How to Season a Canvas Tent

Seasoning a canvas tent can improve its durability and longevity. Learning how to season your canvas tent will help in the long run and help you get your money’s worth. It can also prevent any nasty leaks whilst you’re out and about on your camping trip.

What is Seasoning?

In terms of camping, seasoning relates to a technique used to remove the microscopic pin holes that canvas tents are often made up of. All canvas tent owners should season their tents, as they’re more likely to experience leaks and draft if they don’t. 

As discussed in a previous article, canvas tents are incredibly durable and waterproof– but only if they’ve been seasoned beforehand. Seasoning helps waterproof your tent, but it isn’t the same as other methods of waterproofing as it doesn’t require seam sealing and spraying. Whilst you can still use seam sealer and waterproofing spray on a canvas tent, making sure it is seasoned first should be the top priority. 

Seasoning a canvas tent is a fairly straight-forward process, but it can take a couple of days to see results. The process involves wetting the canvas material which makes up the tent, which causes it to naturally expand and close off any tiny holes that may be present in the fabric. Seasoning is best completed before taking the tent out for a proper camping journey as the inside of the tent runs the risk of getting wet and leaking whilst the tent is in use. 

Why Should I Season My Tent?

Seasoning a canvas tent reduces the risk of leakage, which in turn minimizes damage that can be caused by rainwater. In the long term, this can prevent mold and mildew, the need to patch your tent, and can reduce further repair costs or the need to replace the tent completely. 

Keeping the interior and exterior of the tent dry during camping trips also makes for a lot more comfortable experience, and makes it easier to settle down inside the tent. 

How to Season a Canvas Tent

In order to season your tent, you need plenty of ample time and space. Seasoning your canvas tent in dry weather is the best option, as the tent needs to be left outside for 4-5 days as it is seasoning. 

Things You’ll Need:

  • Your canvas tent
  • A hose
  • An outside area for your tent
  • 4-5 days

1) Assemble the Tent

Assemble the tend in the space which you will be using to season it. The tent is best assembled in a large area with lots of access to sunlight. Remember that the tent will need to remain where it is for several days, meaning that it should be somewhere that won’t be disruptive or intrusive. 

When putting the tent up, set it up as if you were preparing it for rainy weather. This includes keeping all windows closed, all zips completely closed and pegged firmly to the ground. 

2) Wet the Tent

There are two ways to let your tent soak. The traditional way, of course, is just leaving it up and letting the rain get to it. However, it’s advised to just bring out the garden hose and soak the tent during a dry spell to leave it with appropriate time to dry off. If using a hose, make sure to evenly saturate the tent whilst paying close attention to the seams. Corners and seams are where a leak is more likely to occur, so it’s important to pay added attention to them. 

The tent needs to be fully drenched in order for the insides to also season. Make sure the tent is evenly soaked right through, but be aware of any areas that seem to be worse than others. If one area is particularly bad, make sure to spend more time soaking that area through. The process of soaking should take anywhere from 10-15 minutes in its entirety. 

3) Dry and Repeat

Allowing the tent to air dry naturally is the best way to prepare it in order to repeat the drenching. Unfortunately, a canvas tent won’t be seasoned correctly after being soaked through once. In order to ensure the tent is as ready as possible for camping trips, the process needs to be repeated at least 2-3 more times, with time for the tent to air dry in between. Air drying can be assisted with a fan blowing air into the structure, as discussed in How To Dry Your Tent.

4) Make Sure There Are No Leaks

After drenching and drying the tent two or three times, it’s time to check for any leaks or places of concern. Keep a lookout for areas where there are pinholes of light shining through, especially near the seams. 

The best way to check if there are any leaks is to set the tent up on a rainy day (or simulate the rain using a hose) and see if any water finds its way inside. 

 You can read more about how to check for leaks in How to Waterproof a Tent 

5) Waterproof Further (Optional)

For added protection against the elements, further actions can be taken to waterproof your tent. Using a seam sealer on the seams to patch up any small pinholes, and using a waterproofing spray are two of the best ways of securing your tent for any rainy weather. Waterproof spray should be applied frequently to the tent, either once every couple of months if the tent sees frequent use or a couple of days before it’s taken out on any camping trips if it’s not used frequently. 

6) Pack the Tent Up

When you’re satisfied with your tent’s seasoning, it’s time to pack it up and put it into storage. Make sure your tent is fully dry before parceling it up, as a wet or damp tent will grow mouldy or smell if packed away whilst still wet or damp. If you’re in a rush, it’s useful to know that a wet tent can generally be stored for 48 hours

How to Keep Your Tent Dry

Preventing your tent from getting wet using other options is useful as a preventative measure and for reducing the amount of water likely to land on your tent. The use of external shelter such as gazebo or tarpaulin can help protect the tent better than some other means of waterproofing. Natural shade, such as large trees or boulders, can also help keep the tent dry, in addition to a tent footprint, which exists to protect the underside of the tent’s flooring. 

More tips on keeping your tent (and yourself!) dry in the rain can be found in Camping in the Rain

Final Thoughts

Waterproofing a canvas tent is an important part of maintaining and keeping the tent in its best possible condition. Waterproofing can save time, money and longevity in the long run.

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