Top ten tips to tackle winter tent care

A good quality tent is a great investment and one which, if cared for properly, can last for many trips. Just a little time and effort and a careful care regime when you store your shelter will undoubtedly pay dividends.


Here, Carolyn Budding, director of world-record breaking tent specialists Terra Nova Equipment and Wild Country Tents, gives her top ten tips on how to pack away and care for your tent to ensure winter does not take its toll on your kit.

1. Check it out:

Unless you're a die-hard all season adventurer, most of us pack away our tents during the winter. Lay out the tent in a covered, dry space and look for any early signs of wear and tear which may require attention. Reputable suppliers will be able to carry out minor repairs relatively cheaply for you and extend the life of your tent.

2. Dry it out:

Check that the tent is dry, re-lubricating zips as necessary. Remember, eyelet tapes take longer to dry than the tent fabric, and dampness (which can cause mildew) may be trapped in the folds of the tent when stored.

3. Seam check:

If a tent with taped seams is stored wet for long periods, water can react with certain chemicals in the seam tape, causing the tape to lift, coating to breakdown and eventually decompose. Check those seams are totally dry before storing.

4. Tackle mildew:

If mildew occurs (identified by black marks and a mouldy smell), sponge the affected areas with a mild solution of tent cleaner, then sponge with soapy water, rinse and dry thoroughly. Never use detergents as these may harm the proofing. If not caught early enough, permanent damage to the fabric and proofing will occur.

5. Clean up:

Before storing over winter we recommend that you regularly use tent cleaner or pure soap to clean your tent. Wash it in the bath or a tub of warm water, rinse any soap or cleaner away and dry thoroughly in the shade. Never machine wash or tumble dry your tent or use a hair dryer.

6. Salt issues:

If you have been camping near to salt water, wash your tent in plain clean water or add a little tent cleaner. After cleaning, reproofing the outer will improve its water repellence. It is better to use a re-proofer with a built in UV protector if you can.

7. Poles apart:

Take time to check over that vital part of the tent, the poles.  On older poles the elastic tension can reduce and result in slippage, if this is the case you can re tension the elastic inside the pole. Always ensure that the poles are stored dry; dampness assists corrosion which can lead to pole breakage. If corrosion has occurred, clean off with a cloth and re-lubricate with Zip Lube. Do not use oil or grease as this will attract dirt. Periodic lubrication should be undertaken, even if corrosion has not taken place. Another word of warning on salt water. All aluminium alloys will corrode if exposed to a salt water environment, even sea spray. Wash them thoroughly in clean water, dry them and lubricate. This may be necessary even if camping some distance from the shore.

8. Protect:

Protecting the proofing of your tent is a vital part of your care regime. Steering clear of detergent to clean your tent is important, but you should also avoid the fabric coming into contact with fuel, oil and chemicals of any kind, as the stains from these may be impossible to remove and will probably attack the fabric and damage the proofing.

9. Store wisely:

Do not store your tent near sources of heat; remember lofts and garages can become very warm during summer months but lofts can also be very warm in the winter as heat rises in your home. That's why it's important to periodically air your tent to prevent the fabrics from adhering to each other and affecting the performance of the tent. Store in a cool, dry place.

10. And finally:

To ensure longevity and optimum performance, when next spring arrives and you venture outdoors again, avoid pitching under trees at all costs as the sap may fall onto the flysheet and it is almost impossible to remove.

For more tips and information on caring for your camping equipment, visit