Talk me out of buying this tent

It’s not that I get chilly in July - during the day it’s often 104. It does get much cooler at night. But for the early Faires, and the ones in the mountains, it gets much colder (it was 28 one night at the last Faire). I’m fine as long as I’m in my sleeping bag*, but in the morning it’s highly unpleasant. And the wind blows right throw my tent because of the darn mesh sides.

  • Which probably needs to be replaced, since I think it’s close to 20 years old. The inside has pilled so much that I have to take a sheet to put inside so it doesn’t drive me crazy.

The retro is possibly what’s attracting me. One of my friends has a canvas tent that she bought for Burning Man. It’s tiny, but it’s so distinctive in a sea of dome tents!

My current tent, and I think all the ones I’ve had, have been Coleman. They last a long time, and I’m sure most of my problem is the model (HATE the mesh sides! To truly show the size of my hate, the word would have to be the size of your screen.)

I should go to REI and look at their tents (I have a friend that works there who I believe can get me a bit of a discount. I think.) But NO big mesh bits that have to be covered with a rainfly. No.

I second Lasciel’s entire post.


I have a Kelty tent with the mesh sides and full rainfly (and vestibule–love that!), and it serves me well. Not drafty and it keeps the wet out very well. I use it in Minnesota in the fall with no problem. It’s not toasty warm in the morning outside the sleeping bag, but it’s generally tolerable. Sometimes I sleep with my clean clothes and get dressed inside my sleeping bag. Then, of course, stumble out and make the campfire.

It would be strange to sleep in a new canvas tent that did not smell musty.

After growing up camping in old canvas tents, and small tents as a boy scout, I decided as an adult, I’m not crawling around in a damn tent anymore. I wanted tall and roomy.
I’m not sure where I got it - it’s been a good 15 years or so, but it is similar to this one.

I’m 5’8" and I love it. Plenty of room for 4 campers and all their gear, although we’ve slept up to 12 or so kids at one time. Air matresses, duffels, food box to attract bears - you name it. I have a nice LED lantern that hangs in the middle, another tent lightfor reading, and more. The rain fly works great; we’ve been in downpours with no water getting in.

You couldn’t pay me to drag, set up, and store a canvas tent ever again.
That instant tent looks pretty good, too.

I do SCA events in this

I have that exact tent, 32 pounds zips up into a bundle like a large duffel bag, about 3’x12"x12" and I can easily set it up alone.

It has served admirably and has seen a couple decent storms.

Staying warm is all about the bedding not the tent. I have a queen size air mattress, lay an old comforter over it then a fitted sheet over that, then my sheets and blankies. nice and snuggly.

The most important thing, whichever tent you buy, is to get it waterproofed. Growing up, my parents and us kids went camping several times, and I was always kinda dewy in the morning because they didn’t waterproof the tent. The first time I went camping in a tent I borrowed from a boy scout, though, I woke up as dry as if I’d been sleeping indoors. THAT was miraculous.

Get 'er waterproofed = profit!

I agree. A good rainfly will help (adds about 10 degrees F, IIRC), but bedding makes a huge difference.

I don’t care for air mattresses, myself, since the air in the mattress will be the same temp as the air outside. I’ve had a few uncomfortable nights on air mattresses at 32F - it’s like sleeping on a chunk of nearly-freezing air, although a comforter over the top would help. Another big drawback to air mattresses is they all seem to lose air. That’s no fun.

I really like the insulating sleeping pads, like Thermarests. I had a small Thermarest for years, then last year I bought a 4" Alps Mountaineering pad. I love this pad! It’s huge so I can roll over or sprawl, and it has a bit of texture on the top so my sleeping bag doesn’t slide off so easily. That was a big gripe with my Thermarest. It was so slick and my bag has a nylon exterior too, so I’d slide off my pad all the time. I move around a lot when I sleep.

I just bought an REI Comfort Cot. I wasn’t even aware they existed, and then last weekend I was wandering around REI trying to decide how to spend my dividend and 20% off member coupon. I fell instantly in love. I was turned off of cots because I had heard they have the same downfalls as air mattresses (cold air underneath the cot will make the sleeper cold) but with my thick Alps pad, it should be OK.

