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Backpacker Magazine – May 2012

Rip & Equip: Tents

Tips on buying the right tent for your backpacking style. Plus, cleaning and repair advice.

by: Kristin Hostetter

PAGE 1 2 3

Buying Advice
>> Size right. Square footage isn’t as indicative of real-world space as a tent’s footprint and peak height, so check dimensions and shape. For a two-person tent, anything less than 50 inches wide will feel tight. To evaluate height, sit inside and attempt to don a pullover without hitting the walls.
>> Stump the salesman. You’ll get the best help from someone who actually camps. Ask him or her what tent they use and why, and what conditions they’ve seen. Don’t feel like you’re talking to an expert? Ask to speak with another associate—or find another store.
>> Find a bargain. Look for marked-down tents in Hilton’s Tent City Bargain Basement ( Jonesing for a particular brand? Watch for manufacturer-specific coupons (at press time, Sierra Designs tents were marked down 20 percent or more).
>> Skip the footprint. Save money and weight by making your own groundcloth out of Tyvek. Learn how at

Sleeves vs. Clips
Pole sleeves add strength by distributing tension across the fly, but threading them during setup can be frustrating, especially in windy conditions.
Pole clips enhance airflow under the fly and improve ventilation; they’re also lightweight and a snap to pitch.

PAGE 1 2 3

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May 15, 2012

I store my tents in large Rubbermaid totes with a thin sheet like cloth covering the top so the fabrics can off gas if they need too.

Covered but still can breathe.

May 12, 2012

I never store my tent in a stuff sack. I loosely wad it up on a shelf in the attic after each use. Wash it ONCE per year after the fall season No soap. Just hose. I have some heavily used 20 year old tents.


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