How to Patch a Hole in Your Tent

One of the worst things an outdoor enthusiast can find when setting up the tent for the first time of the season, is a tear or hole. The only thing less desirable is to discover the hole after a long, cold, rainy night spent tossing and turning in the woods. Wet bedding and clothing can make for a miserable camping experience, so campers should be prepared when setting out for a weekend submersed in the elements.

The truth of the matter, is that it happens to even the most experienced outdoorsmen (and women). The difference between the experienced and the unexperienced, is who comes prepared. The best way to be prepared is by creating a repair kit to store with the camping gear, keeping it stocked at all times. While it may take a little bit of preparation and shopping, it will pay off in the event of an unforseen rip in the side of a tent.

When purchasing a tent, buyers should tackle the repair kit right away. Most likely, all of the needed supplies can be found at the same store at which the tent was purchased. Consumers should talk to a knowledgeable sales specialist to examine the type of tent being purchased, and what items should be included in the hole repair kit. Having the wrong materials certainly won’t help in a sticky situation. Canvas tents will require different patch material than nylon tents, so shoppers should take special care in ensuring that they are purchasing the correct repair tape and sealer. When camping, the repair items can be stored in a water proof container to ensure they stay protected from the elements.

Even if a hole or tear is discovered post purchase, happy campers can remain so by making a trip to their local outdoor supply store, and often even a hardware store, to purchase everything needed to repair the offending tent.

The following should be included in any tent repair kit:

Sharp scissors
Sturdy sewing tool such as an awl, but a needle will work as well
Seam sealer and repair tape, both designed for the material needing repair (nylon or canvas)
Paper towel or any absorbant towel to dry the area prior to applying the repair tape and sealer

The repair tape should be cut to extend at least an inch or two beyond the boundary of the rip, and then coated with the seam sealer. For extra hold, savvy campers should apply the repair tape on both sides of the material to create a stronger bond. Using the awl, or even a needle and thread, the repair tape can be sewn into place. Taking a little extra time with the sewing part of the repair will pay off in the long run. Stitches should be relatively close and tight to really strengthen the hold.

If hunters or campers are caught in the rain when a hole is discovered, it would be wise to at minimum, move the tent to some tree cover. If none is available, a tarp can be used to block the rain. The patching materials as well as the tent should be kept dry before a repair is attempted. Tip: In a pinch, duct tape would do relatively the same job as the formal patch, but only on a temporary basis.

Tents should be coated with water proofing spray once completely patched, clean and dry, to keep leaks to a minimum.

With a little imagination, repair tape can be used to provide a quick solution to rips in screens and zipper lining, as well as tarps. While these may not be the most attractive fixes, they can keep campers and hunters dry until a more permanent solution can be applied. Paper towel, or another absorbant material, should be kept in the kit to make preparation of a dry repair site a little easier.

The number one rule for anyone who will be spending time in the wilderness, be it hunting or camping, is to create a checklist of essentials and always go through the camping gear prior to heading out into the woods. A prepared camper will make for a happy camper, no matter what mother nature decides to throw their way.