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Tents and tarps check & pack

It’s good practice to check gear as your pack it to ensure that everything is in good working order and minimise the chance of gear failure out in the bush.
Here are our guidelines for what to look for and how to pack your chosen shelter.

Check
Check

The four key things to check are:
- Do you have all the parts? It’s a nightmare to turn up at camp and realise that half of the tent poles are missing.
- Does it work, and is there any damage?
- Is it clean? Some gear may pose biosecurity risks if dirty, as there is a risk of transmission of diseases, pollen, spores, seeds and so on into uninfected regions.
- Do you have a repair kit for that part in case something breaks in the field?


Note, for tents the key components are outer, inner, poles, pegs and ground sheet. Tarps are generally pitched without an inner or poles so key components are the tarp itself (similar to the tent outer), pegs and groundsheet.

Outer (or flysheet)
Check all parts are there: zips, guy lines etc.
- Check fabric is intact with no holes, tears or degradation
- Check seam sealing still intact
- Check zips work
- Check pole inserts work
Check for any dirt or dust from previous trips (clean if necessary).

Inner
Check all parts are there (inner is usually one piece!): zips, attachments etc.
- Check fabric is intact with no holes, tears or degradation.
- Check seam sealing still intact
- Check zips work
Check for any dirt or dust from previous trips (clean if necessary).

Poles
Check all poles are there including extras (e.g. for vestibules).
- Check poles fit together (e.g. attachments smooth)
- Check poles aren’t cracked
- Check elastic connections are intact
Check for any dirt or dust from previous trips (clean if necessary).

Pegs/stakes
Check enough pegs are there, including extras if necessary (e.g. for vestibules).
- Check pegs aren’t bent, cracked or damaged
Check for any dirt or dust from previous trips (clean if necessary).

Ground sheet
Check all parts are there (usually outer is one piece of material, so this should be a quick check!).
- Check fabric is intact with no holes, tears or degradation
Check for any dirt or dust from previous trips (clean if necessary).

Make sure to carry a shelter/tent repair kit. You can get these off the shelf (e.g. Coghlan’s nylon tent repair kit) or make your own.
Typically, your field repair kit will be small, with only those essential items necessary to make temporary in-field repairs. Back home, you can revisit your field repair and decide if you need to do a more thorough job or replace items entirely (e.g. poles).
Pack these items in a ziplock bag to keep them together and dry:
- Adhesive-backed nylon patches
- Mesh screen patches
- Needle & nylon thread
- Tent pole repair sleeve (also called a ‘ferrule’)


Note, for tarp users, no need to pack mesh screen patches or pole repair sleeves.
Between trips, replace any used items and double check that everything is present and working.

+
-

The four key things to check are:
- Do you have all the parts? It’s a nightmare to turn up at camp and realise that half of the tent poles are missing.
- Does it work, and is there any damage?
- Is it clean? Some gear may pose biosecurity risks if dirty, as there is a risk of transmission of diseases, pollen, spores, seeds and so on into uninfected regions.
- Do you have a repair kit for that part in case something breaks in the field?


Note, for tents the key components are outer, inner, poles, pegs and ground sheet. Tarps are generally pitched without an inner or poles so key components are the tarp itself (similar to the tent outer), pegs and groundsheet.

Outer (or flysheet)
Check all parts are there: zips, guy lines etc.
- Check fabric is intact with no holes, tears or degradation
- Check seam sealing still intact
- Check zips work
- Check pole inserts work
Check for any dirt or dust from previous trips (clean if necessary).

Inner
Check all parts are there (inner is usually one piece!): zips, attachments etc.
- Check fabric is intact with no holes, tears or degradation.
- Check seam sealing still intact
- Check zips work
Check for any dirt or dust from previous trips (clean if necessary).

Poles
Check all poles are there including extras (e.g. for vestibules).
- Check poles fit together (e.g. attachments smooth)
- Check poles aren’t cracked
- Check elastic connections are intact
Check for any dirt or dust from previous trips (clean if necessary).

