This week, some basic guidelines on how to look after your tent.
This week's top tip – or tips even – is about taking care of your tent and maximising your undercover mileage as a result.
Never Store A Tent Damp
The number one priority, as far as tent care goes, is NEVER PUT YOUT TENT AWAY WET. It's not just just because it'll be soggy next time you use it, damp tents are attacked by mould and mildew. Not only does that look nasty, even after you've killed it off with an anti-mould treatment, it'll still leave stains, smell musty and weaken the fabric of your tent.
The best way to dry a tent is simply to pitch it somewhere warm and breezy and leave it to dry thoroughly before taking it down. Top tip here is to make sure the underside of the groundsheet is dry before packing it away. Simply expose it to the sun for five minutes or so to remove any condensation from the ground.
If you do have to take down a damp tent, it's essential to dry it as quickly as you can. If you're backpacking, it'll survive a day in the pack, but if you have time, it'll do no harm to air it out in the sunshine when you stop for lunch if it's stopped raining.
If you're car camping, just packing the tent loose into the boot of the car will make it harder to forget to dry it out once you're home – and yes, people do forget. Again, the easiest way to dry it, is to simply pitch it in your back garden and leave it to dry thoroughly.
Alternatively, sling it over a washing line – split the inner and fly to aid air circulation – and air it that way turning it over and inside out regularly so all parts of the tent are thoroughly dry.
You can, if you have to, do the same thing inside. Drape the tent over some chairs or a couple of clothes horses and dry it that way. If you have access to a dehumidifier, set it to max and close the door to create an arid, fast-drying atmosphere.
If your tent's got properly grubby, the easiest way of cleaning it is simply to pitch it, then using a specialist cleaning product from the likes of Nikwax or Graingers, sponge it down before rinsing and drying it thoroughly.
If you need to reproof the fly sheet, the same companies and some specialist tent manufacturers also produce reproofing products suitable for most fabrics. If in doubt, drop a line to the tent manufacturer and ask them what treatment they recommend.
It may all seem like a hassle, particularly if you're just back from an epic trip away, but look after your tent and it'll look after you.