07/03/2013
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Quick guide to basic tent checks

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  • All tents should come with a repair kit so keep yours with your tent rather than 'somewhere safe'. The items in it will give you a good idea of what to check regularly and to replace before they break inconveniently. If there are elements you don't like, consider changing them sooner rather than later and keep the old ones as emergency spares.
  • Unless you're very disciplined and never pack up in the rain, then your tent's guylines will probably only look like this when you first unpack it. As untangling guylines is a key source of frustration on site, it does pay to keep them under control and bundled up neatly. I've got a strange friend who calls all his guylines 'Tom' - as in hanks.
  • Replacing conventional guyline adjustable runners with designs that are easier to operate and more reliable is the norm for me these days. Clamcleat's Line-Loks come in different sizes and work by simply pushing up to tension and securing by trapping the line in the 'jaws'; pulling the lines apart releases the tension instantly.
  • Line-Lok guy line adjusters are also available as luminous glow in the dark and reflective fluorescent versions; guyline cord too can be luminous and reflective. If replacing guylines is too much of a chore, consider tying fabric ribbons to them to help in avoiding flying fall syndrome. No need though to turn your tent into a maypole.
  • Synthetic guyline cord is strong and durable and won't stretch when wet; a couple of spares do no harm and can double as extra security. I've taken to replacing my guylines with 2mm Dyneema lines. Ultralight, tough and durable, it was great initially for ultralight tarps; replacing other tents' guys was a whim rather than necessity.
  • I've rarely had problems with zips jamming and that might be because I always run a candle lightly over the teeth every now and then despite the suspicion that, in reality, it makes no difference and has more to do with superstition and site myth. If a candle doesn't suit then you can buy spray-on zip lube.
  • More to the point with zips is operating the pullers easily. It's simple to add a loop of cord to them and makes them easier to find as well. Adding loops in a reef knot that are longer than needed means you'll always have spare cord to hand on site – literally. Little tasks like this are great to engage youngsters' interest in a practical way.
  • Accidents happen and fabric tears so Clingons make for an effective means of securing flysheets after a mishap and limiting further damage. As movable, reusable, instant eyelets, they can also serve as extra guyline points. They can be used on any fabric without the need for tools and grip tighter the heavier the load strain.
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