All the canvas in SoulPad tents is treated to be water, UV and mould resistant to protect it from dirt, ultraviolet radiation and fungus. SoulPads can be used straight out of the bag, without any need for treatments prior to use. However, the treatments will not last forever. Your SoulPads lifespan will depend largely on how well you care for it.
If using your SoulPad frequently or for long periods of time, a cleaning and re-proofing treatment should be applied more frequently.
It is easy to spot when a SoulPad needs to be cleaned. However, we all have different standards and a sloppy cleaning and maintenance regime will cause the SoulPad tent to deteriorate more quickly. The sooner a dirty or stained spot is dealt with, the better. Left for too long and the problem may spread and lead to other problems such as canvas disintegration whereby the material begins to ‘dissolve’ and disappear completely.
It is advisable to first use a specialised cleaning agent on your SoulPad tent, then a specialised waterproofing agent. The other way around will cause the waterproofing agent to be washed away. If you ever spot clean an area of your SoulPad, always re-waterproof that area too. Whether it is a small area that is being treated, or the entire SoulPad, this is an important rule to follow as failure to do so will lead to leaks.
It is in your interests to keep the canvas as clean as possible and remove stains when they first appear. Dust and dried mud is better wiped away with a soft brush before a cleaning agent (and then re-waterproofing agent) is applied.
If you feel the cleaning and treatment is beyond your capabilities then your SoulPad tent can be taken to a professional canvas cleaning specialist to be cleaned and re-treated. Feel free to contact SoulPad for details of third parties offerng this service in your area.
Never try to clean your SoulPad in a washing machine. This will cause too much damage to the canvas fibres and it may also damage your washing machine.
Canvas tents are not inherently waterproof and anyone who tells you so is probably just trying to sell you their tent. SoulPads are treated with a waterproofing agent. So although the canvas itself is not waterproof, the agent will help the canvas to repel water.
The effect of this treatment is to make water ‘bead’ on the surface of the canvas and either run-off or evaporate. The effectiveness of this treatment varies on how long and how often the tent has been used, primarily due to factors such as UV radiation, water composition and canvas wear and tear.
It’s also important to remember that cotton expands when wet, closing the gaps between the cotton fibres and working with the waterproofing treatment to keep the rain out – and the soul in.
Some canvas tents will need to go through a process of weathering (the wetting and drying of a tent) in order to become completely water resistant. More on that here.
SoulPad tents can withstand really heavy storms and are a very hardy shelter indeed. They are intended for light leisure use. Specifically, the SoulPads have been designed for use in the United Kingdom’s lowlands, and are ideally suited for use between the months of March and September inclusive.
If erected and maintained properly, a SoulPad will keep you dry for many many years.
The SoulPad canvas is treated with organic fluorine to make it waterproof. Organic fluorine is not petroleum-based. Organic fluorine is extracted from fluorine ore. It has a hydrostatic head of 400mm minimum (most manufacturers will quote the maximum).
It is worth noting that the hydrostatic head reduces with exposure to UV on a nylon tent. Soulful campers should not focus solely on the hydrostatic head when selecting the right tent to purchase. Our cotton canvas and ultralite blend have numerous other beneficial characteristics which also need to be considered.
The beauty of this type of tent though, is that it can be maintained to a very high standard and its lifespan is generally a lot longer than its nylon counterparts. Our canvas can be re-treated for water repellence, anti-fungal treatments and ultra violet radiation. There are plenty of easy to apply products on the market today, specifically designed with canvas tents in mind.
Similarly, other components of SoulPad tents can be serviced too. For example, zips sometimes endure extreme tension caused by wind gusts, improper erections and adverse pressures caused by people or objects leaning against your SoulPad. To protect the zips they can be treated with silicones once in a while.
There are plenty of easy steps we can take to ensure the longevity of a SoulPad. For further details, please refer to our question above titled’ Cleaning your SoulPad Bell Tent’.
SoulPads, when looked after and maintained, will serve you for a very long time.
The canvas and groundsheet will need cleaning once in a while to ensure they remain in good order and they may suffer occasionally but can easily be repaired. The remaining components can also be replaced when they have met the end of their useful life.
