How to Repair a Tent
Protecting us from the elements is a demanding job for tents. Over time, rain, wind, and UV rays can take a toll on the fabric. Regular setups and takedowns also cause wear and tear. Additionally, accidents can happen, even with sturdy tents. Taking good care of your tent is a way to show gratitude for its protection and maximize your gear investment.
Repairing your tent can be done with the right supplies, allowing you to handle simple repairs in the field and more involved fixes at home. Here are some common tent repairs you can do:
Fixing a Hole in the Tent Fabric or Mesh:
Fixing a Sticky Zipper:
Sealing Leaks in the Seams:
Splinting a Broken or Bent Tent Pole:
It's important to note that basic tent care is crucial for its longevity. For more details on tent care, refer to our Tent Care article.
If the repairs needed are beyond your comfort or skill level, professional repair services are available. REI Co-op offers professional repair services through partners like Rainy Pass Repair and Tent Pole Technologies, who specialize in outdoor products and tent pole repairs, respectively.
Remember, taking care of your tent and repairing it when necessary not only extends its lifespan but also contributes to a sustainable outdoor gear economy by reducing waste.
If your mesh netting gets snagged, try to work the mesh strands close together again. If the damage is more severe, you can repair it using a mesh patch.
If you have a hole in a mesh door or window, here’s what to do:
If you don’t have a mesh patch, you can also use a solid patch for the repair. (The fix won’t look as clean, so think of it as a well-earned scar from one of your great adventures.)
Trying to force a zipper that jams is a great way to cause more serious damage to the tent. Always check to be sure that the cause isn’t simply fabric that got snagged.
If a zipper gets sticky, here’s what to do:
Seams are vulnerable areas, so inspect your tent seams periodically for damage or signs that water is sneaking in.
Here’s how to seal seams:
Note that condensation can sometimes build up and drip inside a fully seam-sealed tent. To help prevent that, follow best practices when you pitch your tent. Also, older tents can sometimes leak because the overall coating on waterproof fabrics (like the rainfly) is wearing out. When that happens, you need to renew the coating to restore waterproof performance.
It’s also helpful to renew the durable water repellent (DWR) coating on your tent’s waterproof fabrics. This will improve overall water-shedding performance in the same way that DWR renewal does on a rain jacket. As a bonus, some tent DWR renewal products also enhance resistance to UV rays. (UV rays gradually degrade tent fabrics, which is why you should also avoid leaving yours set up in the sunshine for extended periods of time.)
Whether your tent pole gets stepped on or a powerful gust of wind does the damage, a kinked, split, or snapped pole needs immediate attention in the field. After your return home, replace the pole or have it permanently paired.
Using a pole repair sleeve: The easiest and quickest way to fix a broken pole is with a pole repair sleeve. Also called a splint, this short tube is often provided with your tent. If not, buy one and pack it with you. A good pole repair sleeve is just slightly larger in diameter than your pole so that it doesn’t move around too much. Using a repair sleeve to fix a broken tent pole is simple:
If your pole breaks where one pole end inserts into the next one, you will have to splint the sections together; keep in mind that this will prevent the poles from folding up neatly when you take the tent down.
Using a tent stake as a splint: If you’ve lost or forgotten your pole repair sleeve, you can use a tent stake to concoct a crude splint:
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