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5 Ways to Extend the Life of Your Tent

Get your tent dialed for summer adventures, even if that means camping in your backyard.

By: The Outbound Collective + Save to a List

A good tent can last years if taken care of properly. And why shouldn’t you take the necessary steps to ensure it performs well night after night? It’s your home away from home! Here are 5 tips to extend the life of your tent. 

Dry It Out

There’s nothing worse than opening your tent for the first trip of the year and smelling mold. Gross! And, it’s terrible for the tent’s technical fabrics as it affects the water repellency (and can void the manufacturer's warranty). After each trip, set your tent up and allow it to dry out. Shake out any remaining debris and evidence of the adventure.

To get rid of pesky mold and mildew, try mixing a gallon of hot water with one cup of lemon juice and one cup of salt. Use a spray bottle and soft sponge to apply the mixture and gently rub into the tent. Allow it to dry and then use warm water to rinse.

Clean the Zippers

Tent zippers can attract dirt, dust and other campsite debris, which can inhibit its ability to glide. If your zippers aren’t running smoothly, you may have left over evidence of your adventures gumming things up. To clean, either rinse the zippers off with your garden hose while cleaning your tent, or use an old toothbrush to scrub out any persistent gunk.

A good tip to keep your zippers in good condition: Keep the doors fully open and tied back when in use so kids, adults and dogs don’t step on them.

Repair and Patch Mesh Snags

Mesh is great for ventilation and stargazing, but it needs to be treated with care. Snags from zippers, branches, or critter claws can damage that delicate mesh. If you do get a snag, use a sewing needle to move the grids of thread back into place. Voila!

For larger holes, there are mesh patches available that easily cover the hole. With proper guidance, they are easy to fix.

Protect Tent Poles

Tent poles offer structure and stability. Taking care to break them down properly will help them last longer. Tent poles have a stretchy shock cord that runs through the center. According to the experts at NEMO, unclip the poles from the tent body and start collapsing from the center. By starting at the center, you won’t be putting unnecessary stress or stretch on one end of the shock cord vs the other.

Just Clean It

If your tent has gone a season without a good cleaning, give it a bath while it’s set up or hand wash it in the tub. Nikwax’s new Tent and Gear Solarwash is a great cleaner that safely removes dirt, oils and campfire smoke that can inhibit the fabric's waterproofness and breathability. Exposure to UV rays can quickly damage the fabric. By adding UV protection, Tent & Gear Solarwash from Nikwax will effectively double the fabric’s useful life.

With a little extra care, your tent will perform and provide reliable shelter for many years of adventure.

Cover photo courtesy of NEMO.

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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