Through our own experience, and from wonderful comments and suggestions from our customers, we’ve compiled a list of tips and tricks when using our Kodiak Canvas products – or when camping in general. Below you’ll find several “pro tips” that will hopefully make your camping easier and more enjoyable.
If you have some of your own tips and tricks, we’d love to hear them! Send us a message on Instagram @kodiakcanvas or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll add yours to the list!
Mark the bottom of your tent by the front door.
When you store your tent, it’s all rolled up. A common question when unrolling it is which side is the “front door” – or the side that has the awning on it. Too many times we’ve setup our own tents with the awning facing the wrong direction. There’s a quick fix for that. Simply use some sort of marking on the underside of your tent to indicate where the front door is. You can use a sharpie marker and draw on the underside of the vinyl floor or put some sort of colored tape – anything to mark it to indicate the front of the tent. It’s as simple as that.
Use floor liners for a more comfortable tent experience.
For those of you who camp in colder climates – or any of you who are interested in a more comfortable tent camping experience, we recommend a floor liner for the inside of your tent. Our heavy-duty vinyl floors are great for protecting you and your tent, but let’s be honest, nobody likes to stand on a cold floor with bare feet. So, here’s a couple quick solutions for you: First, Kodiak sells some high-quality canvas ‘floor liners’ that definitely make life inside your tent more comfortable. Our second option isn’t a product we sell, but many of our customers swear by this. Simply buy some cheap moving blankets at Harbor Freight (approx. $6-$10 each). These add a little padding to your floor, and great insulation for your bare feet. And they’re cheap too – so if they get ruined, no big deal.
Use a Rubber Mallet to pound stakes in softer ground and a small sledge hammer to pound stakes in rockier ground.
The first step when setting up your tent is to stake out the tent. We’ve used all-manner of tools to pound stakes in the ground including rocks, logs, standard hammers…. And rubber mallets! If you’ve never used a rubber mallet to pound your tent stakes, you need to try it soon – it will change your life. The hitting surface is much larger – making it harder to miss - and the annoying metal-on-metal sound is greatly dampened. While rubber mallets are highly effective at driving stakes in softer ground, if you are camping in an area with rocky or hard ground, try using a small sledgehammer instead of a rubber mallet. The extra weight and force of the sledge is great at driving stakes in tougher ground.
Guy rope management (How to wind guy ropes for storage)
All of our tents come with “guy ropes” – some tents with more than others. We often see campers stuffing these ropes into their pole bags or stake bags where they easily turn into a jumbled mess. So here’s a little trick to help keep your ropes from getting tangled. When you’re done camping and ready to pack up the tent, simply take your guy ropes and wind them on your hand in a figure eight between your pinkie finger and your thumb. When you’re done winding the rope, store it in a separate bag to keep them separate from your other gear. For those of you with our stove tents, the smoke detector bag is a great bag for storing guy ropes. For the rest of you, any bag will work – but you can also use the gear organizer bag that hangs inside the tent. When you’re ready to use your ropes again, pull out the rope bundle and won’t be tangled at all – you’re ready to go.
Drying a wet tent
Have you ever been camping in wet weather, and had to roll up a wet tent when it was time to come home? It happens all the time, and we get a lot of questions about what to do when this happens. First and foremost, NEVER store your tent for any period time with it rolled up wet – save the time it takes you to get home. It doesn’t take long for mold to grow on wet canvas. As soon as you can when you return from camping, unroll your tent and start the drying process. Here’s a few ideas for you:
- If it’s sunny out, setup your tent in your yard – direct sunlight will dry your tent in no time. Does it need to be setup? It will dry faster if you set it up, but just unrolling your tent flat on your lawn will eventually dry it out – it will just take longer than it does fully setup.
- What if it’s raining still after you return home? Unroll and spread out your tent in a garage the best you can. Unzip all windows and doors, and if possible place 2 camp chairs inside your wet tent to let air circulate between your canvas and vinyl tent floor.
