A tent to survive the desert ?

Ideas, advice, tips, and tricks regarding shelter, shade, tents, and camping. Yes, this includes RV's too.
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AntiM
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Post by AntiM » Thu Jul 14, 2005 3:06 am

The idea is basically sound, but foil or mylar tend to shred in the wind. Insta-MOOP. It is also blinding in the sun, cool for you, sucks to be camped next to you.

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Sharky
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Post by Sharky » Thu Jul 14, 2005 7:00 am

I have to agree that the mylar option sounds good on paper, but doesn't work on the Playa. We tried using a couple of space blankets to cover our tent and found that the noise from the wind blowing the mylar was very anoying right up to the time the wind took them apart! It was right after that when our tent filled with a THICK layer of dust! We were sleeping in a backpacking tent with the mesh top and rain cover..... another good idea on paper that doesn't work on the Playa! We moved into our "storage tent", an old Coleman canvas tent. I had sewed canvas over the windows to repair the torn out screens and as it turned out, that was a real life saver, as it kept out the dust! You definitely don't want ventilation in your sleeping tent! We opened it up while we were around camp to keep it cool during the day and then buttoned it up at night. During the day we spread an old bed sheet over our bed to keep the dust off of the sleeping bags. Just shake it out before climbing in to sleep and it will help keep your bed somewhat Playa-free. If I had to reccomend one tent for the Playa, it would have to be the canvas tent with all of the windows sewn closed.............just make sure it has sound poles and you have plenty of guy lines to hold it down and stabilize it, those box tents have a lot of sail area! Set up some shade to hang out in during the day because no matter what tent you use, it'll get pretty hot during the day.
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RobOIDAHO
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a ten to surrive in the desert

Post by RobOIDAHO » Thu Jul 14, 2005 8:46 am

yes---- Ruggs: the tec has been used by NASA for years ie. a space suite about 1" thick has foil inside as well as out --- in the front facing the sun is about 700------- the back in the shade below freezing--- so in between is a layered material of like bubble wrap this gives the R (resistance to heat transfer) one-- from the Radient heat from the solar trying to heat this cool body of 98 and, second in the back--- keeping the body's heat from leaving to heat the shaded universe ----------I have used the commerical made foil products (sold by Energy Savers of Idaho in Bellevue) I use a piece of it --dbl. sided for-- a under the sleeping bag for a ground barrier and in the snow country as a seat barrier to sit on in the snow ( keeps some heat from leaving the body) and in the direct sun as a shield in my truck .......... to address the heat (gain -loss) of conductive heat as well as convection one needs an air space in between and median of such material as fiberglass air bubble materials etc. ie. soapstone used in fire place design absorbs the heat and holds it and then gives it off like a battery when the room is cooler ........ So as far as the tent idea-----same as the space persons suit only more crude and cheaper RobO'
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swampdog
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mylar

Post by swampdog » Thu Jul 14, 2005 10:30 am

My brilliant mylar idea last year was to duct tape a mylar sheet to the inside of my rainfly. I figured it would reflect away the infrared without blinding my neighbors by radiating the visible light also.

Total failure. The rainfly stretches into place, and the duct tape eliminated the stretch so I couldn't get it into place. I had to strip out all the mylar and duct tape and just use the rainfly normally.

I actually found it sleepable for most of most days last year with just the rainfly - big ol' 6 person North Face tent, windows open for whatever breeze. It got dusty. Oh well.

Instead of a cot, you can use an air mattress - you can get battery operated air mattress pumps, mine runs on 4 d cells.

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Topcat
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Post by Topcat » Tue Jul 19, 2005 4:40 pm

I have a perfectly great tent I'd like to use but it's a three-season model. It has windows that can close completely but it also has vents on top that don't have flaps. My question is can I just duct tape material over those vents to enclose the tent and keep the playa out?
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DoctorIknow
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sealing vents on top of tents

Post by DoctorIknow » Tue Jul 19, 2005 5:34 pm

question is "...can I just duct tape material over those vents to enclose the tent and keep the playa out?"

Because of the recent post explaining how duct tape on tent doesn't work due to stretching, how about painting the netting and making it a BurningMan only tent?

Or, just buy a new tent,,,,many big ones less than $200 (see earlier posts)

By the way, I believe 100% dust proof is impossible.... in a real good white out, dust comes thru even the finest zippers, and those zippers even can have "flaps" over them!

