Hiking - Knowledge

Camping Basics: How to Repair a Tent

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What is the occasional camping trip without an actual tent? As an advanced trekker, when you do go camping with the right equipment and essentials, you can really enjoy the trip to its full potential. Camping tents are such essential to make your experience complete. You enjoy the comfort and ease which comes with the traditional tent, but what would you do when there’s a leak? Learn how to repair a tent, and equip yourself with the knowledge of what to do when you're in a compromising situation out in the woods.

You could have a super sturdy and well-made tent that has never let you down so far. However, one day with no warning it could tear right in front of you when you truly need it the most. Even the best of tents can suffer from tears or breaks in their inner poles. There is nothing to worry about and no need to immediately replace your tent. You can use simple materials that you may find at home or have packed for your camping trip. With these tips, you can become a pro at quick fixes and do it yourself tent repairs.

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Remember that choosing the correct tent in the first place could help prevent tears or splinting. You will cover the basics of how to repair a tent. This involves the necessary tips and four basic ways to mend your tent. These include- splinting a pole, replacing a shock cord, fixing small tears, and sealing leaks. You will master how to repair a ripped tent, in no time!

Tent Safety Precautions

Use these tips to ensure you do not inconvenience or harm yourself before setting up camp and pitching a tent. These tips can help you avoid an unwanted dangerous situation or incident in future. Make sure you teach your kids these safety techniques for their benefit when they go camping as well.

1. Inspect and Explore your Surroundings

Before you set up camp, make sure you take a quick and thorough look around the area. Look out for poisonous plants, wasp nests, ant hills, quicksand and other dangerous elements.

2. No Flames Near the Campsite

Avoid using candles or matches near or inside the tent. Opt for the best flashlights or torches instead and stay safe at night. Making a campfire should be at a safe distance away from the tent, and the fire put out before going to sleep. Make a fire, if necessary, around 20 meters away from the tent. Buy tents made from fireproof fabric if you want to be extra precautious.

3. Avoid Leaving the Tent Unattended or Open

Remember to securely close your tent every time you step out of it, whether to go for a trek or just for fresh air. Even when you are sleeping, ensure you have closed the tent. This is to ensure that unwelcome guests like animals or insects do not enter and make your tent their home.

4. Maintain a Clean Campsite 

For the sake of the environment, animals, and future campers, please keep to the camping etiquette.This means cleaning after yourself and making sure the surroundings where you were camping are left behind clean. Pick up trash and plastics, do not throw human waste near any open water bodies, and keep fires enclosed and tameable. 

Patching Rips in Your Tent

1. Acquire the Materials

Tent Pole Repair Tips
Materials for Patching the Rips (source)

Make sure you have the correct materials at hand when you are out camping. These materials are essentials to have on you especially to learn how to repair a tent. You will require the right type of repair tape and seam sealer. These have to be the right type of the material of the tent. A nylon tent will need nylon tape, and for a canvas tent, you need a taffeta tape. Make sure the sealers are compatible with the material for the tent. Also, you can get to know about the camping essentials list and enjoy camping in the outdoors.

2. Tending Small Tent Rips

Fixing small tears
Small Tent Rips

If the rip in the outdoor camping tent is small, then the tape itself can be used to seal the hole. Tape the inside of the tent and the outside for the best effect. Ensure the tape covers the rip properly, and then apply some seam sealer both on the inside and outside of the tent. 

3. Stitching Large Tent Rips

Patching Rips in Your Tent
Stitching Large Tent Rips (source)

If you manage to get larger rips on the side of the tent, you may need to stitch it closed. You have to assess the damage to see whether it is possible to sew it otherwise you have to tape the area. Check out the pressure around the rip, and if it is possible to stitch then go ahead. Take the edge of one side of the rip and bend it slightly, by 1/4th an inch, over the other side of the rip. Now stitch the meeting of both sides to ensure that it is completely closed. Use seam sealer over the stitching and you have successfully sealed and made the stitching waterproof.

4. Taping Large Tent Rips

How to Repair a Ripped Tent
Taping Large Tent Rips (source)

If you find that a large rip requires stitching but there is pressure around the area of the tent, then you will need to tape it. Keep in mind that you need to use tape that is at least 1 ½ inches larger than the rip. If you do not have a tape that wide then you can place multiple strips on the rip to cover the entire surface. Make sure you start from the bottom and work your way up to prevent water coming into the tent. Tape inside and the outside of the rip for extra security and top it off with sealer on the edges.

