It’s festival time! After a long, cold winter it’s time to dust off your dancing boots for a good ol’ stomp in a field. That also means that it’s time to retrieve your tent from the back of your wardrobe. Then you’ve just gotta hope and pray that it’s in tiptop condition for you to safely enjoy a weekend of mayhem. This article shows you how to repair your tent before a festival.
Tents are not single-use, disposable items. If they’re looked after properly they can last for many years, or dozens of festivals and camping trips.
Tents are also relatively easy to repair in most cases, but they’re not indestructible. The last thing you want is to be caught in a downpour when you’re trying to sleep inside a leaky tent. So it’s in your best interest to check your tent thoroughly and take it for a test drive at least a week before the festival.
If you’re concerned about whether your tent is in good enough condition for a festival, this guide is for you!
What’s the best way to check your tent before a festival?
The best way to check your tent is safe and sound before heading off to a festival is to put it up somewhere outdoors a week or so beforehand.
Take it to your garden, a mate’s garden or a public area for a test run on a dry day.
Check for any damage in the poles, for example; check fiberglass poles for splintering on the outside layer. This would usually indicate that the pole is starting to break.
Also, check the shock cord running through the centre of the poles holding them together – this is elasticated and you can tell quite easily if this has degraded or failed altogether.
Check the pegs, bend any misshapen pegs so that they are easier to get into the ground.
Once you’ve made sure the poles and pegs are fine, set up the tent exactly as you normally would.
Make sure you give the ground sheet a good check, these are usually a dark colour, so it can be tricky to spot holes, use the torch on your phone and feel around carefully.
Related: The Ultimate Festival Packing List
When the tent is set up fully you should also have a good idea if any poles, attachments, guy ropes or peg loops are damaged.
Check over the outer fly sheet and the inner tent for any holes or damage that look like an area that could rip or leak.
It is also important to check any seams that are sewn/bonded together, persistent rain or even a constant drizzle could saturate any degraded areas and leak into your tent. No one wants that 😥
Look for any faded patches or areas that look like they are peeling/flaking and check for loose stitching. Make sure you check both sides of the fabric, so on both the inside and outside of the tent.
Do You Need To Re-Waterproof Your Tent?
Did your tent leak the last time you used it? If so then you need to waterproof it!
If you are not sure, you can try this test to check; get a hose, watering can or a bottle of water and make it rain on the tent, water should bead up and run down the surface of the tent. If the water soaks through creating dark patches then I’m afraid you’ve got a leak. This is also known as ‘wetting out’.
Don’t worry – all is not lost, you may be able to repair this!
Once water starts seeping through the fabric of your tent, with enough rainfall it will eventually just start passing through the tent.
Any items inside the tent that are touching the inner wall will start to absorb water too. This will also reduce the breathability of your tent and cause more condensation, leading to a vicious cycle of nothing being able to fully dry out.
There are a lot of products and brands out there that have different processes to follow, but the first step is to always ensure the tent is clean. Start by brushing off any dirt and wipe down the surfaces with water and remove anything clinging to the fabric.
Different products state different steps after this, some need a damp surface to work and others dry. Remember to check how much surface area the solution will cover so you’ve got enough to treat the entire tent.
Always make sure your tent is fully dried before packing it away.
Related: Best Festival Tents 2024
How to repair a hole in your tent?
Sometimes holes just appear in tents, they can be caused by all sorts of things like, sticks and stones poking through the ground, passers by smoking and discarding their butts without paying attention. Holes in tents can also appear through general use (wear & tear).
Repairing a hole in your tent could not be easier, assuming that the tear isn’t too big.
I have personally used Tenacious Tape to repair quite a few holes in tent doors and ground sheets. You just need to clean the area to remove any loose threads, cut the tape size and stick it down.
This only takes a few minutes. If you want to be extra safe, use the tape on both sides of the fabric.
How to fix broken tent poles
Moderate wind and drunk folk falling on your tent in the middle of the night can cause your tent poles to weaken or break.
If a pole breaks, check if your tent comes with a repair ferrule (a tube made of metal that slots over the damaged area of the pole), or pull out the masking tape and tape it up as best as you can!
If the shock cord that connects the poles is snapped or degraded, what you need to do is untie the knots at the end of the pole to pull the cord out.
Then, secure the new cord to a table leg or fence post to thread each part of the pole on to the cord. Use one of the other poles for reference on how tight/slack the line should be.
If the threading becomes difficult because of fraying, you can tape the end or use a flame from a candle/lighter to melt it together, please be careful when doing this to prevent injury.
Check all metal ferrules are intact and have no sharp edges to prevent them from damaging the cord.
Check below for a few kits including the parts described above.
How to fix broken guy ropes on tents
Guy lines/ropes are easy enough to replace, simply untie them from the tents reinforced loops and tie on a new one.
Take note of the length and how your guy lines are installed from new and replicate this.
How to store your tent after a festival
After you use your tent, make sure to air it out as soon as possible. If you’re not planning on using your tent again for some time, try letting it sit in the sun (if possible) until you can use it again. This will help kill off any bacteria and mildew that may have built up during your trip, making it smell better when you need it next time.
If you plan on using your tent again soon after bringing it home from the last trip, then leave the doors open and let it dry out for a few days before packing it away again. You can also hang up the rainfly outside by itself if desired so that any moisture inside is able to evaporate without affecting other parts of the tent too much.
You can also drape your tent and sleeping bag over your washing line for a few hours so they can fully air out.
Trust me – you really don’t want to be faced with a mouldy tent!
It’s better to have a go at repairing your tent with minor damage instead of buying a whole new one. Tents are not single use products and they can last for many years. They are also not widely recyclable or easy to dispose of, so look after your tent and it will look after you for many festivals in the future.