View Full Version : Refurbishing a rainfly...

08-14-2015, 12:35
I recently came across an old tent...a good quality tent in good shape, but the rainfly is showing wear. The previous owner didn't want it anymore because it leaked. Initially I thought I could just reseal the seams, but in the process of doing that I'm thinking that's not going to be good enough. The original tape the manufacturer put on the seams was mostly just hanging off except near where the seams came together, so I was able to just tug on the ends and pull it off in long strips. While resealing the seams I came across several places on the rainfly where the waterproofing appears to be separating from the material...it kind of looks like skin peeling when you get a really bad sunburn. Has anybody had any success in refurbing a rainfly that is this far gone? Can you just spray some silicone spray over the whole thing? Is this a good long term solution? I'm not really worried about adding extra weight here because this is more of a car camping sized tent that I plan on using for canoe trips if I can get it water tight. I've also already emailed the manufacturer to see if a replacement fly is available, but since the tent is like 15 years old and hasn't been made in almost that long I'm not holding out much hope of that.

08-14-2015, 12:53
On a recent back-packing trip, we exited the woods at a front-country campground.

The strange thing I noticed was that many campers had setup their tents covered not only with a rain fly but also with blue walmart tarps... and I don't mean that they were trying to just cover the entrance to their tent with the tarp. The tarp was strung up such that the entire tent was under the tarp.

So if you are front country camping and weight isn't an issue, then you can either spray some silicone on the fly and cover the whole tent with a blue tarp... or leave the rain fly off completely and again cover the tent with a blue tarp. That way the tent will get more ventilation. (However, I would take the silicone-sprayed rainfly along as I would expect it to add an additional layer of protection if the weather gets bad with something beyond and afternoon rain shower).

08-14-2015, 13:23
I had considered the blue tarp option but some of my favorite camping spots on the river don't have any trees to rig a tarp.

08-14-2015, 14:56
There's a waterproofing aerosol spray you can use. I forget the exact most-popular brand but I know Nikwax makes one. The problem with anything you use will be getting completely underneath those peeling-off areas....so the tarp overtop (and skip the rainfly altogether) might be the best option. This also gives you great airflow through your tent (assuming it's mostly mesh underneath the rainfly) - that's how we survived our last 5-day trip when it was 90+ out.

08-14-2015, 18:06
"I came across several places on the rainfly where the waterproofing appears to be separating from the material...it kind of looks like skin peeling when you get a really bad sunburn"
That is the PU coating coming off, not all that unusual.
Use this :
there are instructions on that site on how to clean the fly and prepare it for application.

Rain Man
08-15-2015, 11:56
Don't confuse PU coating on some sort of poly fabric with silicone-impregnated nylon fabric. Two different things. Two different "solutions."

08-15-2015, 13:43
I found some Kiwi brand silicone spray at Walmart yesterday in the shoe department...I guess people use it to waterproof boots...but it also does list nylon tents as a possible use of the stuff, so I bought a can. I put the fly on the tent upside down and sprayed the whole thing with rubbing alcohol and wiped it down with paper towels...had to do some rubbing, but the places where the separation was happening it came right off. Next I sprayed the can all over, making sure to cover the seams once again. I got about 3/4 of the way done before the can ran out, so I'll have to pick up another one. Going back to it a couple hours later and feeling it dry I'm thinking this is going to work. At first I thought that the coating was so light and thin it couldn't possibly be water tight, but now that its dry it looks and feels just like the coating on a new tent. Its supposed to rain early next week so my plan is to leave it set up in the yard and see how it does.

08-20-2015, 10:31
Well, its rained for the last 3 days and the inside of the tent is still bone dry...so it appears this stuff actually works. Will try to post updates over the next few months after I use it a few times and see how it holds up.

08-20-2015, 10:37
Oh, and by the way, its been a whole week since I emailed Kelty asking if a replacement rainfly was available for this tent and nobody has ever responded.