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OK I have what is probably a "newbie" question but I would appreciate your help when you're done smirking and shaking your heads.


I don't camp that often with the troop - a couple times a year so far. And I've been very lucky in that every time I've done so, the weather has been nice. Cold on occasion, but dry. I may do a little more camping next year, now that my son is older and secure enough in his position in the troop that he doesn't see it as an intrusion.


But anyway, last night I went along on a one-night camp with some of our guys who needed to finish up some rank requirements before our CoH. (They needed a second adult for 2 deep leadership and I was free.) Well at about 6 this morning it started to rain. And then it poured. And I discovered that my rain fly? It isn't water proof. By the time I took my tent down, water was just dripping straight through into the tent. I guess I'm glad it didn't start raining in the middle of the night! There is one small hole in the fly in the plastic "window" but that wasn't the issue - water was dripping through the entire fly.


So what I'd like to know is, don't rain flies come with water proofing stuff on them already when you buy them most of the time? If so, how often do you need to re-do the water proofing (does it wear off?) And maybe more importantly, what works well for waterproofing, because obviously mine needs it.


Although it was a pretty wet morning we still had a good time. The guys got done what they needed to do, I showed them how to do some cooking things, and they taught me how to use an axe and a hatchet. I think they got a kick out of that, a bunch of 11 and 12 year olds, teaching me stuff. I told them that if they could teach an adult, they could definitely teach other scouts!

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It's not you, Lisa. I have the same problem. I take a separate tarp to throw over my tent if it rains. The "new" nylon tents (as opposed to the canvas tents of my youth) that you get at the department store are mostly crap. I haven't taken the plunge yet, (and at this point in my life, I may not) but I hear the $250 tents are better. I did try treating my tent with spray waterproofing and seam sealer...didn't help a bit.


If the forecast calls for rain, I also pack a green garbage bag to slip the foot of my sleeping bag into...if it touches the tent, the water will wick right through.

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What kind of tent do you have (brand/type)? What kind of fly is it?


If your tent has an awning fly that only comes part way down the side of your tent, & it was a hard, driving, windy storm, it is very possible the rain was being blown under your fly onto the tent itself.


The fly should be factory waterproofed. The tent has non-waterproof, breathable walls & roof this is why touching the wall during a rain storm will cause a capillary leak. All seams, even those that are factory sealed, should be resealed every year or so.


I have never had to apply waterproofing to a rain fly. Your best bet would be to contact the manufacturer & see what they recommend.




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Yah, ScoutNut's right, eh? It would help to know your brand of tent, and a bit more about the conditions.


From your description, though, here's my guess.


The nylon in a rain fly is treated with a waterproof coating. However, the nylon consists of several sheets that are sewn together. In order to sew pieces together, you make a seam, and the needle makes little holes that the thread passes through. Those holes can let water drip in, seeping along the thread. In a good rain, you'll get quite a lot of drippage, eh?


Newer higher-end tents have "factory taped seams", which you can recognize as a shiny plastic tape running along the seam on the bottom of the rain fly. Older or "department store" tents require that you hand-seal the seams with "goop" to plug up all the holes. I strongly recommend SeamGrip over the other products.


This should take care of most of your problem, eh? Even after that, though, you have to take some care in tent setup to get the fly tight and generally position the seams on the "down" side of poles on some tents. What you don't want is any spot where water can pool over a seam.


Da other area that often gets some leakage is tent floors. The waterproof coating is applied to the inside of the tent floor, so over time it can be scuffed up by traffic, dirt in the tent, etc. As that wears, water can seep through, particularly water under pressure (like you'll get a wet spot under your pad, where your weight was pressin' down). So yeh have to be a good sort and keep your boots and stuff outside, and be gentle on the inside of your tent floor to protect da coating. IMO, this is best solved by usin' a light ground cloth inside da tent - no chance of water poolin' on the ground cloth, and it will protect your tent floor waterproofin' from further damage. Yeh can try re-coatin' the inside of the tent floor, but I've never found this satisfactory. The after-factory coatings all leave the floor a bit sticky, which is really a pain and sometimes does more damage.


