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How to take care of your tent

Posted by Len Goon on

Make your tent last longer with a bit of proper care and a few good habits. Tents are are made for the outdoors and get their fair share of dirt and exposure to the elements. Give them some love to get the best out of them. Here are some easy ways to extend the life and performance of your tent. 

 

Pitching

  • For new tents, read the tent instructions carefully. Practice setting it up at home before your trip to familiarise yourself with the tent and know how to get the best out of it. Make sure you’ve got everything you need.
  • Pick a good site to pitch your tent, not exposed to potential dangers like damaging winds or flooding.
  • Clear the ground of any stones, sticks or anything that may puncture or tear the floor of your tent. You could also consider using a footprint to protect the tent floor.
  • After pitching your tent check that everything is set up properly - fly taut, guy ropes and stakes secure.

 

Zippers

  • Be careful with zippers. Treat them gently. If stuck, it’s probably a piece of fabric or thread caught in the zipper that can be carefully removed. Never force them - broken zippers are a real pain.
  • If a tent fly is set too tight, zippers can be under real strain and zipping them back up can be almost impossible. Instead of forcing them, adjust tent stakes to loosen the fly a little and make zippers easier to close.
  • Dry lubricants or wax are available for ‘sticky’ zippers.

 

Poles

  • Most poles are shock corded so should fit into place easily. Don’t fool around with poles by whipping them around. This can cause small cracks or fractures unnoticeable at the time, but ending in failure when pressure is exerted in setting up or later in winds.
  • End tips of aluminium and fibreglass pole sections are most easily damaged when not properly inserted into connecting hubs and ferrules. Connect the poles one section at time and make sure ends of the individual pole sections are fully inserted into hubs or metal ferrules before exerting pressure and bending the whole pole into place.
  • Gently push shock corded tent poles through fabric pole sleeves when setting up or taking down a tent. Pulling poles will disconnect them. Tent fabric can get pinched between pole sections when reconnecting them inside the sleeves.
  • Don’t force poles through tent sleeves. Check out why they’re stuck rather than forcing them through and possible tearing the tent fabric (speaking from experience).
  • When disconnecting and packing up poles start in the middle so there is even tension along the shock cord.
  • If aluminium poles are exposed to salt water, rinse them to prevent any possible corrosion.

 

Sun and heat

  • Sunlight and UV rays are the ‘silent killer’ that will damage your tent fly – especially polyester and nylon fabrics. If you’re not using the tent, take it down. Don’t leave it up for extended periods in the sun as UV rays will degrade the fabric leaving it brittle and paper-like.
  • Consider applying UV treatments to protect your tent depending on the fabric used.
  • Stay away from open wood fires and burning embers. Some campers use small controlled cooking stoves in vestibules (subject to manufacturer recommendations) but remember that some tent fabrics can melt or, if not fire resistant, be flammable.

 

Packing up

  • Pack your tent dry. If it’s raining, dry it out when you get home.
  • Condensation can occur even on fine days, so remember that the underside of the fly or floor may be damp. For smaller tents before packing consider removing the fly to dry it out, or for freestanding tents turning them upside down to dry out tent floors.
  • Clean any mud of pole ends and stakes before packing.
  • Fold the tent fly into a rectangular shape about the width of the carry bag. Place the pole and stake bags on the fly, roll the fly around the poles and place in the bag.

 

Cleaning

  • When out camping leave muddy, dirty boots and shoes outside the tent to minimise dirt inside. For food spills, carefully wipe off any spills as they happen.
  • When you get back home, for small spots of dirt try wiping it off with a damp cloth, or using a sponge and water to carefully remove the dirt.
  • If you got caught out in a mud bath try using the garden hose to spray off as much mud as possible.
  • For heavier duty cleaning, pitch the tent at home and use warm water and a non-detergent soap (Do not use detergents, bleaches, dishwashing liquids etc. as these damage or remove the coatings). Gently wash off the dirt, then rinse and leave pitched to dry before packing away.
  • Do not throw you tent into the washing machine – it will destroy your tent.

 

Storage

  • Make sure that the tent is dry and clean before packing it away. When you get home from a trip hang up your tent in the garage or shaded spot to air and dry it out completely. Any moisture will lead to mildew and mould which smells bad and can stain and weaken the fabric and waterproof coatings.
  • Store your tent in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Storing in damp conditions will lead to mould. Exposure to direct sunlight will lead to the breakdown and weakening of the fabric and coatings.
  • Store it in an oversized breathable bag. Don’t store it tightly rolled and compressed in the tent carry bag.
  • Roll the tent fly rather than fold it. This prevents permanent creases and ‘cracks’ forming in the fabric and coatings.

 

 At Intents Outdoors we believe you should protect your investment in your tent. Keep your tent clean and dry, out of the sun and take care when setting up and you’ll have a happy tent. And that goes a long way to making a happy camper.  


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