Of all the camping gear you will equip yourself with, your tent is arguably the most important accessory. Ideally you would like to see your tent last as long as it can, you have to take care of and maintain your tent. Unfortunately, tents are easily damaged, ruined or spoiled when neglected. Let’s take a look at the most common culprits responsible for the sometimes irreversible damage tents can undergo.
Probably the number one reason people discard their tents is due to moisture. Tents are easily susceptible to mold and mildew growth when they are left wet for too long.
The sun’s rays are damaging to the fabric and cause UV degradation. The Nikwax Solar Proof can make your tent waterproof and UV proof at the same time.
- Rips and Tears
If there is a rip in your tent, say goodbye to the security of sleeping without that mosquito buzzing in your ear all night. These can be caused by UV degradation, sharp objects or wear and tear from footwear
What is camping without a camp fire? One spark from that fire can easily melt a substantial hole into your shelter. This is also true for those people who smoke in their tent, or bring candles.
- Salt Water
Salt water can corrode the poles on your tent. This needs to be kept in mind when camping near the ocean.
Chemical cleaners and insecticides are both guilty of degrading the integrity of the fabric
Your Tent Maintenance Kit
Any smart camper will come prepared to care for their shelter. The more maintenance you do while at the campsite, the less headache you will have when you head home. The following list of items is a great starting point;
- Duct Tape: Always great for quick repairs and emergencies
- Under Layer: Some kind of mat, tarp or barrier to protect the bottom of the tent from the abrasive ground
- Inner Layer: By bringing an indoor/outdoor carpet or other protective sheet, you can protect the inside floor of your tent from footwear, staining and spills
- Cleaning Supplies: Bring a bucket, sponge and drying rag to wash your tent and thoroughly dry it before packing it away after camping
- Sweeping Supplies: In order to remove the debris that is tracked into the tent and also to take care of your under layer
Practicing Due Diligence
So you have packed up your camping gear and have arrived at your camping location. One of the first considerations you will be making is tent placement. When you take into consideration all the harmful aspects of camping that may have an effect on your tent’s structural integrity, you should be mindful of your tent location. You will want to find yourself a slightly sloped surface in order to prevent water pooling up underneath your tent. Ensure that it is far enough away from the fire to avoid harmful sparks. Seek tree cover to protect against UV damage. If this is a prolonged stay, erecting a protective large tarp is a good habit to adopt. This will protect your tent and other items from the elements.
Lay down your under layer and erect your shelter, making sure to properly secure all pegs into the ground. It is better to choose a site that is more of a forest floor and not compacted dirt. In case of rain, the porosity of the forest floor will encourage better drainage and less pooling than packed dirt.
Once you are confident that your tent is pitched in a reasonable area and protected from any external damaging forces, get that fire going and start enjoying your time in the great outdoors!
Now it’s time to pack the tent up. Many people are guilty of simply shoving their tent back into its bag, claiming that they will “deal with it when they’re home”. More often than not, this is the primary cause of tent damage. If a moist tent is left in the bag for even a few days that is enough time to encourage the growth of mold and mildew. This can potentially ruin your tent beyond repair.
It is a far better idea to simply do things right the first time and prolong the life of your tent. The following is a simple routine you can adopt to take care of your tent and increase its longevity;
- Remove your inner protective layer and shake it off outside
- Sweep any inner debris out of the tent
- Use a very mild soap or a specialty tent washing soap to clean your tent with water and a sponge. Pay special attention to spills, stains, footprints and poles.
- Allow the tent to dry completely in the sun for at least a few hours. If it is raining out, this step may unfortunately have to be tackled at home.
- Pack the tent and poles into the bag
- Sweep and clean the under layer and pack it up with the rest of the camping gear
How to keep your tent waterproof
If you are practicing good habits and caring for your tent, it may live long enough to require reproofing. Reproofer protects the tent from stains and restores its waterproofing abilities. If you are noticing that water has started to penetrate the tent, is not beading on the outer surface or if there is more condensation than normal, it is probably time to reproof. Usually this should be done after a couple of seasons of use. It is a simple product to use by simply following the instructions on the package. Most reproofers come with an easy to use pump to allow for an even spray. Ensure that you allow the tent to dry fully before packing it away again.
You can read more about waterproofing your tent on this page.
Whether you are an avid camping enthusiast or have just purchased your first tent, caring for your equipment properly is the best route to thoroughly enjoying your camping experience. There is nothing worse than going out into the woods and pitching a neglected tent that has holes and smells of mildew. Take care of your tent so that it can take care of you and enjoy your camping trip!
- Backpacking Tents
- Family Tents
- How to Remove Mildew from Your Tent?
- How to Waterproof Your Tent?
- Indoor Play Products
- Prolonging the Life of Your Tent
- Tips for Setting Up Your Tent
- Waterproof Tent Guide