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Is my 10-year-old REI Basecamp 4 shrinking?

I have an REI Basecamp 4 tent that I have used approximately 2 weeks per year for about 10 seasons.  It is holding up well, but seems to be shrinking??  As such it is harder to attach the plastic clips to the silver side poles during set-up and more importantly it is becoming much harder to operate the zippers.  I find myself pulling at the adjacent pole to 'loosen' the fabric around the zipper prior to closing it up for the night so as not to damage the zipper or fabric.  Not sure if this is a common problem or if I'm just imagining it.  I have cleaned the zippers without any significant change in operability.  Do you have any thoughts?  Thanks!

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3 Replies

Hi @kek - Thanks for reaching out!

This is definitely an interesting situation. We have reached out to our tent experts to see if they have seen this before or have any thoughts on your experience. When we find out more information, we will respond here with it. Hopefully some other community members will be able to weigh-in on the topic as well.

Thanks!

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.
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Hi @kek - Thanks for your patience while we asked around about your question.

It sounds like a tent slightly shrinking over a long period of time is a possibility. Some older technical fabrics can expand when wet, so if they are compressed into a storage bag while still damp, they can get slightly smaller. This situation could also happen to a dried tent stored in a hotter conditions, especially if it is in a compressed bag. While we're not sure if it will work in your specific instance, one suggestion is to wet your tent, then hang it loose rather than housing it in a bag for long term storage, which may make those zipper and clip connections easier for you. 

If other community members have tents around the same age, they may be able to weigh in with additional thoughts as well. 

Hopefully this helps!

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.
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Carter C,

Thanks for your response.  I'm pretty sure that the tent was never put in storage when damp.  It surely has come home damp, but I'm pretty good at doing a set-up at home to get things dried out.  Additionally I can tell you that it has been stored in a cool, dry basement in Colorado when not in use.  I also use a duffle bag for storage and bailed out long ago on using the original backpack style storage bag that the tent came with.  The original backpack bag was very difficult to use due to being compartmentalized and a bit too small.  So I guess I'll need to try the wetting routine that you suggested.  I know this sounds crazy, but the tightness of the fabric tends to vary and we have come to question how difficult it will be to set-up each time when getting the tent out of the bag.  Sometimes it goes better than others, but I have a feeling that a day will come when a side clip will fail due to being so tight or a zipper will become unworkable.  It's good that the tent has two doors!

I have not seen any other community member responses...so maybe I'm the only one??

Anyway, we'll keep on camping.  Regards, Ken

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