5 Tips for Longer Tent Life

Gavin Turner and Dan Baas camping in a high alpine basin after a fast and light ascent of Cutthroat Peak--North Cascades, Washington. Photo: Mike Tittel
Gavin Turner and Dan Baas camping in a high alpine basin after a fast and light ascent of Cutthroat Peak–North Cascades, Washington. Photo: Mike Tittel

Whether the backcountry beckons to you every weekend, or an annual camping trip with friends and family is more your pace, you want to make sure your tent stands up for the long haul. Here are 5 simple tips for treating your tent right.

  1. Never store your tent wet.

Storing your tent while it’s wet or even damp can lead to the premature breakdown of its fabric and coatings. For this reason, the number one guideline for longer tent life is to make sure your tent is clean, dry and stored in a cool area out of direct sunlight.

  1. Treat your poles well.

Most pole damage occurs during setup. Try to keep the ends of the pole sections from banging together when assembling the frame as it can dent them or create cracks at the ends, which can compromise pole strength and lead to breakage. Don’t overstress the poles when setting up the tent; doing so can lead to permanently deforming the sections.

tent-care-broken-poles

When disassembling your poles, start from the center and move outwards to evenly distribute the tension on the shock cord. If you’ve been in dusty or salty conditions, make sure to clean your poles, especially around the intersections.

 

tent-care-poles2

  1. Use a footprint with your tent.

Footprints are designed to keep your tent floor clean, dry, and protected from excessive abrasion. By keeping water and dirt away from the bottom of your tent, a footprint also helps your tent stay clean when you need to pack it up again.

  1. Be kind to the zippers.

The best thing you can do to extend the life of the zipper is to go slow and use two hands when zipping your tent open or closed. Tent fabric is designed to be taut when set up, so there will always be some tension on the zipper. Assisting the zipper with a second hand, especially when going around a curve, will reduce wear on the zipper and its metal slider and help keep it running smoothly.

tent-care-zipper2

Keep zippers clean and free of fine grit, which can wear away at the zipper’s metal slider to the point where it no longer clinches the zipper teeth together.

tent care worn out zipper3

 

  1. Avoid long-term UV exposure.

Tents can offer great protection in sunny as well as stormy weather, but you shouldn’t set up your tent in your backyard and forget about it, leaving it to bake in the sun all season long. UV rays break down nylon fiber, making it dry and brittle and reducing its tensile strength. When this happens, the fabric can rip at the seams and stress joints. Polyester offers a little more UV resistance over nylon fabrics, but any tent should be stored out of direct sunlight when not in use.

If you take good care of your tent, it will take good care of you, so you can have adventures together for many years to come.

  • Todd the Hiker

    What is your recommendation regarding folding, rolling, or simply stuffing the tent when storing it in the stuff sack? I have hear mixed opinions and would like to hear the “official” recommendation.

    • MSR_Staff

      Hi Todd. Stuffing, folding, and rolling are all valid methods for storing your tent. The only thing about folding the tent is that you don’t want to fold it exactly the same way every time because creases may start to form where the folds are, which may lead to waterproofing failure. Otherwise, whatever suits you will work fine. Thanks for reaching out.

  • Stephen

    I have a three year old Mutha Hubba tent that I have used no more then 5 times, velcro tabs have fallen off it, the seam sealer is peeling off pretty much every seam, and the tent bag has ripped in half, the tent doesn’t manage condensation at all well, the floor and fly leak and there is far too much space between the tent floor and where the bottom of the fly starts, such that blowing rain is a real concern. I understand this is well out of warranty but I really have only used it 4-5 times , I never put it away wet, I have been very careful with it, is there anything that MSR can do to try and fix this tent for me?

    any help would be appreciated.

    Stephen

  • MSR_Staff

    HI Ioan, there will be a Gear Shed in 2016 compatible with the Elixir tents.

  • MSR_Staff

    Hi Paleowolf. If you stick the footprint in a freezer overnight the sap will freeze and can just be brushed off. Thank you for reaching out!

  • Walt

    You folks at Cascade have provided me with a couple of replacement sections for my Hubba Hubba 2-man, but I cannot see how to install them. Not having had this kind of tent pole set-up before, I’m lost.

    • MSR_Staff

      Walt- Your Hubba Hubba tent pole set will have screw lock tips on the end of the poles. In order to begin a tent pole repair these need to first be removed by pulling them out of the poles and untying the shock cord. After this, swap out the damaged pole segments with the new replacement pieces you received in the mail. Next you will need to retie the shock cord and reattach the screw lock tips. Working with the shock cord can be tricky as it tends to want to retract back into the pole segments. We find it best to clamp the shock cord down somehow while tying it (hemostatic pliers or a friend work great for this).

      Our MSR tent poles are always under warranty and we will repair them at no charge if you send them into our repair center in Seattle. For more information on sending your poles into us for repair or additional help on performing the repair at home please call our Repair & Warranty service center at 1-800-531-5931 or email me at Ryan.Dillon@cascadedesigns.com

  • Ab Macus

    I have had a hubba hubba for about 5 years now. I have spent probably 20 nights max in it, no extreme weather. The seam seal has now started to flake off, pretty much like a snow storm in a tent really. Any suggestions please as what is the best way to repair it, or the product to use. Any idea also as to why this may have happened.
    Cheers

    ABMACUS

    • MSR_Staff

      Hello Ab, McNett Tent Sure and Seam Seal will work great for re-waterproofing your tent. You can strip it the old sticky material off using rubbing alcohol. For more information email me at Ryan.Dillon@cascadedesigns.com

  • pitney

    roll it or stuff it?
    have been told that rolling introduces creases at same/same points,
    hence stuffing better.
    tent experts?

  • MSR_Staff

    Hello Stephen,

    Using the compression sack during a trip is just fine. It is only for long-term storage that we recommend storing the tent in a larger bag.

    -MSR

    • Stephen @ salonMonster.com

      Thanks guys, appreciate the feedback. We like to use the compression sack while were on the hike, then store each piece in their own large pillowcase with lots of breathing room after they have been cleaned and dried 🙂

  • MSR_Staff

    Hello ZosimosvonPanolis,

    Sorry to hear this! Please send an email to warranty@cascadedesigns.com along with a description of the issue and any pictures you can provide so we can provide a solution for you.

    Thanks,
    -MSR

  • MSR_Staff

    Hello Lucie,

    Please send this inquiry and any pics you can provide in an email to warranty@cascadedesigns.com so we can assist you further!

    Thanks,
    -MSR

  • MSR_Staff

    Hello Michael,

    Sorry to see soot made it to your tent! You can remove most loose dirt from the fabric using water pressure from a regular garden hose. For heavy-duty cleaning, set up your tent and hand wash it with warm water, a sponge and a mild, non-detergent soap. Rinse well and allow to it fully dry while pitched, or hang to dry.

    Make sure to avoid dishwashing liquid, detergent, bleach and similarly concentrated solutions, and never dry clean, machine wash or machine dry your tent. Any of these methods can remove the tent’s waterproof coatings.

    For more info, visit this MSR blog post
    https://thesummitregister.com/tent-care-101-keeping-tent-clean-dry/

    -MSR