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Camping Tent Materials: Poles, Covers, Fabric of Hiking Tents

In the previous sections, we took a look at Tent Types & Classifications and Tent Characteristics. In this section, we are going to take a closer look at the materials used in Hiking Tents. The main parts of any Tent are the Tent Poles and the Tent Cover or Canvas. In this section, we will look at the Tent Materials and their features.

Camping Tent Pole Materials

Poles form the skeletal structure of the Hiking Tent and they have to be
strong, bendable, and durable. To decrease your load, manufacturers are constantly researching ways to decrease pole weight while keeping the strength, flexibility, and durability.

These are some of the most common materials used in Tent Poles:
Tent Pole Materials
  • Carbon Fiber
    This material is often used for Fishing Rods and is very strong and flexible. Carbon fibers are used in more expensive technical Tents and form the future of Tent poles.

  • Aluminum-alloy tubing
    Nowadays, almost all Tent poles are made of aluminum-alloy tubing. Most poles consist of multiple sections that are joined through elastic shock cord. Aluminum is very vulnerable to corrosion which is why almost all aluminum-alloy Tent poles are anodized. This gives them a thin protective coating. Many poles are pre-curved to decrease the chance of breaking a pole while making the curve.

  • Fiberglass
    This is used to be the preferred material for Tent poles until they were replaced by aluminium-alloy tubing. Fiberglass is less strong so thicker and heavier poles are required to achieve the same strength. Cheaper Tents still use fiberglass poles.

Tent Fabrics, Tent Materials & Tent Construction

Tent Fabrics, Tent Materials & Tent Construction The actual Tent cloth or canvas has to protect you from the wind and the rain while remaining breathable. The earliest materials used were leather and cotton. Nowadays, almost all Tents are made out of nylon or polyester taffeta. Most camping tents fall under the following categories:
  • Single Wall Constructions: only have single layer of Tent cover. This single cover has to take care of all the needed functionalities: water and wind resistance, durability, breathability, etc.
  • Double Wall Constructions: have an outer fly sheet

    and an inner Tent. The fly sheet is waterproof and the inner Tent is breathable and transports moisture to the outer fly sheet.
Tent Fabrics can have the following characteristics:
  • Denier (d): measures the weight of fabric in grams per 1000-meter length. So for instance, 60d signifies a weight of 60 grams per 1000 meter of the thread used in the fabric. Lightweight fabrics would be about 50d.
  • Water resistance (psi): measures the weight of water that can exert pressure on a square inch of the fabric without leaking. It is measured in pounds per square inch (psi). A good fly sheet would be 80psi.
  • Color: the fabric color will determine what light conditions are inside the Tent and how well your Tent stands out against the surroundings.
Some common Features of tent covers:
  • Polyurethane Coating: This is coating applied on the tent fabric to make it more durable and waterproof. Multiple number of coatings or 'passes' determine the added protection but at the cost of extra weight.
  • Waterproof/breathable laminates: Tent cover uses a layering system of different materials to form a strong and waterproof but breathable fabric. Common laminates are GoreTex, ToddText, Klimate, and MemBrain.
  • Ripstop: This is a polyester taffeta with thicker threads weaved into the material at regular intervals. Thicker threads will prevent small rips in the Tent to get worse.
  • Clear Film: This is a see through material often used for windows and skylights.
  • Single-needle Stitching Seams: These are seams with a single line of stitches.
  • Double-needle Stitching Seams: These are seams with a double line of stitches, stronger than single stitching.
  • Shed Seam: This forms a gully capable of transporting Tent down the Tent.

Connecting the Tent to the Pole Skeleton

Connecting the Tent to the Pole Skeleton There are roughly two ways the Tent shell can be connected to the skeleton structure:
  • Sleeves
    Sleeves in the Tent allow you to run the poles through them. This method is very solid but in windy and/or rainy conditions, it can be difficult to run the poles through the sleeves.
  • Clips
    The Tent has clips that easily connect to the poles.
    This method makes it easier to set up your Tent but offers less strength than full length sleeves.
  • Many Tents have a combination of sleeves and clips to combine the advantages of both.

Grab your sleeping bags. Now that you know all about the Tent Types & Classifications, Tent Characteristics, and the possible Tent Poles and Tent Cover Materials, you are now armed to go out and find the Tent and tent accessories that are perfect for your intended purposes. Our Tent Buying Guide will combine all you need to know about Buying a Tent.

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Article Comments
Randy Atkins
Tuesday 9th December 2008 at 8:49:16 AM  

I have a small camper made by Travelite that I pull behind a motorcycle. I am looking for some material to replace all the walls with. The vinylized roof is still in very good shape. It probably would not take more than 12 square yards. Do you have any suggestions on the best material and what is the price and availability?
Your assistance is appreciated.

Sunday 17th May 2009 at 4:15:12 PM  

great side, but where can I buy the tent material?? Any of you know? I would be greatful if you could inform me if so.
thanks Rose

Monday 18th May 2009 at 2:53:01 AM  

try the ones they have here: http://www.abc-of-hiking.com/shop/camping-gear-equipment.asp

Wednesday 6th October 2010 at 4:00:02 AM  

a gully capable of transporting Tent down the Tent???

Wednesday 6th October 2010 at 10:00:27 AM  

i have a double thred 5000 stich white castle eoropean tent for sale

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