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Why is Water Getting in My Bell Tent?

3 min read 0 Comments

Even the most durable, waterproof canvas tent on the market can sometimes leave you wondering “Why is water getting in my bell tent?”. First, don’t panic! This does not necessarily mean that you have a faulty tent. Remember, glamping is still camping. With any tent, sometimes one small thing can cause water to find its way into your tent, and water seems to always at least try to get in and disrupt your coziness.

The following is a list of questions we always ask ourselves, as well as clients who are having an issue with water getting in-tents…

Did you "Season" Your Tent?

One of the first things mentioned in user manuals is about the importance of “seasoning” your new canvas bell tent. Being a natural cotton fiber, there are tiny holes around the seems that were created while stitching the tent. You should set up your new tent and expose it to rain (or a hose/sprinkler will work fine). As the tent dries completely, the canvas will shrink and seal these holes, making it water tight.  Note, that sometimes canvas tent will require a couple of wet/dry cycles of the seasoning to complete.

Are the guy-lines properly adjusted?

A properly pitched bell tent will make all walls and roof eaves taut and symmetrical, with nothing sagging. This will allow water to properly drain away from the tent and windows. Ideally all lines are the same length and correct angle to avoid this. In particular pay attention to the eaves above all windows.  Taut eaves should prevent rain from draining directly into the window below it - which is the #1 reason for water pooling in tents. 

water getting into bell tent

Are zippers along floor zipped and covered?

Most bell tents have a zipper that connects the floor to the canvas of the tent.  This zipper encircles the entirety of the tent.  Be sure that these zippers (both canvas and mesh portions) are completely closed when raining. Also, ensure that these zippers are covered by the canvas zipper flap that runs around the diameter of the outside of the tent. This flap is there to keep water from entering your tent through the zipper teeth.

zippers on floor of bell tent

Was the rain-cap on?

A simple one, but it happens! Be sure your "rain-cap" is attached to the top pin of the A-frame door, covering the grommet hole. 

rain cap on bell tent door

Time for retreating?

Waterproofing on canvas does not last forever. Heavy usage and exposure to the elements will cause the treatments that were on your new tent to degrade over time. Depending on how you use your tent, and the climate in which your tent is used, you will need to re-treat your canvas tent. You will know it is time if water doesn't obviously bead up and quickly roll off of the canvas. This is not as hard as it sounds.  

Were the windows or the doors open?

Sorry, had to ask.  Maybe this should be #1 on the list.

Did the ceiling vents allow water to enter?

Not often, but we have seen instances when very heavy rain and wind can cause water to get in the top vents.  If the center pole is wet, this may be what happened

Is it simply condensation?

Warm cooler surfaces will cause moisture to accumulate. Condensation inside of a tent can happen more frequently in different climates.  Cooking and storing wet items inside of a tent will also contribute the a more damp tent.  Improving air circulation by keeping windows cracked open, drying out the inside of our tent with heater, or running a dehumidifier are all way to combat a moist tent environment.


Water getting in tents is sometimes a part of camping, and Mother Nature’s reminder that you are enjoying the outdoors. Hopefully going through this list will ensure you stay nice and dry this camping season!  We suggest to keep some towel handy to clean up and rain water, regardless of the precautions made to avoid this nuisance.  

Joe Pagano
Joe Pagano

As the Director or Co-Operations with LiT, Joe has an unyielding energy to be inspired. With over 10 years of experience in team building and events this guy is a well organized & dynamic bulldog.

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