|tents @ Mt Madja-as|
BASIC TENT TYPES
Two major classifications of tents
Free standing tents are tents that can be moved and still be kept in its original shape. They can stand even without the use of guy lines and stakes. They are easier to pitch, easily transferrable and more comfortable. In the wind, they are quieter and are less prone to swaying. They are also easy to drain and clean. You just have to pick it up and joggle it upside-down to rid it of dirt or water. The trade-off—they’re heavier and bulkier.
Tents that need guy lines and stakes to stand are fixed. If you want to move them, you’ll have to take them down and re-pitch them. The advantage in using fixed tents is that they are lighter and space-friendly.
The following fixed tents are the crudest types of camping tents. You can often improvise these tents by using a canvass and sticks. Being so, these are the lightest but at the same time the least resistant to hostile weather condition if not pitched well.
The Pyramid Tent
A pyramid tent is a fixed tent that utilizes one or two central poles and has a fly sheet spread taut over the ground to maximize the sitting room. The central pole subdivides the floor area into smaller regions which makes this tent not ideal for sleeping. If floorless, the central pole could be buried a few inches into the ground to make it sturdier and resistant to pressure. This is probably the least resistant to wind. If a pyramid tent has around ten faces or more, it becomes a bell tent. These tents could range in size from one that can accommodate one person to one that can shelter around fifty persons.
The only time I saw a tent of this type was during a scout jamboree in Leyte back in grade school. The bell tent consisted of a bamboo central pole and the multi-colored fly sheet that swayed in the wind. It sheltered around fifty chairs and persons during the evening program.
The Avian Tent
The avian tent follows the same concept as the pyramid tent except for the additional second internal vertical pole. Just like the pyramid tent, the avian tent is normally floorless and is often used as an emergency shelter. The edges of the fly sheet are also tautly guyed out to stakes on the ground.
I have not seen an avian camping tent in my life except for the industrial versions which are fixed by large metal frames and are used for outdoor performances and bazaars.
The A-frame Tent
|The A-frame tent of my friend Jigz Santiago at Margaja Valley in |
This tent is very light and space-friendly but the downside is that, it doesn’t provide ample headroom. Moreover, the central poles obstruct passage into and out of the tent and just like other traditional tents, this is very vulnerable to wind.
The Ridge Tent
A sturdier version of the the A-frame is
the ridge tent. Compared to the A-frame, the ridge tent makes use of a central
ridge pole that carries most of the weight of the fly sheet and gives the tent
a permanent triangular frame. One or two of the central poles may be replaced
by a wall or a branch with or without the help of guy lines.
|The ridge tent of my guide in Mt Nangtud|
The modern trekking tents
The following modern tents can rarely be improvised in that the poles are sheet-specific. The poles which may be made of fiberglass or aluminum are flexible and should fit into sleeves and hooks or clips attached to the tent wall. These tents are more resistant to the elements and are easier to pitch compared to the traditional tents.
This free-standing tent is what you will
most often see in campsites for non-technical climbers. This could come in a
variety of configurations the most basic being one composed of two flexible
poles that intersect at one point. Two poles form a square dome figure and
three poles intersecting at one point makes a hexagon dome. This design makes
the wedge tent often called a dome
tent. But not all wedge tents are
dome-like. If the poles are made to intersect at two or more points, this comes
close to the look of a geodesic
|A wedge tent in Mt Romelo|
Wedge tents provide more headroom and the more poles used and the more faces created, the more the tent becomes resistant to wind.
This fixed tent is formed by a set of hoops along its length. The hoops are of equal length, which gives the tent a tunnel-like appearance. This type of tent provides more headroom than the A-frame. Most often the front and the rear parts are fixed by stakes and guy lines.
This fixed tent is ideally formed by one central hoop. The rear end may be supported by a minor hoop, an upright pole or, which is often the case, guyed out to a peg or any anchor. This may not be the most stable tent but the minimalist nature of a hoop tent appeals to the light backpacker.
