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Repairing a Damaged Tent

What to do when your tent tears

The worst situation is to be inside a tent during a downpour and finding out you have a small hole in the fly. Drip, drip, drip. Your down sleeping bag is getting wet. Don’t despair though! Here are some ways to be warm, happy and – most importantly – dry again.

Duct tape is always a good place to start, but if your tent is made from SilNylon (like all LightHeart Gear tents), it won’t stick to the fabric so you can’t patch it in the field this way. But, depending on the size of the hole or tear and the availability of silicone seam sealer, it can be quite easy to do a field repair by following these easy steps.

i) If the problem is a tiny pinhole, putting a dab of silicone based seam sealer (such as SilNet) over the hole is all you need to do.

 

ii) Moving larger, if the hole is no bigger than ¼ inch in diameter, it can be patched by ‘gluing’ a small rounded patch of silnylon over the hole.

First, cut the patch and make sure it has rounded corners so it’s less likely to get caught and pulled off accidently. If it was my tent and I was out on a hike in the middle of no where, I would probably cut a small patch from one of the patches in the corners of the rain fly near the hem by the zippers.  That can be repaired/replaced later and won’t affect the integrity of the tent. 

Once you have your patch, coat one side of the patch with a few drops of silicone seam sealer.

Next, place it over the hole coated side down (make sure the damaged area is clean and dry first!!!) and smoosh it around a little so the sealer covers the entire surface of the patch and the area being patched.  You want all surfaces to adhere well. 

Then put a little more sealer on the top of the patch and smear it around carefully so all edges of the patch are completely covered.  Allow it to dry thoroughly.

It doesn’t really matter what side of the tent you patch, though if the patch is on the outside, it will be visible. 

iii) If the hole or tear is much larger than ¼ inch, you may need to sew the patch on and then have the areas sewn coated with seam sealer.

tent tear

To begin, cut a patch that is quite a bit larger than the hole. Line up the weave of the patch to match the weave of the fabric and pin it in place making sure the pins are VERY CLOSE TO THE HOLE. Sew around the hole with regular thread and a straight stitch, making sure you are outside of the area you placed the pins.

fabric weave

After the patch is sewn on, carefully trim away the excess material and cover all raw edges and needle holes with seam sealer on both sides of the patch. Your tent is now good to go!

sewing the patch

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