Best tent waterproofing sprays reviewed
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Top 5 Best Tent Waterproofing Sprays Review (2024)

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If you go camping, you’ll eventually camp in rain, and investing in the best tent waterproofing spray will keep you from waking up in a puddle with your gear floating around the tent. 

I’ve had the misfortune of camping in rainy weather with a tent that had lost it’s waterproofing, and we paid the price. I don’t want that for you, so I’ll tell you the best waterproofing products for your tents and gear.

2 people playing cards while sitting under a tarp that is strung between trees as a rain shelter

My family has tested a variety of waterproofing sprays over the years. 

Best Tent Waterproofing Spray

The best waterproofing spray products have similar features—long-lasting, affordable, and easy to apply. Here are some of the best options in the order that I’d purchase them: 

1. Nikwax Tent & Gear Solar Proof

Nikwax makes a waterproofing spray with additional UV protection. It comes in 16.9 fluid ounces and works after a single application.

In my opinion, this is the best waterproof tent spray for long-lasting protection. The reason this spray comes in at the top of the list is its mid-range price and eco-friendly formula.

This is a great product for breathable fabrics and each bottle covers a large area.

Having a waterproof barrier that also blocks out harmful uv rays is the best choice for any kind of harsh weather conditions. 

Sun damage is a real concern for tents, so protecting your tent from both rain and sun will greatly increase the life of your tent. 

Nikwax highly suggests that you clean your tent with Solar Wash before applying their waterproofing product. Doing both is the best way to make sure that your tent stays in good condition for your next camping trip. 

  • Pros: Nikwax can be applied to wet or dry fabrics. It works on most synthetic materials. It’s also water-based and biodegradable. This is a great product for the eco-friendly camper.
  • Cons: Some users found Nikwax waterproofing spray doesn’t work as well on older tents. Some water-based sprays don’t measure up to silicone-based sprays. 

Dry Time: Nikwax says to remove extra product after 2 minutes with a damp cloth, then wait for gear to fully dry before putting away. This will vary on tent material, but our tent can go from 100% soaked to fully dry in 1-2 hours outside. 

Recommended Fabrics: Nylon or Polyester (For cotton, canvas or polycotton, use Nikwax Cotton Proof)

Cans to cover 6 person tent1: 2-3 (Per their website, 500mL covers 100 sq ft)

Cost per 6 person tent: The price is similar to GearAid and Kiwi and I think it’s worth the price to have a product that goes on easy and is eco friendly.

2. Gear Aid

Gear Aid comes in a 10 fl oz bottle. It’s one of the pricier of the best tent waterproofing spray products per ounce, but it’s a great product.

Fastest Drying

Not only is it waterproof, but it also windproofs tents, soft-shell garments, and footwear. 

The reason this product earned the number 2 spot on the list is the super quick dry time and it’s second overall for cheapest to cover a whole tent.

Gear Aid Tent Waterproofing Spray has been helpful a few times in restoring our older camp gear to its former glory, in terms of waterproofing.

Overall, we tend to go for a few of the cheaper products, but when situations call for heavy-duty waterproofing, Gear Aid works.

  • Pros: Waterproofs and windproofs camp gear and outerwear. Works on high-quality products, including GORE-TEX and Schoeller.
  • Cons: Some users feel Gear Aid doesn’t work as well on older jackets. 

Dry Time: Dries within minutes

Recommended Fabrics: nylon, polyester, eVent, and GORE-TEX fabrics, leather, suede, and canvas

Cans to cover 6 person tent1: 4-5 (website doesn’t list this, I am estimating)

Cost per 6 person tent: GearAid is the most expensive per ounce, but the second cheapest to cover a whole tent.

3. Kiwi Camp Dry

Kiwi Camp Dry has been a go-to product for campers for years. The product is great on tents, tarps, hiking boots, and even outdoor furniture.

Cheapest
KIWI Camp Dry Water Repellent
$8.99
Learn More
02/28/2024 08:01 am GMT

Kiwi Camp spray comes in a 10.5 fl oz can.

Kiwi comes in 3rd mainly because the scent of Kiwi is amazingly strong until dry. If it weren’t the cheapest per ounce and per application, it would be further down the list.

Spray it in a well-ventilated area (outside if possible), and allow it to dry fully before camping. Camping friends, I cannot stress enough how you should only spray Kiwi Camp Dry OUTSIDE. The smell is immense.

Kiwi is safe for use on a canvas tent or nylon tents.

  • Pros: Kiwi Camp Dry seals out water but retains breathability. Odor-free once dry. Enough spray in the can to cover a large tent in one application. Silicone-based sprays work well for waterproofing in a single coat.
  • Cons: Contains silicone, which isn’t as good for the environment as water-based sprays. The SMELL.

Dry Time: 24-48 hours

Recommended Fabrics: Bonds to leather and fabrics

Cans to cover 6 person tent1: 4-6 (website doesn’t mention coverage, this is an estimate)

Cost per 6 person tent: Kiwi is the cheapest per ounce (even better if you buy a multipack) and is also the cheapest to cover a whole tent.

GearAid and Nikwax aren’t far off in price and to save myself from the smell, and the lengthy dry time I’d go with one of those every time.

4. Scotchgard

Scotchgard protects in rain and snow and is safe to use on a variety of materials, including leather, suede, and cotton. Scotchguard spray provides a double protective layer between the rain and your family. 

Scotchgard Outdoor Water Shield
$33.99 $29.99 ($0.18 / Ounce)
Learn More
02/27/2024 02:46 am GMT

We use Scotchgard on more than our tents. It works well on umbrellas, backpacks, boots, and even camping luggage.

Scotchgard comes in 4th because it’s the 4th most expensive and requires an overnight dry time.

