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Winter Camping Discussion > Other Homemade Gear

DIY Canvas tent

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The tipi shape was good for the indians who had to get the smoke out but when you use a chimney the space above at the tipi top has all the hot air that is no good to anybody.
For this reason I like a two man tarp or tent to be,a sit down, no higher than 40".
So a tunnel shape is best in my opinion, the hot air directly above your head radiates.

I think a tarp (canvas or nylon) to be the most adaptable to summer shade or closed in nailed down in a cold storm. The nail holes should be about 3' from the outer edges.

A rectangular tarp does the job without sewing or just sewing the tarp, all the material is put to use. I have sewed every shape of tent and it is a big job to cut and fit.
 There should be no vents in the top, but you do need vents just below eye level when sitting.  I use my chimney as a center pole and then other poles inside the tent. I do not like outside lines.
If the end center poles are the right distance from the ends, these ends come tight across the end, taking up all loose tarp. The ends can be used as entry or nailed tight and a zipper door sewed in the side or end.

I do have stong opinions but I am always trying to learn, I do not mind criticism.

Hi Obio13, I see you love your canvas.

I've been camping in canvas and nylon for the past 50 years, so like you,  I've developed a few ideas on both.

I have a video of an untreated canvas wall tent being totally consumed by fire in 45 seconds and another video of a fire retardant canvas tent going up in 120 seconds along with great amounts of black acrid smoke. I just went outside and tried to light my uncoated rip-stop nylon. It would not stay lit. It had to have a a constant external flame to burn.

Tarps are needed to keep to keep freezing rain and ice off the tent itself. They are also needed to keep large amounts of snow from collapsing the tent.  
As with nylon, Egyptian and other cotton tents also require a tarp in most circumstances.

I can only find one outlet in all of North America for an Egyptian cotton tent and I don't have a thousand dollars to spend on it.  The only fire retardant, water repellent, mildew resistant canvas that I know of is Sunforger which weighs just over 10 ounces per yard. The rip-stop uncoated nylon that I use is just under 2 ounces per yard.  

The only damp nylon tent that I've ever slept in was a small 4 season cold tent but never had a damp nylon wall hot tent.  My present nylon hot-tent is 7'x9' with 3' walls and a 6' peak.

As everyone can see, the two of us could probably debate the pros and cons of each fabric for ever. So I think we should "agree to disagree" and consider it personal preference.

cheers Ted

I am about 90% done making my first homemade tent.  It has not been field tested, and I am not yet qualified to enter into the canvas/nylon debate, but I will offer up a few opinions on other matters.

1. I found that sewing the tent was much easier than other smaller sewing projects (bike panniers, tool bags, etc) I have tackled.  Having adequate space to layout the panels of the tent is important.

2.  The most tedious part of the sewing is the second row of stiches on the a lap felled seams.

3.  Think ahead when sewing up your tent, try to do as much as you can before joining large panels, it gets more awkward to sew as the panels are joined together. 

4.  I'm making a hot tent just see if these things are really as comfortable as the conventional wisdom claims. ;)   I've done it on a budget as a 'proof of concept' project.  The materials I'm using may not be the best, I only put US$60 into the canvas and nylon material.  In my case, the nylon is not breathable, I intend to use a poly tarp for a fly.  I'm curious to compare the performance of the canvas portion of the tent to the nylon.

I've cold tented a bit, and know all about frost build up on 'breathable nylon'.

5.  Along the lines of low cost,  and probably car camping, I'm using electrical conduit for the poles.  (3/4" Conduit with a 8' long ridge)

6.  PVC:  It might be OK for short pickets (<24") sewn into the corners of a pyramid tent, but I don't think it would be adequate for a long ridge pole,  unless you went with Schedule 80 in fairly large diameter.  To get a feel for the relative stiffness of the different materials, go to your home improvement store and pick up 10' lengths of pipe, put one end on the floor and try flexing them.

Below is what it looks like so far, I probably have about 20 hours in the fabric layout, cutting and sewing.


--- Quote from: Evan on December 23, 2009, 12:32:17 AM ---What level of difficulty is involved in making a canvas tent? Can I use pvc poles?

I was thinking wedge or tepee style, any suggestions?

--- End quote ---
As I said in my former post I do not favor the tipi shape

8'x15' nylon tarp weighs 5lbs. Stove/chimney2lbs.

Hi Chimpac

I for one would love to try your supporting chimney idea but without further information on how they are made it is out of the question for me. Are you planning on marketing them or something?



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