Tent pitching tips for keeping gear healthy

12:40 p.m. on June 30, 2017 (EDT)
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1 forum posts

Hi there,

I recently purchased a (for me) reasonably decent tent (North Face Westwind) and I'd like to keep it doing well. The tent was missing it's instructions and although I got it up ok I could use some advice.

Aside from the usual maintenance tips do any of you have pointers concerning pitching in order tot keep stress to a minimum?

For instance the rain-fly attaches to the poles by means of a velcro loop. Mating the two surface allows for some play. It's also possible to tighten this up by overlapping it sideways but as I was doing that, I figured that might pull one of the seam sides too hard under heavy wind.

Surely there must be some do's an don'ts here. (and maybe some instructions for my tent if someone could find them)


1:29 p.m. on June 30, 2017 (EDT)
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671 forum posts

Pitch on level ground...better sleep...minimizes tension on poles and fabric

Pitch on soft duff (leaves/pine needles/grass)...better sleep...better drainage...better insulation...prevents punctures...superior to foot-prints...takes only a minute or two to scoot together with boot.

Zip the doors/vents/etc closed...prevents tears, punctures, and zipper damage.

Minimize exposure to sun...pitch near tree lines or in trees if stormy and you can find flat ground (but look for dead limbs above).

Keep it dry...have a snack and dry things out if the sun pops out while in the field...rig a line to hang tent in garage/car port/spare room.

Take care and watch for snags when pulling tent from stuff-sack...easy to punch/pinch/tear holes in inner-tent particularly.


4:13 p.m. on June 30, 2017 (EDT)
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2,768 forum posts

Unless you are putting your back into pulling things taut, your tent will not be affected by a tight pitch.  High winds can damage a tent, regardless how it is pitched.  The good news is few people ever experience such wind.  Many mistaken a 30 mph wind for a 60 mph wind - 30mph will make flags extend and flap vigorously; while 60mph winds make it difficult to maintain balance while standing.  Most tents will do fine in 40 mph winds.  You will have obvious warning of possible damage as most tents distort wildly well below their failure point.  Collapse your tent if encountering high winds before winds get a chance to do damage.

The most common problem is sun aging.  UV rays will degrade most tent fabrics; therefore I usually set a tent only when weather threatens.  Just fine by me as I prefer to cowboy camp, sleeping under the starts.  But if prefer a tent, consider setting it up at dusk, and striking camp in the morning, minimizing exposure to the sun.

Tent odor is the second most common problem, caused by improper storage.  Do not store tents bunched up in the stuff sack or other container.  If the fabric is not allowed to breathe while in storage it may mildew or take on other funky smells.


2:17 p.m. on July 5, 2017 (EDT)
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1,978 forum posts

whomeworry said:

You will have obvious warning of possible damage as most tents distort wildly well below their failure point.  

 That is so true and at times astounding. Last February I had pitched a Big Agnes Copper Spur 3 (my "wife-tent" usually) in a windy gap. Yeah I knew it was windy and exposed but the view was so nice I decided to try it anyway. I fell asleep about 9PM and was awoken at midnight with something pressing hard on my face and head. There was an initial moment of panic until i realized that it was the tent pole slamming into my face. The wind had become so strong that the windward poles bent almost to the ground. I pushed them back up and tried to ignore it but they kept slamming onto me with each gust. I was super tired but had to deal with it after a corner finally lifted a stake out of the ground: time to go before something worse happens to my expensive tent.  

It was a pretty comical scene as I took down the inner tent from the inside to keep the fly from blowing away. At one point I was like a giant ugly starfish all stretched out on top of the mess to keep from losing it. And of course I moved locations no more than 50 feet to another side of the mountain and it was calm as could be. 

But anyway, who could have believed that the tent poles would bend that far down and not break? The interior height of that tent is 43 inches!

July 23, 2017
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