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Looking after your bell tent

If looked after properly your Cool Canvas tent will last for many years. But that is very dependant on you putting the effort in. Canvas is a natural material and needs looking after to ensure your tent gives you many years of stress free camping.


Brand new canvas tents can often leak when they are fresh out of the bag. This is perfectly normal and nothing to worry about. To ensure your tent becomes completely watertight it needs to go through a process called weathering. When canvas gets wet the fibres expand, closing the gaps in the weave. Seams also need to be weathered as the needle used to stitch the canvas is bigger than the thread.

Ideally your tent needs to be weathered at least 2-3 times for every last drip to be eliminated. This can be done artificially with a hose or naturally on a rainy day. The important thing is to let the tent dry out fully before each wetting. For this reason a dry sunny day is our personal preference. If you are using the hosepipe method be careful not to spray the tent with too much force and don't put too much tension on the guy ropes when putting it up.

Cleaning your tent

If you do get some mud on your tent and you want to clean it off the first thing to do is wait for it to dry then try brushing it off. If that doesn't work use some warm water and gently scrub the offending area. Whatever you do, don't use washing up liquid, this will react with the natural waterproofing of the canvas.

If it is a particularly stubborn mark try using a commercial canvas cleaner such as Fabsil Universal Cleaner or Tech Wash by Nikwax

Storing your tent

This is the most important part of looking after your bell tent. Whatever happens DO NOT PUT YOUR TENT AWAY DAMP. This is the most common cause of problems with bell tents. If a canvas tent is put away damp for any length of time then it will become mouldy. The canvas we use in Cool Canvas tents does have built in anti-mould properties but if it is stored damp it will still get mouldy. If it is just areas of mild mildew/mould then the canvas cleaners mentioned earlier should do the job.

We can't stress enough the importance of storing your tent properly. If possible leave it up until it is fully dry, if that is not possible then pack it away and hang it up to dry as soon as it is possible, ideally no longer than 2 or 3 days.

Re-proofing your tent

After a couple of seasons your tent will need re-proofing to ensure it stays in optimum condition. This will need to be done for the duration of its lifetime. How often you treat the canvas depends on how regularly you use the tent and how well you look after it.

When it come to re-proofing your tent there are a couple of options. Fabsil and Nikwax are the two main industry standards. Nikwax do a spray called Cotton Proof which is good for small areas but if you want to do the whole tent we recommend Universal Protector by Fabsil, a 5 litre can should be enough for a 5m bell tent.

Wholesale bell tents


If you follow our instructions for looking after your Cool Canvas bell tent and treat it with the respect and care it deserves then it really will last you for many years and ensure you have many enjoyable camping expeditions.


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