Congratulations on doing thorough research before you purchase a portable shelter. 30 years of industry experience at Diamantina Outdoors has meant we have experienced everything you could possibly imagine in camping situations. We have taken the time to write out this comprehensive list of hints and tips from our own experiences. And there are some very honest statements in here that most retail camping websites don’t explain to you. Most of these handy hints apply equally to tents, portable gazebos, canvas swags and canopys. This advice is offered to ensure you get the very best use out of your outdoor shelter and have an enjoyable experience.
- SET UP BEFORE YOU GO AWAY – THIS IS A MUST.
Set your shelter up as a practice run before you go away so you know how things are done. Check everything you need is there. Test it, try it, camp in the back yard for a practice run. All good preparation and experience for the trip ahead.
2. “WEATHERING” A NEW TENT.
After purchasing a new tent, and setting it up at home, it is important to “Weather” your tent before the first use. This is testing the tent with water and allowing the fabric and seams to swell and tighten. Use your hose on a gentle spray setting and soak your tent (ensure doors and windows are closed). This process allows the water to soak into the fibres and the seams will swell and tighten. Water may leak in the first time which is normal. Allow the tent to dry thoroughly. It is the drying process that tightens the seams. Once dry repeat the weathering process again to test if there are any leaks. For heavier grade canvas tents like our premium range, it may take longer for the water to soak in and therefore the weathering process may need to be done more than twice. If leaks are still occurring, allow the tent to dry thoroughly again and then apply a wax stick or seam sealer to coat over the seams on the inside of the tent where the leaks are occurring. For the best results do not apply the seam sealer until the seams are totally dry. Once this process is complete, your tent can be packed away and is ready for use.
3. YOUR PRODUCT IS VALUABLE. CHECK TO HAVE IT INSURED AGAINST LOSS OR DAMAGE.
4. PERFECT PREPARATION. BE ALERT FOR STORM WARNINGS.
All campers before use of camping equipment, especially for the first time, should check their equipment thoroughly to ensure all required parts are there. Set your new tent up at home before your holiday to practice. Research the environmental surroundings of your camp site before you arrive, understand your products capabilities, the expected weather conditions you are going to face at your campsite before you get there, and be prepared for all things that can happen. The conditions you face will not be the same each time you go camping. recreational tents and shelters are designed for occasional holiday use. Very few are designed to withstand the wear and tear of semi-permanent or regular commercial use (unlike some of our premium Diamantina Canvas Tents and Shelters – seek professional advice). Become aware of the things that can occur when camping in unfamiliar environments, seek advice, adopt the practices and ideas listed below. During strong winds and storms you need to make some important decisions like pack up and go, or stay and ride it out. If you stay, check over every peg point and guy rope and do all you can to protect yourself and your site. Park your car as a wind break, avoid camping under gum trees where branches can fall. If the storm is too severe, collapse the tent flat onto the ground and seek refuge in your vehicle. Damage caused by storms and strong winds are not covered under a tents warranty.
5. SITE SELECTION.
When you arrive at your camp site, choose your site wisely considering the direction of the front door for the morning sun and the predicted wind conditions. Look for natural landscapes to use as wind protection or park your car selectively. Look at where trees are situated, for sun or wind protection. Avoid pitching under certain trees (ie grey gums) which are known for falling branches. Before setting up any tent, check and clear the ground of any sharp objects, rocks and sticks.
6. GOOD FOUNDATIONS.
Just like building a house, the quality of the workmanship and materials of what is above the ground is irrelevant if the foundations at ground level are not built correctly. Your shelter can and will fall down if you are not diligent in the set up process, aware of the ground surface, prevailing winds and other environmental factors, and ignore the warning signs. For example, a sloppy set up where the tent is not taught or tensioned correctly can cause ineffective water drainage and water to pool on the roof. A sloppy set up can catch winds and cause the tent to rattle and shake, damaging frame joints. Excess pressure from over tensioning peg points and the frame can place too much stress on the tent fabric in strong winds and can lead to tearing of materials. This is not a fabric fault. Look for ways to reduce stress on the pressure points of the tent by using springs on guy ropes, bungy cords, and using ALL guy ropes and peg points supplied. After pegging a tent to the ground and before lifting the canvas with the frame, it’s important to open a door or window to allow air to flow inside the tent as you lift it up. Otherwise a suction effect occurs due to the limited air getting into the tent due to waterproof coatings.
