scouts-l Mail Archive for September of 2000: Re: Pitching and taking down a tent in the rain
Tue Sep 05 2000 - 01:50:39 CDT
In a message dated 9/3/00 11:30:07 AM Mountain Daylight Time,
> So, what do you do when backpacking? How about the mud on the tent?
> How do you keep the insides dry if you take it down in the pouring rain? How
> do you keep the inside dry if you have to set it up in the pouring rain?
Ya live with it.
The first thing I put up in the rain and the last thing I take down is a
large fly. You can place all the packs under the fly to keep them dry while
you're unpacking and packing. At other times, a large garbage bag over the
pack (both while hiking and while in camp) will keep gear from getting rained
You can either erect the tent under the fly, then move it to its selected
site and stake it down or simply erect the tent in the rain.
When taking down camp, use a water bottle with the little squirt nozzle to
rinse off as much mud as you can. You'll get nearly all of it off. Then roll
up the tents on a clean surface such as a tarp. When you're done, you'll only
have one really dirty item -- the tarp. That can then be rinsed off and
easily folded without having contact with the ground.
Another thing that helps a lot is a sheet of heavy plastic under the tent --
even if the tent has a "waterproof" floor. The plastic helps keep scouts dry
and protects the tent from mud as well as from damage by sticks and stones.
Cut the plastic so that it is exactly the size and shape of the tent. You
don't want any of the plastic extending beyond the perimeter of the tent lest
it collect rainwater and carry it into the floor of the tent. With careful
packing, you can usually get the plastic sheet into the tent's stuff sack
along with the tent and fly.
Everything that comes in contact with the tent when you put it in the pack
will likely get wet. So, put things you don't want to get wet (sleeping bags,
cardboard boxes full of Bisquick, etc.) into plastic garbage bags or ZipLoc
Do the best you can to keep the mud from spreading. Attaching a wet, muddy
tent to the outside of the pack rather than storing it inside helps.
Properly rolling up a wet, muddy tent is one of the hardest chores to get a
scout to do. Especially if its cold and the wind is up. Consequently, boys
have a very hard time getting a tent into it's stuff sack. Then he wants to
just slap a wad of tent into his pack. Train your SPL and quartermaster to
not allow this. They gotta learn to do things right.
A wet backpacking trip always ends with a trip to the laundromat (with its
big tumble washers and dryers that'll handle a sleeping bag). If you don't
get gear clean and dry immediately on return to home, you'll have a moldy,
mildewy mess, possibly destroying your gear.
I've found that it's okay to put tents in the washer on a gentle cycle.
They'll come out looking new. But _never_ put tents in the dryer -- that'll
ruin any plastic coatings and seam sealers. An alternative to end-of camp
cleaning is the garden hose. Dry your tents by erecting them on your lawn on
a sunny day. If you don't have sunny weather, erect the tent in the garage
and put a fan on it. I have cup hooks in my garage ceiling so I can hang wet
tents upside-down from the peg loops.
When selecting a new tent, look for a good fly. Most tents come with a token
"rain fly" which is little more than a cap over the top, leaving most of the
tent exposed to the weather. A proper fly should go down to within a few
inches of the ground and shelter the entire tent while allowing ventilation
between fly and tent. There should be absolutely no contact between the tent
fly and the tent fabric.
Scouts should be very comfortable with how to erect and stow their tents.
That takes a lot of the yelling and arguing out of doing the task in bad
By the way, when I was Scoutmastering, I awarded patrols with colored beads
for their patrol flag when the patrol had 100% participation in various
events. The black bead for camping in the rain was the most highly regarded
bead of all.