- Use a carpet dryer! If you have the space, and you have a carpet dryer fan – you might give this a try. Close all your windows and doors except for a small area where the dryer fan will blow into your tent. Your tent will inflate like a balloon and dry out fairly quickly.
Canvas rot and how to avoid it
Many of our customers have voiced concern about “canvas rot”. Canvas rot occurs when canvas material is in constant contact with wet or dewy vegetation for long periods of time. It can also occur when canvas is stored in humid or wet conditions. Over time, the canvas will deteriorate and become brittle and crack and break. Unfortunately ‘canvas rot’ is NOT covered by our warranty because it is very preventable and only occurs when you neglect your tent.
When setting up your tent, make sure there is no vegetation touching the canvas walls of your tent – especially at the base where the canvas meets the vinyl floor. Also periodically clear any fall leaves off the roof of your tent.
Make sure your tent is stored in a dry climate. If you live in a humid area, you may want to store your tent body inside a climate controlled – or air conditioned space. The key to preventing canvas rot is making sure your tent is stored completely dry. Mostly dry doesn’t cut it.
Use a Tarp
Customers often ask us if they need to use a tarp underneath their tents – between the tent floor and the ground. This isn’t a requirement, but it definitely has its benefits:
First, it adds another layer of protection for your vinyl tent floor. Our vinyl floors are heavy-duty, but not impervious to punctures from sharp rocks, branches, etc. A tarp just adds another layer of protection.
Second, it keeps your tent much cleaner! If you don’t have a tarp, you’ll need to clean any dirt, mud, debris off your tent floor as you’re rolling it up. With a tarp, it makes this process a lot quicker and cleaner when rolling your tent for storage.
Having a tarp on hand is never a bad idea. They have many uses beyond ground protection. Kodiak sells tarps that are specific to our tent floor specs, but any poly-type tarp from any store would work great. The general rule of thumb is that your tarp should be 2-4 inches smaller on all sides than your tent footprint. This helps prevent water getting between your tent floor and your tarp. One note, tarps don’t need to be staked down under your tent – simply place the tent on top of the tarp and stake down your tent.
Use a door mat
One of our pet peeves is tracking dirt and debris inside our tent. We like ‘clean’ camping. One way to help keep your tent clean is to place a door mat outside your tent door – or doors if you’re using multiple entrances.
If you’re looking for a door mat specific for your tent, find one that allows water to drain through it (like astro-turf style carpet at Home Depot) so your mat doesn’t become a soggy mess in wet weather.
In a pinch, if you forget your door mat, you can use floor mats from your vehicles as a tent door mat.
Pack a broom
We mentioned in a previous pro-tip that we like clean camping. One key piece of our camping gear is a broom and dustpan. We take this whenever we go camping. It’s been used for cleaning out tents, sweeping out truck beds, and even removing snow from the top of our tent. You might consider cutting down your broom handle to shorten it. Makes it easier to pack, takes up less space, and works just as good cleaning whatever we need to sweep out.
Use knee pads
We picked up this tip from good ‘ol Dad. He’s got some bad knees, and one of the challenges with pitching a tent is you need to kneel frequently – whether you’re staking out your tent, or rolling it up, you’ll spend a little time on your knees. For those of you who have bad knees – or just don’t like kneeling on rocks and pebbles, keep a pair of knee pads with your camping gear. They make a hard, uneven ground much more pleasant.
Use a magnetic stove pipe thermometer
For those of you who own and use our stove tents, we recommend having a magnetic stove pipe thermometer with you. The rubber gasket or seal that is attached to the tent and goes around your stove pipe is rated to 550 degrees Fahrenheit. While we’ve never made a fire in our tent stove that came close to this temperature, it’s comforting to know that! You can find these magnetic stove pipe thermometers on Amazon for less than $10. Here’s an example: https://www.amazon.com/Magnetic-Stove-Thermometer-Chimney-Temperature/dp/B09JSP7CGF/
Use a heat-activated fan with your tent stove
For those of you who own and use tent stoves while camping, we suggest using a heat-powered stove fan that sits on top of your stove. The fan is powered by the heat from your stove – no batteries or electricity. Instead of the heat rising vertically with a standard stove, the stove fan diverts the warm air horizontally. The extra movement of air will help warm the whole room, not just the ceiling and the area near the stove. It’s a good investment if you’re using a tent stove.