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AntiM
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Post by AntiM » Tue Jul 19, 2005 5:47 pm

We throw a padded comforter or old curtains over the mesh and spring clamp them down to the poles. This keeps out most of the dust without resorting to permanent changes to the tent. Throw a blanket or spare sheet over your bed area while you're out of the tent to keep most of the dust out of your sleeping place too. We bury our pillows in the middle of the bed so they're fairly dust-free when we dig them out.

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Post by Elemental666 » Tue Jul 19, 2005 10:21 pm

Just a thought here, I know your covering your roof openings to keep dust out, but by doing so you are also making your structure warmer. Think igloos and teepee here, that hole in the top is to let heat out. Interestingly enough, in theory, if your tent is tall enough to stand in and strong enough to hold up one of those gas powered camping heater (the one you can attach those small canisters to) if ou suspend the canister closer to the roof and leave it on the heat it gives off will exit through the hole in the roof and create a draft in your tent. bringing cooler air in as the hot air escapes. I haven't ever tested this theory as my tent is a 2 person pup tent.

Now I have a question... I'm nocturnal, I rise around 7 or 8 pm and go to sleep around 11ish. I also have a full sized pickup (93 Toyota T100) with a shell. I have slept in my truck bed on an air matress in the past, but never in the desert and never during the day. The shell has 2 screened sliding windows on either side and a lift up window above the tailgate. On warm summer evening in Oklahoma (where humidity is more a factor than actual heat) I've left the side windows open and used a 2x4 wedged between the lip on the windowed tailgate (resulting in about a 3.5inch gap between the window and tailgate). This has been bearable enough to sleep in at night. What suggestions would you have for this type of situation, or should I just pop my tent under the shade structure and use the truck bed/air matress for more private ventures?

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Post by phil » Wed Jul 20, 2005 2:45 am

I also have a full sized pickup (93 Toyota T100) with a shell. I have slept in my truck bed on an air matress in the past, but never in the desert and never during the day.
That's an interesting question. It may depend in part on the color of your truck/shell, and the ambient heat. Louise and I take a white commercial van, and we put aluminum foil on the windows. Completely blocking the sun from getting into the van keeps it tolerably warm during the day, even with all vents closed.

My suggestion would be to have a tent in the shade so you don't have to set it up if you get roasted out of the truck -- see if you can get through the day in your shell with all the windows foiled over. If you find you can't stand it, hop out and get in the tent under the shade.

I know people who claim that putting three tarps over their tents with airspace between them keeps their tents cool enough to sleep all day. I've never seen their set up, though.

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Mithra
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Best Shade Cloth

Post by Mithra » Fri Jul 22, 2005 2:17 pm

Wow, the Eplays lives...havn't posted here in forever...
Now back to one of my favorite subjects...Shadecloth

I started using Aluminet last year and wouldn't use anything else. It provides 80% shade and does not xfer heat to surfaces it's in contact with. That means that you don't need to have air space between it and your structure, which signifigantly reduced the amount of stuff I needed to bring to the playa. It's not exatly cheap, but it's durable and works better than anything else i've tried. Though if your looking for something tarp like that's cause your trying to keep water out, then not so much.

Using Aluminet with my camping setup reduces the the ambient temp of my chill space, which is under my camping space by 15 degrees.

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Mithra
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Post by Mithra » Fri Jul 22, 2005 2:21 pm

Get your tent off the ground...

So last year I had this strange idea.....and now my camp is 3 feet(soon to be 5') off the ground.

I have a 12' trampoline, covered by a Jumpking T2 trampoline tent, which is then covered with alluminet. the tramp fram is held down by racheting tie downs and big ass rebar. Flood, wind, rain...don't care....

I can provide more info if anyone is intested.

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Dog house

Post by doc » Fri Jul 22, 2005 7:24 pm

I have seen mithras setup..its nice.

You can make your own house out there... http://docsloft.com/gallery/ check out snoopys dog house.

Worked great for me last year put a window ac unit in the back and ran it off a 1800 watt genni durring the dust storm last year.

I have used it in 110 degree heat with direct sun and it was about 85 inside without the ac.

You dont actually have to put it on a trailer, just 6 4x8 sheets of plywood, about 20 8' sticks of 1x3 pine and a screw gun and you could build it out there in about 4 hours.

And burn it when you are done.

I choose the trailer so I would have a mobile chill space.

Doc

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dougnaka
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anyone take a springbar tent to BM?

Post by dougnaka » Sun Jul 24, 2005 12:33 pm

Nice tents,

http://www.springbar.com/

I'm wondering how well they do in the extreme heat of the playa, I'm pretty sure they'd be fine in the wind/sand storms.

