Why You Should Seam Seal Your Tent Before Your Thru-Hike

4 Common Tent Stakes

Tent Sealant

Tent seam sealer is like a glue that is designed to fill the tiny holes made when the needle passed through the fabric to create the seams. Most lightweight tents don’t ship seam sealed unless you pay extra when you purchase the tent.

It’s very important that you select the tent sealant based on your tent fabric. Different tent fabrics will require different sealeant. If you use the wrong sealant, the tent fabric will not bond with the sealer and leaks will likely occur.

Most manufacturers will provide the recommended sealant on their website.

It’s best to use sealant when it’s warm and dry outside. The tent seams should also be clean and dry before application. Any dirt left along the seam will reduce the effectiveness of the sealant. Setting up the tent also makes seam sealer application easier especially if the manufacturer suggests applying the sealant to both sides of the tent.

Silicone tent sealant, it is important to have the right type of seam sealant for your tent fabric

Different Types of Sealant

There are many different types of seam sealer. The best seam sealer for your tent is specified by your tent manufacturer.

Most lightweight backpacking tents are constructed from silicone nylon or silnylon. This type of fabric can be sealed with a silicone sealant.

**Always check with the manufacturer for the proper type of seam sealer for your tent.

inspecting seams where the seam sealant will be applied. Picture shows no seam sealant applied

Tent Seams Without Seam Sealer

By examining the seams on your tent, you can tell if sealant was applied. This picture shows the seams unsealed.

Seam seal being applied to the tent with a small brush

Sealant Being Applied

Tent sealer being applied to the seams.

inspecting the seam seal after it dried for any gaps or problems

Dry Seam Sealer

The seam sealer will take at least 3 to 6 hours to fully dry.  In more humid weather it can take longer. It’s important to test for dryness before packing the tent up. Some manufacturers recommend waiting 24 hours after application before storing the tent. You can test the dryness of the sealant by lightly touching it. If there is any stickiness at all it is not dry and shouldn’t be packed up.

If you pack up your tent before the sealant completely dries it can stick to other parts of your tent. It’s very important to wait for the sealant to dry completely before packing.


It’s very important to have your tent waterproof seams. If your tent seams are unsealed or improperly sealed you will likely experience a leak in your tent if it rains.

Sealing a tent is a relatively easy process if the conditions are right.

**Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when sealing your tent.