How to Make My Family Tent Better

How to Make My Family Tent BetterA better family tent is waterproof, rip-proof, securely staked, lighted, full of storage options and free of bugs and dirt. Adequate space for people, sleeping gear, clothing and camp gear are all essential for keeping a family comfortable, safe and happy together in a tent. A little prep work and gear planning can save you a headache and backache when you're outside with the whole family.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

How to:

Things You’ll Need:
  • Containers for supplies
  • Tarps
  • Shoe mat
  • Hand brush
  • Dust pan
  • Carabiners
Step 1
Waterproof your tent. New tents come with waterproof, rip-stop nylon fabric and waterproof, taped seams. Waterproof an old or well-used tent with a seal kit. In the field, set up the tent properly, and use the the rain fly to keep your tent dry.
Step 2
Place a water-resistant canvas or nylon tarp underneath your tent to improve tent life. The tarp should be slightly larger than your tent's footprint, but smaller than the width of the main tent stakes (a large tarp can be cut down to size.) Tarping under your tent prevents damaging or puncturing the waterproof base and provides one more layer of insulation, comfort and waterproofing under the tent. String extra tarps from poles or trees to provide shade or additional waterproof seating and storage areas around your tent.
Step 3
Keep tents clean by removing your shoes before entering. Place a smaller tarp in front of the tent (you must also stake this down) with a door mat--near the tent's entrance--for removing shoes. Some tents have a zippered "doggie door" or entry and storage for boots and shoes. Always keep shoes inside the tent to prevent critters from stealing them or setting up house in them. If your tent lacks shoe storage, bring along a few net bags (even grocery store potato bags work) to suspend boots and shoes. Hang the bags with a carabiner hook (a mountain-climbing tool readily available at hardware and outdoor stores) attached to the ceiling poles, or hang the bags from a pole or tree limb under a tarped area. A sturdy hand brush and dust pan can help keep shoes clean and remove extra dirt from inside the tent.
Step 4
Add extra storage pockets. If your tent lacks wall pockets for storage, do not stitch or tape additional pockets to the tent's walls. Instead, purchase hanging, collapsible closet organizers (such as sweater or shoe containers) and use carabiners to secure them to a roof pole. The more storage you can create off the floor, the easier it is for your family to move, sleep, change clothes and stow gear inside the tent.
Step 5
Provide battery (or solar-charged battery) lights for night time in the tent, and bring portable lights for trips to the bathroom and after-dark walks. Suspend one high-intensity lamp from the tent's ceiling hook or pole with a carabiner clip. LED lamps are lightweight and powerful. Give each person his own headlamp, which can be stored in the tent pockets when not in use, to provide hands-free light.

Tips & Warnings

Do not step on the tent when it is on the ground. To make repairs, unroll the tent indoors or on a tarp outside to prevent damaging the waterproof coating and the zippers.
Never wash any part of your tent in a machine or dry it in a dryer, as this destroys the waterproofing and can damage zippers and fastenings. To clean a tent, shake it and air it out in the sun, if possible. If muddy, spray rinse with plain water (a hose works fine). If musty, sprinkle with baking soda and brush with a hand broom.
Keep a first aid kid and all electronics (such as a GPS, phone and weather radio) in the tent where you can access them quickly.
Never eat where you sleep. Don't store food or trash inside a tent. Wild animals such as bears know where to look for easy meals--don't tempt them.

Article Written By Ann R.B. Summers

Ann R.B. Summers writes professionally about food, science, nature, nutrition, fitness and healthy living. She is the author of "Healthy Lunch, Healthy Mind," and has regular articles in "Food and Spirits." She has a B.A. in anthropology from Washington University in St. Louis and is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and the Society for Professional Journalists.

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