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How to camp like a pro with Ben Phillips, Nikwax Product Feedback Executive

Since the boom in sales of camping gear in 2020, people are continuing to plan holidays and time away ‘under canvas’, with the Camping and Caravanning Club reporting that Easter 2022 bookings are up 33% on Easter 2019*. If you are thinking of getting away from it all, take a leaf out of Ben’s book and be as prepared as possible. Here, he shares his top camping preparation tips…

With spring in the air and the days getting longer, what better time to dig your tent out of its winter hibernation? I need to do that again after a busy 2021 enjoying several camping trips with my children, and I’ll be glad I did. There’s always something that needs fixing or replacing, and making sure the rest of the family are comfortable when we arrive at our destination is, of course, more relaxing for me! We’re off to the Gower in Wales this July, with several other adventures away planned between June and September.

Size can be everything…
Making sure your tent is suitable for your needs can make or break your holiday. For family campers, being sure you have enough space for all the gear you want to take away, as well as some space for the little ones to play in if it’s cold or wet, is essential. We all hope for great weather but, as we know here in the UK, we’re not always lucky! For those travelling light, ensuring there is sufficient space for you (and any friends) plus packs, will ensure a worry-free night’s sleep. I’ve heard stories of campers who have purchased a compact, lightweight tent, only to find there’s not enough room in it to keep their backpacks and footwear safe and dry.

Always check your tent before heading off…
It sounds obvious, but, if the tent is new, practise putting it up! If it has been used before, check for any areas that are mouldy or have been damaged by wet/dirt that may have been trapped when it was last packed away. Treating your tent in advance with Nikwax products suitable for synthetic or cotton materials will not only ensure your tent is fresh and clean when you reach your destination, they will also provide added protection against both wet weather and higher levels of UV rays.

  • Tent & Gear SolarWash® cleans synthetic and canvas tents, removing all the dirt that masks durable water repellency. It prepares tents for re-proofing and has the added benefit of providing UV protection.
  • Tent & Gear SolarProof® is the reliable way to add water repellency to synthetic tents (even from new). It increases the tear strength by protecting the fabric from harmful UV rays and doubles the useable lifetime of your gear.
  • Cotton Proof waterproofs canvas tents and equipment, improving the fabric tear strength and extending the useable lifetime of gear.

Other things to check include…

  • Tent pegs – are there still enough, are any damaged, are they adequate for the conditions or environment you’ll be camping in?
  • Poles – are any damaged or bent? Poles can split or show signs of wear after time, so regular checks are important (if you have an air tent, check for leaks in advance!).
  • Tent floor – check for any small holes or tears that you can repair before you leave.

When you’re there…
If you have room to take one, laying down a tarpaulin or ground sheet first is a great way to add extra protection to your tent floor, plus it acts as a clean storage area for any part of the tent that doesn’t have flooring. It’s also a good idea to pitch your tent on a gentle slope, if possible – just a couple of degrees can help prevent water from building up inside it during wet conditions. Its sensible to avoid setting up camp directly underneath trees, which can be risky in windy weather.

For extra comfort, pack a pillow (or a small storage bag that can double as one) and make sure your sleeping bags will be warm enough for your destination. Remember too that the ventilation points on your tents are not there for decoration – use them to prevent moisture build up but bear the weather conditions in mind.

Finally…

  • Even for the most lightweight of camping trips, take a pack of cards!
  • Pre-prepare some meals – spaghetti Bolognese, tortilla wraps, and even custard can be warmed through in a pan and will make your life a lot easier.
  • Twist any tape-type guy lines a few times as this stops them from ‘clapping’ together in the wind and keeping you awake.
  • The famous five: tea bags, tea towel, clothes pegs, biodegradable wet wipes and a torch are all little things that make a BIG difference when camping.
  • Leave no trace. Always take a bin bag so you can dispose of your rubbish responsibly or take it home and remember to thoroughly check the camp site before you leave to ensure you’ve left nothing behind.
  • Even if you only camp once a year, make a checklist of everything you need and keep it safe for reference next time. You can always add any items you’ve forgotten so you don’t forget them again.

Happy camping!

*Zoe Wood, The Guardian online 22.02.22

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Tents can last twice their effective lifetime with Nikwax®!

