Seasonal tent storage...

10:55 a.m. on April 3, 2012 (EDT)
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As the seasons change so does the gear we use. The cold weather gear gets put up for the season only to be replaced with gear more suitable for the warmer seasons.

So this brings me to a question.

For those out there that hike year round and have multiple shelters how do ya store your tents until next season?

Sad but true I have heard all too many times of mildew issues when one goes to to pull out their gear for next season. Then there is the infamous "sticky fly syndrome" that can plague us among other things.

Funny(not really when you are on the receiving end) how deterioration can happen at a faster rate in storage than it can while the item is in use.

So Trailspace, how do you make sure your gear will be in pristine condition for next season and not a total messy, stinky, sticky train wreck when ya pull it out of storage?

Me personally?

I store my tents not rolled but very loosely placed in large Rubbermaid type tubs with a bed sheet type material(cut to fit) over the top of them so the tent material can still breathe.

Oh and of course properly cleaned and air dried beforehand.

A little preventive maintenance can go a long way in maximizing the lifespan of your gear(at the same time saving you major $$$)and I have heard all to many times of disasters that could have been avoided with a bit of precautionary thought.

2:25 p.m. on April 3, 2012 (EDT)
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I pretty much use the same tent year round since often the worst wind storms I see accompany July thunderstorms.  I do have long term storage for several tents---tents that are worn out or duplicates or not needed.  The rubbermaid idea is a good one if I had the space, otherwise I thoroughly dry each tent and fly and roll up and replace into its stuff sack.

With time and heat I'm sure the urethane coatings will stick together and maybe even the silnylon too.  I don't think this sticking has much to do with moisture---it's probably the glue they use, etc.

2:39 p.m. on April 3, 2012 (EDT)
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I am kinda lucky to have a dark, dungy, musty, mildewey basement(j/k, I keep the mancave pretty clean)for the tubs and not a ton of tents.

I think the sticky fly thing may have to do with humidity for the most part although I could be wrong.

Maybe a mesh laundry bags hung in a closet(like storing sleeping bags) may work too? Don't really see why it wouldn't for those limited on space.

3:49 p.m. on April 3, 2012 (EDT)
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The real challenge is storing Thermarest and other inflatables.  Best done unrolled and inflated with the valve open.  No cats or dogs need apply.  So, where to put them?  I keep most of mine rolled up with the valve open inside a closet.  The Exped downmats are kept unrolled.

5:12 p.m. on April 3, 2012 (EDT)
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Tipi Walter said:

The real challenge is storing Thermarest and other inflatables.  Best done unrolled and inflated with the valve open.  No cats or dogs need apply.  So, where to put them?  I keep most of mine rolled up with the valve open inside a closet.  The Exped downmats are kept unrolled.

I keep all my inflatable pads unrolled with the valve open under my king size bed.  As my pads take up all the space from the floor to the bottom of the bed there is no room for my cat to get on any of the pads.

