All About Tents
A two-man pup tent does not
include two men or a pup.
[How much to spend]
in the countryside, away from city lights, out under the stars on a
clear night is simply spectacular.
is a solution to this problem:
campsite bed is made;
HOW MUCH SHOULD I SPEND ON A TENT, OR TENTS?
Mama always said,
Obviously there must be some difference to justify the price.
Let's put it this way.
need to think of your tent as an investment.
cheap tent, may work all right in good weather, but as soon as the
wind rises and the skies open up, forget it.
What kind of tent?
Determine the Purpose of the Tent
If being used for family camping--consider comfort, space and ventilation
If backcountry camping--consider weight, size and durability
today come in all shapes
and sizes to meet a variety of camping needs and weather situations.
The floor should be the most water-resistant part of the tent. Because you are putting pressure on the floor of the tent, you can draw water into the tent through the fabric. This is why most floors are heavily coated with urethane for waterproofness.
Things to Consider:
This is the same stuff you use to cover your trailer or boat with.
Floors made of this material are good at repelling water but can tear easily on sharp rocks.
They are heavier than nylon floors and are thicker so tents with polyweave floors don't pack as small or as light as tents with nylon floors.
This floor costs considerably less to make than a nylon floor with a light urethane coating, yet provides better waterproofness.
Nylon floors come in many different weights and are a sometimes hard to differentiate.
The best way to differentiate is by touching the fabric on different tents.
Better tents use 3 ounce (per square foot), 70 Denier (a measurement of weave) nylon taffeta or greater or 210 Denier Oxford nylon (a bit heavier).
These materials are far more abrasion resistant than lighter weight nylon. Untreated nylon is not water repellent so it must be treated with urethane (see treatments).
When treated with enough urethane a nylon floor can become watertight.
The floor is the part of the tent that requires the highest degree of waterproofness.
Treatments are urethane based and can be applied in two ways.
One is a liquid form that is poured onto the fabric and a knife-edge is rolled over the fabric to distribute it evenly. A single pass can yield waterproofness to up to 35 PSI of water pressure. The more passes, the more waterproof the fabric becomes.
The second method is to laminate one sheet of urethane to the fabric. This method costs much less and provides a greater degree of waterproofness up to 200 PSI.
Regardless of the method used, the floor fabric should be treated to a minimum of 100 PSI. Anything less and you may need to wear a life jacket before falling asleep.
The treated side of the fabric should be on the inside of the tent, because friction with loose dirt and small rocks will eventually deteriorate the treatment.
A factor not to be overlooked is the construction.
A floor made of the most waterproof fabric will still leak if there are seams on the floor which are not properly sealed.
Many companies tape their floor seams, so as to avoid having the consumer seam seal the floor themselves.
However, most companies fail to tape the corners that are prone to leakage. If the corners are not properly sealed, take the time to do it yourself.
you could spend five bucks and 15 minutes to ensure a long and happy
life, would you?
Although the bottom of your tent is made of reinforced material that is thicker than either its rain fly or tent walls, the forest floor is an abrasive place. To prevent accidental punctures from rocks and the like, lay a plastic ground cover under the tent's floor.
Most tents on the market now have a fully sewn in groundsheet, often with what's called a 'bath-tub' floor design. This is where the groundsheet extends further up the side of the tent to eliminate any water penetration from the side seams.
Mountain tents commonly use a groundsheet material made from neoprene coated nylon, which is extremely waterproof and durable but heavier than the normal PU coated nylon groundsheets. In the cheaper end of the tent market a polythene material is used as it is robust, waterproof and inexpensive but it is heavy and noisy!
They should not extend beyond the edge of the tent; otherwise they will collect moisture which could enter your tent.
