Tent Care and Setup
While living in the wilderness, the main factor that makes a patch of moss a home is... your tent! It’s the primary champion who protects you from wind, weather, winged creatures and wandering mice. Your tent is important! And it is important to know how to use it correctly.
Setting Up Your Home-On-The-Go
There’s nothing worse than trying to fall asleep at night when feeling wet, jabbed by a rock or as if you are about to slide down a hill. Thankfully, you will never have to experience any of those feelings if you take the time to set your tent up carefully. Here are a few tips that will keep both you and your tent from unnecessary pain.
1. Choose a campsite that will drain well, even in a downpour. Avoid slight depressions, and dry beds of creeks.
2. Look above your intended site for overhead dangers. Tents are strong, but they won’t hold back a ‘widowmaker’—a dead branch or tree that started to fall but is precariously held in place by another tree.
3. Find the most level spot to pitch your tent. If a slope is your only option, sleep with your head on the higher side.
4. Always look over the area where your tent will sit, and remove any sharp rocks or sticks that may damage the floor.
5. Place a ground tarp under your tent. This will protect it from being punctured by sharp object on the ground, and will give you a little more insulation from the ground. Be sure that the tarp is a bit smaller than the perimeter of your tent, however, or water will pool under your tent in a storm.
Caring For Your Tent on the Trail
1. Don’t let your tent get clammy. Open up vents and let air circulate, even in cold weather.
2. Do not use candles or candle lanterns in your tent, even under the vestibule. Keep your tent far enough away from your campfire that sparks will not land on it, even when the wind blows.
3. Never put food, cookware or anything else smelly in your tent. Critters will sneak or nibble their way in to have a taste. Trust me; having a mouse running around in your tent in the dead of night is not calming! I’ve been there. If you are in bear country, be even pickier, and don’t sleep in clothes you cooked or ate in.
4. Keep it clean! Take off your shoes before entering. Wipe your tent clean and dry it out thoroughly before packing it up for the day.
5. Always carry a mini tent repair kit with you. Patch any small rips or holes right away, before they get a chance to become bigger.
At-Home Tent Maintenance
1. Wash your tent thoroughly at home after using it. Dry it out well before storing.
2. Do a thorough check for wear and tear on your tent after each use. Repair and oil zippers if
needed, and fix anything else that’s not working before packing your tent up again. This will
prolong its life and save you from any “Um, should have checked this before being dropped off in the wilderness” moments down the road.