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Gear 101

Some Tenting and Backpacking Basics -- and a quick,  juicy reality check for those of you still on the outdoor fun fence!
Order early in the season for best selection and delivery -- and in the unlikely event of factory packing errors/shorts.
Open & Unpack Your Order With Care:  We suggest you simply peel off the carton packing tape, and skip the pocket knife or other instruments of fabric destruction.
Allow time to practice in the back yard, and for proper seam sealing.
Our suggested maximum packed weight for teen and adult size internal frame backpacks is about 30 (thirty) lbs. If you intend to carry more than that in the wilderness, an external frame pack with a heavier suspension system and load capacity is advised. Check with local Scout and outdoor trekking group web sites for other tips on backpack sizes, designs, and capacity selection, as prudent pre-purchase research.
Seal All Sewn Seams (packs too) with a good after-market liquid sewn seam sealing treatment,  which takes 2-3 hours for decent over-your-lap tent application,  plus 24-72 hours normal drying time.
Factory taped, sealed? Do some more. Premium tents with factory taped/sealed main seams usually have better initial coatings, but almost all still need basic seam sealing, including corners and top fly sheet, before any use, and before grit & grime start clinging to the thread and fabrics. Seal early, and often, for optimum performance.
Any standard tent may drip/leak some, IF in very hard or blowing rain, or IF improperly pitched, or IF not adequately ventilated, or IF not amply coated & seam sealed (part of normal periodic maintenance for these fabric outdoor products, including new tents -- even those with factory seam treatment/taping and heavier polyurethane coatings). Older or inexpensive tents may require complete re-application of coatings, as wear and materials indicate. [The time & cost of totally re-treating large fabric sections may outweigh the price of a new flysheet or complete tent, particularly with cheaper models; your mileage may vary.]
Re-seal seams once a year, more in heavy use (try Kenyon Recoat 3 or McNett Seam Grip for problem areas on poly-nylon tents). Corners, and the top fly sheet of double-wall tents, get most weather wear, so use extra sealer there -- in & outside of tent for best results. [If you can swing it, buying an extra fly sheet is a great idea -- they take the most wear & tear over time, and having a spare on hand is nice if/when a model is substantially changed or discontinued by the manufacturer and parts become scarce.]
Pole & pin connections should be FIRM -- check them often in use for adverse movement, and make adjustments as conditions dictate (including cautionary break down of tent and/or retreat to hard shelter in harsh weather); use guy lines, add extra stakes for slight gusts, and to improve fabric tension.
Beach Shelter Tip: You can add stability to sand set-ups of tents and screen shelters by burying guyed lines about 10-12 inches under the sand -- use larger plastic soda bottles filled with water, or other weighted & tied objects (toy buckets filled with sand are cheap and simple to use), as your sub-surface corner anchors. Take some bright vinyl tape (red, yellow) or plastic pennants to mark the lines and avoid trips during use. [Check with local beach patrol before any oceanside tent or shelter setups -- they are not allowed in some public areas.]
Mr. Fun Sun Says...  Most of the beach cabanas, screen houses, tents, and other light-duty shelters sold are semi-opaque (and not medical devices):  Proper use of hats, UV protection lotions, sun glasses, and reflective clothing is always a good idea in longer sun exposures. Stay Cool, Drink Water, Watch The Rays, Have A Great Time!
Fabrics, hardware will expand and contract with temperature and humidity -- make tension changes to guy-outs, fly sheet, and corner fixtures as conditions dictate, usually 2-3 times a day in average use. If you skip these necessary tension adjustments? The fabrics become overly stretched and then sag, the sewn areas get pulled beyond normal limits, and you'll lose the benefit of seam sealing and waterproof coatings due to such over-stressing of the shell -- which about guarantees the tent/gazebo WILL leak when it next rains. Keep an eye on the wind, temp, humidity, and tension changes, for best results.
Most of the family camping tents and home yard shelters sold are light to moderate duty, general recreational structures, for casual weekend use 4-5 times a year, and not semi-permanent in design or construction. For set-ups of more than a few days of constant use in calm weather we suggest a commercial or institutional grade vinyl or similar canvas/laminate fabric with a much heavier framework, of 2 to 10 times the cost of a comparably sized over-the-counter retail camping model.
Maximum dimensions (max dims) shown for height, length, width of gear do not necessarily reflect the actual use-able space (where tents will lose headroom from the peak down, bivy shelters will taper at both head and foot, hexagonal or other non-4-sided tents & screen houses will have a different foot print shape than a shelter with a square or rectangular floor, inflatables will gain height but lose width and length when inflated, so on). Look on the manufacturer's web site for updated model schematics and product specifications, prior to purchase.
Pitch in partial shade (away from tree limbs) to reduce UV light & heat -- a large cheap tarp strung overhead can help too. In constant UV light most poly-nylon tents & shelters will last 2-4 MONTHS, at most, before they start to shred.  [Pitching or rigging a large, cheap tarp above all -- with room for ventilation and normal movement -- can help lengthen the life of your more expensive shelter; larger shade canopies also work well, as extra UV and storm protection over smaller tents.]
Take a small sponge to dab any condensation in corners -- some inner moisture is typical with high and/or human humidity and temp changes (vent well for fewer droplets). Pitching at a slight decline will also help water run away from center floor area, and off the top sheet.
Poles, fabrics, and hardware exposed to sand, salt (as in ocean area use), excessive dust & dirt, acid rain, or other corrosive elements should be regularly rinsed with clear cool water and allowed to air dry, and before seasonal dry storage.
Place tarps under and inside to protect floor, and make for faster clean-up; bottom tarp should be sized slightly smaller than floor area, to prevent water draw and debris entry.
No food or drink  (except for plain tap water in a clean container) in tent.
No fuel or smoking in tent.
Stow clean, cool & DRY, away from rodent locales; poly-nylon tents should NOT be placed on any cement or concrete, which can damage the fabric & factory coatings beyond repair. Termites will chew on cotton canvas (we've seen it) -- use a poly tarp with some DE insect dust (follow label instructions for best use) to create a quick bug barrier.
Do NOT use bleach on mold or mildew -- use dilute laundry powder (Ivory Snow) and scrub lightly, rinse well, then re-coat when dry with a high quality outdoor fabric treatment (check for McNett, Nikwax, Trondak, Kenyon brands) to waterproof. Proper, dry storage is your best bet.
Buy the best tent you can afford, for the likely conditions (get a heavier, full-fly model for windy & wet climes) -- many quality models also have main factory sealed & taped seams, for less initial maintenance and better overall performance.
Break camp and take cover if conditions get bad (bring a weather radio, and camp close to hard shelter if possible in event of emergency).
Normal tolerances:  Products fabricated, warehoused, and container shipped from overseas (most current general recreational multi-season tent brands in poly-nylon construction) may vary slightly by factory batch in fabric coating application (as well as color tint, packed weight, and finished size), and may otherwise be impacted by temp & humidity changes, without loss of normal use.
Expect the unexpected -- variable terrain, stormy weather, temp changes. These are portable lightweight tension structures, not severe weather bunkers.
PS:  Did we mention seam sealing?
Play It Smart & Safe,  Have A Fun Camp!
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