5:13 p.m. on April 3, 2012 (EDT)
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I have a lot of tents and find that I must use different methods for different tents. Some times it will depend on if the tent came with a large storage bag or if it came with a more of a stuff bag for field use. I personally prefer that tents came with a large storage bag like the Garuda/Dana Design Garuda(s) did as opposed to the stuff bags that were provided with my TNF(s) and Marmot(s). For me much depends upon if the tent is a older tent or a newer tent. For the most part the newer tents are just fine and do not off gas to near the extent as the older ones do. The manufactures of the newer materials seem to have cured the urethane problems that once afflicted some of the older brands of tents. The newer tents do not seem to be affected near as much by humidity either. There are a number of different molds that can attack a tent and then there is the breakdown of the older urethane materials that were used to waterproof tents. Personally I try to store my tents in large containers that I can loosely fold/roll them up in and I never stuff a tent when storing it. If one must stack gear upon other gear then I store them in hard sided containers. I  myself don’t use Rubbermaid containers as I have a lot of tents and need to stack them. As the Rubbermaid containers do not breath they generally do not work for me. If your like Rick and don’t need to stack anything on it I think it’s a great idea as he covers his with a sheet to breath. Any tents that I even think might have a problem, off gassing or just plain smelling funny, gets stored in a mesh laundry bag or a mesh sided athletic bag when I can find them cheap. With tents that I perceive to not have any special storage needs I have taken to use large luggage that I can get at my local Goodwill that I get for between $4.99-$10.99. That way I can still stack them up but leave the zippers open to air out. Smaller bivies get stored in tote bags or smaller older backpacks. Remember that each tents is different and that most will not need to be stored in a special manor, though each tent is a different case. If you unpack your tent and have any kind of a smell then it needs to be aired out and maybe left out for a while, and then assessed to figure out what is going on. A smell of any kind means something is going on, could be mold/mildew or off gassing. One wants to take greater care if one lives in a place where there is a great amount of temperature variation as when you gear gets warm and then cold, it will, just like anything else build up moisture inside that will be unable to escape. As I live in an older mobile home and heat with wood I have this problem and must watch my gear carefully. Do not store gear directly against a outside wall of your house nor the outside wall of a basement. If you must store your gear against the outside wall then leave an air space between the wall and the gear. A small fan in this air space will help tremendously. It also helps to store your gear on shelving so as to space it out and not have one solid lump of gear.  In a basement do not store your gear on the floor if there is not a drainage system of some sort, even then store it up high if possible.  Basements are notoriously humid by nature and your gear will benefit from running a dehumidifier and or fan down there. All it takes is a piece of paper to cover a drain and the water will rise if you have a flood or a broken pipe. If you store your gear on a Basement floor it is a good idea to use a spacer such as a pallet to keep the gear up of off the floor.  If you have a large amount of gear and live in in a humid area it is not a bad idea to have a dehumidifier available to use in the spring/fall/winter months where your gear is stored. It’s also a good idea to put a small fan(s) in the room to circulate air if you are not using a dehumidifier. Small fans use just a very, very small amount of power and you will not notice the difference on your bill.

 

Things that I have found that can go wrong when storing tents (and other gear):

Degradation of urethane materials due to off gassing and or humidity. I have never had a tent get any worse when stored in a open manor, only when stored in a confined space in regards to urethane degredation.

Mold/mildew from storing a wet tent.

Mold/mildew from temperature changes causing the internal build up of moisture.

Dirt left on tents and then attracting moisture causing mildew.

Powdery mildew on the floors on some of the older Marmot tents from the late 70’-early 90’s. This seem to be a product specific problem as I have never seen it on other tents. It only affects the floors/cones/vent covers (same material) used on the older Marmots. It happens on some tents and not others even if the tents is taken care of and stored correctly. I have not figured this out as of yet.

Some of the older tent brands have a much larger percentage of developing sticky tent syndrome than others. They are in my experience Moss, TNF, Garuda-Dana Design/Garuda, the pole sleeves of Early Winters tents. There are other individual tents that this can happen to but these brands that I've listed seem to be highly susceptible to this problem. There are a number other brands that I do not have much experiance with so that I would not be aware of if they have urethane degradation problems. If there are please chime in.

All of the things that I have discussed hear (and will be discussed in this thread) are not just tent specific but do in fact relate to all camping/hiking/outdoor gear.

 

 

6:52 p.m. on April 3, 2012 (EDT)
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I rotate my gear as I have very little storage space. I have a net hanging in my closet that can hold two small tents. Every two weeks or so I rotate tents being stored. I think in most cases that a tent can be stored tight for a month but then it needs air. Sleeping bags are always hung and only rolled when its time to pack up and go. I often wonder how tents at the store stay good after being boxed for a season or two.

7:56 p.m. on April 3, 2012 (EDT)
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Rick-Pittsburgh said:

..I think the sticky fly thing may have to do with humidity for the most part although I could be wrong...

