the lifespan of your camping gear. The down side to these products is that they’re often harmful to the environment and to the human body. As a result, I tried to find the best tent waterproofing spray by taking both efficiency and eco-friendliness into account. Here are the 5 greatest products I could find:
What We’ll Be Reviewing:
- Granger’s Tent + Gear Repel
- Star Brite Low Odor Water Based Waterproofing
- Nikwax Tent and Gear Cleaning Spray
- Dry Guy Outdoor Clothing Fabrics Waterproofing
- Obenauf’s Water Shield Odorless Waterproofing Spray
Granger’s Tent + Gear Repel – Eco-Friendly!
Let’s start this list off with one of the most environmentally friendly tent waterproofing sprays out there. Granger’s Tent + Gear Repel opts out from many of the hazardous chemicals that are often used in waterproofing products. At the same time, it paints on easily and won’t threaten the breathability of your tent fabric.
This spray is water based, plus it’s VOC and fluorocarbon free- two chemicals that can be hurtful to the environment and people. Grangers also makes other eco-friendly outdoor products and I highly recommend you check them out!
- It’s eco-friendly and isn’t harmful to humans or pets.
- The spray bottle is non-aerosol, meaning there are no projectants that will harm the environment.
- It’s user friendly and easy to apply.
- It’s suitable for all tent fabrics (as long as you follow the instructions correctly).
- It takes a long time to dry (at least 5-6 hours).
- It doesn’t offer protection from UV rays.
Star Brite Low Odor Water Based Waterproofing – Partially Eco-Friendly
It’s always refreshing to find an effective product that’s water based. This USA-made waterproofing spray from Star Brite is ideal for not only tents, but also boats, boots, cushions, fishing gear and lots of other things.
You can purchase this waterproofing spray in either a 22 ounce or 1 gallon bottle, depending on the surface area you need to cover. While some may claim that Star Brite’s solvent based product is more effective, I always opt for the environmentally friendly version. Either way, this waterproofing spray is sure to aid in keeping water out of your tent without changing the color or breathability of its material.
- It’s able to cover a lot of surface with minimal product (1 gallon can cover 465 square feet).
- (As the name implies) It’s low odor.
- It’s water based and non-aerosol, making it partially eco-friendly.
- The 1 gallon bottle doesn’t come with a spray nozzle.
- It doesn’t offer protection from UV rays.
Nikwax Tent and Gear Cleaning Spray – Eco-Friendly!
The Nikwax Tent and Gear Cleaning spray is easily the best waterproofing product I could find. Not only is it super versatile and efficient, but it’s about as eco-friendly as you could hope for! This water based, non-aerosol spray is great for preventing any liquid from entering your tent and protecting against harsh UV rays.
Coming in both 17 and 34 ounce bottles, this solution is easy to apply and long-lasting. It’s kind of rare to find a product that balances environmental safety with quality protection this well, but the Nikwax Tent spray pulls it off with ease.
- It’s water based, non-aerosol, biodegradable and it doesn’t contain fluorocarbons, VOC’s or any optical brighteners… That means it’s safe for the environment and people.
- It doesn’t have a strong odor.
- Nikwax claims to double the lifespan of your tent and/or gear.
- It’s anti-flammable!
- Honestly, I can’t find any cons for this product.
Dry Guy Outdoor Clothing Fabrics Waterproofing – Partially Eco-Friendly
If affordability is your main concern, then this product from Dry Guy Waterproofing might be your best bet. According to customer reviews, this spray doesn’t seem to be quite as effective as some of the other options on this list, but for this amount of money it seems to be worth the purchase.
This is another water based product and it’s non-aerosol, which is always a plus. The simple spray bottle allows for easy application and thorough coverage. Overall, it’s a pretty decent product from Dry Guy.
- 1 pint can cover 50 – 60 square feet of surface.
- It’s partially eco-friendly.
- It doesn’t produce a strong odor.
- It won’t harden or yellow your tent material.
- It’s cheap.
- It’s not the most efficient or long lasting waterproofing spray.
- It doesn’t offer protection from UV rays.
- The illustration of the man on the bottle is just a little bit creepy… But that‘s just me.
Obenauf’s Water Shield Odorless Waterproofing Spray – Partially Eco-Friendly
Each product on this list has one thing in common: they’re all water based. This spray from Obenauf is no exception. You can use this product on almost anything from canvas to suede to leather (but be careful with suede, as this spray has been known to darken its color).
This product may be non-aerosol, but it delivers a concentrated spray as efficiently as any aerosol can, thanks to high levels of silicone. It’s also odorless and long lasting. While it doesn’t quite reach the eco-friendly standard that Nikwax and Grangers have set, it’s a pretty solid waterproofing spray.
- It’s anti-flammable.
- The water base and odorless makeup of the product makes it less likely to attract wildlife.
- There’s a high concentration of silicone, which is a fantastic sealant.
- It’s partially eco-friendly.
- Some customers have reported issues with the spray nozzle clogging (though Obenauf recommends applying hot water to the nozzle after each use to prevent this).
- It freezes easily in temperatures below 41 F (5 C).
What Causes A Tent To Leak?
If you’re searching for a tent waterproofing spray, then you’re probably anticipating some less than dry conditions on your next camping trip. Before we get into the basic waterproofing standards, let’s get to the bottom of why your tent is leaking.
First off, it’s important that the tent you’re using is water resistant. Materials such as nylon and polyester are common for tents and they both do a decent job of keeping water out.
If possible, check the thread count of your tent material. The higher the thread count, the less gaps there are in the fabric and the more water resistant it is. Some tents also include a polyurethane coating, which is great for repelling water.
