I am relatively new to taking outdoor gear seriously. In the past, I followed the 'wisdom' from basic family/summer camper type activity, of which I had the notion that a new tent needs to be treated (above what the factory provides). I now have a new REI Kingdom 8 for beach camping (which of course they say doesn't need anything additional done to it).
So what I want to know is if I should do anything to it before I take it out to use. If so, what products are recommended?
Loc: Nacogdoches, TX, USA
Allow me to take the "Don't store it wet" advice one step further. I stored one I thought was dry, but was apparently still just damp enough to cause problems, and it now has permanent mildew stains. The mildew is dead and the tent doesn't leak, fortunately. It's been thoroughly washed with a tech. wash, but it still looks terrible. I now hang it in my carport every time I use it and don't pack it away until dry weather.
Loc: Central Illinois near Springfi...
Absolutely. Another problem is that moisture may accelerate the deterioration of the fabric coating. More so with Polyurethane than Silicone. I would agree with hanging the tent up to dry. I have set mine up in the yard only to find moisture on the underside of the floor when I took it down.
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
There are two possible sources of confusion.
The first comes from the fact that if a tent is made from silnylon (silicone impregnated nylon), the seams need to be sealed by hand, using a silicone based sealer. That's because the factory-applied seam tape used on urethane-coated tents won't adhere to silnylon and there's no mechanical substitute.
The second source of confusion comes from the old untreated cotton canvas tents which, if you touched them from the inside, would leak at that point. Nobody uses these tents any more except for historic re-enacting (I have one for Civil War re-enacting, but the canvas has been treated--not historically accurate, but it doesn't show).
IMHO, setting up a new tent in the backyard before your first trip with it is always a good idea! While you're at it, test it with a garden hose. That's especially a good idea with a silnylon tent that you've seam sealed. I remember sitting through several evenings of thunderstorms with a new tent, feeling like the Dutch boy and the dike because I had missed a small spot!
Edited by OregonMouse (05/02/1602:32 PM)
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey
The question I think you really asked was if the seams needed to be sealed or if the tent needed to be waterproofed before using.
As you've bought a $500 tent from REI, I wouldn't worry very much about waterproofing of the fabric. If you take it out back and test it with a hose, or if it leaks when you take it out camping (Rain is a good bet in PA in May/Jun) SEND IT BACK AND ASK FOR A REFUND. REI ought to grant that.
The other issue is the seams. Seams almost always leak. Until recently, the right answer was that you needed to seam seal (put a thinned-out glue) on the seams to prevent leaks, mostly through the holes for the stitching or through the seam itself. That's what Oregon Mouse was talking about with SilNylon tents. You use different products to seal the seams depending on what the manufacturer used to treat the fabric to make the fabric waterproof. The dominant waterproofing treatment for nylon tents - for years - was polyurethane. Cottage gear manufacturers often use silicon treated fabric. Mainstream manufacturers have been turning away from nylon for a while now in favor of fabrics that are waterproof by their very nature.
What changed recently is that large manufacturers have started taping seams to prevent leakage - an update I didn't understand when I bought my last family tent and spent a couple hours sealing every seam.
The REI website claims that your tent has been seam sealed. It doesn't say if the seams have been taped. If you open up the tent and look at the seams on the inside of the tent you will be able to tell if they've been taped because you'll see something that looks like a fabric tape on the back of every seam.
I recommend that you call REI (their customer service is OUTSTANDING) and ask what they think you should do. Ask to talk to an expert – they have them. You should ask what you should use to seam seal the tent, and if he/she would do so again if it were their family in the tent. Some tents are good out of the box, however (I was shocked when I used a Coleman tent out of the box and the seams were good to go) and if REI told me that their guys seamsealed the tent I just might trust that. Or you might find me out in the backyard sniffing glue to make sure that I wasn’t going to get wet. YMMV.
Thank you all for your responses. Sorry I dropped out of the 'conversation' right after posting, but my husband had a small motorcycle accident (among other unexpected life stuff) and I am getting back to somewhat less urgent details.
We still haven't gotten the tent out to test the situation, but I will do as suggested and call in rather than email REI first.