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Tent Knowledge

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Tent Knowledge

Post  Warloque on Thu Oct 06, 2011 5:08 pm




A tent is a shelter, consisting of sheets of fabric or other material draped over or attached to a frame of poles. Some tent styles are free-standing, while others are attached to the ground using guy ropes (or guylines) tied to stakes (pegs). Tents were first used as portable homes by nomadic peoples, but today, their main application is for recreational camping. Modern tents are usually made of fire-retardant material.

Tents range in size from those barely large enough for one person to sleep in up to huge (circus) tents capable of seating thousands of people.

Depending on tent size and the experience of the person or people involved, such tents can usually be assembled (pitched) in between 5 and 25 minutes; disassembly (striking) takes a similar length of time. Smaller tents may be sufficiently light that they can be carried for long distances on a person's back, or on a touring bicycle, a boat, or even a pack animal.

The key to your camping adventure is the camping tent. The type of camping tent you use will depend on the climate, camping activity and your personal taste. There are many different types of tents for every conceivable environment and situation. Diehards or purists might argue that the tent is an unnecessary luxury for all but the most demanding camping. However, for the good majority of us which include families, hikers, bikers and the like, a little comfort is always welcome.

Camping equipment can include ultra-light to larger gear that has to be carried to the campsite via a vehicle.


BASIC TYPES

There are 3 basic types of tents, though there are a couple more complex or specific usage types.


1. Ridge Tent - Also known as the A-Frame type. It sounds like it looks, a ridge tent generally has a ridge at the top and steeply sloping sides, much like a ridged roof and pretty much the shape you tend to think of as a traditional tent. You can get all sizes from a small back-packers tent to a marquee but the majority of ridge tents on the market tend to be of the smaller 4/6/8 men size variety. They’re generally very simple to erect as they have a simple structure, often a pole at each end, another pole or a rope stretched between the two to support the ‘roof’ and external guy ropes keep it all upright. Simplicity is their key advantage.




2. Frame Tent - Frame tents tend to be larger, family types. They have a sturdy frame made up of stiff, tubular poles that slot one-into-another to form a frame over which the canvas then hangs. Guy ropes and pegs are then used to stop it blowing away rather than to enable the structure to stand up. Earlier frame tents suffered somewhat from being very heavy, bulky and susceptible to leaks if you touched the fabric. However modern fabrics have lead to greater improvements. The key advantages of frame tents are their efficient use of ground area (important if you’re on a crowded campsite) and the usability of the space inside.




3. Dome Tents - Over recent years, dome tents have become a very popular choice, in all sizes. They have a domed shape (or are made up of several domes), hence the name, and their structural rigidity is dependant on all the tent components (fabric, poles, guy ropes, pegs) working together, rather than on the stiffness of the frame itself. The Poles are generally made of flexible material such as carbon fibre. Dome tents are generally much lighter in weight than the equivalent size frame tent and their low, rounded shape makes them particularly wind resistant. The downside of the dome compared to a frame tent is that there tends to be less usable space (i.e. space you can walk around in or put a kitchen up in say) for the area covered.




Handy Tips

When choosing a tent type to use, the first consideration, the number of people using it, is your easiest starting point. You need one that’s big enough to sleep everybody in but also try to imagine how much time you’ll be spending in it during the day.

Despite what the tent advertisement says you should usually subtract one person from the maximum person recommended. I have found that if the tent advertises a 5-person tent, it usually is nicely comfortable for 4.

Freestanding camping tents such as dome and umbrella tents are easily moved or they can be picked up and shook out if you have debris accumulation.

If you have kids camping with you, you may want to try a two-room cabin tent or have an extra tent just for the kids. You'll appreciate the peace and quiet and they will enjoy their independence.

You may want to consider the color of the tent especially if you have kids or even if you are at a crowded campground. If you have bright colored tent you or the kids will be able to find your campsite more easily. Bright colored tents are handy if you are camping in areas that permit hunting as well.

Dark colored tents absorbs heat. Light colored tents tend to reflect sunlight.

If your camping tent zipper becomes stuck, do not use an oily lubricant. It will stain and possibly damage the fabric. To unstick the tent zipper use a bar of soap or wax.

Do not spray the tent with an insect repellent. You can damage the fabric.

You should always unpack the tent and check the contents this before heading out to the campground.

Set the camping tent up before leaving for the campground. It will give you a chance to practice pitching (and striking) the tent and also allow you to make sure you have all the parts.

A really cool thing is if the included "rain fly" can create a vestibule or area useful for storing gear.

Your camping tent needs to have adequate ventilation. A good camping tent like this will have openings on all sides. Most camping tents will have mesh screens on each side as well. This is to continue to have air flow though the tent even when you are trying to keep out the bugs or even debris if it is windy.

You will want to choose a tent that has a large mesh opening if the bugs are annoying where you'll be camping.

Camping tents can be purchased that have a water-resistant coating that still allow for ventilation. Most camping tents have a waterproof rain fly that attaches to the tent poles and still allows for ventilation. Many camping tents have floors sewn in to the bottom.

Your camping tent should be reasonably easy to set up. At no time will this be more apparent than when it is raining or when it is dark. A-frame and dome camping tents are generally easy to pitch. A cabin tent is not necessarily easy. Conversely, when you are ready to take your tent down, or strike camp, you will want it folded into a neat, compact, easy to store package.




More type varieties


Hoop tents
These combine the features of the ridge and dome tents in a single design. They are strong and offer plenty of room inside. The hoop tent is favored by the backpacker because of its lightweight, size and strength.


Frame tents
These have the best all round headroom and living space. They offer separate sleeping compartments, kitchen and living area. The frame is generally constructed of tubular steel.


Dome tents
These are very simple to erect using lightweight flexible poles that thread through a sleeve in the tent fabric. The poles are usually made form fibre-glass or alloy. This type of tent is a great choice for the backpacker and can range from a 1 berth up to family sized.


Geodesic tents
These are very similar to the dome tents, except that they have a different pole configuration. The flexible poles cross at different levels and hold the fabric taut and because of this are better suited than other tents in windy conditions.


Touring tents
These have an extended ridge and dome and a good size porch area for shade, shelter or cooking; some even have windows. The poles are of tubular steel, alloy or fibre-glass.


VIS-À-VIS
This is a term that applies to tents with sleeping compartments on either side of a living area. The basic tent can be either ridge or dome style. Most are made in lightweight nylon or polyester.


Ridge tents
These are triangular in shape with a horizontal pole supported by two vertical end poles. These tents are very sturdy with plenty of headroom; however, the sides are unsupported so it is advisable that these tents are pitched end on to the wind, by the guy ropes.




Pictures of tent varieties


Ridge / A-Frame tent



Hoop tent



Hoop tent



Dome tent with full covered rain fly sheet



Dome tent with screen porch



Frame tent with extended rainfly cover sheet



Frame / cabin tent



Interior of a modular frame tent



Geodesic dome tent with door



Vehicle-mounted tent




Solar-powered tent
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