This groundsheet should be cut to fit the shape of the tent floor-as big, but no bigger. A groundsheet that peeks out from the edges of the tent will channel water underneath, and no degree of waterproofing will stop water from seeping inside. You can buy material for groundsheet at both outdoor-equipment and hardware stores. Plastic from hardware stores is perfectly fine and often cheaper.
your own groundsheet
For materials you'll need a large sheet of waterproof material, scissors, a marker, some duct tape and grommets (optional).
sure the rain fly
is an adequate size, covering most of the tent with an extended
section at the door to allow entry without soaking the inside of the tent.
look further into the aspects of selecting a proper tent.
tent lingo has become as complicated as translating
are a few definitions to help guide you through this dilemma.
versus double-walled tents.
double-walled tents are heavier than their single cousins, but are
also less expensive. The advantage of double-walled tents is that
they breathe well (the canopy and fly
have several inches of space between them, or the fly
can be removed completely), with less condensation forming on the
shape tent you purchase is just one of the many factors involved in
finding the tent that is just right for you.
tent designs can be a little daunting;
A-frame tent is becoming outmoded
A-frames are often lighter in weight than domes because there are often fewer poles.
While most A-frames require stakes, some modified A-frames are freestanding.
tend to cost less than their dome-shaped cousins,
style of tent is by far the most popular recreational tent around.
Are more aerodynamic and stable, with a sleeker profile to shed water and wind effectively.
Tents are generally easy to set up.
tents are preferable if you will be in an area that is prone to high
winds because the shape makes for little risk of collapsing.
manufacturers color-code the sleeves, and this helps.
drawback of dome tents is that they usually aren't as tall or roomy
are classified as freestanding, meaning you can pitch them without
(ropes tied to trees and other supports) and stakes,
attaching these after the tent is up.
does not mean leaving your tent unstaked.
Some tents are made of rain-resistant material, but many are constructed with light, breathable nylon and are protected by rain flies.
great thing about a good dome is the way they take the rain. The
secret is the fly. A good fly will have enough overhang to let you
keep the windows open in a pretty good rain, this adds to comfort.
tents aren't as rugged in high winds, rain, or snow as A-frames or
Domes, but their shape is highly efficient for both weight and floor space.
of these tents feature a fold-back covering that permits occupants
Although this design can withstand high winds, some models with sloped entrances encourage rain to migrate inside.
Hoop tents are for weight-conscious backpackers.
Bivouacs come in two styles:
tent version, which is essentially a hoop tent;
(or bivy) sacks are one-man "tents" that typically exist
in the domain of the serious hiker.
Bivvies often have a large hoop that supports the front end, keeping the fabric off your head.
the breathability problem, there is also no room for camping gear
inside the tent; equipment left outside could be soaked in a downpour.
sacs have no supporting ribs.
but not least, are family-sized tents designed to accommodate up to
six people. These are made more for car campers; they're less
practical for backpackers, cyclists, or those traveling by canoe.
Family tents are multiroom tents designed for those who plan to stay at the same site for longer periods of time.
Their large, square designs have high ceilings and vertical walls. They have plenty of space for cots, chairs and coolers.
tents, for lack of a better word, come in a variety of styles
descended from the canvas designs of my youth.
tents are bulkier, heavier, and take a little more time to pitch
than dome tents.
have had plenty of experience with both dome and cabin tents and my
personal opinion is that either one is fine for most use and it is
really a matter of personal preference.
There are many specialty backpacking tents on the market, most of them based on a modified dome or geodesic design with arcing poles. Some are as complicated as lunar landing modules. Designed to stand up under harsh conditions, they are typically made for sleeping, keeping your gear dry, and little else.
But unless you are considering bicycle or canoe camping, or, of course, backpacking, they don't provide enough room to be a good choice for families.
Features to Look For
Consider Quality of Other Features
How big does the tent need to be?
Determine the Size and Weight
What type of activity
How many people
How much gear to store in tent
sizes do not include room for gear storage.
it's just you and your spouse, then you obviously don't need to get
a monster tent that's made for 8 people.
will you need to keep any campers separate?
thing to consider when deciding on the size of your tent is whether
or not you plan on storing any gear inside the tent. If you want to
keep the cooler and other items in the tent, then get a tent that's
rated for 1 or 2 more people higher than you normally would.
are rated for people sleeping . . .
most important thing to look for in a camping tent is roominess.
