Tent Hazards (1 Viewer)

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Camdenton, MO 65020, USA
So generally I was going to ask the community about a specific problem with a 4 season tent I own, about how its attracting worms that are chewing small holes, but I decided to make a more general informative discussion on the broader topic of tent hazards - the things that can be harmful to a tent. I want to compile a short list of things for myself and others to give tent owners a heads up, or for those that may be considering using a tent for a living space.

I think I'll start by listing some of the obvious things.

Small creatures and rodents - will chew on a tent if they smell any food inside. Know from experience. Avoid this by storing food outside and never eating inside.

Falling debris - always look up. They call hanging dead limbs "widow makers", in that in wind dead limbs may fall on a tent, harming the occupants.

Insects - ants, spring in particular, like to burrow under a tent. As a rule, I tip my tent over every week and check underneath. Apparently silk worms in fall love a particular fabric that 4 season tents have - the polyester I'm assuming? This is somewhat fixed my leaving the rain fly off, preventing them from having a hiding spot (?)

Sunlight - UV degrades ALL fabrics. Always always set up in shade if possible.

Mildew - condensation from using a sleeping pad can create wet spots under the tent. Fixed by tipping tent over from time to time to keep the bottom dry.

Velcro - sometimes when setting up or storing a tent, parts of the tent that are velcro will stick to the mosquito mesh, damaging them over time. The only fix I can think of is to use caution when storing or setting up 4 season tents. With 3 season tents store the rain fly with the velcro separate from the main mesh body. Often keeping them together in the same bag gets them snagged together over time.

So this is just what I experienced. Anyone have anything else to add? Any advice on that odd chewing worm? What have you guys delt with over the years?
 
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Dmac

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Do you use a groundcloth under your tent? It can help a lot. It also helps to put a tarp up over your tent (even if your tent has a rain fly) Mildew sucks and has ruined many of my friends tents, cuz they pack them away and don't make sure they have completely dried first.
 

scntfc

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avoid candles, it's just too easy to burn a hole in your dwelling. Moth balls are your friend, sprinkle them around the perimeter to keep snakes, rodents and other pests away. mosquitos often find their way inside via the screen. I like to spray the outside with repellant to help keep the bugs away... Duct tape is your friend when it comes to repairs.
 
OP
William Howard 2
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Aug 1, 2017
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Camdenton, MO 65020, USA
Unfortunately using bugspray with DET (or is it DEET?) degrades synthetic fabrics and plastics over time, so my tent buddies claim. I suppose that's one point I should have added in.

Never used moth balls. What are they exactly? Is it one of those "natural" remedies? They seem not to work so well for me.
 
OP
William Howard 2
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Camdenton, MO 65020, USA
Do you use a groundcloth under your tent? It can help a lot. It also helps to put a tarp up over your tent (even if your tent has a rain fly) Mildew sucks and has ruined many of my friends tents, cuz they pack them away and don't make sure they have completely dried first.
What particular advantages does having a tarp over the tent do, besides just an extra layer of UV protection? Having to carry both a ground tarp and a cover tarp sounds difficult. I'm wondering if it's worth the trouble.
 

Dmac

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For shade/uv protection and added protection from rain. you can use it for a lean-to cooking area, a handy wind break, privacy screening, and Whatever else you can think of. I don't care how good a tent is, if you have prolonged rains a tarp can be a great thing to have.
 
Joined
May 21, 2016
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Good post, I like this topic!

However, most of these problems are created by how you're using the tent, namely not breaking camp. There's nothing wrong with the tent in and of itself.

For example, the insect infestations. I've never met any backpackers or campers who carry mothballs because when you break camp almost everyday you don't encounter this problem and your tents not getting ate by worms.

Or I wouldn't ever worry about UV damage when you're backpacking because you're not leaving you're tent up all day in the sun. Its in your pack during 90% of the day. Theres no UV at night. Again this problem doesn't speak so much to the tent as it does to how you're using it.

