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How to Waterproof a Cotton Canvas Tent by Soak and Drying?

Jun 16, 2021

Do you want to know the best way to waterproof your cotton canvas tent? If yes, you are at the right place. You’ll find thousands of articles on the internet recommending sealing sprays to waterproof your cotton canvas tent. The bad news is that these actions are not very effective and badly impact your tent’s performance and lifespan. The best process to waterproof your cotton canvas is soaking and drying the tent that we will discuss later on.

Canvas Tent with Wood Stove Jack

Cotton canvas tents are preferable worldwide because they are breathable, sustainable, and can withstand harsh conditions. However, cotton canvas tents are not waterproof entirely and allow water to seep in during heavy rains.

Furthermore, these tents lose their effectiveness against moisture and other elements with frequent usage. However, if you waterproof your tent and correctly store it, you’ll get very effective results. 

In this article, we will see when you should waterproof your cotton canvas tent. Besides, we will also tell you how to waterproof cotton canvas tents the right way.

Let us go straight to the topic!

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What is Cotton Canvas Fabric?

Whenever it comes to the tent material, you always come across cotton or canvas fabric. Canvas is a plain fabric made of woven cotton. This cotton canvas fabric is famous for its durable and sturdy nature. It is often blended with synthetic fibers for waterproofing.

A material named ‘Hemp’ originally used to wove canvas initially. However, people started using cotton to weave canvas in 1500 B.C. The reason was simple. The cotton is more durable, breathable, sustainable, and waterproof. Therefore, many campers prefer cotton canvas tents over other tents available in the market.

YARN Plus Canvas Hot Tent with Wood Stove Jack

Pros and Cons of Cotton Canvas Tents

Cotton canvas has many substantial benefits due to which campers use these tents for camping. However, these tents also have several cons that you must consider before purchasing a tent for yourself. In this section, we will see the pros and cons of cotton canvas tents.

Cotton canvas fabric is thicker and durable. Therefore, it is the best option if you want more protection against heat and water. These tents are very resistant to wear and tear and significantly withstand the pressure of outdoor conditions. Furthermore, cotton canvas tents have additional temperature regulations. Therefore, they keep you cozy and offer ventilation when things get too warm.

The drawbacks of cotton canvas tents are that they are heavy and expensive. Besides, these are also susceptible to mildew. Apart from that, cotton canvas tents also demand proper maintenance. Therefore, they need to be weathered first before usage.


●        Breathable.

●        Thicker and durable.

●        Water and heat resistance.

●        Regulates temperature


●        Heavy duty

●        Expensive

●        Require maintenance

●        Mildew Susceptibility

When Should You Waterproof the Cotton Canvas Tent?

You should waterproof your tent every time you want to go to hiking or climbing with your friends or family members. Besides, if you are using cotton canvas tents in your garden in hot weather, you need to season them first.

If you don’t have a cotton canvas tent, you can check out Pomoly’s 7 camping canvas tents.

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YARN Plus Canvas Hot Tent with Wood Stove Jack 2-4 Person

FORT Canvas Hot Tent | Shelter Tent with Stove Jack

YARN Solo Canvas Hot Tent with Wood Stove Jack 1 Person

Rhombus Shelter | Canvas Wolf Den Tarp 1.0 for Solo Bushcraft | Lonewolf902 Signature

Rhombus Shelter with Stove Jack | Canvas Wolf Den Tarp 2.0 | Lonewolf902 Signature

Lonewolf902 Hammock Hot Tarp | Canvas Hot Shelter for Hammock Camping | Lonewolf902 Design

How to Waterproof Your Cotton Canvas Tent?

Let us go to the most critical part of this article, “The best way to waterproof your cotton canvas tent.” This section will provide you a systematic guide to waterproof cotton canvas tents by soaking and drying.

Step 1: Tent Preparation

You cannot soak your cotton canvas tent directly after removal from storage. Instead, you have to prepare it first.

Wake up early on a hot sunny day and stretch your cotton canvas tent in a sunny yard or garden. Make sure that the sun is burning brighter and there is no chance of rain. After that, close all the doors and open the tent. Left the tent out for 1-2 hours.

Step 2: The First Soak:

Now, your tent is ready for the first soak. Open the hose and start soaking your tent until it is fully saturated. There is a rare chance of leakage through the walls. Therefore, you should focus your attention on soaking the seams of your tent.

Step 3: Canvas Bake and Drying:

After the first soak, you should dry your cotton canvas tent. For this purpose, you should leave your tent in the hot sun. It generally takes a few hours to complete the drying process. You should wait until the canvas is too hot to touch.

Step 4: The Second Soak:

After the first soak and drying, you should soak your tent again for additional protection. You should re-stretch your cotton canvas tent and close all the doors and flaps. Open the hose and start soaking your tent again until its threads are swelled out, and all gaps between cotton fabrics are fully closed.

Step 5: The Second Drying:

It’s probably 1’0 clock or 2’0 clock in the afternoon by now. You should leave the tent in the sun again until it is completely dried.

Step 6: Repeat above Soaking-Drying Step:

Many people don’t soak the tents for the third time. We recommend you soak the tent one more time as it makes your tent super protective against heavy rains and other harsh conditions. Go to your yard and stretch your tent now for a third soak.

Step 7: Store Your Tent before Camping:

Now your cotton canvas tent is fully waterproof. Fold your tent now and store it anywhere you want. It is waterproof for the next 12 months.

YARN Solo Canvas Hot Tent with Wood Stove Jack

Why should you waterproof the cotton canvas tent by soaking it and drying it?

Soaking and drying is a natural way of waterproofing your cotton canvas. It provides very effective waterproofing results. Therefore, campers have been using this technique for thousands of years.

Soaking simply expands the fabrics and seals up the holes. Consequently, it doesn’t harm the fabric material under any scenario. In comparison, sealants cause many damages to the canvas fabric. Therefore, you should always prefer the soak and dry method to waterproof your tent.

How do you tell if your canvas needs seasoning and waterproofing?

If the pressed studs of the tent are pressed when you try to stretch your cotton canvas tent, your canvas most probably needs seasoning.

How often should you re-waterproof your canvas tent?

You should re-waterproof your canvas tents after 60-65 weeks (almost one year).

Final Words:

Waterproofing cotton canvas tents is compulsory before going camping. It ensures better protection against heavy rain and other harsh conditions. You can go above and check the simplest and the most effective method to waterproof your tent now!

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