Tent Tips

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Tent Tips

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These tent tips will help you hit the woods like a seasoned pro and get the most use out of your tent. Camping tents have really improved over the years and most of them are easy to set-up and maintain. By spending a few minutes before your trip familiarizing yourself and preparing your tent, you can save hours of frustration and discomfort.

Like other tips and lessons-learned on this site, many of the tent tips below were accumulated by learning the hard way (my specialty, unfortunately ;-). There’s nothing like getting into the woods with no tent stakes or sleeping under a dripping seam to motivate you to do things different on the next trip. I hope these tips help you prepare for your trip…

 Inventory the tent:

If you just purchased a new tent or if you’re dusting off an old tent for your next campout, you’ll want to do a quick inventory to make sure that you have everything.  Some tents come with an inventory sheet or checklist.  It’s a good idea to laminate this card and pack with your tent.  Something as minor as a few missing tent stakes or a tent pole can quickly transform your nice tent into a baggy lean-to.  The best way to ensure that have everything that you need is to practice setting it up…

Practice setting up the tent:

Setting up the tent in your backyard is worth the time and effort.  By practicing the set-up, you’ll be able to better plan for your trip into the woods.  Setting up the tent at dusk in the woods, when everyone is tired and ready to sleep, is not the best time to learn.  By doing a dry-run at home you’ll have time to lay out the tent poles and carefully raise the tent.  You’ll also be able to count the tent stakes and replace the ones that are overly rusted or severely bent.  And by packing the tent back up, you’ll be able to remember where all the pieces are…just in case you find yourself fumbling with it in the dark!

Inspect the screens & zippers:

When you set up your tent before your trip, it’s a good idea to inspect the screens and zippers.  If you’re camping during a buggy season, it’s nice having a bug-free area to sleep in.  A few small holes in your bug screen can ruin your bug-free haven.  Some holes can be hand-sewed while others may need a patch.  Either way, it’s best to find these before you’re in the woods.  The other thing that you’ll want to inspect are the zippers.  Make sure that they work and that there are no obstructions along the zippering path.  You’ll want these to work if the rain comes and you need to quickly zip up the flaps.  Again…it’s better to find this problem in your backyard than the middle of the forest!

Waterproof the tent seams:

If you’ve taken the time to set up your tent at home, you might want to buy a small can of waterproofing spray and seal the seams of the tent.  This may seem like an unnecessary task, but if you’ve ever had your sleeping bag under a slow drip during a storm, you’ll know that it’s worth the can of spray.  It takes only minutes to do and it works really well in waterproofing your tent.

Air out the tent after your campout:

 Most people are looking for tent tips before they go camping, not after.  It’s easy to forget about the tent after your campout.  You roll in on Sunday night and dump the pile of gear from trunk to garage until your next outing.  But if you’ve folded up your tent with the morning dew and last night’s graham cracker crumbs, chances are good that you’ll be thoroughly grossed out when you unpack your tent in the coming months (mold & bugs)!  Take the tent out on the next sunny day and set it up in the sun with the flaps open.  Let it air out.  Sweep out the crumbs, dirt, and trash.  I’ve done this on the driveway a few times, anchoring it down with some small weights instead of stakes.  You’ll appreciate this effort the next time you take the tent out of the bag!

If you’ve found the tent tips above useful, you might also like the other camping tips. If you have other tips that you think would be useful to add to this list, please comment below or contact us and we’ll gladly share those tips on-line.

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