Have you just purchased or considering purchasing a Cotton (canvas) or Polycotton tent?

Then this easy to follow 3 step guide on how to ‘Season’ it before your first camping adventure is just for you!Three easy steps


Maybe you have researched these types of fabrics and understand that there is a simple but very important procedure you must do before using your tent or maybe you haven’t, either way the following simple guide will show you how to season a tent and some other things to check out when you have your tent set up for the first time

Personally, when I buy a tent I always set it up in my back yard prior to using it for the first time. There are several reasons I do this:

  •  I want to make sure that all the parts are there (Inner and outer tent, poles and pegs and any extras)
  • To check for damages. Ensure there are no rips or holes in the fabric (including the floor), that none of the stitching is defective, all the seams are sealed correctly, all zippers are working smoothly and not ‘snagging’ and that the poles and ferrules (joining sections) are all in good condition
  • I want to check out the size and visualize how I want to have my ‘layout’ (bedding, gear, etc.)
  • To SEASON my tent. This process is only required for Cotton or Polycotton tents and is highly advised before first using the tent



Seasoning a tent is basically a procedure for waterproofing it. A lot of tents made from Canvas and Polycotton will already have a waterproof coating on them (check the tent specifications) and although the seasoning process that you’ll learn here is performed on the entire tent, the main reason it’s done is to waterproof the seams and anywhere else on the tent where there is stitching as all the tiny needle holes need to be ‘closed up’ so to speak

Seasoning works on the principal that when the cotton fibres are wet they will swell up and then when they dry they will contract and tighten in on each other thus making them impermeable. Ok, so let’s get into it…



You’ll want to have your tent set up for at least a few days depending on the weather in order to season it properly so this is best done at home in your backyard. If you don’t have a yard, maybe ask a friend or family member if you can use theirs

Pitch your tent and attach guy ropes as you normally would making sure to extend awnings and/or vestibules but zip up windows and doors and close any vents your tent may have


This can be done by either A) Wetting it yourself with a hose or sprinkler or B) By setting your tent up prior to expected wet weather

Hose or rain

Obviously we have no control over the weather so it really doesn’t matter how wet your tent gets if it rains for a day or two but preferably you will want some nice dry days soon after for your tent to fully dry out

I recommend that you hose it yourself (best done in the drier months), that way you have more control of the areas you’ll want to give a good soaking such as around and under the awnings, vestibules, windows and doors. In particular, wet around seams and stitching where you’ll want it to bind up nice and tight, filling in those little needle holes

You may wish to use a sprinkler if you don’t feel like standing in the yard hosing your tent. If this is the case, I recommend that you periodically move the sprinkler around all sides of your tent and let it get a good drenching from all angles

  • Some people will get inside their tent with a spray bottle and give all the interior seams a soak before doing the exterior but that’s entirely up to you
  • If hosing the tent yourself, you only need your hose on a shower type setting and give it a good soak. Continue hosing for around 5 minutes after you see the water stop ‘beading’. Remember, concentrate more on the stitched areas. CAUTION: do not use a high pressure washer such as a Gerni. It may cause damage to your tent
  • Seasoning your tent on warmer/drier days will enable the tent to dry more quickly and thoroughly


Ok, so now your tent is nice and wet, you just simply leave it to fully dry BUT, we’re not done yet… That was just the first time around. Now we literally just ‘rinse and repeat’. Leave your tent set up and repeat steps 2 & 3 again. I do recommend doing the process twice but I’ll check the interior of my tent after the second soaking and if I see even the smallest drop of water I’ll repeat the process a third time. You can opt to do it a fourth time if you find it necessary


NEVER FEAR If you have any water entering through a stitch or seam after several attempts (although the chances of this are very slim) just go and grab yourself a wax stick from your local camping store and give the affected seam a rub (ensure the seam is fully dry first). Start on the inside and if it still leaks when you test it, wait for it to dry and do the outside of the seam


Take the wax stick with you when you go camping as you never know if you might need it. They’re also useful to lubricate zippers



Ok, now that your tent is fully waterproofed and dry, all you need do is pack it up and your ready for your next camping adventure… BUT WAIT! There’s one more thing you should know… ‘Seasoning’ is not a ‘one off’ process

CompleteI imagine your tent wasn’t cheap so you’ll want to protect your investment and have many camping adventures in the future so you’ll need to maintain it. Seasoning is, I guess what you might call a ‘periodical maintenance’ and I’d suggest to you that if you look after your tent and season it around once a year, following the 3 easy steps that you’ve just learnt then there is no reason your tent won’t last you a lifetime






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