Decide how much room is important to you before purchasing a tent.
manufacturers tend to overestimate the number of people their tents
Cabin tents are big with high ceilings and large windows.
When you are making your tent wish list, remember that you will be responsible for how the tent reaches the campground, be it a primitive site in a state forest or a fully-equipped site at the nearest KOA. For backpackers, the most important feature of a tent is its weight. Car campers, on the other hand, are more interested in roominess and comfort. Even so, carrying more tent than the camping trip calls for can be almost as much of a mistake as not having an adequate tent. Some of the larger family tents weigh in excess of 30 pounds.
Don't purchase a huge, bulky, heavy tent if your time in the tent is limited to the eight hours you will be sleeping in it. If your tent will be used only for the "rest" half of R&R, you might want to look into one of the less expensive small family camping tents.
if you head out on a camping trip in a heavy duty vehicle intending
to set up a base camp for several days or more, the larger tents may
be worth the bulk as well as the price.
is another important feature to look for when shopping for a tent.
you a spring/summer/fall tent-user, or do you like to extend camping
into the winter as well?
Three Season Tent
tents can be classified as three-season. In other words, their
construction makes them comfortable from spring through fall. There
are also tents that are almost entirely no-see-um netting for
ultimate ventilation and which are perfect for camping in the summer,
particularly in the South and Southwest.
tents have more mesh, lighter poles
and fabrics, and aren't as heavy-duty.
Four Season Tent
built for four-season use usually have very little ventilation and
sometimes feature a cook hole in the floor so that you can cook
inside your tent.
tents usually have stronger poles,
heavier fabrics, less mesh, and remain sturdy in the wind and snow.
the more weather and snow you camp out in, the stronger your tent
needs to be.
Most tents are made of strong but
lightweight nylon taffeta or rip stop nylon, which weighs
approximately 2 ounces per square yard.
The floors and flys are usually coated with polyurethane or another moisture-repellent substance to prevent moisture from passing from the ground into the tent. Although the body of a tent is often left untreated to increase the transfer of respiration and perspiration through the tent's walls, it is not unusual to wake up in a damp tent. Moisture can gather beneath sleeping pads or air mattresses (but not cots since they are raised above the floor). Large and airy tents have less of a problem this way because of the greater circulation of air throughout the tent. Some tents offer a double-roof construction, which further decreases unwanted condensation. I have spent a number of sleepless nights in tents that dripped continually from the ceiling.
Polyester withstands extended exposure to the sun
the past few years, tent poles have evolved from unyielding aluminum
to shock-corded poles of fiberglass or aluminum (except in the case
of some of the larger, family tents, which still use rigid aluminum
poles). These new poles are threaded in segments over elastic (shock)
cord that allows the user merely to snap the poles into shape rather
than piece them together.
This means that a bungee cord runs through each pole assembly. This
keeps the pole together so you don't have to hunt for pieces. As the
poles sections slip together the cord holds them together so they can
be handled as a single pole.
When dismantling the tent, the segments are pulled apart and folded compactly.
is still some controversy as to whether fiberglass is superior to
aluminum when it comes to designing tent poles. Fiberglass is less
expensive and more flexible than aluminum. It does not require pre-bending
or any special attachments. It also provides a better packing size
when folded. Its major drawbacks are that it is affected by weather
and can break into splinters and must be replaced. Aluminum is more
likely to bend and can be splinted when it breaks. Durability is one
of aluminum's main advantages along with the fact that it is easily replaced.
Aluminum poles are the standard for high-end tents.
quality aluminum poles are strong, light and can run well over $200
for a replacement set.
They are light, flexible and can withstand the cold.
The quality of aluminum poles vary, but most poles are aircraft grade aluminum which are lighter and less bulky while providing increased strength.
Diameters range from 6 mm to 15 mm. The larger diameter is heavier, stronger and less flexible, thus more stable under high winds. Most backpacking tents use 8.5 mm to 9.5 mm. As a general rule if your tent has only one pole intersection, your poles should be 9.5 mm.
