Sunday, June 07, 2009

What an inTENTS experience!!!

(Let me start by apologizing for the awful pun, I couldn't resist.)

So, yesterday, Sunny and I bought ourselves a tent.

I want to point something out here because I haven't quite figured this out myself ye:. You see, I love camping. Sunny loves camping. Every two weeks Sunny gets a long weekend off. We live less than a couple of hour's drive away from multiple national parks and camp grounds that only cost around ten bucks to stay.

We've spent the past year or so sitting around the house on Sunny's days off complaining that we're bored and wish we could just go somewhere and do something.

When I suggested buying a tent and going camping, I felt like a guy who's been standing five feet away from a free buffet for hours while complaining of hunger.

So anyway, we went and bought our tent and early this morning, while Sunny was still in bed, I took it outside and put it up. As a responsible adult I will say that I did this because I wanted to make sure everything was there and nothing was damaged…you don't want to drive two hours to a campsite and discover that your tent doesn't have any tent poles. However, the reality of it is that I had a new tent and wanted to play with it.

As for the actual tent…

Every time I've been camping in my life, I've slept in the tent my dad went camping in when he was a kid. It's an awesome old-school triangular pup-tent. Two genuine steel poles hold up a heavy, natural-fiber inner-tent with a very thick and heavy waxed-canvas out tent. The kind that has really long guy-ropes at the front and back that you always trip over in the dark.

The new one?

Ok, considering that we're going to be camping for only a night or two at a stretch in during the summer months, we didn't go and splash out hundreds of dollars on a tent that will keep you warm and dry on the side of a mountain in a thunderstorm…but we didn't cheap-out on it either. However, I can't tell whether this tent is really cheaply made, or I'm just behind the times considering I haven't been camping in seven or eight years.

The tent fabric felt really light and kinda flimsy. Now I don't know whether this is because it's light and flimsy, or if it's because I's made of some space-age material tha can be really thin and light but still stay durable and weather-proof. For all I know, it could stop a bullet, but I don't exactly want to start tearing at the brand new tent so see how durable it is…and as I said before, as long as it can keep off the odd shower and act as a decent mosquito net, we're good.

Putting it up was another matter.

You see, I love dome tents. A lot of the people I used to go camping with had them. It; wasn't unusual for them to have their tents up and ready to sleep in before I'd unpacked mine. However, the one we bought is actually almost impossible to put up on your own. I'd love to know who's bright idea that was. In order to erect the tent you have to thread the poles through loops on the side of the tent as normal…but to secure them in place all four have to be pegged down at the same time or the whole thing falls over. Basically, if you're on your own or your partner has short arms, you're fucked.

Also, instead of a whole outer-tent, there's just a two-foot square of fabric that covers non-waterproof vent at the top of the tent. Now while I'm certain that helps a lot with keeping the tent waterproof and well ventilated at the same time, this is held in place by four impossibly short lengths of bungie, and again, all four have to be hooked into place at the same ime.

Ok, all that I can deal with, simply because I doubt I'll ever go camping on my own…but there's one other thing that's really annoying that I just don't understand.

Our tent is 9 foot wide by 8 foot long by 4 foot tall, but we bought it packed in a handy little bag that's actually a little smaller than my arm. Of course, it being small and light is awesome. I could throw it on my back and walk for miles and not even notice it was there.

However, once it's taken out of the bag, and unfolded from its computer-designed, every-square-millimeter-accounted-for shape, it's almost impossible to get it back in. It has to be folded in a very convoluted, counter-intuitive way. Every tiny bit of air has to be squeezed out of it and no matter how hard you try, it always ends up looking like a 300lb guy's gut stuffed into Kate Moss's tube top…if you can get it back in the bag at all.


Evan 08 said...

Ah yes... the joy of tenting.

You should find that the tent is fine for most weather. If you're not sure about how weather resistant it is though, you may want to consider using a garden hose to simulate a good heavy rain. If the tent isn't waterproof enough for your taste, then buy some of that spray-on waterproofing and use it liberally.

Paulius said...

We did exactly that this afternoon and the tent stayed nice and waterproof.

The only concern I really have is that the fly-sheet is so small that while it could keep a heavy rain out, it looks like rain mixed with a bit of wind could send rain under the flysheet, through the mesh roof and into the tent very easily.

I read some of the documentation this afternoon and it turns out that the main tent fabric is not only water-tight but also mostly air-tight...which is why most of the roof is made of mesh.

Nice to know there's an actual reason for such an open roof...but it's still not exactly world-class design.

Terry Chandler said...

Oooh, when you actually go camping, you must sing kum-ba-ya and make somemores! Have fun.