Tent Maintenance Tips: How to Care for your Tent

Tent Maintenace
Sierra Trading Post Share Your Adventure Photo by Freya Rasmussen

Now that you have invested in a quality camping tent you would want keep it in good shape. The following tips should help that tent last for many excursions in the outdoors.

In The Field

Always set your tent up on flat, smooth ground, free of rocks, roots, or anything that could possibly damage the floor. You'll be a lot more comfortable too. Look up as well as down. Falling limbs can ruin your whole day. Sap is not as disastrous, but it is hard to remove and can wreak havoc with the fabric if ignored.

Try to avoid setting your tent up in direct sunlight if you can. UV rays can damage the fabric over time.

Use a footprint or ground tarp. Footprints protect your tent floor from abrasion, and in the morning they provide a clean surface where you can fold and roll your tent. A footprint or ground tarp is not an expensive item to replace. A quality tent is expensive to replace.

Do not snap poles together. Extend poles section by section. Using care here will greatly extend the life of your poles.

Remove your footwear and leave it outside underneath your rainfly or on a mat just inside your tent door. This will save your tent floor from an amazing amount of abrasive grit and will help keep cleaning to a minimum.

Those of us who camp in bear country know not to store food in our tent. It is still a good idea not store food in your tent even if you're not in bear country. Squirrels and other critters will chew through the fabric to get at the goodies.

Tent Care

Breaking Camp

It is not always practical or even possible to break camp with a dry tent, but you should dry it as soon as possible.

When disassembling a tent, first separate a shock corded poles in the middle rather than starting at the end of the pole. This eases tension on the entire cord while it is stored.

Open doors and windows in order to allow air to escape as the tent is collapsed. Letting the air escape as the tent is collapsed will make rolling and storing it easier.

Sweep out your tent. Make sure that rocks, leaves, dirt and branches are all out of the tent before packing it.

When packing a tent, don't fold the tent or rainfly fabric on the same crease lines time after time. Over the years those creases could become permanent and might grow brittle as the tent ages. Fold a tent in different places each time you pack it up, even if you're just moving the fold fractionally.

Roll your tent tightly and neatly with poles and stakes (in their bags) rolled into the tent body. This technique uses the tent poles as a structure to help roll the tent. A slow, tight roll of the tent is one of the easiest ways to compact the tent for an easy fit into the storage bag.

Cleaning

Do not wash a tent with hard detergents in a washing machine as this may damage the seams or the coating.

The best way to clean up a tent is to set it up and wipe it down with a sponge and mild detergent or a product like NIKWAX Tech Wash.

If you have to clean the entire tent hand-wash it in cold water.

Dry your tent by pitching it in the shade or by line drying only, machine drying is not recommended.

Storage

Make sure your tent is completely dry before you pack it away. A tent that is packed away while damp will mildew.

Storing your tent loosely in a large stuff sack or box may help prevent the formation of mildew, especially in humid climates.

Avoid storing your tent in a plastic bag or any other airtight, confined space. Find a cool, dry spot to store your tent such as a closet inside your house where it won't be exposed to humidity.

Miscellaneous

To protect tent poles and to keep the segments sliding easily, clean and apply a light coat of lubricant regularly.

Pay close attention to the zippers as these can be easily fouled. Clean it thoroughly with a small brush and then lubricate it with bar soap or candle wax.

To get tree sap or pitch off your tent, freeze the tent and pick off the pitch with some duct tape rolled back on itself.

If you follow these tips you should be able to enjoy your tent for many seasons.

Thanks for reading.

The Gear Doc.
Andy Hawbaker
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Andy Hawbaker
Andy is a hiker, backpacker, snowboarder and outdoor fanatic. When he isn't exploring the Rocky Mountains, burning marshmallows or scratching his dog behind the ear, he shares his experiences here on the Sierra Trading Post Blog.
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