A little bit of care is all that your tent asks from you. If you treat it well, it will delivery many years of shelter. A quality, well cared for tent can easily last more than a decade.
A campsite should be free of small debris that might poke you in the back or rip your tent floor. Small rocks, twigs and pine cones should be cleared away, but avoid doing disturbing the site more than that and abide by Leave No Trace principles.
Some folks use a tarp underneath their tent, but a footprint is custom cut to your specific tent. It will help to discourage water from collecting underneath the tent floor (something that often happens when a tarp or ground cloth extends beyond the perimeter of the tent. It will also protect your tent floor from abrasion and give extra protection against tears from rocks and twigs you might have missed while clearing the campsite.
When assembling your tent poles, don’t simply snap them together. This can damage the fittings and subsequently, weaken your poles. Instead, put them together one at a time. When taking your poles down, break them down starting at the middle. This reduces the stress on the poles and eases the tension on the cord inside.
When packing up your tent, avoid folding it (and the rainfly) along the same creases each time. Over time, these creases can become permanent and brittle.
Just bought a new tent? Before you pack it in the car and head out, set it up in the backyard first. This way, you’ll be confident in setting up your new tent when you head out, and you’ll have verified that all the necessary guy lines, stakes, and accessories are there.
After you get home from an outing. inspect your tent for damage and clean it if necessary. Just spot cleaning with a sponge, some cold or cool water, and non-detergent soap (don’t use dish washing liquid or bleach) will do just fine. Never machine wash your tent.
Never, ever, EVER put your tent away wet. Sure, if you’re camping and your have to head home.. you need to pack it up wet to get it home. As soon as you get home, make sure to thoroughly dry it out. Otherwise you are inviting smell, tent-destroying mildew.
The floors and rainflys of nearly every tent come with factory-sealed seams. Seam tape is used to plug the tiny holes created by sewing needles when fabric sections are stitched together.
However, any tent that is not factory-sealed must be sealed manually using seam sealer. There will be simple, easy to follow directions on the product, so you can do it at home. Seal seams at home before camping in the tent. Typically, seam sealer should be applied to the coated (shiny) side of the floor or rainfly. Seam sealer can also be used to plug seam leaks on a heavily used tent.
Well-worn tents (and single-wall tents) might eventually need to have the waterproof coating of their floors or rainflys reapplied. When you notice your tent rainfly or walls increasingly sagging due to rain or dew, time to reapply! Wash-in or spray-on products used to revive waterproof/breathable outerwear can be used for tents, too.
A well cared for tent will give you many years of camping fun, so be sure to protect your investment!
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