How to remedy some common tent issues and tell if your tent is damaged or not
A tent can be a big investment for a family, and if you’re an absolute beginner to camping, it’s common to worry about the health of your tent, but here are some common ‘issues’ that can be easily rectified/prevented, or may not be issues at all. Here’s how to tell whether your tent is damaged beyond repair or not.
First and Foremost
The best and most important tip we can give you is to always test pitch your tent, and check your equipment BEFORE you make your trip. Any issues after purchase can be easily rectified with your local store, this becomes a lot more difficult if you’ve only found the issue once you’ve reached your campsite.
So unpack your tent, you get the benefit of getting in some practice with pitching and packing away, plus you’ll find if it has any issues so it doesn’t hinder your camping holiday. If your garden is too small to pitch the tent, we would still recommend unpacking the tent and doing a few checks:
1. Any rips/tears in the material?
2. Are all poles there and in good condition
3. Do you have your tent pegs
4. Do you have your pitching instructions
Essential Kit: Gaffa Tape/Duct Tape is the ultimate camping essential. You can temporarily repair most issues with your tent using this tape, so it’s always worth taking a roll with you for emergency fixes.
My tent leaks! What can I do?
There are 3 possible outcomes to this question
1. Is water coming through the seams or a tear?
- If so, then your tent is damaged. If it’s a new tent, then you can bring it back as damaged. If it’s an older tent, you may need to repair the tear or re-seal the seam. This is an easy fix using Tenacious Tape.
Here is a video for how to repair tears/seams
2. Is water seeping through your tent material?
- If water has stopped beading off of your tent and is starting to sit and gather on the tent, like it would a t-shirt. Then your tent may need re-proofing. Over time the weather will remove the tents waterproof covering, but this can be re-applied easily using some re-proofer. You can find this here.
3. Is water collecting in your tent even if it’s not raining?
- This probably isn’t a leak. It’s likely to be condensation and isn’t a reason to return your tent. Your body heat reacts with the cooler air around you to cause condensation which will collect on your tent roof/walls as droplets of water. To prevent this, open up your vents to get more air circulation around your tent.
My tent pole has broken/splintered
A broken tent pole may seem like the end of the world, but it’s something that can be easily rectified.
1. Was the pole broken on the purchase of your tent?
- If you’ve just bought a tent and the poles are broken before you even pitch, bring it back to us and our team will try to help.
2. Did the pole snap/splinter when pitching?
- This may be down to being put under too much pressure. Re-adjust how you are pitching as fibre-glass poles are not designed to bend too far. More often than not, this isn’t a fault in the tent, take care when pitching and if you are having to force poles to bend, then take a step back and re-adjust before the worst happens.
Broken tent poles can be fixed easily enough, here’s how you can do it yourself:
3. Did the pole snap in poor weather?
- We wouldn’t recommend taking a tent with a large surface area out in extreme weather, the more surface area the tent has, the more wind it will catch. While you may think the tent is not fit for purpose if your fibreglass pole snaps, they’re actually designed to snap under too much pressure, this should help prevent too much damage to your tent.
As mentioned in the point above, a snapped section of pole can be easily fixed. Many tents won’t have direct replacement spares, as it’s not environmentally friendly to carry these extra pieces if they’re not needed. What is available are generic pole sections that can be easily added to your tent poles to fix them, you just need to let our store team know which size poles you have. If you’re unsure about fixing the pole, one of our camping experts will be happy to advise.
4. Is it a steel pole that has bent?
- Steel poles are a little more difficult to replace. It’s very rare that these poles will damage as they are part of very sturdy tents. If yours is damaged, it’s worth contacting your local store to see if replacements are available from the brand. We will endeavour to help in any way we can, but it should be noted that sometimes these replacements are not available.
TIP: To best protect your poles, never store your tent stood on its end, always lay it flat with the tent poles securely roled in the middle.
My tent has mould/mildew on it
If you pack your tent away without drying it out, your tent will develop mould/mildew. This can seriously damage the fabric of your tent. Prevention is the best cure for this, but if the area of mould is small enough, there are steps you can take.
