I’m sure you’ve seen this image before.
People camping on the beach and all their tents pitched up in direct sunlight.
But does anybody ask themselves: are all those tents UV protected?
The majority of tents don’t have any UV protection at all. In order to have some protection against ultraviolet radiation, the tent manufacturer should use a UV resistant material, or at least coat the fabric with special chemicals that can offer this kind of protection. Sadly, the majority of tents either don’t have this at all or they’ve lost the coating with time.
How to check the UV protection of your tent
UV protection is great for marketing, so if you’ve just bought a new tent, I can guarantee you that this will be clearly and boldly written on the packaging.
If you have a tent that’s years old and you know nothing about it, you can still check if has some ultraviolet protection by looking at the following:
- Silver coating – use a flashlight or get your tent under bright light, move it slightly and look carefully. See if you can spot a shiny coating. Even in very small particles, silver is very reflective and you should be able to spot it.
- Fabric – This will tell you a lot about the tent. If it’s made out of cotton, there will be no UV protection at all. But since most of the tents are made out of synthetic materials, you need to look at the thickness of the fabric. You see, nylon and polyester work greatly at blocking the UV radiation IF the material is thick enough.
- Product label – Look around for that white label that’s usually somewhere inside your tent. All the information about fabric and protective coatings should be there.
How to make your tent be UV protected
Summer camping is here, and we already know that you’ll enjoy backing in the sun, but your tent hates it.
As a matter of fact, direct sunlight will destroy the fabric and it doesn’t require months to do it.
That might not be a problem if you’re going for a $30 tent, but if you’re bringing in the expensive stuff, then you need to make sure it’s UV protected. (Learn more on how to care for your expensive tent)
Time needed: 45 minutes.
Here’s how you can quickly UV protect your tent using Nikwax UV proof spray:
- Pitch the tent
Take your tent out in the garden and quickly pitch it up in a shaded area.
- Rinse the tent with cold water
Get a bucket of cold water and wash down the dust/dirt that’s on your fabric. You don’t need to wait for it to dry.
- Apply the Nikwax SolarProof solution
Spray the tent with the solution. Then, using a damp cloth, gently wipe this off.
- Dry out
Leave it to dry out in a shaded area for at least 30 min.
Alternatively, if you don’t want to use chemicals and you can’t find a shaded area to camp, you can always cover it with a UV proof tarp.
Tents that are UV protected
If you’re considering to camp on the beach a lot, perhaps you’ll be better off buying a relatively cheap beach tent.
Most of them come with a UV protection coating, it’s just a matter of deciding how high the UPF value should be.
|Pacific Breeze Beach Tent||Beach Camping||50+||Dome|
|AmazonBasics Beach Tent||Beach Camping||Not Specified||Pop-Up|
|Gorich Beach Tent||Beach Camping||50+||Instant|
|Coleman Sundome Tent||All Camping||Not Specified||Dome|
Best tent UV protection spray
There is no doubt that Nikwax, with its SolarProof spray offers the best value for the money.
Other option that you could consider are:
- Star brite waterproofing spray – it offers both waterproofing and UV protection
- Fabric Guard from 303 – can be used on multiple types of fabrics
- 303 Aerospace Protectant – protects against decoloration.
Frequently asked questions
Depending on the type of fabric, some tents do provide protection against UV. You need to check with the manufacturer if your tent is made out of UV blocking material.
A piece of heavier and synthetic fabric is usually a telltale sign.
All synthetic fabrics, given that is weaved tightly together, are very good at blocking UV light.
The silver coating that most manufacturers use on their tents to add UV protection is not there to protect you. Its sole purpose is to protect the tent from the damage if it’s being kept for long in direct sunlight.
Any coating, especially the UV proof coating will be lost if the tent is not being washed carefully. You should avoid detergents and abrasive cloths when cleaning your tent.
The safest way to do this is to never pitch it in direct sunlight. Always choose a place that gets a shade throughout the day.
Alternatively, if this is not possible, you should consider covering it with a tarp/sheet that has the capability of blocking ultraviolet radiation.
According to this article, darker colors behave much better at absorbing UV light. It will not block them completely, but it’s a better choice than bright colors.
If UV radiation scares you, it’s because it really is dangerous.
But it’s also very destructive when it hits certain types of fabrics.
You should not rely on the manufacturer’s promise the UV proof coating will last forever.
Therefore, you should try and re-coat it at least once a year. After all, a good quality spray will only set you back $7.
But if you’re looking for protection for yourself or a baby, perhaps the better choice here would be to look for certain types of tents that have a great UPF value, well above 50 if we’re talking about protecting kids.