How To Patch A Tent

Whether you are an avid and enthusiastic backpacker or a camper, you will, at some point experience the wear and tear of time on your equipment.

The outdoors is a battleground for rocks, trees, fire, and ambitious wildlife that is eventually going to result in a hole in your tent somehow. However, instead of replacing the whole tent, you can fix up your tent.

How To Patch A Tent

A patch doesn’t have to mean tent-death, it can be easily fixed and you need not worry.

You can use these methods on other equipment like, sleeping bags or hammocks, sometimes, depending on the type, you could use them on clothing too!

So, let’s have a look at what you can do to fix up your outdoor equipment when a tear appears. 

Patching a rip in your tent

Patching a small hole 

A hole in your tent doesn’t have to mean the end-all of your camping life. A small hole… even less so. Patching a small hole can be easy enough.

Let us talk you through how to fix this if you find a small hole in your tend. 

  1. First of all, you’re going to need some patching tape. Cut a small piece from it, make sure this piece is big enough to cover about a quarter to half past the sides of the hole. Use some scissors to round the edges of the tape so that it is circle/oval in shape. Patching tape is easy to get, available at most outdoor recreational stores, hardware stores, or online. 

  2. Carefully and gently clean the area of the tent that is affected. Use an alcohol swab or wipe it gently with a towel, make sure you clean the whole area that you will be placing the patch. Note, that the patch will go on the inside of the tent, NOT the outside. 

  3. Now, gently and carefully place the patch over the tear. 

  4. Once the patch is covering the tear, you will need to cover the patch with a seam gip. This should go over no more than a quarter to half an inch past the edge of the patch. Seam grip can be bought just as easily as the patching tape. It is a flexible sealer that will repair tears, and it helps for tents as it is waterproof when it dries. Keep this area looking neat, use latex gloves if easier, do not apply with bare hands, use a brush or gloves. Let this dry for half a day/12 hours. 

  5. Once the seam grip has dried, repeat this process for the seam grip on the outside. You do not need to put another patch over this, just use the seam grip. Similar to before, let it dry for 12 hours. Afterward, it will be as good as new!

Making a waterproof patch

What about ensuring extra waterproof capabilities for a patch on a tent? Well… there is only really one main difference…

  1. Cut a piece of patching tape, similar as you would for a normal small patch. Again round it off at the sides and small enough to go over the edges no more than half an inch.

  2. Similar to before, make sure the area you will apply needs to be cleaned. Once again you are placing this inside.
  3. Place the patch over the hole and cover with the seam grip, the same as before. Let dry for 12 hours. 

  4. Now, this is where we differ from before. We also have to apply a patch on the outside. Wait until the inside has dried and then do the same for the outside. Cutting a piece of patching tape, and apply the seam grip, no more than and water to half an inch from the edge of the patch.

  5. Wait for the second side to dry for 12 hours. This process will ensure that water will not leak through the patch. This is especially good for wet and rainy climates and we recommend doing this anyway as it doesn’t take any longer than the small patching options. 

Dealing with large tears

Now, large rips are a bit harder to deal with. A large tear means that you can’t just stick on a patch and some seam grip. In fact, you may want to expect some unwanted crocheting.

If the material is related and may be able to handle some extra pressure, you can pull the two sides together, folding one side under the other. Then you fold one under the other and sew tightly. 

We advise you to use a sewing awl and waxed threat, as well as ensuring that the stitches are close together to properly hold the material in place. Then once you have fully sewn this up and to the standard, it needs to be, apply the seam sealer. 

However, if you cannot pull the material together you will need to use repair tape. However, depending on the size of the tear you may have to use a fair bit.

As this is a much bigger tear than the smaller ones, you want to use bigger pieces. Rather than ensuring the tape is less than half an inch over the tear, with this size we should ensure that it is at least an inch and a half longer and wider than the tear. Similar to before seam seal around the edges. 

Now, you have one more option. If you have spare patches of tent fabrics, you may be able to use these to fix the holes. This may be a little trickier than using something such as repair tape and maybe more awkward to do, however, if you are feeling ambitious it can be done, just make sure you are patient and have the time and space to do so.

To Conclude

A tear in a tent is not the end of the world, while it may seem hopeless you can save it.

We like the waterproof option which you can do for both large or small tears as this will keep you dry and safe whatever happens.

Tents can easily tear so it is always handy to have these things on hand… just in case.

Andrew Mullen

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