Camping

Tent Repair: How to Repair a Tent

How to Repair a Tent

Tent Repair Essentials

Tent Repair Starts with Prevention

– Only Pack Away a Dry Tent
– Have a Dry Run
– Re-waterproofing
– Pitch Smart
– Pack Your Repair Kit
– Fix Now, Not Later

What to Do When Your Tent Is Leaking

Fixing Small Tears

Mending Big Rips

– Sew it Back Together
– Patch it Up

Broken Tent Poles

Bent Tent Pegs

Damaged Zips

– Broken Teeth
– Damaged Slider

 

Tent Repair Essentials

  • Tent repair tape
  • Seam sealer
  • Sewing awl
  • Waxed thread
  • Scissors
  • Sewing pins
  • Extra tent fabric (if you have it)
  • Duct tape
  • Mallet
  • Pliers
  • WD-40
  • Waterproofing spray

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Tent Repair Starts with Prevention

When presented with something valuable that has been damaged or broken, most people’s thoughts are “how could I have let this happen?”. When presented with a broken tent, most people’s thoughts are the same but with an added “where am I going to sleep tonight?”.

By taking preventative measures you can save yourself undue stress, time and the money it would cost to either fix or replace your tent as well as not jeopodising that night’s sleep. Below are some easy tips and steps to take to protect your tent from unnecessary damage and wear and tear.

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Only Pack Away a Dry Tent

Packing your tent away while wet can lead to mildew build up and your tent becoming mouldy. To prevent this, simply wait until your tent is dry before packing it away. If waiting until your tent is dry isn’t possible (thank you UK weather), then pack it away while wet but remove it once home and hang it up to dry.

Ensure that all areas are dry (use a towel if necessary), double check and then pack your tent away, ready for your next trip – mould free!

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Have a Dry Run

When planning a camping trip it’s always a good idea to test your tent out before you go away just to make sure that A) You remember how to pitch it, and B) To check that there are no damages that you missed last time you packed your tent away.

This will save you time in the long run as you’ll have the memory and method fresh in your head of how to put your tent up and you won’t end up in the unfortunate situation of arriving at a campsite with a broken tent.

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Re-waterproofing

To replace the waterproof membrane on the outside of your tent, you’ll need to pitch it and ensure it is clean and dry. Once pitched you should apply waterproofing spray all over the tent to reinforce its waterproof properties. Wait for it to dry before either giving it a second coat, or pack it away so you’re ready for your next trip.

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Pitch Smart

Take some extra time to scout out the area before deciding where to pitch your tent. Taking the time to do this will increase the durability of your tent and allow it to last longer and get damaged less.

Avoid or move any visible rocks and use your tent pegs to test the ground to see how rocky it is under the surface – don’t test too hard though as you don’t want to damage or bend your pegs. Have a look at what your surroundings are. Is there anything close by that could rub against, fall on or rip your tent? If so, avoid!

Be wary of pitching your tent too tight and stretching the fabric. Don’t force it into any position or put too much pressure on it. This is the main cause of rips and tears. Take the time to make sure it has some give and allow for a little extra room if it is especially windy.

Finally, you should always try to pitch your tent on level ground, but if the area is hilly, pitch slightly uphill. This will prevent rain and water from pooling around your tent, allowing you to stay warm and comfortable while camping. We have created a guide to surviving wet weather while camping so for some extra information take a look by clicking here.

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Pack Your Repair Kit

We don’t like to assume the worse, but it is always smart to be prepared for any eventuality. Packing a repair kit means you’ll always have the tools on hand to rectify any unexpected wear and tear. Things to pack in your repair kit include: tent repair tape, seam sealer, sewing awl, waxed thread, scissors, sewing pins, extra tent fabric (if you have it), duct tape, mallet, pliers, WD-40 and waterproofing spray.

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Fix Now, Not Later

If you notice any damage to your tent, then fix or replace right away before storing your tent away. The last thing you want is to forget about that tear until you’re about to go camping again.

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What to Do When Your Tent Is Leaking

When your tent is leaking, the first thing to do is identify where the leak is coming from. If the leak if coming from a tear, then follow the steps provided here for repairing small tears or big rips.

If the leak is coming from the seams of the tent, clean the affected area, dry thoroughly and apply some seam sealer to prevent further leaks.

