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The Perfect Base Camp

5ws-of-tentsite-selection

Think you’ve found the perfect base camp? Remember your five W’s.

Finding and setting up the perfect camp is central to any adventure.

We’ve collected the “dos and don’ts” for three of our favorite camping experiences.

The Developed Campground

Sometimes you need a quick fix of nature and a campfire. What’s easier than rolling up in your car to live out of the back for a night or two? For a finding-your-sanity adventure or to introduce camping to a new love or young kids, a developed campground is a great place to start.

Do: Find the quietest space. This will likely require multiple laps around the campground to identify – much to the chagrin and ridicule of your new love and/or children. They’ll thank you in the morning.

Don’t: Park next to the bathroom. Enough said.

Do: Go traditional. Bring your own firewood. Pack s’mores, a dutch oven, board games and any other luxuries you wouldn’t carry for more of a wilderness-style trip. Live it up.

Don’t: Forgo a tent. You may be tempted to crash in the car, but don’t cave in. There’s just something about a tent that pulls the full experience together.

The Wilderness/Backcountry Campsite

By definition, you’re backpacking in and nature provides the amenities.

Do: Orient your site toward the morning sunrise. Regardless of how excited you are to wake up and take in the spectacular views, it’s much easier to get out of your bag when the morning sun hits you with its warmth.

Don’t: Camp too near the trail. Few things are more disconcerting than the sounds of other people when your goal is to surround yourself with wilderness.

Do: Bring a pen and paper. No, you don’t need to journal your deep thoughts – unless you’re so moved. It seems like every trip generates a new idea of what to pack next time. Jot those brainstorms down!

Don’t: Rely on the weather report. Even if NOAA calls for balmy days and crystal clear nights, never be tempted to forgo your rain jacket and a few insulating layers. At least in the mountains, the only thing reliable about the weather is that it will change. And, oh yeah, make sure your gear is prepped and proofed before you hit the trail.

The High Alpine Basecamp

Of course you’re always careful to respect your safety and the health of the environment, but high altitude camping takes it to a new level (pun intended). The fragility of both your basic needs and the high alpine ecosystems are paramount.

Do: Bring down camp booties and extra batteries. Booties are lightweight, low volume, saviors of toes and keepers of happiness. Altitude is torture on batteries, so be sure to keep some extras on-hand (and warm) for headlamps and cameras.

Don’t: Underestimate the wind. Select a tent that can handle high, sustained gusts and some snow load.

Do: Bring lightweight entertainment, like cards, dice and a good sense of humor. Most likely you’re making a summit attempt and Mother Nature may or may not accommodate your desire. Be prepared for downtime.

Don’t: Confuse arrogance with confidence. Camping at high altitude is a learned skill. Teamwork is crucial and preparation is a requisite. Watching the sun rise and set over the curve of the earth is something that few on the planet will ever experience – enjoy.

Regardless of how you prefer your adventure, be prepared and leave only footprints.

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The History of the Tent: From mammoth to man-made

The history of the tent is long and storied. From prehistoric times to recreational camping, tents have been a part of human comfort and survival. Check out our tent history infographic and read on to learn more!

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Since the days Homo erectus, every kid throughout history has heard their parents squabbling over which tent pole goes where and would that gall-darned wind just stop blowing for one miserable minute so they could get the thing up.

A tent – first and foremost – provides the basic survival need of shelter. History’s first tent dwellers likely would have ditched their lean-to for an energy efficient stone cottage with a jetted bathtub and 500 channels on cable. Today’s tent dwellers (at least in North America) are typically looking to swap those modern trappings for an experience more evocative of a simpler time.

Of course, it’s easy to romanticize the notion of “simpler time.” The first evidence of tent construction can be carbon dated to around 40,000 B.C. While structurally rudimentary, the protective elements of the tents were made from Mammoth hides. Not so simple when your after-school chore consists of slaying, cleaning and sewing the hide of an 8-ton, 13-foot tall elephant.

Over the course of a few millennia, our ancestors realized the mammoth-motel lacked in some practical applications, like portability for their increasingly nomadic lifestyle. You just can’t hold a good Homo sapien down. Enter the yurt and the teepee (depending on your continent).

The hallmark of both the yurt and the teepee is ease of mobility. Folks from around 450 B.C. could follow the beast-du-jour migration or the seasonal flow of water. Essentially, early yurts and teepees served as the first iterations of the modern cab-over camper.

Yurt and teepee designs were sound enough to stand the test of time with minimal adaptation. To this day, Homo sapiens ‘Rocky Mountain hippie-ius’ still yearn for yurt living and backcountry yurt holidays.

As societies moved from nomadic to agrarian, complicated feats of portable architecture replaced simplistic engineering. With the species settling down, a tent came to symbolize a particular breed of wildness – whether as recreational pastime or enforced living.

Child labor could no longer be counted upon for preparing hides for the shelter, and the Industrial Revolution made heavy canvas and waxed fabrics easy to find. Tents were heavy, difficult to erect and inevitably stinky. Wall tents, still the preference of the military and many outfitters, loosely followed the form of the yurt and maximized indoor space. On the flip side, camping enthusiasts and outdoorspeople favored smaller versions of tent living. They sought structures falling somewhere between a teepee and a lean-to. These were still heavy and stinky, but less difficult to erect and better suited for turn of the 20th Century “light and fast” bragging rights.

Tent technology stayed fairly static until the fabric and materials revolution of the 1970’s. Nylon, which was invented by the DuPont Company in 1935, began its longtime reign as the go-to tent material. And the same tortured minds that brought us polyester leisure suits can be credited with a gigantic leap in making recreational tents lightweight and more weather resistant. Aluminum tent poles lightened the load even further.