If your tent is higher than 5 feet tall, you need a pole diameter of at least 10.5 mm.
fiberglass poles unless car camping.
Fiberglass poles are heavier than aluminum poles and are not as durable.
When temperatures fall below freezing, fiberglass poles start to crack.
Fiberglass poles are usually used to cut costs.
Fiberglass comes in varying qualities, the cheap versions tend to splinter rather easily.
Fiberglass poles also have metal sleeves at their ends, these tend to get caught in pole sleeves and make setting up the tent rather frustrating.
To make set up easier some manufacturers have devised interesting ways to attach pole ends to the tent's corners. Here are a few of them:
Ball tips - one end of the pole has a sphere that you simply slide into the continuous sleeve until it rests in a pocket at the other end of the tent.
Hollow end - the end of the pole is hollow so that a pin at the tent's corner can be inserted. This seems easy but the pin sometimes slips out when you try to flex the pole.
Point tips - a pointed end tip is inserted into a grommet at the tent's corner. The pointed end always seems to slip out of the grommet by the time you are ready to insert the other end of the pole.
Locking tips - This works the same way as the pointed tip but without the problem of it slipping out of the grommet.
Tent Poles, Original Military Surplus Tent poles connect to
create sturdy support for your tent or tarp, 15" tall each and
all can be connected or used separately
ski bags to hold your dining tarp, poles, pegs and ropes together.
well-made tent should have lap-felled seams around the floor seam.
On uncoated nylon tents, check for taped seams. Because nylon tends to unravel, taping or hiding the end of the fabric behind the seam with another piece of fabric will stop or stall this process.
make sure that all stress points are reinforced either with extra
stitching or bar tacking.
Today's tents are mostly water
resistant, although, even if the manufacturer calls it unnecessary,
it's a good idea to seam-seal your tent.
Set up your tent in a protected area, and put the fly on inside out. Run seam sealer (included with some new tents, or available at outdoor stores) along every seam on the fly and the floor. It's better to apply two thin coats than one thick coat. Allow to dry for several hours before putting the tent away.
Water can still invade
most tents through WICKING. This is where something touching
the side of the tent will, through capillary action, draw the water
through the tent wall onto the item touching it. This could be
a backpack, clothes, sleeping bag, or any other item capable of
agree that waterproofing is an important feature to consider.
are occasions like these that have taught some campers to keep a
spare tarp on hand. The tarp can then be erected over your tent to
provide an extra roof and a little extra protection from the rain.
To keep your tent as dry as possible, it is important to seal its seams, especially those around the floor of the tent. Most leaks occur at the seams because that is where the needles that sewed the pieces together left holes.
the fly (and the tent if it is not seam-taped) out on the ground;
run a thin coating of sealant along the seams. Allow the sealant to
dry according to the instructions on the bottle, and then apply a
on how much you use the tent, the sealer can last up to two years.
You can buy seam sealer at any outdoor store and most discount stores. It is very cheap with easy to follow directions.
Rain flies have to be seam-sealed every few seasons.
sun too will eventually cause a tent to deteriorate.
Tent floors can wear out, so use a ground tarp when possible.
You will also want to consider how easily a tent can be set up and taken down
- important when it comes to pitching a tent in the dark or wind or rain.
golden rule is to
This rule serves many purposes.
You may also want to practice setting up in the dark!
While you have your tent set up in your yard there are a few things that I highly recommending doing.
first is waterproofing.
also want to check the stakes
for your tent.
remember to never ever ever use the loops on the tent to pull the
stakes out of the ground. They are not meant for this and doing this
could cause them not to hold at the most inconvenient of times - like
when it is windy and rainy and you most want to be inside of the tent.
