Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Sunday, December 25, 2011
Niece: Auntie Em I got you something REALlllly nice. It's gold. The color gold.Auntie Em: I'm sure that I'm going to love it!Niece: Yep. It's sparkly.Auntie Em: Do I wear it around my neck?Niece: Nope. You put them in your ears, but I'm NOT going
to tell you what it is because it's a surprise. You are going tolove them though!
the things God has prepared for those who love him-"
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Tent Materials To Consider For Your Outdoor Adventure
A tent is a key component of your camping supplies as much variety as there is in design and size of tents, there is an equal amount of difference in the quality of tents, and the materials they are built out of. Those materials are directly tied to how long a tent lasts, how well it stands up to a storm, how breathable it is, and in the end, how likely you are to enjoy using it. Spending more on a tent usually results in a better built tent, made out of better materials that will last longer and hold up under extreme conditions. But understanding the differences in the materials that are used can give you insight into what you are getting. Looking at the materials used in the tent poles, tent floor, and canopy and rain fly is a very good place to start.
Tent poles form the skeleton of the tent. As you might expect, a good skeleton is vital for supporting the tent through bad weather. Tent poles are usually made out of aluminum, fiberglass or steel. Aluminum is generally the “premium” material for tent poles. Lightweight and stiff, aluminum tent poles can take a great deal of wind loading without failing, and are lightweight enough for even ultra light backpacking tents.
Fiberglass has long been the go-to material for constructing reasonably priced family camping tents. While they work well and keep the price down on tents, these poles do not hold up as well in high winds. They do, however, have an advantage in terms of reparability. Where it is usually difficult to find replacement pole segments for aluminum poles, fiberglass tent pole repair kits are widely available, and very simple to repair.
Steel tent poles are less common, and generally used for larger tents. They are normally the bulkiest and heaviest choice, but they do work well for making a large tent strong and weatherproof. Finally, the more poles a tent has, generally the better the tent will do in wind and rain. Each pole works as another “bone” in the skeleton, but also adds to the weight and complexity of setup.
Tent floors are another area where materials can provide a lot of insight into how good the quality is for a given model of tent. Between being setup on rocky ground, boots being worn into the tent, and cot usage, tent floors also take a LOT of abuse, making quality critical.
Nylon is a typical choice. Being a tightly woven material, once a polyurethane coating is applied to it, these floors will be lightweight, durable, and highly water resistant. If the weight of nylon is listed, between two models the “heavier” the weight is, the more durable it will typically be. Oxford nylon is also used occasionally, and is typically considered “premium” material.
A lesser choice for the floor is woven polyethylene, often listed simply as polyethylene in descriptions. Polyethylene floors are a much looser woven material, meaning that durability and water resistance are less. While less expensive to build a tent out of, they are also bulkier, and will not last as long.
One final thing to keep in mind is that all tent floors work better when used in conjunction with either a “footprint”, built to fit perfectly on a given model of tent, or a ground sheet. These should be used under the floor of the tent, between it and the ground, to help keep thing like rocks, cactuses and burrs from poking holes in the bottom of your tent.
One final thing to look at is the rainfly of the tent. Here, details become very important. Most tent rainflys are built out of nylon or polyester. Both have advantages, and both are good choices. More important is the thickness of the coating applied to the rainfly. This number is usually represented by a number in millimeters. Rather than reflecting the actual thickness of the coating, this is the height (in millimeters) of a column of water that the coating will stop the pressure of from leaking through. A higher number is “more waterproof”, but anything over 1500mm is very good, and over 3000mm is great. Seam taping, which wasn’t found on all tents just a few years ago, is almost universal today. This detail means that you don’t need to apply seam sealant to the seams on the rainfly, it is waterproof out of the box.
Finally, the size and coverage of a rainfly tells you a lot about the intended usage and weatherproofness of a tent. Tents with a rainfly that covers only the upper 1/3 or 1/2 of the tent are generally not going to be as weather proof in bad weather. Rain will have a better chance of blowing in under the fly. Tents where the rainfly comes down to the ground on two sides are much better, and tents where the rainfly comes down to the ground on all sides are better still. Those “full coverage” rainlflys also generally feature storage vestibules, and tend to be warmer in cold weather.