Materials Used - Tents for Camping
The quality of the materials used in the construction of a camping tent is the most important determinant of the tent's overall performance.
Most tents now use nylon or polyester for the tent cloth in either a single wall or a double wall construction. In a single wall tent, one layer has to provide all the functions ie water-proofness, breathability, wind-proofness, durability.
In contrast, a double wall construction has an outer flysheet (providing water-proofness) whilst the inner layer provides breathability and transports moisture to the outer flysheet.
Double wall tents are often heavier than single-walled versions but may offer better breathability with less risk of condensation.
Polyurethane coatings are often applied to the tent fabric to improve water-proofness and durability. An alternative to this is the use of a layering system using laminates (eg Gore-Tex®) to provide water-proofness and durability.
Some materials also incorporate a thicker thread into the fabric weave to prevent small rips growing (known as Ripstop).
The colour of the fabric is important for two reasons. Firstly it will determine the light conditions inside the tent (yellow or orange may be good in gloomy conditions) and secondly it will affect how well the tent stands-out against its surroundings (this may be important if you need to be spotted by the emergency services).
Tent Poles have to provide the structure for the tent so they need to be strong, flexible and durable. The biggest challenge for manufacturers is to maximise the strength whilst minimising the weight of the poles.
The materials used most commonly in tent poles are:
- Carbon fibres - very strong and flexible, used in most high-end, technical tents
- Aluminium alloy tubes - usually in sections joined by elastic cord now often pre-curved, have high strength-to-weight ratio
- Fibreglass - usually requires relatively heavier poles, more often found in cheaper tents.