When It Comes to Tents......Is Bigger Better?

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Rhythmic
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When It Comes to Tents......Is Bigger Better?

Post by Rhythmic » Sat Aug 06, 2011 10:37 pm

Hey Everyone,
This will be my first time at Burning Man. I was originally going to get a box truck or a cargo van, but I had an unexpected trip out of town and I am running out of time, so I think I am going to rough it in a tent. I am trying to get one with minimal screening to minimize the dust and may try to make some custom screen covers for the tops, which are covered by the top part that fits over the tent, but lets air circulate. So, is a bigger tent better or is it just more hassle? I will be in it by myself and plan to use my queen size Coleman Quickbed. I will also be bringing an number of outfits, gifts, and supplies. Right now, I am currently looking at the Coleman Montana 8 or the Red Canyon 8 compared to something like a Coleman Naugatuck. I will be camping with a couple of Burner couples who will have an RV and a virgin couple that will also have a tent. I am trying not to spend too much money, so i want to keep the price below $110.

Thanks in advance for the help and any ideas.

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Re: When It Comes to Tents......Is Bigger Better?

Post by BBadger » Sun Aug 07, 2011 2:44 am

It can be better only if you have the means to properly secure it. The larger the tent, the larger the wind profile, and the more apt it is to collapse or fly away without guylines or other securing measures.

Also think about whether you really care to have extra space in your tent, i.e. will you be spending enough time in there to really care, or do you just need a place to crash at night? I found it was more the latter, and my small one-person tent worked fine for my needs. We had a community area anyway, so there was no point in being in my tent (even if it were heat-bearable). Plus, you can always leave stuff in the car.
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Re: When It Comes to Tents......Is Bigger Better?

Post by shykat » Sun Aug 07, 2011 10:23 am

I agree with the post above, the camp communial shaded hang out spot is more important to us then our tent. Tents are for sleeping and screwing (mostly sleeping in our my case). When in camp we mostly are eating,drinking,showering or napping. To us doing all that inside a tent is not an option.
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Re: When It Comes to Tents......Is Bigger Better?

Post by Kinetik V » Sun Aug 07, 2011 11:00 am

Bigger can be better. Having camped by myself for several years on the playa, I never found myself grumbling that I needed less space.

Good rebar stakes, strong rope, and knowing a few basic knots will keep your larger tent from blowing half way to Winnemucca. (Oh and duct tape. It's got a million uses and it's saved me from going home in defeat more than once)

Speaking of playa structures, here's a link to Bob Stahl's still good Desert Structures page. I've learned a LOT over the years from this page and using it as a jump off point to learn more about the topics he covers. http://www.wps.com/J/BM/bluetarp_files/bluetarp.htm
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Re: When It Comes to Tents......Is Bigger Better?

Post by swampdog » Sun Aug 07, 2011 11:33 am

the qualities that are most important in a tent are dust and heat protection. Heat protection is best got by layers - tent, rain fly, shade, more shade. Air circulation is good but needs to be balanced against dust protection. Most tents these days seem to have LOTS of mesh area.

You don't need much interior space. Essential: enough room for a comfy bed pad. Enough room to semi-protect your semi-valuables that you don't want bother locking in your car. Beyond that, everything else can be optional. You can keep clothes in bins outside the tent. You can dress outside your tent. Socializing, food, shower, everything else, outside the tent.

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Re: When It Comes to Tents......Is Bigger Better?

Post by Rhythmic » Sun Aug 07, 2011 1:13 pm

Thanks for the advice guys. If I am going to spend the money I really didn't want to get a 1 man tent (in hopes that if I use it for camping in the future, I probably would not be alone). Personally, I am use to a little more space, especially if I am having a little down time to rejuvenate. I am also hoping to use the RV, cars, or all as a windshield. I have a couple of Quickshade units I may bring for additional cover. I plan on using rebar to hold down as much as I can and figured the added weight would help. I think I will go with the smaller of the sizes I was looking at, which is still a 6 person. lol

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Re: When It Comes to Tents......Is Bigger Better?

Post by MrMullen » Sun Aug 07, 2011 1:25 pm

Totally! I use a queen size air mattress and a 9 person Wal Mart Tent and the combo is perfect! You get lots of space to move around, room for your queen size bed, room to store stuff but your are also not taking a huge amount of space. However, the only thing to note, is to make sure to rebar that thing down, as others have stated, it will catch the wind due to its size.
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Re: When It Comes to Tents......Is Bigger Better?

