Data Sheet

#11 Looking after your tent

#11 #11 Looking after your tent

Caring for your canvas

If you’ve invested time and money in getting a tent you’ll want it to last. This Datasheet gives some pointers to help make sure your tent provides the best accommodation for as long as possible, assuming you’re prepared to put in a little time and effort. Benefit from more technical advice from the experts when you join the Club.

If you look after your tent it should provide you with many years of holiday memories – and it starts at the campsite. Before unpacking your tent, check the ground for stones, old pegs or anything else that might damage your groundsheet. You may like to consider using an extra piece of material – known as a footprint – underneath the groundsheet to protect it.

When you pitch, position the guy lines carefully so the fabric doesn’t flap (which can cause excessive wear) but don’t have it so tight it’s under stress. Different fabrics react in different ways to the rain and temperature changes so it’s worth checking the tension in the guy lines occasionally throughout your stay. Also, check the pegs are pointing in a direction that won’t allow the guy lines to slip off or the pegs to pull out of the ground.

web Gaffer tape can be useful for an on-site fixCleaning and reproofing your tent

It’s normally easiest to clean and reproof your tent when it’s pitched. This way you can work methodically around the whole unit and be sure you’ve cleaned and treated it all. Please don’t put your pride and joy into the washing machine – neither the machine nor the tent will fare well.

  • Brush off any loose dirt and if necessary scrape it off gently with a flat-bladed knife or a piece of plastic – old store or credit cards can be good for this.
  • Use a cleaning liquid to clean the fabric, taking care to match the type of fluid to your tent fabric and follow the instructions carefully.
  • If necessary use highly diluted bleach to tackle mould and mildew stains. Sterilising liquid, such as that used for baby bottles, is good for this. It may not remove the black staining (bleach in concentrations strong enough to do this could permanently damage the fabric) but it should kill the organisms that create the marks and prevent the musty smell they produce.
  • Rinse thoroughly with clean water to remove all traces of the cleaning fluid.
  • Allow to dry naturally.
  • Waterproof the fabric using a reproofing liquid, again appropriate to your tent, following the instructions carefully.
  • Allow to dry naturally.

Repair kits

Some tents come with a small repair kit that include a short section of pole, a spare guy rope, patches of fabric and adhesive. If your tent doesn’t have this, it’s worth putting together a similar pack. You may like to add some plastic cable ties and a roll of gaffer tape along with a few extra pegs. Add a decent mallet and peg puller and a kit like this should allow you to fix most problems while you’re out camping.

If you need to solve a problem temporarily in the field, don’t forget to make a more permanent repair when you get home – chances are you’ll forget about it if you wait until your next trip.


Packing away

Here’s a checklist to make sure your tent has the best chance of being in perfect condition when you next need it:

  1. Check the fabric (the outer, any inner tents and the groundsheet) to make sure it’s clean and dry, cleaning repairing and reproofing if necessary.
  2.  Inspect the poles, cleaning and repairing them as required. Check the ends, any connecting cords, spring links and other attachments to make sure they are not damaged. If you need to re-thread an elastic cord, a Bulldog clip can be useful to secure the cord to stop it springing back. Store the poles in a separate bag to prevent them damaging the fabric of your tent.
    If you discover a bent pole, be sure to fix it before your next trip

    If you discover a bent pole, be sure to fix it before your next trip

  3. Clean and count the pegs. If you need to straighten any you can try holding them in a vice and tapping them with a hammer. If any are missing, consider replacing them with some different types of pegs to suit different ground conditions (see Data Sheet 5 – Choosing your tent materials). Store the pegs in a separate bag to prevent them damaging the fabric of your tent.
  4. Check the connecting points around the tent, including pegging points and guy lines.
  5. Look over all the seams and reseal if necessary.
  6. Inspect any windows, vents, flyscreens and other items for damage.
  7. Try the zips. Use a lubricant (a proprietary spray or candle wax) on any that don’t run freely.
  8. Avoid folding the tent the same way every time to prevent wear along the folds.
  9. Store your tent in a cool dry place out of direct sunlight. Don’t keep it in a plastic bag or you may have a problem with condensation.