Pegs/stakes
Check enough pegs are there, including extras if necessary (e.g. for vestibules).
- Check pegs aren’t bent, cracked or damaged
Check for any dirt or dust from previous trips (clean if necessary).

Ground sheet
Check all parts are there (usually outer is one piece of material, so this should be a quick check!).
- Check fabric is intact with no holes, tears or degradation
Check for any dirt or dust from previous trips (clean if necessary).

Make sure to carry a shelter/tent repair kit. You can get these off the shelf (e.g. Coghlan’s nylon tent repair kit) or make your own.
Typically, your field repair kit will be small, with only those essential items necessary to make temporary in-field repairs. Back home, you can revisit your field repair and decide if you need to do a more thorough job or replace items entirely (e.g. poles).
Pack these items in a ziplock bag to keep them together and dry:
- Adhesive-backed nylon patches
- Mesh screen patches
- Needle & nylon thread
- Tent pole repair sleeve (also called a ‘ferrule’)


Note, for tarp users, no need to pack mesh screen patches or pole repair sleeves.
Between trips, replace any used items and double check that everything is present and working.


Pack
Pack

When packing, the key points to think about are:
- Can I split up the item to share it with other people?
- Where should the items go in the pack?
- Does it need additional protection? E.g. protection from scuffs, wear and tear and water?

Sharing items
Shelters are usually sold with all the components – poles, pegs, inner/outer- wrapped together in one package. However, if you plan to share a shelter with another person on the trip, it may be sensible to spit the tent into pieces to share the load. Or one person carries the tent/tarp, while the other/s takes a larger share of the food.
In either case, it can be beneficial to separate out the components of the tent for ease of packing. This way, the tent components can easily fit around other bulkier objects in your pack (e.g. billy), and there is more flexibility with how the contents (and hence weight distribution) are packed.


Where things should go and how to make sure they don’t get damaged
Where to pack items is based on weight distribution and ease of access. Since shelters are generally only needed at camp, it’s safe to store these in harder-to-access parts of your backpack.
For distributing gear in a backpack, the general rules are:
- Heavy gear near to your back (e.g. water, tent poles, gas bottles, some foods)
- Light gear away from your back (e.g. clothes, groundsheet, some foods)
- Less used items at bottom (e.g. sleeping bag, some clothes, sleeping mat)
- Frequently used items at top (e.g. raincoat, snacks, small water bottle)

Outer (or flysheet)
Depending on tent design, this can be a heavy item, so aim to get it near to your back. Since the outer is soft and flexible, consider using it as padding between hard bulky objects to stop them moving around.
Ideally yes, but if the outer does get a bit of water it’s fine. The key is to prevent the inner from getting wet (and taking care when setting up not to get the inner wet with the outer).
Avoid direct contact with sharp objects (e.g. edges or poles, pegs) as they may tear material. Wrap lightweight waterproof cover around it (usually supplied by manufacturer).

Inner
Depending on tent design, this can be a heavy item, so aim to get it near to your back. Since the inner is soft and flexible, consider using it as padding between hard bulky objects to stop them moving around.
It’s a good idea to keep the inner in a lightweight waterproof cover to keep it dry.
Avoid direct contact with sharp objects (e.g. edges or poles, pegs) as they may tear material. Wrap lightweight waterproof cover around it (usually supplied by manufacturer).

Poles
Poles can be a heavy item, so aim to get it near to your back. Can be slipped inside pack or strapped onto outside.
These can get wet
Poles are susceptible to being bent, misshapen or even snapped if they are put under pressure. Store poles in a location that minimises damage from other objects and with some padding around them (e.g. groundsheet). Wrap lightweight waterproof cover around it (usually supplied by manufacturer).

Pegs/stakes
Pegs can be a heavy item, so aim to get it near to your back. Being small, fit around bulkier items.
These can get wet.
Avoid placing heavy items on top of pegs. Wrap lightweight waterproof cover around it (usually supplied by manufacturer).

