Thanks for letting us know. While we can't promise any immediate solutions, know that we do pass along feedback like yours (and all the other folks looking for new rainflys for their tents) to our buying and co-op brand teams for future consideration.
Same issue on my end (2006 Half Dome 2 HC). Seems that the sealing on the seams is flaking off. Also the rainfly has been cleaner. I plan to read John's other threads on how to clean the fly, retreat with water repellent, and reseal the seams. Please let me know if there are any other resources available for breathing more life into these tents.
Alright, following up for anyone who finds this in the future. I soaked my rainfly in vinegar/water and then just ran it through the washing machine. I know that this is not good for the coating, but honestly I am just starting over with this rain fly. It was in such poor condition that I really had nothing to lose. The vinegar soak + wash removed almost 100% of the already flaking-off seam seal. Once it was dry I pitched my tent and put the rain fly over it inside out. I then resealed the seams with this product: Gear Aid Silnet Silicone Seam Sealer (available from REI and Amazon). I used an entire 1.5 oz tube and still need to do the seams at the ventilation area and the tent floor (I anticipated this and bought 2 tubes).
It looks great. I was a little sloppy with the brush so the new seals don't have the perfectly straight border line that you see on a factory sealed fly, but I am confident that the new seals will hold up. Here is a photo of one of the resealed areas:
Again, it ain't pretty, but it'll work.
After I set that in the garage last night to dry, I threw my foot print in the washing machine as well. I put that on the clothesline this morning then recoated the whole thing with this product: Gear Aid Seam Grip Tent Fabric Sealant (couldn't find it at REI). I don't have a photo of that handy, but it looks great as well.
The remaining work to do is to finish the seams, and re-coat the the inside of the rainfly and inside of the tent floor with the Tent Fabric Sealant product. Finally I'll spray the outside of the rain fly with scotch guard so the water beads up like it used to.
Overall I'm in about $50 on the materials to repair and a few hours of work. I really battled with the idea of just scrapping this old tent rather than sink money into it, but I'm glad that chose the latter. I am very happy with the results so far and look forward to having a "like-new" 13 year old tent. It would be a shame to see it end up in a landfill, although, admittedly, that approach would have saved me some time.
I've learned a lot from all of this, and will definitely be cleaning, drying, and storing my tents properly now that I've put all the work into undoing the damage due to my own laziness.
I can keep posting updates here. If anyone is interested please let me know. Otherwise just assume I did everything I said I would and that it worked out.
fyi, you can save a ton of money by mixing a DIY sealing mix.
Mix paint thinner into clear silicone jell until you have a brushable slurry and brush it on!
I got this off tarptent.com, there's a video.
Hi @Philreedshikes -
I'm looking for a cheaper DIY sealing mix.
Could you please give me details on using clear silicone jell?
Is there a specific silicon jell product or technical name?
What is the ratio of paint thinner to silicone jell?
Thanks for circling back and for posting such a thorough explanation of your process! We get a lot of posts about this same issue, we will definitely be linking your post to any future questions that come through. Please do keep us updated on your progress, it is super helpful!
@Philreedshikes thanks for the info. Good to know for future re-waterproofings.
@REI-JohnJ Sounds good, I am just following the directions outlined in the "Expert Advise" post: How to Waterproof a Tent. Anyways, here is the update:
First let me back up, I didn't post a "before" photo last time so here are some photos from before I resealed the seams:
Of course, not all of the seams were so bad. This area was still in great condition (but not for long):
As I mentioned, I washed the whole thing in vinegar water (mostly water). Here are a couple of photos of that:
The first photo above shows the mildew on the rain fly. This acid rinse was an attempt to stop any further mildew growth and remove the smell. As you can see in the second photo, it was also quite effective at remove all of the rainfly sealing. On top of that, it delaminated the little velcro pieces and the strings for holding the doors open as those are apparently only held on with the sealant (consider yourself warned). I plan to seal these back on, although I think I lost some of the velcro straps. I ended up with 5, can anyone confirm how many there are supposed to be?
Okay so since my last post
I finished the remaining seals on the rainfly, then I coated the inside of the rainfly with Gear Aid Seam Grip Tent Fabric Sealant:
In the first photo, half of a section is coated, and in the second, the whole section has been coated. This was the most difficult task because the applicator sponge is so small. As you can see in the second photo, I used a sponge paint brush to help spread the coating. Still, it was a pain. I was worried that I wasn't getting enough on and probably applied too much of this stuff. I did one section at a time to help keep track of where I had covered already - it dries as you. I did this on top of an old tanker desk covered with a plastic sheet to protect the desk and the tent. The coated area will be sticky until it is completely dry, so try to keep it away from dirty surface.
Not pictured, I recoated the inside of my tent bag, pole bag, and stake bag as well.
Finally, tonight I set up my rainfly and footprint in a nearby park and sprayed with Scotchgard (not much to see here - after photo only):
The directions on the back of the can said to mist the material with water as you apply the Scotchgard, which is why there is a spray bottle in my photo. Water beads up pretty nicely on the outside of the rainfly now. I did the in the park to avoid overspray in my garage (sorry grass).
So I have the rainfly + footprint ready for a backpacking trip this weekend! My final remaining tasks are to reseal the seams inside the floor of the tent, and re-coat the inside of the floor with the same tent fabric sealant that I used on the inside of the rainfly.
Total cost so far: $63
Total time spent so far: About 8 hours? Not really sure - haven't been tracking this closely.
More info on time:
The seams took a while, I'd say about 2 to 3 hours (you may be able to work faster on this). Coating the inside of the rainfly fabric probably took 2-4 hours across two different nights (I did one side the first night, then let it dry and did the other side the next night). Finally the Scotchgard application was very fast (10 minutes or so) but I had to go to the park and set up the rainfly, spray the Scotchgard, let it dry, break it down, take it home. That process took about an hour. So this comes out to a maximum of 8 hours so far. I probably have a few hours left to do the tent floor (luckily it is smaller than the rain fly). I wouldn't get into this unless you like projects like these kinds of projects.
Maybe some day I'll edit this into one nice, chronological, more coherent post...
@xleafr Thank you so much for the thoughtful and detailed post!
I'm not sure why it went to spam, but I got it moved. I am sure lots of folks will find this information useful. Thank you!