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Any hope for a fly that has become "tacky"
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Linda Alvarez
(Liniac) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Any hope for a fly that has become "tacky" on 09/12/2010 14:44:59 MDT Print View

Rats. I just pulled out my tent to inspect it prior to a trip that starts in 3 days, and found that my fly has become uniformly tacky on the underside. I believe this means the waterproof coating has broken down. Is there any hope to rescue this? I don't really have time (or $$) to go get a new tent but I don't want to risk bringing this one if it's likely to leak. The tent is 6 years old and has been stored indoors, loosely stuffed. I last used it two years ago. It's a 2P SD Hyperlight AST and the fly is " 40d 1.94 oz/yd2 (66 g/m2), 246 thread, high tenacity nylon" Any thoughts/input is most appreciated.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Any hope for a fly that has become "tacky" on 09/12/2010 14:54:25 MDT Print View

I've had that happen on my SD Flashlight many years ago. Could not to anything to make it better. Time to rent a tent from REI if you have one nearby. It got mad sitting in the closet two years unable to fulfill it's destiny.

todd h
(funnymoney) - MLife

Locale: SE
Re: Any hope for a fly that has become "tacky" on 09/12/2010 14:57:01 MDT Print View

No hope!

sorry to be blunt.

Happened to my original MSR Hubba Hubba. Bright side that may help you (but not in time for your trip): I called them and they acknowledged the issue: the coating (as you feared) was breaking down. They told me to send back the old tent and they would replace it!

Shortly thereafter I received my new model HH and I must say - that's great customer service! Call SD and let us know how it turns out.

It should still work on your trip, depending on how much rain you get and just how bad the fly is.

Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: Any hope for a fly that has become "tacky" on 09/12/2010 15:36:40 MDT Print View

Pretty much think you're outta luck.

However, if you're of an experimental & light-hearted ilk... I was recently wondering about the possibility of painting tent waterproofing right over the sticky stuff. Something like mcnett (tent sure floor sealant?). I'm thinking there's a shot of ending up with whatever finish the new coating would have. I don't know about longevity either, of course, but if you're low on options...

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Any hope for a fly that has become "tacky" on 09/12/2010 22:13:18 MDT Print View


Seriously, the PU coating is decomposing, and I do not know of any way to rescue it.

You could try contacting SD to see what support they can give.


Elliott Wolin
(ewolin) - MLife

Locale: Hampton Roads, Virginia
RE: Any hope for a fly that has become "tacky" on 09/13/2010 10:52:03 MDT Print View

Same happened to my Eureka family tent.

They recommended washing the fly in the "wrong way," i.e. in a way that removes the coating. That is, just wash it a couple of times in powdered laundry detergent. Make sure there is no detergent residue, then recoat the fly with one of many products that create a new waterproof coating on nylon.

So far I've washed my fly a few times and most of the tackiness is gone. I plan to recoat both sides to get a thick, tough waterproof coating (this tent is only for car camping, so weight doesn't matter).

Also, I've recoated the floor and fly of my vintage 1980 Sierra Designs dome tent with good results.

Alternatively, take the fly apart and sew a new one, using the original for a pattern.

carl becker
(carlbecker) - F

Locale: Northern Virginia
tacky fly on 09/13/2010 13:48:09 MDT Print View

I have a old SD tent that has the same problem. Last month we spent a week in Maine with a day and 1/2 of rain. The fly still worked and yours may be usable depending on conditions. I have plans on replacing this 8 pound tent before our next vacation. Does sylnylon have the same issues?

Linda Alvarez
(Liniac) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Any hope for a fly that has become "tacky" on 09/13/2010 14:02:43 MDT Print View

Thanks to all who responded, even though it was to confirm the terminal diagnosis. I guess it serves me right for neglecting it for two years (in my defense, I was pregnant or nursing for much of that time!).

I wanted to update that I contacted SD this morning and they suggested I send the fly in to see if it was a covered warranty. When I explained the timing of my trip, they offered instead to give me a 45% discount off any new tent on their web site, and to help expedite it to me (I'm paying for the 2-day shipping, but they said they would monitor for the order and make sure it went out today). Couldn't much argue with that! I'm bummed about the fly failure but their customer service was great, and I wanted to make sure I noted that.

@Elliott Wolin -- I think I am going to try your suggestion for re-waterproofing the fly at some point, to resurrect the Hyperlight for car camping. It's a decent tent despite being over 4lbs, and positively palatial for a 2P.

I chose a Vapor Light 2, by the way, since I am illogically attached to having a freestanding tent, and that was the lightest one they had. (their site says 3lbs 4 oz. though I'm usually skeptical of those numbers). I'll replace the stakes and ditch all the sacks and should be close to that though. It looks "cozy" though at 25 sq. ft, but I am a shorter female, as is my hiking partner, so hopefully we'll fit ok without having to cuddle!

All in all-- the wallet is a little lighter now, but so's my pack, by over a pound, so I guess that's the bright side.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Any hope for a fly that has become "tacky" on 09/13/2010 14:30:27 MDT Print View

I have a positively ancient Sierra Designs tent (maybe 20-25 years old) that has developed the same sticky problem.

