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Explanation of why my question is not a duplicate of What is the best way to store my tent?.

I am specifically asking about an aspect not addressed in the earlier question or any of its answers: does prolonged storage (several years, not several months) in its stuff sack without ever taking it out affect the lifetime of a tent?

We have two tents, one smaller than the other; we use the smaller one when we expect mostly fine weather. We use the larger tent only when the likelihood of bad weather is high. Thus, the larger tent may remain in its sack for more than a year. Once, after prolonged storage, the rainfly failed.

Is it likely that keeping the tent in its stuffsack for a couple of years was the cause of the failure, and that its exposure to UV over its years of use made it really inadvisable to store it this way?

  • 1
    MY habit is to store a tent dry, cool and in the dark. AFAIK most tents are nylon, and UV is the only realistic threat to nylon. Even if you stored it wet I don't think it would breakdown the material. But I don't really know so I don't consider this an answer. I did have a very cheap tent last for more than a decade (before it was given away). That tent didn't see much sunlight - I always packed it up to move during the day. – Pepi Apr 20 '17 at 6:53
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    I let my tent live in the trunk of my car one summer in a very hot climate. Big mistake, as by the end, the waterproofing was peeling off the fly. – Karen Apr 20 '17 at 13:02
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A key part of your question -- "...in its stuff sack..." -- is not addressed here (or in the original, duplicate question).

When I bought my first high-quality back-packing tent, I was advised not to store it stuffed into its sac for long periods. It seems perfectly logical to me to not store any "crushable" gear into its "carrying sac" for long periods for fear of having too many wrinkles and creases permanently imposed upon the material.

I recently had an airbed, that was stored in its carry sac, annoyingly crack along such an unnatural stressed fold. Lucky for me it was a cheapo. I keep my more expensive air bed almost completely self-inflated. I keep my tents and sleeping bags in "storage sacs" that are each about double the size of their carrying sacs. That seems to be a good compromise between fully compressed and fully unwrapped; I don't have endless closet space.

To effect a double-size sac for your tent and fly: get another carry-sized sac of similar size and store the tent and fly separately in the two separate sacs. Each will be reasonably compact and airy at the same time. Such a setup for my tent has lasted over 20 years so far.

I went from this storage sac

 __________
(          )
( squashed )
(tent & fly)
(__________)

to these storage sacs

 __________      __________
(          )    (          )
( relaxed  )    ( relaxed  )
(   tent   )    (   fly    )
(__________)    (__________)
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Storing tents follows the same rules as storing anything basically, with a couple of important additions:

  • Keep away from sunlight. UV radiation will damage many materials after extended exposure, so keep you tent away from direct sun light when you store it for months. Obviously short term (weeks) exposure isn't a problem, as that's what tents are made for...
  • Store it dry. By far the most important one: when your tent isn't perfectly dry when packing it in, make sure you unpack it later to let it dry completely, even if that means spreading it in your living room or garage... If kept moist the tent fabric will form mould. Apart from being nasty and potentially very unhealthy, mould will also attack the coating of the tent fabric, reducing its waterproofness.

    In case this ever happens: the Nylon fabric itself shouldn't be broken down by the mould so will probably be ok. You should be able to reapply the coating (or have your trusted outdoor store do it for you) and regain at least some of the tents former water resistance properties...)

  • Avoid excessive temperature changes. If possible store the tent at more or less the same temperature... From my experience storing it in the attic is ok, but I would not, for example, store it outside over an entire year.

Case in point: I've been using a tunnel tent (similar to the Hilleberg ones, but a less known brand) for more than 12 years. The tent has been used on easily some total of 12 weeks of proper outdoor treks (mainly northern Scandinavia) and on dozens festivals all over Europe. It still serves me well and the only thing I ever had to fix was one of the zippers.

  • Thanks, +1, good answer to the question as originally worded, but note that I have edited to emphasize a factor not covered by an earlier question. – ab2 Apr 20 '17 at 13:42
  • Hmm, regretfully I don't really have a good answer to your upgraded question except of speculation... Let's hope somebody else can pitch in. – fgysin Apr 20 '17 at 15:24
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This answer is just based on personal experience. I have two tents, one small backpacking tent, and a large tent I call my basecamp tent. Both are stored in the compression sacks they came with.

The 'basecamp' tent is rarely used, it was stored in my loft for a good four years between uses. On the last use it was abysmal weather but held up as if new.

After every use I make sure both my tents are dry and clean before storage. If they are going to be stored for a long time also re-waterproofed and all the seals cared for.

Tl:Dr So long as they are dry, clean, and stored in a cool dry place out of the sun; storing a tent all compressed together has never given me an issue.

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