Great tents. From left to right. The Hilleberg Allak is my all season bomb shelter. The Arrowhead from The North Face is still one of the strongest, most efficient two man tents I have tested. The ultra lightweight, single wall, solo model from Black Diamond is called the One Shot and the one I use most often.
Regular readers know that I like to sleep out in the open but there are times when a shelter is either a good idea or an absolute requirement for the situation. In that case a good tent is worth its weight in gold but remember that they need regular attention and definitive care.
Well, it happens all the time. People discover that their tents are damaged after it is too late. Usually after a long day when they are dead tired, cold and trying to set it up in the dark with a stiff wind blowing and rain beginning to fall. Don’t be one of those people. Do your periodic maintenance like a good obsessive compulsive anal retentive hardcore outdoorsman should and avoid those embarrassing and potentially dangerous incidents.
And don’t half ass it either. Don’t just take it out of the stuff sack and give it a quick once over. Do a full dress rehearsal at home where you are safe, comfortable, and have the time to address issues correctly. Set your tents up in the backyard then check the zippers, seams, poles, fabric, guy lines, netting, and stakes. If you find a problem, simply run down to REI and get what you need to make the proper repairs or replace what you can’t fix.
I like to do this chore when a good storm is brewing so I can check the waterproofness under real world conditions. There is nothing like falling asleep to the pitter patter of rain drops on a tent fly. And sometimes my wife comes out to check on me after the kids go to sleep, you know, just to make sure I am alright.
UPDATE – We got just about 2 and a half inches of rain over two days here with wind gusts as high as 40 miles per hour. After the third day all three tents were still standing and suffered no damage but not all were leak free. The Hilleberg was tight as a drum with nary a drop inside (no surprise there). The old TNF work horse had two puddles inside about the size of an index card so I have to do a little fix up on that one or maybe retire it and find a replacement. The Black diamond was completely dry inside save for one small spot the size of a quarter directly under the peak which I will bird dog down. Not bad considering the storm they endured but that is precisely why I do this sort of thing. Now I will move them into the garage, let them dry out properly, reseal slash retreat everything per manufacturers specs then repeat the trial. Practice, review, reassess, revise, run it again.
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