We use cookies to track usage and preferences. See Cookie Policy
Pocketmags Digital Magazines
Pocketmags Digital Magazines
   You are currently viewing the Canada version of the site.
Would you like to switch to your local site?
Digital Subscriptions >  Latest Articles > Kitcare part 5: Tents

Kitcare part 5: Tents
Trek & Mountain Magazine

Kitcare part 5: Tents

Posted May 21, 2015   |   1142 views   |   Leisure Interest   |   Comments (0) Ryan Waters continues his series with some sage advice on looking after tents

They are our home away from home in the mountains. They provide comfort, rest, shelter, even safety and are probably the most important piece of kit we own. We are talking about our tents of course.

Thanks to advances in lightweight ripstop nylon and aluminium pole construction, mountaineering tents have evolved into relatively lightweight and strong shelters. They are durable but they take a beating and must endure everything from ultraviolet sun exposure and rough, rocky surfaces to general neglect or outright abuse from the dirtbags that inhabit them (that’s us!). It is easy to think that shelling out loads for an expensive top-of-the-line mountain tent means you are literally covered, but years of experience in the harshest environments on earth have taught us that tents need as much care – if not more – than the rest of our kit.
Mountaineering tents come in two main types, single-wall and double-wall. No matter which you use, the forces of nature and humans for that matter, are the same. The sun is your tent’s enemy and its ultraviolet rays are always at work breaking down the material. The constant warming and cooling of the fabric also wreaks havoc on sewn pull tabs as the tent fly stretches tight in the sun and slack in the cold night. A really pro tip is to loosen your fly sheet in the day as the sun cooks it into a super-tight position. This gives it some slack and avoids wear and tear; tighten the straps back before night when he fabric will loosen and rattle.

Pay close attention to where you pitch your tent. If applicable, use a footprint which will save the floor fabric on rough or rocky surfaces and always shake or sweep out debris and dirt from the inside before packing away. Keep a very close eye on the seams of your main tent body and flysheet. Most tents come from the factory pre-sealed and taped at the seams. These need to be re-sealed from time to time to repel water from critical connections of fabric. Use a product such as Seam Seal and closely follow their directions for application.

This will greatly increase the lifespan of your tent and remove the grime and dirt from the fabric as well as make it more pleasant inside. Hand-wash your tent in a mild soap or use a product like Grangers Tent Cleaner. Make sure to rinse thoroughly and hang it to dry in a shady spot. Always carry ripstop tape and a pole sleeve in your repair kit. If you get a hole or a tear in the ripstop nylon of your tent or fly you can cut a circle-shaped patch from your tape and stop the hole from getting worse.

Poles have come a long way over the last several decades. They are incredibly light for how strong they can be, but you must avoid a hasty job of connecting the poles and avoid slamming them into place. This will wear out the ends of the poles and stretch out the bungee cord that connects the individual pole sections. You never know when you will have a broken or cracked pole so the pole sleeve in your repair kit is there in an emergency and can substitute as a temporary taped-on system to make your pole last through the trip.
These are the waiting timebomb on a heavily used tent. Wear and tear on zippers causes the slider – the piece that you actually zip up and down to close the fabric teeth – to start to wear down due to dirt and grit. This makes the zipper teeth fail to engage and open up behind the slider. Keeping your tent clean, especially the zippers, will reduce the time it takes for them to fail, but eventually it will happen and you may need to replace the slider or entire zipper strip. A quick fix is to pinch the slider from front to back with pliers, which will often cinch down the inner workings enough to engage the zipper teeth for the short term.

A dry tent is a tent that is ready to be either packed or stored. It is crucial to dry out all the fabric before packing it away. If not, the moisture will create mildew causing unsightly staining and funky odour inside your tent. So hang your tent in a shady breezy spot if you have it, before you pack it away for long-term storage.

To role, or not to role, has been debated for years; what about stuffing? The common wisdom dictates that it does not matter wether you roll your tent, fold it, or stuff it into the supplied stuff sack for storage, but that you alternate the methods from time to time. This will keep any creases from forming in your tent. It is also recommended to store your tent long term in a simple box or cotton stuffsack so it is loose and can breath. Just make sure it is in a dry place out of direct sunlight to avoid mildew.

