I noticed flakes on the floor of my tent when I took it out, not being quite sure what it was. Then I noticed the material outside the seam was all cracked on the rain fly. Recently I used it and one rainy night it starting leaking. Not amused.
I have always hung it on the line to dry before I stored it in a closet and only use it twice a year if I’m lucky.
When I brought it to the REI store near me to ask about how to repair it, an associate told me I couldn’t replace just the rain fly (the rest of the tent is perfectly fine) and seam tape wouldn’t work. I told him I had had an old canvas tent that lasted for 40 yrs. and he said they don’t make things like they used to. I certainly know THAT for a fact, but leaking after only 8yrs?!
Do I really have to throw away a perfectly good tent because I can’t purchase just the rain fly? Unless this seam design has been improved, I’m reluctant to buy another REI tent. Please advise.
Offhand, I would try some sort of liquid sealant applied to both sides of the seams of the rainfly. Or try seam tape - what have you got to lose? Do we know that this REI employee does in fact know what he/she is talking about?
Storage conditions vary. Heat is especially hard on sealed seams.
One thought - how about using a sheet of seamless plastic sheeting as a rainfly? A lot would depend on the configuration of your tent. It would probably look odd, but might be quite effective.
I don't think that "non-REI" tents will be different with respect to water sheding....
Judy, I am going to say 8 years is actually a pretty good life for a tent. With that said, I know how hard it is to let go of a piece of beloved gear. Without seeing the tent, I can't say why the person in your REI store told you seam tape wouldn't work - though they are right, you can't replace just a rain fly, unfortunately.
I would find a liquid seam sealer (we sell a couple of options) to reapply to the inside of the rain fly directly over the stitching. The hard part is this, If there is still original seam sealer in place, you are going to have to remove it. If it is flaking off, it will just take the new seam sealer with it.
The only thing you have to lose is the cost of the seam sealer, and the time it will take to apply it. But if it works, a beloved, well-traveled tent will be around for a few seasons more.
Thanks for reaching out! While replacement rainflys are not available to purchase, the good news is that as long as the fabric of your rainfly is intact (no holes, rips, or tears), the process by which you can remove the sealant residue and reapply it is fairly straightforward. It's a little time consuming, but it should bring your tent right back to life! It is fairly normal for seam sealant to become brittle over time, a lot of it comes down to how it is stored, how long it is stored for, etc. We have had many conversations here in the community around rainflys, I encourage you to check some of them out.
This conversation, 'Replacement rain fly half dome 2 plus', is a great place to start. I'll also tag you in that thread so you can find the spot where @xleafr goes step by step how they treated their rainfly.
Hopefully this helps, thanks!