By comparison, a lot of the nylon tents we see today are practically disposable. Manufacturers encourage buyers to replace their existing nylon tent with the latest model. SoulPad tents are based on tried and tested designs which are here to stay and will last year after year after year.
SoulPads are intended for regular, light, leisure use and it is our opinion that they do not make for a suitable permanent shelter. They are primarily a temporary structure.
We are aware that some SoulPad customers do choose to use their SoulPad for long periods at a time, and in some instances as a permanent shelter (some with far more success than others). This is done so against our recommendation.
However, for those that are intent on using a SoulPad long term, we have the following tips and advice. The information has come largely from SoulPad users:
1. Choose your pitch carefully (flat, sheltered and with good drainage).
Check with the land owner on the best places to pitch. They will understand best how their land fairs during different types of weather.
An uneven pitch will place uneven tension on the canvas, poles and other components, as will an overly exposed pitch.
It is vital that you pitch on a well drained surface that is not prone to water logging.
Pitching under a tree and in woodlands can present its problems. Falling leaves (left on the canvas to get wet can cause discoloration and degradation of the canvas beneath), bird droppings (birds like to rest in trees and leave deposits on your SoulPad!) and falling debris from the tree can penetrate the canvas. Mould and mildew formation can also be accelerated in woodland conditions, as it is here (damp, moist conditions) that moulds and fungus’ can thrive on organic materials.
2. Protect your groundsheet (with a secondary layer).
Your pitch might look like the perfect spot, but as your SoulPad endures more footfall, small objects in the ground can work their way to the surface and penetrate the groundsheet.
Consider placing a secondary groundsheet or membrane under the existing one. Some of our customers have even laid decking to pitch on. It is a good idea to use a secondary layer that is slightly larger than the existing one. This will help to keep grass and dirt away from the canvas.
A secondary layer can also help with insulation during colder months.
3. Erect your SoulPad correctly.
Erect the SoulPad according to the instructions. Never assume you will remember the order in which to erect your SoulPad. Bad habits are easy to fall into and can have a negative impact on the longevity of your SoulPad.
4. Keep grass short near to the canvas.
The canvas needs to breathe. Grass limits its ability to breathe, and attracts moisture which is ideal for mould formation.
5. Check the guy ropes regularly.
The moisture content of the canvas will be constantly changing. During dry, less windy spells slacken off the tension on the guy ropes. This will allow the canvas to relax and minimise the likelihood of stretch and distortion.
Make sure there is enough tension applied during windier conditions. Loose guy ropes can cause pegs to unearth in a gust.
Consider switching to wooden pegs on the guy ropes if the ground becomes very wet. Wooden pegs hold much better than metal ones under these circumstances.
6. Re-locate from time-to-time.
Prevailing winds can cause your SoulPad to stretch unevenly. If you do not have space to re-locate your SoulPad, you should at least consider turning it around once in a while.
Re-locating will also allow the ground beneath to recover.
7. Consider a heat source.
A heat source like the Blaze stove will undoubtedly help prolong your SoulPads useful life. Even during the height of summer we can still experience high levels of moisture in the air (particularly at night). A heat source will allow you to dry your SoulPad from the inside out, leaving you less reliant on the sun alone.
8. Expect to Clean & Maintain.
Being exposed to the elements for long periods, your SoulPad will need to be monitored carefully. Follow our care advice when dealing with any issues.
Deal with any problems as soon as possible. They will only get worse and become bigger problems later on.
Prevention is the key. For example: Don’t wait for your SoulPad to leak before cleaning and re-waterproofing it, don’t wait for fungus to show (once it’s there it’s almost impossible to remove) and don’t wait for the canvas to fade under UV.
All of these things can be prevented with regular cleaning and re-proofing.
9. Re-waterproof after cleaning.
Always and without exception! No matter how big or small the area you have cleaned, always re-waterproof the same area with appropriate agents.
So the official line is: “No you cannot. Are you crazy? What are you thinking? Do you have any idea what paint can do to canvas and the treatments we have carefully added to it? How do you know how the paint will react when exposed to UV and the elements? Beside, shouldn’t you be at work or planning your next camping trip?”
