TENT CARE 101: KEEPING YOUR TENT CLEAN & DRY

After a summer of adventuring, fall is a great time to inspect your gear for wear and tear, conduct any necessary maintenance and, if it’s time to put it away, prep it for longer-term storage. The good news is that if you take care of your MSR tent, you’ll have it for years to come. Here are three frequently asked questions and tent care tips from our customer service department that can help you keep your tent in good working order.

1. What’s the best way to store my tent between trips?
It’s best to store your tent in a dry and cool area, not in direct sunlight. Instead of storing the tent in its stuff sack, keep it in an oversized, breathable cotton bag or mesh duffel, just as you might store a sleeping bag. Or using a simple pillowcase can work just as well.

2. How do I prevent my tent from growing mildew?
All MSR tents feature waterproof protection, but prolonged exposure to moisture can cause hydrolysis—the premature break down of the waterproof coating—in even the most waterproof tents. To prevent this layer from becoming soft, sticky and no longer waterproof, and to keep the fabric from growing mildew, make sure to avoid packing or storing your tent if it is wet, damp or dirty.

It can take as few as 24 hours for mildew to start forming on a wet, crumpled tent, which can cause it to stain and smell, as well as compromise its waterproof coating. Airing out and drying your tent can help protect it. (Mildew and moisture damage are not covered under our Limited Warranty.)

3. How do I clean my tent?
Your tent is designed for the outdoors, so you’ll only need to clean it if it has an offensive odor or becomes heavily soiled. 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.

Keeping your tent dry, clean and properly stored can protect it for years to come.

Originally published on May 19th, 2014.

  • Simon

    Keeping your tent dry!
    During wet nights water seeps through the footprint and built-in ground sheet of my Hubba Hubba into the tent interior. After a recent trip there was a puddle under my term-a-rest sleeping mat in the morning is there anything I can do to stop this happening?

  • Just_me_and_God

    Dry your tent upside down, hung up by its four corners, in a garage or under a patio cover. Dry the poles, stakes, etc. separately. It will dry quicker and you don’t have to worry about not drying the bottom. You also do not have to setup or take down the tent, saving two steps.

  • Cathy

    I have a Hubba Hubba two person tent that I purchased in 2007. After use I air dry the tent and rainfly before rolling it and storing it in its sack. Last week on a camping trip I noticed that the rainfly coating was sticky and needed to be pulled apart each evening before setting up. What can I do about this stickiness?

    • MSR_Staff

      Thank you for contacting Cascade Designs, Inc. in regards to your MSR tent. As you likely know, modern tents are much lighter weight than the tents of years ago. Much of that weight savings is in the fabrics, and the tradeoff is the fabric’s longevity. A tent that is used frequently and stored with care can exhibit the same properties as one that has been used infrequently. Although we use the best polyurethane waterproofing available, the waterproof layer will break down over time, becoming soft, sticky, and no longer waterproof. This usually happens after 6­7 years, and this age is what we consider the lifetime of the fly. If your rain fly is orange, this an indication that it is old enough for this to happen (yellow and green flies are still covered under warranty). However, we do have new gray flies that will fit your tent the same way the older fly did. These replacement rain flies (as well as a new set of stuff sacks) are available through our repairs department for $120 shipped. If this is something that you are interested in, please respond with your shipping address & phone number and I will get your order started.If your rain fly is yellow or green, feel free to send in your fly for warranty replacement. As the stuff sacks are made of the same nylon you may wish to send them as well if they are experiencing the same issue. You may obtain an RA# by logging on to our Warranty & Repair website. Please write Attn: Repairs and your RA# on the outside of the shipping box. Alternatively, you can send in your rain fly without an RA# ­ just be sure to include your address and phone number on a note in the package. One thing to note; the replacement fly is gray in color (similar to the current NX version).

      • Carlee O

        Hi,
        I have an msr 2 person hubba hubba tent with the same issue. It has been well taken care of but the waterproofing seems to have worn off. It is yellow, so does this mean I can get a replacement fly for my tent?

        • MSR_Staff

          Hey Carlee,

          Can you send an email to: Daniel.tomlinson@cascadedesigns.com along with pictures and a description of the issue? The yellow fly should still be covered under warranty and he’ll be able to assist you.

          -MSR

  • MSR_Staff

    Hey Nathan,

    Warm water and a mild, non-detergent soap typically do the trick. For further instruction check out our blog post on tent care: https://thesummitregister.com/tent-care-101-keeping-tent-clean-dry/

    -MSR

  • MSR_Staff

    Hello Molly,

    Sorry to hear that. Please send an email to warranty@cascadedesigns.com with a description of this issue and any pictures you can provide so we can assist you further.

    Thanks,
    -MSR

  • MSR_Staff

    Hello Jeff,

    There is a waterproof coating applied to the our tent floors that can degrade and become tacky. If your tent has a degrading coating, either on the floor or the fly, and you would like to remove it, run the tent through the wash on a delicate cycle with a mild detergent. If stubborn spots of coating are still present after washing, use rubbing alcohol and a nylon bristled brush to remove them. This process will completely strip your fly of its waterproof coating. To recoat your tent and restore its waterproof capabilities, we recommend a product made by Gear Aid called Tentsure. If your tent is beyond repair, reach out to our Warranty and Repairs department at 1-800-245-2992 and they will have replacement tent flies available for purchase.

    Thanks,
    -MSR

  • Joep Pennartz

    Hi, on my last trip I packed my mar tent in wet condition, when I unpacked it 8 hours later there where orange marks on the inner tent. We checked if we left something in the tent whilst packing, but this was not the case. We have no idea where the marks come from or what we can do to get them out (normal water and our tent detergents don’t work). Could you possibly help us? Cheers, Joep

    • MSR_Staff

      Hello Joep,

      Sorry to hear this! Please send a description of the issue and any pictures you can provide to warranty@cascadedesigns.com so we can assist you further!

      Thanks,
      -MSR

      • Joep Pennartz

        Thanks!

        • Lucie Lostakova

          Hi, we have exactly the same problem – we were camping for 3 weeks in the USA and had to pack our tent wet for the flight to Europe. I just packed out the tent and see big orange spot on it. Could you please advice me how I can get rid of them? Have you find any solution for Joep?
          Thank you very much for any help!
          Lucie

  • MSR_Staff

    Hi Audrey,
    soaps can be broken down into two main categories either detergent or non-detergent. It has to do with the chemical processes that make them effective. When it comes to cleaning tent flies, detergent soaps will react with the waterproof coating applied to tent and potentially damage them. The best way to determine if a soap is a detergent or not is to reach out to the manufacturer. Nikwax Tech Wash or Gear Aid RevivX Pro Clean are two of our favorite non-detergent soaps for cleaning tents.
    -MSR