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3 Tips for Protecting Your Tent for Long-Term Use

October 11, 2021 3 min read 4 Comments

Our tents are built tough to withstand almost anything that Mother Nature may toss at them. Leaving up a canvas tent for weeks on end is possible to do, however it does require a mindful approach of the set-up, care, and maintenance - especially in humid environments.

Below are key considerations for successfully leaving up a canvas tent for more than a couple of weeks at a time.

1. Site Preparation

The ideal tent site will have good sun exposure, natural water drainage away from the tent, is free of foliage, located in a natural breezeway and is of course on flat ground.  Each of these features helps to combat the growth of mold, enemy #1 to canvas.  

Building a wood platform helps to raise a tent off of the ground, away from standing water and mud. If a platform isn’t an option, then laying down quarter minus gravel is a great affordable base to create good water drainage. We would also suggest a tent fly. 

Strongly consider a tent fly cover to extend the life of your canvas by providing protection from long-term exposure UV rays, discourage your canvas from long-term dampness, and also help to insulate your tent during hot or cold temperatures.  A fly cover can even be temporarily installed when your bell tent is not in use to give your tent extra life and reduce exposure from Mother Nature. 

2. Regular Maintenance

Rain, birds, trees, leaves wind and the sun will impact the condition of your bell tent after your initial set it up. You will want to monitor and care for your canvas tent regularly to maximize the return on your investment. 

  • Reduce humidity being trapped inside the tent by increasing air circulation or adding heat. Open windows, regularly run a fan or periodically use a heater, dehumidifier or A/C unit to dry out the inside.  Avoid cooking or leaving wet items inside.
  • Retreat the waterproofing of your canvas after every 12-16 weeks of continuous use (especially in humid climates) with 303 Fabric Guard to repel moisture.  It is time if water does not bead and roll off the canvas.
  • Quickly clean off mold, tree sap, dirt, leaves or bird dropping with Iosso Mold & Stain Remover (and apply 303 Fabric Guard afterwards).
  • Regularly tighten guy lines and redrive in the pegs as needed.
  • Take you tent down when it won't be used for several weeks in a row.
  • NEVER pack up your tent wet or damp.
frequency of waterproofing canvas map


3. Anticipate Antagonists

Critters and snow are a couple of foes that you will want to plan on keeping at bay. Racoons, squirrels, mice and bears may be envious of your cozy shelter, but generally will stay away. But they will become curious and attempt to claw their way in if you keep food, beverages, or other appetizing scents inside of your tent.

Bell tents can do well in the snow if you are able to monitor them regularly and keep your tent structurally sound. Just a few inches of snow can add over 2,000 lbs. of snow load to the center pole, which is enough to cause the pole to bend or break. Therefore, we’d recommend periodically cleaning snow from the roof as it accumulates, or heating up the tent to help the snow to melt off. To reduce the concern of snow removal, you could create a custom 4” center pole out of hardwood to give added strength and greater piece of mind. Certainly make sure that your guy lines are tight as well to encourage the snow to slide off the roof.

We have had many successful customers keep our tents up year-round by mindfully monitoring them. Many people take their tents down for a couple of months to help simplify the maintenance process and extend the life of their tents.

Brandy Lamb
Brandy Lamb

Father of two aspiring glampers, husband to one inspirational wife, and Co-Founder of Life inTents. Continuiously striving to help make camping more comfortable.

4 Responses

Life inTents
Life inTents

June 23, 2022

Hello Tess,
To keep you tent in great shape for 20 years will take some work. #1 Make sure that there is good water drainage from under the tent, that flows away. #2 Cover your tent with a fly cover. #3 Make sure that your guy lines are properly secured (and check them regularly). #4 Retreat your canvas 1-2 times per year with a waterproofing product (we suggest HawkTools or Dry Guy. #5. Take your tent down if it won’t be used for many weeks at a time (no need expose your tent to the elements if it is not getting used). #6 clean & oil your tent zippers. #6. Provide extra airflow on the inside of the tent so that moist air is not getting trapped inside. #7. Add any signs of mildew ASAP.
Hopefully this helps :-).

Tess Elliff
Tess Elliff

June 09, 2022

Wish to leave it up in the back yard in North Texas on top of a concrete pad. Any suggestions to make it last my last 20 years?

Life inTents
Life inTents

January 20, 2022

Helllo Tim,

Our tents have been tested for nd meet fire retardant code CPAI-84 for tents. We had understood that NFPA 701 standards historically pertain to indoor fabrics (such as drapery) and therefore have not sought this certification. This is something that we could look into though. Feel free to email or call us!

Tim Codiga
Tim Codiga

January 20, 2022

I am the Building Official in Yamhill County Oregon. There is an outdoor school that has purchased your tent to use as this school. The building code requires it to be tested at NFPA 701 standards for fire resistance. Is this tent tested to these standards?
Thank you
Tim Codiga

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