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phil
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Post by phil » Sun Jul 24, 2005 1:05 pm

I'm wondering how well they do in the extreme heat of the playa, I'm pretty sure they'd be fine in the wind/sand storms.
I have some hesitations. They mention their hexabode is their favorite in the Utah redrock deserts, for example, and it's a tent with no fly and floor to ceiling mesh windows on all sides (at least 5 sides that I can see). And it has one of those awnings that you stake out in front of the tent -- note in the photos that it provides no useable shade. :-> From photographs on various pages, I see that the mesh windows have zippered closures inside the tent. This means that the mesh is on the outside during dust storms and will be saturated in playa powder and in rain will saturate in rain. Opening the closures will then expose you to the dust in the tent (the water will probably dry too quickly to be a problem, although leaks are a question I'd like answered when the water drains through the mesh inside to the closures). Imagine a gentle breeze blowing through playa-powder laden mesh or you brushing up against the mesh while you're in the tent.

In my very humble opinion, I consider this a design flaw for Burning Man. Other tents they offer do appear to have external closures which will cover the mesh, but I don't see flys on any of them. My personal preference is to have a fly that goes down to the ground to help provide some protection from blowing powder; I have no expectation of being in a tent during the day, so any cooling properties of a fly are lost on me.

They say all the right things about quality and sturdiness during wind storms, but my personal prejudice is for a full fly to cover the mesh. Without actually seeing one and getting to crawl around in it, my opinions aren't exactly credible, though.

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Post by Kinetic IV » Sun Jul 24, 2005 1:29 pm

I looked at those tents and looked at those tents. And I'm thinking what Alpha conditions or the equivalent of a Cat 1 hurricane would do to a tent like that. And the wind can reach those speeds out there as quite a few people will attest.

I'm a little biased towards Sierra Designs or even the Cabelas Alaskan Guide series myself...rounded dome type tents that shed the wind easier...yeah you don't have as much headroom but I'll trade that for not having to worry about the wind tearing things up.

Instead of rambling on let me recommend Bob Stahl's excellent site on playa structures: http://www.geocities.com/potatotrap/tec ... .htm#tents
Before my first year on the playa someone recommended this site to me and told me to follow his recommendations religiously. I have, and I've never had any problems with my tent on the playa. He really breaks it down, what works, what sucks...and of course he's DPW so he knows a thing or two about playa conditions. YMMV but I don't think you would go wrong taking a look at his site first before shelling out $$$ for anything. </soapbox>
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Post by dougnaka » Sun Jul 24, 2005 8:25 pm

[quote="Kinetic IV"]I looked at those tents and looked at those tents. And I'm thinking what Alpha conditions or the equivalent of a Cat 1 hurricane would do to a tent like that. And the wind can reach those speeds out there as quite a few people will attest.[/quote]

The basic design is the one I'm looking at, apparently they can withstand amazing amounts of wind. I've camped in one, and was impressed, and some of their testimonials say good things about camping in the heat. I was planning on buying one anyways, and may just accelerate that decision to get it in time for BM. If I do, I'll let you all know how it does.

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Tumbleweed
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Re: anyone take a springbar tent to BM?

Post by Tumbleweed » Wed Jul 27, 2005 2:01 pm

[quote="dougnaka"]http://www.springbar.com/ [/quote]

Nice stuff. Although, a lot of it seems to be out of stock...

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Re: anyone take a springbar tent to BM?

Post by dougnaka » Wed Jul 27, 2005 2:10 pm

Tumbleweed wrote: Nice stuff. Although, a lot of it seems to be out of stock...
It is, I just plonked down my $774 for my family size + tarp + stakes.. they give you like 30% off for the tarp if you buy same time, and 50% off the stakes, i got 9" nail stakes and 12" metal stakes.. not sure which'll work better for BM...

It's a 70lb setup... not too big though.. anyways, the next shipment of family traveler tents is scheduled to be delivered on August 19th. I just bought this today..

They said the normal Traveler model will be in a week or so earlier, i think the Aug 11...

I've camped in a springbar tent once and talked to 4 people who either own / or are familiar with them. They all rave and rave about how 'you'll never buy another tent' and these things last 20 years of active use, and they've been used at base camp on everest, they withstand killer wind, and they're so easy to setup 1 person 3 minutes and yer done...

I'm planning on buying a big piece of aluminet and draping it over my tent to help keep it cool... sounds like that's the best way to go, best = least work, most cool, most durable..