Last trick is to understand that when it rains, it's humid. The added moisture from your breath/body in the tent only makes it worse. Rain is cold, and cold rain hittin' a rainfly will chill it. This causes moisture inside the tent to condense on the rainfly, just like it does on the outside of a glass of cold lemonade. Your fly is not leaking, even though the inside is wet, and over time it may drip a bit. Da cure is to work extra hard at maintaining good ventilation in a rainshower, includin' being sure you stake out your fly as much as possible so that air can circulate underneath.


Keepin' dry in a tent in a true downpour takes some practice and a lot of little tricks, some that are tent-specific. Keep practicin'!




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When I started camping with my kids in Cub Scouts, I had exactly the problem you describe. A lot of people in the pack did. I had purchased the relatively cheap department store tents. After a couple of miserable experiences, I decided I was in no way going to spend another weekend soaking wet. I upgraded to one of the $250 tents that scoutldr mentions. Since then, I have stayed bone-dry. It's been an absolutely impressive turn-around. Night and day. Or wet and dry, I guess.


Oak Tree

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If you buy an inexpensive tent , this is one of the problems you get. Waterfroofing a rainfly just doesn't work. You need a decent quaility name brand tent with a full coated rain fly. Those usually keep the water on the outside where it belongs

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Ditto all the above.


High class tent looks like this:


Floor: Should look like a plastic tarp. Tough and Crinkly.

Walls: Lowers are coated, uppers are screened for ventilation.

Rain fly (topcover): Coated: One side looks like a piece of cloth (top) and other side (bottom) looks like a shower curtain, smooth like.


Sewn Seams are ALL taped. If not, get the SeamSeal stuff, in a tube, like glue (the spray can stuff may or may not work, depending on the material and construction of the tent). Turn the tent or fly upside down on a table, and work goo in systematically. Smooth it on with a finger, so as to fill in all the thread holes and edges.


Here's the test: Try to breath thru the fabric. Nylon taffeta is porous and prone to drip and leak.


My experience...

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Those floors that look like woven plastic tarps are only found on cheap tents, such as Wenzel and some Coleman tents. Good quality tents have nylon or sometimes polyester (not to be confused with polyethylene) floors. Good rain flys are usually made of polyester since it handles UV degradation from sunlight better than nylon.


Tents, like just about everything else, range in quality from crap to really high quality stuff, but quality can cost money since it requires higher price fabrics, coatings, poles, and assembly. Today, it is more common than not to find good tents that come with factory sealed seams.


The good news is that high quality tents don't have to cost a lot. For an adult I'd suggest a 4-person or 6-person tent. Eureka Timberline 4-person tents can be had for $150 and the Eureka Tetragon 8 4-person for $100. For Scouters, the Alps Mountaineering Meramac 4-person regular duty costs only $66, and the heavy duty version costs $100.


I myself recently bought a heavy duty Alps Mountaineering Meramac 6 person for $142 - a high quality tent that has performed very well for me this year.


Stick to good brand names - Eureka, Alps Mountaineering, REI, Sierra Designs, Kelty - and you can't go too wrong. Personally I'd avoid Wenzel and Coleman (though some people do seem to have luck with colemans).

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Yes, as others have said, a full rain fly that covers the entire tent is the key. The Eureka Timberline is a perfect example of this. I bought myself a Eureka Windriver 2 dome tent in 1989 (and still use too!) and the directions said before sleeping in it, set up the tent and spray with a garden hose to shrink the fabric, eliminating or reducing stitch holes. I had never heard of this before and my newer Tetragon 1210 didn't include that instruction, but has a full fly and works great.

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A rain fly that has a window in it isn't a quality rainfly, it's a toy.


Go to www.campmor.com and get a Eureka Tetragon 7 for $79.99


It's 7x7, easy to set up, the 2 main poles attach via clips instead of sleeves - way easy.


