Tips & Tricks When Using Your Tent


Tips & Tricks When Using Your TentNights after nights, years after years, we – as bicycle touring enthusiasts – discover little tricks that make life easier and/or more comfortable. In this article I am offering some that I discovered myself and others shared within the network of bicycle travellers. If you have any useful tips that you would like to share, feel free to leave comments in the review section at the bottom of the page.

Tips When Using Your Tent

  • Maximize the performance of the tent: Make sure that your tent is well pegged so the fly is spread out tightly and doesn’t flap around. By using all stake-out loops you will optimize wind and rain protection and increase the ventilation of your tent. Don’t over tighten the lines, as it will stretch and weaken the seams and fabric over time.
  • Minimize condensation: keep the upper tent vents open, and the lower vents (the space between the fly and the ground) clear of sleeping bags, pads and other bulky items. At the feet inside of tunnel tents, make sure you leave some “air route” or passage where air can circulate as it is usually the place where people store their gear and bags.
  • When you can’t stake your tent: even when you have a free standing tent it is better to try to tighten the fly for better ventilation, and for optimum protection against the rain. An unpegged tent tends to create a floppy fly, which may touch the wall of the inner tent causing leaks if it rains. So, the trick is to tighten the line to a heavy rock, a log, the base of a tree, your loaded bike, or any fixed structure. If none of these are available you can use a plastic bag that you fill with anything heavy that you can find (dirt, sand, gravel etc.)
  • Avoid Broken poles: The most common way a pole breaks is when one pole section is not completely inserted into the adjoining one. Once the pole is bent and put in tension, the female section of the pole can crack. There are several factors that might cause this: The tent is being setup in a rush because it’s raining; the poles are wet, so they get slippery and the pole might slightly slide out of the next section; the shock cord is old and loses some of its elasticity.
  • Be gentle with the shock cord: If the shock cord breaks, don’t worry: this is not the end of your tent! You can just tighten the two ends together, and make the knot really tight so it will fit freely inside of the pole again. When you feel that the shock cord doesn’t have the punch it used to have, and that it fails to keep the pole tightly together, just detach one end and cut out one inch at a time from the shock cord until you have the proper tension or, you can simply replace it with the one included in your repair kit.
  • How to fix a cracked pole: Your tent repair kit provides a pole repair sleeve that can be used to fix a pole by sliding it over a broken section.. The repair kit usually has varying sleeve diameters. I would recommend to use the smallest diameter possible, making sure it also fits over the joint section of the pole, which is usually wider. The following video demonstrates how to properly do it. Although I would not let the sleeve going over the non broken pole, instead I would line up one end of the sleeve with the edge of the broken section. That way you can still break down your pole for storage just like it was before. instead of letting the repair tube go over the next pole section.
  • Repairing a tear: when you use a patch kit, make sure the fabric is clean and dry. For the best result I always apply a patch on both sides of the fabric, this way the repair will last much longer. A quick way to fix a tear is to use duct tape on both side of the fabric. This should be a temporarily fix, and should be removed as soon as possible as the adhesive will eventually eat away the fabric. When you cut your patch make sure to round the corners, otherwise they may peel off prematurely.. For a good and permanent repair: once you arrive home I recommend using either rubber or PVC patches on each side of the tear and gluing them with a generous amount of waterproof urethane formula glue, like Seam Grip from McNett (this product makes miracles happen. Lay it out so the patches and fabric sandwich nice and flat between two heavy books, and leave all of it under a heavy load for at least twelve hours. (I use the foot of my bed so the pressure can be specifically applied to where the patches are).
  • Prevent people (or cows) from tripping over you: a friend of mine had a cow that fell on him while he was in his tent sleeping. He ended up with a broken collar bone (not to mention a damaged tent), because the cow tripped over the cord used to guy out the tent. This is unusual. However, having someone (or even yourself) trip on your cord, especially in a campground, is not that uncommon. A good way to prevent this is to attach a white plastic bag to the cord so people can see it on their way to the bathroom in the middle of the night.
  • Take good care of your zipper: Once the zipper is no longer working neither is your tent. When you guy out your tent always do it with the all the zippers completely closed. When you close your door use two hands, one to zip it, the other one to guide the material to minimize the tension.

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About Stephane Marchiori

Owner of
Bike touring since 2003, including:
a 5-Year Bicycle Journey Around The World!

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