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Backpacker Magazine – December 2007

Make Your Gear Last Forever

Backpacker's Ultimate Fix-It Guide

by: Annette McGivney, Illustrations by Supercorn

PAGE 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11





fix icon 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").

fix iconpole 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.

fix icon Pole problems
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.

fix icon 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.

fix icon 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").

fix icon 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.

  • Supplies: Choose a material that is lightweight, pliable and waterproof. Some of the best options include plastic Tyvek, painter's plastic, nylon tarps. You'll also need a grommet kit (available at most hardware and outdoor stores for about $12, which includes metal grommets along with a hole punch, cutting board and die.
  • Place the fabric on the ground and set up your tent on top of it. Using a marker, trace around the perimeter of the tent and also trace the grommet holes where the rainfly attaches. (1)
  • Following the instructions on the grommet kit, attach metal grommets to the fabric on the circles you marked where the fly hooks onto the tent. You want the finished ground cloth to be held in place underneath the tent by looping the grommets onto the tent poles, just as the fly attaches over the tent.(2)
  • Cut along the tracing line in the corners where the grommets are located. For the rest of the ground cloth, cut two inches inside the line marking the tent perimeter. This is to keep rain water from channeling and puddling underneath the tent floor. (3)
    footpring


PAGE 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

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DO NOT listen to the recommendation from John regarding putting the footprint INSIDE the tent. His reasoning, that a regular footprint will create a bathtub, makes no sense, and if you put the FP inside, then puncture a hole in the actual tent, water will still seep inside causing the very problem he discusses (bathtub). If you are going to take one, listen to everyone else and use it as intended, outside and beneath the tent. I'm like most others, depending on the situation I may or may not take one.

For a long trip where weight is an issue I leave it, but for shorter hikes I prefer to have it. When there are two or more in our party we split up the gear (like fire starters, water purification and food stores) and one takes the footprint while the other packs the tent, that way if there's a separation the second person can make a quick shelter if need be. It's also great on protracted afternoon showers to create a quick retreat where we can fix lunch and enjoy the surroundings.

john
Apr 03, 2012

the idea of using a tent footprint under your tent is asking to make your tent into bath tub. water driving by a little wind or where part of the footprint is exposed causes water to fill the space between the the footprint and the bottom of the tent. no tent bottom is of totally water proof for long.(micro holes caused by sand) A better and cheaper idea is to cut a piece of plastic to fit the inside of the tent. This layer can be replaced as needed. so you will a thicker replaceable water proof layer between you and the ground

Jim
Apr 03, 2012

You do not need the grommets in your plastic sheet footprint to help protect the bottom fabric from wearing out sooner, just cut it so it matches the bottom. If you want to use the above idea keep in mind that most footprints use nylon straps so the only the strap goes to the pole. This helps keep it from collecting water. If you want to use the above idea with plastic sheet you should consider trimming only a thin width of plastic out to the pole and reinforcing this area with either clear packing tape or duct tape before installing the grommet.

Brian Preston
Apr 03, 2012

I am disappointed at the print option for these wonderful tips. There's way too much white space and pointless icons (I get that you have to sell ads to stay in business) so the print-outs are about twice as long as needed--wasting the trees I want to see when I hike. Your online print options need to be reconsidered and streamlined.

Eliza Winters
Jan 09, 2012

Thanks for all the great tips on how to care for outdoor adventure products. Getting all of the gear can be a huge investment and it is a shame that people do not care for it well enough and end up buying new equipment every year. I would rather invest in lasting equipment than spend more, in the end, repurchasing cheaper products.

http://relivetheoutdoors.com

Chris
Aug 01, 2011

As an added step to the hydration bladder hanging tip, instead of wrapping the rough edges with duct tape, use a open flame to melt the rough edges to create a smooth tip.

Brandon
Apr 15, 2011

I've found that washing my sack, sleeping bags, mats etc by hand with no or light detergent like organic soaps with out caustic chemicals then I hang dry my items until bone dry then put away. Sometimes with dryer sheets or ceder blocks sandwiched in. But this is not required for neutral smelling gear.

rr
Mar 01, 2011

@ Joe Jul 20, 2010 MiraZym helps really well against mold/mildew on sleeping bags/tents/pads

Joe
Jul 20, 2010

Anyone know how to get rid of mold/mildew on sleeping bags/tents/pads?? I had some mold start growing in my basement, and of course it was where my equipment was. Any ideas on cleaning my equipment without destroying my equipment? Thanks!

ryan b.
Apr 29, 2009

When cleaning a hydration system, pull out the hose from the balader, with a pair of pailers, so you can clean the whole hose,

hoosurdaddy
Apr 27, 2009

Contemporary fabric softeners tend to be based on quaternary ammonium salts with one or two long alkyl chains, a typical compound being dipalmitoylethyl hydroxyethylmonium methosulfate.[2] Other cationic compounds can be derived from imidazolium, substituted amine salts, or quaternary alkoxy ammonium salts. One of the most common compounds of the early formulations was dihydrogenated tallow dimethyl ammonium chloride (DHTDMAC). I looked it up. see Wikipedia cut n paste. no animal fat here.

Jefferson
Mar 03, 2009

Under "Pole problems (Online Bonus" it should read "splint the broken pole," not "split the broken pole."

sol
Feb 04, 2009

no, eric's right - the first posting says mentions washing in a top-loading washer. the second posting specifically says to never do this. (the second is the right one; never wash a sleeping bag in a top-loading washer)

Sean Columbus OH
Jan 19, 2009

A point about dryer sheets, the main ingredient in them is rendered animal fat (look it up people) so you may smell pretty good to a bear. In areas with uber predators, keep smell to a minimum, in camp and on your person.

oki
Dec 14, 2008

Uhm, not really Eric. It just says to wash them.. sparingly. And then it tells you how. :B

And no, Anon, I don't think dryer sheets would attract bears. They smell more chemically than delicious or even edible.

Anyway, this article is great! Wow, so many tips. I suppose it's okay to store bags and pads rolled/stuffed if they're clean and dry and in a dry indoor closet, right? Plus my Thermorest doesn't have foam.

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