Me thinks the sticky fly thing is materials related.  I live in So Cal, and store my gear on a very dry, well vented mezzanine above my garage.  We have low humidity.  Normally I sleep out in the open, so rarely errect my tents.  A trip last year required me to put up my tent and fly, due to a storm.  I had owned the tent three years prior to this first use.  The fly was sticky and smelly its first time out, regardles it was stored in low humidity and had no dirt.  Thus the materials used are suspect.

I am fascinated by the contrasting experiences Brian and I have experienced.  He says old tents were more prone to stickiness, while I find the old tents less prone to this problem.  I used to be able to dry my tents, then repack them in their cramped stuff bags with no problems.  Nowadays, I am compelled to storing the tents loosely folded in plastic totes, augmented with vent holes drilled into the sides of the totes.  I am seriously considering moving to full on wooden boxes or old steamer chests for this purpose, however, as I am less than elated with the performance of the plastic totes in this application.

Ed

8:32 p.m. on April 3, 2012 (EDT)
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I store all my tarps, bivies, hammock, & tents loosely in mesh laundry bags ($1.00 at Dollar Tree) inside my house. It is my understanding that these fabrics need to off-gas, to what degree I do not know. Kinda like me on chili night.

I make sure everything is completely dry before storage these days.

Other than that, I do nothing special and I have not had any sticky problems with my newer gear other than fresh seam sealer, but that was my fault for not waiting long enough to stuff the fly away.

I don't currently have any gear older than 1994 so I can't comment on the older VS newer materials.

I did ruin my old Eureka Timberline by packing it damp in it's stuff sack and letting it mildew and get sticky, my stupidity from years past and I try to be much more careful these days, maybe that is the difference (old VS new) for me.

I also let a junk canvas hammock mildew, it was a military jungle hammock bought from a surplus store with an uncoated ripstop rain fly that leaked, Oh joy (!) and a waste of 45.00 but now I know better and have a real hammock that gets me off the soggy ground here in the coastal plain and I try to take real good care of it.

Mike G.

9:21 p.m. on April 3, 2012 (EDT)
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whomeworry said:

Rick-Pittsburgh said:

..I think the sticky fly thing may have to do with humidity for the most part although I could be wrong...

Me thinks the sticky fly thing is materials related.  I live in So Cal, and store my gear on a very dry, well vented mezzanine above my garage.  We have low humidity.  Normally I sleep out in the open, so rarely errect my tents.  A trip last year required me to put up my tent and fly, due to a storm.  I had owned the tent three years prior to this first use.  The fly was sticky and smelly its first time out, regardles it was stored in low humidity and had no dirt.  Thus the materials used are suspect.

I am fascinated by the contrasting experiences Brian and I have experienced.  He says old tents were more prone to stickiness, while I find the old tents less prone to this problem.  I used to be able to dry my tents, then repack them in their cramped stuff bags with no problems.  Nowadays, I am compelled to storing the tents loosely folded in plastic totes, augmented with vent holes drilled into the sides of the totes.  I am seriously considering moving to full on wooden boxes or old steamer chests for this purpose, however, as I am less than elated with the performance of the plastic totes in this application.

Ed

 

Ed said: "I am fascinated by the contrasting experiences Brian and I have experienced. He says old tents were more prone to stickiness, while I find the old tents less prone to this problem."

