Retesting Gear - Making Sure it All Works!

 Gracie and me in our Tarptent last night. 

Gracie and me in our Tarptent last night. 

Even experienced long-distance hikers need a refresher every once in a while.  Last night, NoKey and I took our trusty Tarptent Double Rainbow out into the yard and set it up for the night.  We bought this tent a year ago and have so far only managed to use it a half-dozen times or so.  Since we could set up both of our one-man tents in our sleep and we haven't had much practice with this one, we thought it might be good to put this one back together to refresh our memories.  Not only were we getting it out to set up, we needed to set up the tent for the fact that it was due to rain last night.  See, when you order a Tarptent you have the option to have Henry Shires seam seal it for you, or you can buy the tent and save yourself a few bucks by making your own waterproofer at home and sealing it yourself.  While I sealed ours about a year ago, we wanted to set it up last night to see how it held up in the rain and see if it needed any touch ups.  With your backpacking gear, it is so important to try it out at home first so you don't get any surprises out on the trail!

Here's how our Double Rainbow held up:

 Nice and dry!  Now we have to wait for the thing to dry out so we can put it away!

Nice and dry!  Now we have to wait for the thing to dry out so we can put it away!

Since I have been so busy at home and haven't had much time to leave the house, let alone go out for a shakedown hike, I haven't put all my gear in my pack yet.  We still have about two weeks before we'll be back down south though, so I still have plenty of time.  The big dehydrator projects are starting to wind down, so expect a "What's in My Pack" post coming later this week!  

Want to make your own seam sealer?  Here's what I used on our Tarptent:
+Approximately 2-3 tablespoons of mineral spirits (found in the paint thinner aisle)
+Approximately 1 tablespoon of GE Silicone II (from the plumbing aisle)
+An empty, clean, resealable wide-mouth jar (we used a recycled salsa jar)
+1-inch wide foam brush (plumbing aisle)
+Paint stick
+Rag or paper towels 

-Stir together the mineral spirits and the silicone until it reaches the consistency of olive oil. Add more of either ingredient to get the desired consistency. 
-Apply the sealer to the outside of the tent while it is set up outdoors.  You need the ventilation for this! Using the foam brush to work the silicone mixture into all exposed seams, applying some pressure as you go.  Work in small sections and use the rag or paper towels to work the excess drips into the seams. 
-Apply to the entire outside seamed area of the tent in small sections, including a logo if your tent has one, as well as any points where guy lines attach or velcro pieces are sewn in.  These places can leak also!  If you want to earn extra life points, paint some horizontal lines across your tent floor to keep your sleeping pad/bag in place while you sleep.  No one likes drifting to the bottom of the tent overnight!
-Allow your tent to dry overnight, until the mixture is not tacky to the touch.  
-Spray your tent with the mist cycle of your garden hose for several minutes to see if the tent leaks.  If you have drips inside, note where they're coming from.  It may be helpful to have a second person spray the tent while you're inside to do this step.  
-If a second coating of the silicone mixture is needed, apply it after the tent is dry using the process above.