7. USE ALL PEG POINTS.
If all of the peg points provided are not used, added stress may be placed onto those few that are used, not using all the guy ropes provided may add stress to the frame in strong winds, using inappropriate pegs in very soft ground may cause the pegs to pull out, setting your tent up at the bottom of a gully may cause water to flow into your campsite rather than away from it, and setting up in a totally unprotected windy area may lead to serious damage in windy conditions. These examples may lead to damage to your shelter.
8. CARRY A VARIETY OF PEGS AND ROPES.
We recommend campers carry different types of pegs in their camping kit at all times – sand pegs for soft ground, strong steel pegs for hard ground, extra guy ropes, guy rope springs, and seam sealer. You will then be prepared for both soft or hard surfaces as the need arises.
9. GROUND SHEETS ARE HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
It is advisable to use a protective ground sheet under your tent. A ground sheet under the floor of your tent will protect the floor against wear and tear and keep it clean and dry. When its time to pack up, the floor of your shelter remains relatively clean and dry, easier to clean and maintain and faster to pack away.
10. WET WEATHER.
In wet weather, close or peg down the window flaps and angle the side awning poles lower to create effective water drainage on the awning to avoid water pools forming. Water pools can stretch the materials and if allowed to continue may collapse and damage the tent. Try to keep a ventilation panel or a section of a window open at night even on wet or cold nights to allow ventilation and air flow.
11. FIRE AND TENT MATERIALS DO NOT MIX WELL.
Keep all flame and heat sources away from the tent fabric. Tent fabrics may be resistant to flame however are not fireproof and will burn if in continuous contact with flame. It is not recommended to use open flame or gas cookers inside your tent, and ensure all campfires are lit well away from the tent.
12. REGULAR SITE CHECKS.
Once the tent is set up, constantly check peg points, the ground surface, guy ropes and anchor points to ensure your tent holds firm, and the correct tension is on the anchor points at all times. This is particularly important if weather conditions are constantly changing, and you are set up in one spot for a number of days. Check these points at night before you go to sleep, and again in the morning when you rise. Over tensioning of sections of your tent can cause excess stress and damage, be careful and seek advice from experts if you are unsure.
13. PROTECT THE TENT MATERIALS.
Always pack pegs, poles and ropes back in the bags provided and not wrapped up with the fabric to avoid the possibility of damaging the canopy. The material of your tent is the most expensive and valuable section. Keep it clean. Pack it away only when it is thoroughly dry. Fold it and roll it neatly. Most tents are designed for short holiday use and prolonged exposure in direct sunlight will shorten the life of the material (unless you choose a premium quality Diamantina Safari Tent which is made using higher quality canvas materials that can withstand extended use). . Avoid spraying your tent with insecticides, as some sprays contain chemicals, which destroy your tents waterproof coatings. Keep your tent clean using water and a mild soap if necessary. Never use washing detergents or bleach.
14. USE TWO HANDS TO RUN ZIPPERS.
Always use two hands when you are running zippers. Use your second hand to take the tension off the zipper slide so it can run freely without additional strain. Pulling on a zip with one hand when it is tight often leads to something breaking.
15. READ THE ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITIONS WELL.
Be aware of the environment around you – conditions can change quickly – exercise extreme caution when using your tent in unprotected zones such as on a beach front, or a hilltop with no natural wind protection as damage can easily occur. Mother nature can be unpredictable. When you combine changing weather conditions with a lack of experience, the result can be unpleasant. Look out for the lay of the land and the direction of water drainage and flow on the ground if heavy rains occur. Have a folding shovel in your kit to dig a drainage trench around your tent to guide the water away if necessary.
16. MOST LEAKS OCCUR THROUGH SEAMS.
All tents can leak through stitching holes and no tent can be guaranteed 100% waterproof. Quality water resistant treatments have been used to coat the fabric of your tent, however all fabrics reach a level of saturation at some point. Certain conditions such as strong winds and driving rains can sometimes cause unavoidable leakage. To reduce the chances of leaks, weather your tent when it is new. Avoid prolonged contact of any object against your tent walls. Never overstretch your tent, as too much tension may cause the seams to open. Also consider an additional fly sheet over the roof of your tent (if it doesn’t already have one) to create a second insulating and protective layer.
17. WHAT IS CONDENSATION ?
Under certain conditions such as cold weather, high humidity, or high moisture content in the ground or air, condensation may form on the inside surfaces of your tent. It is caused by water vapour that cannot escape from the tent. Sources are your breath, perspiration, wet clothing inside the tent, excessive moisture in the air, high humidity, it is NOT LEAKAGE through the tent fabric. To reduce condensation, provide as much ventilation through the tent as possible and remove the sources of moisture from the tent.
