Properly storing your tent is critical to both the performance of the tent, as well as how long the tent lasts before needing to be replaced.
How do store a tent?
To properly store your tent, follow these steps.
- Make sure your tent is dry and free of debris before storing. This helps prevent molding.
- Loosely fold or roll your tent or better yet hang your tent for storing. We recommend hanging.
- Do not tightly fold or roll your tent for long term storage. Do not store in the stuff sack long term.
- Find a dry cool place to store your tent. Your garage is a perfect place as long as it is in a safe clean spot.
Follow these 4 rules for properly storing your tent and it can last a lifetime.
For more information on different methods and requirements for storing your tent be sure to check out each topic.
Here’s what we will cover to make sure your tent lasts for years.
How to Store Your Tent Properly
There are several different ways to store your tent that will prolong its life. Tents are a big investment for camping, and you want to make sure that it lasts as long as possible. The most important thing is making sure that the tent is dry before you stow it away.
Sometimes, hanging your tent or rolling it may not be ideal. One of the most common and most effective storage methods is to put your tent in a pillowcase lightly. Pillowcases are significantly larger than the stuff sack that comes with the tent.
Most pillowcases are large enough to stuff the tent inside without it being too packed in. As with any other method, make sure that the tent is dry and clean before placing the tent into the pillowcase. If you have a very large tent (4-person or larger), you may want to consider a king-size pillowcase.
Hang Your Tent
Hanging your tent is an excellent option for those that have the space to do so. Hanging your tent will allow any moisture to dry up, as well as preventing wrinkles and creases in the fabric.
When hanging your tent, make sure it’s in a dry and temperature-regulated area. Places like a closet, spare room, or your garage are excellent places to hang your tent. Always avoid attics or basements, as these areas are usually very hot or cold, and moisture is not controlled. If you’re just hanging it to dry, you can also hang it on your shower curtain!
Fold Your Tent
While folding your tent it the least recommended method of storing your tent, it will look cleaner if you have to store it out in the open. When folding your tent, be sure that there are no tight creases anywhere on the tent. When the tent is stored for long periods of time, these creases can affect the waterproofing of the tent.
Roll Your Tent
Rolling your tent is the most effective way to store your tent while keeping it compact. Loosely rolling your tent will prevent creases in the fabric that can cause waterproofing damage. This method is also excellent, as you can collapse the tent poles and slide them inside of the rolled-up tent.
Storing the Tent Poles
Properly storing your tent poles can significantly affect the lifespan of the bungee cord inside of the poles. If at all possible, store the tent poles wholly or partially assembled. Storing the tent poles in this manner will remove the tension of the bungee cord and prevent overstretching.
As many people don’t have the space for this, you can disassemble the tent poles starting in the center of the pole, and this will reduce the amount of tension on the bungee cord.
Reasons to Store Your Tent Properly
There are many reasons to store your tent correctly, but in the long run, it’s to preserve the life of your tent. If you store your tent before it’s clean and dry, the lifespan of the tent will shorten rapidly. Always remember, a clean tent is a happy tent.
Keeping it Clean
Keeping your tent clean is critical to its lifespan. Allowing dirt and grime to stay on your tent will rapidly break down the tent material and damage zippers. If you think into it, mud is wet dirt, so if you store your tent with mud on it, you’re essentially storing it while still wet.
Further along in the article, we’ll discuss proper cleaning instructions.
Preventing Weak Spots in the Fabric
While storing your tent, you want always to make sure that there are no fold or creases. This is a universal rule amongst fly fishermen. When storing waders, wrinkles and creases will cause weakened areas in the fabric, which will eventually cause leaks. This rule also applies to tents.
Any weakened areas of the fabric can cause leaks, making camping in the rain very uncomfortable. This is especially true with the rainfly of your tent!
As with any other fabric, storing it before it’s completely dry can and will cause mold and mildew. If you have experience with this, you’ll know that both of those cause smells that are almost impossible to remove.
