Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Good Tent

If you are forced to evacuate for any reason, you'll need someplace to go. Depending on the situation, one option might be to seek isolation from the masses of other evacuees. In that case, it's a good idea to have a tent in your evacuation kit to serve as primary shelter.

Granted, in a survival situation you need to know how to improvise shelter from whatever is at hand, but having a tent puts you miles ahead of the game.

Tent size will depend on the number of people in your group and their ability to carry gear. For example, if your family includes teens or able-bodied adults, have them carry additional tents so everyone doesn't have to crowd together.

When it comes to design, dome-style tents are simple and work well, but they don’t offer as much headroom as a cabin-type tent, and the sloping walls reduce usable interior space. I have both types and like both of them, but the cabin tent is easier to live in.

A tent that is designed to be free-standing without the need for guy-lines is easier to pick up and move if the need arises (like suddenly water starts to puddle in your campsite). If the tent requires the support of guy-lines, everything will collapse when you try to move the tent.

For every style, pegs are used to hold the floor fully stretched out. But free-standing tents can actually be erected and used without the pegs. Guy-lines are needed for the rain fly, but if you need to move the tent it is only the fly that will collapse, and that can be quickly re-set.

The tent must be durable and easy to erect. You don't want a tent that can't stand up to the rigors, or one that's a mystery every time you pull all the pieces out of the storage bag. Here are some other specific characteristics to look for in a quality tent: 
  • DAC aluminum poles linked with lightweight shock cord make assembly easy. Aluminum poles are generally a little larger in diameter but are stronger and more durable than fiberglass poles. 
  • Double-needle seam stitching throughout will help keep the seams from coming apart even after years of use. 
  • All tent floor and rain fly seams should be sealed so water won’t leak through where the stitching thread penetrates the fabric. I re-seal my seams every year. You can buy seam seal at any sporting goods store. 
  • The tent floor must be tough, waterproof and “tub” shaped with floor material that extends part way up into the sidewalls. A good waterproof coating will measure something on the order of 1500mm thickness. High-denier rating for the fabric means better resistance to wear and tear. 
  • The best wall materials are waterproof and breathable (Gore-Tex, ToddText, Klimate and MemBrain are some brands), so condensation created by living in the tent can migrate through the fabric to the outside. But for general camping use, there are perfectly good (and much less expensive) tents made of polyurethane-coated polyester taffeta that are not breathable. For non-breathable tents, ventilation is very important (see next item). 
  • Zip openings with bug screen material on all sides (and maybe even in the ceiling – which would necessitate a rain fly for foul weather use) provide ventilation to control both interior temperature and condensation. Screened windows and doors also gives you the ability to see outside while keeping critters out. Solid zip panels for doors and windows take care of privacy issues. For best access, the entryway screen should zip open across the bottom, top and one side, so you don’t step on or snag the screen when entering or exiting. YKK zippers resist snagging adjacent material and are more durable than other zippers. 
  • A rain fly made of 1500mm-coated polyester that extends over the windows and entry doors will prevent rain from sneaking inside through those openings. The fly allows you to have an open screen in the ceiling without risk of rain getting into the tent. 
  • A vestibule is a small external sheltered area where you can store your boots or other gear overnight out of the rain. Sometimes this is built into the tent itself, or sometimes it is a design feature of the rain fly. 
  • Inside the tent, look for handy mesh pocket organizers attached to the sidewalls where you can stow a pair of glasses or other small stuff up off the floor while you sleep.

1 comment:

  1. (like suddenly water starts to puddle in your campsite)

    Should have picked a better campsite in the first place.

    I have an old tent trailer I gutted out and use as a survival equipment trailer.

    There's two tents in it and a number of tarps, and lots of other things.

    A vestibule is a small external sheltered area

    Had my friend at the upholstery shop add an extended fly to my biggest tent because it would let rain in the door flap.

    In cool weather when I do use a tent I toss a big quilt over it and then a plastic tarp over that, it helps a lot.

    I made a center pole with clothes hooks on it to hang things on.

    My best advice to others is to use a tent before they actually need it, then figure out ways to improve their experience.

    My verification word is winters.