Insulating A Tent

Ideas, advice, tips, and tricks regarding shelter, shade, tents, and camping. Yes, this includes RV's too.
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Swope904
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Insulating A Tent

Post by Swope904 » Sun Jul 20, 2014 1:05 pm

The topic has the basic idea.

I want to insulate the inside of a tent so that my AC and my Swamp Coolers will be more effective.

I'm not expecting anything to be perfect. I just want to Aid in the process of keeping coolness in and hotness out.
At least enough to sleep a few extra hours in the morning.

Heres an example I found:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/48854860@ ... 68/detail/

and anther

http://www.instructables.com/id/Adding- ... your-tent/

At the end of the first example on the playa he shows a picture of a thermometer around 10am showing his tent being 73 when it was 83 outside. Basically My goal in this process.

Now to the main part of this post:

I see the guy with the flickr account used Reflectix Aluminized Bubble Insulation

And anther example I see a guy using thermal blankets and even mentions layering them.


Which one do you guys think would work better? The only problem I have with the Aluminzed bubble insulation is cost. A 16" by 25' Role is $16.25
I can buy (10) 4.5' by 7' blankets for $7.12

I mean the clear winner hear is the blankets but do you think put together and even layered would be better?
Or would the insulation be better?

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Jackass
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Re: Insulating A Tent

Post by Jackass » Sun Jul 20, 2014 1:20 pm

That has to be a waste of time and money, spend both of those on making sure u have good, plentiful shade. If you're going to go thru all that trouble and expense, might as well build a yurt.

No need to try and re-engineer the wheel, it's been done for you!
Sooner or later, it will get real strange...

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Swope904
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Re: Insulating A Tent

Post by Swope904 » Sun Jul 20, 2014 1:39 pm

Jackass wrote:That has to be a waste of time and money, spend both of those on making sure u have good, plentiful shade. If you're going to go thru all that trouble and expense, might as well build a yurt.

No need to try and re-engineer the wheel, it's been done for you!
No way to transport a yurt from Florida and back in a car. No money to build a yurt. So go ahead and through that idea out the window.

Shade structure? No way to do a monkey hut on top of a car with 10' pools for over 5k miles. And as far as car port shade structure go. If you can link me one under $75 that would last to playa conditions of 70+mph winds. If not... Lets go ahead and through that out the window.

I don't think you get im not going through any expense. Im trying to be cost effective and work with the space and things I have. I DO NOT HAVE A BUNCH OF CASH TO SPEND on a whole bunch of crap. I have to work with what I can get and or buy CHEAPLY. If you wanna give me cash ill give you my paypal and Ill build w.e. you tell me buddy. But untill then. This is what I got to work with.

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GreyCoyote
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Re: Insulating A Tent

Post by GreyCoyote » Sun Jul 20, 2014 1:53 pm

Easy, Hermano. The Big Day is coming fast and everyone is a bit on edge.

The thing I wanted to point out is comfort vs temperature. The numbers on a thermometer are fairly meaningless. It is entirely possible to be hot and sweaty at 72 and be completely comfortable at 90. Example: right now I am SWEATING MY FOOKIN BALLS OFF south of Houston in 90% humidity at 90 degress. Kids, this is miserable. But on the playa, it would be "warm". The difference is humidity and moving air.

What I would suggest is you do is not insulate the tent, but simply keep the sun out and move air. Big difference. And move as much of that FIGJAM-cooled air as you can. Its pure gold and the instant breakfast of comfort.

If you can get rid of the direct sun loads, you should do well. Maybe a "rainfly" of aluminet or similar material would be best?

Remember, in humid climates like your and mine, we MUST insulate and dehumidify to survive, but on the playa you are looking at less than 10% humidity. If you can keep the sun out, and move some air, you will be amazingly comfortable.
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Re: Insulating A Tent

Post by Jackass » Sun Jul 20, 2014 2:03 pm

Swope904 wrote:Shade structure? No way to do a monkey hut on top of a car with 10' pools for over 5k miles. And as far as car port shade structure go. If you can link me one under $75 that would last to playa conditions of 70+mph winds. If not... Lets go ahead and through that out the window.
Bring the materials you do have, stop at the H-Depot anywhere within striking distance of BRC. Buy your pipes and rebar, find a shady spot in the parking lot (don't forget your hacksaw) and make it happen. Pipes, duct tape (which you should be bringing anyways), rebar, tarp (or whatever you have on hand), bungeeballs or rope or para-cord.

Easier, cheaper and more proven than this, there really isn't. That's why so many people use them.
Sooner or later, it will get real strange...