OTHER TYPES OF CAMPING SHELTER
Bivvy / tarp
The word ‘bivvy’ is a contraction of the word
‘bivouac’ and ‘tarp’ is for tarpaulin (which is a common material in setting up
a bivvy). This minimalist shelter falls under the fixed tents category. It’s
just that most campers would be reluctant to call it a tent because it doesn’t
have walls. Guy lines are necessary in setting up a bivvy. The simplest way to
set up a bivvy is to find points of attachment for the guy lines. Most often
these are small but rigid branches of trees or shrubs. Some improvise
attachment points with their trekking poles. Good knot tying skills and basic
knowledge on mechanics may help a camper come up with a comfortable and
weather-resistant bivvy system. Once a bivvy shelter has been set up, the
camper can rest in a sleeping bag, a bivvy sack, a hammock, a bug bivvy, a
ground sheet or just rough it on the ground.
Depending on the add-on that you bring with you, the weight of the bivvy
system could come close to that of a tent. The advantage in using a bivvy set
is that it’s less bulky. But it’s undeniably much easier and more convenient to
pitch a tent than to set up a bivvy.
|A simple bivvy system in Mt Lanaya (Cebu)|
A bivvy sack is the fusion of the
technology and physics behind the tent, the bivvy and the sleeping bag. This is
for the minimalist who wants to be more comfortable than the bivvy-lovers and
more hassle-free than the tent-fanatics. In the Philippines, this may not be
the best choice unless coupled with a tarp or a bivvy system. Rain is its
foremost enemy. Moreover, most of the
heat your body produces is also trapped in the sack so it will leave you
sweating your sleep away when camping in not so cold places.
I am inclined to also discuss other shelters in campsites like the tentsile, inflatable tents, hanging tents, Myhab, the seconds tent and other types of camping shelters, but the ones included in this discussion are pretty much what you’ll need and find in the Philippines.
BUYING A TENT
Buying online or offline
It is always wiser to buy in shops rather than online. This way, you can personally check the fabric, the seams, linings, poles and other parts of the tent. If you wish to buy online, go for those with warranty. Also, go for the reliable and recommended brands. But some online sellers offer free checking before purchase.
|my generic tent in Sagada (2006)|
The next range will be P3000-P5000. These tents are ideal for camping in the Philppines. This price range is normally for the local brands. Brands like Conquer, Sandugo, Apexxus and Silangan are in this range. The two tents I used (after my generic tent) fall under this range. I got my Coleman Pioneer 2 for P3600 in 2006. I got my Apexxus Tadpole for free from a friend who bought it for P3800 directly from the maker in 2011. For this price don’t settle for wedge tents. Go for the wedge-tunnel hybrid or anything that has a vestibule and an extensive rainfly.
Parts to check
|the tub should fold a few inches above the floor|
The inner canopy—this feature is present only in double walled (double skin) tents. The inner canopy should be breathable to let vapor pass through to the flysheet and prevent condensation on the inner surface of the tent. During summer months, noseeum meshing will keep you cool and still keep the bugs out. Inner pockets on the inside of the canopy are useful for keeping important stuff dry, off the ground and easily accessible. There could be a lantern loop on the ceiling which you could use to hang your lantern. In my case, I use it to secure my sunglasses.
The flysheet—for double walled tents, the flysheet is your main protection against the rain and wind. Most camping tents in the Philippines come with flysheets. This is the external one-piece fabric that you see when a tent is fully pitched. It should be waterproof and preferably light. Apart from keeping you safe from the rain, this also catches the condensation made from the warm air inside the inner canopy mesh. Store your flysheet and other fabric components of your tent in well ventilated places. When washing these fabric components, avoid using detergent. If you should, just use mild soap. And if possible air-dry it and keep it away from direct sunlight when drying.
|The vestibule with my stuff|
Zippers—Make sure that the zippers of the inner canopy and the flysheet are durable and easy to slide. A double-zipper system is preferable. In case one of the sliders or pull tabs blows out you’ve got an extra set. Velcro locks at entrances are also a good backup for your zippers. Plus, it facilitates in the ease of opening and closing your tent when you have to go in and out of the tent more frequently.