Finally, for my tent, i have the previous model of this LL Bean Tent. I love the screen porch. When we’re camping and it rains, we don’t have to go inside the tent, we set up our chairs in the screen and still enjoy the camping trip. It is also a place for extra people to sleep, and it is great for storing extra gear. This tent is also tall enough to stand up in.

All my gear is comfort oriented, but I car camp these days (although I am still hanging on to my lighter gear).

Two or three times a year is no life for a 10x10 canvas tent.

Its wrath will be taken out on you by it being airless, crumbling, dank, decayed, decrepit, dirty, dried-out, fetid, filthy, malodorous, mildewed, mouldy, moth-eaten, putrid, rotten, smelly, spoiled, squalid, stale, and stuffy.

Canvas tents are retro, and they’re very trendy the last few years. I see them being purchased by older campers (40’s and up) out of a combination of nostalgia and the exact “there must be a better way!” tone that’s in the OP. As we’re getting older, we have less patience with the drafts and the leaks, I guess! And I will give canvas this: they are less drafty. They cut the wind better than nylon, and they feel much more solid during a rain, as long as they’re ENTIRELY covered with one of those huge silver tarps. If they’re not tarped, they feel damp and chilly during a rain, are just as likely to leak as a good sealed nylon, and take much longer to dry out after a thorough soaking.

Also consider that if it rains the day you’re packing up, you’ve got a much longer wait for your canvas tent to dry enough to be safe to roll up, compared to a nylon tent.

Oh, honey. You don’t need a new tent. You need a lesson in sleeping in the cold. Yes, I know just the weather patterns you’re speaking of; that climate is where I do most of my camping, too.

First rule: get a tarp the size of your tent’s floor. The tarp goes on the INSIDE of the tent, on the floor, under whatever other gear you’re bringing in. This one step alone cuts the damp considerably, and makes the interior much more comfy. It also smooths things out a bit and reduces the wear on the bottom of your tent. Unlike an outside under the tent tarp, an inside tarp won’t draw or channel water underneath your tent when it rains, and it’s a whole lot easier to set up!

You need a wool blanket. All wool - go to the Army Navy Surplus store; “military issue” wool blankets are the shit. The blanket is smelly and scratchy and you’re going to tell me you can’t sleep under it. Don’t worry - you’re going to sleep on top of it. Put the wool blanket on the floor in your sleeping space. Put down a pad on top or, if it’s not predicted to go below 40, an air mattress. (If it’s predicted to get cold, fuck the air mattress unless you have a couple more bodies to help you heat it up.) The wool blanket under there is going to provide a lot of insulation against heat loss to the ground. If you’ve got room in your packing for a nice fluffy comforter/bedspread, you can throw that on top of the wool blanket for some more padding and insulation.

Get a decent sleeping bag, fer Og’s sake! A 20 year old matted sleeping bag isn’t worth a Rennie’s promise of fidelity!

Or, bring sheets and blankets. I hate sleeping bags. I think sheets and blankets are more comfy; more civilized; more adaptable to weather and, um, guests; and even warmer, because they trap so much air in between layers of fibers. I suppose if I was doing very rugged backpacking camping, I’d break down and buy a mummy bag with super space age fibers, but then what do I do when it was warm overnight? Plus, when you’re camping where there are wild swings in temperature, there comes a point just after dawn when you go from chilly to hothothot and you want to throw your bedding off quickly before you start sweating. Easier to throw off a blanket or two than to wiggle out of a sleeping bag.

Sleep in layers when it’s cold. For very cold (like, below freezing), I’ll have leggings or long underwear and sweats on below, and at least two layers of long sleeved layering tees under a sweatshirt on top. Iron flake hand and foot warmers (you know, the kind you shake to activate?) can be tucked in socks (wool is good. wool blend is better) to warm your toesies. I’ve even been known to tuck a couple into the buttockal region for comfort. :smiley:

Finally, wear a hat. Yes, while you’re sleeping. I like a nice thick knit ski cap, but even a thin bandana tied around the head or, in a pinch, a t-shirt worn over my hair like a nun’s habit, have given me a good warm night’s sleep when it’s cold out. A covered head is a warm head, and takes you from that all-over aching bone chilling shivering cold where you know you’re going to die before morning to warm and snuggly and able to sleep.