How to Patch Holes in Outdoor Camping Tent

The Materials,
Patch Holes

Patches for larger holes need to be stitched in place. Make sure the patch is at least 3 inches larger than your rip or hole. Use pins to hold the patch in place and then tuck the edges in and stitch it to the outside of the tent. Make the first round of stitches 1/8th an inch away from the edge of the patch and then another round 1/4th an inch from the first round. To be entirely secure, do the same with a patch on the inside of the tent. Add seam sealer on the stitching to make it watertight.

Tent Pole Repair Tips

There are many reasons for damaging or breaking a tent pole. You could accidentally step on it, pressure on the pole may bend it, extreme wind could snap it, and many more possibilities. When you are at home and the pole breaks you can always replace or repair it, but on the field when camping it is not that easy. Using these tips you can learn how to fix a broken tent pole and next how to repair a tent, in no time.

How to Patch Holes in Outdoor Camping Tents
Tent Pole Repair

To fix your damaged tent pole, you will require a small tube called a splint. This is usually available with the tent equipment when you buy the tent as a whole. If you don’t have one then purchase this essential. It will come very useful in learning how to repair a tent. A splint is normally a little bit larger in diameter than your actual pole.

You can use it to fix your tent pole in the following way:

  • Arrange the tent pole pieces in order 
  • If there is a bend in the pole then just even it out slightly.
  • Slide the splint up the pole and make sure it's over the break in the pole that you want to fix. If the pole is hard to slide the splint over, then you may need to take a pair of pliers to bend it into a straight line. 
  • Hold the splint into place by wrapping tape over it a few times. You can use duct tape or any heavy strong tape available.
  • If the pole is broken close to where you would insert a connecting pole, then you will need to splint the two parts together.

If you have forgotten to buy a splint then you can use a tent stake in its place. This works well in the place of a splint. You can use the stake in the same way as the splint:

  • Align the broken pole pieces.
  • Straighten the pole if it is bent.
  • Place the stake next to the center of the broken pieces.
  • Use the duct tape or any strong tape to wrap the pieces and stake together and keep them firmly in place. 

Replacing a Tent-Pole Shock Cord

Making a Waterproof Patch
Tent Pole Shock Cord Kit

The poles are connected with an inner elastic string that can sometimes lose elasticity or snap. This string is called the shock cord. If you happen to break the shock cord inside the tent pole, then you can always fix it yourself. This repair, however, might be better done at home instead of on site.

The steps are quite easy to follow, this is how you repair a shock cord:

  • Lay the pole out straight, and try to keep in mind the order that the poles are already in. You can label the poles to avoid confusion in future.
  • Cut off the old loose cord and pull it out of the poles. While you do this remember to keep the poles in order.
  • Many tent poles that you encounter could have a small metal piece to tie the cord to. Try not to lose these pieces, they will be useful. After taking out the cord lay it out straight on a flat surface.
  • Take the new cord and place it next to the old one to compare the measurement. Cut a cord with the same length as the old one.
  • However, if the old cord is not as elastic as the new one, then you can cut the new length about 8 inches shorter.. 
  • Make a knot on one side of the shock cord and push it through all the poles except the very last one.
  • Now stretch the cord out to its full length and hold it in place. Tie a temporary knot in between the second last and last pole.
  • Run the cord through the final pole and tie a knot at the end to secure it and prevent it going back outside.
  • Check to see if the shock cord is tight and holding all the poles together or not. If the cord appears to lose then untie the temporary knot and cut about an inch off the end to see if it holds the poles in place better. Repeat the cutting until the poles are held in place properly. Make sure you do not cut off too much cord.
  • Fold the pole sections to ensure they will hold up the tent again when used.

Sealing Leaks in Your Tent

Type Of Repair Tape
How to Seal Leaks in Tent

You may have come across tents with their seams sealed with tape or glue. If you do not find tents with this feature or have ripped your tent, then liquid seam sealers work best. The seams are the most delicate part of the tent. You should regularly check the seams to make sure everything is in place. Also, check to see that water is not dripping inside.

  • Put up or hang your tent in a well lit and dry area to better inspect all the seams.
  • The seams or seam tape that appear loose can be removed for repair. Do not remove or tamper with already intact seams.
  • Use the liquid seam sealer to keep the loose seams intact and waterproof. Put seam sealer on the outer side of the tent material.
  • Try applying the sealer to the adjacent seams, in case that they too begin to loosen or break in future. This ensures that all the seams are held together.
  • Seam sealer can also be used to repair small holes in the tent material or the rain fly.

Now that you know how to repair a tent all by yourself, it is time to go out into the wilderness and begin exploring. You can conquer any camping misfortune that may come your way. Whatever happens in the end, you will be able to overcome it, repair it and renew!

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