Most people own a tent as an emergency shelter solution and they would depend on it when nothing else is available. If you want your tent to last many years even with hard use, you should learn a thing or two about tent maintenance.
A quality tent will last for many years if properly cared for and you should learn how to protect your investment. Tent maintenance doesn’t mean just carefully folding your tent and storing it in a dry place. There are a few tent maintenance guidelines I’ve been following for years and they helped me save a lot of money.
Tent maintenance tips that everyone should know:
- Although tents are designed to be waterproof, most canvas tents have a short life because moisture, and the resulting mold and mildew factors are often ignored. Molds and mildew break down and will eventually weaken the fibers of your tent. You may think that storing a damp tent for a short period of time is no problem, but in fact you are creating the perfect conditions for mildew and root. It may seem a hassle, but you should let your tent completely dry before you put it away. Once you get back from your camping trip, make sure you set up your tent in the backyard and let the air and sun dry it completely before you start folding it.
- Dirt is a powerful abrasive and it will wear down your tent from the inside. Even small particles of dirt can get embedded in the fibers of the canvas and it will damage its structure over time. Make sure you keep your tent clean and never walk on it when setting it up as you will grind the dirt and scuff the fabric. An experience camper will carry a soft bristle brush and use it to remove dirt from the fabric, especially when breaking camp.
- Most campers damage their tents due to improper fire management techniques and by ignoring the wind direction when setting up a campfire. While there are canvases with a flame-resistant finish, I doubt there is a burn-proof tent out there. If you don’t keep an eye on sparks and embers coming from your fire, they will land on your tent and it will burn holes in it or even worse. If you need to set up a fire, build a low burning one that would prevent accidents.
Suggested article: Various types of fire you can make in the wild
- Before you decide to spray insect repellent all over your camp, make sure you read the tent manufacturer’s recommendations. This is one of the tent maintenance tips I’ve learned the hard way. My wife manage to ruin a perfect good tent by spraying bug repellent all over it and even though she washed it with water when we got home, after two months we discovered the canvas go corroded. You should avoid using chemicals near your tent if you don’t want to damage the finish of your tent.
- Upon returning home from a camping trip, clean your tent thoroughly. Some tents can get really dirty and you need to hose them off. Instead of using chemical cleaners I use homemade detergent or soap, whatever I have available. I also use a soft bristle to brush dirt off and make sure there isn’t any soap residue left on the tent’s finish.
- On the field, a tent maintenance rule states that you should keep your guy ropes and tent roof taut. High wind and weight from snow or rain can really stress the rope loops and this will eventually stretch the fabric, allowing it to easily tear. Make sure everyone knows where the guy ropes are, especially if you are camping with children. It is easy for people to trip over a guy rope at night while on their way to the latrine.
- Folding the tent requires caution and when it comes to tent maintenance, people forget that they should fold their tent by excluding the ropes, stakes or poles. The stakes and poles must be folded separately, otherwise you risk of poking holes in the canvas. As for the ropes, these are sometimes damp and can even have chemical residue; therefore you should store them separately. Even a small amount of moisture can create mildew on the canvas of your tent.
Related reading: How to make a shelter using a tarp – 15 clever designs
- Although storing your tent in a cool and dry area of your home may seem like a common sense tent maintenance tip, some people still ignore it. Storing your tent in a hot storage shed or garage can do damage to the tent.
- You should avoid storing your tent in a place where mice can get to the material as they will chew through it in order to make nests. The same goes for open spaces and you should avoid leaving your tent unattended in the open for long. Certain birds will try to peck the ropes or any other parts of the tent that provide good nesting material.
- Keep your tent away from the reach of children. If the kids play with your tent, chances are they will damage it or lose the poles or stakes. A close friend of mine lost a $800 tent because his kids poked holes in it using the stakes while trying to build a fort.
Many tents end up being ruined due to improper storage and poor tent maintenance. In order to benefit of many years of camping service, one should learn how to take care of his tent and the guidelines listed in this article should become basic tent maintenance.
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