Or mildew, people use what are called footprints (really expensive, just use cheaper Tyvek or a cheap tarp instead) for base layer protection and tarps for an above protection, but again when breaking camp, you're not leaving up you're tent all day to sit in a wet spot. Footprints can suck in and hold moisture under your tent. Just break camp and dry you're tent when you get the opportunity.

Breaking camp keeps you're tent in better condition, as counter intuitive as that might seem. It's not really specific to tents even --- seriously, look at anything that sits around vs. when its moved around. Have you heard the saying "a rolling stone gathers no moss"? Its true!


There is some good info in you're original post though, and theyre the camping basics that everyone who sleeps in a tent should know:

-keep food outta the tent! get a bear bag/food bag
- check overhead for widow makers when picking camp site
- learn how to efficiently pack your tent!

Also, someone said duct tape for repairs and I second that.
 
Last edited:

scntfc

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yeah, I get what most of you are saying. My exprience w/ camping out: I recently became homeless and camped out for a month in some woods near my employer. while doing so I wanted to "break camp" But my location was so perfect it didnt make sense to move to lesser ground...

Mothballs: snakes hate them, as well as spiders, ants and other insects. If you're gonna be stationary for a while I highly recommend it. My area was infested with all the usual pests. otherwise it was pretty cushy.

I used evey deterent possible. Even citronella candles (hence I burned a hole in my tent) Thanks for the heads up on the deet. But with ninja mosquitos finding their way through tiny. mesh holes of the screens I will continue to use if I find myself in that situation again. It's just a cheap $25 from Wally World.
 

Desperado Deluxe

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Salt works wonders at keeping ground dwelling insects away such as ants and spiders. Hots sauce works well for mice/rats. Use them to create a perimeter around your tent.
 
Joined
May 21, 2016
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Even if you're looking to stay in the same area, you can still break camp! If you're in a location thats chill enough to camp for weeks on end, not getting hassled, you should break camp and move around a little. At least alternate spots. It reminds me of traveler kids being like "I'm stuck, I can't get out of this town." I'm sure you can!

If you're looking for more of a woods squat in the exact same 20X20" area --- I don't have any experience with this --- but from what I understand, squatters generally set up more permanent and durable shelters because of these exact problems.

If you're not gonna break camp for weeks on end, you're for sure going to run up against the limits of tent technology, even if you have a high quality expensive tent. When you push those limits, you're gonna start wrecking your tent. If you want to maintain it and have you're tent will last a lot longer, break camp. You're tent will thank you and you're camping experience will be a lot more fun.

Not trying to be a jerk, just trying pointing out you're tent can only do so much. If you wanna light candles in you're tent, don't be surprised when it burns down. But is that really a problem with the tent technology? Or how you're using it?


Tip with duct tape: you can wrap some around the tent polls. That way you have plenty, grab it when you need it, and don't need to store/carry around a whole roll.
 

scntfc

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Even if you're looking to stay in the same area, you can still break camp! If you're in a location thats chill enough to camp for weeks on end, not getting hassled, you should break camp and move around a little. At least alternate spots. It reminds me of traveler kids being like "I'm stuck, I can't get out of this town." I'm sure you can!

If you're looking for more of a woods squat in the exact same 20X20" area --- I don't have any experience with this --- but from what I understand, squatters generally set up more permanent and durable shelters because of these exact problems.

If you're not gonna break camp for weeks on end, you're for sure going to run up against the limits of tent technology, even if you have a high quality expensive tent. When you push those limits, you're gonna start wrecking your tent. If you want to maintain it and have you're tent will last a lot longer, break camp. You're tent will thank you and you're camping experience will be a lot more fun.

Not trying to be a jerk, just trying pointing out you're tent can only do so much. If you wanna light candles in you're tent, don't be surprised when it burns down. But is that really a problem with the tent technology? Or how you're using it?


