How waterproof is the bathtub floor of a tent?

1:07 p.m. on November 3, 2008 (EST)
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I want to thank everyone for the respones to my testing my 11 year old tent thread. My son and I set it up on a tarp this weekend and doesed it with the hose.

For the most part it was water tight. Seemed there might be a slight leak in one seam on the fly. What I wasn't expecting was the pool of water that formed under the tent floor because we had the tarp extended beyond the tent fly. I now know this is an obvious no-no. In making this mistake, the tub floor seemed to be letting water in where a large pool had formed (i.e. two to three inches deep). The floor was wet to the touch.

So my question is "Should the floor have kept out the water despite this? Or is the tub floor not expected to be truly "waterproof" under normal operation?

Lastly, do you think the tent would be useable in a proper setup with the footprint not extending beyond the tent floor?

After the test, we let everything dry and went ahead and seaed all the seams on the fly and are awaiting to address the tent floor.

2:12 p.m. on November 3, 2008 (EST)
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I would expect an 11-year old tent that had been stored damp (hence the mildew smell) to have lost some waterproofness of the floor. If it had been properly stored (aired out and dried completely before putting it away after the trip - not much you can do during the backpack), the floor should be as waterproof as when new and should have no mildew smell.

Since you sprayed the tent with a hose, there are a couple ways water can get in, even with a fully waterproof floor. One is that REI dome tents of that era did not have a full fly, so when spraying with a hose (different direction than rain falls unless there is a strong wind), water can come through the body of the tent. Zippers do not keep water out very well when directly hit from a hose. In addition, the seams at the edges of bathtub floors need to be seamsealed. I had one REI tent some years ago that had seams in the actual floor. These must be seamsealed, along with the seams at the corners of the bathtub. At 11 years old, those seams probably need to be re-sealed, if they were done originally (particularly since the tent has a mildew smell). Another thing is that sometimes, depending on how the tent was cared for, there might be small holes that were punctured by pine needles or branches, or worn through from rocks or sand (reason for using a footprint, of course).

But remember, the water from the hose puts more force than most falling rain (except wind-driven rain). So it might not leak in most real rain conditions.

7:55 p.m. on November 3, 2008 (EST)
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Hey Orange,

I often wash my tent before storage, and have gotten water inside before and it is well sealed.

Like Bill said it may have small holes in the floor. Did it come packed with a footprint?
If not, maybe it was used without one.
One way I've found to find holes is to hold the fabric up in front of a light and just look for holes.

Also try to find an area to pitch your tent that will drain well in case of heavy or prolonged rain.
Just one more thing to consider when finding your site huh?
Especially when you just want to get camp set up and take a rest.

8:08 a.m. on November 7, 2008 (EST)
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I had a North Face VE something as my sort of "basecamp" tent for over 15 yrs. It was OK in snow, certainly not a Hilleberg or an ID, but, it worked OK. However, this pos was the WETTEST tent I have ever had and it would pool water on the floor in major rains.

Part of this was due to the old-style side vents and lack of top vents on this model and with BC's high humidity, precipitation and the crappy design/method of erecting it, the thing was always wet inside.

I finally gave it to my nephew and bought my IDs and Hilles., money VERY wellspent. I almost always used a footprint and of correct dimensions, but, some tents really do not keep water out well and others allow too much condensation.

If, my buddies back problems heal in time, we are off on the 10th for a solid week in the Kootenays, backpack hunting Mule and Whitetail Deer. It is POURING icy rain here and there at present with heavy snowfall higher in the mountains, the worst weather of the year. I am taking my Hilleberg Saivo and XP-20 tarp and camping in small timber with no large branches; this will keep my elderly carcass warm and dry and I cannot recommend these tents too highly, they work.

9:22 a.m. on November 7, 2008 (EST)
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Kutenay, I am interested in the new tent from Hilleberg you mentioned in the other thread. That must be a single wall tent? Three pounds sounds great.

I currently use a MH Skyview 2, it is a double wall 3-4 season tent. I picked it because of the wet, damp climate we have where I go. I had lessor tents that always let me down.
The Skyview is a cross pole, with two hoops up front to form the entrance and spread a large vestibule, it is a tough, watertight tent.

Problem is though, the fly has a Urethane, knife rollover coating, as does the floor. Heavy at 8 lbs.
I make my dog carry the fly, stakes, and guy line, so I only carry 4 lbs. and have a roomy shelter and large vestibule to boot.

I am considering hiking some longer trails next year without the dog, I don't take him on established trails much.

I will go to the Hilleburg site and see if they have the specs on that solo yet.

10:52 a.m. on November 7, 2008 (EST)
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That shelter is not from Hilleberg, it is or will be from Integral Designs of Calgary, AB. I was told at the beginning of Sept., that it would be ready by October, IIRC, but, have not seen anything on it since then.

I think that a Hilleberg Soulo or Nallo II would also be a great shelter for your trips as outlined. The shelters, as ID refers to them, tend to be rather low and small, OK for short winter trips, but, hot and confining in summer.

I use an ID Mega Sola for backpack hunting trips and it is just super for short term, utterly reliable and easy to erect uses. I am usually alone and want "shelter from the storm" with minimal weight and total storm-tough dependability. But, I would not want to "live" in this for more than about two nights in succession.

See what you think of the ID MKI and the Hillebergs I mention, one of these seems to me to be the best option, especially for year-round use in any weather.

12:35 p.m. on November 7, 2008 (EST)
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Ah yes, my mistake. I did mean the ID tent.
I will check out the tents you recommend,
Thanks for the help.

6:58 p.m. on November 9, 2008 (EST)
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In my experience it's all about drainage! Bathtubs will leak if placed in a pooling area or on top of a lager than tent footprint. Pitch your tent on a well draining surface and you will be fine :) I learned this from a few not so pleasant experiences of course........ Wet, cold, soggy experiences.

8:15 p.m. on November 10, 2008 (EST)
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Other than fly UV damage and rot, the first thing to go in a tent is the urethane coated floor. I stayed in a 1970s model Eureka Timberline tent for months about 8 years ago and the dang thing keep me dry but not from the bottom up, so if the ground became saturated, the old floor would leak with any amount of pressure on it(i.e.a human body laying down). Putting enough pressure on a coated fabric is a real good test of waterproofness(esp a floor).

The Hilleberg tents have two general floor qualities and could be labeled the '1200 kerlon level' and the '1800 kerlon level'. This number has to do with the fly gauge, but also reflects the floor denier and coatings. The beefier Hillebergs tents(the 1800 kerlon)have a thicker denier floor(100 count denier?, and a triple coated floor. It's the best floor I've ever seen in a tent.

On a recent trip to 5000 feet in a cold rainstorm, my tent was in 1 inch deep ground water pooling under the tent for a night and I didn't have a single drop of water inside the shelter. When you first feel a Hilleberg tent floor, it seems rubbery and thick. Just right.

8:49 p.m. on November 11, 2008 (EST)
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Nothing worse than packing out a wet, 12 lb. sleeping bag!
Did it years ago due to a cheap tent and poor pick of campsite.
An ounce of prevention.....

November 23, 2014
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