We receive several questions every year from consumers who are disappointed to find out their canvas wall tents are ruined. They stored them away for the off season and when they retrieve them, they find black mildew or a completely rotten tent. They are shocked at the discovery this because they thought the tent was resistant to mildew.
Manufacturers use various chemical treatments on most canvas camping tents to make them resistant to mildew and water. Note the word resistant. It is impossible for canvas to be completely safe from rot and water damage. Because canvas is made of natural fibers, it is susceptible to mildew growth if it stays damp in a closed environment. Untreated canvas is more likely to develop mildew or rot, treated and untreated cotton canvas tents still require the proper care to avoid mildew growth.
Storing the tent properly is the most effective way to protect the canvas from mildew. Do not roll it up until you have stretched it out or set it up in a suitable place and allowed it to dry completely. Placing it in a cold, damp garage is a bad idea because the canvas may not dry. The best place may be inside the house where it is dry and warm. Turn the tent over several times during the drying process to eliminate any hidden pockets of moisture. The smallest amount of moisture can destroy parts or the entire tent.
After the tent has had time to dry out completely, locate a dry place with low humidity to store it for the off season. Even a storage shed or garage will become damp in humid conditions, so you may have to find a place away from the home. Mice and other rodents can cause just as much damage to your tent as humid conditions and mildew growth. When storing it in an area with rodents, place the tent in a sturdy moisture proof box.
A quality tent will last you a lifetime if you take the time and care to store it properly when you are not using it.