I'm going partially on personal experience and partially on the experiences of others.  The biggest offender that I've read about seems to be Moss tents. From what I've read there are many Moss tents out there that have succumbed to sticky tent syndrome.  I have a number of Moss tents that are unaffected. As I believe this to be a problem of off gassing I do not expect them to have any problems as they are many years old now. Two of my Dana Design/Garuda's have this problem.  My Dana Design/Garuda Trikaya has/had this problem as I described in earlier threads and I’m having to redo the waterproofing.  My Dana Design/Garuda Tambu is a bit sticky but has not degraded beyond the point of use or needing to be repaired.  I believe the Tambu will be fine if stored properly.  Interestingly each of these tents were made in 95 and 96 so I believe they may have used the same batch of material.  None of my other Dana Design/Garuda's have this problem.  I have two Early Winter's tents that only have the problem on the inside of the tent sleeves and are a real pain to set up because of this.  Both tents are in perfect condition and only have this problem on the insides of the sleeves.  My other two early winter's tents do not have this problem.  I have a Mountain Hardwear Kiva that I suspect could have a problem in the future if stored improperly as it has all the smells that comes along with the sticky tent problem and the finish is just a bit tacky just like the Tambu.  The TNF ECWT (Extreme Cold Winter Tent) is reported to have had some problems with the black coating becoming sticky on the insides of both the white (artic) fly as well as the cameo fly.  Mine does not have this problem. When Eureka took over the contract for the military the fly’s did not have any problems that I have read about.  Mine as well does not. All in all most of my tents are older tents as I have to wait for tents to get some use as well as reading many review’s before I will even consider buying them which means I don’t have much experience with tents made in the last 5 years, with a few exceptions.

I would agree with your assertion that the problem is materials related.  For the most part anyway.

9:28 p.m. on April 3, 2012 (EDT)
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Hmmm. Interesting stuff. I remember quite a few people talking about sticky icky MSR fly issues over the years.

Maybe a bad batch?

My thought was humidity=moisture, moisture + storage(dependent upon how)= a bad experience.

Guess I have to go back to the drawing board on the sticky fly subject.

9:53 p.m. on April 3, 2012 (EDT)
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Rick-Pittsburgh said:

Hmmm. Interesting stuff. I remember quite a few people talking about sticky icky MSR fly issues over the years.

Maybe a bad batch?

My thought was humidity=moisture, moisture + storage(dependent upon how)= a bad experience.

Guess I have to go back to the drawing board on the sticky fly subject.

Some people believe that it is caused by being stored in confined areas where moisture cannot escape and some believe that it's caused by off gassing from materials that are stored in confined areas where the off gassing cannot escape. I believe that each may play a role with different materials. I do know that I have never had it happen to a tent nor have I heard it happening to a tent that has not been stored in a confined area where the tent has been stored in an open fashion and not in it‘s storage bag. I have a couple of backpacks that also have this problem. They are all sticky on the inside. I have not tested them to see if it has affected there water proofness. I have no idea what there history was so I really can’t say much about them other than they are sticky and have a similar funky smell like the tents. They are both made by Camp Trails. I believe they were made in the mid to late 80's. A third Camp Trails pack that I have which is just like the first two does not have this problem.

4:43 a.m. on April 4, 2012 (EDT)
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Sticky urethane coatings is still a problem: Vaude tent and pole/peg bags was the last thing I saw with that unusual effect. No idea what causes it, will defer to Apeman, but there are so many chemicals floating around in the average household it could be anything almost.

Apeman, that is a monster paragraph up there, so I haven't perused it, but did you mention zippers and what to use after cleaning the teeth? Refined bees wax, the McNett stuff? I have never found anything to contradict the paraffin-wax candle along the zipper teeth idea but I draw the line at taking a regular (probably scented with ylang-ylang or something) candle and using it on an expensive silicone and urethane coated flysheet. Therefore, I picked up some McNett stuff which looks remarkably like a regular candle. And then I found some refined beeswax sticks in our craft cupboard.

By the way, mould, in the form of black specks (ink spots), attacks our rucksacks in the damp garage. Luckily, we have a million rucksacks so we've never bothered about it. I wouldn't leave a tent in a garage, or anywhere that mice can get to it (they also chew through down sleeping bags and jackets, the little ±*%&!).

11:18 a.m. on April 4, 2012 (EDT)
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like a sleeping bag, loose.

1:15 p.m. on April 4, 2012 (EDT)
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I store mine loose in a container like Rick with no lid on it..Then in a well vented room..