|the groundsheet in our campsite in Calinog (on our way to |
The footprint—the footprint is the layer of sheet underneath the tub. This optimizes the waterproofing and tear-resistance of the tub. It is best to tuck fringes of the footprint under the tub or at least within the bottom perimeter of the fly sheet. Footprints should be congruent to the shape of the tent floor. Be careful not to let the footprint sneak out of the flysheet perimeter. Otherwise, this will collect water when it rains and will defeat its waterproofing purpose. In the absence of a footprint, a groundsheet is used as a substitute. You can customize the ground sheet according to the shape and size of the bottom perimeter of your tent. Most ground sheets are made of plastic but other improvise using a tarpaulin.
Guy lines—these are the strings that you may need to tie to the fly sheet in order to maximize wind resistance. The flysheet may be guyed out to stakes or branches of trees and shrubs. In the past, I never found use for the guy lines included in the package. But when I shifted to minimalism, I realized the importance of these unnoticed black strings. Your guy lines make good clotheslines too. And you can use them to tie together just about anything in the campsite.
Guy loops—these are the attachment points on your tent usually on the flysheet for the guy lines. On a normal day, you won’t be needing them. But when the weather gets rough, you may have to find use for them.
|metal stakes or pegs|
These pegs are most often lost and misplaced. Take care of them! They play a vital role in fixing your tent to the ground on turbulent weather conditions. If one peg is missing, you might have a hard time securing your tent.
Whether or not they are stainless, it is wise to clean and dry them as soon as you get home from a camping trip.
In case you need additional pegs, you can buy them individually. The last time I checked, one generic peg sells at P20.
Take care of your poles. They are like the bones of your body. Don’t smash or pound them. Lay them carefully on the ground. Once they’re broken, they won’t be able to support your tent as much as they should.
|the door on the left opens down|
the door on the right opens up
@ Dumaguete after our failed Mt Kanlaon attempt
Access / entrance—The entrance / access to the inside of the tent should also be taken into consideration. Most tents have one front entrance. Others have side entrances in addition to the front entrance. Most tents have two-layer doors or entrances—the polyester outer layer and the inner mesh. The entrance should be wide enough for the camper to conveniently pass through. Most doors open down. But some tent makers have decided to make doors open up to avoid getting the door soiled. Still others have doors that open sideward forming a D-shaped flap. Whatever the orientation is, the door allows a few inches of margin above the ground to keep dirt and floodwater out.
Pole sleeves and hooks—these are where you insert the poles. The sleeves allow for optimum distribution of tension compared to the hooks. On the other hand, hooks facilitate in the speed and ease of setting up a tent even when it’s done by just one individual.
Weight—lightness is preferred but most often, stability is compromised the more you keep the weight to a minimum.
CARING FOR YOUR TENT
Clean the parts.
After camping and before storing your tent, make sure the poles, pegs and zippers are free of silt and sand. Corrosion is irreversible so keep all metal parts dry.
Don’t eat in your tent.
Avoid eating in your tent. This attracts vermin and animals that could tear your tent. If not cleaned, spills could develop into molds and other harmful life forms.
Keep you tent away from direct heat.
Long exposure to heat may affect the durability of the fabric. Smokers and campfires can also scorch your tent keep your tent away from them or the other way around.
When washing, use cold water and avoid using chemicals such as detergent and soap. Don’t wash your whole tent too often. Do localized cleaning instead. When doing localized cleaning, you may use a sponge with hot water. It is ideal to air-dry your tent by pitching it or line-drying it under a shade. It is common advice not to spin-dry your tent or dry it under the sun.
Avoid storing your tent in non-breathable bags for a long time and in moist places. Mildews can damage your tent. If you have enough space, store your tent outside the bag. Don’t fold it too much. If possible, concuss your tent regularly to avoid permanent folds. Don’t store your tent pitched for a long time. This might deform your poles and give it a permanent curved shape. The fabric might also be overstretched.