As you pull open the storage closet in the garage and start hauling out your gear, you smile at the memories of your last camping adventure. You remember the great fishing, the beautiful scenery on the hike, even the gentle rain that lulled you to sleep the night before you packed up to come home.
But what's that smell? Kind of musty. Definitely funky. Finally you reach the stuff sack containing the tent and then you see it. The unmistakable powder gray-green blooms of mold and dark stains of mildew. You remembered that gentle rain, but you forgot to unpack the tent when you got home and dry it out. Uh oh.
Camping is a lot more fun than cleaning everything and storing it away properly afterwards. Yet the cleaning part is what makes the camping part enjoyable. Because when you get to your campsite and start setting up your tent, everything is shiny and bright and in good working order.
Here are some easy tent care steps you can take to make sure your next outing is more enjoyable and that your tent lasts longer:
1) Make Sure Your Tent is Relatively Clean Before You Break Camp
Before you start knocking down the tent, take a few moments to brush out the interior to remove any dirt, mud, rocks, bugs, food or trash that may have been carried in. Also, make sure than any storage pockets are empty.
Then brush the outside clear of any rain, dew, leaves or twigs that have accumulated. The idea is to remove anything that may rub or tear holes in your tent's floor, walls or roof when it's folded up. That includes tent stakes and poles; there should be nothing inside.
As you fold up the tent, continue to clean off any dirt. Brush off the bottom of the floor as you pack up so that sand, grit or rocks don't get folded inside. Also, be sure to knock any dirt or mud off the tent stakes and poles. This can help keep your other equipment, and the inside of your vehicle, clean.
Once the tent is folded, put it in its storage bag or stash it someplace where it won't get anything else dirty.