The leak could be coming straight through the fabric and in this situation it is most likely that the tent’s waterproofing has worn away and needs replaced. Read our re-waterproofing section of this guide to learn how to mend leaks coming through the waterproof membrane of your tent.

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Fixing Small Tears

Small rips or holes may not seem like a huge problem at the time but they can certainly become massive issues during heavy downpours, cold nights or if snagged and lead to a much larger rip

The first thing you’ll need to do is find out what type of fabric your tent is made with. Buy products designed for this type of fabric to prevent any further damage being done.

To fix a small tear, use tent repair tape. Make sure the area is clean, dry and flatten the fabric to remove creases before applying the tape. Remember to apply it to both the inside and the outside of your tent and finish off the job by covering the tape and about 2cm extra around the edges with seam sealer.

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Mending Big Rips

Bigger rips are slightly more complicated but you still have options on how you’d like to approach them. You’re going to need a sewing awl (designed for sewing heavy duty materials), some waxed thread and potentially a patch of tent fabric (not always necessary).

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Sew it Back Together

If the area around the rip is slightly loose, then pull the two sides together, fold one under the other and sew back together using the sewing awl. Ensure the stitches are sewn close together (to prevent leaks getting in) and once you’re finished, apply seam sealer on and around the area.

The instructional video below will show you how to use the sewing awl if you’re not sure.

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Patch it Up

If the rip is too large to be able to pull the pieces of fabric together then you can try tent repair tape using the same method we described for small tears, or you could attempt to fix the hole using a spare piece of tent fabric.

Pre-warning: this process can be a little tricky!

Patch

  1. Cut your replacement patch about 3 inches larger on each side of the damaged area.
  2. Place the patch over the rip (on the outside of the tent) and pin it into place.
  3. Fold the edges of the patch towards the tent about 1 inch and pin it again.
  4. Using the sewing awl, stitch around the outside edge of the patch about 3mm from the edge.
  5. Stitch again but this time leaving around 1/4 inch from the first row of stitching. You can now remove the pins.
  6. Trim the damaged area on the inside of the tent into a square/rectangle shape while trying to stay as close to the damaged area as possible.
  7. Cut triangles into the four corners to create flaps on each side of the damaged area.
  8. Turn the cut edges under about 1 inch before pinning them into place.
  9. Stitch around the entire rip as close to the edge as possible.
  10. Stitch again but this time leaving around 1/4 inch from the first row of stitching. You can now remove the pins.
  11. Finally, apply a bead of seam sealer to the perimeter of the patch on the outside of the tent.

If you’re really stuck then you can try duct tape for a quick fix or simply purchase a new tent if you believe the damage is beyond repair.

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Broken Tent Poles

Tent poles make up the structure of your tent, so a damaged tent pole could potentially hinder the entire tent unusable. They can become damaged through wear and tear, human error and extreme weather.

Your best course of action is to pack spare tent poles in order to replace any that become damaged. If spares are not available then you can try using duct tape to strengthen the poles by wrapping multiple layers of the tape around the damaged area – be careful with the width of the tape as the poles will still need to be able to fit through the sleeved channels on the tent.

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Bent Tent Pegs

Tent pegs are what hold your tent firmly to the ground and are often hammered into rough and rocky terrains, so it’s no surprise that tent pegs can often be found bent out of shape. We would always recommend bringing spare tent pegs to save you time and effort but there are ways you can mend your tent pegs on the day.

You can try simply bending them back into shape or if the distortion is too stubborn to bend with your own strength, use a mallet (be careful!) to knock it back into shape with more force.  You can even try heating the pegs up over a camping stove (make sure you take extra care as the metal will heat up) to make them more malleable.

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Damaged Zips

Which part of the zip is broken will dictate how you go about fixing it.

ZipBroken Teeth

Take a look at the teeth on the zip to see if they are broken or just misaligned. If the teeth are only misaligned then all you have to do is run the zip slider back and forth a few times to sort the realignment.

If the teeth are broken in any way then unfortunately you may need to replace the entire zip, which is something that would be too difficult to sort out on a camping trip. Once you’re home, you can take the tent to a seamstress or tailors to see if they could fix it or you could attempt to buy a new zip and replace it yourself.

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Damaged Slider

If it’s the zip slider is jammed, then you may be able to loosen it using some WD-40, although be very careful not to get any on your tent’s flysheet.

If the zip slider itself is damaged in some way then there are ways to repair it. Click here for a handy step by step guide for how to remove, repair and reattach a broken zip slider.

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