What is the Lifespan of a Tent?

Whether you are heading out camping once or twice a year with family and friends, or escaping into the backcountry at every opportunity, your tent is your home away from home. You need to make sure that your investment stands up to everything your adventures throw at it.

Many factors can affect the lifespan of a tent, but the average lifetime is 2-5 years or 300-500 nights. Tent lifespan highly depends on how strong is the UV at the camping location. In order to preserve the tent, proper and dry storage can also be very practical in order to protect its material from deterioration.

With these simple tips, you can be sure you’re treating your tent right.

Lifespan of a Tent

1. Clean & Dry

Once you get home, check your tent over for any damage and spot clean if necessary. If cleaning is needed, all you need is a sponge and come cold/cool water and non-detergent soap. Don’t use any dish detergent or bleach.. and don’t ever machine wash your tent.

If no further cleaning is necessary, make sure to thoroughly dry out your tent. You never, EVER should store your tent away while its wet. If you have to pack up the campsite while its raining, just make sure to let it dry out at home before packing it up for good. Otherwise you are inviting smelly, tent-destroying mildew.

2. Use a Footprint

While some folks use a tarp underneath their tent, a footprint is custom cut to your specific tent. It helps to keep both water and dirt away from the bottom of your tent, keeping the bottom of your tent clean and dry for when you need to pack up. It will also protect your tent floor from abrasion and give extra protection against tears from rocks and twigs you might have missed while clearing the campsite. Better to tear your footprint than your tent!

3. Be Gentle with Your Poles

Most pole damage occurs during setup. When assembling your tent poles, don’t just snap them together. This can damage the fittings and compromise pole strength, leading to breakage. Instead, put them together one at a time. When taking your poles down, break them down starting at the middle and work outwards to. This reduces the stress on the shock cord inside the poles. Also, if you’ve been camping near the ocean (or other salty area), make sure to clean the poles well to stave off rust or corrosion.

tent poles

4. Fold It Differently Each Time

When packing up your tent, try not to fold it along the same creases each time. Over time, these creases can become brittle, leading to cracks and tears in your tent.

5. Avoid Long-term UV Exposure

Yes, tents are awesome at protecting us in both sunny and wet weather.. but one you shouldn’t do is set up the tent in your backyard and forget about it. UV rays will break down the nylon fiber in your tent, making it dry and brittle. When that happens, the fabric can rip at the seams, and along any point where there is stress on it. A polyester material will withstand UV a little better, but no tent should be set up and forgotten about. Treat your tent properly and don’t let it sit in the sun all Summer.

tent uv exposure

A little bit of care is all that your tent asks from you. If you treat it well, it will deliver many years of shelter.