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.