How to fix your tent and find replacement parts

May 21, 2017

So your very expensive tent gets broken or damaged. What can you do? We show you a few ways to help you fix the problem.

How to repair a damaged tent

Many family tents are a considerable financial investment and when accidents happen, such as a bent tent pole, you could be facing the prospect of seeing that investment disappear.

Here’s a quick list of broken items with what options you can take to repair or replace them.

Fixing a bent tent peg

A Bent Tent Peg
Seriously, you are going to get bent tent pegs, especially if you are using the basic pegs that came with your tent.


These tent pegs are quite cheap and will easily bend. Whilst you can try and build a jig and straighten them, it’s not worth it.

You can easily pick up replacement tent pegs. However, what you should be doing is upgrading your tent pegs anyway.

Read this article here on what tent pegs you should get.

Replacing a snapped guy line

Guy lines tend to be pretty strong, and I’ve not come across one that has snapped before, but if it happens to you then don’t worry as you can easily buy replacement guy lines.

Fixing Leaking Tent Seams

What was previously a perfectly dry tent can start seeping water through a seam. This can happen for a few reasons:

  • The waterproof coating or seam sealant has worn away.
  • The seam has been stretched too far and the seal has broken.
  • An unknown defect has only just become an issue due to a change in wind/rain strength and direction.

Emergency fix on leaking tent seams
You should also double check that the seam is actually leaking as sometimes condensation in a tent can make it appear like a leak. In fact, if you’ve not vented your tent properly, you could even end up with a pool of water in your tent.

Another thing to note that some poly-cotton or canvas tents may have slightly leaky seams the first time out, and the material & stitching has yet to settle (well, this is what one manufacturer reported anyway).

Fixing a small leaking seam is easy.

If it happens when you are camping, then sometimes (if it’s not too wet) a bit of gaffa tape could be enough to reduce the problem.

But for a more permanent treatment, you can get some tent seam sealant.

This must be applied when it is dry.

How to fix a leaking tent

Click here for an article on preventing a leaking tent and stopping the tent seams leaking.

Waterproofing Your Tent

If it’s not your seams leaking but you think that water no longer runs off the tent material as it once did, then you can get some treatment for that too.

Even the soapy mixture in your kid’s bubbles can be a problem

Did you know that detergent can remove the waterproof coating from your tent? Even the soapy mixture in your kid’s bubbles can be a problem.

You can get some spray on waterproofer, which is handy to take with you when camping.

However, applying to the whole tent is a lot more difficult and can be a bit hit and miss (and also the risk of you making the tent look ‘patchy’), but there are some companies that will do this for you, as well as giving the tent a thorough clean to get it looking much closer to new.

Fixing a Bent or Broken Tent Pole

Now the solution to a broken or bent tent pole really depends on the type of tent pole, as well as where and how badly it is broken.

Replacing ‘bendy’ Fibreglass Tent Poles

If your tent has the flexible tent poles (usually made from fibreglass or a composite plastic, typically black or grey), then these are the easiest to repair and replace.

1. Simple DIY Tent Pole ‘gaffa’ Repair

These types of poles can typically split, exposing the inner elastic that holds the different sections together.

The best in the field repair for this is regular gaffa/duct tape.  We’ve done this before, and in fact, the tape held for a few more seasons.

Always take some gaffer tape with you when you go camping.

2. DIY Replacement Section

You can also buy replacements, either complete poles or just the section.

If you want to replace just the section, then measure the width and the diameter. You can then find the right size replacement.

You will need to re-thread the elastic through, which will mean dismantling the sections before the broken pole.

Some replacement kits come with a useful pull through for getting the elastic line through the tent pole.

Replacing Steel Tent Poles

Steel Tent Poles are very tent model specific, so finding spares can be difficult

1. ‘Correcting’ the tent pole

If bent steel tent pole was a straight section and it is not bent too far out of shape, then try and straighten it yourself.

However, if that’s not easy or it is a shaped tent pole, then it’s best to take it to a metal worker, along with a similar non-bent pole.

The metal worker will have tools that can easily get it back into shape, as well as heating the pole if necessary to avoid stressing the metal.

2. Replacing the bent pole section

For poles that can’t be replaced, then your options are limited.

There are sometimes some replacement poles available for straight sections, but normally steel tent poles are of a specific shape for your tent model.

3. Contact the retailer

The first thing I would recommend is to contact the shop where you bought it from, or if that’s not successful, contact another retailer that sells your brand of tent.

Some retailers carry a few spares or may have some old stock that they could sell you.  Of course, this may come at a slight premium depending on the part.

4. Contact a spares supplier

There are few suppliers that provide a service for tent spares.

