Caring for your Tent
Your tent is your home away from home, your sanctuary from the battering winds, driving rain, and bitter cold which often comes hand in hand with many adventures. Maintenance and care for your tent is paramount as your fortress of comfort and safety cannot be performing at anything but is peak in the field.
Before you go:
Pitch the tent at home first following the instructions supplied. Check that all of the components are present and in good order. If it`s been packed away for a while or the tent got wet on your last trip your zips may need some attention. Application of a silicon spray such as will prevent zipper wear and promote a smooth zipper motion.
This is also the best time to use liquid seam sealant on any exposed seams. Allow all seams to dry fully before storing or using your tent.
In the Field:
Setting up: Select your campsite with care. Look for high, well-draining ground that is protected from the prevailing wind, and is well away from overhanging dead trees or branches. Clear away all sticks and rocks which may damage your tent floor, and remember to remove your boots before entering the tent. Using a separate groundsheet underneath your tent floor will also help protect the floor.
Be aware that vapors from petroleum products and insect repellents can damage the coatings of your tent. Prolonged exposure to UV rays will also cause fabric failure, so pitch your tent in a shady spot where possible.
Avoid the temptation to flick shock-chorded poles together, as it damages the joining elements. Resulting burrs can shred the shock-chord or split the pole.
Packing up: When you are ready to take your tent down it is important to remove as much moisture as possible. The most effective way to do this is to wipe moisture away with a chamois or a micro-fiber towel.
You should also make sure that the floor of the tent is swept free of dirt, rocks and sand, as these can damage the fabric. It`s also a good idea to check around the campsite to ensure you have collected all the stakes. If you are putting the stakes in the same bag as the tent, clean them thoroughly so as not to soil the tent. Better still prevent them from damaging the tent by packing them in a stuff sack of their own.
Treat your tent poles with particular care, a snapped pole could mean disaster in the field. Poles are strongest while flexed into shape and linked with the tent. They are less robust folded up. A separate stuff-sack will provide some extra protection Carry your tent poles inside your backpack, rather than strapped to the outside. Avoid stepping on them as this can result in damage to the tubing.
When packing your tent into its stuff-sack, roll it or fold it differently each time. Varying the folding pattern prevents deep creases from forming which, over time, can flex off the coating.
Storage: A tent should never be stored wet. This is obviously not always possible to avoid in the field, but it is a definite rule for home storage. After a trip take time to 'air' your tent so all excess moisture can evaporate. Any moisture left on a tent that is stored for long periods will turn to mildew, which can be difficult to remove even from synthetic fabrics. Store loose if possible, rather than tightly rolled or folded.
Most detergents will cause the coating to delaminate, so try to avoid washing your tent. Keeping it clean in the field is the best bet, but if cleaning is necessary sponge it down with lukewarm water and mild, synthetic gear soap. Rinse well and dry thoroughly before storing. Most washing machines are too rough on tents, do it by hand in a plastic bucket for small tents or in the bathtub for larger tents. Set up the tent fully and allow to air dry.