So, you have to fashion a rainfly and groundcloth out of tarps rather than buying a tent that comes with (or at least has available–my tent’s groundcloth cost extra) those things custom-made to fit and attach to the tent? Sorry, this may destroy my hipster cred, but I’m not seeing it.

I know a lot of tents don’t have a full rainfly that covers the tent all the way to the ground. I wonder if those are draftier and colder than the one I have.

This would be a huge minus for me. Where I live, it is rather humid in the summer, and the tent is often damp on the outside even if it didn’t rain. We have to wait for the sun to dry it out.

I tarp *any *tent, no matter what it’s made of. But I’m camping for 1-4 weeks at a time, with children, in areas that flood regularly, so it’s very important that my campsite be dry and snug. And if the tent has a groundcloth, sure I’ll use it, but I’ve learned it does better INSIDE the tent than outside the tent. That’s the key. Groundcloths used under the tent actually hasten the wear of the bottom, as they trap dirt and sticks and mud and water runoff directly underneath your tent, not allowing any drainage. You can try to mitigate this by using a custom groundcloth ($$) and making sure that not a millimeter of groundcloth pokes out from the edge of the tent to catch stuff and drag it underneath, but it’s a constant battle adjusting the darn things. Tarp/groundcloth inside the tent is far easier to clean, too, and you don’t have to sweep inside the tent - just fold your tarp in thirds, carry it outside and shake it off.

Rainflies are great for the occasional light rain. I don’t camp in occasional light rain. I camp in torrential downpours that don’t cease for 2 weeks. Tarps are in addition to, not instead of, the rainfly that came with the tent. (Although there are some stupidly designed rainflies I’d just rather do without, if I can tarp it thoroughly enough. Yes, those that just come over the top edge are fargin’ useless and drafty. Then again, those that go all the way to the ground are stifling and stuffy.)

And when it’s not raining, a well strung tarp over a tent is even more valuable: it keeps the tent noticeably cooler - but this only works if it’s a UV reflective tarp; big blue basic tarp won’t have this effect.

But, for that matter, I tarp my camper, too. Keeps it cooler in the afternoon and drier in rain and cuts the wind trying to tear my canvas off. A giant silver UV reflecting tarp is a godsend.

Username/post combo ftw.


I don’t like air mattresses. I’ve done a cot for several years, and I’ll stick with them. You get more floor space and it’s much easier to get up. I need to get a better one that’s a little taller and folders into a bundle instead of half, but I can live with it. (My old one wore out and I ran out to Walmart real quick to get a new one).

I have two or three pads, plus the super fluffy sleeping bag. I’m super bony and I sleep on my side, so any less and my hip is numb when I wake up. But I’m always warm. I might have to bring one extra blanket to be warm, but generally that’s it. (I’m not sure how I’d have been last time. I had a human space warmer).

That tent looks the best of all the dome tents I’ve seen, although it may be kind of small for me to get dressed in (although not any worse that the one I’ve got.) I tend to end up with things spread out everywhere as I decide what bodice to wear and what all to carry.

The thing about the Kodiak tent is that it’s supposed to be terrifically waterproof, including not wicking water in. All the reviews agree. And I hate drafts so very much. I’d rather the tent (or my house for that matter) be stuffy than drafty.

Besides the pilling the sleeping bag really is in good shape. It doesn’t seem matted, although that may just be because I can’t compare it. I used to do blankets and sheets when I was camping for a week, because, yeah it’s really nice. But it’s too much trouble for two days. I usually end up sleeping with the sleeping bag half-unzipped.

I’m cutting most of your advice because I follow it already, but it’s good advice.

(That’s the kind my tent has. And the top it comes over is mesh, so the wind can just slide up half an inch and blow right through it.)

In retrospect the canvas tent can’t last forever (I know, duh). Most of the guild site is made from canvas dropcloths and they got irreparably sun-damaged in five or so years. Maybe longer. I’m assuming the tent is treated to help with that, but that’s something to keep in mind.