Ground sheet
Depending on tent design, this can be a heavy item, so aim to get it near to your back. Since the groundsheet is soft and flexible, consider using it as padding between hard bulky objects to stop them moving around.
iIf the bottom of the groundsheet gets wet that’s fine. Keep the side that touches the inner dry.
Ground sheets are usually pretty robust, but still susceptible to tears from sharp objects. While tempting to strap to the outside of backpack, beware that passing branches may lead to rips and tears. Wrap lightweight waterproof cover around it (usually supplied by manufacturer).

+
-

When packing, the key points to think about are:
- Can I split up the item to share it with other people?
- Where should the items go in the pack?
- Does it need additional protection? E.g. protection from scuffs, wear and tear and water?

Sharing items
Shelters are usually sold with all the components – poles, pegs, inner/outer- wrapped together in one package. However, if you plan to share a shelter with another person on the trip, it may be sensible to spit the tent into pieces to share the load. Or one person carries the tent/tarp, while the other/s takes a larger share of the food.
In either case, it can be beneficial to separate out the components of the tent for ease of packing. This way, the tent components can easily fit around other bulkier objects in your pack (e.g. billy), and there is more flexibility with how the contents (and hence weight distribution) are packed.


Where things should go and how to make sure they don’t get damaged
Where to pack items is based on weight distribution and ease of access. Since shelters are generally only needed at camp, it’s safe to store these in harder-to-access parts of your backpack.
For distributing gear in a backpack, the general rules are:
- Heavy gear near to your back (e.g. water, tent poles, gas bottles, some foods)
- Light gear away from your back (e.g. clothes, groundsheet, some foods)
- Less used items at bottom (e.g. sleeping bag, some clothes, sleeping mat)
- Frequently used items at top (e.g. raincoat, snacks, small water bottle)

Outer (or flysheet)
Depending on tent design, this can be a heavy item, so aim to get it near to your back. Since the outer is soft and flexible, consider using it as padding between hard bulky objects to stop them moving around.
Ideally yes, but if the outer does get a bit of water it’s fine. The key is to prevent the inner from getting wet (and taking care when setting up not to get the inner wet with the outer).
Avoid direct contact with sharp objects (e.g. edges or poles, pegs) as they may tear material. Wrap lightweight waterproof cover around it (usually supplied by manufacturer).

Inner
Depending on tent design, this can be a heavy item, so aim to get it near to your back. Since the inner is soft and flexible, consider using it as padding between hard bulky objects to stop them moving around.
It’s a good idea to keep the inner in a lightweight waterproof cover to keep it dry.
Avoid direct contact with sharp objects (e.g. edges or poles, pegs) as they may tear material. Wrap lightweight waterproof cover around it (usually supplied by manufacturer).

Poles
Poles can be a heavy item, so aim to get it near to your back. Can be slipped inside pack or strapped onto outside.
These can get wet
Poles are susceptible to being bent, misshapen or even snapped if they are put under pressure. Store poles in a location that minimises damage from other objects and with some padding around them (e.g. groundsheet). Wrap lightweight waterproof cover around it (usually supplied by manufacturer).

Pegs/stakes
Pegs can be a heavy item, so aim to get it near to your back. Being small, fit around bulkier items.
These can get wet.
Avoid placing heavy items on top of pegs. Wrap lightweight waterproof cover around it (usually supplied by manufacturer).

Ground sheet
Depending on tent design, this can be a heavy item, so aim to get it near to your back. Since the groundsheet is soft and flexible, consider using it as padding between hard bulky objects to stop them moving around.
iIf the bottom of the groundsheet gets wet that’s fine. Keep the side that touches the inner dry.
Ground sheets are usually pretty robust, but still susceptible to tears from sharp objects. While tempting to strap to the outside of backpack, beware that passing branches may lead to rips and tears. Wrap lightweight waterproof cover around it (usually supplied by manufacturer).