I prefer a four-season tent, because it will stand up to whatever comes your way. The design I prefer employs is a lightweight tent made with a single waterproof/breathable wall, rather than typical double-wall construction. The single-wall design reduces weight but does elevate the price because of the special fabric used. However it pays for itself when you go to extremely remote areas where you need to carry other gear that is just as important. The weight reduction and strength allows you to do this easily. Further I like the tepee tents because of their simplicity to put up in an emergency. The typical tepee consists of a single center pole, a single-layer, cone-shaped, waterproof wall, and sometimes a detachable floor.
Invest some time along with your money, and your tent will age well. Set up your tent immediately after the purchase and make sure you have all the components, including all the necessary guy-lines, a pole repair splint in case a pole breaks in the field, and the right number of stakes (plus one to be safe). If the stakes are flimsy wires that bend when inserted in your lawn, replace them with better-quality lightweight models.
Check the manufacturer’s instructions for seam-sealing. Unless the tent maker specifically recommends against it, seal every weather-exposed seam that doesn’t have seam tape on it. In the case of single-wall tents, seal even the taped seams. If you’re using a liquid sealer, apply two thin coats. If you’re using the viscous kind in a tube (Seam Grip), use a single coat. Allow the tent to dry overnight, or better yet, for 24 hours. If there’s any chance of moisture or freezing, let it dry inside your home. Then test your sealing under a sprinkler for several hours. If the manufacturer said no sealing was required, test the tent under the sprinkler anyway. Let it dry thoroughly before reapplying sealer to leaky spots. Allow the tent to dry completely before cramming it in the stuff sack.
Dry your tent between trips to prevent mildew, which can discolor the fabric, make the tent stink, and ultimately destroy the water-repellent coating and the fabric. As soon as you get home, hang the tent or set it up until it’s 100 percent dry. Repair holes, broken zippers, and wear spots while you’re at it. Gently scrub bad stains with mild soap and water, and leave the rest alone. Never put your tent in the washing machine, because it will remove the waterproof coatings.
Avoid shoving a wet tent into a stuff sack on the trail. Weather permitting, drape the tent and rain-fly over branches or a stout bush before moving to your next camp. If you must stuff it wet, set up the tent immediately upon arriving at the next site. Experts are divided on whether to roll or simply stuff a tent in its sack. Stuffers say rolling causes creases that weaken the waterproof coating. Rollers dispute this and prefer the neatness of the fold-and-roll technique.
Use a ground cloth to reduce wear and tear on the tent floor. You can make one from any kind of plastic or weatherproof housewrap scrounged from construction sites. You can also buy a “footprin t” from some manufacturers. If you make your own, cut it so it fits just inside the tent floor’s boundary. Overlaps can direct water under the tent.
Don’t set up your tent in the backyard to dry, then forget about it for a week or two. UV rays will damage the fly fabric orperhaps even destroy it. Refurbish old floor and fly coatings with an application of waterproof treatment.
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Copyright © 2010 by Steven L. Doran All rights reserved under international and Pan-American copyright conventions. No part of this article may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means without written permission from the author Steven L. Doran.