Whether or not you’re an off-the-cuff yard camper or an out of doors fanatic accustomed to spending summers automobile tenting throughout nationwide parks, your tent is likely one of the most vital items of apparatus you’ll take in your journey. A very good tent shelters you from rain and wind, gives shade, retains pesky mosquitoes and campsite critters at bay, and affords privateness in a crowded campground. It’s additionally among the many costliest gear you’ll buy. So that you’ll need to preserve it in good condition for so long as doable.
Most tent producers estimate a five- to 10-year lifespan for his or her tents. However Wirecutter’s professional testers have discovered that with correct care and upkeep, the tents of cautious campers can be utilized for no less than 15 years.
Right here’s what it’s worthwhile to know to make your tent final, from setup to pull-down.
Earlier than organising
Tidy your campsite. Seek for a clean, comparatively degree web site to pitch your tent. After you’ve picked a spot, take a while to clear any particles from the positioning. Remember to brush away small stones, sticks, pine cones, and briars, since they will poke holes via the tent ground.
Lay down a groundsheet. A groundsheet, additionally known as a footprint, is a light-weight sheet—about the identical form and dimension as your tent’s ground—that goes beneath your tent to supply a barrier between it and the bottom. The extra you utilize your tent, the extra put on and tear the underside will probably be subjected to, so a groundsheet will assist preserve it shielded from small abrasions. Tent producers normally promote footprints sized to suit particular tents. These footprints are normally a bit pricier than low cost tarps, however due to the precise match with the tent, they’re ultimate for stopping water from pooling. Should you’d wish to spend rather less, a low-priced tarp will get the job carried out—simply make certain you purchase it or reduce it to suit. A too-big tarp will gather rainwater off the fly and funnel it proper beneath your tent. Should you’d reasonably not reduce your tarp to suit, outside retailer REI recommends tucking any extra materials beneath the tent ground to forestall water from pooling.
Keep away from organising in direct daylight. Tent designer Bob Howe, one of many consultants we spoke with whereas researching our information to one of the best tents, instructed us that UV injury is a “prime tent killer.” Over time, the solar’s rays will degrade the material. So regardless that organising in a sunny spot appears engaging, you could need to pitch your tent within the shade to delay its life.
Whereas utilizing your tent
Zip your tent gently. Don’t tug too laborious on the zipper, and if it will get caught, don’t power it. To clear the material path and stop snags, Wirecutter senior workers author Equipment Dillon suggests putting a thumb within the space simply above of the course you’re pulling the zipper. If the zipper does snag, REI recommends holding the observe with one hand and gently wiggling the slider back and forth, to free the material.
Make your tent a shoe-free zone. All the time take away your boots earlier than climbing inside. Grime, pebbles, and different particles masking the ground of the tent can erode the material and result in small punctures.
Don’t preserve meals in your tent. As a substitute, go away meals and different aromatic personal-care gadgets in a safe container exterior your tent; the scent can entice small critters who will chew via the material to succeed in their subsequent snack. Most campsites present bear-proof storage bins for stashing meals. In case your campsite doesn’t, take into account maintaining your meals and toiletries in a bear-proof canister no less than 100 toes out of your campsite. It’s at all times a good suggestion to maintain meals in a scent-proof container, and be particularly cautious for those who’re tenting in bear nation—in any other case, you possibly can have extra to fret about than chipmunk and raccoon nibbles.
When it’s time to pack up and take it house
Sweep out your tent. Equipment warns that small pebbles and sticks packed contained in the tent can rub and erode the fabric over time. You probably have a freestanding tent that holds its construction when it’s unstaked, you need to be capable to carry the tent and shake out any particles. Should you’re critical about maintaining your tent away from detritus, pack a small whisk broom and dustpan to maintain the ground tidy during your journey—not excellent earlier than packing up.
Roll up your tent, reasonably than stuffing it in its carrying bag. Although it feels simpler to stuff your tent into its case, REI warns that stuffing it in a carrying bag places stress on the tent’s materials and coatings.
When you’re house, totally clear your tent. Though you gained’t essentially have to do that after each quick outing, after an prolonged tenting journey, you need to wipe your tent clear to do away with filth and dirt. As quickly as you come back house, use a light cleaning soap, akin to liquid hand cleaning soap, and lukewarm water. By no means use detergent or run your tent via a wash-and-dry cycle. This might injury the tent’s protecting coating and seams. Don’t overlook to wipe down the zippers with soapy water, particularly for those who’ve been tenting in a sandy space—in any other case, the sliders will put on out over time. Tent poles, alternatively, needs to be wiped down with a dry, smooth fabric. Should you’re extra of an off-the-cuff camper, you’ll be able to in all probability skip this step and wipe down your tent as soon as a season to maintain it in good condition.
Air-dry your tent. All the time air out your tent after a visit—you need to by no means pack away a humid tent. Keep away from extra moisture in any respect prices: Not solely is it a breeding floor for mould and mildew, however it’s going to additionally begin to chemically break down coatings over time. Arrange the tent indoors or in a shady spot outdoor; for those who don’t have room to do that, drape the tent or hold it till it’s utterly dry.
Retailer your tent loosely in a cool, dry place. Don’t roll the tent as tightly as you’d whereas touring; you’ll need to give the material an opportunity to loosen up and breathe. Although you could need to toss it within the basement or attic, REI suggests avoiding damp or sizzling places. Should you don’t produce other storage choices, think about using an air-tight storage container as an alternative to maintain the material recent and mildew-free.