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Home-made Winter Camping Tent
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Author:  Richard [ February 24th, 2003, 10:36 am ]
Post subject:  Home-made Winter Camping Tent

As most of you know, a bunch of people that 'hang out' here at CCR are heading up north on the train for a winter camping expedition this week.

I've always been intrigued by the idea of 'hot-tenting' with a big tent and a tiny sheet metal wood stove. This year I took the plunge and in the past couple of weeks, made such a tent. It's fabricated primarily from uncoated ripstop nylon, with the area adjacent to the stove and chimney made out of fire-retardent treated cotton canvas. The size is 9'-8 x 9'-8 x 7'-6 high. The sidewalls are 3'-0 high.

We set it up yesterday for a trial run, to see how long it takes to get it up and fire up the woodstove. Basically, it took a bit more than an hour to set up, and within two hours, we were sitting inside in toasty warm temps. It was -15 outside with a windchill of -27, and a couple of sticks of wood in the stove brought it up to the point where we couldn't see our breath in there.

I'm a pretty good concept/design guy, but not much of a seamstress. A big thanks to my friend Peter, who helped sew, and especially Debbie, who spent a bunch of hours at the sewing machine piecing together a rats-nest pile of 25 yds of nylon.

A couple of photos are here

Author:  maddogbob [ February 24th, 2003, 10:53 am ]
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Looks awesome, Richard!
Hope you folks have a great time.

Author:  maddogbob [ February 24th, 2003, 11:18 am ]
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Can you tell us how heavy and what denier the nylon is?
What did you use for a pattern?

Author:  Richard [ February 24th, 2003, 11:53 am ]
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The nylon fabric is quite light. Not sure on the denier, or if light nylon is even designated that way. This stuff is uncoated ripstop, with a weight of 1.9 oz/sq.yd. A pretty tight weave that seems to keep the wind and fine, driven snow outside.

I bought plain cotton-canvas painters drop cloths at Canadian Tire for the canvas part of the tent. I treated that part with brush on waterproofing/fire-retardent. This was a suggestion from Smokey, who has used this type of cloth before. They seemed to be a good balance between sturdiness and light weight/flexibility.

Thread was all 100% polyester, so it won't rot out over time. Bought a huge 1000 m roll of the stuff, and used almost all of it.

We were very careful in the sewing process to make sure every seam was triple-stitched and rolled over so that no raw edges were left exposed. Any place that would require a grommet was had at least two layers of canvas reinforcing in addition to the two layers or canvas or nylon that were already there.

Sewed in four pockets around the perimeter to hold junk like Maglites, maps, sunglasses and the like. Although I haven't made it yet, there are four D-Rings sewed in the four upper corners that will support a mesh gear loft 12" x 72". It'll hopefully provide a means of quickly drying mitts, socks and boot liners, since the heat from the stove gathers up there.

Although you can't see it from the photos, the front door has a zipper. Ordered in a huge 10 ft. long section of zipper which would go around three sides of a 24" x 54" door flap.

The 4" chimney pipe sticks out of the tent through a piece of galvanized sheet metal (14" x 20") that slides into a pocket on the sloped part of the roof.

We didn't have a pattern to start. I found the basic style of tent I wanted on Boris Swidnersky's Bushwacker Online site, here. It's the same basic style and shape as that one, but I modified it somewhat to have higher sidewalls and more headroom.

I developed the pattern myself based on the geometry of the tent. Good thing I was listening during all of those engineering math courses on trigonometry and pythagorean theorum. I did a lot of checking and calculating and re-calculating to make sure that everything would fit together once it was cut out. We even made a little paper model of the tent from a reduced-scale pattern to use as a guide while we sewed.

The idea for making a hybrid nylon/canvas tent came from Dave Hadfield, who owns a straight-wall Prospector tent made this way. I decided to go this way for space and weight savings. The tent weighs about 7.5 lb as near as I can determine. To that, you'd have to add the weight of a cheapo Cdn Tire tarp that acts as a fly and helps shed snow; and some sort of groundsheet, since the tent has no floor.

Total cost was about $350. We didn't keep track of the sewing hours, but I'd say that it took 30 or 35 person-hours to complete.

Biggest challenge was keeping track of what was what as we wrestled over 40 sq.yd. of fabric through the sewing machine. You basically have to stretch everything out, identify a couple of points, hold them together and start sewing. It's an act of faith that you've properly identified your seam, since you can't tell what you're sewing as you're feeding it through the machine.

Anyway, it was an interesting experience. I think it's probably like building your own home - you get it 100% right when you do it for the third time. All in all though, I was very happy with the finished product.

Author:  ghommes [ February 24th, 2003, 12:24 pm ]
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Looks great, Richard! I used to take a canvas wall-tent and woodstove on mushing trips, but the canvas would be a beast to roll up in the morning because any snow that would fall on the warm tent would melt, saturate the fabric, and freeze solid. I don't think your nylon tent will have that problem. Have fun!

Author:  dboles [ February 25th, 2003, 7:13 am ]
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Kinda hard to tell from the photos Is there poles and if so where did they come from and what materials are they made?
Very nice job

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: dboles on 2003-02-25 07:14 ]</font>

Author:  rob w [ February 25th, 2003, 9:08 am ]
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I've heard that heated nylon tents tend to have condensation problems. Did you notice much in the way of condensation inside of your tent? Let us know how it works out!

Author:  franco [ February 27th, 2003, 9:43 am ]
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Wow, Richard great job!

Now we need real action pictures from the winter gathering.

Are going to use a ridge pole for the tarp also to create an air space or just lay it over the tent and string it up?

Author:  Guest [ February 27th, 2003, 9:51 am ]
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Sounds like an interesting project - especially the mix of nylon and canvas.
In comparison a canvas prospector tent from LeBaron's ( 10'x12'x6.5'x3' ) is about $365 .

Author:  mettle [ February 27th, 2003, 10:27 am ]
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dear rob,

you wrote: I've heard that heated nylon tents tend to have condensation problems. Did you notice much in the way of condensation inside of your tent?

from my experience, there'll be condensation, especially if you cook inside. if the stove is on, most of it will disappear (evaporate), especially on the upper half of the tent. because the tent is floorless, the other stuff just rolls down and is absorbed by the ground or snow. just in case, i usually bring a packtowel to wipe the walls down.

Author:  SGrant [ February 28th, 2003, 12:18 am ]
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Congratulations on an excellent looking piece of work!

Here's a link to a photo on You need to register as a member of the site (Free) to view it.

The picture was taken in moonlight, and shows the snow wall and blue tarps enclosing two 9x12 canvas wall tents. It looks a little sloppy since it was the first time the group assembled this shelter. Later, this arrangement was replaced by a custom-made 18'diameter cone-shaped tent.

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