Packing up canvas tents in the rain?

Submitted: Monday, Feb 23, 2009 at 11:15


OK I have a fairly simple question... I've been thinking of getting a canvas tent because I am frankly sick of flimsy nylon dome tents, I remember we used to have proper canvas cabin tents when I was in scouts and they were awesome...

But everything I've read says that you cant pack them up wet... now to me this is just plain ridiculous, you can't control the weather and sooner or later youre likely going to have to pack up in the rain...? So how does this affect the tent? What do you do about in a situation like this?

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Reply By: Member - Barnray (NSW) - Monday, Feb 23, 2009 at 11:22

Monday, Feb 23, 2009 at 11:22
It doesn't take long for mould to start growing inside the folded up tent, if you have to, then you must open it up to let it dry within a day or two preferably the next day. Barnray
AnswerID: 350553

Reply By: Member - Ingo57 (NSW) - Monday, Feb 23, 2009 at 11:23

Monday, Feb 23, 2009 at 11:23

The problem is not packing up a wet tent, its leaving a wet tent packed for weeks...... then the mould starts to grow.

Ive packed my Southern Cross away wet but aired it out the following weekend, wouldn't leave it much longer than 5 or 6 days.

AnswerID: 350554

Reply By: Tenpounder - Monday, Feb 23, 2009 at 11:43

Monday, Feb 23, 2009 at 11:43
Hi there. I reckon, if push comes to shove, a nylon tent would get pretty ripe if stored wet anyway. The instructions for our new Coleman dome really emphasise the need to dry it before packing away, so I suspect there's not a lot of difference ultimately.
But, like others have said, you can pack a canvas tent away wet as long as you dry it out fairly soon after. This means it is important to buy a canvas tent that can be put up quickly and easily.
Our big tent is a standard canvas centre pole tourer, and you can forget about guys and all but the four corner pegs, and just erect the tent over lunch or something the next day.
I remember once putting ours up on the side of the road outside Launceston Tas, and getting a few strange looks as we waited for our tent to dry - all of ten minutes or so - before we joined the ferry back to the mainland that night.
We don't get rain in SA anyway, of course, so it's not often a problem. But the good features of a 'real tent' make it well worth it.
Mind you, a good canvas tent isn't cheap, but enjoy!!
Chris (SA)
AnswerID: 350555

Reply By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Monday, Feb 23, 2009 at 13:07

Monday, Feb 23, 2009 at 13:07
Like all of the above, as long as you can unpack and air the tent out as soon as possible. We have packed up many a wet tent over the years and always unpacked it within 24 hours to dry completely and never had any problems, mind you it is different in the tropics. On one time up in Cairns many years ago, the weather came in wet and we started to get mould growing on the inside of the tent when we were still using it because of the real humid weather.


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Follow Up By: Member - Julie P (VIC) - Wednesday, Feb 25, 2009 at 09:03

Wednesday, Feb 25, 2009 at 09:03
We have packed up canvas wet many times - but always open up and dry it out asap - never had a problem - couple of years ago we took the camper trailer to Qld - rain - you have never seen the like - got rained out everywhere - but made sure the camper never stayed down long - doesn't take long to dry it out - in almost nine years we never had a touch of mould on it - I have seen and smelt mould on a nylon dome tent - so they will get mouldy if left folded up as well.
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Reply By: Madfisher - Monday, Feb 23, 2009 at 15:04

Monday, Feb 23, 2009 at 15:04
If it is raining when packing up I fold it up but do not put it in the bag, just spread it out over your over camping gear,helps but still needs to be dries properly.
Cheers Pete
AnswerID: 350578

Reply By: Seakarvan - Monday, Feb 23, 2009 at 16:55

Monday, Feb 23, 2009 at 16:55
Well, I guess the former replies has covered your question, however, we have Macpac and an old Fairydown above snowline tents and yes nylon works. With your scouting experiences, move on, canvas is ok but needs care.

I would suggest your fell victim of the cheap tent syndrome. Don't get me wrong mate we all have at certain times in our lives. A workable solution is to by an 'El Cheapo' tent and organise a tarp, poles etc set up in a Vee shape that keeps air space between the tent.

Happy camping
AnswerID: 350608

Reply By: Motherhen - Monday, Feb 23, 2009 at 18:37

Monday, Feb 23, 2009 at 18:37
When i was involved with girl guide camps, the boy scouts had modern easy to erect nylon tents, but guide policy dictated that we stick to the big old fashioned canvas tents, long tent poles and all. We had to get one of the Dads to bring them out on a trailer. Once we had a wet weekend, and we had the tents hanging up in my shearing shed for over a week until the weather fined up enough to dry them for folding away. Next winter camp we did the un-guide like camping of going to forestry department cottages - so easy.

I'm sure nylon would dry much quicker, as well as be smaller and lighter to 'hang out to dry'.


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Reply By: chris_s - Monday, Feb 23, 2009 at 21:10

Monday, Feb 23, 2009 at 21:10
Pitch/hang/drape the tent ASAP. The tent material will dry quite quickly. Don't forget the guyropes will hold a lot more moisture and these might need a good +24 hours of drying, especially if stored with the tent. Taped seams can also hold a lot of moisture too.
AnswerID: 350672

Reply By: howie - Monday, Feb 23, 2009 at 23:35

Monday, Feb 23, 2009 at 23:35
last winter i spent 7 weeks on a trip, moving every day except about 6 days.
had to pack up 1 hr before daylight, tent was soaking with heavy dew & ice nearly every morning.
had to try and get it up for last hour of daylight to try and dry it for that night and it spent all day soaked in its bag.
never got musty once. (pleasantly surprised)
end of trip it got a good hosing, in and out, and about 2 days drying.
if i get home with a wet tent and its still raining, it still goes up in the yard in the rain until its dry.
the answer is yes, you can pack a tent up wet, it's unavoidable.

AnswerID: 350694

Reply By: obee1212 - Tuesday, Feb 24, 2009 at 07:27

Tuesday, Feb 24, 2009 at 07:27
We carry a fly in the form of a plastic tarp and we use it to keep off the hot sun and the rain. Its big enough to provide a roof to sit under as well. A canvas tent will eventually let water in if exposed long enough.

AnswerID: 350710

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