Post by avidiva » Sun Aug 07, 2011 2:01 pm

I have a supposedly three-person tent (more like 2 person) that I use for just myself. It could be a bit bigger for sure, but it works. I've found that the most important thing is to have your OWN tent. Giagantic tents are more difficult to clean later and they are often a pain to get back in the bag. I think a 4-5 person tent would be just the thing, personally!

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Re: When It Comes to Tents......Is Bigger Better?

Post by Freedyjay » Sun Aug 07, 2011 2:51 pm

I'm looking at a 9' x 8' kodiak tent. Does that seems a good size for a solo camper? Don't know if it could fit a queen size bed but ideally an inflatable twin. (Coleman now has these twin inflatables you can stack or make into a queen.)

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Re: When It Comes to Tents......Is Bigger Better?

Post by pizzamancer » Sun Aug 07, 2011 4:45 pm

Small tent, big shade structure. The bigger your tent, the more area to toss stuff around in it. A smaller tent kind of forces you to be cleaner.
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Re: When It Comes to Tents......Is Bigger Better?

Post by trilobyte » Sun Aug 07, 2011 9:36 pm

Bigger isn't better. Better is better. It only needs to be big enough for your needs (as well as anyone else you may be sharing your tent with. For me, tent matters less than shade. Once shade's buttoned down, tent's a trivial thing for sleeping in and changing in. If your camp/shade doesn't already provide for it, a larger tent offers some chill space for you and your friends, but as the tent gets bigger the logistics become trickier. Tougher to pack/haul, requires more time to setup/teardown, and requires more clearance under a shade structure.

I don't think there's one single right answer, though. Odds are you'll survive with anything, so long as you have something :)

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Re: When It Comes to Tents......Is Bigger Better?

Post by dragonpilot » Mon Aug 08, 2011 12:33 pm

Being able to stand up inside my tent is important to me. A 10 X 11 with about 7 foot overhead.

If you set it up in the middle of the playa the wind could wreck it. I always camp in a populated area with various windbreaks like cars, trucks, RVs...nevah had a problem...this is over the last 6 years in some of the worst conditions.
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Re: When It Comes to Tents......Is Bigger Better?

Post by Savannah » Mon Aug 08, 2011 12:42 pm

I am another one for whom standing is important. When I'm dressing or looking for things, it's so helpful. And after a week of stooping over in a 5 foot tent, you really feel it.

I managed in a 5-foot-tall tent for 4 Burns, but have been able to stand in my tent at all subsequent Burns after that, and will never go back.

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Re: When It Comes to Tents......Is Bigger Better?

Post by CapSmashy » Mon Aug 08, 2011 4:12 pm

Freedyjay wrote:I'm looking at a 9' x 8' kodiak tent. Does that seems a good size for a solo camper? Don't know if it could fit a queen size bed but ideally an inflatable twin. (Coleman now has these twin inflatables you can stack or make into a queen.)
I soloed in my 10x14 Kodiak before and it felt positively obscene with the amount of space I had in there even after I put in a 6 foot table. It was heavenly. :mrgreen:

A 9x8 should be great for one person and you'll be able to stand up. A queen size would fit in there, but if you can make do with a twin, you'll have that much more floor space.

If you have room to pack them, some of those cheap plastic dorm room shelves (they are everywhere right now with back to school stuff) or some other kind of surface is a big help at keeping things relatively organized.

Something I discovered that is a big help later in terms of cleaning the tent, lay down some heavy mil plastic sheeting that is about 6 inches larger than the floor of the tent, if necessary, tape it to the walls. All of the playa dust and other stuff you track in gets folded up neatly at the end of the event.
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Re: When It Comes to Tents......Is Bigger Better?

Post by Freedyjay » Mon Aug 08, 2011 6:21 pm

That's great advice. Thanks!

Now all I have to do is figure out my shade structure... The carports at Costco are about the same size as the tent itself so don't think that works.

Maybe draping shade cloth over the tent (held down by stakes and rope) could do it?

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Re: When It Comes to Tents......Is Bigger Better?

Post by CapSmashy » Mon Aug 08, 2011 8:28 pm

Freedyjay wrote:That's great advice. Thanks!

Now all I have to do is figure out my shade structure... The carports at Costco are about the same size as the tent itself so don't think that works.

Maybe draping shade cloth over the tent (held down by stakes and rope) could do it?
Draping would work to block out the light, but you will not have a lot of air space.

The 10x10 fits nicely under one half of a carport and leaves you with a nice 10x10 sitting, small kitchen area, so an 8x9 will fit under one with no problem. Orient the door to open inside the carport.