You may be starting to think about unpacking and dusting off your camping gear ready for this year’s outdoor adventures.  However, will your tent be ready for the new season ahead? If you don’t take good care of it, your tent could start to degrade, with weakened fabric and the chance of it getting damp inside which can lead to mildew. However, it is easy to look after and save your tent from the risk of ending up in landfill – which we all know is not good for the environment.

Just follow our trusty guide below to the aftercare that will keep your tent in top condition. By using Nikwax aftercare, your tent can last twice its effective lifetime!

Synthetic tents need specialist aftercare because their fabric is especially vulnerable to ultraviolet (UV) light – just 2 weeks continuous exposure can reduce tear strength by 50%! UV rays also destroy the durable water repellent (DWR) coating on the tent’s outer fabric, which could ultimately result in you getting wet inside!

Cotton /canvas tents are also a popular choice for tents, with cotton being a naturally strong and hard-wearing material. However, cotton fabrics are susceptible to water – they easily absorb it, which causes weight gain and the fabric can take a long time to dry out. Not ideal if you are camping in bad weather!

Nikwax tent aftercare will maintain high performance, so you can sleep in the great outdoors and stay dry and comfortable!

Keep your synthetic or cotton/canvas tent clean with Nikwax Tent & Gear SolarWash®.

  • Dirt and other contaminants that compromise a tent’s DWR are efficiently removed, so the water repellency is revived.
  • The safe, water-based formula increases the fabric’s resistance to UV light.
  • Easy-to-use by hand as a spray-on, Tent & Gear SolarWash can be used up to three times to clean and revitalise the DWR of a tent before re-proofing is required.
  • Use approximately 50ml of product for 1m2 of fabric.
  • Spray evenly to the outside and rub in with a damp cloth – paying attention to any really dirty areas.
  • Rinse with clean water and, if not reproofing, ensure the tent is completely dry before packing it away.
  • Tent & Gear SolarWash can be used on both synthetic tents and cotton/canvas tents.

Over time, and through use, the DWR on synthetic tents wears off and needs to be replenished. When Tent & Gear SolarWash no longer revives the DWR on your synthetic tent, then it is time to reproof.

Keep your synthetic tent protected from the rain and UV rays with Nikwax Tent & Gear SolarProof®.

  • Tent & Gear SolarProof® provides an effective water repellent finish to ensure tents maintain their performance, keeping you warm and dry when camping.
  • It also provides UV protection.
  • To get the most from this product, apply it to your tent from new; although older tents also benefit from its high performance protection – especially when used with Tent & Gear SolarWash.
  • You can apply it by hand to wet or dry fabrics.
  • Use approximately 50ml of product per 1m2 of fabric.
  • Spray evenly to the outer fabric and leave for 2 minutes.
  • Remove any surplus with a damp cloth and check that no areas have been missed.
  • After several minutes check again and remove any surplus.
  • The DWR will develop upon drying and your tent should be thoroughly dried before packing it away.
  • Tent & Gear SolarProof can also be applied to synthetic rucksacks and bike panniers (avoid rucksack straps).

When Tent & Gear SolarWash no longer revives the DWR on your cotton/canvas tent, then you need to reproof it.

Keep your cotton/canvas tent protected with Nikwax Cotton Proof.

  • Cotton Proof is specifically designed for use on cotton, polycotton and canvas.
  • Easily applied by hand, Cotton Proof should be diluted before being applied to tents (add 1 part product to 9 parts water and mix well).
  • Cotton Proof can be applied to wet or dry fabric using a brush or sponge – all areas should be covered and you should ensure the product penetrates the surface of the fabric.
  • Remove any surplus product with a damp cloth.
  • Check the fabric after several minutes and remove any further surplus with a damp cloth.
  • A flexible water repellent treatment is left on the individual fibres and will develop upon air drying; moisture vapour can then pass through the fabric, maintaining breathability of the cotton/canvas, and optimising its performance in wet weather.
  • Ensure your tent is fully dry before it packing away.
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Camping With a Conscience

This summer, thousands of tents will be left for landfill as festival goers choose to discard cheap or broken camping gear rather than pack it up and take it home. 

At last year’s Glastonbury Festival, more than 1,000 volunteers were drafted in to clear up the mess left behind – costing organisers around £785,000 for a clean-up that lasted six weeks.

