We live in an era of disposable goods. Mindful consumers and environmentally conscious citizens went out of fashion long ago, paving the way for mass production, faulty products, and planned obsolescence.
Yet, when it comes to your tent, you’d probably like to stay away from all that.
You plan on using it for years (if not decades) to come as you understand the importance of having a reliable shelter when out camping in the wild.
But how long does a tent last?
While there’s no concrete answer to this question, a tent should last at least five years when maintained properly.
Many factors determine a tent’s life span, including the quality, type, and weather. Keep reading for more insights.
The Average Life Expectancy Of A Tent
Tents have such a wide variety of lifespans that there is no way to tell the average. While several factors can affect how long a tent will last, there’s no set formula for determining its longevity.
Still, going by the experience of a typical American camper, tents usually last between five and seven years on average.
Here, to help estimate a tent’s lifespan, I classified the tents into three price-based categories.
Having a cheap tent for around 50-100 bucks is often sufficient if you use it occasionally or your children use it for outdoor play.
In such cases, you can use this type of tent for ten to thirty nights a month for a couple of years.
Paying more usually gets you better stuff. You get tents commonly crafted from canvas or nylon at the mid-price range.
Such materials are sturdy and reliable, making them perfect for camping. Under the proper usage and maintenance conditions, these tents can last for over a hundred nights for five to six years.
Purchasing a premium tent is worth the investment if you intend to use it for heavy-duty purposes, such as leaving it up for weeks or pitching it up and taking it down very often.
Such high-end tents shouldn’t be too light and should feature waterproof coatings, stand on high winds, durable PU, UV-resistant linings, heavy buckles, among other things.
Most high-end tents can remain functional for extended periods at high altitudes, like two-fifty to three-fifty nights.
Some famous tents, such as the Eureka, have proven to be durable for more than 25 years.
Factors Affecting Tents’ Lifespan & Minimizing Them
A tent’s lifespan will depend on a few crucial factors that go along with the price and quality associated with it.
Find out more about them below.
You can find some insight into a tent’s lifespan by studying its fabrics. Following are some of the most common types of tent material.
Nylon And Polyester
Nowadays, most family tents use polyester in their construction, while backpacking tents use nylon. Since the fabrics are relatively inexpensive and lightweight, bringing them to the campsite is easy for anyone.
However, both polyester and nylon can rip easily with scrapes and tears, especially if you’re rough on your tent.
Besides, they are also prone to mold and mildew growth. Hence, you can’t expect tents constructed from these fabrics to stay the same year after year.
To point out, cleaning the tent mold regularly can enhance the lifespan 2-3 times.
Synthetic Fabric Coatings
Just as the name implies, these specially formulated coatings serve to enhance the tent’s resilience against rain, wind, and ultraviolet sun rays.
This is why tents with these coatings last longer than conventional tents.
Canvas And Cotton
The two materials have been traditional tent materials for centuries and are surprisingly still very popular today due to their durability over time.
More interestingly, cotton and canvas fabrics share many of the same characteristics.
As far as comfort is concerned, both materials are breathable, water-wicking, and quieter than polyester or nylon. And as far as durability goes, cotton and canvas tents are naturally waterproof and UV-resistant.
Thus, they have the longest life expectancy.
#2. Frequency Of Use
As naturally as it makes sense – you would expect the tent to wear and tear more as you use it.
First of all, if you camp often, your tent is more likely to be exposed to environmental elements like rain, wind, UV rays, and such.
Furthermore, the tent has to be put up and taken down more often, so all the components will be affected and eventually lose their function and form over time.
In no way does that mean you should cut back on your camping time or anything like that. It only means you can’t just expect the tent to keep its new, neat, and tidy appearance throughout all the years you use it.
It also means that if you plan on using the tent often, you need to take special care of it.
Now, when we say “frequently,” how many times does that mean?
Having done a lot of camping in the past, setting the tent up for ten nights in the summer means we’re hardly using it. A typical summer trip lasts for no less than thirty nights.
#3. Weather And Elements
Camping outside means we have to deal with unpredictable weather patterns. Heavy rain, strong wind, extreme heat, and harmful rays are some of the everyday things that can affect your tent.
For instance, the poles in your tent can break during a strong wind, and some pieces may even blow away. Likewise, some materials, such as nylon and polyester, shrink and distort in scorching hot weather.
Notably, an aluminum tent pole is much stronger than a fiberglass one, read this.
Even worse are the UV rays, which can fade your tent fabric and degrade it significantly, reducing its lifespan by substantial margins.
Luckily, you can reduce many of such effects by purchasing waterproof fabrics or UV-resistant tents with sturdy frames and poles.
Additionally, you can avoid erecting your tent in harsh weather conditions like those mentioned.
#4. Maintenance And Care
Weather is something that you can never control. Reducing your use should not be an option either.
But using your tent with care and ensuring its proper maintenance can go a long way in keeping its lifespan from shortening. And you can easily imagine what happens when you do the opposite.
For example, suppose you aren’t selective enough when setting up your camping spot in the first place.
In that case, the surface can easily damage your tent’s bottom lining even with the utmost precautions against the weather and the elements.
In such a situation, caring for the tent would be to lay a tent footprint or tarp on the ground before placing the tent over it.
Or think about the times you come back from a long trip and forget to dry the wet, rolled-up tent that you brought back.
As a result, moisture can promote mold growth and thread damage, reducing the life of your tent. Proper maintenance to halt that decay would then entail drying the tent in the air before storing it.
When To Get A New Tent?
Despite the care and maintenance you put into your tent, it will eventually reach the point when you need to discard it or at least store it away for safekeeping the nostalgia and replace it with a new one.
Most of the time, this very point is where your tent fails to provide you with a cozy shelter, as it lets the wind and rain in.
Yes, you can patch up those small holes or slight wear and tear so long as it can take. But you are sure to know its time is up when you can’t make it waterproof again no matter how many chemicals you apply.
Other times, the poles break, meaning that the tent cannot stand up to rain or powerful winds and collapses.
Although parts replacements are often a feasible option, the problem is that finding a compatible one might cost you time, money, and effort, even if the part is available separately.
Or sometimes, it’s just that the color and shape of the fabric deteriorate from their original state, and you no longer want it.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can Waterproofing Add To A Tent’s Lifespan?
Without a doubt, it can. Tents kept dry will last significantly longer because mold will not grow.
How Long Does The Waterproofing Of A Tent Last?
Around a year or two, depending on how frequently you use it.
Can Tents Go Bad With Use?
Yes, they can.
As a rule of thumb, it will serve you well if you take care of it, depending on who uses it and how the same tent may last ten years for one person while it may only last two years for another.
Is It Worth Repairing A Tent?
Repairing a tent is worth it so long as it remains repairable. Minor fixes in a quality tent are always better than replacing it with a cheaper one when you consider longevity.
So, that’s that. Should you have been wondering, ‘how long does a tent last?’ before taking up camping for real, this article ought to have provided you with some insights into how to estimate it.
Generally, tents tend to last quite a while as they don’t have moving parts. And as you’ve read above, several factors may contribute to their wear and tear over time.
Yet, it all boils down to the tent’s quality and how you maintain and care for it when it comes to determining its life expectancy.