The Gear Doctor – June 2015

The Gear Doctor

E-Z Tent Pole Repair

Have you ever been in your cozy sleeping bag, and heard that dreaded and sudden “snap”?   If it’s late at night in a windstorm, this can be a big problem if you’re not prepared.  Here are some tips for an easy way to fix broken poles on your tent.

Aluminum Repair Sleeve

Campmor.com, or any camping/outdoor store carries these in the Camping Dept.  They run about $5 or so.  The sleeve looks like a 6” tube.  It can be placed over the broken part of the tent pole like a splint, and taped into place.  This is a temporary fix, but it works well in an emergency situation.  When you arrive back home, be sure to get the pole fixed properly.  One place you can send the pole to is Tent Pole Technologies in Seattle (360-260-9527), where they will fix the pole for about $15 and ship it back to you.

 Tent Stakes

The stakes you used to guy out your lines or stake the tent make excellent “splints” for the tent pole, if you do not have a pole sleeve.  Additionally, long metal tools can substitute as a splint, such as a screwdriver or small wrench.  These can be placed along the broken edge of the pole and taped sturdily.  Wrapping string around the taped splint will reinforce the strength.

When all else fails, use a strong piece of a branch and follow the same instructions.

 Shock Cord

What happens if the shock cord inside the pole has snapped?  It’s not the end of the world….here’s an easy fix!

Find the two ends of the cord and slide them through the two pole pieces and ferrule tips.  These are the small metal pieces that cap off the tent pole.  Be sure to have equal tension on each side.  Usually, there will be tiny washers inside the ferrules that are tied to the cord end.  Untie them and use them on the new cord to keep the cord from popping through the ferrule.  If there are no washers, tie a large double knot in the end on each side.

You won’t want to place undue stress on a tent that has a splinted pole.  Try not to stake out the guy lines too tightly or the splint may break.  Remember, this is a temporary fix and the splinted pole should never be used again.  Get the pole fixed as quickly as possible.   Below are 3 suggestions for repairing your pole:

1. Contact info for Tentpole Technologies:  (360) 260-9527

2. You can try calling the manufacturer of the tent to see if they have replacement poles for sale.  This is especially great if your tent is under warranty, although many times pole damage is not covered unless the tent was completely and properly set up.

3. Local Camping Store is where you can drop off broken poles and damaged equipment, and they will ship it out to a vendor for repair.

That’s it!  You’ll become your own Gear Doctor in no time!!  Until then, stay tuned for the next issue of The Gear Doctor for more tips on fix-its, camping essentials, and fun ideas.

Happy Camping!

Anita the PahaQueen

We are very pleased to have Anita Hudson Easton back on our writing staff as author of our monthly Gear Doctor.  Anita is a 30 year veteran of the Outdoor Industry and is an expert in the design, manufacturing, care and maintenance of outdoor gear!

 

 

 

 

The Gear Doctor for July 2015

How to Repair a Damaged Tent

While we offer a full warranty and repair services on our products, sometimes damage can occur while on a trip, and being prepared to make effective field repairs can save the day and prevent a good trip from turning bad.

tent-rip

Field repairs are often necessary and having a repair kit on-hand is always a smart idea.

A small tear in a tent can worsen quickly, but it’s easy to repair even on the trail. Carry mending materials with you to keep your tent secure.

Materials: repair tape, seam sealer/tent patch kits. We use and recommend McNett Gear Aid Field Repair Kits, found at http://www.gear-aid.com

Time: 10 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the damage.

Most rips, tears, and leaks occur because a tent has been pitched too rigidly; find ways to set up your tent so that it can flex in high wind conditions. Always use shock cords. Check your campsite for dangerous limbs, projecting roots, and sharp rocks that could cause damage; if you must pitch your tent on a hazardous site, pad sharp rocks and clear away debris before pitching it.

Rips and tears. To mend small tears, cover the damaged, on both sides, with adhesive tent patches. Apply a liberal amount of seam sealer around the edges of patches on both sides of the tear, smoothing the edges of the tape carefully to prevent snags and leaks. Patches come in different sizes and shapes. Try to use patches that are at least an inch larger than the rip on all sides. You can use more than one patch on each side if necessary.

Large tears must be sewn closed or patched with repair tape. There are Outdoor Sewing Kits available from Gear Aid. If the tear is in a part of the tent where extra pressure doesn’t matter, turn the top edge of the tear under about 1/4 inch and stitch the turned fabric over the outside of the bottom torn edge, using a sewing awl and strong waxed thread, forming a new seam. Plan your sewing to account for water runoff; turn the edges of the patch to create a shingle effect to shed water, not a shelf to hold it. Make your stitches short and close together; double seams are strongest. To ensure a watertight seal, apply a bead of seam sealer to the bottom edges of the overlap or patch, on the outside of the tent.

