View Full Version : Nikwaxxed my singlewall tent! Oops! Did I just destroy its breathability?

03-10-2008, 10:15
Good day fellow hikers! I have a wonderful Eureka zeus 2LE winglwewall tent that I've been messing around with for a few months now in these restless winter months.

Well, after not meeting with much success finding a suitable spray-on or spread-on strengthener for the relatively thin floor, I opted to just use the conventional ground sheet and blast the entire thing down with nikwax waterproofing. Hey...note to all of whiteblaze....DONT spray down your tent/poncho/whatever with nikwax in your bathtub. I swear. I've been working this bathroom for weeks trying to get it off the tub and the tile and everything still feels waxxy and gooey. And taking a bath is.....interesting. I feel very waterproof after each dip. LOL!!!

Speaks volumes of nikwax's durability though!

Well anyway, it occured to me that all this wax might negatively affect the breathability of my tent. Did I just make myself a portable sauna? If so, has anyone found a good way to disolve and remove nikwax?

03-10-2008, 10:40
Breathability isn't a trait of single wall tents. The only reason to use Nikwax (usually on shoes) is to make it waterproof. If the tent wasn't waterproof to begin with, which I doubt, all you have done is to make it a bit heavier and slicker. I suspect you will have to choose your campsites extremely well, as you will slide.

Now, if the Eureka is a silnylon tent, you probably did nothing at all, as very few things will adhere to silnylon. You might want to "paint" part of the floor of your tent with some silicon sealant goo to make it less slippery. I just make a bead of the sealant in a few places, or a neat drawing of some sort.

Now, does the Eureka have seam sealant in place? That was the task you probably needed to accomplish from the gitgo.

03-10-2008, 10:54
Thanks for the quick response!

The tent is nylon tafetta....not too slippery but add the trusty thermarest and I'm doing sledraces in there! The tent seems to have a million seams but..maybe because it's so fresh.....none of them leak. I do carry a small tube of RTV around for plugging leaks. Maybe I should add a few beads on the floor to keep the t-rest in place as you suggested.

Well, it's good to hear that I either didnt harm the tent or accomplished not much. Oh well! I was bored and wanted to feel like I was accomplishing something gear related!

Thanks again!

The Weasel
03-10-2008, 11:12
If you are concerned about what you've done to your tent fabric, call the NikWax customer service number. They can also tell you how to clean your tub.


03-10-2008, 12:09
Breathable, single wall tents -- at least significantly breathable through the fabric -- went out with the invention of coated nylon. Back in the 40s you could buy tents made of long fiber cotton that breathed quite well. And were quite waterproof if you didn't touch the fabric when it rained. The first drops caused the cotton to swell, sealing it from letting rain through. Touching it broke the seal.

Coated nylon had zero breathability. The new synthetic fibers -- Gor-Tex and its copies -- theoretically breathe, though in the real world the amount of moisture that escapes from either tents or clothing in most situations is pretty small, in my experience.

The real breathability in tents comes from the vents. A double walled tent is mostly vent. My favorite tent over the years was a coated nylon "tarp" tent. It had no floor and no zippers. The wind blew in under the walls and through the door. Moisture buildup was never a problem. And it weighed about a pound. Unfortunately, I read the ads and replaced it with something alleged to be better.


Blue Jay
03-10-2008, 14:59
Nikwax is supposed to be breathable. I have used it on trail runners and it worked well. More water resistant and although not as breathable as they were originally, I still felt they were breathable. You may have limited the breathability but not destroyed it.

03-10-2008, 19:47
Don't know about the "winglwewall" but you won't damage any of the zeus' breathability - it has none.