Troubleshooting An Old Tent

If you are planning on taking a camping holiday before the end of the summer – have you checked your tent over yet? Time can really fly by and before you know it, it can be months or even years between camping holidays. It is a good idea to check your tent over for problems before you set off, so you do not have any frustrating problems when you pitch at your destination. Here are a few tips to help you deal with the most common issues you might find with an old tent:

Stuck Zip or Sticking Poles

If you find when you erect your tent that there is a zip stuck, or that it is difficult to get poles through their sleeves then there is a quick fix that can help. Get some organic, eco-friendly furniture polish and spray it on poles or zips that are causing you a problem. This should help them to slide as they should.

Leaky Seams/ Patchy Waterproofing

The appropriate seam sealer for a synthetic tent or bees wax for a canvas one will make sure that old seams do not leak. If your tent is letting in water in patches, then the waterproofing has warn off. It is a simple task to renew it and re-waterproofing a tent is a better idea than buying a new.

Rips or Tears

The remedy for rips and tears is generally just some good old-fashioned sewing, with patches added on each side to make sure water cannot get through. If you do not have or cannot get a repair patch kit for your tent then you could make one using fabric from an old, scrap tent, old waterproof jackets or trousers, or a range of other fabrics from unwanted camping items or clothes.


If you have accidentally put your tent away wet then you may be surprised with some mildew when you bring it back out. Canvas tents can be bleached but it is not a good idea to bleach modern synthetic fabrics as this can remove the waterproofing and in extreme cases, eat away the fabric itself. If you have a mild case of mildew, however, you may be able to get rid of it by giving the tent a good wash with a gentle washing solution and then leaving it out in bright sunlight (if you have some) for the UV and heat to kill the mildew and the fusty smell to go away.

Some tent problems will be too bad to solve – but many are relatively minor and can be sorted out in time for your next adventure. Give it a go before you decide to send your tent to landfill and you will be kinder on the planet – and your finances.