Patch holes or tears in tightly stretched areas of the tent with strips of repair tape cut at least 1 1/2 inches longer and wider than the damage; if necessary, overlap strips in a shingle pattern to cover the damage completely. Tape both sides of the damaged area, and seal all edges of the tape with seam sealer, inside and out. If the patch isn’t sturdy enough, replace it when you get home with a patch of tent fabric. But the best thing to do is, after your camping trip is over, get your tent to a proper repair shop where more permanent repairs can be done.

Grommets. Tears around grommets require the removal of the old grommet and replacement of the damaged material. This typically requires special tools and presses to accomplish, although there are temporary grommet kits available and it doesn’t hurt to have some on-hand.

Leaks. To stop a leak in the rain fly or upper surface of your tent, apply seam sealer when the fabric has dried out. Leaks in the floor are probably the result of tears. Locate and repair the tear; be certain that the ragged part of your seam is on the inside surface of your tent. Seal this seam. To protect the patch, cover it with repair tape. To prevent any further damage to a waterproof floor, use a Footprint under your tent.

The Gear Doctor for September 2014

Most often, when people return from an exhausting camping trip, the last thing they want to do is clean all of the gear they took with them. Being out in the wilderness and lacking the effective cleaning supplies we are accustomed to seeing in the cupboard underneath our kitchen sinks, often only the “quick clean” of gear is done, and it tends to be left that way once we return home. But good enough doesn’t always cut it – think of the money you spent on your equipment and what it would cost to replace if not properly cared for. Check out our advice for how to best clean your gear and with what products to ensure it lasts as long as possible, continuing to assist you on adventurous camping trips for years to come.

Boots
The best way you can guarantee your boots will be kept in great shape is to make sure you take 10-20 minutes cleaning them up after each trip. First, remove the laces and insoles, if they are removable. Start with warm water and a small brush (a firm-brush toothbrush will do) that is able to reach into the cracks and crevices of the boots, and start brushing. If a small brush is just not cutting it, browse more specialized tools meant for boot cleaning. When the obvious dirt has been removed, rinse the brush and go over the boots again, but this time with warm water and a boot cleaner. If none is available, a mild dish soap will do. Stay away from laundry detergent or bar soap, as they can damage the boots through residue. Allow the boots to dry in room temperature. Many people use the quick-dry method of drying their boots next to a fire or in the hot sun, but this can cause the leather to become brittle and the adhesive parts of the boot to wear out. The best way to dry them quickly is to place them in front of a fan. If you don’t have a fan, REI suggests using newspapers that are shoved in each boot, which work to absorb excess moisture. Place boots upside down during drying, as this speeds up the process. Once the boots are dry, make sure to use a conditioner coating if they are looking cracked. Also, waterproof boots after each use. Many people want to remove the smell from their boots, so place each in a large, sealed bag and keep them in the freezer for 48 hours, which will kill the bacteria causing the stink. Store boots in a spot where the temperature remains constant, keeping them in perfect condition until your next adventure.

Cooking Supplies
Cleaning your camping cookware is a little less time consuming that caring for your footwear, but still just as important when it comes to preserving your gear. We all do the quick clean on cookware during camping trips, but spending time actually getting rid of the bacteria and grime when you get home is crucial. Fill each pot and pan with hot water and add several drops of soap – use biodegradable if you’re out on the trail doing the once-over clean. Make sure to use any kind of soap, even if it is biodegradable, at least 200 feet away from water sources. Scrub the inside of each several times using a rough sponge or pot scrubber. Rinse the pots with clean water and put them aside to dry. In the case of cooking supplies, the at-home deep clean is pretty obvious, but as for on-the-trail advice, place your cookware in separate pockets of your pack or wrap them in bags to avoid the blackened bottom of pots and pans from staining other equipment.

Tent
Making sure your tent lasts a long life starts the first time you set it up at a campsite. Ensure there are no objects below the tent such as rough plants, rocks, or roots, because this is the number one way tents are destroyed. This isn’t to say you just tear any vegetation to make room for your tent, but rather find a space that has even, clean ground that is already in existence. Making sure the bottom of your tent is also protected on the inside is another thing to think about. Consider purchasing a footprint, which is a barrier between your feet and the bottom of the tent that covers the entire surface of the floor. In addition, make sure the tent is taught when securing it with stakes to prevent any area becoming a catch basic for water or other debris, REI recommended. Make a habit of not wearing shoes inside the tent, and that should help to keep dirt and debris outside, but still make sure to sweep or shake it out several times when you’re done. Something else people don’t consider as often when setting up camp is that most tents are made of nylon, which is worn away by the sun. Try to set up the tent in a shaded area to prolong its life. When packing the tent away at home, the most imperative factor of whether or not it will last is if it’s dry or not. Set up the tent when you get back home and use a non-abrasive sponge, cold water, and a non-detergent soap to clean the inside and outside. Any cleaning products with a perfume smell will attract bugs. Once it is fully dry, pack away in a room temperature, dry location.