I never use it for anything but car camping, but the fly still seems to function by shedding rain. I've dusted it with a bit of talcum powder to minimize the stickiness, but I doubt that it will recover much.


Linda Alvarez
(Liniac) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Any hope for a fly that has become "tacky" on 09/27/2010 15:56:07 MDT Print View

Hi all, I wanted to post a follow up for posterity. I received an email reply from SD (12 days after my initial email to them) which made the following recommendations for repair of the fly, with the caveat that this was not a guaranteed to work.


1. Wash in front load lasher or soak in a tub with a laundry detergent until the laminate peels off or is no longer sticky.
2. Make sure you have all the soap out of the fabric and that it is dry
3. Re-laminate with Tent Sure by the McNett Company. This is a paint-on, and 2 coats should be sufficient.
4. Make sure the tent or fly has time to dry between coats.


Also, I need to somewhat retract my earlier kudos for SD's cust service, since I never did get a replacement tent in time for my trip. Making a long story short: the customer service agent who told me she could expedite my order misunderstood her ability to do this. I found this out when 24 hours later my order still showed not-shipped and I called to follow up. When I pointed out that my decision to purchase a tent from and not another brand/retailer was based on her commitment, she did go to great lengths to personally reach their warehouse and get something shipped out to me. Unfortunately, what was actually shipped was not my tent, but the wrong item, and at that point, time ran out. So I asked to have the order cancelled, and I carried my hiking partner's SIX AND A HALF POUND tent on my trip. Also, it's been over a week and they still haven't credited my card despite a follow up email I sent a week ago (that has gone unanswered to date). I will have to call them, which will be probably my 7th call to them throughout this process. I really hesitate to bash retailers based on one frustrating experience. I've been a happy SD tent owner for years (the Vapor Light would have been the 4th SD tent I had owned), and I will say the poor customer service rep I worked with was kind and really did try hard to make things right. Still, at the end of the experience, I have a $200+ charge on my credit card (included expedited shipping charges for the wrong items) and I have a brand new footprint for a solo tent that I don't own (Light Year 1 owners PM me if you need a new footprint), and did I mention: SIX AND A HALF POUNDS?

Konrad .
(Konrad1013) - MLife
what causes this? on 09/28/2010 10:32:50 MDT Print View

Outta curiosity, what causes a fly to de-laminate like that? Stored wet? prolonged UV exposure?

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: .
Re: what causes this? on 09/28/2010 10:40:33 MDT Print View

Did you have it stored in a hot area like an attic?

Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: Any hope for a fly that has become "tacky" on 09/28/2010 10:51:44 MDT Print View

For the sake of posterity, I painted some Tent Sure on an old tacky fly. I didn't wash it or anything first, but even with one coat on there the tackiness is almost gone. Mind you, by the time I get a second coat on the tent will weigh a measurable bit more. 2 coats will probably use most of the 8 fl oz bottle. But, it seems to work decently well, and is cheaper than buying a new tent if you're stuck.

Linda Alvarez
(Liniac) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
tent storage on 09/28/2010 10:57:22 MDT Print View

I'm not sure if you're addressing the question at me (the OP) or someone else on the thread. Speaking for myself, I had it stored in a very large (oversized) nylon stuff sack, which was then stored in a plastic bin with a loose fitting lid, on a shelf in a utility room. I live in San Diego near the coast. Temperatures in the room would have probably ranged from 60-80 throughout the year . It was not stored damp and humidity is pretty low in general in San Diego but I'm sure there was a humid day or two in there. It was stored in the same bag as the tent which had no delamination at all. (I also have another 3p tent of similar age, by the same manufacturer, that was stored similarly but does not show any tackiness (yet?) ) The stickiness is perfectly uniform -- couldn't find any "good spots" or any spots that seemed particularly worse. What is the optimal way to store such items, anyway? I am guessing it would be ideal to have it a cool, dry basement but, hey, it's S. California; I'm not even sure what one of those looks like ...

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: .
Re: tent storage on 09/28/2010 11:02:59 MDT Print View

I was curious because my gf had a Hubba Hubba do the same thing but it was stored in an attic in GA. Mine was stored in a closet and had no issues.

John Nausieda
(Meander) - MLife

Locale: PNW
attic on 09/28/2010 11:07:19 MDT Print View

I've stored tents , some as old as 15 years old in my attic and none have ever become tacky. Most are Eureka tents.All are put away dry . Oregon is usually not humid in the summer, but we certainly are all winter and spring.

Kevin Kerstens
(kjkerstens) - MLife

Locale: BC Canada
Tent Storage on 09/28/2010 16:14:52 MDT Print View

Can this happen to Silnylon, I have a couple of older tarps that I hang onto just in case, is there a chance they will be defunct in a few years?

Thanks, Kevin

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
Any hope for a fly that has become "tacky on 09/28/2010 17:36:25 MDT Print View

The part that becomes tacky is the PU coating. Some manufacturers chose to increase the waterhead by adding such coating, others don't.