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Off Season Storage of Tents and Sleeping Pads

Old 05-12-13, 06:40 PM
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mm718
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Off Season Storage of Tents and Sleeping Pads

REI says that rain flys should be stored loosely in a plastic tub to prevent breakdown of the waterproofing. When this happens it results in a sticky and unusable tent.

Has anybody experienced this? How do you store your tent? Do sleeping pads require special storage procedures?

Last edited by mm718; 05-12-13 at 07:19 PM.
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Old 05-12-13, 08:41 PM
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Walmart plastic tub, stuff stored loose. Tent unfolded, sleeping bag out of it's stuff sack, etc. Store in an air conditioned space, not the garage or attic. no problems.
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Old 05-12-13, 09:31 PM
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Our tents and rainflies are stored in relatively large breathable bags. I don't fold tents, just stuff them loosely in the bags. I have 4 tents with the oldest being 20+ years old. I'm still using a section cut out of the rainfly of a tent I had in the 70's for a footprint for one of our tents. The coating on that remnant is still serviceable. Two of our 4 season tents have been used extensively for mountaineering, and have experienced a lot of pretty hard use. Storing them loosely stuffed in large breathable bags did not seem to do them any harm.

I just make sure they are clean and dry when I put them in the bag.




This tent is over 20 years old. It has been relegated to "car camping" because the pole sleeves have worn through in a few spots due to wear and tear, However, the coating on the rainfly is still in good shape.



We also have several Therm-a-Rest pads in various configurations. They are stored, partially inflated, standing up against the wall in the corner of our gear storage room. A couple of them are probably 25 years old. I think this is better for them than rolling them up for storage.

Last edited by Doug64; 05-12-13 at 09:37 PM.
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Old 05-13-13, 01:28 AM
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this from REI:

Tip #2: When you store a tent, make sure it is dry. No tent-care rule is more important. If a tent is left wet, even damp, for a prolonged period of time, you are inviting mildew to overtake it. After a trip, unpack your tent and inspect it for dampness. If you detect even a trace of moisture, set it up in a shady spot (a garage, for instance) and let it air dry. If you have the space, store it loosely outside of its stuff sack. Avoid storing a tent in damp basements or hot attics.

Also, I know to hang my sleeping bags in a closet or store them non-compressed in a large breathable bag (my last Kelty down bag came with such a storage sack)

I had not heard about storing your air mattress partially inflated standing up, is that common practice?

Last edited by robow; 05-13-13 at 01:31 AM.
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Old 05-13-13, 02:40 AM
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My tent, a Tarptent Scarp 1 gets stored dry in its stuff sack. I don't bother storing it loose and never done that with any of my tents. My sleeping bags are left to loft and either get stored in a supplied storage bag or lying on a bed or hanging up. Sleeping mats are deflated and left generally lying under a bed or on a bed rolled out.

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Old 05-13-13, 07:02 AM
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Originally Posted by robow View Post


I had not heard about storing your air mattress partially inflated standing up, is that common practice?
yes, or just shoved under the bed, but with the valves open and at rest, rather than rolled up.
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Old 05-13-13, 07:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Bekologist View Post
yes, or just shoved under the bed, but with the valves open and at rest, rather than rolled up.
For what it is worth Exped's advice is ..

How do I store my sleeping mat?

We recommend storing the mat unrolled with both valves open in a dry and cool area e.g. under the bed.
Therm-a-rest's advice is ...

NeoAir[SUP]™[/SUP]: Your NeoAir mattress can be deflated and rolled tight for storage. We recommend leaving the valve open and storing your mattress in a stuff sack to protect it from dirt and sharp objects.

All Self-Inflating Mattresses: Store all self-inflating mattresses dry, unrolled and with valves open. Beware of extreme heat in places like attics and parked cars that can damage your mattress permanently. Under a bed or behind a couch that’s against a wall are good, space-saving options.
RidgeRest[SUP]®[/SUP] or Z Lite[SUP]™[/SUP] Closed Cell Pads: Store your RidgeRest pad flat or loosely rolled. Z Lite pads can simply be stored in their pre-formed accordion folds. Though fine for active use in the field, neither should be stored long-term with straps to hold it rolled or attached to a pack or under heavy objects. This can permanently deform a closed-cell mattress.
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Old 05-13-13, 10:09 AM
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I have always stored my tents (cleaned and dry) stuffed into their stuff sacks. I had two older REI tents, one that was used only occasionally, another that we got used, and then used it a lot ourselves, that I recently sold on ebay. Both tents were still in excellent condition and the buyers were both very happy with them.

I store sleeping bags in the large drawstring bags that came with them. They get stacked up on top of the boxes of camping gear in the spare room we use for storage. Thermarest sleeping pads are folded in thirds and stacked on the top shelf in a closet (out of the cat zone).
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Old 05-13-13, 10:10 PM
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That's interesting. I never really heard that and I'm not really a direction reader, but I recently pulled out my old Kelty 2 man tent for the kids. It had been put away rolled up tight in it's bag and stored in the hot garage for several years (I have a new REI tent that I use) and the rain fly was indeed sticky and looked to be a little powdery and likely not waterproof anymore. Going to have to pull the other tents out and put them in a tub in the closet.
I always store my bags in a big loose stuff sack in an inside closet.
My old thermarest that I also have handed down to my kids since I bought my neoair has also been stored in the garage all closed up and rolled tight and it doesn't seem to want to inflate it self the same as it used to. Wonder if I open it up and leave it that way for a while if the foam will re-expand.
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Old 05-14-13, 10:03 AM
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mm718
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Thanks everyone for the tips. I think I have some "santa bags" from Amazon that might work well for storing the tent and rain fly.
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Old 05-16-13, 12:36 AM
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I work at REI. It is true that the ideal long term storage for tents, sleeping pads, and sleeping bags is that they be dry, loosely packed (if not fully expanded), and in a temperature and humidity controlled environment. We have many customers that bring their equipment in moldy and with waterproof linings deteriorated because they stored them wet or out in the garage or something. The temperature fluctuations and changes in humidity wreak havoc on tent fabrics over time. I live in California and all my bags, pads, and tents are stored inside under my bed to minimize their exposure to atmospheric irregularities while in storage. "Self-inflating" type pads should be stored open to allow the expanding foam inside to retain it's expanded position. Most of the newer "air-pads" will not suffer from being stored as you would have them on any trip. Sleeping bags should most definitely be stored in an appropriately sized storage sack. The storage sack should be very breathable (mesh or cotton is good) and large enough that the sleeping bag fits very loosely inside. Don't store the sleeping bag packed up tightly because the insulation (whether it be down or synthetic) will begin to collapse and retain that "packed-up" configuration, synthetic insulation seems to do worse with this issue over time.

