How badly does UV affect tents?

8 messages
12/08/2007 at 22:55
Rather unwisely, my tent has been left up almost constantly for the past 3 months. I had originally planned to buy a cheapo one that didn't need to last, but I never got around to it. So, is it likely to be permanently damaged by the constant UV exposure, or will a quick clean and re-proof see it good as new, if slightly faded? It's a siliconised (sp?) fly, and has faded quite a bit, but it's still completely waterproof and nothing seems to be out of order. Any ideas?
12/08/2007 at 23:17
Hi idont know about the effects on tents, but when i have been sailing any plastic windows ive seen have loads of cracks in the plastic, after seeing that iam very wary of uv damage on my tents.
13/08/2007 at 08:52
as with fading colour the overall strength of the fabric will be weakened by uv exposure, making it more susceptible to tearing and leaking.

however the last 3 months uk weather (i presume) wont have significantly damaged the tent skin.
more expensive tents are supposed to fair better to uv rays.
i've Been working with cuben fibre fabrics which has high uv resistance with a titanium resin 'absording the uv rays'

some of the heavier cuben fibre fabrics are designed to last 10yrs constant outdoor exposure.
13/08/2007 at 10:31


I don't think you'll know the answer to that until something goes wrong! Obviously, the advice is to limit UV exposure as much as possible, but as the deed is done, I wouldn't worry about it too much. To my knowledge, there's no after-sun cream for tents, so you'll just have to go on using it and perhaps it will fail on you sooner than if you didn't leave it out.

If you have to pitch it again for long durations, I would consider rigging a cheap, thick tarpaulin (canvas is good for UV protection I believe) over the top of your tent. It will also help keep it cool inside during the day, warm at night and keep resins from trees from harming your tent. You'll also get a nice dryish patch around the tent and bring in less mud.


13/08/2007 at 10:37

UV degradation will certainly have an impact on all the qualities of your textile products.

(That goes for rope as well)

One season in the Antarctic with a new weather-haven tent, after 3 months it was faded beyond recognition. But that is at an extreme end of things.

13/08/2007 at 12:36
UV light is worse for PU coated nylon than it is for polyester. If a fabric has some "elastomer" in its coating then this helps delay UV light degradation; I think that this includes silicone. A tent's initial waterproofness level (its hydrostatic head) is no guage to measure its resistancy to UV light. If your tent is still waterproof, Simon, then great, it will do what you need (i.e. provide shelter). Shame if it's faded but there is nothing to be done about that.
23/04/2012 at 22:41
hi i have bought a 12 man tent i noticed inside as if someone has thrown acup of coffee on the roof the textue is dry unlike the rest smooth and silky is this uv damage can it be repaired theres no fadding on the outside as i can see
24/04/2012 at 07:54

Polyester is less sensitive to UV degradation than nylon. Silicon coating or Pu coating. It doesn't matter the nylon just cannot cope that well with loads of UV.

365 days in normal weather (alternating clouds, rain and sun) nylon will be degraded to almost crumbling fabric.

So if you invest heavily in an UL nylon tent you sure better not use it for car camping or basecamp use. As long as you pitch it every afternoon/evening again then you'll have many many years of fun from your nylon tent. If you regularly pitch it for overstaying on same spot it might degrade on you quicker than you'll like.

For over staying, basecamp usage your better of with a polyester or even a polycotton mix (poly cotton dries quickly but breathes great and is waterresistant, very nice fabric for luxury tents).

As to repairs? Only replacement of affected panels is helpfull. Reproofing coating is just temporarily measure, it's postponing the envitable. In the end the fabric will rip easier, much easier in the affected spots. 

Edited: 24/04/2012 at 07:57
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