How to care for and store a tent and on-the-hill care
How does a tent work?
Your tent is able to fend off rain and wind,but sometimes the inside of the outer sheet is wet. This is because having warm people inside the tent will cause condensation, as the warm air inside the tent meets the cold air outside, causing droplets of water inside the flysheet.
To stop these droplets dropping on the people inside the tent, manufacturers usually make a separate inner and outer - with the inner being highly breathable. This creates an airflow through the tent that evaporates and draws moisture from the outer flysheet - then keeping you dry inside. To keep you dry, and prevent the droplets from penetrating the inner flysheet, the inner and outer sheet must not touch.
However, issues can arise if the breathable elements are blocked by dirt or mud which will prevent the water-repellent from working and allow water droplets to build up - this usually causes people to believe that their tent isn't waterproof, or complain that their tent is starting to smell. If you keep your tent clean and free from dirt you will have a much dryer night camping.
One of the most environmentally friendly ways to clean your tent is to use the traditional British weather to your advantage! However, the pitfalls of this is that rain in itself will not break down dirt; you need a cleaner or soap which is not found in rain. Most of the dirt that builds up on your tent occurs from use on the hill putting it up and taking it down. So, it is really important after your trip to use a specialist tent cleaner to keep your tent breathable.
After your trip, avoid leaving a damp tent in its stuff-sack ready for your next trip otherwise you'll end up with a very moldy smelly tent! Make sure you unpack the tent and poles, wash them with a specialist tent cleaner and hang them up to dry out. If you have the space indoors then a very quick option is to put the tent up in a warm room and stand a dehumidifier next to it. After the tent is dry store it away in a cool, dry place - and for long periods of storage double check the tent every so often to make sure mold hasn't built up on it.
You can care for your tent immediately when out on the hill to prolong its lifespan and keep it clean. After camping, when you wake up in the morning and the weather is dry, try to leave the tent standing up for as long as possible before packing it away in your rucksack. This will help the tent to dry a little before putting it in your rucksack, it will also prevent the rest of your rucksack from getting damp.
Instead of stuffing the rucksack in its stuff-sack, (which is quick and efficient in windy weather) if the weather allows it, try to fold it on the ground and roll it up so it doesn't take too much space in your rucksack - it will also prevent the fabric from becoming damaged.
Don't Forget the Poles
People pay most attention to caring for the inner and outer flysheet, often forgetting to care for the poles and even throwing them around. certain poles can corrode if you are camping near salt-water - this can be prevented by washing and drying them after a trip.
Tent poles can often break, especially with super light tents or cheap alternatives. Camping with a broken pole can make for an uncomfortable night so always make sure you've got a tent pole repair kit or pole sleeve - these slide over the broken section as an emergency repair.
Effects of Sunlight
Lots of hill walkers and campers are delighted when the sun starts to shine on their camping trip or expedition. But keep an eye on your tent as long term UV exposure can damage the tent waterproofing. This occurs more often with super light tents which loose their waterproof properties much quicker than heavier fabrics when exposed to UV. You can buy a solar proof treatment for your tent and Nikwax do a very good product for this.
Tent Care Tips
Only wash your tent with a specialist tent cleaner or pure soap flakes as detergent can strip the waterproof properties of the tent.
Always dry the tent completely after a trip
Clean and straighten tent pegs ready for your next trip
Prevent your poles from becoming corroded by cleaning them
Keep the tent up for as long as you can on the hill before putting it into your rucksack
If kept in storage for a long time, consider airing it out every now and then to check if it's still dry
Store away from UV exposure
Clean off any dirt on the tent
Carry a on-the-hill emergency kit to repair your tent if it gets damaged
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