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New Baker Tent
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Author:  DTowlun [ July 6th, 2020, 4:06 pm ]
Post subject:  New Baker Tent

Since first seeing Bill Mason's films, I always wanted a baker style tent. Usually my trips are more nomadic, but lately I've been growing more interested in base camping and need a larger tent that I can really "live out of". Most tent makers' tents are prohibitively expensive, so I thought that one day I would make my own; however, I never had the time to make one or a real need to own one. With the pandemic I found myself with a NEED to fill my TIME, thus a new baker is born.

Mine is made from a 10 oz Sunforger canvas (a very dense weave). It measures 4'-6" deep x 7' across. The front is 6'-6" tall and the back is 2' tall. There are screened-in windows in the rear with panels that can drop down for weather. The screen front door zips up the center and along the bottom. All screens are sewn into 1.5" canvas double-folded tape which itself is held in place to the tent with 1.5" velcro. This allows me to remove the screens to be repaired easily or to be removed if I want to take it out in the winter and add a stove inside. (Not likely since I've also made two winter canvas tents - but who knows...?!) The floor is an 18 oz vinyl covered polyester fabric. The diagonal "wings" on the side are my own twist to the traditional design. The canopy can be dropped down and zippered to the diagonal wings to create a covered area in the event of a driving rain. I thought of the diagonal wings as a weight savings option and to simplify the set up. The vertical poles are Easton "Big Bore" .742" aluminum poles and the ridgepole is a homemade 1" 3-piece electrical conduit job. I tried the Easton poles for the ridge, but they bent too much in the center (as I had suspected) so the whole tent sagged about 1.5". It weighs 27# and the poles add another 8#, so this is not exactly an UL tent! 2 people can fit, but it's a very comfortable 1 person tent.

As I mentioned earlier, I've built a few tents before (including a 16' diameter tipi) but this baker seemed to be the most difficult of all of them. I think this is partially because of the geometry involved, but also because I used a heavier/tighter weave canvas for this project. The 10 oz Sunforger was tough to sew through - my domestic machine could handle 4 layers, but only with a great deal of negotiation. Fortunately for me, I have access to a 100+ year old Singer that ripped right through the thickest parts of the construction. I work in a college theatre dept., so our empty stage (i.e. huge, flat, clean, smooth surfaces) was invaluable to the layout process. I would love to compare it to a professionally made tent. My efforts are passable (function over form!), but I always marvel at the level of perfection inherent with a skilled and knowledgeable crafts-person. I really respect that level of work!

I'm taking a few nights out in the backyard to break it in, then I hope to take it up to Maine for a 2-week solo trip to really stretch it's legs. Wish me luck!

Author:  cheryl [ July 7th, 2020, 10:36 am ]
Post subject:  Re: New Baker Tent

I like it! good idea for the windows at the back. Where did yo uget your canvas?

Author:  martin2007 [ July 7th, 2020, 2:54 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: New Baker Tent

Awesome work!
Good luck with the field testing.

Author:  DTowlun [ July 7th, 2020, 4:51 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: New Baker Tent

Thanks for the positive feedback. I slept in it last night in my backyard. Nice air circulation.

I got the canvas from ... 60-nat-fr/

They were less expensive than some of the other online options.

Author:  Pook [ July 7th, 2020, 5:25 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: New Baker Tent

Looking good!

I too, was hooked on the look of Baker tents watching Bill Mason films then reading his books.
His daughter Becky brought one of Bills out to the WCHA Assembly in Peterborough a couple of years ago and I spent several minutes examining it and staring at the simplicity and versatility of the design.

Once you "prototype test" yours, any thoughts of making a second? Hint, hint...


Author:  DTowlun [ July 12th, 2020, 11:40 am ]
Post subject:  Re: New Baker Tent

I don't know... This one kinda kicked my butt. In hindsight I had a good time constructing it, but during the process there were definitely frustrating moments. However, once I got the old Singer tuned in things went much more smoothly. At over 100 years old, it's still going strong, if not a little persnickety (though I would probably be the same if I were the same age! ). Unless my covid test comes back positive, I'm heading north on Tuesday. Really looking forward to getting outside again!

Author: [ July 12th, 2020, 3:49 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: New Baker Tent

I think all sewing machines are persnickety regardless of age. I made a 'tarp tent mr potatohead bits and pieces winter hammock thingie' the prior winter so much of your story sounds familiar particularly needing a good bit of space to lay it out for the long runs of fabric.....Good job. Have fun.

Author:  DTowlun [ July 29th, 2020, 10:01 am ]
Post subject:  Re: New Baker Tent

Reporting back. I took the tent up to my "secret" little lake in Maine for a two week solo base camp. I'm happy to say, the tent held up quite well! I enjoyed mostly pleasant weather (though a bit warm on a few days) and I had rain a couple days with a couple days with some gusty winds. All in all, a good mix of what to expect on a longer sojourn, though nothing exceptionally strong or unusual to really put it to the test. There are a couple of small things that I'll need to repair/complete, but I'm really happy with the final outcome. The thing I learned most from my experiences is how one has to live more in touch with the elements. You have to be more aware of what the weather is doing and how it will change, so you can adjust the canopy and window covers before foul weather occurs. In a modern dome tent (or my beloved hammock) I can set up quickly and pretty much ignore the weather outside, except for extreme storms, of course. With the baker this is not the case. You're really living more in the outdoors. It's not a good or bad thing for me, just different. The tent also takes MUCH longer to pitch, so setting up and striking in good weather makes a much more enjoyable experience. In the baker, I can stand up, walk around, stretch, sit in a chair, inside the bug netting or out under the canopy, etc. Obviously, none of these are options in most modern dome tents. It allowed me a different experience in the woods that I greatly enjoyed. I'm looking forward to when I can take it out on a longer trip to a more remote region!

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