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Tents, Bivouacs, Hammocks, and Tarps - What Shelter Works Best for You!

A good Tent, Bivouac (Bivy), Hammocks, and Tarp tents should keep you dry, comfortable, and provide protection. Which shelter is exactly the right choice for you?   There a myriad of options to choose from: Family, Dome, 3 season, 4-season, backpacking, bivouacs, hammocks, and tarps?   Not all tents and bivys are created equal. Depending on the model there are variations in the ability to repel rain, cold, snow, or insects. Also consider what time of year you will be using the shelter; how many outdoor companions will be joining you; gear storage, and weight if you are backpacking. Tents, Bivys, and other shelter types are a significant outdoor gear investment. So, take your time when choosing the shelter that will fit into your outdoor lifestyle.
Family Tents
Family tents are designed for large groups of 4-6+ people. They are well suited to camping in a campground and are very versatile as base camps. They offer from 1-3 rooms for privacy and/or equipment used for camping. Weight (varies with construction, material, and size): Approximately 9-40+ pounds. Family tents are usually taller, ranging from about 6-8+ feet the middle of the tent and walls are normally around 3 to 4 feet. So if standing upright in a shelter is important to you this maybe the type of tent for you.  They are portable but have a tendency to be heavy.
Dome or Geodesic Tents

Dome Camping Tents or Geodesic Tents are the very popular. They are quite effective at shedding snow and rain while resisting wind
 when the rain-fly is installed. They are very strong structure especially when combined with aluminum poles.  Typically, they are free standing structures that only require tent pegs to ensure the tent does not blow away in high winds. Although, not as tall as family tents, they still offer an ample amount of headroom. Examples include: Marmot Limelight.
3-Season tents are used in temperate zones and characteristically support mesh panels that provide ventilation for spring, summer, and fall camping. These tents are quite successful in protecting against wind and rain but not snow.   Snow weight of more than 5 cm will stress and snap poles. These are great camping tents for recreational campers and are typically 3.5 to 5 feet in height and weight in at 4 to 10 pounds. They are suitable for backpacking unless you prefer ultra-light gear.
If you are serious about winter camping a 4 season tent is the tent to use. They shed snow extremely well. Extra poles are added to increase strength allowing the tent to maintain shape under snow weight and strong winds. Mesh for ventilation is on the low side which means it retains heat in cold conditions but still allows vapour to escape. Tent height is approximately 3.5-5 feet tall and the weight varies from 4 to 15 pounds .If you do any winter A four season tent can also be consider for fall and early spring camping
Bivy Sacks or Shelters A bivouac is a small shelter used by a minimalist concerned about weight or used in areas where a big tent would in appropriate. It consists of a waterproof floor and a waterproof/breathable upper layer—the same strategy used in single-wall tents, just in a smaller, tighter package. They’re big enough to accommodate you and your sleeping bag, and that's about it.   Some come with a pole arrangement that keeps the material off of your face. While they are great for sleeping but there are not designed for movement like a tent provides.  Bivys weigh-in at less than 1 pound to 3 pounds and if poles or ties are available they can be 1.5-3 feet high at the opening.
Camping hammocks are a neat idea because they are suspended above of rocks, saturated ground and inclines where pitching a tent would be impossible.You just have to find to trees the correct distance apart. Hammocks are an essential shelter when light weight is a necessity.They get you off the ground and keep you warm and comfortable when the temperature is above 12 degrees C. If it is colder it is suggested that a sleeping pad should be used to provide insulation and reflect body heat. Made for only one person, this type of shelter may take a while to get use to.


Other interesting facts:

  • Not all tents are created equal when it comes to per-person tent dimensions. No industry standard exists.  Depending on the tent make, there can be a lot of variability.  Usually, a two-person tent will fit two people snugly without any gear.   Many single trekkers prefer using a two- person tent.
  • Vestibules are key accessory to look for in a tent.  Vestibules are extensions of the tent’s rain fly that create a sheltered dry zone outside your tent for storing footwear and other gear.
  • Generally, more pole sections a tent has may lead to a complex setup.  After a few setups erecting a tent will become an instinctive process.
  • Most backpacking tents use aluminum poles due to their high strength-to-weight and durability. Fibreglass poles tend to be heavier and are susceptible to splintering when repeatedly arc over time
  • Nylon and polyester is the standard in tent fabrics. Nylon is lighter, tougher and more abrasion-resistant. Polyester is more resistant to water and has a reputation for better withstanding Ultra violet rays . Polyester is commonly used for tent fly’s.
  • Ripstop nylon normally woven with a doubled thread at regular intervals prevents tears from spreading It is used for floors and flys in low-weight tents.
  • Tent floors and flies come with a waterproof coating (commonly polyurethane) applied to their interiors.  SomeTent companies   will apply a coating   to both sides of the material.
  • Ultralight tents use low-denier fabrics in floors and tent flys to reduce weight. Often silicon is used to treat such fabrics for waterproofness. Polyurethane (PU) is a fractionally better waterproofing agent, but silicon boosts the tear strength of lightweight fabrics.
  • Because nylon has the capacity to absorb some water, polyester is commonly used as tent fly material. Yet silicon-coated nylon resists the absorption of water equally as well as PU-coated polyester.
  • When breaking down tent poles to pack them for transport, make the first break in the center of a pole rather than starting at one end of the pole. Doing so lessens tension on the elastic cord connecting the sections.
  • When packing up, avoid repeatedly folding a tent along the same crease lines; creases can weaken the fabric.

Stop in a Joe’s Sport and Surplus and let’s Talk Tents.  We offer a range of styles including  Hotcore, The NorthFace ,Outbound and  Chinook Technical Outdoor,