We bought this particular fan off of Amazon for $21: https://www.amazon.com/VODA-Designed-Blades-Powered-Fireplace/dp/B01GJAUU4U/
Use a carbon monoxide and fire alarm in your tent
Safety in the outdoors always comes first. Except for our tent stoves, we DO NOT recommend putting any heat source inside your tent. This can be very dangerous and may be a fire hazard or a carbon monoxide hazard. Please read your tent’s instruction manual for the full warning.
Specific to our tent stoves, we ALWAYS recommend using a battery-powered combination smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector inside your tent. Simply place the alarm in the mesh bag that comes with your tent and hang it from the ceiling of the tent. This particular bag that comes with our stove tents doubles as a guy-rope storage bag.
We bought this First Alert brand detector on Amazon for $37: https://www.amazon.com/First-Alert-PRC710-Combination-Alarm/dp/B00ON6M56Y/
How to avoid condensation in your tent – and why it’s important (especially when camping for longer periods of time)
Ventilation in any tent is critical – both for your own comfort on a warm day, and to avoid condensation on cooler days and evenings.
Especially when camping for longer periods of time (5 days or more), make sure you leave your windows cracked for ventilation. When your tent is completely sealed, it doesn’t breathe as well, and under the right weather conditions, condensation may build up inside your tent. This does a couple things: first it makes everything inside your tent damp and wet. Second, it can lead to mold or mildew growing on your tent canvas.
Whether you’re in your tent, or away from your tent for extended periods of time, always leave some windows cracked to prevent condensation.
Preventing Zipper Problems (broken zippers or exhausted zippers)
One of the most critical parts of any tent is the zipper. Anyone who has experienced a bad zipper knows how frustrating and aggravating this can be.
Because zippers are so critical, all our Kodiak Canvas tents come with the absolute best YKK brand zippers. Even with the best zippers, you may still encounter some zipper issues at times.
Here are some zipper tips and tricks:
- When closing your tent doors, grab both zipper pulls – both inside and outside the tent door – at the same time. This makes closing your door much smoother, and reduces strain on your zipper – and lengthens the life of your zipper
- Avoid over stretching your tent too tight when you stake it out. You’ll find that a tent that is too tight is more difficult to zip the doors. Your staked tent should be tight, but not tight as a drum.
- Don’t use zipper lubes or grease as these tend to attract and hold more dirt and debris. In sandy or dusty areas, simply clean your tent zippers with a wet microfiber cloth.
How to clean your tent (bird dropping, mud/dirt, dog pee, etc.)
At some point, every camper out there will encounter some stain on your canvas tent – whether it’s mud, or bird droppings or even a dog that couldn’t resist lifting a leg on the corner of your tent. We get a lot of questions on how to best clean a stain on your canvas tent.
It’s always best if you can clean the spot with just water and a microfiber cloth. This will preserve the water-repellency that is already in your canvas fabric material. If you only use water and a rag, there is no need for additional water repellent treatment after you clean.
For those more stubborn stains like bird droppings or mold and mildew, you might try a cleaning solution that is 1 part vinegar, 5 parts water, and maybe a ½ teaspoon of liquid dish soap. Mix that up and use it to clean those tougher stains. Specific to mold and mildew stains, we recommend a product called IOSSO Mold & Mildew Stain Remover – available on Amazon.
PLEASE NOTE – when using any kind of detergent to clean your canvas fabric, you will need to re-treat the areas you cleaned with a water repellent material like Kiwi Camp Dry – also available on Amazon.
Also note it is always best to limit your cleaning to spot-cleaning only. When using detergents, the more areas you clean, the more areas you’ll need to re-treat with water repellent.