I learned the hard way about storing my tent wet a long time ago. My wife and i went on our honeymoon in Alaska and did a bit of backpacking there. We brought our $500 mountaineering tent, it rained almost every day. Our trip continued with direct flight to Tennessee to stay with her parents for about a week, it rained there everyday too. So after being packed wet for about a week and a half I finally got home to sunny So Cal and unpacked the tent...mildew stains everywhere and a stench to match. I first panicked, and after a bit of searching online discovered a product called Mirazyme specially formulated for neutralizing mildew and other odors on technical fabrics. It worked great for removing the stench, some of the stains are reduced but still there; permanently it seems. Don't let thins happen to you. Unpack and dry out all gear completely within a day and store it properly to ensure this never happens to you.
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Old 05-16-13, 05:17 AM
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Rain is not the only moisture to watch for. Condensation from breathing that forms on the fly should be a reason to spread the tent out and dry it thoroughly.
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Old 05-16-13, 10:04 AM
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I've been finding silicone coated fly material to have less of this problem in being stuffed long term. i've got some silicone and PU coated nylons of similar vintage lurking in my gear tubs.

The PU coated nylons are sticky and in the process of breakdown, powdering or otherwise separating. The silicone nylons, similarly stored, seem more stable.

This has been my non-scientific observations of silicone vs PU coated nylons over the long term -15 years. YMMV.

This thread reminded me to fluff and look at the gear in the tubs that i haven't been using regularily.
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Old 05-16-13, 10:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Bekologist View Post
...The PU coated nylons are sticky and in the process of breakdown, powdering or otherwise separating. The silicone nylons, similarly stored, seem more stable...
I've had 3 backpacks, 2 tents and 3 stuff sacks lose their polyurethane waterproofing layer over the course of ~20 years, all stored in UV-protected closets of air-conditioned homes. The PU layer loosens from the base fabric, creating white air gap areas, or it peels off, or it gets sticky and flakes off, often accompanied by a bad odor.

Foam padding in backpack straps, hip belts and back panels, and EVA midsoles used in hiking boots deteriorate with time as well, due to breakdown of the polymer. I've had Vibram soles, still in good shape, peel right off hiking / backpacking boots - the EVA midsole had crumbled into dust.

I've also had soft luggage / bags develop a stink as it passed the 20 year mark, a side efect of some part of the fabric "rotting".

It's got little to do with usage or normal storage conditions, rather it is a chemical breakdown of the polymer due to time and exposure to air. Maybe if you stored everything in a vacuum or nitrogen-purged chamber it would last. Otherwise you should figure outdoors gear made with waterproofing or padding has perhaps a 10 year useful life span.

Happily sleeping bags and gore-tex apparel doesn't seem to "rot".
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Old 05-16-13, 01:05 PM
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Originally Posted by seeker333 View Post
I've had 3 backpacks, 2 tents and 3 stuff sacks lose their polyurethane waterproofing layer over the course of ~20 years, all stored in UV-protected closets of air-conditioned homes. The PU layer loosens from the base fabric, creating white air gap areas, or it peels off, or it gets sticky and flakes off, often accompanied by a bad odor.

Foam padding in backpack straps, hip belts and back panels, and EVA midsoles used in hiking boots deteriorate with time as well, due to breakdown of the polymer. I've had Vibram soles, still in good shape, peel right off hiking / backpacking boots - the EVA midsole had crumbled into dust.

I've also had soft luggage / bags develop a stink as it passed the 20 year mark, a side efect of some part of the fabric "rotting".

It's got little to do with usage or normal storage conditions, rather it is a chemical breakdown of the polymer due to time and exposure to air. Maybe if you stored everything in a vacuum or nitrogen-purged chamber it would last. Otherwise you should figure outdoors gear made with waterproofing or padding has perhaps a 10 year useful life span.

Happily sleeping bags and gore-tex apparel doesn't seem to "rot".
And silicone. i've had some silcoat gear for near 15 years now, since it first became available on the outdoor market, and it's holding up better than the PU coated gear.

just an observation, from someone who's tested and accumulated a lot of gear over the years. Worked at marmot, tested gear for MSR, ski instructor, volunteered on Mountain rescue teams, etc.....shwag and comp and Pro deals abounded. I still work the outdoor industry in a part time gig.

as to the odor of PU coated deterioration, i just culled my sewing gear of a bunch of foul smelling fabric and patching materials, i sorted it by the smell!
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Old 05-16-13, 08:31 PM
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Originally Posted by mm718 View Post
REI says that rain flys should be stored loosely in a plastic tub to prevent breakdown of the waterproofing. When this happens it results in a sticky and unusable tent.

Has anybody experienced this? How do you store your tent? Do sleeping pads require special storage procedures?
In a perfect world I would have a large closet with dowels that the tent could lay on.
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