That’s despite organisers asking their 200,000 festival-goers to sign up to a new “Love the Farm, Leave no Trace” pledge that includes the promise, “I will take all my belongings home with me again, including my tent and camping equipment”.

It’s an issue that’s inspired a company called Camplight – who salvage abandoned tents, clean and repair them and then rent them out, pre-pitched at other festivals to people who don’t want the hassle of having to pitch and then pack up their own gear. We spoke to its Founder, Kieran Van Den Bosch, about the difference they’re trying to make:

What prompted you to set up Camplight?
“I was born in East Pennard within a mile of the fence of Glastonbury festival. I attended every year as a child, then as a teenager, and I watched people start leaving tents in the 90’s. The problem kept getting worse and as kids we used to go around on Monday looking for what we could find.

“Later in life I learned more about climate change and resource depletion. I also had jobs in packaging and recycling for a few years, which led to a real interest in sustainable design and the circular economy. I realised there are already simple, effective and obvious solutions to the problems we have – all that was needed was a change in design and intention. 

“I decided to start solving one problem on my doorstep in Pennard with this thinking, and so I began to do what I used to do as a kid, and pack away discarded tents on Monday. All they needed was a good fix and clean then they can all be reused”.

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How does Camplight work?
“Customers simply book through our website at www.camplight.co.uk. Then all they have to do is get to the event they booked at, find our campsite and be welcomed by our staff.  Their tent will be ready and waiting for them with all the furnishings and extras they booked. 

“They don’t need to store or carry any heavy tent or camp equipment. They can travel with friends or on the train or bus. Our slogan is Camplight, Travel Light, Sleep Tight.

“Our prices are the lowest of the pre-pitched because our aim is to stop people buying and bringing cheap throw away festival tents to the site in the first place.  We are set up to stop tents going to landfill and when we succeed there will be no more need for this business model because pre-pitched tents at festivals will be the norm!”

What products do you use to prolong the life of your tents and why?
“We do many fixes like pole fixes, rips, zips and peg loops. We are learning new ways of fixing them all the time and now have trained tent mechanics who have a repertoire of tools and accessories at their fingertips to help campers in distress. 

“We have tent cleaning and drying facilities back at the orchard in Pennard where we do lots of the work and we use Nixwax Tech Wash and SolarProof products regularly to keep tents fit for rental and water tight in a storm.

“What normally gets our tents in the end is degradation from the UV rays in the sun damaging the outer fly of the tent. Nikwax SolarProof is the only product we use to protect against that inevitable fate. I’m six years in to the business and it was only last year that I ended up deconstructing quite a few of the tents I collected in 2012 for other uses.”

How does Camplight make a difference to the environmental impact of a festival?
“Camplight aims to reduce environmental impact of events in two ways.  Firstly with resources and secondly with CO2 from travel.

“Every tent we have has been directly saved from land fill, that’s a fact.  Many people seem to believe that the abandoned tents left at festivals are picked up by charity or someone else. This is not true. If they were then waste contractors wouldn’t use a bulldozer to clear them. We have collected about 600 tents over the five years of operation, but we are one of the biggest single operations and we have not scratched the surface. 

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“Over 250,000 tents are left at UK events each year. This all contributes to the 23,000 tonnes of waste from events each year. Less than 30 per cent of that waste is recycled, let alone reused. Each tent we hire prevents one from going to landfill, potentially another one being bought from a shop and hence forth the possibility of another one being left in the field. 

“Secondly CO2:  Travel to events typically constitutes about 80 per cent of the CO2 blown into the atmosphere by a UK festival. That is another reason we want to enable more people to take public transport and car shares to events. This is the only sure-fire way to reduce that target quickly, plus of course people no longer will need to carry big bags of tent equipment to festivals. 

“We market our services mainly to green travellers and give away free tents to cyclists and even swimmers (as in when people swim across the Solent to the Isle of Wight for Bestival). 

This is why our slogan is Camplight, Travel Light, Sleep Tight.”

Nikwax Tent & Gear Solar Proof
Nikwax Tent & Gear SolarProof is a safe and easy to use, high performance waterproofing and UV blocker for weatherproof textiles, including tents. It adds durable water repellency, increases fabric strength, protects against UV deterioration and extends the lifespan of fabrics.