Today, if you can dream of a perfect tent, there’s a good chance it already exists. Lightweight, portable and extremely weather resistant, we should all take a moment to thank our ancestors for the millennia of R&D to arrive at 2013’s tent technology.

The only concern is for today’s children. With tents so easy to erect, what will the youth of today do without the inevitable family fight the first time the tent is pitched in the backyard or the backcountry? We can only hope they’ll build new memories for a new generation.

*Nylon and polyester are truly wonder materials for your outdoor shelter needs. The main drawback is that these synthetic materials breakdown under UV light. Treat with Nikwax Tent and Gear SolarProof to guard against UV deterioration and to maintain water-repellency over the life of your tent.


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Tent Care

Why should you care for your tent?

UV exposure can, for many tent fabrics, be devastating to their performance. In some cases only two weeks exposure can lead to a reduction in the tear strength of the tent fabric by half.

Weathering, dirt and dust can cause water to be absorbed into the fabric of the tent itself, as the Durable Water Repellency (DWR) become less effective. It is at this point that you will find water leaking through vulnerable areas such as seams.

When water, dirt or dust sits on the tent fabric it reduces its breathability. When breathability is reduced, water vapor inside the tent is no longer able to pass through the fabric, and instead condenses on the inside.

What should you do?

Before your camping trip, set up your tent to check its waterproof condition. This is also the perfect time to give your tent a little extra love by cleaning it with Nikwax Tech Wash. If you notice your tent is no longer repelling water, treat it with Tent & Gear SolarProof. Tent & Gear SolarProof provides superior waterproofing and doubles the useful life of fabrics by protecting against UV damage.

How should you do it?

  • Tents are best cleaned, waterproofed and UV protected when pitched. Never machine wash or tumble dry them!
  • Place the tent in an area that will drain easily and is free of excessive dirt or dust.

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Cleaning

  • Add Nikwax Tech Wash (100ml in 6L of water) to a bucket of water and mix until foamy. Sponge all over the tent.
  • Rinse off thoroughly until the water runs clear.
  • Allow to dry naturally (if not applying waterproof and UV protection). Ensure it is completely dry before packing the tent away.
  • Don’t forget to sweep/ shake out the inside of the tent.

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Waterproofing and UV protection

  • Ensure you have the right volume of product. As a guide, 1L of Tent & Gear SolarProof will protect approximately a large 8 person tent (70 square meters). If using the new Concentrated Tent & Gear SolarProof, dilute as per the instructions.
  • Apply the Tent & Gear SolarProof to a wet, clean tent ensuring that you pay particular attention to any seams.
  • Wipe away any excess with a clean cloth.
  • Allow to dry naturally

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Nikwax Concentrated Tent & Gear Solarproof : Complete protection for your tent at a better value

New Nikwax Concentrated Tent & Gear Solarproof provides high performance UV and waterproof protection to double the life of your tent or gear, at a great low price per square meter.

  • Waterproof performance to the maximum testable standard
  • Long lasting UV protection
  • Easy to apply even to a wet tent
  • Safe WaterBased, non flammable and fluorocarbon free
  • Easy to carry and store concentrated formula

Nikwax tent UV protection


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Summer Lovin’

Summer is coming! For some of us it’s coming quite quickly, for others it may seem like it’s taking its sweet time, but it is on its way. Be prepared for this lovely season by getting your gear ready. You don’t want to miss one sunny day!

To help you get your gear ready, here’s a checklist:

Get your summer gear ready for action!

1. Give your tent and pack(s) some loving! Set up your tent to air it out, and give it a good washing with Nikwax Tech Wash. Tents and packs need special care to help protect them against sun damage in the fairer months. Nikwax Tent and Gear Solarproof not only adds water-repellency, but also protects your gear against the sun’s damaging rays. Now available in a concentrated formula! (See how Tent & Gear Solarproof helps your gear improves the durability of your fabrics in this short video?)

2. Clean your summer bag! Did you remember to clean your bag before you put it away last fall? If not, think of all the dirt, sweat, and body oils that were left in there all winter (ewwww). Clean your bag with either Nikwax Tech Wash (synthetic fill bags) or Down Wash (down-filled bags) to remove any residual grime and to get your bag nice and fluffy again after its long winter’s nap. If you want to add some water-repellency to your bag (and who wouldn’t?), use Polar Proof for synthetic fill bags, and Down Proof for down-filled bags.

3. Put some zing back into your waterproof clothing! Just because summer is warm, doesn’t mean that being wet is any fun (unless you’re swimming). You want your waterproof clothes to be performing their best if you get caught up in a summer deluge. Use Tech Wash to clean any waterproof clothes and TX.Direct to add more water-repellency.

4. Make sure your summer footwear is ready for action! Give your summer hikers, trail runners, and warm weather stompers a seasonal spiff-up. Use Nikwax Footwear Cleaning Gel to remove any embedded dirt and make them sparkle. Then, if needed, add water-repellency with Nikwax footwear waterproofing products. Fabric & Leather Proof is perfect for all fabric and leather combo footwear. Nubuck & Suede Proof is fantastic for your textured leather kicks. Waterproofing Wax for Leather is just the thing for all smooth leather shoes.

Don’t forget! Make sure all your winter clothing and equipment is clean before you stow it. Putting your gear away dirty can seriously reduce the life of your gear.

All of these products are now available for sale on nikwax.com!*

*Sales on nikwax.com not available for Canadian customers at this time. Please use our dealer locator to find your nearest retailer.