How to Restore Military Surplus Tents

How to Restore Military Surplus TentsBetween Army-Navy stores, online retailers and government auctions, anyone who is interested in picking up a surplus military tent can do so cheaply. The Department of Defense keeps tents great and small in storage for decades, however, and often there is no way of knowing exactly what condition the tent is in prior to purchase. Even so, these tents are often so cheap that it is still cost-effective to buy them and then spend a little more on restoring them.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

How to:

Things You’ll Need:
  • Nylon rope
  • Replacement tent poles
  • Replacement tent stakes
  • Bleach (canvas)
  • Washing tank (canvas)
  • Needle and thread (canvas)
  • Nylon repair tape (nylon)
  • Nylon repair kit (nylon)
  • Grommet repair kit
Step 1
Examine the lines for rot or damage. This shouldn't be a common problem for tents with nylon ropes, but some truly old surplus tents might have ropes made from hemp. Rather than trying to repair bad lines, simply cut a section of new nylon rope to replace the line.
Step 2
Examine the tent poles for damage. More modern surplus tents will use aluminum or plastic poles, but these could still be damaged. Older tents might have wood poles, and these could be damaged or rotten. Replacing these can be tricky, and the easiest way to do it is to buy another surplus tent of the same type and cannibalize it. You could also try general tent parts from a camping store as a substitute, or whittle homemade wooden poles.
Step 3
Evaluate the tent stakes, and replace any that are damaged Replacing these is simple, as most stakes are practically interchangeable, and all camping goods stores will carry plastic and metal stakes.
Step 4
Check the surplus canvas tent for mold. This can be fixed by dunking the tent into a tank of mixed bleach and water (1/4 cup per 10 gallons), letting it set for 10 to 15 minutes, pulling it out and rinsing it, and then hanging it in the sun to dry.
Step 5
Look at the tent walls for damage. Nylon tents can be fixed by using nylon tape, or using the resin and patches from a nylon patching kit. A canvas tent can be fixed by stitching a tear closed, or sewing a patch of canvas over a hole.
Step 6
Check the grommets, as these might also require repair. A grommet repair kit will have both replacements and a simple installation tool that will enable you to easily replace any bad grommets.

Article Written By Edwin Thomas

Edwin Thomas has been writing since 1997. His work has appeared in various online publications, including The Black Table, Proboxing-Fans and others. A travel blogger, editor and writer, Thomas has traveled from Argentina to Vietnam in pursuit of stories. He holds a Master of Arts in international affairs from American University.

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