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How to Repair Your Tent

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 14 Jun 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Tent Repair Tear Rip Sew Nylon Repair

Knowing how to carry out repairs can help extend the life of your expensive tent, and it can also help keep you more comfortable when you’re out on holiday. Branches and sharp rocks can easily cause tears and rips in your tent.

Having a tent repair kit with you when you go camping will mean you can take care of emergencies on the trail. It takes a little time to make a proper repair but just think of that as an investment. If the rain comes you’ll be glad you spent a few extra minutes to make it watertight.

Tent Repair Kit

A tent repair kit doesn’t take up much room. Here's what you'll need:
  • An awl for sewing
  • A pair of nail scissors (other small scissors will be fine)
  • A grommet setter and needles
  • A nylon seam sealer and nylon repair tape (also called ripstop repair tape)
  • Some grommets and waxed thread
Pack these in a small bag along with your tent so they’ll always be ready in the event of a rip or tear.

Small Rips

A small rip in a nylon tent is very simple to fix. You’ll need nylon tape, making sure that you cut two patches, each much larger than the rip. Smooth out the nylon of the tent and apply the inside patch first, making sure there are no wrinkles in the tent fabric. After this put the patch on the outside, again avoiding wrinkles. To complete the repair, put seam sealer around the edges of the patch, both inside and out, to form a continuous bond that won’t allow water to enter.

Large Tears

How you fix large tears in a tent depends in part on where they are. Some can be fixed with repair tape, especially if they’re in a part of the tent where the fabric isn’t stretched tight. Do it in much the same manner as above, but use two or more pieces of tape. Start at the bottom and layer up to create a shingle effect that will encourage the water to drip away. Finish by putting seam sealer on all the edges. Make sure that you use the tape and sealer this way both inside and outside the tent. This will secure the tent for the remainder of your camping trip. Once you’re home you might want to use tent fabric as a patch instead to give a longer-lasting repair.

Tent Fabric

You’ll use tent fabric to repair larger tears, usually when you’re at home and have the luxury to lay the tent out properly and work slowly. Make sure the patch is around 3 inches larger in all directions than the tear and place it on the outside of the tent. Turn all of the edges under by one inch and then pin the patch in place. With the needle and waxed thread sew just inside from the edge of the patch, going all around it, and then sew another row of stitches a little further in to give extra strength.

Turn the tent fabric over so you can see the tear from the inside. Trim the tear, making it into either a rectangle or a square before cutting into each of the corners at an angle to a depth on one inch. Turn up the edges and sew two rows of thread to hold them securely, just as you did on the outside. This will prevent the tear becoming wider. To complete the repair, use seam sealer all round the edges of the patch, but only on the outside.

Grommets

If the tent fabric around a grommet becomes torn, cut the grommet out, staying as close to the metal as possible. Use repair tape to cover the hole, folding it over to offer extra strength. With the needle and thread, stitch around the tape. Use the grommet setter to put in a new grommet and apply seam sealer both around the grommet and the tape.

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If you have a large rip then repair it whilst you're on your trip, but once you're back at home the best thing is probably to replace it. Even well repaired, a big rip will never have the strength it did before, so for your own peace of mind the simplest thing is to spend money on something new (and tent prices keep going down). Without spending much money you can probably buy a better tent than the one you had and be ready for your next trip.
Alex - 14-Jun-12 @ 8:27 AM
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