Tents and rucksacks are often made from lightweight, synthetic fabrics which can be very vulnerable to sunlight. Ultraviolet rays can destroy the water repellency of a tent or rucksack and reduce the tear strength of its fabric. By applying Nikwax Tent & Gear SolarProof you can double the effective lifetime of your equipment, thereby saving both the environment and your pocket.

 

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New Nikwax Tent & Gear SolarWash

New Nikwax Tent & Gear SolarWash extends the life of tents by 50 percent, just by cleaning!

Ultraviolet (UV) light and dirt are the two most important sources of damage for tents. UV light attacks the fabric, reducing its strength and causing fading.  Dirt works against water repellency and makes the fabric absorb water, which weakens the waterproof coating’s adhesion to the fabric, and makes the fabric vulnerable to mildew.

Nikwax’s new Tent & Gear SolarWash is a water-based cleaning spray for tents and outdoor equipment that protects against UV degradation whilst removing dirt, and unlike normal detergents, does not leave behind contamination that damages water repellency.

As with all of Nikwax’s technical cleaners, Tent & Gear SolarWash does not just clean, it has additional benefits.  Just one clean with the new product increases the fabric’s resistance to UV light by 50 percent. Plus, it can be used up to three times to revitalise water repellency. When water repellency needs to be restored then fabric cleaned with Tent & Gear SolarWash is perfectly prepared for waterproofing. All of this is achieved without using persistent or hazardous chemistry.

Nick Brown, CEO of Nikwax, said about this latest innovation:
“Tent & Gear SolarWash perfectly complements our product Tent & Gear SolarProof, providing a system that will keep you dry in your tent and make it last far longer. Nikwax puts considerable effort into adding additional benefits to the cleaning process, thereby reducing the frequency of reapplication of waterproofing products. I am proud that our development team, who have been working on this for nearly three years, can continue to create significant innovations for outdoor people.”

Tent & Gear SolarWash will be available to the public in Spring 2017, from outdoor stores and online retailers, RRP £5.99.

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Look after your tent and it will look after you!

The camping season is beginning, with longer, warmer and drier days enticing people to pitch up outdoors. However, your tent needs to be kept in good condition to keep you dry while sleeping under the stars.

Tents are usually made from synthetic fabrics that have been coated with a water repellent finish. However, the sun and rain destroys this coating, weakening the fabrics tear strength and potentially allowing water to get in. After two weeks of continuous exposure to the sun’s UV rays, the fabric can lose half its strength.

The best protection for your tent and other synthetic-made gear like rucksacks, camera bags and bike panniers, is Nikwax Concentrated Tent & Gear SolarProof. Its specialist formula could double the life of your tent or equipment by protecting the fabric against harmful UV rays, whilst adding water repellency.

If you have purchased a new tent, we advise applying Concentrated Tent & Gear SolarProof straight away for added protection. Older tents will likely be dirty so clean them with a diluted solution of Nikwax Tech Wash before applying Tent & Gear SolarProof. There’s no need to wait for your tent to dry before applying Tent & Gear SolarProof as it can be added to either wet or dry fabrics.

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Here’s our easy step-by-step guide to protecting your tent with Tent & Gear SolarProof:

  1. Either erect the tent, or protect a working surface and lay the item flat.
  2. Rinse off dirt with clean water. For mud and stains, clean with a diluted solution of Nikwax Tech Wash.
  3. Apply Tent & Gear SolarProof by hand with a sponge, brush or spray.

If using concentrated Tent & Gear SolarProof, dilute the 150ml pouch in 350ml of water and mix well. (Or use 2 parts product to 5 parts water).

  1. Wait for 2 minutes and remove any surplus product with a damp cloth.
  2. Air dry ensuring your tent is fully dry before packing it away.

Dependent upon the condition of the fabric you should look at using approximately 50ml of product per 1m2 of fabric. A 500ml bottle of Tent & Gear SolarProof will therefore cover approx. 10m2.

Check out our video of how to apply Tent & Gear SolarProof here

If you have a canvas tent, then you should use Nikwax Cotton Proof instead of Tent & Gear SolarProof.

Your tent is now ready for your next camping adventure!

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