8 Easy Tips to Increase Your Tent's Life

A few tips on how to extend the life of your tent so you can enjoy it for years to come!

By: Katie Kessel
November 16, 2016

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When you're out exploring the outdoors, I'd argue that the most important thing to pack is your tent. It's the place you sleep or nap after a long day of hiking, an escape from the elements (and mosquitos!), and a familiar place you can call home and bring with you after days on the trail. I know I have an attachment to my tent after so much time spent in it, and although it has some holes, the poles are on their last legs, and it definitely needs a bit of love every few trips, it's been so many places with me that I can't imagine using anything else!

In extending the life of my tent, there are a few tips I can give other adventurers in order to make your tent last as long as possible.

1. Dry it out

Probably one of the most important rules in increasing the life of your tent is to dry it out off the trail. Mildew can build up on your tent if it's damp, causing not only a smell, but it can impact the waterproofing layer of your tent. Once you get home, take it out and either set it up undercover somewhere or hang it to dry. I often hang it in the shower for at least a day before putting it back in the pack.

2. Patch it up off the trail

My tent has holes both on the exterior or the mesh of the tent. For the outside of your tent, you can get tent patches and apply them to the hole directly. The mesh holes can be repaired with a mesh repair kit, which you size around the hole, then sew directly to the mesh around it.

3. Duct tape is your friend

Patching up your tent when you're on the trail is key to keeping you dry, especially when you see a few rainclouds headed your direction. There are a few ways to repair your tent when you're outdoors, including (1) duct tape or (2) Vaseline. Both of these will create a waterproof layer between you and the outdoors. Just apply either of these directly to the hole (I recommend Vaseline for mesh on-trail repairs).

4. Take care of your tent poles

Tent poles can become brittle and snap if they're not well taken care of. Try to be gentle when taking your tent apart and fold them back up starting with the middle sections. If a pole does snap when you're out, use some duct tape to repair it in the meantime.

5. Protect the bottom of your tent

Camp on a groundsheet in order to protect the bottom of your tent and to add an extra layer between you and the ground (which will keep you warmer at night too). Also, try to rid the area you camp on of loose stones or sticks to not only add comfort to you, but to protect the bottom of your tent.

6. Take care to weigh your tent down once it's set up

When you're setting up your tent, make sure it's weighed down enough that it won't blow away. This may seem easy, but tents are really light and a strong gust can lift your tent and rake it across the surrounding area, resulting in holes in your tent. Once it's set up, put your sleeping back or waterbottle inside while you're getting your camp ready to make sure it doesn't get damaged.

7. Keep it in the shade

If you're not backpacking, but staying in one campsite for a few days, try to keep your tent out of the sun. The UV rays are bad for your tent, causing it to age faster over time and will ultimately result in a brittle exterior that will break easier.

8. Clean your tent every few uses

Set up your tent somewhere outdoors, then use some mild soap (either laundry detergent or dish soap) or specialized tent cleaner and a sponge on the outside of the tent, lightly scrubbing the exterior. Make sure to let it dry out before packing it back up, either set up outside or bring it inside and hang it to dry.

Have fun campers!

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph.