The ground is thawing. Life in the parks and forests is stirring. But before you head out to enjoy a weekend at the campground, Novack’s has a few quick tips to get you out there, and keep you out there longer.
It is always ideal to check out your gear at the beginning of the season to make sure it’s as ready for the outdoors as you are. We are going to go over a few tent checks today that will ensure our tent is ready for our first camping trip of the season.
First, weather permitting, pick a warm sunny day to set up our tent for inspection. If you are in London, ON (or southwestern Ontario for that matter) we should have plenty of these types of days on the horizon. Be sure to check for any major rips or holes in both the fly and tent. Sometimes dirt and dust between layers can cause wear from friction. As we assemble the frame of the tent, take note of any bent or broken poles. Barring any visible damage, use a garden hose as if we are out during a shower…no need for ‘monsoon setting’. This will determine whether or not the tent’s seams and DWR (Durable Water Repellant) are still repelling water adequately.
If we notice any tears, holes, or punctures in the tent, mesh or fly, there are a number of things we can do. At Novack’s, we sell a wide variety of patches from brands like Gore-tex, Gear-Aid, MSR, and Tear Aid like Tenacious Tape. Instructions vary for each manufacturer, but an often needed tip is to always be generous when cutting patches or seam tape, as the patch must have a firm hold in order for the repair not to fail. A good patch kit is also recommend to keep on hand when we get out there. Field repairs are very easy, and can definitely extend a trip should we run into trouble.
If during your test shower, the water caused any leaks, Novack’s has you covered. Seam-Grip is perfect not only for small scratches, but it also repairs and seals any seams that may have cracked or dried out; and as a result, started leaking.
When the fly and tent itself stop repelling water and become waterlogged, it is time to re-finish the tents DWR. Replenishing the DWR is nothing out of the ordinary, and there are many products available that will restore the waterproofing of the tent. Check out UVX-1 or UVX-2 waterproofing from World Famous. Like patches, application varies for the different products, but all are very straight forward. Re-waterproofing can be expected approximately every four or five years depending on a number of factors. UV exposure, the amount the tent is used and even how a tent is packed away can dramatically affect the waterproofing of a tent. We’ll talk about packing a tent right after pole repair.
While your tent is set-up, if you noticed any damaged poles, now is the time to deal with them. Again, Novack’s often has the spares or replacements you’re after. Novack’s also has replacement shock cord which is often required with pole repairs. If you bought your tent from us, and we don’t have a replacement pole/pole set on hand, we will work with you and the manufacturer of the tent to get you replacements. Our resident tent expert—Matt—says that if we happen to break a pole while we’re enjoying the outdoors, we don’t have to pack it in early! Using two extra tent pegs, we can create a splint for the damaged pole that will often get the job done for the remainder of a trip. Of course, come see us after the trip and get a proper replacement.
With all repairs complete, we can now pack up the tent, ready for the weekend!
It’s always best to leave a tent and fly out for a few hours to give it enough time to dry completely before packing. Out of direct sunlight is best, as UV rays break down the water repellency. So depending on the temperature, it may take longer than a couple hours to dry completely. Giving ample dry time will stop mold, mildew, and bacteria from forming while the tent is packed. Once the tent is sufficiently dry, remove any lingering dirt, bird poop, or tree sap that may have been picked up while assembled. Leftover dirt not only wears the tent and fly faster, it also can cause a zipper to malfunction over time.
As mentioned, packing a tent can determine the life of the tent and/or it’s water repellency. We don’t want to fold the tent the same way every time we pack it, and we don’t want to leave it packed for too long. This can stress the same areas of a tent or fly, and causes creases to form where the water repellency will break down prematurely and also weaken the fabric. So fold it differently every time, or stuff the tent into a stuff sack. Just be careful when stuffing, and un-stuffing, as you don’t want zippers or grommets to tear the tent or mesh. We also talked about using extra tent pegs for an in the field pole repair, so definitely pickup and pack a couple extra.
Hopefully this little reminder saves you some hassle when you get out there on that first trip of the season. If you have any questions regarding tent prep or maintenance, don’t hesitate to come see us at Novack’s or online at Novacks.com, on Twitter, or on Facebook.
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