How to Choose the Right Seam Sealer
Before choosing a seam sealer, you should first decide if you need a seam sealer. Four circumstances could apply to you:
- If you’re tent leaks, you need a seam sealer (and probably some waterproof coating).
- If you buy a brand-new tent and it doesn’t have taped seams, then you may want to take the preventative step of sealing your seams.
- If your brand-new tent has taped seams, you probably don’t need to seal your seams.
- If you have a used tent and the taped seams are wearing away, you’ll probably want to get a seam sealer.
So, the big question right now is how to go about choosing an excellent tent seam sealer from the piles of seam sealers on the market. Well, first you should know that there are two different types of seam sealer–tape and adhesive. Tap binds two surfaces together (the tape and the tent) while adhesive forms more of a waterproof seal by filling in pinpoint holes.
Is one better than the other? Not necessarily. Both work well, but you may choose one over the other in specific scenarios. We’ll get to that in a bit.
Tape Seam Sealer
Taped seams are usually done by manufacturers because their tape requires a special process to seal it. Not all tents are taped, but the ones that use a high-quality tape that’s going to last a long time. The tape can break down and flake off over time, but if you take care of your tent, that won’t be any time soon.
There are seam tapes you can buy and use yourself for tents. You need to make sure that they are made explicitly for sealing seams so you can get a waterproof seal. Don’t settle for any cheap tape because it won’t give you the desired result. The recommendations we’ve provided below are great quality tapes that are known to work well.
Adhesive Seam Sealer
Adhesive seam sealers are usually never applied in advance by manufacturers. This type of seam sealer could be a bit more tedious to work with than seam tape. You must brush it on all-around your tent and then it can take 2-48 hours to dry. You must be careful not to paint over mesh panels or pockets, and you may even need painter’s tape to ensure this doesn’t happen. However, a top-quality adhesive seam sealer, when applied correctly, can give you an airtight, waterproof seal that tape seam sealers can’t match.
Two Types of Adhesive Seam Sealer
There are two types of adhesive seam sealer, and they are suited for two different types of tent fabric.
- The first type is silicone-based sealer which is only suitable for silicone-coated materials. This type of coating is usually used on lightweight tents.
- The second type is a urethane-based (or water-based) sealer. This type, like the previous type, is for fabrics that are coated with polyurethane. Most tents are coated with polyurethane. However, it’s important not to guess. You need to know which coating your tent is made of because these sealers are not interchangeable.
The Time it Takes to Dry
As mentioned before, it can take an adhesive sealer anywhere from 2-48 hours to completely dry, or cure as it’s sometimes called. You should consider your use of the seam sealer. Are you using it as a preventative measure before your camping trip? If so, you can probably use one that takes any length of time since you can prepare beforehand. Are you using it for emergency leaks in the middle of your camping trip? You’ll probably want a fast-drying sealer that won’t take too much time or maintenance.
Keep in mind that with fast-drying adhesives, you’ll probably be giving up something in the way of quality. This doesn’t mean they won’t work well; it just means they may not work as long as others.
The Outside Temperature
If you’re preparing your tent before your trip, you’ll have some flexibility in what temperatures you’re sealing your seams in. Some sealers require specific temperatures to cure, so this is more of a concern when you’re out camping, and you need a quick fix. For example, you don’t want a sealer that requires room temperature to cure if you’re camping in a snow environment. The temperature that you’ll be using your sealer in can be the difference between using a seam tape versus an adhesive.
Don’t let the cost of sealers sway your judgment too much. You may be tempted to get something cheap to save money or get the most expensive sealer because you think it’s the best. However, neither of these are good ideas. This is because the cost of sealers varies based on more than just quality. It could be due to size, color, the material used, brand name, and much more. We understand if you’re trying to stay within a specific budget, but seam sealers are usually inexpensive anyway, so try not to let price be a factor in your selection.
Using the criteria above, we set out to find the best seam sealers on the market. We came up with five that fit the bill. In the next section, we’ve provided the list of five based on overall performance, as well as the pros and cons of each.
The Best Tent Seam Sealer – The Results
Gear Aid Silnet Silicone Seam SealerSaleGEAR AID Seam Grip SIL Silicone Sealant for Silnylon Tents and Tarps, Clear, 1.5 oz
- Seal up to 24 ft of seams with 1.5 oz of this durable, clear adhesive that…
- Apply to ultra-light gear including silnylon backpacks; cures to a…
- Creates a long-lasting, waterproof seal that won’t peel or crack over…
- Also ideal for applying on silnylon tarps, shelters, and rainwear to keep…
- Packaging may vary
Gear Aid is a company that specifically makes “gear aid” for outdoors applications. In other words, they aren’t just a company that makes sealers among hundreds of different items. This means that they know what it takes to make an excellent sealer–they specialize in it–and it shows in the quality of their products.
This silicone seam sealer works excellent! It’s indeed true that it’s challenging to work with, but a touch (just a touch) of mineral spirits could make it a little easier to spread. Also, the manufacturer says one 1.5 oz. tube covers a small, two-person tent. We recommend getting at least two tubes for a tent this size.