1. How do I get rid of mildew from my tent?
- This really depends on how much mould/mildew has grown on the tent. If it’s covered, then, unfortunately, it’s probably not going to be saved. If you’ve got a small patch, then you can try using warm water and tent cleaning solution. Home remedies such as salt and lemon water, or vinegar and water also exist, but a proper tent cleaner would be the safest option. Do not scrub at the tent, you’ll damage the fabric, instead, you will need to wipe at the tent to try and best remove the patches. This is best done when the tent is pitched and taught. Once you’ve cleaned it, leave it to air dry. Do not try and dry it with any other means (hairdryers etc). Cleaning large sections of your tent may also mean that the tent will need re-proofing once dry to make it water resistant again.
2. How do you stop your tent from smelling?
- The smell often comes with mildew and mould, if you’re packing your tent away damp then make sure you air dry the tent at the first possible opportunity. Pitch it again in your garden, or put over your washing line. Airing out the tent will help prevent that stuffy smell.
It’s also a good tip to store the tent somewhere it can breathe, as with sleeping bags, they don’t like to be wrapped too tightly and left there for long periods of time. If you can’t store looser, then just make sure you get the tent out for an airing every so often. Nobody likes a smelly tent!
I think my Airbeam / Air Tent / Inflatable Tent is faulty
Any inflatable item (kayaks, airbeds, sofas and inflatable tents) are all affected by humidity and air temperature. This can affect the air pressure in your item, so if you think your item is looking a little deflated, make sure you check the air pressure first, it may just need a little boost with the pump. If you over-pressurize your tent on a warm day, the heat will cause the beam to expand and may cause it to rupture or pop. Air pressure figures should always be mentioned on your tent, do make sure you follow these guidelines.
1. I’ve checked the pressure and it’s still going down
- Check all the caps are properly secured (no fabric caught in them, the threads are aligned correctly)
If your beam is still deflating, it can be removed and checked for a puncture, much like a bike inner tube. Small punctures can be fixed with the included repair kits If the beam is faulty and beyond personal repair, contact your local store to see if a replacement beam is available.
How can I protect the bottom of my tent?
The bottom of your tent can often get scuffed or in the worst case scenarios, ripped if your pitch isn’t properly cleared. Many large family tents have additional extras called ‘footprints’ these sit under your tent and prevent these scrapes, they also add an extra layer to prevent the cold coming up through your groundsheet.
If your tent doesn’t have a specially made footprint available, you can use an area of tarp that is cut or folded to the shape of your tent. DO NOT make this larger than the bottom of your tent, as it will collect rainwater and direct it under your tent.
On a similar note, to protect the inside of your tent, many large family camping tents have extras such as carpets. This can protect the groundsheet, but also add another layer of insulation.
How to pack away a tent
With many issues concerning your tent, prevention is always easier than the cure. If you pack your tent away correctly, it’s very easy to make it last over numerous happy camping trips.
Here are a few things to remember when packing your tent
1. Unpeg and neatly tie up all guy lines, this will prevent knotting and keep things neat for next time
2. If your tent has tension straps, loosen them – left alone this can be a common cause of fabric tears
3. Give the inside of your tent a sweep to get rid of debris
4. Keep all doors and windows unzipped and rolled away. This helps to remove the air from the tent when folding.
5. Remove the tent poles, folding them away as you go. Push, never pull the poles, as they will become detached and you’re likely to snap the elastic.
6. Put your poles away safely in the pole bag to protect them
7. Grab your tent bag, you need to fold your tent to that width before you start rolling.
8. Place the pole bag on the end of the tent, closest to you before rolling.
9. Once folded, begin tightly rolling the tent making sure to squeeze out any excess air as you go. It’s often best to get somebody to roll, and somebody to stand/roll on/lay down on the other end to help push the air out. The more air that is removed, the smaller you’ll be able to roll the tent.
10. Your tent should now be in some sort of size that it fits back into its bag. If it’s not, try and squeeze out some more of that air.
Check out our video to help with folding away a large family tent.
Tips for storing your tent
1. Always store flat, never on its end or you could damage the poles
2. Never store damp, it will lead to mould/mildew
3. If your tent is damp when putting it away, make sure you re-pitch or hang out to dry and the first possible opportunity. Only ever air dry your tent, never use heaters or hairdryers etc.
4. Air out your tent when you get chance to prevent odours and mould
5. Never throw your tent bag around, the poles can be delicate.