9:26 p.m. on April 4, 2012 (EDT)
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My theory on the sticky fly coatings has nothing to do with out gassing.  I don't think this is the issue because this theory requires a relatively dry surface (which is the source of this gas) to become soft again as the gas theoretically saturates the membrane.  But it was already in the membrane.  Substances like paint, glue and room temperature vulcanizing rubber cure to a progressively harder finish as they out gas.  Restricted air circulation may retard the curing process but it won't reverse any curing that already occurred. 

Instead I have two alternative theories.  One is the sticky coating are the result of microbes degrading the coating.  Do note in every instance the sticky fly has an off color odor, in addition to the chemical odor that is often present.  The other theory is the coating is a flawed compound that degrades as the constituent chemicals interact with each other and perhaps interact with the air contacting them.

Lastly, to further complicate the analysis: I have noticed a suspect item packed as to restrict air circulation will get sticky, while the same item with plenty of air circulation may not get sticky, but eventually both storage methods lead to the item sloughing off the coating, apparently damaged by whatever process is degrading the coating.  Storing well ventilated does slow onset of the eventual end result – screwed up coatings – but it do not appear to prevent it.  Case in point: everyone I know who had one of those suspect MSR flies ended up returning them for warranty replacement, regardless how they were stored.

Perhaps an explanation from one of the OEMs will settle this, but in the meantime it looks like this will remain a good topic to muse over fireside, with one's favorite friends and spirits.

Ed

10:47 p.m. on April 4, 2012 (EDT)
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I'm with you on this Ed. These tents are made, factory boxed, sent to the U.S., shipped by truck, put in storage, then put on shelfs. Its May 2011. In November the store discounts them to get rid of their inventory. Come May 2012 there is still a few to be had. My friends, thats over a year boxed up tight. Gas I think not. 

I would have to say that it is something reacting to the coatings in the field. Maybe  something in the rain water reacting to the coating. I know that my older tents didn't have this problem. I just rolled them up and stored them all winter. They were ready to go come spring.

12:06 a.m. on April 5, 2012 (EDT)
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mikemorrow said:

..I would have to say that it is something reacting to the coatings in the field. Maybe  something in the rain water reacting to the coating. I know that my older tents didn't have this problem. I just rolled them up and stored them all winter. They were ready to go come spring.

Naw, it isn't field related.  I had an MSR fly that was sticky the first time I used it.  Granted I owned it for three years before rain required I deploy it, but until that event it remained unopened in its stuff sack.  It was sticky and had that funky smell when I un-stuffed it.  I think microbes are behind this.  Maybe it’s a Chinese microbe conspiracy, stowing away on the fly while still in the factory.

Ed 

10:42 a.m. on April 5, 2012 (EDT)
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Tipi Walter said:

The real challenge is storing Thermarest and other inflatables.  Best done unrolled and inflated with the valve open.  No cats or dogs need apply.  So, where to put them?  I keep most of mine rolled up with the valve open inside a closet.  The Exped downmats are kept unrolled.

I keep my Thermarests stored rolled in its stuff sack (valve closed).  I know everyone, and the manufacturer, says to store it like you mentioned, but I've never done that.  My current one is well over 10 years old now and shows no sign of wear.

11:56 a.m. on April 5, 2012 (EDT)
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Alps says that when you first receive your pad to open it and let it inflate and that it could take longer than usual. After the first inflate you can store it deflated/compressed if you want to.

7:12 a.m. on April 6, 2012 (EDT)
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I don't use tents (just bivys).

However; with bivys, and almost ALL my gear ... I try to unpack / unroll from storage and hang out on a clothesline on a breezy, no / low-pollen day.  Boots -- I air-out similarly, then return to storage with shoe-trees in them.

I do this semi-monthly or quarterly.   Not a big-deal.   With the investments we have in our gear, it is well-worth the effort.

Some of my gear is pretty old.   1960s / 1970s vintage.

Still in fine condition.

