Camping in the rain can be an annoyance at the best of times, so when it’s time to pack up and the tent is still wet, your only option is to dry it off once you’ve returned home. The last thing anyone wants to do when they return home from an exhausting camping trip is to unpack and reassemble their sodden tent to let it dry off – so how long can you leave it for?
It depends entirely on how wet the tent actually is and in what conditions it’s being stored. A wet tent can usually be stored for around 48 hours.
Disassembling a Tent in the Rain
The easy way to keep a tent in storage is to make sure it’s as dry as it can be before being packed away. It may be impossible to pack a tent away in the rain without it getting a little wet, but thankfully, there are precautions that can be taken to minimize the amount of rainwater getting to the tent.
One way to disassemble a tent in the rain is to create or use shelter over the tent. If you’re an experienced camper, you may already be using tarpaulin as a makeshift shelter over your tent, or using a more substantial cover like a gazebo. Having a shelter over yourself and your tent as you pack the tent away will also keep you dry. If you have the opportunity to, make sure to wipe your tent down with a towel as it’s being packed away. It won’t dry it completely, but it will help it dry quicker once it is unpacked to dry out.
Tarpaulin can also be used to cover the tent bags during transport, meaning that you’ll be able to keep your tent dry on the journey back, too.
Storing a Wet Tent
Storing a wet tent for too long without drying it off can lead to unfavorable results. If you need to store your tent whilst it’s wet, it’s recommended you keep it in a cold place, such as a cold garage or even a fridge or freezer. Ensuring the area is also well ventilated is an added bonus.
These are only temporary solutions, and your tent should be aired out to dry as soon as it possibly can.
Why Do I Need to Dry My Tent?
A wet tent is a breeding ground for mold and mildew, and if conditions are right, they can spawn and grow rapidly. In fact, some molds may only take 24 hours to appear on a tent if the conditions are just right.
Mold and mildew can be both a risk to yourself and the tent. Some mold spores can actually be dangerous to breathe in, such as black mold. Additionally, mold and mildew can compromise a tent’s structure, specifically its walls and flooring. This could lead to damage to the tent, leading to patches and repairs, bad smells, or, more significantly, the need to buy a new tent.
How to Dry a Wet Tent
Drying a wet tent doesn’t take too much time or effort. In fact, the easiest ways to dry off a wet tent are to either reassemble it and let it air dry, or to put the separate pieces on a clothesline and let them dry as you would clothing. Of course, for these methods to work, it will have to be dry outside (and preferably sunny!), but there are other ways to dry a tent if the weather isn’t being too kind to you.
Set Your Tent Up Indoors
Setting a wet tent up indoors may be your best option if you can’t let it dry outside for whatever reason. To set your tent up indoors, set a bunch of towels down and assemble your tent on top of them. This, admittedly, works better for damp tents rather than sodden ones, as it runs the risk of getting the interior of your house wet in the process. Pointing a fan inside the tent to increase airflow can also help speed the process up, along with wiping down covers and poles with clean towels whilst in the process of setting it up. Hopefully, within a couple of hours, the tent will be dry enough to repack.
Waterproof Your Tent
Reassessing how waterproof your tent is while drying it is a good way to try and prepare for rain during your next camping trip. You can read more about waterproofing your tent more extensively here, but if you’re looking for a quick solution, using a seam sealer whilst your tent is dry and still assembled to maintain the seams and any cracks within them is good practice. Additionally, you can take the time to apply additional water repellent spray to your tent once it has dried, enabling it to withstand the rainy weather better and help it dry off quicker the next time you get caught in the rain.
Before heading out on a camping trip, you can take some precautions to help you if the weather turns.
Packing additional towels and tarpaulin to dry and cover your tent is always well advised, as these items have multiple uses and can come in handy in other ways.
Additionally, you can invest in anti-fungal spray to spray your tent before you go. This spray can prevent molds and fungus spawns from growing on your tent, meaning it’s less likely to go bad if left for a couple of days without drying out. Of course, the tent will eventually have to be dried, but these measures taken can help improve the longevity of the tent.