It’s 11am in the morning, a glorious day and you’re certain that today’s the best day to begin promoting that new cream you’ve been working on for some time now. You unpack your tent, erect it, and as soon as the customers start coming in, it begins to rain cats and dogs. “I’m sure this is a waterproof tent!” You tell yourself and continue on with your sales pitch. Within 10 minutes, your floor carpet is a sponge, your kits are soaking wet, and there’s nobody to look at the crème samples you’ve worked so hard on.
Scenarios like this are often common during the rainy season here in the US, frightfully so in the states of Hawaii, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, and North & South Carolina which are among the top 10 wettest states in the country.
But heavy rain doesn’t stop the day to day life? So, why did it affect your branding exercise?
Because your tent was not waterproof.
But, aren’t all tents waterproof?
Hate to break your bubble, but no. Not all tents are waterproof. In fact, most tents are water resistant, which means that they just slow down the penetration of rainwater inside but do not prevent it from entering altogether. Such tents need additional coverage to become waterproof.
So, what is a waterproof tent?
A tent that is waterproof has its folds coated with polyurethane and seams taped, to prevent water from seeping inside. Tents also use waterproof ratings to find out the level of waterproofing capabilities they carry.
How waterproof should a tent be?
To measure how waterproof your tent is, check its waterproof ratings. These are measured in millimeters and usually range between 1000mm to 10,000mm. The higher the rating, the more waterproof the tent will be.
Are all new tents waterproof?
Contrary to the prevailing opinion, not all modern tents are waterproof. Some are water resistant and water repellent too. To understand this better, let’s consider these labels as degrees.
Waterproof vs. Water Resistant vs. Water Repellent
- Water resistant fabrics provide the first degree of protection against water. Such tents have a tightly knit fabric that creates a barrier for water so that it cannot permeate easily inside.
- Water repellent tents arrive at the second degree of protection against water. These tents usually come with a DWR label that stands for Durable Water Repellent. This means that not only does the tent resists natural water, it also carries an extra coating of water repellent material applied on the exterior causing the water to bead-up on the outside and slide right off.
- Waterproof tents offer the third and highest degree of protection against water, although it’s misleading to say so. Nothing can be 100% waterproof, ever, but with the right material and preparation, it’s easier to stay dry. Waterproof tents have a more robust, sturdier fabric with a solid layer of DWR and can withstand heavy pressure or continuous rain longer that the above two type of tents.
That being said, you can find out if you own a waterproof tent.
How to check if your tent is waterproof?
Before you take your tent for a day-out, it’s better to do a dry run. After all, you can afford to get disappointed in your own backyard rather than in front of your guests.
Just pitch your tent, take the hose pipe out and soak up the seams thoroughly. And then examine the following parts of your tent:
- The seams
Check whether water can enter where the tent material has been stitched together. From the inside of the tent, you must be able to find out if the stitching is waterproof. Don’t forget to check the toggles and ties as well. They must be sealed properly too, or there could be water seepage.
- The sides
Doorways are potential problem areas; and if left open, they allow water to enter. A well-designed tent should be able to keep the water away from the fabric.
- Hydrostatic Head
HH, or hydrostatic head measures how waterproof your tent’s fabric is. While basic tents have only 2000mm HH rating and are fine for use during normal to mildly rough weather conditions, they won’t fare well during a heavy downpour. Even with tents having a higher HH, if the seams are not taped well, there will still be leakage.
Every stitch is essentially a hole. Examine the stitches carefully. Good quality tent designs undertake practices such as overlapping the material and reducing the amount of stitching to lessen the potential sources of leaks.
Also, following tips assist with waterproofing:
- Pitch your tent on dry, high ground. Explore the site to find a place at an elevation, so that the water runs down.
- Use tarps and footprints to cover your groundsheet.
- If your tent is old, you can use a sealant to up its waterproofing game.