Tent Upkeep During the Winter Months

You’ve decided to leave your tent up all winter. While your admiration for the outdoors is exemplary, keep in mind that with a longer installation (or winter installation, for the truly brave) comes more trying conditions than most fabric-topped shelters are made for. In the event that a tent is installed in chilly, winter weather, several items can help your tent survive to see another winter.

Basic Tension

The most important installation aspect, tension, on any tent is what keeps it in place and stable through wind and precipitation. On pole tents, the tension is the force which keeps the tent upright to begin with! For this reason tents that are installed during wintry weather need to have the tension on their anchoring lines checked regularly, at minimum once a week, to make sure that none of the straps are loosening and potentially causing a structural collapse.

Advanced Tension

In addition to keeping your tent in place, tension on ratchet straps keeps the strap from moving too much. Flapping and waving in the wind is detrimental in two ways:

  1. Movement can cause ratchets and securing methods to loosen and create a less stable installation.
  2. Moving straps can rub against the tent fabric, wearing off the outer layer and exposing the internal scrim.

This doesn’t mean, of course, that you should simply place as much tension on your straps as possible – too much tension and the straps will wear faster than they should, and then you’ll have larger problems on your hands. All straps (or ropes, if being used) should have enough tension to be considered “snug,” with a slight amount of movement allowed when pressed by little to no agitation from the wind.

TENTING TIP! When connecting ratchet straps by inserting the loop strap’s plain end into a ratchet buckle, give the strap one 180° turn. This extra rotation will keep the strap from flapping in windy conditions!

Tremendously Tenacious Tent Top Tutelage

Sidewalls and tent top material can suffer when exposed to cold weather for too long. This causes Cold Crack, a condition where the external layers of the PVC become brittle and break or flake off. For tops, cold crack can best be avoided by making sure that the top is tensioned to minimize any movement of the fabric should it reach this rigidity. Sidewalls are more difficult to maintain in this respect, as they MUST be roped and staked at the bottom to decrease all movement. 

The best method for reducing winter damage to fabric shelters is to not leave them installed over the winter. When this is unavoidable, managing upkeep on your anchor lines and tent fabric is your best line of defense for keeping your tents in working order until the spring. Celina’s 24/7 website, http://www.gettent.com/, has many links to additional information on tent upkeep and safety practicing. Check out our Knowledge Center for more on proper tent practices!