Tent City

posted Jun 1, 2015, 10:18 AM by Paul Wagner   [ updated Jun 2, 2015, 11:28 AM ]
We've had quite a few questions over the past few years about the tents that P made for us.  And a recent email even asked us for the pattern.  So here is what P wrote in response:

I am sorry, but I don't have a pattern for that tent, or for the previous one. (If you look closely, you can tell that, because there are all kinds of small problems with it that wouldn't be there if I had used any kind of pattern!)

 The other view ©http://backpackthesierra.com
But I can describe more or less how I got there.  I started with a big chunk of some waterproof nylon material.  I rolled it out on the ground and measured off about how much I needed for the floor of the tent.  About 7 or 7.5 feet?  Maybe a bit more. Then I kept rolling it out, until that same single piece of material was long enough to fold right back over the floor to become the top.  I left it plenty long, so I would guess that the total was close to 16 feet long.  That's the tent.  If it were a one-man tent, that would be enough.  But since it was for two of us, and the material was only 54 inches wide, I added a little bit of material to make eaves around the head, or higher end of the tent.
Then I sewed triangles of the same nylon between the floor and roof to close in the foot of the tent.  And then I added in the mosquito netting (I just bought a mosquito shelter at a local hunting and fishing store, then cut it up along the seams for my use) to fill in the sides and the head of the tent.  A zipper in each corner and across the floor makes access easy for either side.  And I added reinforcement for the grommets where I attach the guy lines in each corner. 
I sealed all the seams, and that worked perfectly.  
I also built a not great, but functional, pocket in the eaves where we put the ends of the hiking/tent poles.  Without those pockets the poles tended to move around and eventually fall down---which is why I set the tent up in our backyard and played with it a bit before we ever took it hiking! I also learned that the eaves weren't cut and sewn right, so I took in a little material there to give it a tighter fit. 

 .  Our campsite, finally. New tent on display ©http://backpackthesierra.com
What I learned from my experiences on this tent: 
Four guy lines are great, but I should probably have two more to pull the sides out a little more, and tauten everything up. But it would require more tent stakes and more lines...and thus more weight. This one weighs less than a pound!
I thought about putting poles at the foot as well, to hold things up ( I did have poles at both ends with my older tent) but it would have formed a nice bowl or pocket for rain and snow to collect. So I nixed that one. As it is, the foot is a little bit low if you stake it right to the ground as designed. It works better if you can find trees or rocks to hold the foot guys up a little more. What I didn't like about the old tent was the pole right in the middle---exactly where you enter and exit the tent. 
Our camp---and a few shots of the tent I designed and made. It weighs a little over three pounds, and is both water and insect proof!©http://backpackthesierra.com
The last tent we had used Velcro to close the entrances. Every time we packed up the tent, the Velcro caught on the mosquito netting, and eventually ate holes in it.  This time I used a zipper. 
You'll want to hike with someone who uses hiking poles, or there is no way to hold this tent up.  But in a strong wind a few trips ago, we learned that we could lower the adjustable poles, tighten up the guy lines, and the tent became less roomy, but very stable in high winds. You'll want to pitch this tent with the foot towards the wind....but you do that with most tents anyway. 
The lower photos are of the previous tent I made...still serviceable after about five solid years of backpacking:
 With only one other group, on the other side of the lake..©http://backpackthesierra.com

We didn't use the hiking poles for that one, but made two small poles, one for each end. Basic structure is the same, with the floor and roof all one piece. We added an extra section around this one as well...and filled in between the floor and roof with mosquito netting. 
The new one uses lighter material and no poles, so it's about 9 oz. lighter. And it has a higher roof because M wanted more space.