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3 Tips for Protecting Your Tent During Long-Term Use

3 min read 0 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 and during harsh weather.

Below are key considerations for successfully leaving up any canvas tent for more than a couple 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 (whether that's large tree limbs or tall grass), 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.  

tent site prep

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. 

maintaining a canvas tent
  • Don't leave your tent set-up and unattended for multiple days/weeks in a row. Any problem that problem that happens will only get worse each day that passes.
  • Ensure that guy line ropes are extended properly.
  • 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.
  • Cut back all foliage - at least 2-3 feet from the canvas of your tent. Avoid allowing damp grass or leaves from having prolonged contact with the canvas.
  • 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 mildew, tree sap, dirt, leaves or bird dropping with Iosso Mold & Stain Remover (and apply 303 Fabric Guard afterwards).
  • Regularly tighten guy lines and re-drive in the pegs as needed.
  • Take your 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 just couple of foes that you will want to plan on keeping at bay. Raccoons, squirrels, mice and bears may be envious of your cozy shelter, but generally will stay away. However, they will become curious and attempt to claw their way in if you keep food, beverages, or other appetizing scents inside of your tent.

snow on a canvas bell 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, break or pierce through the ceiling. 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 with the center pole support from failing on any bell tent, from snow, extreme wind, rain and hail, you could create a custom 4” center pole out of hardwood to give added strength and greater piece of mind for long-term set-up. Learn more tips by reading our snow camping article.

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.

Hopefully this list will help whatever canvas tent you purchase to last for many, many years!

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.

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