Like our waterproof shell layers, our tents are often coated or impregnated with a Durable Waterproof Repellent (DWR). Like our shells they need to be retreated from time to time. Again, pay close attention to the signs that say you probably should re-treat (typically after a couple of seasons of normal use, say); water no longer beading and running off the surface of the rainfly; more condensation forming on the inside of your tent during the night; precipitation no longer beads up but appears patchy wet on the material.

After you wash your tent and let it dry, find a nice spot to set up the tent, ideally a covered area so you have time to apply the re-proofer and let the tent stand for drying. Choose a product like Grangers Tent Care which is a durable silicone based waterproofer specifically designed to jump start your DWR finish back to life.

For more great articles like this get the January 2014 issue of Trek & Mountain Magazine below or subscribe and save.

Single Issue - Mar-Apr 18 Replica Edition included
Or 549 points
Annual Digital Subscription
Only $ 4.17 per issue
Or 4999 points
Monthly Digital Subscription
Only $ 3.99 per issue
Or 399 points

View Issues

About Trek & Mountain Magazine

Trek & Mountain is aimed at trekkers and mountaineers of all levels, and features the world’s most spectacular mountain regions in every issue. Our experts give you vital information on which routes to choose, what equipment to buy and what techniques and knowledge you need to safely achieve your objectives. Whatever you dream, our aim is to help you ‘reach your peak’.

More great content like this...

For more great articles like this subscribe to Trek & Mountain Magazine today.

Most read articles this month

Christmas Gifts for Her

Christmas Gifts for Her

Stuck for gift ideas for the lovely lady in your life? The Pocketmags team have pooled all their best ideas for gifts for her this Christmas. Get ready to earn some serious brownie points! More...
Christmas Gifts for Him

Christmas Gifts for Him

Why are men so hard to buy for?! If you're looking for gift ideas for the deserving gent in your life, look no further; the Pocketmags team have found some amazing gifts for him this Christmas. Boring socks begone! More...


Nashville songwriter Mark Cawley shares some tactics for reviving those elusive creative juices when you’ve lost the flow More...
3 Free Reads for the New Year

3 Free Reads for the New Year

Spend all your money in December? Us too. We’ve pulled together our 3 favourite free reads available for you on Pocketmags. Everyone loves a free read! More...
How I got  published

How I got published

The author’s debut was actually her sixth novel, she tells Dolores Gordon-Smith More...
Christmas Gifts for Kids

Christmas Gifts for Kids

Treat the smallest (and loudest) members of the family to something fun this festive season! We've rounded up our favourite gifts for kids to help you (oops, we mean Santa) out - just call us the Pocketmags elves! More...
News from the world of the piano

News from the world of the piano

Argerich and Babayan in Cleveland More...
Christmas Gifts for Everyone

Christmas Gifts for Everyone

Here at Pocketmags we're all about going digital, but we know our relatives might not always feel the same. Why not treat someone special to a print subscription from our sister site magazine.co.uk? Buy 3 Christmas gift subscriptions and you'll get £15 off at checkout. That's Christmas sorted! Here are our favourites to pick up and flick through all year round... More...
Christmas Gifts for Geeks

Christmas Gifts for Geeks

Don't get pwned this Christmas - we've got a list of the greatest gifts around for the geekiest member of your household. Prepare to beat Santa at his own game - these beauties are just what they're looking for under the tree... More...
3 Fitness Trends You Haven’t Tried

3 Fitness Trends You Haven’t Tried

We’ve all heard of the crazy exercises people are trying - from animal yoga to orange theory. But if one of your New Year's resolutions is to get fit and find some sort of exercise you’ll enjoy then maybe you will love one of these… More...
Vouchers Gift Cards A magazine subscription is the perfect gift but you'll need something to show on the big day. View All
Ways to Pay Pocketmags Payment Types
At Pocketmags you get Secure Billing Great Offers HTML Reader Gifting options Loyalty Points