Tent tips & tricks
A bit of history
The history of tent and tent tips & tricks began exactly… around Lower Paleolithic, i.e. about 380000 yrs. ago. The Man lived a hunter/gatherer group life, and had just begun to form the space around him using the simplest tools; sticks, stones and fire (and their combinations). He found out, among others, that broken branches can be formed, so that one could crawl inside the space thus created and hide himself comfortably, from the rain and cold wind. And such were beginnings of our civilization.
People of the Acheulean period built light hut constructions made of sticks and branches and supported with stones at the bottom. The whole construction had an oval shape. The first traces of camps, where such constructions were used, were found at Terra Amata.The second significant step in the development of shelters built on purpose, dates back to the period some 200 000 yrs. later. The shelter found near the cave in Lazaret (dating back to about 160 000 yrs. ago), was covered with animal hides, which significantly improved thermal conditions and formed a waterproof seal.
At the wane of the ice age (Magdalenian period, around 18 000 yrs. ago) the man begun organized hunt on reindeer, which necessitated moving the camps fast. The tents were covered with hides and their structure resembled Indian teepees.
And here begun the real career of the tent – meaning a waterproof, transportable shelter.
Years passed, not a few, and the watertight material, stretched upon as lightweight and strong frame as possible keeps going strong… everywhere; from refugee camps in Palestine to luxury camping in Norway. Some (wild?) part of the human nature keeps pushing us back to the natural shelter a tent provides ( some say they are wild men, others carry a BUSHMEN around). The construction of the tent can vary, depending on their purpose, and technical innovations appearing constantly. But there are still a few useful tips when setting a tent up.
Tent tips & tricks
You should choose a tent aimed at a larger number of persons, than planned inhabitants. This will assure a larger comfort and allow you to place a number of important objects inside the tent. Increased of weight of the tent shall be insignificant, thanks to modern technology.
The other way is to chose… the right tent with the luggage compartment.
Setting up up the tent, either at home or in the garden, will let us check, whether the tent is complete. This will learn about the specific features of a given model, too. It will shorten the time of setting up later and lessen the number of possible mistakes.
We usually let ourselves lead by the view from and around the tent.. . rightly too. But we should also pay attention to several matters, so that the awakening should be no less pleasant than going to bed.
- The tent should be pitched at an elevation, even a slight one, which lessens the risk of flooding.
- You should pay attention to animal tracts, as ants for example, and watering holes. An unexpected animal visit in our tent is not always pleasant.
- The site should be as flat as possible (and elevated), and well cleaned of sharp stones, branches, cones. Remember the rule “you lie as you´ve made your bed”.
- It is wise to pitch the tent with its opening facing the wind. Insects, like flies and mosquitoes, will hide from the wind behind the tent. Besides, this placing will improve the ventilation.
- If possible the shadows from nearby trees, rocks and suchlike, should fall upon the tent in the afternoon. Thanks to this the tent will be warmed by sunrays in the morning, when it´s coolest, and in the afternoon, when it´s warmest, lie in pleasant shade.
- You should not pitch the tent under tall trees, especially with dry branches. Tall trees may attract lightning during thunderstorms, and dry branches can break off and destroy the tent when falling down. Another matter is the birds. Bird droppings are known to have ruined many a tent.
- The fires and latrines should be placed far from the tent, leeward. The smoke and unpleasant odors will thus be prevented from penetrating the tent.
At present, most tents have one or two skins, depending on their kind. One skin tents are usually lighter, whereas two skins provide far better thermal comfort. You should choose ones tent according to its purpose. However, there are some universal rules.
- Both when pitching up, as well as when dismantling the tent, the zippers should be closed. This will enable us to pitch up the tent so that the skins are correctly tightened and there are no problems with zipping and unzipping.
- It is important that the objects inside should not touch the outer skin – otherwise the tent may leak during rain.
- It is worthwhile to fold the tent in different ways to prevent wearing out the folds (especially important with poorer quality fabric).
- The tent should be folded when dry. Should it be impossible for various reasons, it should be spread out and dried at the nearest opportunity. Otherwise we shall have to get used to the characteristic, long lasting smell of mildew.
The Guy rope
Pay attention to correct anchoring and tension of the guy ropes, so that the outer shell should be taut and the structure strong.
- Some good solutions are; elastic bands, (especially important in windy areas)
- Applying “tension loop”, should let even a weaker person tighten the guy ropes – especially applicable with older and slack tents.
- When pitching up the tent upon a stony ground or snow one can apply a so called “deadman”.
- The guy rope should be tied in the middle of the peg and then buried under stones, preferably large ones, or buried in snow (depth min. 50 cm)
- If for various reasons one cannot use pegs or screws, we can bind the guy to a sack, filled with earth, gravel, sand etc.
- Tying the guy to young saplings /strong bushes. It is to be preferred to bind at the height of approx.30-50 cm, which will secure the right tension and grip.
It is seldom a perfect world we find ourselves in, and applying all the above mentioned ” tent tips & tricks ” – is usually impossible, so we have to, according to common sense and perhaps preferring the view to safety, make an optimal choice.
I myself consider the view to be superior to common sense, as with time even the unpleasant surprises are remembered as an unforgettable adventure.
And I wish all of you to have plenty of those. BUSHMEN