5 Tent Mistakes That Can Ruin A Camping Trip
Mistakes that can ruin a camping trip? Sooner or later, you’ll make an error in setting up your tent on a camping trip or when you get home. Since it could take a few decades of trial and error to avoid a tent mishap (true story), let’s cut to the chase so you don’t get stressed out by nasty surprises in the form of wind, rain, critters, fire, or your doggie.
Here are 5 tent challenges that could cause you to bail from a car camping trip, plus a bonus for dog owners.
Hazard #1 Rain
Take a look around a campground and you’ll see tents set up like this:
Yes, these campers are protecting the floor of their new tent with a tarp. Great idea.
But think about this for a minute. Where are raindrops going to go? Yeppers, they’re going to land on the tarp. Then where are they going to go? You betcha, under the tent.
Worst possible scenario? Your tent is pitched in a slight depression because the ground has been rolled over and stamped on by prior occupants.
Then what’ll happen? You’ll not just have a thin layer of water under your tent; you’ll have a major puddle.
Solution: tuck the tarp all the way under the tent, or get a “footprint” designed for your tent model.
These folks can kick back and relax certain that the tarp is pretty much all the way underneath their tent and they won’t spend the night sleeping in a puddle. They are experienced campers.
No tent mistakes that can ruin a camping trip here.
He’s sizing up a tent?
Newbie campers frequently cut corners when it comes to following posted food directives. For your own safety and the longevity of your equipment, observe ranger instructions about securing your campsite to the letter.
The National Park Service highlights food management in campsites right here.
And, to help you out, in critical areas, they provide bear proof lockers that look like this:
Note: “Food” is defined from an animal’s perspective, and includes toothpaste, soap, coffee, dishes, crumbs, nuts, candy, crackers, popcorn, anything with an aroma.
Bears aren’t your only worry, either. Your campsite can attract wild horses, crow swarms, rabbits, raccoons, wasps…
Wind presents several challenges. The most problematic (unless you want your tent to turn into an expensive kite)? Campers often skimp on stakes. Bring extras in your tent stuff sack or your grab ‘n’ go box.
Every corner of the tent should be staked down. Every guy attached to the fly should be tied out.
In very windy conditions, be sure you have extra paracord on hand so you can run additional guys from the loops high up on the tent. This will prevent the tent from flattening in a major gust.
When you get home, whether you’ve had a sunny camp trip or a wet one, spread out your tent to dry. It should dry until the fabric sounds crackly. If a tent gets stored with even a mote of dampness, it will become mildewed. Mildew ruins a tent: it can’t be removed.
On that score, don’t even think about putting the tent in a washing machine. You’ll destroy it. Trust the voice of experience….
Tent fabric is extremely flammable. A spark from a campfire will easily set it alight. Worse by far, though, you can risk carbon monoxide poisoning if you take any flame source into the tent. This means candles, lanterns, heaters, stoves, ANYTHING. Why? You might not make it ’til morning. Here’s a relevant story. CO fatalities in a tent are not a rare event.
Bonus tent advice for doggie parents
Don’t teach your doggie to open the tent door by clamping his teeth on the zipper so he can get a snooze on your lovely sleeping bag. Been there, done that, fluffy blue sleeping bag ‘n’ all….
Lessons from others’ tent mistakes that can ruin a camping trip? #1 Camping is awesome fun. #2 Camping can be a whole lot more awesome if you follow through with some commonsense principles to protect your gear (and yourself).
Still not sure if the camping schtick is for you and wondering how to start? Try here: How To Get Started With Car Camping In 11 EZ Steps.
Photo credits for tent mistakes that can ruin a camping trip. Featured image and top… Bears in Gila National Forest: USFS photo. Spacious accommodations: CC BY 2.0 by Tim Wilson via Flickr. Grant Village Campground, Yellowstone: Photo courtesy of Bob Greenburg/NPS. Bison in campground at Yellowstone National Park: NPS/D Renkin. Bear food locker: NPS. Poor tent care + wind: CC BY 2.0 by Ruth Hartnup via Flickr. Dog on a sleeping bag, 080901 Higgs Bogart’s thermarest: CC BY-SA 2.0 by LauraScudder via Flickr.