Do you love to go camping? Are you taking good care of your tent? Every outdoor-loving person would tell you that your tent would be your ultimate companion when spending your nights outdoors. This would be your home, protecting you from the elements, and giving you a sense of familiarity when everything else outside looks and feels new and strange. So how do you properly take care of it? Here’s what you should know.
How and When to Clean Your Tent
Tents take a lot of abuse when used outdoors – which is why it should be given some TLC after each trip. After coming home from your outdoor excursion, set up your tent and inspect it thoroughly before a clean. Remove any large bits of material sticking to the tent – like twigs, leaves, and clumps of dirt. These would often stick to the tent since wrapping up your setup is often done quickly – with very little care compared to when you’re putting up the tent in the first place. Relax – this isn’t a bad thing, but make sure to look for twigs and leaves nonetheless and carefully remove them from the material.
The cleaning itself requires a soft sponge, lukewarm water, and perhaps some mild soap to remove signs of dirt and debris on the surface. This is really done to freshen up the tent, get rid of any possible smell lingering on the surface, and make it ready for your next trip. Do NOT throw the tent into the washer or dryer as this will ruin it completely, the cycle possibly popping up the seams of the product. Detergent can also be quite harsh on the material of the tent. So how are you supposed to dry the material? You leave it to air dry. After wiping off the surface with a sponge, just leave it there for a few hours until it is no longer moist. Understand that the drying process is crucial since tents can easily attract mold growth.
Extra care should be given to the poles, zipper, and teeth of the tent. If you went to the forest or close to a body of freshwater, wiping these areas with a soft cloth should get the job done.
If you clean your tent properly after each and every trip, you should rest easy knowing that if there’s a sudden camping trip – your tent is ready to go. With a proper clean, your tent will also store better so that even if there’s a huge gap between your first outdoor adventure and your second one, the tent is still there and ready to serve you.
Repairing Problem Areas of your Tent
If your tent suffers very specific issues before, during, or after use – here’s what you should do.
Seal the Fabric ASAP
When we say ASAP – we mean as soon as you see this particular rip. This means that you should always bring a needle and some thread with you during camping in order to properly address rips as soon as you notice them. Note that tent fabric is stretched taut by the pole – any small rip if not addressed quickly can grow big to the point where it no longer protects you from the elements. Some experts prefer to use a seam sealant which is a more convenient way of repairing tents on site. Note however that this primarily works on the seam area and not on holes on the middle of the fabric itself.
Repair the Poles
Most tents today come with reserve poles so you can at least replace a broken pole once it occurs. Some sellers also provide a pole repair tube that allows you to slide it around broken poles so that they’d be sturdy. As a last resort, you can try going online and buy replacement poles for your particular tent. Understand that with every trip you take, there should be reserve poles on hand. Think of them as spare tires for your car that you always have to carry around, whether your tires are flat or not.
The primary issue you can have with tent pegs is if they’re bent. If this happens, you can simply grab a rock and pound it back into shape. Pegs are also very easy to purchase so if you can carry one around as a spare, that should get rid of the problem.
Proper Tent Storage
Most tents are sold with a handy bag so there’s really no need to buy one for this purpose. To pack a tent for storage, simply put it all back together the way you found them or when they were delivered to you. If this is not possible, simply make sure that the main tent is placed inside a loose bag – like a pillowcase. It’s not a good idea to put them inside something constricting as this can crush and damage the material. The poles should be tied together and kept somewhere close to the main tent, but in a separate bag. Keep both in a cool and dry place.
On-Site Tent Use to Minimize Damage
The way you use the tent during your outdoor adventure is also important if you want to lengthen its life. As a rule, it’s best to buy a sturdy tent so that it can withstand more wear and tear over the years. During use however, here’s what you should know.
By the Book Setup
After buying your first tent, the first thing you should do would be to study its setup. The first time you pitch your tent should NOT be on the camping site. Instead, a few days before the actual camping trip – you should try putting the tent up and familiarize yourself with how all the parts come together. Doing this before the actual camping trip takes the pressure out of you so that you don’t just jam different parts together out of frustration. Following instructions, you should be able to enjoy a sturdier build with all the parts matching together. While there, make sure to learn all the parts of the tent so you’d know what portions need attention in case of problems.
Avoid Direct Sunlight and Rough Patches
Finding the right place to pitch your tent is your first concern when you reach your destination. Ideally, it should be somewhere that is somewhat protected from the elements. Perhaps just a bit under the trees so that neither sun nor rain will hit it directly if the weather turns sour.
Now you’re probably wondering – isn’t it the tent’s job to protect me from all of these things? Well, yes and no. Understand that tents are made from fabric and despite recent developments in their structure, they’re nowhere near brick and mortar in terms of protection. Most tents today are waterproof but a heavy downpour can take its toll on the seams of the material. Direct sunlight can also be harmful as the UV rays could cause the tent fabric to become brittle overtime, making it practically useless.
As for the ground, look for a relatively flat area with little rocks. While you may have enough padding between the ground and yourself – the flooring of the tent may not do so well on the protruding rocks.
The zippers would take the brunt of the action during the trip. Zipping it up and down multiple times could cause the teeth to become crooked or for the zipper itself to catch on the teeth. If this happens – be patient. You don’t want to accidentally close up the tent so that you’ll have to rip up the teeth just to open it back up. Use your hands and gently guide the zipper through the teeth until you manage to free it properly. You might want to bring some tools with you just so you can fix the teeth if it pulls free.
Keeping Debris Out
Always leave your outdoor footwear outside the tent to prevent dirt and debris from collecting inside. Ideally, you should shake the tent free of dirt before and after using it – but it would be better if you make every effort not to bring in the grime in the first place. Remember that this is where you sleep so keep the place clean.
If you have your faithful dog with you, make sure that they’re always accompanied by someone inside the tent. Doggy paws can be harmful for the fabric and can easily punch a hole on the surface. If you’re outside, your dog should be too – especially in the daytime when the inside of the tent can get very hot.
To wrap it up, tents are built to withstand the elements when used outdoors. However, that doesn’t mean that they’re invincible. These tents will serve you well, but only if you take care of them properly with each use. Note that not all tents are the same so try to find out if your tent model has specific instructions for its care and storage that you can follow.