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How to look after your tent

Taking care of your tent can be the difference between it lasting for one trip, or many. To get the most out of your tent, ensure that it's pitched, and packed away, in the best possible condition by following the steps below. Failure to care for your tent can cause mould or stains, or cause the tent to leak.

The checklist below is aimed those looking to take on a group camping holiday. You can take this list as a starting point and work out what gear is relevant to your particular trip.

Before You Go Anywhere!

If you have purchased a new tent, ALWAYS practice-pitch before taking any trips. We expect the highest quality from the products we sell but unfortunately mishaps can occur during manufacturing. Returns/repairs are easier to sort out from home than from a campsite or a festival.

Tent Care Shopping List

The following items are great for prolonging the life of your tent, or aiding with repair should the worst happen.

Tent Footprint

A tent footprint is a groundsheet that's specifically cut to match your tent, generally available for larger family tents. A footprint is used to protect the bottom of your tent from loose gravel and wet ground. This can help to prevent tearing and means that your tent won't have to be cleaned as often.

If your tent doesn't have a specific footprint available, standard groundsheets can be used but will need to be folded/cut to the shape of your tent.

Duct Tape

Duct tape (or gaffer tape) is the outdoors person's best friend. It's always good to carry a roll of this stuff with you in case your tent needs a quick repair to get you through the rest of your trip. You can use tape to fix poles, or holes in the groundsheet, until you can get to a point where you can perform a more permanent repair.

Dust Pan and Brush

A simple bit of kit to make sure your tent is fully cleaned of debris at the end of your trip. The last thing you want to do is tightly wrap sharp objects inside your tent while packing away, this can damage the fabric.


After a few uses, you may need to reproof your tent to ensure it remains waterproof. Only reproof if you need to, more on this further down the page.

Seam Sealant

Seam sealant is a fantastic glue-like substance to help quickly fix taped seams that are coming apart. A broken seam can cause your tent to let in water.

How to pack away your tent

Each tent is different, and after a few practices, you'll have mastered the art of pitching and packing away. Here are a few tips to ensure your tent is packed away correctly.

  • Ensure the inside of the tent is dust/stone/debris free
  • Open tent up and leave to air for a while before packing away (on dry days)
  • When ready to pack away partially zip the tent doors leaving room for air to escape
  • Unpin the poles from the pins and collapse the tent with the poles still in
  • Push (don't pull) your tent poles out of the sleeves and fold them
  • With a person at each side, fold the tent to the same width as the bag, pushing air out as your fold
  • Place the pole bag and peg bag on top of your tent, start to roll as tight as possible
  • Tie the tent up and pop it back into it's bag. (If folded tightly enough, the tent should go back in the bag it came from)

Each tent can be different, so ensure you follow the instructions and remove if the inner tent if you need to.

What to do with a wet tent

It is ESSENTIAL that your tent is stored clean and dry, otherwise there's a high chance it will develop faults, or become mouldy; and it's easier to clean mud from your tent, than it is to clean mould.

  • Wipe excess dirt from the tent
  • Shake off any excess water, and wipe down with a clean cloth to take as much water from the fabric as possible
  • If you have to pack your tent away wet, make sure you unpack it and air it out AS SOON AS POSSIBLETo air the tent, pitch the tent again in dry weather, or hang over a washing line in your garage. This will prevent the tent developing a musty smell or becoming mouldy
  • If the tent needs to be cleaned, do not use a harsh detergent, use soap or a tent wash mixed with water, before allowing it to dry
  • Do NOT put your tent in front of an unnatural heat source, this will affect the fabric. Leave the tent to dry naturally

Where to store your tent

Storing your tent without care can cause the tent to damage; follow these simple rules to prolong the life of your tent.

  • DO NOT store your tent wet
  • Store in a cool, dry area
  • Never rest your tent bag on it's end, this can damage the poles. Always place the tent down flat.

Each tent can be different, so ensure you follow the instructions and remove if the inner tent if you need to.

Do I need to reproof my tent?

If you have used your tent on multiple occasions, in varying weather (heavy rain or very hot sunlight are the worst culprits), there's a chance it may start to let in water. Don't panic, the tent may just need reproofing.

Look for the following:
  • Does your tent 'wet out'?  (Hold water instead of let it bead off)
  • Leak - Do not confuse a leak with condensation, try venting your tent before taking any leak precautions. 

Tent reproofer is available in GO Outdoors stores and online from trusted brands such as Nikwax and Grangers. All reproofer containers have the directions for ease of use.

Avoid using detergent on your tent, as this will cause your tent to lose it's ability to resist water

Simple repairs and what to do

Fixing small rips & tears

Small rips & tears can occur at any time for various reasons - these aren't the end of the world. Rips in the tent or groundsheet can be temporarily fixed with duct tape, which will hold until you are able to fix the tear properly.

Lots of tents come with a tent repair kit that includes self-adhesive tent patches, if yours doesn't, we do stock them in a variety of colours. When applying these patches, make sure the area is clean and dry before applying. Another handy tip is to place a flat surface behind the tent before applying the patch, this will prevent waves/wrinkles in the material.

How to fix a split seam on a tent

Seam sealant is ideal for when seams come apart and begin to leak. It's best to leave seams for a few days after repair to make sure the sealant takes to the material.

How to replace a tent pole

Broken poles are one of the main problems with fibreglass pole tents. Poles can snap when put under undue pressure while pitching, or in bad weather. Replacement poles can be purchased, but are often of a generic size and will need to be cut to the correct size.