Tents need TLC too you know? At risk of sounding a little weird, a relationship with a tent can be complicated. It’s your home for those precious summer evenings high on the mountain, and during those moments it becomes a beloved part of your life, though try telling your tent that when you’re fighting with one of its tent poles.
Shelters are also incredibly complex, and expensive, pieces of gear that need a fair bit of looking after.
We’ve all had the horror of bringing out a tent we’ve accidentally put away wet and spent the next hour scrubbing mildew off it. There are also many other reasons the fabric of a tent can deteriorate, lose its water repellency, or lose its strength. Like we say, tents need some love.
Along with packing them away dry, you can show it you care by applying Nikwax Tent & Gear Solarproof. Nikwax you’ll be aware of. It was started by Nick Brown (see what he did with the name?) who wanted to find an environmentally friendly water-based range of treatments to keep him dry and comfortable in the British hills. Back in the early 1980s, this was very forward-thinking from an environmental perspective. Nikwax became the first company in the world to produce a range of water-based products for restoring waterproofing in the home.
Since then, Nikwax’s environmental credentials have grown even further and been recognised worldwide. Everything they make they ask: is it safe for me now? Is it safe for me in the long term? Is it safe for the environment now? Is it safe for the environment in the long run? If the answer is yes to all of them, they’ll begin to move forward with a product. As a company, they have also campaigned against fluorocarbons and solvent-based chemicals.
Perhaps the most important thing we can do for the environment is to ensure that our synthetic clothing and equipment, including the tent, will last for as long as possible.
"A tent stood in the sun for two weeks can lose up to half its strength, leading to fabric tear"
The Tent & Gear Solar Proof helps your tent, and other gear such as a backpack, by improving water repellency (pretty useful in a tent!). But an unexpected source of deterioration in the material is exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light. It can destroy water repellency and decay synthetic fabrics used in tents and rucksacks.
Nikwax Tent & Gear Solar Proof
Price: £7 (500ml)
More info: nikwax.com
According to Nikwax, a tent stood in the sun for two weeks can lose up to half its strength, ultimately leading to fabric tear. A single application can double the life of your tent Nikwax say.
Nikwax also advises applying the Tent & Gear Solar Proof onto new items protecting them right from the beginning of their life.
To apply the treatment, put up the tent and wet it before spraying evenly on the outside of the fabric. Wait two minutes and then wipe away any surplus and then leave to dry, making sure any access is wiped away. That's it. We've applied it to our tents. And if you have a polycotton, canvas or waterproof cotton tent, be sure to use Nikwax Cotton Proof.
Once you've done this simple process, you'll not only strengthen the fabric of your tent but also your relationship with it. OK, now it is getting a bit weird.
Will Renwick - Outdoors Magic Editor
The process is actually a lot easier than you might think, giving a proper clean without the need for a washing machine, scrubber or full blown power hose (please don't try that). As for cleaning backpacks, I've got a Lowe Alpine pack with visible damage to the water resistant coating that's clearly been caused by the sun. Now I know how to avoid that.