There are several different methods of tent set up-clip systems, sleeve systems and grommet systems. In the clip system, the ends of the poles are held by grommets and the tent clipped to the poles; in the sleeve system, the poles are pushed through sleeves in the tent and the ends are held by grommets; and the simple grommet system, in which the poles, usually rigid aluminum poles, are held by grommets or loops with little or no bending of the poles. Some tents employ combinations of the two systems, the clip and sleeve combination being the most common.
While color is a matter of personal preference, there are reasons why you may choose one color over another. Bright, neon-like colors are good only in search-and-rescue situations because the blinding material will stand out against the snow or the green and brown of the woods or the sand in the desert. Since most camping involves designated sites, this situation rarely arises. It is more common among mountain climbers or others who find themselves in this situation having traveled in remote areas. For the very reason bright colors are effective in emergency situations as described above, these colors can be annoying to other campers, causing a visual disturbance in what is supposed to be a natural, outdoors experience.
The fabric color affects the quality of light inside your tent. If your tent is pale green or blue, the bright sunlight filtered through your tent will form a soft light inside. On rainy or overcast days, the light inside your tent could be slightly depressing. These colors are also a bit more inconspicuous in the backcountry. In contrast, orange and yellow fabrics are great in foul weather because they produce a brighter light inside your tent but few manufacturers use these colors anymore just because they are so bright.
a matter of fact, there is a definite trend toward using more
inconspicuous and environmentally pleasing colors such as grey, light
grey, white and tan. These please the eye both inside and outside the
tent. Blue and gold combinations are also used in many tents as are
lodengreen or spruce, charcoal, burgundy, teal and aqua.
a quality ground cloth for under your tent to protect the floor and
to keep it drier and cleaner.
'fly' or 'roof fly' or 'rain fly'
rain fly of your tent is undoubtedly the most integral part of your
tent when the rain begins to fall.
The fly may just cover a central part of the roof, or it may extend all the way to the ground. It may incorporate an integral vestibule or annex by the tent door(s), or even a porch-style awning on some family models.
In any case, it is likely to be somewhat heavier than the rest of the tent, as the fly takes the most abuse over time from UV light, winds, rains, birds, trees
a good idea to purchase 1 or 2 extra flies when you first get the
Flies need to be re-treated/sealed for waterproofness every so often, and like the rest of the tent should be stored clean and dry.
use you won't always need it of course
fly sheets also include extra sewn-on web loops or metal rings, for
in windy conditions:
really can make the difference between a solid shelter and a large
loose tumbleweed-type tent.
If in doubt, guy it out!
We're talking tents here,
track of the weather before and during your trip,
Once you've spent bucket loads for your tent, follow these tips to make sure it lasts long and serves you well:
Vestibules and Other Features
tents come equipped with vestibules. A vestibule is essentially a
tent's front porch. It is designed to protect gear from the elements
and can offer a canopy under which to cook in foul weather.
You must remember that any open flame in a tent is dangerous. DO NOT
use candles when you are sleeping. There is a chance you may not wake up.
tents offer mesh storage pouches that are good for storing small
personal items like watches, compasses, and small flashlights.
if weather isn't a problem, insects sometimes are.
Washing Your Tent
wash in a washing machine
will want to keep any equipment you buy in tip-top shape.
you can't just send your synthetic fiber wonder to the dry cleaners
or toss it into a washing machine to rid it of past brushes with the wilderness.
you find yourself faced with a tent that has undergone the ravages
of a rainstorm that turned your particular patch of outdoor
wilderness into a mucky hell, chances are your tent has taken the
brunt of the misery.
first step is to dry everything out.
heavily soiled areas, spot clean with a solution of soapy water.
Either brushing or wet-spot cleaning can also be used to clean the fly, and it may be a good time to seal the tent and fly seams.
adequate drying time before stuffing your tent back into its sack.
A little tip . . .
well-meaning advice to buy an
One Last Note to Ponder . . .
HOW FLAMMABLE IS YOUR TENT?
Most tents, even those that are labeled flame resistant, will burn, so keep all sources of heat or flames at a safe distance.
To prevent a serious fire or burn, follow these suggestions:
prevent accidents in the night,
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