You’ve just returned from a family camping trip, you have lots of gear ready to go into storage. Smaller stuff can easily get packed away in a closet, but what can you do with bigger pieces of gear like tents and sleeping bags? Does everything need to come inside or can you store a tent in the garage?
You should be able to safely store a tent in the garage. Just make sure it’s stored in a dry location away from direct sunlight. I recommend storing all your camping gear together in hard plastic containers to protect it from water, sunlight, mice, and other pests.
Although tents are fairly durable, they can easily be damaged if you don’t treat them right. All it takes is a little bit of water to ruin your brand new tent and leave you with a moldy/mildewed mess. Keep reading to find out how I store my tent to reduce damage and extend its life.
Storing a Tent In The Garage
You can store your tent in the garage as long as you can find a way to keep it dry and out of direct sunlight. Heat and humidity shouldn’t play a role here so it doesn’t matter what kind of garage you have. It should be good, as long as you can keep the tent dry and out of sunlight.
In most cases, a tent will hold up well if it’s stored in dry areas. Temperature fluctuations and humidity don’t matter all that much. Tents are designed to handle a wide variety of weather conditions so they can handle a little bit of humidity.
Problems only start to arise when there’s lots of moisture. Watch out for leaky windows and ceilings. You don’t want water to pool up on the tent and cause mold/mildew. It probably won’t ruin the material, but the smell will drive you crazy.
You’ll need an enzyme based cleaner like Revivex Odor Eliminator to get rid of the smell. It’s 50/50 on whether or not it will completely get rid of the smell. Vinegar would be a cheaper solution, but it doesn’t work as well.
Don’t Worry About Heat and Humidity
A lot of campers worry about storing their tent in non-climate controlled environments like a garage. They think that the heat and humidity in a garage will cause mold/mildew damage to one of their most expensive pieces of camping equipment.
Heat shouldn’t cause any problems with your tent. Most tents are designed to withstand extreme summer temperatures. I’ve kept an old tent up in the attic for well over a decade and there’s no damage whatsoever. Temperatures easily reach 120-140 degrees up there and there’s no damage.
Humidity shouldn’t be that much of a problem in your garage. Do you have a bunch of mold growing on your garage walls? Than you shouldn’t have to worry about humidity in the garage. There’s not enough humidity in the air to damage a tent.
When it comes to heat, direct sunlight is the real problem. Keep your camping gear away from windows in a dark corner of the garage or store all your gear in a hard plastic container.
Watch Out For Mold and Mildew
For the most part, tents are designed to withstand a wide variety of conditions. If they can handle a spring storm they can deal with an unheated garage. Problems only start to arise when you introduce water into the equation.
Water can quickly damage your camping gear. Make sure your tent is clean and dry before putting it into storage. Storing your tent wet will cause mold/mildew to grow fast.
Drying Out Your Tent To Prevent Damage (Airing It Out)
Your tent needs to be completely dry before it goes back into storage. Make sure you deal with a wet/dirty tent fast after a camping trip. I like to wash off my gear 1-2 days after I get home and put everything into storage clean.
All it should take is a quick hose off, unless you got caught in a storm. Set your tent up in the yard and give it a quick wash. Leave the tent setup for a few hours to make sure that it’s completely dry. The sun can usually dry your tent in a few hours, but I like to wait overnight and deal with it after work the following day.
You can always set your tent up in the garage if the weather refuses to cooperate. Leave the tent flaps open and setup a small fan to blow air through the inside of the tent. It will take longer to dry, but it should be good within 2-3 days.
This is assuming you have a nylon tent. Canvas will take forever to dry without direct sunlight. It’s better to set the canvas tent outside and wait for sunlight than risk storing it wet.
Tent Storage Made Easy
Tents usually start to go into long term storage once colder weather starts to roll around. Very few people make the expensive transition into winter camping. The vast majority of people will need to find a way to store their gear over the winter.
So how do you protect your gear when storing it away for a few months (or even years). You don’t want to buy new gear every 1-2 years. It all needs to stay in the same shape you left it. So how do you store camping gear?
Your tent needs to be cleaned before it can get put into storage. All the dirt needs to be washed off and the fabric needs to be bone dry. I setup my tent in the yard and spray Nikwax Solarwash on my tent at the end of every season. It cleans up all the dirt and adds UV Protection and waterproofing to the fabric.
Sweep everything out of the inside and try to get all the caked up dirt off the outside with your hose. Once the tents clean you need to leave it out to dry for a few days. I usually clean up everything on the same day so everything goes into storage clean. Make sure all your gear is aired out completely and pickup a large plastic container from a local store to store it all in.
Store Your Tent In a Hard Plastic Container
Personally, I like to store all my camping gear in hard plastic containers on homemade racks in the garage. Containers keep your gear dry and out of direct sunlight. Plus you won’t have to worry about pests getting into your gear.
Storing everything in 1-2 hard plastic containers keeps everything organized so you can go on impromptu camping trips. You don’t have to worry about forgetting something when it’s all stored in the same place. Just open up your bin and all your camping gear is ready to go.
Keep An Eye On Mice and Other Rodents
Mice can easily chew through a tent and cause serious damage to your sleeping bags. That’s why storing your gear in containers is so important. All it takes is a single mouse to ruin $100s of dollars worth of camping gear. They tear up the nylon side walls to use as nesting material.
Mice shouldn’t be able to chew through a thick plastic container so that’s all the protection you need. A $5 storage container could save all your camping gear from mouse damage.