Creases Are for Pants Not Tents!

Origami craneA lot of us start to develop our own little rituals when it comes to our outdoor gear. We figure out the best way, or way that we prefer, to pack and store our gear, and we get in the habit of doing things the same way every time. This can be a great way to make sure that everything is always accounted for, and it can help make set up and pack down times faster and more efficient. But some people take the stance that doing things in the exact same way isn’t always beneficial.

You might be particular about the way you pack your tent. This corner goes to that corner, you fold it three times, fold it twice, and then roll it up. While a routine like this can help you be trail ready 5 minutes faster than the rest of the people you’re traveling with, some say that folding your tent the same way every time can damage your tent. The idea is that folding a tent the same way repeatedly creates creases that can grow brittle over time.

Imagine you want to break a credit card (don’t ask why you want to do this). The best way to go about it is to fold it down the middle, and continue folding it in either direction until the plastic grows weak along the fold. Eventually, the card will split straight across the crease that you made. This is the reasoning behind why it’s bad to always fold your tent the same way.

So is it bad to fold your tent the same way over and over? Sort of. It kind of depends on the tent and how you’re planning on using it.

If you’re buying a top of the line tent and you’re planning on using it in extreme alpine conditions on a regular basis, you may want to pay attention to how you fold your tent. If you are spending a significant amount of money and you need the utmost performance from your gear to handle extreme conditions, you want to do whatever you can to make sure that gear holds up.

However if you’re a weekend warrior, who uses your tent maybe once a month, you probably don’t have to be as concerned with how you fold your tent.  It’s more likely that something else will fail on your tent before those creases start to rip or tear. The ripstop nylon used by tent manufacturers these days is extremely tough and extremely durable. If your tent is old, or maybe not very good quality, it’s more important to avoid folding on the creases than if you have a newer tent made from burly materials.If you’re convinced that folding your tent the same way will cause your shelter to deteriorate, by all means get creative with your folding. It’s usually better to err on the side of caution, especially with an expensive and important piece of gear like your tent.

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