As the camping season comes to an end it's time for the regular camping gear maintenance. Proper maintenance of your camping gear is essential for long term performance. Here you will find our best tips for how to best maintain your camping gear.
When taking down and packing the tent, remember how it was originally packed when you first opened it, this will help you place and pack everything correctly and most efficiently. (Video guide for rolling your tent).
IMPORTANT A tent must be packed away bone dry with any potential sources of damp removed. This could even be from insects that have been packed away with the tent! Or from the core of guylines that were not dried unravelled to ensure deep moisture was removed by air flow.
Before packing away your tent or other camping gear cleaning is important, not only to leave this nice and ready for next season but also to avoid damages such as mould or mildew.
- Remove dirt from the tent with a broom and dustpan
- Clean spots and where necessary with soft sponge and pure water.
- Let the tent air until completely dry
NOTE: Never wash the tent in a washing machine and never have it dry-cleaned.
We recommend that you annually maintain your tent. This means checking seams, flysheet, poles, groundsheet and pegs.
Ultraviolet rays (UV) will damage your polyester tent if you expose it to direct sunlight for longer periods of time. Our exclusive Outtex® flysheet fabric used on all Outwell tents increases the lifetime of the tent.
However, after prolonged exposure to the sun seam tape may start to come off. If this happens you can repair your tent by removing loose tape and apply a seam sealer and waterproof spray to re-seal seams. Even though we have used special waterproof thread for all seams, we recommend that you use a seam sealer or a waterproof spray at regular intervals for all seams around the zips and toggles, these seams are some of the weaker points on your tent as there can be a lot of tension around them.
We recommend that after use all metal poles be lightly greased with a nonacidic oil. See a more detailed guide for pole maintenance below.
Although groundsheet wear can be minimised by the use of a footprint it will happen over time. In fact, a waterproof footprint used under a damaged groundsheet is probably the best/easiest/cheapest option to stop water entry. Some campers will purchase groundsheet material and sew in as a complete patch using the existing groundsheet as a template.
Once the coating starts to wear you will get water seepage through the fabric when pressure is applied. This can be stopped for a short period by coating the area with numerous external applications of a proprietary waterproofing agent like our Outwell Waterproofer, or those produced by Nikwax, Storm and Granger’s (Fabsil) after cleaning and then repairing any small holes.
It must be remembered that these treatments only resist water penetration and water can still be forced through the fabric. Repeated applications will help fill the miniscule holes between the fibres to reduce this — especially if the waterproof treatment contains a wax agent. However, if the original fabric coating is badly compromised then applying a wax (similar to that sold by Fjallraven and Barbour) to the outer face to fill the weave holes may be a consideration. This can be made economically at home using a mix of beeswax and spirit — recipes can be found on Google.
Other solutions that we have heard about, but not tested, are spraying a very thin layer of acrylic paint onto the outer face or painting on a silicone sealant that has been diluted with white spirit. Before going down these routes it is worth testing on old fabric to ensure it works without damaging the base fabric and to note that it may stain.
We recommend all the metal poles be lightly greased with a non-acidic oil after use − a silicon-based furniture polish is a good option both after use and before prolonged storage.
Oxidation has always been a problem and has given birth to numerous ways of reducing the effects, like zinc galvanization and anodising. Even stainless steel and aluminium will corrode to leave pit marks if the protective passive film is broken through use. (This is the spontaneous formation of an ultrathin film of corrosion products on the metal's surface that act as a barrier to further oxidation. You may be surprised at how aggressively aluminium burns if that film is ever overcome — just check out fires in older caravans!)
For general information, as any sailor (or off-roaders who use an old Land Rover) will know galvanic action will also eat away at metals. This is caused when two dissimilar metals like steel and aluminium come into contact in the presence of an electrolyte like salty water (even rain water puddles pick up salts). Ions transfer to the more resistant material resulting in the other metal corroding.
You can throw as much money as you like to preventing corrosion but the decades have proven only good maintenance is the camper’s cost-effective way to reduce the problem. While a non-acidic oil will help it does have its limitations — as many campers here point out. Periodic wiping down with anything that creates a hydrophobic film between the metal and moisture helps — like WD40 on a rag.
Our personally chosen method and one long advised by members of the Camping and Caravanning Club, is to regularly wipe down the poles with a silicon-based lubricant that creates a dry, waterproof film between the metal and moisture. One of our staff uses a lubricant designed for water sports as that is what he has on the shelf. But a much cheaper alternative is to use a furniture polish. An added benefit to using such silicon products is that they appear to help the poles slip smoothly through the pole sleeves...
We pay particular attention to joints, including any metal linking springs, and any ferrule/spike. Wipe off excess and dry before storing.
Any item of camping gear is the tool of our ‘trade’ so deserves to be regularly maintained. We hope this is of help and will continue to build this Skills with more guides and technical’ features