Upon getting back from a camping trip, it can be very tempting to just put your dirty tent back in its bag and leave it alone until your next trip. However, improper storage can significantly reduce the lifespan of your tent, and even cause mold and mildew growth in some cases.
Fortunately, it’s very easy to pack up and store a tent the right way if you know what you’re doing. In the article below, our expert team will share with you all the best tent storage tips to make sure it serves you well for years to come.
Clean Your Tent Properly
Before you even think of putting your tent away for long-term storage, you need to make sure it’s been cleaned of all the dirt from your last camping trip. While we have a longer article written that will tell you exactly how to clean a tent, here is the short version.
Grab a bucket of warm water, a sponge, and some dish soap
If the tent isn’t too dirty, then you can spot clean dirty spots with the wet sponge until they disappear
If you have a very dirty tent, then soak it in the water for 10-15 minutes before cleaning
Rinse off the soap with a hose once you’re finished
As you can see, the whole process is pretty simple, but it is important. Putting your tent away while it’s still dirty will shorten its lifespan and may even cause mold to grow.
Dry The Tent Well
While not as bad as a dirty tent, storing a wet tent can also damage it over the long term, so you’ll need to dry it well after cleaning.
The easiest way to do this is to let your tent air dry by hanging it over something like a door, chair, or clothesline. If you’re outside and don’t have access to these things, another option is to lay it out flat on dry ground.
Assuming that you’re drying the tent in a cool, dry place, then this whole process should take a few hours. You’re free to leave it out for longer than that if you want, however. There’s no reason to rush.
Pack The Tent Loosely
Once the tent is clean and completely dry, you can finally pack it up for storage. A common mistake people make is to put the tent right back in the stuff sack it came in. While this isn’t always a terrible idea, it can cause damage to the tent fabric if the tent is packed too tightly.
A better way to pack up the tent is to loosely roll up or fold it with the windows unzipped. Then, you can put it inside an old pillowcase or another breathable bag. Anything that will fit your tent inside comfortably.
Bonus Tip – Throw in Silica Gel Packages
As an added tip to make sure no moisture makes its way into your tent over time, you can put a silica gel package or two into your tent bag. These will suck up any water that might accumulate over time, keeping your tent from developing mold.
If you’re storing your tent in a space that you’re not 100% sure will remain dry, like an attic or basement, then we highly recommend you do this.
Pack Tent Poles Separately
If you have enough space, you should store your tent poles separately from the body. Poles and stakes are sharp and can damage the fabric somewhat easily if they’re sitting in a bag right next to each other.
Storing them separately will also give both more room to breathe, which will help extend their lifespan.
Leave Poles Partially Assembled
The best way to store your poles is by leaving them partially assembled. This is because they’re often held together by a shock cord that can be left in a fully stretched position.
Over time, this will lead to the cord losing its natural tension or even snapping entirely, which means you’ll need to replace or fix your tent poles sooner.
At the very least, you’ll want to fold up your poles down the middle to evenly distribute tension across the cord.
Choose The Right Space For Tent Storage
You can do everything right when preparing to store your tent and other camping gear, but if you store it in the wrong spot then it can still get gross and moldy anyways.
As a general guideline, you want a place that’s cool, dry, and well-organized. We give some more specific tips below.
Good Places to Store
The best way to store a tent is to have a dedicated closet, bins, or a wall for storing camping gear. This way, you can keep everything together, which is very convenient when you’re getting ready to go on your next trip. Just make sure that your chosen spot allows for some airflow.
Another great option to store camping gear is in your garage. Usually, they will have good ventilation due to multiple windows and will stay pretty dry, making it almost a perfect place for your tent.
Spots to Avoid
In terms of places to avoid storing your camping equipment, the basement, attic, or shed are definitely on the list.
While many people will put their tent in one of those spots as it is quick and convenient, there is almost no airflow and they can get very humid. This can cause your tent to easily develop mildew or mold, which is the last thing you’ll want.
Depending on how nice your basement or attic is, you might also have to deal with mice chewing holes in your tent.
Now that you’ve read this guide, you should know everything you need to about storing a tent correctly. While it might take a bit of extra planning to find a good storage space initially, we promise that it will be well worth it for you in the long run.
If you found this article helpful or have other ideas on how to store a tent that worked for you, please let us know in the comments. Happy camping!
You don’t need to do anything too special for winter tent storage. Just make sure you follow the steps described above and be mindful that you store your tent in a place that will provide plenty of shelter from the cold winter elements.
Carl is a content writer for The Camping Buddy, specializing in informational camping articles and product reviews. Carl has been a freelance writer for outdoor news sites while spending his time backpacking across the world. His favorite camping spot is Malaekahana Beach in Hawaii.