While camping with my son, I woke one night to buzzing around my ears. And I thought, God of all the animals that died in the great flood, why did you let the mosquito survive? After slapping at it, covering my head, and tossing and turning all night, I realized what the problem was. I had a hole in the tent mesh before we went camping. That began a whole new set of small but very important skills I needed to add to my camping trips, tent repairs while camping.
Over the years since the mosquito revelation, I've learned several tent repairs that I believe every camper should know. So, in this article, I'm going to show you the quickest and most effective way to take care of four tent repairs as well as the tools and supplies you will need for each repair.
Here are the four tent repairs you can do (while camping).
· Two ways to repair a large tear in your tent.
· The quickest way to fix a tent pole.
· How to repair a broken tent zipper.
· A simple repair for a hole in the tent mesh.
Two ways to repair a large tear in your tent
The first way to repair a large tear in your tent is to use duct tape. It's not pretty but it's only a temporary fix. Here is how to make the repair. Take a pair of scissors from your fishing tackle box and fold the area around the rip and trim off any ragged edges. Then take an alcohol swab from your first aid kit and wipe around the hole about two inches on either side. Give the alcohol about a minute to dry.
Then cut a piece of duct tape two inches wider than the hole. Have someone on the inside of the tent if it's up, put a wallet, book, or anything flat that is the size of the hole plus the two inches around it, up against the hole. Pull the tent material as tight as you can to close up the hole then smooth out the duct tape over the hole. Then repeat the same thing with another piece of duct tape for the inside of the torn area. Again, it’s not pretty but it will take care of it until you get back home to do a better job.
The second way to repair a large tear in your tent is much like using duct tape except you use Tenacious Tape. The duct tape as much as I like it is pretty ugly so you will want to replace it with Tenacious Tape. This tape is specifically made for repairing things like tent rips. You would follow the same steps, like trimming any frayed or ragged edges around the tear. You would also clean around the surface with the alcohol. Then apply the Tenacious tape the same way as you would the duct tape by applying it to the inside and the outside of the area ripped.
I recommend you watch How To Repair A Tent Rip.
The difference between the duct tape and Tenacious Tape is that the Tenacious Tape is clear and has a special adhesive on it that cures within 24 hours which will have the same strength as the tent fabric. The tenacious tape is very inexpensive, and you can get it here at Amazon.
The quickest way to fix a tent pole
Tent poles are hollow and made of fiberglass which not only makes them strong and flexible vertically, which means they bend slightly but don't break. However, after years of wear and tear, they become brittle and lose their tensile strength. After this happens it doesn't take much for them to splinter and lose their ability to hold shape.
Should you get to camp and find one of your tent poles like this just reach for the good ole duct tape again. Cut a piece the full length of the tent pole and slowly roll the pole up in the tape lengthways. I usually do this again with another piece of duct tape. Again, it's not pretty but will do the trip until you get back home to replace the pole with a new one.
Click here for a short video that not only shows you how to use the duct tape for a quick fix while camping but also includes instructions on how to properly replace a broken tent pole when you get back home.
Or better yet grab a tent pole repair kit like the one in the video and put it into your camping tent bag so you will have it when you need it, because you will.
Ways to repair a tent zipper
Okay, now you can put the duct tape away for a while. Zippers are wonderful until they’re not. And I found out that muscling them is like playing golf, it only makes me frustrate and I want to cuss but that would scare the kids. So, here are a few tips on fixing them that may keep you from scaring the kids.
How to fix a stuck tent zipper. Most of the time the zipper gets stuck on the tent fabric. You can use petroleum jelly or cooking oil to lubricate the zipper which will help it to release the fabric. I’m a little lazy since they invented Pam the cooking spray, so I usually have it in my food box. A few shots of it usually does the trick.
A broken zipper pull can easily be replaced with a large paper clip. Done!
If the slider gets stuck on the teeth, check the teeth on the zipper to see if they are damaged. This will also cause the teeth to separate. I use a pair of needle-nose pliers to put them back into shape.
If the zipper teeth look okay, it’s probably the zipper slider. Sometimes they get bent when packing up the tent. You can loosen the sides of the slider as well with the needle-nose pliers. Once you have the slider moving up and down the teeth again, you can tighten the sider sides again so that it doesn’t jump off the teeth.
If the slider is too badly damaged you can snip it off with a pair of wire cutters, by cutting it in the middle between the sides where the teeth go in. You can put a new slider on by starting at the top of the zipper teeth. Fold the retaining bar (looks different than the teeth) back and thread the new slider on the teeth. Then you pull it back up over the retaining bar. Then move the slider to the bottom of the zipper teeth, thread the other side of the teeth in and you are ready to go.
I decided to add to my tent bag this Zipper Repair Kit. Just in case my little tricks above don't get the job done. One more thing. Put a little oil on the zipper as soon as you set up camp. This will help ensure the kids don't accidentally jam the zipper in the first place.
A simple repair for a hole in the tent mesh
And finally, the quickest way to repair a hole in the mesh is to use duct tape the same way I describe to repair a rip in the tent fabric. I learned this from that mosquito attack I mentioned with my son.
Because the duct tape looks, well, like duct tape I recommend getting you a pack of Mesh Repair Patches and throw them in your tent bag as well. Remember the Tenacious tape I mentioned for repairing a tent rip, well those folks make a 3-inch round adhesive mesh repair patch. Wow! What a great idea. Anyhow these are awesome.
You put them on just like you would the duct tape, except since they are mesh, you hardly notice them. You put two on per hole. One on each side of the mesh and you’re done.
Tent Repair Toolkit list
1. Camping Scissors
3. Duct tape
4. Alcohol swabs
5. Clean cloth
6. Paper clips
7. Petroleum jelly
10. Tenacious Tape
14. 8-year old to hold the flashlight (Most repairs happen at night)
That’s about it for this article, I hope this saves you a little time, frustration and gets the job done. And if you’re looking for a good all-around camping axe, I got one for you. Check out this article I wrote entitled, How to Choose A Camping Axe.
Thanks, so much for reading this old guy's articles. I appreciate it.
Also check out these articles, Top 10 Pop Up Tents for 2021 (the one you should buy) and Top 15 Backpack Tents Datasheet and My Top Pick.
And in case your are wondering this is how I choose a camping tent.
Thanks for reading.
Do yourself a favor, take a kid camping!