Caring for your tent
After returning from your trip, set it up and check for dirt. Use a damp sponge and mild soap and rub gently. Let your tent air dry and don’t pack up until it is completely dry. Sunlight in form of UV rays can weaken your tent fabric and fly sheet so don’t leave your tent up drying for days unnecessarily.
Store your tent in a cool dry place. Your attic gets very warm and this can damage the coating.
Poles can be cleaned especially if used in rainy weather. Some car wax will reduce friction and let them slide through better. Silicone spray on zippers (keep away from fabric) will help.
Parts of a Tent
A single skin tent consists of one layer of waterproof fabric. Single skin tents may also come with a rain fly or flysheet that is above the tent roof. This fly does not extend down the sides of the tent. Double skin tents consist of an outer tent that encompasses the inner tent. This second layer usually provides some insulation. The inner tent does not need to be waterproof as it has protection from the outer tent. Flysheets and outer tents should never be touching the inner tent due to transfer of water.
Stakes and pegs anchor the tent to the ground. Some pegs fasten the bottom edge of the fabric to the ground while others attach to guy ropes and pull the tent out to give it form. Guy rope pegs should be inserted into the ground at a right angle to the rope, not straight down vertically. Often times a mallet is handy to drive the stakes into hard ground.
Poles hold the tent up providing structural support. There are rigid poles such as those made from metal and semirigid poles which are made of fiberglass or metal alloys. The poles are likely collapsible in size to make for easier storage and transport.
Air vents reduce the effects of condensation which occurs when people breathe out. Vents help the water vapour created from our breath escape from the tent. A well ventilated tent will help keep the tent dry come morning time.
A groundsheet provides a waterproof barrier between the ground and the tent floor so you don’t wake up with a wet sleeping bag. Groundsheets are often sewn into the tent but are sometimes separate.
Sealing your tent
Sealing the seams on your new tent is an absolute requirement in order to stay dry. Rain and even morning dew will seap in through the seams without any waterproofing. It is very easy and inexpensive to seal your tent.
After setting up your tent on a sunny day, apply seam sealer to all threads on both the outside and inside. Usually you must shake the bottle before applying. You will also want to seal the seams on your rain fly.The sealer will need a few hours to dry. For best results, repeat the process again.
It is a good idea to repeat this procedure each year if you do a lot of camping. Besides for waterproofing your tent, you now know how to assemble it.
Using a tarp as ground cover
When camping in fields or the woods, definately use a tarp under your tent. You must be careful when laying the tarp as it must not extend past the edge of the tent. Rain or dew will drop down the sides of your tent and collect underneath your tent floor. So to make sure you don’t wake up in a puddle, fold the edges of the tarp underneath to make sure it isn’t longer than your tent.
When camping at a sandy campground or the beach, a tarp under your tent is not necessary as sand absorbs water very efficiently. Having a tarp underneath your tent will cause rain to pool up inside. You can put the tarp inside your tent if desired.
In general you want to try to camp on as high ground as possible. Also remember to seal your seams on an annual basis.
Choosing your tent location
Look for high and level ground when selecting the best location to pitch your tent. Setting up your tent in a low spot or depression will allow rain to pool underneath the tent and waking up in a wet sleeping bag is no fun – trust me.
Camping and Wildlife
While living outdoors camping, you can not help but be surrounded by wildlife. Viewing birds, squirrels, deer, opossum, and other animals are a great blessing and can add to your fun. Of course there are certain things to do when camping to make the experience more enjoyable.
Never approach wildlife. Wild animals can be strong and fast. They especially get agitated when defending themselves or when they feel their offspring are threatened. Cornering a wild animal will definately increase their feelings of vunerability so back away slowly. If you’ve got young children along, make sure you keep an eye on them and teach them to call for help if necessary.
Sick or overly aggressive animals may be affected by rabies. If you’re in a campground, it’s a good idea to report these animals to a park ranger or someone else in charge.
It’s also really important to never keep food in your tent. Throw away all waste product immediately and pack away any leftovers. Hanging it in a tree is one option – make sure the food is at least 10 feet off the ground and about 3 or 4 feet away from the trunk. Ensure you use good plastic containers animals can’t get into. You may also store these containers in your car for extra protection. My scouting group uses a big footlocker type trunk to store food. The cool thing about it is that is also functions as a bench, footrest, or small table that is good for playing card games on.
Speaking of food, never feed the animals. This can result in unpredictable behavior and puts you in a dangerous situation. Besides for encouraging them to return later for more food, this will lessen their natural instincts to take care of themselves.
Keep these general principals in mind and hopefully your next camping trip will be safe and you’ll have an enjoyable time watching the wildlife.