All zippers are self-repairing zippers. For minor separations, run the zip past the trouble spot and re-run the zip again to repair itself. To reduce strain on the zipper, always use two hands when pulling on the zip slide. Zippers may be damaged if they are placed under excess stress. Keep the zipper teeth clean and dry by wiping with a cloth or blasting air through the zipper from inside the tent to clear away dust and dirt. Avoid using a wax or oil on zippers as this will attract dirt and could jam the zipper.
The floor of your tent has the greatest exposure to wear and tear. It is important to clear the area of rocks and sticks before pitching your tent. Placing a groundsheet under the floor will also protect your tent and extend its life.
20. GUY ROPES.
Guy ropes play an important role in supporting most tent frames and the location points are designed to give the best possible assistance to the tent during windy conditions. If you read the warranty information provided with nylon dome style tents, they recommend the use of all guy ropes provided and have them pre tied to the tent for this purpose. Not using them will void a tent warranty from all brands if damage occurs (be aware). The premium range of Diamantina Safari Tents use a better quality frame system which do not require guy ropes for added stability.
21. WATER PONDING ON THE ROOF.
Ponding can occur on tent roofs and awnings left up during heavy rain. When two poles hold up an awning which is horizontal with no angle downwards, it can form a natural catchment for the rain and if allowed to continue will collect enough water to collapse or tear the material. Always drop down awnings during heavy rain or try to angle the roof line to create drainage. Do this before you go to sleep if rain is predicted overnight. Be careful to drain water quickly if ponding does occur to avoid excess stress and stretching of the materials.
22. PEG REMOVAL.
NEVER pull the tent pegs from the ground by pulling on the tent material or peg loops. YOU WILL TEAR YOUR TENT. Use another tent peg to lift the peg out of the ground.
23. PACKING YOUR TENT AWAY.
Pack your tent away in the exact reverse order to setting it up. Remove everything from inside, clean the floor, and close all window and door zippers except the front door. The poles of the tent are removed before pegs are taken out and gradually the tent is lowered down to ground level. The front door is left open to allow the air to escape, otherwise the air will be trapped inside the tent like a balloon. Once the tent is flat on the ground, close the front door zipper. Remove the pegs and fold the tent neatly to fit into the carry bag taking note of its folded length to fit neatly.. Roll the tent up and wipe off any dirt to keep your tent clean and dry. Avoid packing pegs or poles with the tent as this may cause damage to the fabric. Never leave a wet tent packed in its bag for any longer than 24 hours. Mildew can develop in wet tents if they are stored wet. Symptoms of mildew are a musty smell and black spot stains. Should mildew occur, address it immediately by airing the tent, and cleaning it with water and soap. If this does not remove the mildew, contact Diamantina Outdoors immediately for advice. Always store your tent in a cool, dry, and well-ventilated location to avoid moisture getting in to your tent.
24. WHERE TO STORE YOUR TENT.
Always store your shelter in a cool, dry and well ventilated location. Not in the roof or under the house the house, and not on a cold cement or damp floor. Off the ground on a shelf or cupboard is ideal. Thoroughly clean and dry the tent before packing away. If you store your tent in a poorly ventilated area, or pack it away damp, mildew can develop which will damage your tent if left untreated for some time.
25. SAFETY WARNING – KEEP ALL FLAME AND HEAT SOURCES AWAY FROM YOUR TENT FABRIC.
The following precautions should be taken when camping: Do not use candles or open flames in a tent. Do not re- fuel appliances in a tent. Do not cook inside a tent. It is not only a fire hazard, but may generate high levels of Carbon Monoxide. Ensure all campfires are lit well away from the tent fabric (20m or more). Do not pitch tents under trees where branches can fall. Protect your campsite from prevailing winds. Use ground sheets, flysheets, all peg points and extra guy ropes where possible.
26. WHAT IS NOT COVERED BY A TENT WARRANTY ?
A tent warranty does not cover defects due to any modification, accident, damage caused by vandalism, rusting, acts of nature or any other event beyond the control of the manufacturer. Nor does a warranty cover scratching, scuffing, natural breakdown of materials that occur inevitably with extended use including Ultra Violet Light damage and exhausted zippers or other cosmetic damage that may result from normal wear and tear. In addition, defects resulting from intentional damage, negligence, or unreasonable use will void the warranty of any tent. This is common across all brands.