How to Patch Holes in Outdoor Camping Tents

A couple in a tent.
What You'll Need
Seam sealer
Tent repair tape
Waxed thread

When outdoor camping tents have holes it’s more than annoying. It can ruin your camping trip. Those holes need to be patched. You can do it at home before you leave. If it happens when you’re on your trip you can do it in the field. Carry the materials with you. They take up very little room and can make that camping vacation a great deal more enjoyable.

Step 1 - Get the Right Type Of Repair Tape

You will need the correct type of repair tape and seam sealer for the material of your tent. For a nylon tent use nylon repair tape, and taffeta repair tape for a canvas tent. Similarly, have the right type of seam sealer for your outdoor camping tents.

Step 2 - Tape Small Rips

For small rips in outdoor camping tents, use the repair tape to cover the rip. Use it both inside and outside the tent, making sure the tape amply covers the hole. Smooth it down then apply seam sealer to the edges-again both inside and out.

Step 3 - Sew Large Rips

A brown tent.

With a larger rip in outdoor camping tents, you’ll either need to use tape or sew the hole closed. Which you use depends on the pressure on the area around the hole. If there’s no pressure, it’s easy to sew. To do this, turn under the top edge of the rip by about ¼ inch and then sew it over the outside of the lower edge. This ensures water won’t enter. When you’ve done that, use seam sealer along the line of your sewing to keep the tent watertight.

Step 4 - Tape Large Rip

Where there’s pressure on the area of the tent you should use repair tape. Make the tape 1½ inches larger on all sides than the size of the rip. You might need to do it in strips. If so, start at the bottom and overlap moving up to keep water from entering the tent. Use the tape inside and outside the tent and finish with seam sealer on all the edges.

Step 5 - Patch

Patches in outdoor camping tents will demand a little sewing skill, but they will keep your tent waterproof. The patch has to be 3 inches larger in all directions than the hole you’re covering. Pin it over the hole, then turn the edges in 1 inch on all 4 sides and repin. Now you should sew the patch in place, with the first lines of stitching 1/8 inch from the edge of the patch. Add a second line of stitching ¼ inch in from the first. Now you can remove the pins.

Go inside the outdoor camping tent and trim the hole into a square or rectangle, giving a 1-inch clip to the corners. Turn those edges under, pin into place and then stitch around the edge, before adding a second line of stitching 1/4 inch in from that. To finish, use seam sealer all around the outside patch.