You see, we haven’t tested the SoulPads in this way, so the risk is all yours. There are so many different types of paints on the market, and so many different types of artist with varying degrees of ability – it would be impossible for us to endorse the decoration of a SoulPad in this way. There is no doubt that too much of certain types of paint will affect the breathability considerably.
The order in which your SoulPad is erected is very important. Never assume you will remember the order, and always make sure you have a set of instructions with you each time you pitch your SoulPad tent.
SoulPad users can fall into bad habits and receive bad erection advice from other campers. This can have a negative impact on the longevity of your SoulPad and its overall performance. In case you lose them, these instructions are always available here on our website.
Following these simple steps will help insure your SoulPad tent is with you for a very long time.
1. Only store your SoulPad tent if it is dry. Never store it if the canvas fly sheet or the groundsheet is damp or wet. Both the groundsheet and the canvas must be completely dry before storing. Otherwise there is a very high risk of mildew forming on the canvas. Mildew is often irremovable, and so its prevention is of very high importance. If you are forced to pack your SoulPad tent away when it is damp or wet then it must be erected again within 24 hours, even in adverse weather. Do not hang your SoulPad tent to dry as mildew is likely to form in the creases and folds.
2. Store in a dry place. Moderate, temperate conditions are ideal. Extremes of temperature will harm the structure of the canvas. The optimum storage temperature is room temperature.
3. Do not store anything on top of your SoulPad tent as this may distort the canvas or cause harm to the other components.
4. Your SoulPad tent should be taken out of storage at least once a year to allow it to recover from its compacted and stored state.
5. Be aware that rodents and insects can cause damage to stored SoulPad tents.
6. Choose your storage area carefully and remember to check on your SoulPad tent from time-to-time. For example: five minutes spent checking the bag for dampness, or checking for signs of rodent activity could save you time, effort and unwanted repair costs later.
The SoulPads are intended for regular, light, leisure use.
It is our opinion that SoulPad tents do not make for a suitable permanent shelter. They are primarily a temporary structure. They are classed as a Touring Tent (type T) in accordance with ISO 5912.
We are aware that some SoulPad customers do choose to use their SoulPad for long periods at a time, and in some instances as a permanent shelter (some with far more success than others). This is done so against our recommendation.
Specifically, the SoulPads have been designed for use in the temperate regions of the United Kingdom, and are ideally suited for use between the months of March and September inclusive.
Check with the land owner on the best places to pitch. They will understand best how their land fairs during different types of weather. The ideal site is flat and well-drained with short grass on a sound soil structure. Avoid areas which are prone to flooding.
1. Avoid pitching under trees. Pitching under a tree and in woodlands can present the following problems. Falling leaves – if left on the canvas they can can cause discoloration and degradation of the canvas beneath. Bird droppings – birds like to rest in trees and leave deposits on your SoulPad. Falling debris from the tree can penetrate the canvas. Mould and mildew formation can be accelerated in woodland conditions, as it is here (damp, moist conditions) that mould and fungus can thrive.
2. The direction of the prevailing wind should also be taken into consideration. Try to pitch with the back of your SoulPad facing the prevailing wind. This will help to conduct the wind over the SoulPad rather than up against it.
3. An uneven pitch will place uneven tension on the canvas, poles and other components, as will an overly exposed pitch.
4. Once you have selected a good spot, before pitching remove any stones and loose debris that may cause damage to the groundsheet or discomfort underfoot.
There are specific instructions on how to pack each SoulPad model away in the instructions that come with the tent.
Make sure your SoulPad tent is completely dry before packing. Your SoulPad needs to dry out while pitched, any other way and the air may not circulate satisfactorily. This can be difficult during the colder months but is an absolute must. If it is wet moulds will appear, these are often extremely difficult to remove.
If you must pack it away wet, you must pitch it again within 24 hours. Even if you have to pitch it in wet conditions, this will prevent the problems that occur when leaving a wet SoulPad tent in its bag. A SoulPad tent is better off wet but pitched than it is wet and packed in a bag without air circulating around it.
The canvas bag is large enough to contain your SoulPad in its entirety. However, it is advisable to pack the poles and pegs separately from the canvas in order to protect the canvas from damage.
