your tent the best way

A few simple skills, common sense and humour will see you through most trying situations, with practice and experience ultimately providing the firm foundation for happy camping memories. 

A tent is your passport to freedom – and a major investment in cash and emotion. It is worth remembering that our beloved shelter is a tool and, as such, requires proper use and maintenance if it is to perform when needed.


Good practice and maintenance start before you even get to the campsite. Get your tent home and pitch it a few times, remembering how it unrolls so it is easier to get back into the bag when you pack away. Not only will this help you check you have all the component parts and that there is no manufacturing defects or shipping damage, but it will also make you look like a pro when you confidently pitch up on site. 

When you reach your campsite, consider what sits around your pitch that might cause problems during your stay. During storms, any dip can turn into standing water or channel mini streams into your tent. Don’t pitch under or near trees. At best, they will drip water onto your tent long after the rain stops. At worst, they can drop limbs and sap onto your treasured position. As for birds…

Check the ground before you pitch for anything that might puncture the groundsheet or could cause discomfort underfoot. Ensure you have a good selection of tent pegs to meet any ground condition −and a mallet to knock them home.

Always fully pitch your tent. Wind is your enemy and campers using smaller tents may have the luxury of reducing wind resistance by pitching into the wind. This is seldom possible for larger tents on so remember you need all the guylines to keep your tent firmly rooted to the ground during unexpected storms. And they also help keep your tent under tension, preventing damage caused by flapping fabric.


Guylines are just one of the things you should check several times each day. A tent’s components change characteristics with the current conditions. For instance, guylines can slacken off when they get wet. And they tighten as they dry. You should check guyline tension and that tent pegs are firmly embedded in the morning, when you leave and return to your tent, and at night before bed.
If you have an inflatable tent you might also want to check the tube pressure as part of this routine as this varies as the temperature fluctuates. These little checks will improve performance and avoid damage.

You will encounter problems at some time during your camping life. Be prepared. It is worth packing a repair box as a contingency for broken poles, punctured groundsheets, leaking tubes, small tears… Again, practicing repairs on old fabric at home and learning a few simple knots and lashing techniques will help you confidently meet on site emergencies.

Of course, good habits are essential but often the reason is not so obvious. The fast removal of bird lime will prevent it from damaging fabric and any water-repellent treatment. And beware chemicals that might damage your tent. Any oil and detergent (yes, bubbles from kids’ games) are just some of the many things that might cause problems. It has even been known for solvents in fly killer aerosols to completely remove the fabric’s waterproof PU-coating!

Talking of good habits – always beware of fire and the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning.
There are good reasons not to cook in a tent.


Packing away is easy. Just reverse the pitching process. Unless its windy. Or raining. Or… 

Always try to pack a tent away dry and clean, free from trash and even from dead insects. Oh, and ensure you’ve removed your car keys! 

If you must pack a tent wet, shake or wipe off as much water as possible before you put it in its bag. If you are touring in a smaller tent, it might be worth packing the inner in a separate bag to keep it dry for the next night.

Whatever, ensure you dry the tent as soon as possible to avoid mildew…


…and we do mean as soon as possible. Mildew can form very quickly so try not to wait days before you unpack and air your tent. Erect your tent at home in the sun, or hang open from the clothesline, or drape over the bannisters to allow as much air as possible to flow around the tent. Unwrap all the guylines and remove dead insects to aid drying and prevent even the smallest amount of moisture from creating a mildew habitat when the tent is stored. 

Use the drying time to carry out any maintenance tasks, like reproofing or repairs. The simplest tasks include cleaning off any dirt and mud. Straighten or replace those bent tent pegs. Minimise the risk of rust by lightly spraying on a ‘dry’ lubricant like a silicone furniture polish, wiping off excess with a clean cloth – this treatment will also help you easily push poles through pole sleeves.


Store your freshly maintained tent a cool dry place free from vermin. Keep poles and pegs separate from the fabric in case they rust but, to avoid embarrassment, ensure you note somewhere that they need reuniting with your tent before you leave for your next camping trip.


This is the camper’s bogeyman – a nasty mould that damages the tent fabric and creates those dreaded black spots. Little can be done about these but if you immediately treat the affected area it will kill the spores to stop it spreading. A very weak sterilising solution, like Milton, diluted to around 10:1 will do this. But remember to wash off with plenty of water to minimise bleaching. Remember, prevention is better than cure so pack that tent away dry and clean in the proper environment. 


It is unusual for a synthetic tent to need reproofing as taped seams and the PU-coating should keep water out for many years. But, synthetic tents do have a durable water repellent (DWR) treatment and this does need replacing periodically dependent upon use and maintenance.
The DWR treatment helps water bead and roll off the tent. You can normally see if it requires replacing by dark patches that appear on the tent fabric during rain. This is known as ‘wetting out’ as water penetrates between the fibres. While not immediately a problem it can cause damage so, once dry, clean the fabric with cold water and spray on a proprietary DWR treatment −some treatments can be applied to a wet tent.


While all this sounds intimidating, much is common sense. Skills and maintenance routines will soon become second nature, only noticed when you realise how much they contribute to the growing confidence and enjoyment of your camping holiday. And, if you do struggle, just join our Easy Camp community for even more great tips and advice.