|NATIONAL PARKS QUICKLINKS|
Backpacker Magazine – December 2007
Backpacker's Ultimate Fix-It Guide
Block UV damage (Online Bonus)
Sunlight will degrade tent fabric just like it burns your skin. Plus, UV damage can't be undone. Protect your tent by pitching it in the shade, striking it as soon as it's dry, and not leaving it up in the yard for weeks at a time. If you anticipate lots of tanning time for your tent, treat it with a UV protectant (see "Products").
Pole problems (Online Bonus)
Broken shaft You can avoid most malfunctions by gently setting up and taking down tents cautions McGowan. "Operator error is the cause of 99 percent of our tent failures." When a break occurs, repair broken and cracked poles promptly to prevent the rough edges from severing the elastic cord. Split the broken pole by sliding an aluminum pole sleeve over the damaged area and taping both ends in place. (Sleeves are 4-inch tubes included with most new tents; you can also purchase them separately.) Back home, contact the manufacturer for a replacement section or mail-in repair.
Loose cord Cold weather and repeated yanking can cause a shock cord to lose its elasticity. If that happens, pry off the cap from one end using a multi-tool, cut off about 5 inches of slack cord, re-knot the end, and replace the cap. Incurable limpness or severing requires manufacturer attention.
Wash out a tent
Never put your tent in the washing machine or dry-clean it. Both will destroy its waterproofing. Instead, clean it manually during and after each trip. Before you take down a freestanding tent in the field, turn it upside down shake out dirt. At home, wash the floor with warm water (soap can degrade coatings). Hose down muddy sidewalls, taking special care to flush out zippers and power wash the floor. Air-dry the tent completely before storing it in a cotton sack.
Kill the stink (Online Bonus)
If your tent is the victim of an extraordinarily foul event–skunk spray, baby poop, late-night vomit–dunk the suffering shelter in a tub of warm water and odor-eating McNett Mirazyme (see "Products").
Build your own tent footprint (Online Bonus)
Many tents these days come with an option to buy a footprint that fits in the pole grommets where the fly attaches. If you're only interested in using the footprint as a ground cloth (rather than a lightweight shelter option), save yourself $50 or more and follow these steps to make your own.