Preparing Your Camper Trailer’s Tent for First Use
‘SEASONING’ or ‘WEATHERING’ YOUR CAMPER TRAILERS TENT:
These are extracts taken from Australian 4WD Action Camping with your 4WD N0 5 and written by Dan Chojnacki.
Buying a new tent to make your camping trips more enjoyable is great fun. Once you get your new tent home, unpack it and go about seasoning it. Now, why on earth would you need to “season” or “weather” a new tent? It’s new and it will get seasoned as you camp in it, right? True, but if you leave it to the weather to do your seasoning for you, you’re likely to get wet.
It is important to set up your tent in an area that it won’t be disturbed for a few days. So the back yard or maybe even the front yard would be a good spot. You’ll need a hose, and you’ll need to check your local water restrictions to be sure that you will be allowed to do this. A bonus to this exercise is you’ll get the opportunity to set up your tent in a nice controlled environment, and get some set-up practice at home, rather than in an unfamiliar camping area at midnight, with a fading torch, and persistent insects using your forehead as a runway!
SET UP YOUR CAMPER TRAILERS TENT
You should set your tent up as if it was in a showroom, picture perfect, almost textbook if you like, and use all the pegs, all the poles and all of the guy ropes that the tent is supplied with. How you set up the tent now, is how the tent’s memory will be formed. If you set it up with a slouch to one side, then chances are; the material will shrink to favour the other side and it will remain this way. So take the time to set it up square. Ever noticed how some campers set up a tent crooked with one peg in, one peg out, up at one end and down at the other? Overall it looks like a dog’s breakfast and when the weather turns nasty, it performs as it looks. Ordinary.
WET THE TENT DOWN THOROUGHLY
After you’ve spent some extra time to make sure the tent is presented in it’s most glorious state, it is a very simple process of wetting the tent down. Make sure all the windows and zippers are closed properly. With a hose, first wet the tent down lightly. Then, focus on all the areas that have been stitched and waterlog the materials the best you can. It should take 3-5 minutes to really drench a camping tent.
LET YOUR TENT COMPLETELY DRY OUT
Leave the tent to completely dry. It’s best to do this process over a few days. Wetting the tent down and letting it completely dry out, and then wetting it down again. Ideally repeating this process at least 3 times. Finally, when it is completely dry, pack it away ready for use. The reason we repeat the process is to give the material and thread the best chance it can possibly have of sealing of its own accord. After three times the effect of the process is somewhat lessened to where the canvas and thread have shrunk and expanded as much as they can. Don’t be alarmed if the tent leaks for the first or second time you season the canvas, this is normal as the thread and canvas expand and contract together. If, after seasoning your tent three times, and the seams still leak you will use to need a seam sealer.
SEAM-SEALING YOUR CAMPER TRAILERS TENT
By using a commercially available ‘seam sealer’, you can effectively force wax into the seams, which in turn helps seal the tiny pinholes. It’s best to follow the instructions provided by the seam sealers as their application differs slightly depending on the brand. PVC used in some sections of the tent like the sewn in the floor, for example, is not affected by water like canvas is. If you find seams are leaking where PVC is sewn together, it is best to go straight for a seam sealer.
WHEN WATERPROOFING DETERIORATES
As canvas ages, it’s waterproofing ability deteriorates. Canvas is treated with a wax coating when it is manufactured, though it eventually wears off. You’ll first notice this as the tent begins to leak for no reason. There are methods to overcome this, though the material will never be as waterproof as it was when it was new. Good quality waterproofing compounds can be applied to canvas to reseal it. Once applied they need to be reapplied every two years, depending on how much you use your tent of course. The more you spend on a seam sealer and a canvas waterproofing compound, the better the result. The more time you take to prepare the canvas and apply the compound, the more favourable the result will be.
PACKING AWAY YOUR CAMPER TRAILERS TENT
1. Never put canvas away wet or store the tent in a dark damp spot (Like on concrete in the back of the shed)
2. Store the tent out of direct sunlight and keep it off the ground.
3. DO NOT LEAVE YOUR CAMPER TENT PACKED AWAY IN A DAMP OR WET STATE AS MOISTURE WILL DESTROY ANY CANVAS, THE TENT MUST BE DRY, CLEAN AND FREE FROM DIRT.
If you are required to pack away your Camper Tent in the above state, place a plastic sheet over your bedding (Queen size mattress up to 15cm in depth, along with your blankets, pillows, sheets & possibly, a couple of kid’s mattresses).
AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, OPEN YOUR CAMPER TENT & ALLOW IT TO DRY.
On future departure dates if rain is forecast, we suggest you place a tarp over your Camper Trailers Tent. During a break in the rain, pack your Camper Tent away to help you minimize the drying time required. Using a tarp, will also help keep bird droppings off your Camper Tent & help keep it clean.