Tent Care Guide

Whether you’re backpacking the trails or pitching up in a campsite with family and friends, when out on adventures your tent is your home from home, so it’s worth taking care of it properly. A well cared for tent will keep performing at its best for the long haul and could be the difference between a night to remember or a night to forget. 


Our expert guide takes you through some essential tent care tips that will help you and your tent keep going on adventures together for many years to come.


Using your tent


Caring for your tent begins with its first use. We recommend using a footprint or groundsheet underneath your tent to protect its built-in groundsheet. Footprints are designed to keep water and dirt away from the bottom of your tent and protect it from excessive abrasion. It also helps your tent stay clean when you need to pack it up again.


Most pole damage occurs whilst putting up the tent. Try not to overstress the poles when setting up, as doing so can lead to permanently deforming them. Ensure the poles are fully inserted into one another before bending them.


Try to keep zips clean and free of dirt and grit, to make sure they continue to run smoothly. Using two hands and going slowly when opening or closing your tent, especially when going around a curve, will help reduce wear and extend the life of the zip. Don’t try to force a stuck zipper. Instead, hold the zipper track with one hand and gently back the slider up, wiggling it from side to side until the stuck fabric becomes free. 

UV Exposure

Minimising your tent’s exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays is a key element to increasing it lifespan. Over time UV rays break down and degrade nylon, making it dry and brittle, reducing its tensile strength and making it more susceptible to rips and tears. Polyester fly sheets offer a little more UV resistance than nylon fabrics, but if you’ll be away from your tent for a long time, the best practice—regardless of fly material—is to move your tent completely out of the sun. Similarly, tents should not be left up in the garden at home and forgotten about. If you’re not using it, make sure it’s packed away and stored out of direct sunlight. To help protect your tent against UV rays you can also treat it using Nikwax Tent & Gear Solarproof. 

Packing away your tent

Whilst on the trail or campsite, when it's time to pack up your tent and leave, follow these steps:

  1. Give the tent a good shake out and sweep any dirt out of the tent lining.
  2. Wipe down any large areas that might have come into contact with mud.
  3. Double check you have all the pegs and poles you turned up with neatly packed away.
  4. Make sure the inner is as dry as possible before packing away.
  5. Wipe down your zips and poles to stop any caked-on mud rusting or eroding them.
  6. When disassembling your poles, start from the centre and move outwards to evenly distribute the tension on the shock cord. If you’ve been in dusty or salty conditions, make sure to clean your poles, especially around the intersections.

Cleaning your tent

Cleaning your tent properly when you get home will really help to extend its life and performance. Pitch your tent in the garden or spread it out somewhere like a garage, then follow these steps:

  1. Take another sweep around to remove any further dirt or debris you didn’t catch at the campsite.
  2. For most short trips, removing any loose dirt from the fabric by wiping it down with lukewarm water or using water pressure from a regular garden hose is sufficient. You can tackle more stubborn mud stains by hand washing affected areas with a sponge, warm water and a mild, non-detergent soap or a specialist tent cleaning product like Nikwax Tech Wash or the cleaner in Grangers Fabsil Tent and Gear Care Kit.  Avoid using washing up liquid, detergent or bleach or using a washing machine or tumble dryer to clean and dry your tent. All of these can damage your tent by removing its waterproof coatings.
  3. If necessary, give tent poles and zips another quick clean and leave them to fully dry to avoid rust and erosion.
  4. Give it time to dry out thoroughly before packing away, bearing in mind this can take a few hours.

Check your tent over

Before packing your tent away, do some final checks to make sure everything is ready for your next adventure. 

  1. Tent Pegs – are they all there?
  2. Zips – do they run smoothly and haven’t split?
  3. Groundsheet – any mould or condensation?
  4. Poles – is the elastic in the core free from cracks and breaks?
  5. Fabric – are there any tears or rips?
  6. Seams – any split or splitting seams? You can undergo repairs using McNett Silnet Silicone Seam Sealer.
  7. Guy Ropes – are they knot free and tied away neatly?

Reproofing your tent

Every tent will need reproofing occasionally to maintain its waterproofness and breathability, and how often you need to reproof will depend on how often you use it. Abrasion, exposure to UV, wind and rain will cause a tent’s waterproof coating to deteriorate over time. If you notice water seeping into the outer material instead of beading on the surface, dampening occurring on the inner lining, or condensation building inside your tent, these are the signs that your tent needs reproofing.

To re-proof your tent we recommend using  Grangers Fabsil Tent and Gear Care Kit and following these steps:

  1. Put up your tent and ensure your flysheet is clean.
  2. Apply Fabsil directly to the fabric using a clean paintbrush until you have an even coverage over the whole tent.
  3. Wipe away any excess Fabsil using a dry, clean cloth.
  4. Leave to dry fully and naturally.

Storing your tent

You should store your tent in a cool, dry place where it won't be damaged, exposed to sunlight or eaten by creatures! A shed or garage is usually a great choice, but a kit wardrobe or spare room can work as well. Instead of storing the tent in its stuff sack, try to keep it in an oversized, breathable cotton bag - or a simple pillowcase can work just as well. This helps keep the fabric ventilated, and avoids any mould forming.


It’s really important that your tent is completely dry before packing it away. Storing your tent whilst it’s wet or even damp can lead to the premature breakdown of its fabric and coatings. When it comes to using it next, take your tent out of storage a day or two beforehand to give it a thorough airing and to make sure it’s still in good condition. It’s better to discover any problems before you leave, rather than out on the trail. 

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