When spread properly, this sealer cures in 6 to 8 hours. If you put it on too thick, be prepared to give it at least 24 hours.
- Made in the U.S.
- Comes with a brush.
- After curing, it’s flexible for high-performance.
- Dries to a clear color.
- It won’t cure properly in cold weather.
- It’s extremely thick and difficult to spread.Bottom-Line: If you aren’t going to be spreading in a cold environment, this is an excellent sealer.
Coghlan’s Seam Seal
Coghlan’s seam sealer is an economy sealer that does a decent job. It’s a water-based sealer for polyurethane-coated fabrics, and it’s easy to work with. The consistency pairs well with the provided brush, so you’ll most likely be able to cover at least a small, two-person tent well without wasting the product.
One great feature of this product is that, unlike the Gear Aid Sealer, it can be used in cold weather. There is a limit–it won’t cure in temperatures below freezing (not that you’ll need it then because frozen water doesn’t leak).
- It’s odorless.
- Comes with a brush.
- It doesn’t last as long as some other sealers.Bottom-Line: If you’re looking for a budget sealer to use for light camping, this is a good choice.
Coleman Seam Tape
We’ve included this seam tape because Coleman is one of the most well-known and established outdoor goods companies in the country. This Coleman seam tape is a great product that has an adequate amount of stickiness for most synthetic fabrics. While we wouldn’t recommend you to use it for your entire tent, it’s great for quick and/or emergency fixes. It can be used in just about any situation except rain.
The tape size is 3 in. x 18.5 in. (7.62 cm x 47 cm) which is a great, universal size for most seams. It works best on synthetic fabrics. It’s not going to stick to cotton or cotton blends. We also recommend that you use the seam tape for heavier fabrics of at least 70 deniers or more. The tape won’t stick well to lighter fabrics.
- Great for quick fixes.
- It’ a clear color.
- It’s easy to use.
- It doesn’t last very long.Bottom-Line: We wouldn’t pre-treat an unsealed seam with this, but for quick fixes, emergency fixes, or reinforcement this is a great option.
Gear Aid Seam Grip FC
Best Tent Seam SealerSaleGear Aid Seam Grip WP Waterproof Sealant and Adhesive for Tents and Outdoor Fabric, Clear, 1 oz
- Seal seams and permanently repair holes in tents, tarps, awnings, rainflys…
- Treat up to up to 12’ of seams (1 oz) or repair torn outdoor fabrics with…
- Waterproof gear with a sealant that flexes with fabric and bonds to nylon,…
- Apply it to repair or re-proof gear without worrying about the seal peeling…
- Packaging may vary
We’ve included another Gear Aid seam sealer, but this one is urethane-based. Just like the silicone-based Gear Aid seam sealer, this one is of outstanding quality and is suitable for most tents (since most tents are coated with polyurethane). These two reasons are why we’ve rated it the best out of the five sealers on the list.
When you use this sealer, you’ll get a permanent seal. You’ll have a great, waterproof seam that will last a long time if you take care of it.
- Comes with two brushes–one for repairing and one for sealing.
- Creates a permanent seal.
- It’s self-leveling for even application.
- Takes a long time to dry (must dry overnight).
- It must be stored in a freezer, so it’s not great for emergency fixes when camping.Bottom-Line: This is the best seam sealer out of the five. It’s a little tedious and having to keep it in the freezer is annoying, but if you take the time to pre-seal your seams before going camping, you’ll be glad you used this.
Gear Aid Tenacious Seam TapeGEAR AID Tenacious Tape Fabric and Vinyl Repair Tape, 3” x 20”, Clear
- Fix rips and holes fast with an ultra-strong, peel-and-stick repair tape…
- Apply Tenacious Tape to almost anything with its aggressive adhesive that…
- Make a washable repair sealed with this repair tape featuring a waterproof…
- Use the nylon fabric (black, red and colors), ripstop fabric (green and…
- Packaging may vary
Here is a third Gear Aid product because their products are amazing. This is one of the strongest seam tapes available, and it even comes in different colors. The black, yellow, and red tape is nylon. The gray and green (sage) tape is ripstop. Then you have the clear tape which is probably your best bet for tents unless you’re just into colored tape. It comes in two sizes–a 3″ x 20″ strip or a 1.5″ x 60″ roll. We appreciate the options that Gear Aid gives.
This tape is straightforward to use. Just peel and stick to the area you need to seal. One thing we don’t like is that the company says you can wash your fabric within 24 hours, and the tape will stay put, but this isn’t entirely true. This tape has been known to peel right off in the wash. However, if you’re using it on a tent, you most likely won’t have to worry about this issue.
- It comes in multiple colors.
- It has an ultra-strong adhesive back.
- It can be used on GORE-TEX fabric.
- The clear color only comes in the roll.
- Despite claims of being washable, it comes off after the first wash.Bottom-Line: This is an excellent tape sealer for tents that has superior hold. Once it sets, you’re not going to have to worry about it peeling off.
Last update on 2020-03-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API