Tents are our friends. They keep us dry when it’s raining, warm when it’s snowing, and cool when it’s sunny and thirty degrees outside.
We put our tents through the toughest conditions, expecting them to keep us sheltered night after night. But, like any relationship, it takes two to make it work long-term. We have our parts to play, too.
If you keep your tent clean and maintain it regularly, it will keep you drier for longer. If you don’t clean and dry your tent out, you increase the risk of wear and damage and decrease the lifespan of your tent.
So, wash your tent after you’ve used it, then dry it 100% before putting it away until your next trip. Stowing a wet tent away can ruin your tent, so make sure you follow these steps to prolong the life of your home away from home.
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How do you dry a tent fast?
You might have just cleaned your tent with soap and water, or maybe you just got home from an epic two-week back-country adventure, or maybe a long weekend muddy festival, but now your tent is soaked and needs to dry out.
So, what are the best ways to dry a tent fast?
Well, there are a few ways. The simplest, most effective, and efficient way is to use Mother Nature. First, use a dry towel or rag to wipe down your tent to get rid of most of the water, then put it in direct sunlight.
If you can, hang your tent on a washing line in the sun. The sunshine and airflow will dry your tent in no time (about half an hour). You can also spread your tent on the pavement or lawn to dry. Make sure the ground isn’t wet, and flip the tent halfway through to dry both sides.
If you don’t have access to any outdoor space, you can hang your tent over two chair backs or use a washing rack inside your home. To dry your tent fast, make sure there’s good airflow, so try to leave a gap between the tent and the floor.
You can also dry your tent near a space heater or radiator. But, never drape your tent over a radiator or heater; it will melt the fabric. Also, never put your tent in the tumble dryer. It will melt the seams and destroy your tent.
How long can you leave a tent wet?
If your camping trip is a washout and you’re getting rained on every single day, there’s not much you can do. Your tent will be wet for multiple days in a row. Don’t worry, though. When you’re taking it in and out of the bag, that’s okay. Plus, the rain washes stale water off, essentially cleaning your tent.
Once you get home, though, a wet tent becomes a very different story. If you put your tent away wet, the old water will slowly turn to mould and mildew, potentially ruining your tent forever.
I’d recommend not leaving your tent wet for any longer than one or two days after you get home. Any longer than that, and you run the risk of ruining your tent. It can be tempting to just throw all your gear into the cupboard or garage and forget about it until the next trip, but it’s really not worth it.
A good rule of thumb to follow is to dry your tent out as soon as you can. Try not to get into the habit of leaving your tent for weeks after you use it. Instead, try to schedule a gear cleaning day within a day or two of using your equipment.
Most outdoor gear benefits from being cleaned and properly dried after you use it. If you put away your gear while it’s dirty and wet, it doesn’t matter how good it is; it won’t last as long as if you take care of it.
Can you put a tent away wet?
You can, but you shouldn’t.
If you put your tent away while it’s still wet, you’re probably going to wreck your tent. Instead, try to always store your tent dry and in a dry, well-ventilated place.
I like to stuff my tent in a loose cotton sack, just like my sleeping bag, when I’m not using it. Then, before a camping trip, I repack it into its smaller carry bag along with its poles and pegs. Not only does this extend the life of the tent, but I always know I have everything I need!
If you have to put away your tent while it’s wet, then try to get it as dry as possible before packing it. Then, as soon as you can unpack it, give it a clean with soapy water. Some people put their tents through a gentle cycle in the washing machine, but I find a bucket and sponge do the trick.
You can get a whole range of tent cleaning products, as well as waterproofing sprays and coatings. Each one is different, and they can be applied in a variety of ways, so make sure you check the label and follow the instructions.
What happens if you put a tent away wet?
If you put away your tent wet, you probably won’t notice anything until you get it out to use the next time. Then, you’ll probably smell a misty, damp, rotten smell and find mould and mildew when you unpack your tent.
It can also damage your tent, ruin its seams, and reduce the waterproofing of your tent. If it’s really bad, it can ruin the whole tent.
So, get out there. Take your tent on all kinds of adventures. Get it muddy, wet, windy, and wild. Then, when you’re home, out of the wind and rain, give it a good clean with warm, soapy water.
Wipe it down, then let it dry 100% before storing it in a loose cotton bag in a dry, well-ventilated place until you’re ready for its next big adventure.