How to Patch a Canvas Tent

Canvas tents are popular for their durability and the protection that they provide from the weather. However, they can prove expensive sometimes – especially high-end ones. One of the worst things that can happen once you’ve bought an expensive or dream tent is to find a hole has appeared in it. 

Luckily, there are several ways to fix these holes without needing to invest in a whole new tent, depending on the severity of the tear or hole. 

When do I Need to Patch a Tent

Even though there are ways to check your tent for any holes or tears, there’s a chance that you won’t find out until it’s too late. The best time to check your tent over for holes or tears is just before you go camping. Setting the tent up in the backyard or even inside gives it a chance to air off and also gives you a chance to inspect the fabric for any tears, holes or other cause for concern. 

For a more thorough inspection, setting the tent up outside and spritzing it with misty water from a hose can help determine whether or not there are any holes in the tent which can potentially cause a leakage or further problems. This method, among others, is mentioned in how to waterproof a tent.

While waiting to patch the tent when a hole has appeared is generally the time people patch their tents, it is also possible to preemptively patch your tent if you suspect a hole or tear is developing or inevitable in a certain area. Ways to tell if an area of your tent is particularly at risk is by thinking about how much strain is put in that one area, if it’s constantly stretched and under a lot of stress, there’s a chance a hole or tear will occur. Frayed fabric, dimpled fabric and fabric that has thinned are all signs to keep an eye out for when thinking about places that could potentially cause issues in the future. 

Repairing Small Holes in a Tent

Repairing small holes in a tent don’t usually require any additional material to patch them up. If they’re small enough, the only materials you’ll need are a needle and thread. 

  • Using a strong nylon thread, carefully pull the area around the hole closer together, ensuring that too much strain isn’t made on the fabric. The fabric used to cover a tent isn’t particularly baggy, and any unnecessary pressure added when sewing up holes can cause the seams to just open up again, rendering the fix redundant.
  • Begin sewing the hole shut, using the fabric you’ve pulled together to close it.  

Repairing a small hole is easy and quick, and can be completed using materials you may already have packed in your camping essentials. 

Patching a Canvas Tent

Patching a tent requires more material and time to do. Due to the size of the tears and holes that could require a patch rather than a quick fix, more materials are needed for a more permanent solution. There are also quick and temporary ways to patch a tent, which can be achieved when out camping using limited materials. 

Depending on the size and abundance of holes, a camper could find it takes anywhere from half an hour to an hour to patch the holes in their tent. 

Temporarily Patching a Canvas Tent

This method is not intended for prolonged use and is instead reserved for emergencies whilst already camping, using equipment that is usually already in camping kits. 

To temporarily patch a tent, you need the following:

  • Duct tape or other repair tape
  • Tissue, toilet paper, or other thin material

This solution relies heavily on a dry tent in order to keep the duct tape attached. If the tent is wet or damp, dry it off as much as possible before starting the following steps.

  • Place the tissue paper over the hole. This acts as a base for the duct tape to attach to. 
  • Begin using strips of duct tape to cover the tissue paper and the area around it, until it is fully covered.
  • Do the same on the other side of the tent.
  • Double-back some areas around the patch, for extra durability.

This method may need to be repeated as duct tape or repair tape can become loose, especially in wet weather. As a temporary solution, it should be able to last until the end of your camping trip, when you can then go home and patch the tent up correctly. 

Materials Needed to Patch a Canvas Tent

The materials needed to patch a canvas tent are different depending on the size of the hole or tear. 

For smaller holes that can’t just be sewn up, a small piece of canvas and some repair glue are likely to be enough. 

To use canvas and repair glue to fix a small hole in a canvas tent: 

  • Create a circular patch from the piece of canvas which is big enough to cover the hole. 
  • Glue one patch to the inside of the tent, and repeat the previous step and glue a second one on the outside of the tent. 
  • Allow the two sides to dry fully. 

For larger tears, the materials remain somewhat similar but require extra adhesives such as thread or stronger glue.

How to Patch a Canvas Tent Step-By-Step

To patch a larger hole in a canvas tent, you’ll need a sheet of canvas, scissors, thread, tear mender glue and canvas glue. 

  • Sew the tear shut using your thread and needle. This step will probably be the most laborious in terms of time, but it will increase the longevity of your patch. 
  • Cut the patches out of the canvas sheet, making sure that they’re bigger than the tear. Make sure that the canvas being used on the outside of the tent is waterproof, and when cutting it to shape, make sure corners are rounded off. A round patch is less likely to fall off than one with pointed corners. 
  • Using the tear mender glue, stick the canvas on one side of the tent, over the tear. This step should be repeated for the other side of the tent as well afterwards. 
  • Use a weighted object to keep the patches in place until they dry. 

Related Articles: 

How to Keep your Tent Cool

How to Attach a Tent to a Backpack

Most Comfortable way to Sleep in a Tent

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