Once such service is, a specialist outdoor repair service such as Scottish Mountain Gear.

I can’t vouch for their service as I’ve not had to use it myself (touch wood!), but I know a few other people have.

5. Contact the Manufacturer

Contacting the tent manufacturer is rarely successful. They ship a lot of stock out to retailers and don’t carry spares, and don’t often carry stock to support customers directly …. unless they sell tents direct to the public, in which case there may be a chance.

You could also expect that the manufacturer can’t replace just a single piece of tent pole but can only send (sell) you a complete set, as this is what comes from their production run. This could cost you almost as much as a new tent.

6. E-Bay

For popular tent models, you may find a large second-hand market.  Whilst the cost of buying another second-hand version of your tent may sound excessive just for a new pole, it still may be cheaper than other options.

However, keep an eye on the second-hand market for other tents sold as spares. Someone else may have damaged their tent but in a different location, and then you’ll be able to pick it up for a much better price.

Click here to view tents for spares on e-bay

Repairing a Ripped Tent

Bring a Tarp for an Emergency Tent Waterproofing measure
A ripped tent needn’t be the end of the tent…if the rip is not too bad.

If you get a small rip when you are camping, gaffa tape will help. You can also buy some tent repair tape for just such an emergency.

For an emergency repair for a larger rip, cover the area with a tarp – you do take one, don’t you? (read this).

Some tents come with some repair fabric and some adhesive (and a few with a self-adhesive patch). You’ll need to apply this when it is dry.

If your tent doesn’t come with a patch then you can buy some patches – these may not match the colour of your tent, though. Tenacious Tape (see below) is recommended for this.

Other than that, you may need to contact a local tent repairer (your local camping shop may be able to recommend) or try the second-hand market.

Useful items for DIY Tent Repairs

Here are some useful items for repairing your damaged tent yourself.

Quick Repair
Useful for emergency repairs.
Guy Line
Luminous Guy Line
Guy Line
Guy Line
Various colours are available
These come in different sizes.
Upright Steel Pole
These come in different sizes.
Fibreglass Pole Kit
These come in different sizes.
Fibreglass Pole
These come in different sizes.
For sealing leaking seams
For repairing seams that have come apart
Tenacious Tape
For sealing small rips
Tenacious Patches
For sealing larger holes in your tent
You can get these either as spray-on or larger sizes.
You can get these either as spray-on or larger sizes.

So if you’ve got a damaged tent, I hope the above has helped in some way to getting the problem fixed.

Photo credit: Main photo (top of the page) is a derivative of “End of Tent” by Thomas Guest, used under CC BY 2.0.

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Gav Grayston
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Gav Grayston Contributor

Father to 3 kids, who loves getting out and about (hiking, running, camping, cycling, canoeing...) Co-founded Get Out With The Kids to help other parents enjoy the outdoors with their family.

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  1. Id recommend a product called fixmytear. It’s a repair tape which sticks very well to vinyl, canvas, leather and most other surfaces. Absolutely life saving tape.

  2. I have an instant tent where a pole leg mysteriously seems to have twisted at the joint where the leg meets the roof pole. I don’t know if it’s the roof hub or the leg that twisted when it collapsed while setting it up. Since everything is pre-attached I don’t know it could have twisted. Fixable? Ozark Trail {Walmart) 8-person cabin tent with three top hubs.

    • Unfortunately, I don’t know that particular tent.
      If it twisted the wrong way, maybe you could twist it back to the correct position?
      I recommend that you detach the tent from the poles if that’s possible.
      It might need holding in a vice.
      If the joint is broken, take it to a hardware store. They may have something that could replace it.

  3. Hi. The peg tags on my camper trailer tent (canvas) have deteriorated and broken off. So now I cant peg the tent, as the tag is broken. Do you have any good tip to fix them without taking the complete tent off and having them sewed back in? I would appreciate your ideas?

    • Hi Kirstine,

      A similar thing has happened to us before, but fortunately on part of a tent that wasn’t so critical.  I enquired with the manufacturer about using a product like SeamGrip, but although that is good on fixing rips in polyester tents, the manufacturer advised me that it wouldn’t be strong enough for where guy lines pull… plus, I’m not sure how good it is on canvas.

      Their advice to me was to get a sail repair kit and sew it back on.  Here are some examples.

      However, I would have a good look at where the tabs attach to your tent. I would be quite cautious about making new holes – even though canvas is more forgiving about that than polyester. For example, you might want to get some new tabs plus some canvas patches. Strengthen the area with the new patch over the top of the existing canvas, and attach the tab to that. 

      Depending on your tent, there might also be a temporary solution using Tarp Clips. Here are some that we have for emergencies. 

      I hope that’s been of some help.  Let us know how you get on.

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