A tent is a huge investment, and you should make it last by taking care of it. Whether you plan to use it once in a while or frequently, proper care remains indispensable.
Here I give you the top 5 tent care tips regardless of your shelter’s size, shape, and type.
Top 5 tent care tips
#1 Always pitch the tent on a suitable site in the right way
● Set up in established sites
The first care tip for your tent is pitching it on a good site. Always set up your tent in established sites to reduce chances of wear and tear. The place should have fewer rocks and sticks on the ground, if not none. But, always remove anything from the ground that could press your tent floor.
Consider using a footprint as well to keep your tent floor dry, clean, and protected against extreme abrasion. Plus, a footprint will prevent water from pooling under the tent if it rains.
● Avoid direct sunlight to prevent UV damage
Ultraviolet rays can easily damage your tent; even the toughest can degrade over time. When exposed to UV, polyester and nylon become weak and tear easily. The UV damage is irreparable, hence the need to protect your temporary shelter against direct sunlight.
If you cannot get a place away from the sun, use the rain fly as sunscreen. Do not worry about the rain fly itself; it is easy and inexpensive to replace compared to buying a new tent.
You can also consider using solar gear washes on the tent to improve its UV protection.
#2 Store your tent properly
● Dry the tent well before storage
Storing a tent while wet is not good as its fabric and coatings can break down prematurely. Plus, wetness can cause mildew to grow on your tent, causing it to stain and smell. This can also compromise on its waterproof coating due to hydrolysis. Note that wear and tear caused by moisture and mildew are not covered under warranty.
So, if you experienced heavy condensation or are caught up by rain and cannot wait for the tent to dry at the campsite, pack it wet. But, as soon as you get home, unpack your tent and allow it to dry completely. You can pitch it on the back lawn, garage, or over the drying racks in the house. If small, you can hang it on a clothesline.
● Fold it differently each time
When the tent is completely dry, inside and out, you can pack it for storage. Fold it differently each time to avoid permanent creases in one area. Over time, they can become frayed or brittle.
● Do not use a tent bag for storage; instead, use an oversized meshed bag
Once folded properly, store the tent in an oversized mesh or breathable cotton bag. You can even use a pillowcase in the absence of a proper bag. (Use tent bag for carrying but not storage). Now keep it in a cool and dry place away from direct sunlight.
● If possible, assemble the poles during storage
Take care of the poles during storage. Keep the poles fully assembled to reduce tension on the joints and prolong their lifespan. Lay them fully flat and do not stack anything on top.
#3 Clean your tent
Despite all your care when using the tent, it would get dirty in one way or the other. It could be the annoying bird dropping, dust, or sand. Either way, you need to clean the tent whenever it is dirty.
If you notice loose dirt, use a regular garden hose to loosen it using water pressure. However, if it needs a thorough cleaning, you have to handwash using warm water, mild non-detergent soap, and a sponge. This also happens to be a few ways of cleaning a smelly tent.
Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when cleaning your tent.
But, here are general mini-tips for proper tent cleaning:
- Set up the tent on a sunny day
- Wipe it down with warm water mixed with mild soap (you can try to see if water alone can get rid of the stain)
- Pay attention to the zippers when cleaning. Quickly deep in water and dry them to avoid the zippers from wearing out, eventually making the teeth inoperable.
- Never use spot removers, bleach, or laundry detergent, even if you deal with tough stains. They can damage your tent and reduce its waterproof ability.
- Never use washing machines and dryers. They damage seams and a protective coating.
- Avoid perfumed cleaning products as they can attract bugs when camping
- Rinse the tent thoroughly and let it dry completely
- Use a soft and dry cloth to clean the tent poles. Remove any salt spray to prevent it from staying gritty or corroding.
- Once dry, use Tip 2 to store properly.
#4 Seal the seams if need be
In wet weather, sealing the seams improve the performance of your tent. You can use seam sealants such as sprays, glue, and tape. Ensure you read application directions before using.
Apply sealant in a fully ventilated area with tent laying out flat or set up. Seal the inside and outside of the seams exposed to rain, ground-level, or runoff water—no need to seal the factory-taped or roof seams as they are taken care of by the manufacturer. However, you might want to consider if your tent is old.
Based on application guidelines, allow enough time for the sealant to dry before storage.
#5 Treat your tent poles well
Take care of the poles when setting up your tent. When assembling the frame, ensure the end of the pole sections does not bang together. If it happens, the pole ends can crack or dent, compromising its strength and even leading to breakage.
Fully insert the poles into one another before bending to set up the tent. Again, do not over stress them to avoid deforming the sections permanently.
When disassembling the poles, begin from the middle and move outwards for an even distribution of tension on the joint. And, if you were camping in salty or dusty conditions, clean the poles with a soft and dry cloth. Pay more attention to the intersections.
Key insights & Takeaways!
Your tent will last long as indicated by the manufacturer, or even longer if you take care of it. Care for your tent, from where you pitch it to how you store it. Again, clean it and seal the seams whenever necessary, and do not forget to take care of the poles!