Tent Care

August 15, 2011
by Steve Morris

Our Troop has purchased new tents from Alps Mountaineering over the past few years.  The tents represent a significant financial investment in our Scouts.  As such, we need to take care of that investment.

The Scouts are responsible for the tents.  The Scouts that take a tent home after a campout should take responsibility for drying, cleaning, and storing the tent.  We ask the parents to make sure that the Scouts take this responsibility seriously so that the tents last many years.

Drying – A tent must be completely dry before storing it. No tent-care rule is more important. If a tent is left wet, even damp, mildew will overtake it, thus degrading the waterproofing integrity and causing a foul smell. After EVERY trip we take, we need to unpack our tents and inspect them for dampness. If a trace of moisture is detected, set it up in a shady spot (a garage, basement, or shady tree) and let it air dry. If you can’t set it up outside due to poor weather, at least spread it out inside to dry.  Tents should be set out to dry the same day that we return home from camping.

Cleaning – If the campout was wet and muddy (most of them are), we need to clean the dirt out of the floor of the tent.  This can be minimized if Scouts do not wear their shoes or boots into the tent.  To clean the tent, use a non-abrasive sponge, cold water and a non-detergent soap. Gently scrub soiled areas by hand. Avoid household cleaners such as dishwashing liquid, bleach, spot removers or laundry presoaking products. (Why? Virtually all household soaps are perfumed and will attract bugs, mice and other critters. These soaps also mask a tent’s durable water repellent coating.) Rinse thoroughly, then set it up in a shady spot and let it air dry completely.

Storage – You can carefully stuff the tent into the storage sack, or fold & roll it.  Stuffing is the easiest and quickest way to put the tent away, but you need to do it very carefully so that you do not snag the pole pins on the tent fabric.  For the Alps tents, we prefer that you use the fold/roll technique, which will require you to fold/roll it very tightly in order to fit it back in the bag. Make sure that all air is out of the tent as you roll the folded tent around the tent polls.  Verify the loaded stuff sack has the poles, rainfly, tent, and stakes in it.  Return the tent at the next Troop meeting.

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