A word regarding out-gassing:   I have had (and mostly still do) German vehicles.   The plastics in these vehicles is notorious for out-gassing.   Over time (even a couple weeks), the inside surfaces of the windows develop an oily film, especially during days with abundant sunlight, and the windows rolled up.

I stay away from plastic containers (esp those made in China).

Look on the bottom of your plastic containers.   There will be a small symbol.   A number; often within a triangle, with little arrows.   "For recycle".   From what I have learned, the numbers 1, 3, 5 are particularly egregious for the content of noxious compounds (resins, etc.), and the like.   Interesting that things like yogurt, margarine and sour-cream containers, as well as many brands of bottled-water use these.  "Tubs" are not good.   My Nalgene bottle has a "7" within that triangle.   Generally, containers with 'necks' are the best for recycling ....   Your fleece clothing articles are made from these.

Hmmmm ....

                                ~ r2 ~

8:45 a.m. on April 6, 2012 (EDT)
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I can vouch for the plastics off gassing in some the older german vehicles. My family loved Karmann Ghia's. They had a tendency to smell funky first thing in the morning. I still remember that smell to this day. Then there was the "oily" feel to the glass.

Hmmm, I still want one though. Bad. Just haven't found the right one yet.

Anywho, I am finding this convo quite interesting. Thanks for all the feedback everyone.

Keep it coming. :)

11:46 a.m. on April 6, 2012 (EDT)
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Rick-Pittsburgh said:

My family loved Karmann Ghia's. 

Hmmm, I still want one though. Bad. Just haven't found the right one yet.

  Was my first car.   Bought it from my dad.   My first 'vehicle' was a Triumph 650cc Bonneville motor-cycle.   Rode it every day for 2 years.

Back-to-topic --

Out-gassing is a concern.   If at all possible, avoid plastic containers for storing items, long term ... and, especially, where higher temps come into play, such as attics, lofts, etc, ... and, the use of lid that seals tightly.

I admit to using plastic milk-crates for storing hiking boots.   But, they are well ventilated.

                                 ~ r2 ~

            

12:01 p.m. on April 6, 2012 (EDT)
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Rick-Pittsburgh said:

My family loved Karmann Ghia's. 

Hmmm, I still want one though. Bad. Just haven't found the right one yet.

  Was my first car.   Bought it from my dad.   My first 'vehicle' was a Triumph 650cc Bonneville motor-cycle.   Rode it every day for 2 years.

Back-to-topic --

Out-gassing is a concern.   If at all possible, avoid plastic containers for storing items, long term ... and, especially, where higher temps come into play, such as attics, lofts, etc, ... and, the use of lid that seals tightly.

I admit to using plastic milk-crates for storing hiking boots.   But, they are well ventilated.

                                 ~ r2 ~

            

 

That is where the sheet covering the top of the container comes into play.

12:34 p.m. on April 6, 2012 (EDT)
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Egg-Zachary  !!

                               ~ r2 ~

9:40 a.m. on April 9, 2012 (EDT)
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Update

Have just learned that the plastic items (containers, etc) with the number -2- in the little triangle on the bottom, is also to be avoided, if possible.

                                ~ r2 ~

                   health-conscious consumer

1:03 p.m. on April 10, 2012 (EDT)
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in a large mesh bag

2:11 p.m. on April 18, 2012 (EDT)
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MSR now makes a mesh tent storage duffle:

"New for 2012: There's no question that tents last longer when they're stored in a dry, loosely packed state. The MSR ® Tent Storage Duffle creates the perfect storage environment for any tent. A mesh top increases breathability and helps prevent moisture from damaging your tent. The duffle's generous size minimizes stress on your tent's fabrics, seams and zippers, while built-in pockets keep parts, poles and stakes organized."

Price is $24.99


I've bought several different types/brands of mesh duffels; most are not inexpensive.

2:21 p.m. on April 18, 2012 (EDT)
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Nice abman47, thanks for sharing that. 

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