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Camping. It’s that time of year we always look forward to as it means we will be outside a lot. It also means we will spend a lot of time getting up close and personal with nature and all it offers. What we always like to do before we get deep into another camping season is pull out our list of tent care and maintenance tips and hang them up so we can start adding them to our seasonal routine.
Typically we post the ‘how to care for tents tip sheet’ on the wall to our camping storage shed but if you don’t have such a place, post these tips near where you store your gear so when the time comes, you can start getting into the habit of taking care of the items that take care of you on a camping trip.
1 – Keep ‘Er Clean
After each use, once we get back home we will conduct a complete cleaning of our tents. This involves setting them up in the backyard and wiping all fabric down with a cloth dipped in a solution of lukewarm water and liquid hand soap.
Then we let them dry thoroughly. Once that job is complete we will also clean all the tent poles with a dry cloth to remove anything that may have collected on them.
The zippers also require cleaning and that can be done with by dipping them into a small container of water. You can use a small brush to brush out debris from the teeth if you like. The idea here is to remove any dirt or sand that may collect from a campsite and cause problems with the way the zipper performs if not removed by cleaning.
A vital aspect of tent care and maintenance is ensuring every part of your gear is 100% dry before you pack it away.
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2 – Keep ‘Er Sealed: Use The Best Tent Seam Sealer
When you are cleaning your tent you should be inspecting the overall condition of it as well. If you discover any seams requiring attention, this is the time to add some extra protection through the use of best tent seam sealer.
Ideally this job should be done outside, but if you are forced to do it indoors, make sure your work area is well ventilated. There will be seams you will want to treat on a regular basis simply because of where they are located.
For example, those seams exposed to wet weather, ground level moisture and runoff would be your top priority. Lay the tent out flat and hold the seams taut for best results. The best tent seam sealers should be applied to both the inside and outside of the locations you are treating and spread evenly. About an hour later you should be able to store your tent.
3 – Keep ‘Er Bright
Excessive exposure to sunlight will damage tent fabric. Ultraviolet light is the culprit and in a way, it will break down fabric much in the same way the sun beating down on unprotected skin will result in a sunburn. However, when protecting your skin from sun a sunscreen is used.
In knowing how to care for tents, you can protect it in a similar way. When camping in sunny locations, try to cover the tent with a screen of some kind to add extra protection from the sun. What we like to do is string up a large tarp for shade.
Not only does it keep the harsh UV rays off of our tent and keep us cool, it doubles as a rain/wind cover for added weather protection. Remember, once your tent is damaged by UV light, the fabric will become brittle and cannot be repaired.
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4 – Keep ‘Er Dry
It is not always possible, depending on where you have set up for the night and the weather conditions, but a dry tent is the best tent. This means more than providing a comfortable environment for sleeping.
A wet tent can develop mold, mildew and color staining. The staining can result for color transfer between different colored items coming in contact with the tent fabric for long periods of time in damp or wet conditions.
This is why your tent care and maintenance routine needs to allow your tent to completely dry 100% before stuffing it back into the trunk or in a backpack.
5 – Keep ‘Er Safe
Speaking of dry and knowing how to care for tents… never store your tent without it drying properly! Once it is completely dried, roll it up loosely and leave in a cool dry place until the next time you need it. Cover it to keep dust from collecting and use a cloth so the tent material has a chance to breathe.
The tent poles should be stored already assembled which reduces wear and tear on their shock cords. The tent bag is a great tool for carrying the tent somewhere but we suggest not storing your tent in one.
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Some Bonus Tent Care And Maintenance Tips
While we’re at it, there are other things we do on our how to care for tents list to keep our tents in tiptop condition and looking and smelling good. They include the following:
5A – Ground TarpUsing a ground tarp under your tent is a smart idea for a variety of reasons. For us it reduces the footprint of our overall camping space and protects the tent floor. Imagine a sharp rock or piece of wood sticking into the floor from underneath and you should get a better understanding of the reason for a ground cloth.
Plus, it can help keep moisture away from the bottom of the tent. By the way, the best way to keep the floor of your tent from getting damaged it to not wear shoes inside. Trust us on this one.
5B – Wipe & Sweep
On how to care for tents when out camping, we like to have a small indoor outdoor mat at the entrance to wipe off feet and we will have a small broom for sweeping the inside. We will do this whenever it needs it to cut down on the buildup of grit and grime on the tent floor that may eventually damage it if not kept clean. We are not neat freaks but we do want our tent to last a while.
5C – Hungry Critters
Our final tent care and maintenance tip is a common sense reminder that your tent is not meant to store food. Critters, big or small will do whatever it takes to get at any kind of snack you have stashed inside your tent. Often they don’t consider that you have just cleaned the inside and have gone on a short stroll around the campground. Critters will tear tent fabric beyond repair so don’t give them a reason to visit your tent and it should last you a good long time.
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