Troop Gear: Tents

[This is part of a series of articles on the use, care and maintenance of our Troop gear.  You can find this and other articles filed under ‘Gear” in the menu on the home page of our website.]

Tents are the Troop’s home-away-from-home on most of our outings.  A tent provides protection from the weather and from insects. A tent gives us a place to store our gear and a place to hang out when the weather turns nasty. The Troop’s tents are probably the most important gear that we own.

The Troop tents are all 2- or 3-man, light weight backpacking tents. Backpacking tents use light fabrics, lots of mesh and light-weight aluminum poles to save weight. These materials are pretty durable, but they are not indestructible!  With proper care a tent can last for years, but neglect your tent and you can find yourself in the woods without a proper shelter.

If you are asked to care for one of the Troop tents, the first thing you need to know is that moisture and dirt are the 2 biggest enemies of a tent.  Tents stored wet will develop mold, which eats away at the fabric.  Dirt and debris left in the tent act just like sandpaper and will begin to rub away at the tent.

The first thing you need to do after coming back from an outing is to set up the tent in a dry, warm spot to dry it out.  If you don’t have room to set it up, you can hang it to dry on a line. Once the tent is dry, open it up and make sure there is no dirt and debris in the tent or in the tent bag.  You can use a vacuum, but make sure to use a drapery brush to prevent snagging or tearing the fabric.  If you find stains or goo on the tent, clean the area with gentle mixture of soap and water and rinse thoroughly.  Never put a tent in the washing machine.

After the tent is clean and dry, examine the tent for damage.  Carefully examine the rain fly and tent body for damage, rips or punctures.  The mesh body on a tent is particularly susceptible to snags and tears so pay careful attention.  Check the poles for bending or cracking and inspect the bungee cord inside the poles for wear.  Make sure the ground cloth is dry and tear free.  Finally count the tent stakes to make sure you have them all for the next trip.

If you find any damage or missing pieces, report it to the Quartermaster when you return the tent.

Once you are satisfied that the tent is clean, dry and free of damage you need to pack it back in its stuff sack until the next outing. Put the poles and stakes in the bag first so you don’t tear the tent trying to push these in later.  You can fold and roll the tent and rain fly together or stuff them separately into into the sack.  Before stuffing the tent body into the sack, fold it so that the mesh fabric is on the inside and the tent floor is on the outside.  This helps protect the mesh from snagging and tearing when you stuff the tent.

A secure tent in good repair is a vital part of any outing. Please make sure you care for the tents carefully and return them clean, dry and free of damage!