The Muscular and External System
How to choose a camping tent is just like assuring your home has the best roof. Actually, the tent is your shelter, your dome of protection against all the elements, your home away from home. Your family might want to spend the summer getting the feel of nature. Of course, you want to feel the cool air, the soothing sounds of the babbling brook. Ahh, but when you encounter the chill of the night because of dim knowledge on how to choose a tent, your summer vacation might not turn out the best. Most people shun away from the basic questions that are necessary to ask for them to know how to choose a camping tent. Here are some tips you should know to help you on the outdoor experience of a lifetime. Believe me, you will give yourself a pat on the back later just because you chose these extra minutes to learn a little bit more.
There are things to consider before you decide how to choose a tent. You have to consider the purpose of the tent, what season you’re going out on an outdoor experience, how many will be going on your trip, etc. Of course, when you want to spend time camping with the whole family, you should bear in mind the comfort, space and ventilation of the tent. Also think about the amount of gear (coolers, clothes, flashlights, backpacks etc.) you will keep in the tent. If you are going camping backcountry, then weight, size and durability of the tent should be considered as well.
Consider how long you will be setting camp. Are you just going for a day or two, or will you be camping a day or two every month? If you are planning to set camp for several days, buying a heavy tent is worth the expense and additional weight. If your camping adventure involves you getting exposed to the natural elements: storm, hail, snow, sleet, etc., four season tents are available for your convenience. On hot nights, poor ventilation in your tent will cause sleeping turmoil, so be sure to consider ventilation as well.
One of the most basic and most important parts of the tent is of course, its floor. A good floor will keep out ground water that could seep under your tent. Here are the different types of tent floors:
• Bathtub floor – a floor that wraps up along the sides. It is named such because it is wrapped up around 2-4 inches above ground level. This type of floor is made of heavy duty waterproof material.
• Nylon floor – this type of floor is not water repellent. Urethane treatment is needed for it to become highly waterproof.
• Polyweave floor – Contrary to nylon floors, these floors are highly waterproof but are not advisable in the presence of sharp rocks. The materials of a polyweave floor are the same ones used in covering boats or trailers. They are also heavier than nylon floors and might cause a little more weight in your backpack.
Bear in mind that tent floors can also wear out. A ground tarp is highly recommended. If you want something specifically made for your tent, you can buy a “footprint” tarp for most middle to high-end tents, such as Eureka camping tents. When camping during winter, position your tent in such a way that the early morning sun can thaw the dew or snow on your tent.
You may ask: how do I make sure that my tent seams are good? The floor seam should have lap-felled seams for it to become durably waterproof. These lap-felled seams provide extra strength because they are composed of layers of interlocking fabric joined by a double row of stitching. Nylon tents that are uncoated should have taped seams. Nylon tends to unravel. To avoid this, the end of the fabric behind the seam should be taped or hidden with another fabric. All end points should be strengthened with extra stitching or bar tacking. Always give the material a tug to make sure the weight is equally distributed across the stress points.
A general rule in tent setups states that the seam that attaches the tent floor to the tent wall should be covered with a rain fly. A tight rain fly prevents water from entering into the tent by not allowing the tent fabric to stretch and sag with water. If they do sag with water then the guylines should be tightened. Guylines are used to add structure to the tent. As the tent poles flex in the wind, guylines will keep it upright and sturdy.
Another tent part that we should consider is its skin — the fabric. Most camping tents use strong but lightweight nylon. Some bigger tents use coated polyester or cotton poplin canvas, which is heavier. Polyester’s advantage is that it can withstand extended exposure to sunlight. Nylon, however is of lighter weight, while a canvas fabric is durable but heavy.
Polyurethane (PU) is a coating sometimes used on tent fabric for water protection. PU coatings are rated in MM (millimeters), for example “PU coated to 450 mm”; a higher MM coating will increase water resistance.
The Skeletal and Respiratory Framework
Now that you’ve come to know the physical aspects of a tent, you also need to get to know its skeletal framework.
So you have chosen a nice spot for your tent. Your tent floors are intact, your seams are okay, your fabric is durable but when the elements of nature emerge their powers, your tent might collapse and you could find yourself drenched in a storm. You wouldn’t want to be caught up in this situation, believe me! So you might be asking, anything else I missed? Maybe you haven’t checked your poles! The tent poles are the skeletal framework of your tent. Without it, all the time that you have taken to select the right materials will be useless. The following are the different kinds of poles to suit your tent needs:
• Steel – used in more expensive technical tents. Steel poles are very strong and flexible. They are very useful when you are camping in areas where the wind is very strong or when your tent is bound to be challenged with the forces of nature.
• Aluminum – standard for high-end tents. Aluminum poles are lightweight, strong and great for backpackers. The very important factor in this type of pole is that it is lightweight. While it is light, these tent poles are preferred because of their strength and durability. However aluminum poles break, they can be splinted together to a usable state. To summarize, aluminum tent poles are flexible, light and can withstand the cold.
• Fiberglass – this kind of tent pole is less strong so thicker and heavier poles are needed to achieve the same strength. This is a less expensive option. Fiberglass tent poles do not require pre-bending and do not have lots of special attachments. When folded, it can give you a better packing size. However, they are easily affected by cold weather and these tent poles start to crack in very cold temperature.
Both aluminum and fiberglass tent poles are mostly hollow and are linked often by long elastic cords. These are known as “shock-corded” poles, which allow the user to merely snap the poles into shape rather than piece them together.
Now that you understand the skeletal framework of your tent, you have to understand the respiratory aspects as well. A tent has some respiratory aspects? Why, yes! Now you may find yourself waking up in the middle of your sleep with your tent wet, even when it’s not raining or you have sealed your tent tight. Waking up wet or getting dripped on during your sleep won’t make for a happy camping experience. If you didn’t choose a tent with weather resistant fabric, it could mean that you need to waterproof your tent. While you are protecting yourself from the external moisture by seam-sealing and waterproofing your tent, you also have to consider that your body circulates air throughout the tent i.e., your perspiration, breathing, etc. This internal moisture condenses on the inside of your tent fabrics, on top of your sleeping bag or the tent floor. Most tents available provide a roof vent or door screens. Preventing the condensation build-up requires you to open the provided roof vents or open a door or window partially. This helps you have a slight breeze that will help remove body moisture and prevent unwanted condensation.
How to choose a camping tent can be a big task. While there are a lot of considerations, you will be very thankful in the end. You get to enjoy nature at its very best. You get to gaze at the stars without being cold, and get a good night’s sleep in the fresh air, even if you are far away from home. Consider your camping tent choice an investment of your time, money and effort. By choosing your tent carefully, you are laying a strong foundation for years of enjoyable camping experiences.