Basic tent care and maintenance

When the only thing between you and the forces of nature is a tent, you want to be sure it is up to the task. The point is to make the best choice based on your space needs, the type of camping you intend to do, and the budget you have set. Fact is, no matter what tent you purchase, you will need to take care of it to ensure it has a long life and keeps working as it should. Who better to present the best advice on tent care and maintenance than Tentco?

Proper tent care begins on the day of purchase. It is hard to argue with the fact that a well-loved and cared-for tent can make the difference between a night to remember and a night to forget.

Care before you go

After purchasing the tent that suits both your needs and pocket, you need to know how it works before taking it on a trip. Whether you have gone for a hardy canvas frame or dome tent, or opted for a lighter, more compact nylon tent, most of the same rules apply.

You should fully pitch your tent at home using the pitching guide instructions provided. This helps you to know how to pitch the tent, even under difficult conditions, and you can make sure that all the parts are complete. You might want to purchase extra pegs, additional guy ropes and even a storm strap (which goes right over the tent) so you are fully kitted and prepared for the most adverse conditions.

If you have invested in a ripstop canvas tent, now is the time to wet it thoroughly to allow natural swelling of the stitching and seams. Even when dry, this will ensure it remains waterproof.

Tip: Before each trip, make sure to check that all the parts are there and in good working order.

Set-up and taking down

There are a few pointers to note when pitching and striking a tent. Before pitching, scout the most likely area, then clear away any stones or sticks likely to damage the tent floor. You want the area to be flat, dry and preferably on a slightly raised section of ground to prevent the tent from being swamped in a rainstorm. If the ground is sloping, ensure your head will be on the upside of the slope.

While a shady spot is usually first prize, avoid pitching directly underneath a tree that may drip sap which can stain your tent and even damage the waterproofing. The tent should also not be in direct sunlight for too long as this will damage the tent fabric, whether it is canvas or nylon.

It is a good idea to always use a netted groundsheet that is slightly bigger than the footprint of the tent. It will protect the tent floor, provides some insulation from ground damp, helps prevent dirt from being tracked into the tent, and saves the grass below from damage.

Tip: Use a groundsheet to prolong the life of your tent and prevent the floor from feeling damp. Tentco supplies various sizes and types of groundsheets to fit your needs.

When pitching your tent, the doors and windows should be closed to reduce pressure on the zips. Avoid using excessive force when erecting the tent onto the frame – rather go slowly and gently until everything is in place. In the case of a frame tent, double-check that all pole ends are free from dirt before joining them together, and that the frame is securely assembled. Peg out the tent evenly, so it is secure but not so tight that the fabric is stretched out of shape. Overstretching may also cause the peg loops to tear. Be sure to also secure the tent with guy ropes to avoid any wind damage.

Be slow and methodical when striking camp. Remove tent pegs from the ground with either another peg or an “Easy Peg puller” and never by pulling the tent fabric. Clean out the dirt and debris inside with a broom or by shaking out the tent before you remove the poles or frame. With a frame tent, taking out the legs and then the roof section makes for easier disassembly.

When using shock-corded poles, start separating the segments in the middle as this evenly distributes tension along the cord. Repeat this trick on each subsequent half-section until your pole is fully folded. This way, the tension on the elastic cord remains even. Ensure that all open ends of poles are completely free of mud and dirt before they are placed in the assigned bag.

Fold the tent in logical segments, on the clean section of the groundsheet. Have the carry bag ready, so you know how wide the final folds should be. Some tents are best folded with all the elements together, while others pack tighter if they are placed separately in the carry bag.

Tip: When removing a shock-corded pole, it is far easier to push rather than pull it through the loops in the tent fabric.

After-trip care

When back home, you should thoroughly air-dry a tent that has got wet from rain or condensation by either setting it up indoors or in a shaded outdoor spot. If you don’t have enough space to pitch it, drape it or hang it until dry.

It is important to make sure your tent is completely dry before storing it, as damp fabrics grow mildew, giving tents a funky smell and harming polyurethane waterproof coatings. Over time, moisture also starts to break down the chemical coatings. A neglected tent that has become flaky, tacky, or smelly needs serious intervention or must be replaced. When your tent is finally dry, find a cool and dry place to store it, preferably off the ground, such as a protective shelf to keep it away from damp.

Tip: Instead of leaving your tent stuffed in its assigned compact bag for long-term storage, rather place it in a generous mesh bag. This allows the tent fabrics to breathe.

Maintenance tips and tricks

Before and after a trip, it helps to inspect your tent for damage. Stains from mud or bird droppings should be allowed to thoroughly dry before brushing off with a damp sponge. On both nylon and canvas tents, use lukewarm water for cleaning, but never detergent as this will destroy the waterproof coatings or properties.

You can also use Tentco’s Canvas Cleaner, a biodegradable fluid specifically made to clean all canvas, metals, painted surfaces and plastic. If you experience occasional seam leakage, apply a recommended seam sealer or wax stick along the inside of the entire seam. Always take a stick along with you when camping for on-the-spot fixes. Tentco has various sealing products for you to choose from. A properly cared-for tent should not need to be waterproofed, but if you do need to revive a canvas tent’s outer layer, use Tentco’s NU Seal product which should be applied using a spray gun driven by an air compressor.

All Tentco tents are made with sturdy self-repairing zippers. If a zipper does separate, move the slider to the beginning of the zipper tape and rework the zipper. When it comes to repairing a tear, Tentco offers a fast and reliable repair service.

Tip: To avoid fabric damage, never spray your tent with insecticide, wash with detergent or pitch it near an open fire.

For all your camping related needs, pop over to Tentco’s website to find a retailer near you:

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