If you camp, you know that a good tent is an investment. You'll want it to last through several camping seasons. My husband and I bought a new tent last summer, after retiring our old tent which we had purchased in 1995. We got our money's worth out of it and intend to do the same with our new tent.
Here's how to take care of your tent and protect your investment.
1. Use tent seam sealer. In theory, it'd be great to have a tent that was protected from leaks right out of the box. In reality, that's not usually the case. You can buy a bottle of seam sealer at camping supply stores for around $5.00. It's worth every penny. The seams are the weak points on a tent. Seam sealer makes them water tight. When you set the tent up for the first time, seal all the seams before you get stuck camping in the rain.
2. Keep the tent clean. Nobody wants to sleep in a dirty, gritty tent filled with food crumbs. Not only that, but a dirty tent will attract insects and rodents when the tent is in storage. Keep it clean by setting some ground rules. In our family, we always take our shoes off when we enter the tent and we never eat or store food in the tent when we're camping. Not only will this help keep the tent clean, but it will keep wild animals away from the tent when we're sleeping.
3. Keep your tent dry. You can't help it if it rains while you're camping. Likewise, you can't help it if you have to pack up a wet tent in the rain. But, you CAN help storing a wet tent. If the tent is wet (even a little bit), it's crucial that you set it up again as soon as you get home. Wet tents folded up in storage will mildew and be unusable. Only fold and put away the tent when it is bone dry.
4. Reconsider letting the kids play in the tent. My husband and I usually let our kids play in the tent. It's never been much of a problem, until our most recent camping trip.
My youngest son, our 3-year-old wild child, had a Tarzan moment and swung from one of the interior windows. He tore the zipper off and ripped a bit of the fabric.
Luckily, the rip doesn't go through the mosquito screen and the zipper was easily fixed, but the window covering remains ripped on the inside. I'll have to sew it and give it a heavy dose of seam sealer, otherwise it will be a likely spot for leaks on our next camping trip. Until he's a bit older, we aren't going to let the kids play in there anymore.
5. Make repairs as soon as possible. Minor rips and tears should be repaired right away. Not only can insects and water invade through any small openings, but little tears have a way of turning into big tears. Use a needle and thread to repair seams and apply several layers of seam sealer over the repair for maximum protection.
Tent camping is an inexpensive way to take a family vacation. Protect your tent by taking proper care of it. You'll get many years worth of camping trips and memories out of it.