Batten Your Tent Hatches

Tips to Improve Tent Performance
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Some metal tent poles, especially the Taiwanese 7001 alloy type, have a slightly sticky or grabby surface that can make them tiresome to insert into pole sleeves. This is more noticeable when the coated side of the sleeve fabric is on the inside, if the sleeve diameter is small, and when everything is wet. And if it's tiresome getting the poles in, it's often worse getting them out! Here's how to make those poles slide!

Apply Turtle Wax or Simoniz car wax to the poles as per the instructions on the can, and shine it up with a cloth. The modern Teflon-type waxes are very slippery.

Silicone sprays can be used, but they leave more residue on the tent, your hands, etc., and it's miserable if you rub your eye with a finger contaminated with silicone spray!

Avoid getting the wax or spray on the elastic.

The wax also protects against corrosion where the original finish is damaged.

Tight Tarps, Everytime

A tarp is often best supported by draping it over a cord stretched tight between two trees. Unfortunately the trees in campsites are often devoid of branches that would hold up a rope or allow climbing. To make matters worse, the distance apart of the trees often means that the cord has to be attached high up beyond your reach and stretched tight. Here's a simple solution. All you need is a long tarp cord, a hiking pole and a small utility carabiner — or a stick, a loop of cord and the 'biner.

Extend the pole as long as possible and clip the 'biner to the wrist loop. Thread a couple of yards of the tarp cord through the 'biner.

Hold the pole by the tip, and lift it up alongside the tree trunk, while holding the short end of the cord.

When the 'biner is at the desired height, pull another yard or two of cord through the 'biner and carry the pole a couple of times around the tree.

When you have wrapped the cord two or three of times around the tree at the desired height, you can spiral the rest of the cord around and down to where you can tie it off. One end's now done.

Disconnect the 'biner, reconnect it to the long part of the cord, and move out beyond the second tree.

Hold the cord at the desired height against the tree with your pole and 'biner while your partner pulls the cord taut from well beyond the second tree.

Your partner maintains tension and then walks around the tree with you holding up the cord so the initial two complete wraps are as close together as possible.

Spiral the remaining cord down the tree and tie it off with a couple of half hitches.

Toss the tarp over the cord, position it, and guy it out.

Wise Guys

You can improve your free-standing tent's life expectancy in a storm by guying it down using the guy attachment loops that are often provided on the fly. But if you don't usually use guys, you'll be unaccustomed to the maze of cords that are stretched all over the place and waiting to trip you.

Compounding the problem is the fact that the cords supplied with most tents are inconspicuous black, and except in snow this makes it even more likely you'll trip. A tumble could shorten your life expectancy, either through injury or by damaging your essential weather haven! Here's how to keep you and your tent upright:

Replace those black guyline cords with white or orange nylon utility cord,"parachute cord," or thin climber's accessory cord.

Reflective guyline cord, such as Kelty's gold- colored Kevlar Triptease Lightline is a fancier option. Contact:

Published: 28 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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