While tent material certainly plays a role in leakage, it shouldn’t necessarily be your primary concern. You should really be looking at the seams instead, where two areas of fabric are sewn together. These areas at the corners of your tent are far more prone to leaks than the walls are. It’s best to find a tent that has either inverted or heat sealed seams.
Also, be sure that your tent has an efficient rainfly: an obvious essential for camping in the rain. These tarp coverings will usually sit a few inches off of your tent and work to divert water from your shelter. If your rainfly is sitting directly against the roof of your tent, the surface tension will be broken and it will be easier for water to seep through.
What Does Waterproofing Spray Do?
Now the question remains, how exactly does waterproofing spray protect your tent from leaks and water damage?
To put it simply, water repellent spray prevents water molecules from seeping through the microscopic holes in your tent fabric. With a proper coat of waterproofing on your tent, water droplets should bead up and roll right off the fabric.
Some waterproofing sprays protect against the sun’s UV rays, which can damage the material of your tent. After prolonged and unprotected exposure, these rays can change the color of your tent and cause it to tear more easily.
Typically, waterproof coating needs to be reapplied after about a year, but it really depends on the product you choose. It also depends on the condition of your tent, how well you maintain it, how much you use it and how you store it.
How To Choose The Best Tent Waterproofing Spray
While most of them were created to perform the same task, not all tent waterproofing sprays are as efficient or safe as they should be. Here are some of the top factors you should consider before deciding on which product to buy:
Over the years, waterproofing sprays have contributed greatly to pollution and other environmental issues. These products often contain chemicals and gasses that are toxic for the ecosystem.
For each of my tent waterproofing spray reviews, I made sure to include only products that are eco-friendly (or partially eco-friendly). If you’re as concerned about your effect on the environment as you should be, look for products that have some of these eco-friendly features:
- Non-Aerosol – For years, scientists have been concerned about the effect that aerosol sprays have on the environment- especially in regards to the depletion of the ozone layer. Aerosol cans project liquids and gasses out at high rates of speed, often using toxic propellants to do so. Every one of the products I’ve included in my reviews are non-aerosol.
- VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) Free – These gases are commonly found in waterproof sprays (especially aerosol sprays), but they can be highly harmful to your health. Over the years, VOC’s have been detected in drinking water across the United States, which is why we need to avoid products that use them.
- Fluorocarbon Free – This chemical is classified as a greenhouse gas which, as many of us know, is terrible for the environment. Opt out of this poison if you’re able to.
- Water Based – Products that have a water base as opposed to a solvent base have a much easier time breaking down in the ecosystem.
- Odorless/Minimal Odor – While the term “odorless” does not necessarily mean chemical free, it’s definitely a safer option for you and for the ecosystem.
- Anti-Flammable – A flammable waterproofing spray can be super dangerous if it’s not handled properly. It’s quite likely that you’re going to have your tent in close proximity to a campfire. If it‘s covered in a flammable coating, you‘re putting yourself and the forest at risk.
A product that features each of these 6 environmental precautions (like Nikwax Tent and Gear Cleaning Spray) is truly eco-friendly.
Strength and Duration
It’s important to note that not all waterproofing coatings last the same amount of time. Depending on the product you choose, you may need to re-apply frequently. Usually, products will recommend how often to use the spray within their instructions.
Some tent waterproof sprays need two coats in order to work properly. If this is the case, you should do so in accordance with the directions. You should also check how many square feet a spray covers before buying it. This way, you‘ll know exactly how much you need to buy.
Know Your Tent Fabric
Not all tent waterproofing sprays can be applied to all types of fabric. Some products will cause damage to certain materials. If you’re not cautious of this, you might end up getting the opposite effect you wanted from your tent waterproof spray.
How To Apply Tent Waterproofing Spray
So… You have your tent set up. You have your spray in hand. You have a rain storm heading your way. Here’s what you do:
- Clean your tent before you even think about applying your spray. I recommend simply rinsing it down with some water and wiping it off. Be sure to remove any dirt or residue. You don’t want to have any gunk on your tent when you apply the spray, as this could render it ineffective. Unless the instructions say otherwise, let the tent dry completely after cleaning.
- Apply the product by spraying it all over your tent. Try your best to cover every single area, especially the seams, as they’re the most sensitive to water… You may even want to apply a second coat to the seams. Wipe off any excess spray that hasn’t absorbed (unless the instructions suggest otherwise).
- Allow the coating to dry out in the open air. Don’t let your tent get wet until the fresh coat is completely dry.
Caring For Your Tent Afterward
Now that you’ve applied your waterproofing layer and it’s worked successfully (hopefully), I recommend rinsing your tent off. Use cold or lukewarm water. When you’re done, let it dry completely– this is very important. If you store a wet tent, you risk ruining the waterproof coating and getting mildew.
You should then store your tent in a dark and dry area. This will help prolong the life of both your waterproof coating and your tent fabric.
At the end of the day, staying dry inside your tent means being prepared on your next camping trip. Aside from choosing a quality tent and setting it up correctly, you’ll need a good waterproofing spray.
It’s important that when you’re searching for a fabric waterproofing spray, you prioritize not only effectiveness, but also environment impact. We have a responsibility as campers/hikers to make the right decisions and protect our ecosystem.
I’ve definitely found some top notch products, but there’s one that clearly stands out as the best tent waterproofing spray.
Our Top Pick Is….
In my eyes, everything about this spray is superior to the rest on this list. This waterproofer proves that, with some innovation, eco-friendliness and effectiveness can combine to make an incredible product. It lacks pretty much all of the harmful chemicals that typical waterproofing sprays have, yet it’s still able to protect your tent from heavy rain and UV rays. It gets an A+ from Conquerwild.