A rip in your tent is one of the worst things that can happen while you’re out in the backcountry. Thankfully, fixing a rip in your tent is a problem that can be easily planned for when packing for your trip.
When you have a rip in your tent, bugs and the weather can become huge issues depending on where you are camping. In some areas you could get bitten all night with bugs. You will especially need your tent to be completely sealed if you are camping in cold weather and you need the insulation to keep you warm throughout the night.
Packing with regard to an emergency on the spot is imperative but once you get home, you will need a more long term plan for the rip in your tent. You certainly don’t want to be buying new gear every time something bad happens. Below, I’ll go into some of the best temporary and permanent ways to deal with a rip in your tent that you can take care of yourself.
How to repair a rip in a tent with our 4 top recommended products:
1. Tough and Wide Gorilla Tape (Quick & Dirty Fix)
The best way to quickly and efficiently repair a tent while out camping or in the backcountry is with some Gorilla Tape. Gorilla Tape works as a strong seal to keep the tent together, semi-waterproofed, and enclosed. But, it should only been used as a short term fix while you complete whatever trip you are on when your tent gets ripped.
Gorilla tape will not hold up as well to the elements as other solutions I will talk about. But in the meantime, Gorilla Tape is a great way to keep your gear together and in tact when a more permanent fix is not possible.
If you are going on a backpacking trip and need to consolidate items for space and weight, you can wrap a few feet of gorilla tape around a pencil or pen. That way, you will have strong tape for a variety of uses while out camping including being able to perform a quick fix on a ripped tent.
After your trip, you will definitely need to work out a better long term solution to the damaged tent. You want it to be ready for the next time you head out but need to keep the bugs and weather out. You also need that fix to be good enough so you won’t have to worry about it again for a few seasons of use.
2. Tenacious Tape & Seam Grip (Best Method)
The best method for fixing your tent will be with some Tenacious Tape and a good Seam Grip. These two products together will work wonders on a variety of projects including fixing a rip in a tent. You can even use tenacious tape and seam grip to fix rips in your rain jacket and on your inflatable sleeping pad.
To fix a rip in your tent once you get home from a trip, clean off and clear any temporary fix that you used while out camping. Next, to ensure that your fix lasts a long time, clean off the fabric around the tent and trim any loose threads that are hanging near where you need to repair. You can even steam the area of the rip so that the fabric will lay flat.
Let your tent sit until it becomes dry. You don’t want to put tape or seam grip on any wet fabric.
Now that the rip is ready to be patched, you need to apply your first piece of Tenacious Tape. Make sure your piece of tape is big enough to cover the entire rip in your tent plus a little bit of extra area. After that, flip the tent over so you can access the other side of the rip. Then use another piece of Tenacious Tape the same size as the first piece you applied.
Finally, apply the Seam Grip to the outdoor side of the tent repair. Make sure you use enough so that you go an extra quarter inch or so outside of where your tape is. Doing this will act as the perfect waterproof sealant to keep the inside of your tent from getting wet. Let everything dry for at least 24 hours. Now, your gear is patched up and ready for many more days keeping you comfy while out on the trails.
3. Mesh Patches By Gear Aid (Screen Repair)
When it is hot out, having working mesh windows in a tent is the perfect way to star gaze all night and to stay cool when it’s hot. Unfortunately, that is also the time that bugs love to be out the most. Fixing any mesh rips that you have in your tent is key to not getting bitten all night.
The way to fix a mesh rip in your tent can be similar to how to fix a rip in your tent. Check out these mesh patches that are perfect for fixing any hole in a mesh part of a tent. All you have to do is peel off the back to the sticky side of the mesh and fasten it over the rip that needs repair.
You can put a second mesh patch on the opposite side of the rip but depending on how big the rip is there might not be a need for a second patch. Check out this video for a demonstration of how to fix a mesh rip in your tent…
4. Polyurethane Sealer (Rainfly Window Repair)
If you have polyurethane windows on your tent or rainfly, those might be in need of some new gluing to keep them sealed. Especially if your tent is old and has gotten many great uses, you don’t want your windows to fail you at the worst possible time. Check out this waterproof seam sealer by texsport.net that can be used to reglue any old windows which will make them like new again.
When replacing the glue, make sure you first get rid of all the dried flaky glue that is where the seam should be. Then, use rubbing alcohol to wash the area of the tent that needs repair. Let it dry so that you don’t apply seam sealer to any wet fabric. Finally, you are ready to apply some of the seam sealer to the window seam.
Make sure you flatten out the windows so that there are no bubbles in the seam sealer and they are perfectly flush to the fabric underneath. Let it all dry for at least 24 hours. Now, your window seals are good as new and ready for your next outdoor adventure.
Should I Seam Seal My New Tent?
If your tent comes without a seam seal or was sealed with factory tape when made, you will need to seam seal it yourself. The tent should say on the packaging whether or not it was previously sealed. If you are planning on spending many days out in wet conditions, you might want to seam seal the tent anyways to ensure that it is totally waterproof.
Don’t forget to test your tent for how waterproof it is with a sprinkler in the backyard. You definitely don’t want to find out about a leak in your tent when it starts to thunderstorm just before your first night out on the trail. Make sure you know your gear will work for you while at home.
This seam grip sealant is a great product that can be used to seal all the seams of your tent on a variety of different fabrics. But check to see what your specific tent is made out of and research the seam sealant that will be best for you. There might even be recommendations made by different companies for their specific products so check out a manufacturers page.
How Do You Repair A Tent Seam?
Repairing a tent seam quickly is important because a small tear in the seam can quickly spread to making a more pervasive hole in one of your tents easiest weak point. Start your repair off with some Seam Grip waterproof sealant to ensure that the repair will be weatherproof.
Then head to your local fabric store to sew up the seam with some nylon or polyester thread. The combination of seam grip and thread should be perfect to repair your tent and to give it many more seasons of use.
When Should I Stop Repairing My Tent?
Tents have always been built to last, but they wont last forever. Especially after many seasons spent keeping you dry while you’re out camping or enjoying the backcountry. You will eventually need to get a new tent at some point. There is also always strides in technology that make tents lighter, easier to use, and more durable and weather resistant.
You should stop repairing your tent and get a new one when your tent no longer serves you properly. That could be when there are too many holes you have already patched in the side, or seams start coming undone. It is always best to get a new tent just before a longer or more important trip to cut down on weight and so your old one doesn’t fail you when you need it most.
How To Repair A Broken Tent Pole?
If you have a tent pole that is broken there are a number of ways you can fix it temporarily until you get back home where you can get a new pole. First, assess the damage to the pole. If it is splintered fiberglass, be very careful that you don’t get any slivers. Use a big piece of your gorilla tape to tape the pole back together giving you a few more uses.
You can also find a sturdy stick to use as a splint to help keep your tent up in the short term. Also, you might have a piece of pipe in a tent repair kit with you that can be used as a splint.
You should probably be able to find a new tent pole online for a reasonable price from the manufacturer so do some research on their website when you return from your trip.
Cameron is a freelance writer with a focus on hiking, fishing and photography. He studied English and Creative Writing at the University of Colorado Boulder and now calls Chicago, Illinois home.