TENT SELECTION TIPS: 3 SECRETS FOR DECODING THE NUMBERS 1. Floor space Check the dimensions, not just square footage. Tall guys need a longer layout; stout hikers, more elbowroom. 2. Peak height Headroom depends on the wall slope (hubbed or short "eyebrow" poles often mean steeper sidewalls). Tents with consistent headroom from end to end are great for foul-weather card games. Ultralight designs–often low-ceilinged or sloped at the foot–are better for sleeping than sitting. 3. Vestibules Consider shape: High-roofed, rectangular designs offer more dry storage and a safe place to cook in wind and rain.
Forget fancy knots and rigging systems: Buy an MSR Cord Tensioner Kit (12 pieces for $13, gearx.com). Attach a guyline to your tent and weave the other end through the figure-8-like device. Pull a loop of cord through the widget, plant your stake through it, and slide the tensioner up to tighten.
WHEN TO CALL AN EXPERT
Delaminated seam tape and broken zippers are worth fixing. Best bet: Contact the tent manufacturer–most have in-house repair facilities. (Tip: Save your tent receipts!)
WHEN TO CALL IT QUITS
Heavy mildew is impossible to eradicate without damaging tent fabric; there's no fix for a brittle or cracked fly that's suffered extreme UV damage.