How Do You Protect Your Tent From The Sun? (Make It Last!)


Your tent is a valuable asset to you when you are camping. It is your one and only shelter after all. You want to protect your tent as much as possible in order to prolong its life and allow you to take it on more camping trips. Your tent can be exposed to many different elements when you go camping. One of those elements is the sun.

The sun can be harmful to our tents and thus we want to protect our tents from the sun. Once I found out that UV rays were actually harmful to tents I had to do some research to find out how to protect my tent from the sun. If you are wondering the same thing then you have come to the right place.

So, how do you protect your tent from the sun? There are a few steps you can take in order to protect your tent from the sun, they include:

  • Keeping your tent completely in the shade.
  • Disassembling your tent at the beginning of each day.
  • Place a tarp over your tent during the day.
  • Set up a canopy over the tent.

Utilizing these options will allow you to prolong your tents usable life. That means more camping trips for you. Just like how UV rays can damage our skin, your tent’s fabrics are at risk with prolonged exposure to the sun. Utilizing these simple methods can help you to keep your tent in tip-top shape.

By the way, If you are in the market for a new tent, then you should click here to see the one I recommend on Amazon.

Why do you need to protect your tent from the sun?

The sun can be unforgiving, it can cause damage to your skin and to your tent. UV rays can degrade your tent’s fabrics. Tents are typically made out of fabrics like nylon and polyester. Both fabrics do not fare well against prolonged sun exposure. In fact, nearly all fabrics are negatively affected by long term exposure to the sun’s rays. The effect can be cumulative as well and your tent does not have self-healing properties like our skin does.

Not only are the fabrics at risk but the tent’s coatings are as well. The coatings are responsible for keeping your tent waterproof. The sun could render the coatings useless. Just one day in the sun might not make much of a difference but over time it does add up. This is why you should make every effort to limit your tent’s exposure to direct sunlight. It might take a little bit of time and effort but it is well worth it if you want your tent to last as long as possible.

How you take care of your tent is the biggest factor in determining how long it will last. I discuss tent longevity in detail in this article that I wrote about how long tents should last. If you have been leaving your tent in the sun it is time for a change. There are many steps you can take to protect your tent from the sun and make it last for many more camping trips to come.

How to protect your tent from the sun

Set up your tent in the shade

The easiest and most obvious way to protect your tent from the sun is to set it up in the shade. This isn’t always possible depending on where you are camping, but it is very effective at protecting your tent from the sun. It’s a lot easier to accomplish this when you are camping somewhere with a lot of trees like in a National Forest. On the flip side, it is a lot harder to accomplish this when you are dry camping in the middle of the desert. If there is some shade to set your tent up under then take advantage of it whenever possible.

When you set your tent up in the shade, whatever is creating the shade is absorbing the sunlight instead of your tent doing so. That is what we want, and if its a tree then its a win-win since trees love sunlight. There is one essential thing you must keep in mind when setting up your tent in the shade and leaving it there. How long will the shade last? As we all know the earth rotates around the sun and so the sun will be in different locations throughout the day.

If we want our shade to be effective then it needs to remain shady through the course of the day. It sure is better to only have our tent in direct sunlight for half the day instead of the full day but what is even better than that is no direct sunlight at all. So try to calculate where the sun will be traveling and if the spot where you set up your tent in the shade will remain shady all day.

Disassemble your tent during the day

The next simple but effective method to prevent prolonged sun exposure to your tent is to disassemble it completely after you wake up and then put it back up in the evening. This one requires a lot more work since you have to do it every day, but tents are much easier to take down and put up nowadays anyway.

Another added benefit to this is that it won’t be hot inside of your tent when you slip into it at night since the tent wouldn’t have trapped heat inside of it from during the day. Of course, the main objective here is to take it apart and put it away out of direct sunlight. Its a good habit to have in order to prolong your tent’s life, however, sometimes you might not want to take your tent down during the day since it is a sort of symbol that your campsite is occupied.

You might like leaving your tent up during the day to show others that the campsite is occupied, which is needed in a first-come, first-serve campground. Additionally, you might like storing some of your camping supplies inside of your tent. So this method isn’t always practical even though it is effective. Luckily, there are some ways we can still keep our ten up and protect it from the sun.

Place a tarp over your tent during the day

If you want to leave your tent up during the day and still protect it from the sun then placing something over then tent to absorb the sunlight instead of your tent can work. Usually, this can easily be done with a tarp. Any tarp large enough to cover your entire tent will work. Be sure to secure the tarp in some way so that it does not come off when you are gone. If you have something that you can tie the tarp to then you could create shade using the tarp and tying it to something like a tree.

Draping a tarp over your tent is like wearing clothing to prevent sunburn. The tarp fabric will take the beating from the UV rays instead of your tent. Although you could use any tarp, there are specific tarps designed for protecting tens from UV rays. These tarps are obviously superior because they were built specifically for this reason. Some are built like sunshades that deflect the sun’s rays and keep the entire area much cooler.

Use a canopy over your tent

Much like using a tarp, a canopy can provide UV protection for your tent when it is placed over it. Canopies come in many different shapes and sizes, but if you plan on using it to shield your tent then you will need to get one large enough to cover the entire tent. Much like with tent tarps, there are specific canopies that are designed for camping, but any good canopy will do. These can double as good ways to keep your camping area waterproofed as many canopies come with these features. Additionally, some canopies have “walls” to further bock the sun no matter what time of day it is.

When should I protect my tent from the sun?

You should protect your tent whenever possible. Unless you look forward to replacing it more frequently, taking care of your tent is the best thing you can do to make it last a long time. Part of that is protecting it from the sun. Another big component is keeping your tent clean and dry, which I discuss in more detail in this post. Your tent protects you from the elements at night, so you should try to protect it from the elements during the day.

Conclusion

You need to keep your tent out of direct sunlight as much as possible if you want it to last as long as possible. Putting it in the shade is useful if it is possible, and disassembling it every day is also an option but it is quite time-consuming. If you want to keep your tent up and protect it, then consider getting a tent tarp or a canopy to absorb sunlight on behalf of your tent. Making your tent last comes from protecting it from the sun and keeping it dry. Follow these steps and your tent will provide you with shelter for many more camping trips to come.

My Favorite Camping Gear

  • Air Mattress: click here to check out my favorite on Amazon.
  • Tent: click here to see my favorite tent available on Amazon.
  • Sleeping Pad: click here to check out the one I love on Amazon.
  • Sleeping Bag: click here to see the one I recommend on Amazon.
  • Camping Stove: click here to see the best camping stove on Amazon.

Zachary Smith

Zach is an avid outdoorsman that loves going camping with his Prius every chance he gets. He also regularly enjoys hiking and fishing. When he's not outside you can probably find him writing about it on this website. See his full bio here

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