The Gear Doctor for August 2014

Cleaning Your Gear the Right Way

After a few good uses, the faithful sleeping bag begins to get a little on the raunchy side and your trusty tent is showing signs of dirt, birds, and campfire smoke. Wash or don’t wash—-that is the question. Sure you can wash them.

The main thing to remember for washing a sleeping bag   is to use a NON-AGITATING machine. If you don’t have a front loader or newer non agitator type top loader, go to a Laundromat. Use the GENTLE cycle and a detergent with no perfumes or dyes. Make sure to use liquid and NOT powder. If the bag is synthetic, it will only take one dryer cycle. Don’t forget to use the LOW setting, as the bag could melt if on a higher setting. Down sleeping bags require a tad more care. You can opt for a down detergent or use Cheer Free liquid. The dryer will also be on LOW, but you’ll dry the down bag a lot longer, say 4 or 5 cycles. Throw three pairs of CLEAN balled up pairs of socks in the dryer along with the bag to beat the down feathers apart. Bag is dry when it comes out looking like the Michelin man! Camping clothing can be washed like regular clothing, but most are synthetic, so watch that dryer setting.

Tents (backpacking size, not family camping tents) can be washed on GENTLE and spun dry in the washer. They must be hung out on a line to dry; DO NOT place them in the dryer. The same goes for the rainfly. Good luck and Happy Laundry!!

The Gear Doctor

The Gear Doctor for July 2014

The old adage, “Take care of your equipment and it will take care of you” is an important truth to live by for campers, and one that is seldom more true than when it comes to your tent. At the end of a long day you’ll want your tent to be clean, comfortable and able to adequately protect you from the elements. Follow the suggestions below and you’ll have a tent that will take care of you and give you years of service.

When you get a new tent, always open it and set it up before you take it out in the wild. This allows you to practice setting up your tent and become familiar with the procedure before heading out into the wild.

Proper Storage – Let’s face it, unless you’re camping every weekend or hiking around the country, your tent will spend the majority of it’s life in storage. Proper storage will help extend the life of your tent.

1. Make sure it’s dry – nothing will start the downward trend of degradation in your tent like the mold and mildew caused by storing it when it’s not completely dry. If circumstances force you to break camp in the rain or when the tent is still damp, take it out and set it up to dry and air out as soon as you can.

2. Fold or roll it differently – folding your tent, or even rolling it, the same way every time you store it will cause creases to develop. Over time, those creases can and will result in damages to the material.

3. Store the poles and stakes in their own bags – every tent I’ve ever seen has a separate storage bag for the poles and stakes. Use them. Otherwise you could poke a hole or cause a rip in your tent.

At the Campsite – following a few simple guidelines will help prevent damage and extend the life of your tent.

1. Check your campsite before pitching your tent – make sure you’re not placing your tent on top of rocks, roots or uneven ground that can cause damage to your tent and an uncomfortable night for you, and that the nice, flat, smooth area you find is not the lowest point on the campsite. Otherwise you could be flooded out in a storm when all the water runs downhill into your tent.

2. Use a custom footprint – this helps protect the exterior floor of the tent as well helping to prevent water from gathering under the floor.

3. Keep it clean – Inside. Remove your footwear at the door to avoid tracking dirt and water inside the tent. The new PahaQue TentRugs add a layer of protection, comfort and warmth to your tent floor, and make cleaning out your tent super easy!

4. Keep it clean – Outside. There is almost no way to avoid getting dirt, stains, bird droppings, tree sap droppings and lots of other various things on the exterior of your tent. Always use clean water and a soft rag or sponge to clean up those stains or dirt as soon as possible.  Mild detergents are okay but be careful not to damage the tent fabric coatings.

5. Make repairs as soon as you see the problem – keep a tent repair kit on hand which contains at least a tube of seam-sealer, fabric repair tape,

Your tent is your shelter in bad weather and your protection from the elements in the great outdoors. With proper care, a quality tent can last many years and provide you with many days and nights of clean, warm, comfortable shelter