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Re: Insulating A Tent

Post by Jackass » Sun Jul 20, 2014 2:08 pm

I just don't want to see you disappointed because your first time out you decided to sleep in a small deadly oven, that's all man...viewtopic.php?f=280&t=69362
Last edited by Jackass on Sun Jul 20, 2014 2:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Insulating A Tent

Post by Drawingablank » Sun Jul 20, 2014 2:12 pm

Swope904 wrote:
Jackass wrote:That has to be a waste of time and money, spend both of those on making sure u have good, plentiful shade. If you're going to go thru all that trouble and expense, might as well build a yurt.

No need to try and re-engineer the wheel, it's been done for you!
Shade structure? No way to do a monkey hut on top of a car with 10' pools for over 5k miles. And as far as car port shade structure go. If you can link me one under $75 that would last to playa conditions of 70+mph winds. If not... Lets go ahead and through that out the window.
First off the monkey hut can be built within your budget (although I would spend a few bucks more and top it with a high quality opaque tarp such as those offered by creative shelters). The 10 foot poles can be picked up at any home depot or lowes once you get to Fernley or Reno.

Or you could cut them in half and sleeve them in which case they will fit inside the car (I drove cross country to the burn in 2011 with our monkey hut inside our Prius). Instructions for this may be found at http://eplaya.burningman.org/viewtopic. ... 61#p554968
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Re: Insulating A Tent

Post by trilobyte » Sun Jul 20, 2014 2:36 pm

Relax, Swope. If you post plans publicly and ask people for advice, be prepared for advice and suggestions you may not want to hear.

IMO, neither is going to work very well.

Bar none, the absolute most important or best thing you can do to help keep the temps under control in your tent is a shade structure. Without one, your tent will be the full sized human equivalent of an EZ-bake oven. Except of course that yours will get a lot hotter inside than the kiddie toy with the light bulb. Having an aircon (whether it's a cheap bucket cooler or you're bringing an actual air conditioner) won't change that. There's no magic insulation you can get, and certainly not on the cheap, that will change that.

If it were me and I were in your shoes, I'd look into a monkey hut (by far the most economical and easy shade structure I've seen on the playa). Ask Uncle Google if he knows where you might find a big box hardware joint on the way to the playa (I think Fernley's a good Nevada town to start looking). You can probably sort out some sort of tie-down or sticking-out-the-window solution that will work for the last couple hours of your long journey. The simplest and most basic monkey hut you could possibly dream up would still be much more effective than the very best or most expensive on-the-tent insulation you could come up with. The sun will beat down on the monkey hut's tarp, and the slight breeze in the air between the top of your tent and the tarp of the monkey hut will dissipate that. Your aircon (whether it's a bucket cooler or you're bringing out an actual air conditioner) will be more efficient, and you will be much happier. Post event, you can cut the poles down (so you don't have to drive with the crazy tie-down or stuff out the windows) and dispose or recycle them at most anyplace that you'd be taking your trash for recycling/disposal (they hand out a page that has locations in the area when you come in the gates, so you don't have to spend lots of time figuring that out on your way out).

Good luck!

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Re: Insulating A Tent

Post by AntiM » Sun Jul 20, 2014 3:32 pm

We use shade, and then top our tiny tent with an old comforter from the thrift shop. Works wonders.

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Re: Insulating A Tent

Post by SLOKnightfall » Sun Jul 20, 2014 5:21 pm

Swope904 wrote:
And anther example I see a guy using thermal blankets and even mentions layering them.

Which one do you guys think would work better? The only problem I have with the Aluminzed bubble insulation is cost. A 16" by 25' Role is $16.25
I can buy (10) 4.5' by 7' blankets for $7.12

I mean the clear winner hear is the blankets but do you think put together and even layered would be better?
Or would the insulation be better?
As others have posted, shading your tent would be better. Looking closely at both links you posted, both are using a shade structure in addition to using the insulation. If you read in the comments of the instructables, the guy who used the blankets mentioned also had an ez-up over his tent. And looking at the images of the one that used the bubble insulation ,it appears that the tent is also under a shade dome also. That 73 degree reading is the insulated tent when it is under shade, not just from being insulated.

Having used space blankets in the past to try to keep the tent cool in the morning, you get some extra time; then the tent starts to get significantly hotter than the outside temp due to lack of airflow and the sun heating the tent.