The lifespan of your SoulPad is very much dependent upon the camping conditions and the way in which you care for and maintain your SoulPad. Air pollution, ultraviolet radiation, natural dirt (bird droppings, sand, salt and water) and domestic dirt (cooking stains, wine and sun cream) all limit the lifespan of your cotton canvas SoulPad tent, as will the level of care and maintenance that you choose to apply. Any problem areas should be dealt with immediately.
Brand new canvas tents can often leak on their first few wets, with the leaks becoming less and less with each wetting and drying process. This doesn’t always happen, but some new canvas tents may need to go through a process called weathering. Weathering is the wetting and drying of a canvas tent.
Some water droplets may penetrate the canvas to begin with, but the cotton fibres in the weave will eventually swell and nestle into each other. The result is a water resistant tent and one that will give years and years of good service if it is looked after properly. Some SoulPad tents will need weathering two, three or even more times before every last water inlet is eliminated. With patience, those last few drips will eventually cease. This process can be accelerated artificially using a fine spray on a hose pipe if preferred. For the weathering process to be completed (either artificially or naturally), it is important that the tent dries thoroughly in-between wets.
Commonly water will accumulate on the labels inside the SoulPad tent during the weathering process, or where the vertical walls are attached to the sloping roof. This falsely gives the impression that these are problem areas. This is not the case. Again, this will eventually cease.
If the ground is too wet or soft (such as with sandy soil), pegs may become loose and pop out of the ground more easily in a small breeze. In this instance it is advisable to switch to wooden pegs as these purchase the ground better in such conditions.
If there is not enough tension on the poles they will move. Please check the pitching instructions and follow them carefully.
The slides on your SoulPad tent will need to have tension re-applied to them following heavy rain, or wind. Check them over periodically. If you plan to use your SoulPad tent in particularly adverse weather conditions (especially windy conditions) it is advisable to switch the standard slides to locking slides. Always close all windows and entrances before adjusting the slides.
Correct Placing of Items Inside The SoulPad Tent:
Do not place items too close to the canvas. During windy and/or wet conditions these may harm the canvas or cause it to let in water.
Do not hang objects from any of the fixings inside the tent intended for the inners. This will cause undue stress on the canvas and may cause distortion. The objects you hang may also cause damage to the canvas during windy conditions.
Ultraviolet radiation can affect the SoulPad tent’s canvas performance and its water resistant capabilities. When re-waterproofing your SoulPad tent, look for products that also include UV protection.
Immediate effects of UV can be ‘bleaching’ – a change in colour of the canvas to lighter shades. Compare your SoulPad canvas fly sheet with the canvas bag it came in. They are made of the same material but it is likely that the canvas bag has been less exposed to UV. Is there a marked difference in colour? If so, it may be time to treat your canvas fly sheet. UV can also lead to a reduction in the effectiveness of the waterproofing and anti-fungal treatments.
All of the components used to produce SoulPads tents have anti-UV treatments and properties but will need to be monitored carefully and replaced at the first sign of degradation. All the canvas used to produce SoulPad tents is treated to be water, UV and mould resistant to protect it from dirt, ultraviolet radiation and fungus. SoulPads can be used straight out of the bag, without any need for treatments prior to use. However, the treatments will not last forever. Your SoulPads lifespan will depend largely on how well you replenish these treatments.
Guy lines and slides will eventually need replacing and a common cause for accelerated wear can be due to UV exposure.
SoulPads are not winterised tents and as such they are not intended for use in snowy conditions. If for any reason your SoulPad does find itself in these conditions you must regularly remove the snow from the canvas surface. The SoulPad tents are not designed to withstand heavy payloads of snow.
Zips sometimes endure extreme tensions. These can be caused by wind gusts, improper erections and adverse pressures caused by people or objects leaning against your SoulPad. Close all zips before erecting, adjusting or taking down your SoulPad. Handle the zips with care. To protect the zips treat them with silicones once in a while. If a zip on your erected SoulPad seems strained, play with the tension on the guy lines or adjust the positioning of the wall loops to find out which adjustment helps the zip to function better. When a SoulPad is erected incorrectly it can cause the zips to fail.
