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Good quality hiking and camping equipment is expensive. And when you spend a great deal of money on something, you want it to last. On my last big trip, I noticed the seam tape flaking off of my MSR backpacking tent. I love this tent and hoped it wasn’t ruined. So I emailed MSR from the tent one night, and their warranty department got back to me the next day with instructions on how to fix and reseal the seams of my MSR Hubba Hubba tent.
I have had this tent for eight years and gotten some great use out of it. I was thrilled to find out the tent was not ruined but could be fixed. The MSR warranty department advised I use GearAid Tent Seam Sealant to reseal the seams. They also told me I could use Nikwax Tech Wash to clean the tent and help break the bond of the old seam tape.
MSR did offer me the opportunity to purchase a replacement part for a lower cost. But I like to try to make my gear last so I wanted to try to fix the problem. I opted to reseal the seams of my MSR Hubba Hubba tent.
Wash your tent
The first thing you need to do is wash your tent and make sure you have all the dirt, grime, and debris removed. It’s really important to make sure you have a clean surface because you do want the sealant to stick well to the fabric.
I used Nikwax Tech Wash and followed the directions on the bottle. I filled the bathtub with water and mixed in half of a cup of the tech wash. Then I placed the tent body and fly into the tub, making sure to fully submerge all the seams. After letting it soak for two hours, I rinsed the tent body and fly thoroughly, and began scrubbing the seam tape immediately.
Soaking the tent also helps loosen the seam tape from the fabric, which makes scraping it off easier.
Scrape the seam tape off
To remove the seam tape, I followed the instructions sent to me from the warranty department at MSR. To remove the tape without damaging the tent, they suggested using the soft side of a sponge. I will admit that I was tempted to flip the sponge over a couple of times and use the abrasive side. Scrubbing the seam tape off is hard work.
The warranty department also advised using a mixture of one part rubbing alcohol, one part blue Dawn dish soap, and one part water in place of the Nikwax Tech Wash. When I hit a tricky spot, I’d dip my sponge into the mixture for extra chemical removal. However, I did not think this was terribly affected.
I used an ironing board because I found it most comfortable to stand. And the ironing board placed the tent at the perfect height. The curved front end also made it easier to fit the folds of the tent into, so that I could get to all the seams.
I began by scrubbing in the corners of the tent and worked my way out. This helps form a system so you are sure to not miss any places.
The MSR warranty department advised that it may take two soaks with the Nikwax to remove all the seam tape. So after I scrubbed all the seams with the sponge, I soaked the tent again in the bathtub. Then I scrubbed them all again.
After the second pass in removing the seam tape, I emailed the MSR warranty department back and asked if it was necessary to remove every little bit. They said it was not necessary with the seam sealant that I was using. But as much of the seam tape as possible needs to be removed.
Resealing the seams
After I was satisfied with the removal of the seam tape, I let the tent completely dry. I left it spread out in the spare bedroom for a week. That is a long time, however, I was working on this project on my days off.
The following weekend, I set the tent up in the front yard. I placed the rainfly upside down. You want the tent to be tight. And you want it upside down so you can easily seal the inside of the seams.
From there I followed the directions on the GearAid Tent Seam Sealant. Add a thin layer down the seams, and avoid the zippers. I could really see how the liquid gets into the seams and seals them.
For the body of the tent, it was much easier to apply the sealant to the seams while it was on the ironing board. I simply could not get as good of an angle nor pull the tent tight when it was set up.
After applying the sealant, I let the fly and body dry for two hours. I then put loosely over my gear in the spare bedroom to let them dry for longer.
Before and after the reseal the seams of MSR Hubba
The process to reseal the seams of MSR Hubba Hubba
This ended up being a project. But I’m really glad I chose to tackle it instead of considering the tent a waste. I spent a few days on it, but it also saved me from spending $400 on a new tent.
Even with the best care, dry rot can happen. I did everything you are supposed to do. After every time using the tent, I set it up in the front yard and let it dry and air out. I also swept all the dirt out of it. I store it in the house, where it is climate controlled. And yet, the seam tape still broke down.
MSR makes a great tent. I love my MSR Hubba Hubba, and even with having to do this maintenance, I still think it’s a great tent. I bought mine in 2014 and have gotten a lot of great use out of it.