Ask the Gear Guy

Four tips to make your tent last


Q. Hello Gear Guy, I just got a new tent. What can I do to make sure it lasts me the longest amount of time possible?
– Fresh Tent David, Philadelphia, Pa.

A. Way to plan for the future, David. Caring for your gear is one of the most important things you can do. And if you treat your stuff well, most quality gear should last you for a decade or more. I still regularly use my 15-year-old tent. To bring you the best tent care tips I recently hooked up with some expert friends from REI (www.rei.com) and here’s what we came up with:

Seam sealing. I’m not sure which tent you have, but these days most every tent comes with their floor seams and rainflys factory sealed for waterproofness. If you know for a fact your tent seams aren’t sealed then you’re going to want to do that ASAP with a product like McNett’s Seam Grip ($7.35; www.rei.com).

Perfect pitching. When pitching your tent, use a ground cloth to avoid anything that might rip or poke a hole in your tent’s floor. Don’t snap your tent poles together because that can damage the fittings and weaken the poles. Instead, put the poles together one section at a time. When taking them down, start by breaking the pole down in the middle as it puts less stress on the poles. If your campsite is in the bright sunshine, leave the rainfly on during the day. The sun’s rays can breakdown the tent’s fabric over time but the fly (with its waterproof coating) is more durable to sun exposure.

Be clean. After each outing, inspect your tent for damage and clean it when it’s dirty. Just spot clean it using a simple sponge with cold water and non-detergent soap (don’t use dishwashing liquid, bleach, stain sticks, etc).

Smart storage. Never put your tent away wet. Sure, if you’re camping and it rains you have to pack it away wet, but as soon as you get home make sure to thoroughly dry it out. If you don’t, smelly fabric-destroying mildew will take over.

Comments about “Four tips to make your tent last”

  1. jango fk says:

    very bàaaad

  2. Jambeaux says:

    Philmont requires we stuff the tents into their tent bags. Folding causes creases which causes leaks.

  3. Denner1 says:

    Make sure you washyour tent after each camping tent. Made sure your tent is stored in
    a dry place. Remember to put the rain fly and the tarp up when you set up your tent. Make sure you clear out the area where the tent is going to be. To prevent other people from falling, on the sides where the rop or poles meet the ground. get a noodle for swimming, slpit part of the noodle to the midle, then put the noodle their. Theese should help your tent last longer.

  4. Denner 1 says:

    You should make sure you keep your tent in a dry place. After each camping trip you
    should set up your temt and clean it. The rest of the advice I know when it comes to
    that is be careful around the tent.

  5. "G" says:

    Newer tents have zipper covers-so as long as you store it dry there should be no problem. on older tents with exposed zippers I use a bar of natural soap, such as ivory to coat zipper, seems to work well. Also when someone gets a new tent I set it up, soak it with a hose(outside only), let it air dry and then waterproof it, haven’t had a leak yet.

  6. Off-Trail Monkey says:

    Nothing ruins a tent faster that someone yanking on a zipper too fast. Zip slow and your tent will treat you right. Another common problem is a scout opening part of a door and then pushing through the hole rather than opening the door wide open. Watch sometime and you’ll see it; more often than you think.

  7. nmFreeWheeler says:

    When I get home, after natural air drying my tent, I like to turn my tent inside-out and put it in the electric dryer for 15 minutes to freshen it up a bit. DO NOT USE HEAT SETTING on dryer, only the COOL or FLUFF mode. Things like bugs, grass, and dirt end up in the lint screen. I do the same with my down sleeping bag.

  8. Rat says:

    All very good ideas. Another thing is NO SHOES IN TENTS!!

  9. domscout says:

    Great thinking. That’s what l did too. I still have a large canvas 4 man tent that l bought used in 1982. Keeping a tarp over and under the tent will.make them last for years on.

  10. Mike says:

    Any tips for keeping the zippers working?

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