Leave off the vinyl walls and wrap the sides and back wall space in shade fabric. The Kodiaks also work very well with an evap cooler running inside of them.
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Re: When It Comes to Tents......Is Bigger Better?

Post by Packoderm » Mon Aug 08, 2011 8:55 pm

CapSmashy wrote: If you have room to pack them, some of those cheap plastic dorm room shelves (they are everywhere right now with back to school stuff) or some other kind of surface is a big help at keeping things relatively organized.
Could you post a picture of the shelves you mention?
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Re: When It Comes to Tents......Is Bigger Better?

Post by Savannah » Mon Aug 08, 2011 8:59 pm

My attempts at tent organization involve:

* Cheap $5 wooden TV tray (folds) for a nightstand
* Large Wastebasket (fits under that)
* REI folding cot (some of my lesser used Rubbermaid containers fit underneath and have a bonus effect of supporting the cot if I forget to make sure the legs are fully kicked out)

Helps a lot!
Freedyjay wrote:That's great advice. Thanks!

Now all I have to do is figure out my shade structure... The carports at Costco are about the same size as the tent itself so don't think that works.

Maybe draping shade cloth over the tent (held down by stakes and rope) could do it?
Freedyjay, you don't have to shade your tent, if you won't have much in the way of materials. You can instead escape into your shade in the mornings when your tent gets too warm. Sometimes there is enough for both tented and non-tented shade (ideal) but you don't want your shade to force you to be in your tent in order to have it.

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Re: When It Comes to Tents......Is Bigger Better?

Post by Freedyjay » Tue Aug 09, 2011 1:08 am

Freedyjay, you don't have to shade your tent, if you won't have much in the way of materials. You can instead escape into your shade in the mornings when your tent gets too warm. Sometimes there is enough for both tented and non-tented shade (ideal) but you don't want your shade to force you to be in your tent in order to have it.
I'm at a big camp that will have a huge shade structure to be under during the day. And I definitely won't have much in materials.

I just don't want to wake up at 9am sweating in my sleeping bag because I have no shade -- this is what happened to me last year as a virgin in my cheapo pop up tent.

The lack of sleep (as I was up super late and then trying to sleep with that endearing but never ending techno beat) made me fairly exhausted after only five nights on the playa last year and took away from the experience a bit. Hence, the thought of getting a canvas tent (cooler temp inside) and one with a higher ceiling (heat stays at the top?) And then maybe drape the shade cloth over it? Or could I be okay without the shade?

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Re: When It Comes to Tents......Is Bigger Better?

Post by Savannah » Tue Aug 09, 2011 4:17 pm

Ah, okay, good--I'm glad you will have adequate non-tent-oriented shade, because sitting inside it or 2-3 feet outside your tent at all times would really be annoying. :)

I might ask if this thread can be moved to the Q&A Tips and Tricks forum because the "Share Resources" forum does not get the same amount of traffic or the right kind of expertise.

In the meantime, you might like to look through the Q&A forums, & use this google trick for searching ePlaya, 'cause your inquiry is probably one of the top 5 questions, but our search feature is not very handy.

I entered how to shade my tent eplaya into Google and then narrowed it down by clicking on More results from eplaya.burningman.org »

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&biw= ... ent+eplaya

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Re: When It Comes to Tents......Is Bigger Better?

Post by Hoolie » Thu Aug 11, 2011 5:27 pm

I suppose I will echo much of what has been said already. Cramped is not pleasant, but huge is not necessary. There is a happy medium to be had. My setup is for two people in a 4-person tent. The footprint is 7x10. This gives us enough space for our bedding on one side, our clothes and stuff on the other side, and a small rug in the middle. I feel no need to go bigger, and the tent size in manageable enough that I use it for other camping trips during the year. The tent is tall enough that I can stand upright in it. That is a very nice feature to have. I also have the tent under shade. Pretty essential, imo. Getting good sleep really makes the overall experience better.

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Re: When It Comes to Tents......Is Bigger Better?

Post by akmojo » Fri Aug 12, 2011 2:22 am

Savannah wrote:I am another one for whom standing is important. When I'm dressing or looking for things, it's so helpful. And after a week of stooping over in a 5 foot tent, you really feel it.

I managed in a 5-foot-tall tent for 4 Burns, but have been able to stand in my tent at all subsequent Burns after that, and will never go back.

Savannah,
lots of standing room in my structure if you need to stretch !!
;-)
I too am a firm believer in a taller tent.. makes getting up and moving around in the mornings that much easier..
I've spent enough years in mountainneering/backpacking tents and relish the room of larger tents, especially when I don't have to carry them on my back......
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