You will want to dry out your tent from the hiking trip before packing so that you do not have any damp spots on it the night after. You may be coming home from an extremely cold, damp camping trip, so setting your tent in the cold outdoors does not really help to dry it.
There are very few situations in which you will need to set your tent to dry, but neither do you have to use it most nights. Leaving the tent pitched on site, unless you are hurrying to go, so that it is drying out before packing up, will spare you from having to deal with all of the trouble that comes with trying to dry a damp tent.
If you are feeling good, you may want to leave the tent outside overnight to dry, instead of just a couple hours, so that you know it is no longer likely to get wet. Leave the tent set up in your yard until it is fully dry (should not take more than a couple hours). That is why I like to set up for the day, taking a little extra time, to try and get the tent fully dry before packing up.
You might even need to roll your soaked, damp tent and rainfly back over and over again so that all parts are exposed to the airflow, and to ensure that it is fully dry before packing.
If you are hanging it from a rope, beneath shelter, or above the bushes, be sure to go in and move it around to expose each piece to the sun and moving air so that you can dry it out as quickly as possible. You may have to flip your tent a few times to ensure that it is fully dry, so be careful on your steps as you do.
Once you have cleaned your tent as much as possible, you want to be sure you are airing out your tent and letting it dry using these methods. You can speed up drying by using towels and newspapers to help you to get your tent dry as best you can before leaving it up to air.
If you need to dry out your tent even faster, using a low-to-cool-air blow-dryer is your best bet. If you do not have access to a fan, a hair dryer, or a dehumidifier, you may want to try drying your tent by hanging it up from a temporary clothesline.
Depending on the size of your tent, you may need to use the clothesline rather than setting one up, or, finally, hanging your tent from a shower may work as long as you allow for sufficient ventilation. Drying a tent can be challenging during winter, but, again, airflow and a sunny location will deal with much of the water in your tent.
Canvas tents may get a little bit of sun damage, but even these do not need to stay out in the sun for very long — so you are far better off protecting the tent from the sun once you have finished drying. Direct sunlight and UV light will kill mould spores and accelerate the drying process, but you do not want to leave a tent exposed to direct sunlight for too long.
While UV Rays break down the fabric over time, the limited amount of time that you will have to leave it out in the sun to dry will not harm the tent.
First, wipe down the tent with a dry towel or rag to remove most of the water, and then place it in direct sunlight. You will want to get rid of all standing water and open any doors, windows, and ventilation so that air is moving around to create water evaporation from the tent. If it is a beautiful day, open your windows and doors to let in a modified cross breeze, or if it is still raining, use an overhead fan or a floor fan pointed across a damp, soggy tent to create evaporation of water.
After giving the tent a good washing, set up in an area that gets some gentle sun, and has plenty of room for the air to move. Once your tent is completely dry, you can fold it and put it in a storage unit until warmer weather arrives. You might be tempted to put the canvas tent inside of the carrying bag and let it sit there drying on its own.
This will depend on a number of factors, including how damp the canvas tent is, the conditions under which you are drying your tent (air temperature, if a fan is available, etc. If making sure is not an option (for example, if you are leaving a campsite under the rain), you should do every drying technique in the book to make sure that your canvas tent is dry before storing it.
Whether it starts to rain as you are setting up camp, and you happen not to have a waterproof tent, or you are planning on keeping the tent outside all season long and you do not want to risk any mold or mildew growing, you are going to want to ensure your tent does not become damp.
If you have to store your tent wet, you should make it your goal to store it packed down for two days or less. A tent takes between half an hour to an hour and a half to dry, depending on how wet it was to begin with, if good airflow is available, and the tents materials.
Keep in mind that canvas tents typically take longer than nylon or synthetic cloth tents to dry. On rainy days, you will need to set up the tent in your garage or covered patio, and use a fan for better ventilation.