  • Pros: Keeps fabric breathable, even while waterproofing. Only requires one application to protect from the elements. 
  • Cons: Some users find Scotchguard finicky to apply. It can be patchy if not evenly coated across the fabric. Many reviewers found color alteration on lighter fabrics and a lingering chemical smell.

Dry Time: Should fully dry overnight, wait 4 hours between coats

Recommended Fabrics: Polyester, nylon, polypropylene, cotton, leather, suede 

Cans to cover 6 person tent1: 6-8 (Per their website, One can provides 60 sq. ft. of water resistance)

Cost per 6 person tent: Scotchguard is almost the most expensive per ounce and the most expensive per tent. I’d stick with GearAid and Nikwax, as both come out to be cheaper.

5. Star Brite

Star Brite waterproofing spray offers more bang for your buck, ONLY IF you buy it one gallon at a time.

STAR BRITE Waterproofing Spray
$22.96 $20.00
Learn More
02/27/2024 02:51 am GMT

Be aware that even though this product comes in larger bottles than all the rest, it will cost you the most to cover your tent. Yes, this product is the cheapest per ounce, but it will take you more ounces to cover an entire tent.

This product is in last place because if you buy Star Brite in the 22oz bottles, it will be the most expensive product on the list to cover your tent.

The 1 gallon container will covers around 465 square feet of product and if purchased that way it becomes the 3rd most expensive way. Keep in mind that you’d also have to buy a separate sprayer as the 1 gallon jug doesn’t come with one.

  • Pros: Star Brite is stain-free, and offers UV protection. The product doesn’t alter the breathability of the fabric.
  • Cons: Some users found Star Brite to have a greasy feel. If sprayed too close to the fabric, it can alter the color, despite promises not to.

Dry Time: 6 hours

Recommended Fabrics:  nylon, canvas, finished leather, and acrylics (this is NOT recommended for polyester, so be sure of your tent’s material before purchasing)

Cans to cover 6 person tent1: 4-5 (per the website 22 oz covers 80 square feet)

Cost per 6 person tent: 22oz bottle is the most expensive on the list, the gallon jug comes in essentially tied with GearAid.

What to Look For

There are many ways to choose the best tent waterproofing spray. Some of the qualifiers I look for in a waterproof spray for our family tents include:

Ingredients

Waterproofing tent sprays are usually based with one of two products, silicone or water. Water-based sprays have less of a propensity to stain, are better for the environment, and may have a less intense smell while drying. 

ingredients list

On the other hand, a silicone-based waterproofing tent spray is more likely to produce a long-lasting barrier against liquid. 

In our experience, both work when used properly. Read reviews to find the right water-based or silicone-based spray for you.

Drying Time

Drying time is another factor in which product to choose. Waterproofing tent sprays can take anywhere from 6 hours to 48 hours to dry completely. 

drying time for tent waterproofing spray

I recommend waiting for a full 24 hours before using the outdoor gear, or hiking equipment you spray. Even if it appears dry, the product may not be fully cured.

Does it Dry Clear

One thing I’ve noticed between products is the finished look can differ greatly from brand to brand. I’m not a worrier when it comes to tent discoloration. Our tents take a beating.

But, for hiking gear, backpacks, and windproof jackets, you want to find a product that dries clear. 

shirt with sparkles, implying the waterproofing spray dried clear

Some waterproofing sprays dry darker, or stain the material. This gets problematic if you aren’t able to spray it on evenly.

Some spots look blotchy. Read the fine print to ensure your spray dries clear if this is a dealbreaker for you.

Smell

The smell is a huge issue with many waterproofing tent sprays. Our family has tried several, and no matter the brand, there always seems to be some sort of odor.

smell

I recommend spraying your tent and other products outside, or in an extremely well-ventilated space with a tarp down to protect the floor. 

The spray bottle should warn you about the potential effects of chemicals in the spray. The good thing is the smell dissipates as it dries. Nobody wants to sleep in a stinky tent.

Application

The application process for waterproofing spray differs from product to product. Some require one coat, others multiple.

spray bottles

Some need to be sprayed at a distance of one foot from the material, others require closer contact. Read the instructions carefully before applying. 

Aerosol spray cans can be easier to use, but you might have to use multiple cans.

Environmental Impact

Spending as much time in nature as we do, protecting the environment has become increasingly important to my family. I think this happens naturally.

The environmental impact of waterproofing spray can be vast. Look at things like:

  • Chemical ingredients
  • Aerosol vs. manual spray
  • Can recyclability 

It’s hard sometimes to maintain environmental consciousness as we seek optimal performance from the products we buy. Sometimes the best performance comes at the price of the environment.

To this, I remind myself, “If we kill the planet for our camping gear, there won’t be anywhere left to camp.” It’s a bit dark, but it helps put things in perspective.

Alternative Uses

Some of the best tent waterproofing sprays can also be used to waterproof other things. Boots, boat covers, outdoor lawn furniture, outerwear, and more.

Check the specifications of the product you choose before spraying anything other than your tent. 

Not all sprays are good for all materials. Be aware of what material your tent fabric is. 

If you plan to spray anything natural like suede, leather, or cotton, be sure the spray allows for this. Otherwise, you could wind up damaging the fabric, rather than waterproofing it.

Waterproofing Tent Spray FAQs

Finding a product you can trust to keep your family safe and dry is a wonderful feeling. Let us know in the comments which spray worked best for you and why.

Camping in The Rain

Now that you know which is the best tent waterproofing spray, you’re ready to headout and camp in the rain!
We’ll help you with our tips and hints!

Footnotes:

  1. For purposes of coverage, I am estimating a 6 person tent that is 13’x9’x6′. This comes out to 380 sq feet. (You will NOT use tent waterproofing sprays on the bottom of the tent.)

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