Lots of ventilation, huge rain fly. taped seams, gear loft, inside side pockets, about 6.5 miles, easy on packbacking trip, great value.


My son has one and a Wenzel that has surprised me, plastic "bathtub floor" and surprisingly waterproof. I'd still get the Eureka.


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Thanks for all the input! More info, as requested:


This is a North Face peregrine tent. NF no longer manufactures it but here's a pic of it:



It was NOT a cheap department store tent - something in the range of $200 when I bought it three or four years ago, though it was a floor model and on sale so it cost me less than that I'm happy to say. It is kind of a weird shape - not sure how to describe it. It has three rods and is sort of a hexagon shape at one end and narrows toward the feet at the other. The rain fly doesn't have a real high profile - it fits very close to the tent. To be honest, it is probably not the best tent for a newbie tent camper. But it is what I have and I've liked it - a lot - when the weather was dry. It's light and easy to carry, fairly easy to set up (a bit more of a pain to take down, but minor things), and doesn't leave a big footprint of mashed grass, etc, when I'm done.


As for weather conditions, it was not windy at all, just raining very hard, straight down. I think I probably did get some moisture coming up through the floor of the tent (my ground cloth isn't the same shape as the tent so I end up doing some folding, which probably isn't the best - another story!) but I was watching the water drip straight through the fly and through the tent ceiling too. Didn't seem to be a pattern (seemed more like a lot of rain in my tent!), but I guess I also didn't stay there long enough to really notice.

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Well Lisa, that is certainly a fine tent with the right kind of fly. I am perplexed. I guess I would contact the manufacturer and tell them your story. Don't mention the Boy Scouts when you do as they will immediately assume rough use. Tell them how much you love the tent and how dissapointed you are with such a high end product. You may end up with a new fly, new tent, a repair solution, or squat.

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Yah, Lisa'bob, thanks. My memory of da Peregrine is that it was one of the last in TNF line not to have factory-taped seams on the rainfly... so my "seal the seams" comment probably still stands. You should at least look at that, it's the most likely culprit.


Da second thing with da Peregrine like many TNF tents is that the spot in the middle of the roof, where the poles form a triangle, can collect water in a real downpour, and then funnel it into the seams and then into the tent. So it's important when you set it up to:


1) make sure the fly is tight. It will loosen when wet.


2) make sure the seams lie outside/below the triangle made by the poles in the center. To do this, you might need to use the little accessory pole ties (velcro strips) on the fly, if the Peregrine has them. What you have to make sure of is the seam being away from anywhere the water can pool in that center area. Takes some fiddlin'.


Once water comes in the seams, it'll run along the inside of the fly until it finds a spot to drip from, so it's hard to tell where things are really comin' from.


On a nice day, set your tent up in the backyard, and get one of those old-time sprinklers that we used to jump through when we were kids. Sit in your tent as the sprinkler runs back and forth, and see if you can ID the leak points.


Good luck with it.




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Everything Beavah said, and one more...


Rot happens, even to nylon. Set your tent up sometime when it's dry. Look, closely, at each face of the tent... floor, walls, roof, fly. Look for where the rubber/vinyl compound has separated from the nylon. Look for crazing, cracks, or tears in the rubber/nylon as well.


As far as tentage goes, I'm not going to say get a brand name... rather, find an outdoor supplier who stands behind the products they sell. Certainly one institution in the outdoor industry is Recreational Equipment, Incorporated (www.rei.com). They were there when Eddie Bauer was an expedition outfitter. They're still there!!!, Eddie Bauer is leisure lifestyle indoors.


Cabela's and Bass Pro are more "heavy camping" than REI, but they also have to stand behind their products... their business reputation rides on it.


There are other, regional outfitters as well. Spend time at the shop, ask lots of questions: A good outfitter will take the time to make the right sale!


If you get to Philmont Training Center the PSR Trading Post is good at outdoor equipping and education as well.

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