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dougnaka
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Got my springbar

Post by dougnaka » Fri Aug 12, 2005 9:42 am

Going to take it camping this weekend. I've talked to more people who own them and they say their wind resistance is their best feature, since they're tight and sturdy and heavy canvas you don't notice when its a bad windstorm outside... I'll let you all know how camping goes... and then of course I'll have the tent at BM for a trial by fire!

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phil
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Post by phil » Fri Aug 12, 2005 10:27 am

doug, please post a follow up after the weekend, but more importantly, after the Burn. I'm very interested.

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dougnaka
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Springbar tent was excellent - BM tent report

Post by dougnaka » Thu Sep 08, 2005 6:00 pm

Well, I arrived about 2am Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, most of my camp was gone, and I didn't know any of them previously anyways. I setup my tent alone in about 25 minutes. It was excellent all week, during the day I would zip down the canvas windows, and let the breeze flow through, taking more than one nap during the days, and I was right across from hammock camp ;)

All of my camp mates had sturdy tents, but when the wind blowed they made the rustling sound of nylon on nylon, I could walk into my tent and easily forget how windy it was outside. The tent didn't even wiggle in the strongest winds. I leaned against it and short of pulling out the stakes, or ripping the canvas, it wasn't coming down. I saw a few springbars (2 in the greeters camp right by center camp, and a couple scattered in other camps).

All in all it was an amazing tent, if it had a ceiling fan, or darker canvas so less light comes through, it'd be perfect for BM, and as far as other tents I saw around, nothing seemed better suited for the conditions.

btw, I had a great first burn, and am already excited to go next year :)

I posted some pics on flickr,

http://flickr.com/photos/dougnaka

thanks everyone for this years burn!

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phil
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Post by phil » Fri Sep 09, 2005 9:34 am

Thanks for the follow-up, Doug, and nice pictures.

Phil

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Post by Lassen Forge » Fri Sep 09, 2005 12:44 pm

Note on Tents...

We had one of those Kelty Costmo' huge domes, and it held up to the winds on Monday surprisingly well... I had visions of the thing coming apart, and it had enough flex to where it moved in the wind.

Of course, the 2 1/2 foot rebar stakes may have had something to do with it. But it held up well (if not dustproof)...

Now, if it wasn't so damn big...

Notes on Rebar stakes to follow under separate heading...

BB

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Tumbleweed
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Post by Tumbleweed » Fri Feb 17, 2006 2:55 pm

Hey dougnaka, thanks for the tip on the Springbars. I just picked one up for myself: the Campsite model. I will use it at this years burn, but I also have the whole spring/summer season to use it. So far, I have only set it up in the yard, just to check it out and learn the setup procedure. Luxurious, to say the least. It really seems to be very strong as well. Man, it sure is heavy though.

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dougnaka
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sooooo heavy

Post by dougnaka » Fri Feb 17, 2006 2:59 pm

Yeah, they're nice. $20 to the first person to take one backpacking on a 10 mile+ hike!!!

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TheJudge
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Post by TheJudge » Tue Feb 21, 2006 6:37 am

It still looks like a great kite, to me.

That wonderful awning will catch the wind really well, stressing the anchor points and the corner seams.

I still swear by a dome.
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Post by DoctorIknow » Tue Feb 21, 2006 10:20 am

TheJudge wrote: That wonderful awning will catch the wind really well, stressing the anchor points and the corner seams.
Not in my case. Seven years of a similar awning on a cheap Coleman 10 x 17 foot tent, and the awing just goes with the flow!

Granted, I don't anchor it, in fact, instead of attaching the 2 poles and anchoring them, I just tie the ends of the awning onto the overhead camo netting, supported independently of the tent, by 8foot 2x4's which are anchored. The camo must move two feet with strong wind, so I use bungees to tie the awning onto it.

BTW, as I pound the table in every thread about camping, a tent is a nightmare unless you have shading on the top and three sides. Forget about silly "rain covers" that come with tents for providing any relief from heat.

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Tumbleweed
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Post by Tumbleweed » Sat Feb 25, 2006 1:53 pm

TheJudge wrote:That wonderful awning will catch the wind really well, stressing the anchor points and the corner seams.
Putting up the awning is optional. You can just roll it up and lash it with the attached tie-downs.
TheJudge wrote:I still swear by a dome.
If it were used only for Burning Man, I would agree with you. But the idea behind the Springbar is I can use it for year-round car camping as well. A dome isn't quite so versatile.

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