Similar to the question about old ropes.

I have an old plastic tent. It is for 3 persons, but is heavy and now not waterproof anymore, with some damage to the small room around the door.

How can I use it in its end-of-life?

I have an idea to carry it to some place that I go often enough, pitch it there with all the windproof stakes and leave it there. Is this a good idea?

  • 1
    We had an old tent which when it was no longer any good for a proper nights camping became a fun beach / garden option to create shade. It saves buying one specifically (though we have those too) and my family used to have an old tent laying around for the kids in the family to use for fun.
    – Aravona
    Commented Jun 30, 2014 at 13:40
  • 6
    I don't think pitching it somewhere fixed might be a good idea. Tents (especially plastic ones) have a rather limited lifetime concerning (prolonged) exposure to the elements. If you pitch it somewhere and leave it to sun, wind, rain and snow, it will degrade rather fast. In addition, animals might use it as a home and I guess it won't take too long that you don't want to visit it anymore. Then it will be some old plastic crap in the landscape that pollutes nature and bothers other people. Commented Sep 4, 2014 at 12:20

4 Answers 4

  1. When I decided to trash my tent, which was so old and was no longer of any use for active camping, I and my mentor in trekking, firstly used the same tent to teach kids of how to pitch a tent.
  2. I also used some part of the tent fabric to make a sort-of a sand bag for me, which I used to tie to my legs during my running sessions.
  3. I have also used a piece of fabric of an old tent to add a patch to the bottom of my sack which was on the verge of getting torn off. This little money-saving trick let me use the same sack for about 20 hikes (more), and then finally I got rid of that sack.
  4. Along with this, I have seen one of my friends using 2-3 layers of that fabric as a sheet which he puts beneath his sleeping bag, in order to ensure that he doesn't have to ever (dry)wash the sleeping bag.
  5. Then, I can suggest one more use of it, that usually material of a tent is hard to tear through effortlessly. So, If I am carrying something like a hunting knife, I can make a carrying pouch for it.
  6. You could make a tent or a similar kind of thing for your pet.

If nothing out of above, the best that you can do is, Give it to kids, let them learn! I learnt to pitch the tent using a similar kind of tent that my uncle gave me.

  • Concerning my more concrete question: would it be wise to pitch the tent rock-solid in the wilredness close to the city and use it sporadically. Could it catch mould/be torn apart if I take precautions? I do not want to litter the forest.
    – Vorac
    Commented Aug 15, 2013 at 8:28
  • 1
    @Vorac: Not a single (Truely)outdoor person want to litter the forest. Having known this, I would say, give up the thought of using it like a tent for true camping sense anymore.
    – WedaPashi
    Commented Aug 16, 2013 at 4:16


A common use for old tents or especially their fly-sheets is as a survival shelter(also called a kisu). They're great for trapping heat to keep people warm for when you have to stop for a while (be it because you've a problem or you just want to have lunch). If you haven't sat into one on a cold day you really have no idea how good well they work.

If the tent doesn't have a fly sheet you could make one by simply cutting off the bottom half and any other extra bits like porches that you wouldn't need.

Obviously it won't be as nice as the commercial ones which only weigh a few hundred grammes and only take up about a litre...but hey, it's free.

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  • In temperate areas, you can add a rope, and use it as a subsitute for a hiking tent. Commented Sep 9, 2014 at 0:16

I have used old tents to make re usable shopping bags. The netting also makes great produce bags.


Use it for shade at the beach? Cut off a side so you have something to sit under for shade or to protect yourself from the wind.

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