This is the process of replenishing the treatments already applied at the point of manufacture. Spotting when it is time to re-proof can be difficult. A SoulPad tent that has enough proofing agents present will cause the water on the surface to ‘bead’ after a downpour.
The tent will dry quickly in a breeze or sunlight and it will not fade rapidly when exposed to UV. You will literally see beads of water forming on the outer surface of the canvas. When it is time to re-proof your SoulPad, you will notice that the water no longer beads, and that the SoulPad retains the moisture in the canvas for longer, taking longer to dry out than before. The colour of the canvas may also have faded. In the worst cases, mildew will start to appear in the form of small irremovable specs.
Reproofing is simple. SoulPad recommends the use of Granger’s Fabsil with UV. A 5 litre container of this product is enough to treat even the largest of SoulPads. Please follow the manufacturer’s guidelines when using this product. In simple terms: add the liquid to a pressurised container and spray onto the outer surface of the dry SoulPad tent (in fine weather) and allow it to dry. A fine coating is sufficient.
Fungus and Mildew:
One of the most common problems to occur in canvas is mildew. This is easily preventable.
The onset of fungus or mildew is a sure sign that your SoulPad is past needing a treatment with a cleaner and waterproofing agent, or that it has been stored incorrectly.
There are a number of reasons why mildew develops in canvas (exposure to dust and/or bacteria for example). It is most commonly formed when exposed to certain conditions of humidity and temperature.
Even if the canvas is mildew resistant, mildew will form if left damp. The best way to dry your SoulPad tent is for it to be fully pitched and allowed to dry naturally in fair weather. It should not be hung to dry as fungus and mildew could form in the folds and creases of a hung SoulPad tent.
Mildew is very destructive to cotton fabrics as well as other materials. Mildew most commonly forms when tents are put into storage when damp. However, depending on the environment mildew can start while the tent is set up also. Under certain conditions of humidity and temperature it’s on-set can be very fast indeed. If mildew has started to grow, it can be stopped from spreading by thoroughly drying the tent (preferably in the hot sun) and applying a cleaner, followed by the re-waterproofing of any areas cleaned.
When dealing with fungus use a soft brush or sponge and a lot of fresh water to remove as much as you can and to stop the fungus from spreading. Only use specialised canvas tent cleaning products for this purpose. Other domestic, chemical products can be too harsh and cause the canvas structure to breakdown and leak.
Be sure to air your tent from time-to-time. Condensation levels should be kept to a minimum by regular airing (open the windows and entrances regularly to allow air to circulate inside the tent too.
Keeping grass and weeds trimmed around the bottom of the tent is also important since dampness clings to foliage and does not allow air to get to the fabric.
Inevitably accidents do happen and SoulPads get wounded in the process. The components used on SoulPad tents have been selected for their durability and ease of maintenance. You might be surprised by the level of repair you can achieve yourself.
Always apply any repair work on the outside of your SoulPad tent. Small rips in the canvas can literally be stitched closed using a common needle and thread (use as fine a needle as you can bare, and try to match the cotton colour to the canvas). Larger rips and tears will need to be patched, but again use a needle and thread to do so. Try to use the same canvas colour and type as the original SoulPad. If applying a patch, try to use a diamond shape with the peak of the diamond being upmost. This will enable any rain run-off to disperse more quickly than a patch applied squarely.
When stitching, always try to keep the stitching runs tight and close together. It might pay to go over the same area a few times, just to be sure you have achieved a good seal.
It is a good idea to include a basic sewing kit with your camping equipment. Having access to common needle and thread can make or break a trip away.
Other campers may have to end their trip due to a rip or a tear, but as a canvas tent user, more often than not you will able to repair your SoulPad tent yourself and continue with your trip.
Remember, canvas is very forgiving! Any holes left by your needle will soon be filled with the expanding fibres of the canvas when it becomes wet. Have confidence in your repairs.
Circular repairs are advisable on groundsheets in order to reduce the likelihood of the patch becoming loose through footfall and contact. In most instances, the groundsheet can be repaired using a patch of the same material and a good, strong contact adhesive. It is more effective to apply a patch on both sides of the groundsheet.