How to Waterproof a Black Diamond FirstLight Tent

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The Black Diamond FirstLight Tent is a 4-season, two-particular person tent that weighs two lbs 9 oz. It is a single-wall, totally free-standing tent that is a snap to set up, which is critical in freezing climate when you want to get out of your cold damp clothing and into warm dry ones. I’ve been applying a FirstLight for practically 10 years for winter backpacking and camping and haven’t come across any other tent that is as lightweight and easy to use.

But the FirstLight has normally gotten a bum rap as not getting waterproof, even even though the fabrics it is created with are. For instance, the existing FirstLight’s walls have a hydrostatic head of 1500 mm, though the floor is rated at 3000 mm. That is is a lot more waterproof than quite a few of the mainstream backpacking or camping tents sold these days.

The aspect of the FirstLight that is not waterproof are the seams, which require to be sealed if you require to use the tent in the rain. Anytime you sew two fabrics collectively, you make quite a few needle holes and that can leak water when it rains. These seams can be factory seam-taped on traditional tents that are coated with polyurethane, but you can not seam tape tent walls that are created with silicone-impregnated nylon (silnylon), like these on the FirstLight. These require to be filled with silicone seam-sealer which can bond with the silicone-impregnated nylon. That is why Black Diamond involves a tube of silicone tent sealer in just about every new Firstlight tent.

Assemble the components you require for the seam sealing course of action

The initial step in the seam sealing course of action is to collect collectively the components you require:

  • Silicone tent sealant (1 tube comes with the FirstLight at acquire)
  • 1″ wide foam brush (a lot much easier to operate with than the brush integrated with the seam sealer)
  • Paint thinner (a paint thinner substitute or white gas will also operate)
  • Mixing can (a tunafish or catfood can operate nicely)

Caution: Seam sealing ought to be accomplished is a extremely nicely ventilated place, preferably outdoors. When you are completed, you will want to let your tent or tarp dry for 24-48 hours. 

Squeeze the silicone sealant into the can and dilute it about 50/50 with paint thinner. Mix nicely. The paint thinner will thin the silicone sealant so it seeps into the needle holes a lot more readily than undiluted silicone sealant. When mixed, wet the tip of the foam brush and run it gradually along all the exterior, exposed seams on the FirstLight Tent. This involves the seams exactly where thread stitching is visible and exactly where it is not. There’s no require to seam seal the corners of the bathtub floor because these have been factory seam-taped on the newest FirstLight model.

Brush the silicone mixture onto the seams and let it soak in

Areas exactly where you want to concentrate your focus, are:

  • the roof
  • sidewalls, beneath the arched poles
  • peaks above the front doors and rear window
  • the seam amongst the sidewalls and the bathtub floor

If the mixture starts to thicken as the solvent evaporates, you can add a lot more and mix it in. If you apply a tiny further to the fabric on either side of the seam, that is ok as well. Seam sealing is not a surgically precise course of action though you want to stay clear of producing a mess. The whole course of action ought to significantly less than an hour.

Seam seal the seams more than the arched poles and about the rear window beak

When you are completed, very carefully inspect all the seams and touch up any spots you missed. Then let the tent dry for 24-48 hours, ahead of packing it away or applying it in the field.

As soon as you have seam-sealed the FirstLight, it is will be totally waterproof and ought to stay so for the helpful life of the tent.

Disclosure: Black Diamond gave the author this tent for a future overview.

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