In addition to unwanted odors, things like harsh soap can also cause odor in the tent. While these odors may be more appealing, they can draw in insects and other wildlife when camping. You always want your tent to be odorless if possible.
Where to Store Your Tent
While many people don’t think of this, the location in which you store your tent can protect it against wear and tear. Places like basements and attics are not ideal places to store your tent, as they vary greatly in temperature and humidity.
Always be sure to choose a storage location that stays around the same temperature all the time. Places like closets or spare rooms in your home are excellent places to store your tent. Closets and rooms in your house tend to stay dry, as well as having a very maintained temperature.
Ambient moisture can cause mold and mildew in your tent, as the temperature can cause the fabric to deteriorate at a very rapid rate. There’s nothing worse than properly caring for your tent, and then finding it in worse shape when you get it back out.
Cleaning Your Tent Properly
Properly cleaning your tent before storage is just as important as storing it properly. If you store your tent muddy or dirty, this will cause the same issues as storing it wet. Mold and mildew will ruin your tent.
- Never machine wash your tent. While it may be tempting and convenient, machine washing your tent can stretch fabric, and in some cases even tear it. Tents are not meant to be spun in a washer like your favorite t-shirt.
- Never place your tent in the dryer. Again, although this is convenient after a rainy trip, it will cause damage. Tents are not meant to withstand the temperature in which most dryers run, in addition to the already dangerous spin cycle.
- Avoid using household cleaners and soaps that are scented. Residual smells from these soaps can attract insects and other wildlife once you get back out to the campsite. These soaps can also cause damage to the tent’s waterproof coating.
- To clean spots on your tent, use a non-abrasive sponge and mild non-detergent soap. Although this doesn’t clean the entire tent, it will remove any spots of dirt or mud. Be extra gentle on the floor of the tent and the rainfly, as aggressive scrubbing can cause damage to the waterproof coating.
- Don’t forget to clean the zippers. There’s nothing more irritating than a zipper that gets stuck. Dirty zippers can cause issues with both functionality and waterproofing. Use a toothbrush or mild bristle brush to clean any dirt from the zipper. You can also rub a non-scented wax candle on the zipper to help it slide smoothly!
- After cleaning, be sure to let the tent air dry. Hang the tent in your garage or even from the shower curtain in your bathroom. Never use a dryer or hair dryer.
Repairing a Damaged Tent
As with any camping gear, sometimes things happen. Leaks, tears, and rips can occur to tents that are always properly cared for. The following tips will help you keep your tent in tip-top shape, no matter what the campsite throws at you.
- Replace worn coatings when they begin to come off. Even properly cared-for tents can suffer from coatings coming off of your tent floor or rainfly, as this can happen with old age. If these coatings come off, they can be fixed. Most outdoor retailers sell bottles of these coatings, and they include manufacturer-specific directions for repair.
- Always pack tent repair patches with your gear. There are both in-the-field patches and at-home patches. At-home patches will be stronger and longer lasting, but they’re not ideal in a pinch. In-field patches include the patch and an adhesive kit that allow you to seal your tent while you’re still at the campsite!
- Replace seam tape when it begins to peel off. As with the coatings, there are many replacement seam tape options on the market. Simply peel off the old seam tape, clean with an alcohol wipe (so the new tape will stick), and put the new seam tape in place. Seam tape keeps all of the seams of the tent waterproof and ready for rain!
If you do nothing else, make sure that your tent is dry before you store it. Mold and mildew will ruin a tent very quickly. The second most important, store it loosely. Tightly packed tents will suffer from tears and weakened fabric if stored too tightly for too long. The only time to store your tent tightly is in-transit, such as driving to the campsite or backpacking.
Related articles you will want to read.
Tent Camping with Kids ( Checklist and Activities )
Why Do You Need a Footprint for Your Tent?
Cold weather tent camping ( what’s too cold, choosing a tent, tips )
How to clean a moldy tent, prevent tent mold and mildew stains