Tip with duct tape: you can wrap some around the tent polls. That way you have plenty, grab it when you need it, and don't need to store/carry around a whole roll.
"Not trying to be a jerk." I think somewhere in your post you knew that you were being exactly that. It is full of asumptions. At no point did I " feel stuck" I managed to stack nearly $3k during my time in the woods, hence me having a van now.

Only an idiot would burn a candle inside of a tent. That has disaster and death written all over it. I kept one burning outside the entrance. I stretched a little too far and kicked the candle from inside the tent.

90% of your post was off base and presumptious. I'll give you a thumbs up for the tape around the pole suggestion. That's a worthy contribution to this thread... Dont see my self using it though as I mostly rubber tramp or urban camp in one place, so weight has never been an issue. TYfor your time.
 
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William Howard 2
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Camdenton, MO 65020, USA
Yes I think all these problems can be solved by taking down the tent on a daily basis, but I think for most people who are more stationary, setting up and tearing down everyday can get redundant. I know for me by the end of the day I usually do not have the energy to really set up the tent again, after all the work I had to do that day. I think with time we all cut some corners, and I do think with enough consideration a tent can last quite a while without being taken down. I also think we all have a impulse to sort of maximize our efforts and make an efficient use of time and energy.

The reason I made this post was because a 50 dollar Coleman tent I had was set up for weeks on end, and never experienced problems for years. The 1000 dollar north face tent I just bought has been plagued with problems, and is only a month old. So it had me thinking about the nature of living in tents in general, and to catalogue some of these strange or unexpected issues for others to reference who may be in a similar situation.
 
A

AlwaysLost

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Pymethecin soaked cotton balls placed in cardboard tubes help reduce the tick population just don't use them near water u don't want that stuff getting into the watershed.

Diatemous earth also helps control the creepy crawlies and smudge pots.

I'll definitely try salt when I'm broke! Thanks for the tip.
 

Desperado Deluxe

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Yes I think all these problems can be solved by taking down the tent on a daily basis, but I think for most people who are more stationary, setting up and tearing down everyday can get redundant. I know for me by the end of the day I usually do not have the energy to really set up the tent again, after all the work I had to do that day. I think with time we all cut some corners, and I do think with enough consideration a tent can last quite a while without being taken down. I also think we all have a impulse to sort of maximize our efforts and make an efficient use of time and energy.

The reason I made this post was because a 50 dollar Coleman tent I had was set up for weeks on end, and never experienced problems for years. The 1000 dollar north face tent I just bought has been plagued with problems, and is only a month old. So it had me thinking about the nature of living in tents in general, and to catalogue some of these strange or unexpected issues for others to reference who may be in a similar situation.
Try eureka brand tents they're on the higher end but less expensive. Theyre lightweight and more durable than the more expensive brands. The spitfire series is my fave. They also make tents for the military. So well worth the money IMO.
 
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William Howard 2
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Try eureka brand tents they're on the higher end but less expensive. Theyre lightweight and more durable than the more expensive brands. The spitfire series is my fave. They also make tents for the military. So well worth the money IMO.
I remember seeing a bunch of eureka brand tents when I was shopping around for a four season. I think the are the competitor of North Face? Since eureka was cheaper, i just assumed that translated into worse quality.

Military tents are canvass right?
 

Desperado Deluxe

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I remember seeing a bunch of eureka brand tents when I was shopping around for a four season. I think the are the competitor of North Face? Since eureka was cheaper, i just assumed that translated into worse quality.

Military tents are canvass right?
Eh all those brands compete with each other. North face is just over priced. Your mostly getting charged for the label. Their tents are probably a little lighter but the quality on those and rei brand seem pretty chincy. Eureka tents are nylon like the rest I think they might make canvas ones tho. I think they're cheaper because they're just doing good business and charging you what theyre really worth, unlike that other over priced yuppie crap.
 

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