Tent expert John Stevens has spent 20-plus years designing and pitching tents for Kiwi Camping. Here he gives his top tips on how to look after your family tent
1. When storing your gas fridges and cookers away for the winter wrap them up to keep bugs and dust away from the gas jets. Clear wrapping them and putting them back in their box works great.
“One of the most common things we get is people asking us to fix gas appliances,” says Stevens. “We blow them with compressed air and they’re fine. All we’ve essentially done is cleaned them. If you wrap them up, it stops insects getting into the tiny holes at the back and it saves you maintenance costs.”
2. Leave all of the window and door zips undone when folding up your tent. This makes it easier to get the air out of it when rolling it up and, when you go to erect it next time, there is no tension or vacuum in the inner to cause you problems.
“Many people think if they zip the tents up they’ll be easier to fold,” says Stevens. “But it’s actually the reverse – air gets trapped inside. But the real problem is when you put it up again and the suction between floor and roof can be immense. When you try to separate the floor and roof the pressure caused by this suction can break a pole or a zip.”
3. Buy some carpet strips to put in your tent to keep it warmer at night and increase the floor’s life span. “In New Zealand there’s often a large difference between day and night temperature. And warm bodies with cool air from below can make your tent prone to dampness. Putting down carpet squares or a rug can make it 4-5˚C warmer inside the tent.”
4. Don’t leave your tent up for days on end. Clean it, dry it then put it away. The sooner it is out of the sun the longer it will last. “In New Zealand the UV is a lot higher than in other countries,” Stevens explains. “Fabrics have UV protection but they can only do so much. If you leave your tent outside for long periods it fades faster and weakens the fabric.”
5. Always clean your tent when you get home. Wash the canvas, frame and pegs. Silicone the zips. “Use warm water and a soft bristle brush on the fabric and soapy water on the frame,” Stevens advises. “Don’t use detergents, as this affects proofing. You need to get the dirt and salt crystals off, otherwise over time mould can grow on the dirt particles.”