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Re: Insulating A Tent

Post by BBadger » Sun Jul 20, 2014 10:01 pm

Remember that this place is not like Florida. In humid zones, every bit of air is the enemy because it carries with it heat and moisture. The playa is usually bone dry, so just hanging out in the shade is often enough to drop temperatures by the amount you've cited for that insulated tent. My first year, just hanging out under the shade of our van's rear hatch made a marked difference, as was hanging out in the car with the door open during exodus. Dry climates ROCK.

Humidity is literally the enemy of comfort, so always avoid any situation that traps heat. This is why a monkeyhut works: it shades you from the sun, and lacks two walls so that the heat just floats away. What will start to suck is if you block up the airflow, and cause the interior of your tent to accumulate humidity from breathing and sweat. Even with swamp coolers, they only work if you're able to maintain good airflow so that the moisture that carries heat can be exhausted to the outside. Your sweat works the same way, and you won't cool down if you're not exhausting that moist, hot air from your tent. Insulation makes little difference for evaporation-based systems because you're actively forcing air in and out of the environment.

Insulate your tent like in your first post if--and only if--you have a full blown powered air-conditioner (compressor-based, that removes moisture) that can literally displace all the heated air in your tent with cooled air. Considering your budget, this is not the case. If you're using a swamp cooler insulation won't make a difference (ensuring that the moist air hits your body does, however), and if you have no cooling, you're definitely going to suffer. Even hex yurts can get hot if they don't have enough cooling from the ground itself (or a swap cooler + vent) to counteract the accumulated heat; the insulation would probably be more useful for keeping people warm (as shelter), rather than cool.
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Re: Insulating A Tent

Post by Monkeystyle » Sun Jul 20, 2014 10:19 pm

Swope904 wrote:
Jackass wrote:That has to be a waste of time and money, spend both of those on making sure u have good, plentiful shade. If you're going to go thru all that trouble and expense, might as well build a yurt.

No need to try and re-engineer the wheel, it's been done for you!
No way to transport a yurt from Florida and back in a car. No money to build a yurt. So go ahead and through that idea out the window.

Shade structure? No way to do a monkey hut on top of a car with 10' pools for over 5k miles. And as far as car port shade structure go. If you can link me one under $75 that would last to playa conditions of 70+mph winds. If not... Lets go ahead and through that out the window.

I don't think you get im not going through any expense. Im trying to be cost effective and work with the space and things I have. I DO NOT HAVE A BUNCH OF CASH TO SPEND on a whole bunch of crap. I have to work with what I can get and or buy CHEAPLY. If you wanna give me cash ill give you my paypal and Ill build w.e. you tell me buddy. But untill then. This is what I got to work with.

I'm driving 30 hours each way and I'm doing a monkey hut. get the taros and make all of your connection pieces ahead of time and take them with you, then get the poles in Reno. easy fix

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Re: Insulating A Tent

Post by theCryptofishist » Mon Jul 21, 2014 9:38 am

The OP is a genius who's about to revolutionize the world of tents, and you lot can find nothing better than do, but a big pile of naysay.
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Re: Insulating A Tent

Post by bluemiragemi » Mon Jul 21, 2014 11:02 am

"No one" has a ton of cash to spend on things, but one thing I wouldn't skimp on is shelter and shade...check out the tarp to car idea and the bed sheets ideas? :coffee:
~ Em

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Re: Insulating A Tent

Post by Milayna » Mon Jul 21, 2014 11:11 am

Swope904 wrote: Which one do you guys think would work better? The only problem I have with the Aluminzed bubble insulation is cost. A 16" by 25' Role is $16.25
I can buy (10) 4.5' by 7' blankets for $7.12

I mean the clear winner hear is the blankets but do you think put together and even layered would be better?
Or would the insulation be better?
So I just wanted to point out that if you can get 10 4.5' by 7' blankets for $7.12 then those are not going to be the same blankets in that link, they are going to be the super thin Mylar space blankets that rip apart in seconds in the wind. Those blankets in the link are at least $7.12 each, and most likely double that. I made the mistake of covering my cooler in the cheap Mylar blankets my first year, and ended up just taking them off by the second day because they were ripping in the wind constantly and creating MOOP.

I understand why you don't want to deal with a shade structure. I did a monkey hut for years, but this year I'm downsizing. I bought a shade cloth big enough to cover my tent (it's not huge, just a 3-person tent) and reach the ground behind it. I also bought a few telescoping tent poles (they're sturdy metal ones). I'm going to drape the shade cloth over my tent with a little slack, rebar it to the ground, and then shove those poles in at four corners lifting the shade about 1-1.5 feet over the top of my tent so there's airflow in-between. I'm also bringing a swamp cooler. I had a friend do this last year with great success (face the opening of your tent away from sunrise! So opening of tent should face west).

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