How to Repair a Used Camping Tent

What You'll Need
Grommet setter
Sewing awl
Ripstop repair tape
Nylon seam sealer
Canvas seam sealer
Taffeta repair tape
Waxed thread

Camping tents are sturdy, but under the right circumstances they can rip. It doesn’t matter whether they’re made of nylon or canvas, a branch or a sharp rock can cause a rip that needs to be fixed.


Step 1 - Small Rip

Small rips in used camping tents are easily fixed. With a nylon tent you have to apply a patch of ripstop nylon tape on both sides of the tent, inside and out. Make sure the edges are smoothed down well, then coat the tape well with seam sealer to prevent any leaks. With a canvas tent you’d use taffeta tape and canvas seam sealer.

Step 2 - Large Tears

Fixing a large tear in camping tents depends on the location of the tear. If there’s no pressure on the tent there you can stitch the edges together. Turn the top edge under slightly and sew it over the outside of the bottom edge with waxed thread. This way water won’t come in. When you’ve finished, use seam sealer on the join to keep it watertight.

If the rip occurs where the tent is under pressure and stretched you’ll need to use repair tape on it. The tape needs to overlap the length and edges of the rip by at least 1-½ inches. You might need to overlap several strips of tape to achieve the proper effect. If so, go from bottom to top to avoid water intrusion. Use the tape both inside and outside the tent. When you have the tape pressed down smoothly use seam sealer on the edges. This will often be enough. If you’re not sure it has the right strength replace it with a large patch of the appropriate tent fabric when you can.

Step 3 - Patch

There’s an art to putting a patch on a tent. The patch has to be about 3 inches larger in all directions than the hole. Pin it in place on the outside of the tent then turn the edges under by 1 inch on all sides and pin it again. Sew a row all around the patch about 1/8 inch in from the edge, followed by another row ¼ inch in from the first row. Remove the pins.

Inside the tent take off as little as you can around the damaged area to make it into a rectangle or square and clip the corners on the diagonal, pinning the material in place. Turn the edges and stitch around the hole. Add another line of stitching 1/4 inch outside this and finish with seam sealer all around the patch outside the tent

Step 4 - Grommet

If you need to replace a grommet cut around it, as close to the grommet as possible. Use repair tape on the area to strengthen it. Stitch it into place. Use the grommet setter to put a new grommet in the taped area and then put seam sealer around the grommet and around the tape.