Tents come in a variety of sizes and models. If you recently purchased a new tent, it’s important to read the manufacturer’s instructions on how to set it up properly. Like any other camping gear and equipment, it’s ideal to test it out at home first to make sure that all the parts are complete and everything is in good condition.
Tent care is continuous – give it the right care it needs before, during and after use.
Once you’re at your campsite and ready to set up camp, keep these tips in mind to help prolong the life of your tent:
- Choose a good spot to set up camp – An ideal spot to pitch your tent would be an area that is smooth and level. Be sure to clear the area of rocks, twigs, pine cones and other debris that could cause a tear on your tent floor. If there’s a good spot under or near a tree, that’s even better – this will help break wind and give you shade from the sun and rain, protecting your tent as well.
- Protect your tent floor – Give your tent floor some added protection by using a footprint. A footprint is a custom-cut ground cloth designed for your tent’s floor, providing you with an ever smoother surface to set-up in and further protects the floor from abrasion. Other options include a tarp or the generic ground cloth.
- Don’t expose your tent to too much sun – The sun’s UV rays degrade the fabrics of your canopy and rainfly over time, that’s why it’s not advisable to leave it out in the sun for extended periods of time. If you’re going to be away for a while, be sure to move your tent away from the sun.
Once your tent is up, there are some things you can do to keep it protected while in use:
- Leave your boots outside – Even if your tent is big enough for you to stand up or walk around in (yes, there are tents this huge!), leave your shoes or boots outside. Dirt, small rocks, pebbles and grit will not only make your sleeping space dirty, but may puncture your tent’s fabric as well.
- Don’t bring food inside – Another thing to leave outside of your vestibule are food and drinks. There are plenty of insects out in the woods and some might chew through the fabric to get to the food inside. Just be sure to keep your food in tight, sealed containers outside!
- Treat zippers with care – Be gentle when opening and closing the zippers. If they get stuck, don’t force it – what you can do is to hold the zipper track with one hand while gently moving the slider upwards while wiggling it until the stuck fabric is free.
When your trip is over and you’re ready to pack up, follow these tips to provide further care for your tent:
- Clean it out – Once you’ve cleared the space of your sleeping gear and other items, it’s important to clean out the floor. Give it a good shake to get rid of dirt and other debris, then gently wipe the floor with a clean, damp cloth.
- Break down your poles right – Experts advise that it is ideal to start in the middle when breaking down the poles, as this will distribute the tension along the cord evenly. Do this with each half section until your pole is fully folded.
- Dry before packing – Even if you didn’t experience rain during your trip, your tent still accumulated condensation, which will damage the fabric when left, that’s why it’s important to make sure it’s completely dry before packing it up. Drape or hang your tent over a tree branch or a large boulder, just be careful not to poke the fabric! When your tent is completely dry, roll it up (instead of stuffing) it in the sack.
How To Clean Your Tent At Home
It’s ideal to wash and your tent every after trip. Dirt, mud and grime left on a tent will do damage in the long run so take the time to clean it – this is an easy thing to do that will help prolong the life of your tent.
What you’ll need:
- Cold to lukewarm water
- Mild dishwashing soap, preferably fragrance-free
- Tent Cleaner
- Non-abrasive cloth or sponge
- Tub (or a bath tub if you have a larger unit)
Use a small amount of mild soap and the cloth to spot clean the areas of the tent that are visibly dirty. If it has mildew, mold or a foul odor, you can use an enzyme cleaner (just follow the directions to use on the bottle strictly ). For pine sap, wet wipes will do the job but be sure to rinse with water thoroughly afterwards. Don’t forget to wipe down your poles as well to remove dirt, dust, sand and salt. Lastly, use a brush to remove accumulated debris and residue from the zippers.
Fill the tub with water then add the tent cleaner (read the directions about how much to use and how long to soak the tent). Turn your tent inside out before immersing it and the rainfly into the tub of water and cleaner. Drain the tub and refill it with water. Immerse the tent and rainfly again. Do this 2 to 3 times to get all of the soap off.
When you’re done cleaning comes the most important part – drying! Set it up or hang it in a shaded area until completely dry. If the weather is wet, you can dry it inside in a cool, dry, non-carpeted area. Once completely dry, store your tent loosely in a cool, dry area like a gear closet or a garage.
Follow these tent care tips and your tent will be of service to you for many years to come!