What is a Vestibule?

It’s a passage or small room attached usually to the outside of a tent door. It can be used for storing wet or extra gear. Vestibules are great for storing gear but can also inhibit airflow if ventilation in the design is not taken into consideration. Vestibules are used on backpacking tents and weekend tents.

What is the Fly?

It’s the outer waterproof covering or top of the tent, designed to protect the breathable inner roof. A fly is always included with dome or non cabin tents (except Single Wall tents).

What is a Gear Loft?

This small mesh hammock or net attaches to loops in the upper interior corners of some tents. It is used for extra storage space for small items or accessories. They can lie flat like a hammock across the top of the tent or can be hung as a pocket along the side wall of a larger family tent. Some hammock types have pockets to help keep gear in its place and to add organization.

What is a Free Standing Tent?

A tent that stands alone without the benefit of stakes or guy lines is said to be self supporting or freestanding. All tents need to be staked or guyed to prevent wind damage, the possibility of being blown away and to provide stability. Also guying out the fly helps ventilation, thereby reducing condensation by allowing more air to circulate under the fly. Most tent companies do not warranty wind damage to a tent.

What is a Non – Free Standing Tent?

A tent that needs stakes and guy points in order to stand is non-freestanding. Many ultralight backpacking tents, as well as larger cabin tents, are non-freestanding. All tents should be fully staked in order to prevent loss and damage as well as to aid in ventilation and condensation reduction.

Do I need to Peg my Tent Down?

Yes you do! Your tent will blow away if you do not stake it down. Putting gear and equipment in the tent will not be sufficient. You must use stakes to hold it to the ground. Tents with damage from rolling around due to high winds are not covered by any warranty. Damage can range from broken poles to holes in the floor, fly and tent body as well as rips and tears.

What are these extra loops on my tent fly ?

Those are guy line loops whose specific purpose is to stabilize the tent in high winds. In windy conditions you want to run 1-3 lines (depending on wind conditions) from the loop to stakes on the ground. They are necessary because even though you have staked your tent to the ground high winds can actually blow the top of the tent over. This can result in broken poles and ripped fabric. The lines will prevent the tent from shifting from side to side and and ease the stresses on the fabric.

Do I need a Groundsheet under my tent?

Yes. A ground cloth prevents the floor from getting rips and holes as well as keeping it cleaner. The groundsheet is not for waterproofing. Remember, a tent floor is waterproof until you put a hole in it. The ground sheet should be 3″ smaller than the tent floor in a backpacking tent and 4-5″ smaller in a family size tent. It is very important that it be smaller than the tent floor so water does not become trapped between the tent and ground sheet. If that happens, the waterproof rating of the floor will be exceeded as you move around the tent or even sleep.

Should I put a groundsheet inside my tent?

No. A ground sheet inside the tent will not protect the floor from rips or holes. In addition, a ground sheet in a tent can damage the tent floor if water or condensation is trapped underneath, by allowing mold or mildew to form. Or, in extreme cases, the urethane coating on nylon floors can delaminate.

What is a better floor – Nylon, Polyethylene or PVC?

For hiking style tents the best material is Nylon as it is light, compact and more durable, long lasting. Woven polyethylene (like tarpaulin material) is a good durable floor material for weekend style or cabin style tents. It is lower cost than Nylon, and with the right coating it will perform well for its intended use. Oxford polyester is a heavy grade polyester material with a PVC coating, often used on higher quality polyester tents. Use of this material makes these tents more expensive than tents with a woven polyethylene floor. PVC is the most durable floor material used for cabin style and commercial style tents. PVC floors can be made without any stitched seams (unlike other floor materials) as the PVC can be heat welded along joins. There are different grades or thicknesses used in these materials for tent floors which has an impact on durability and price.

What is seam sealing and do I have to do it?

When two waterproof materials are joined by stitching, there are thousands of tiny holes that water can and will go through. These holes must be sealed shut with a seam sealer, which can be a wax based or a liquid urethane that is applied to the affected seams. And yes, you must seam seal your tent. Many synthetic tents have a heat sealed coating applied to the seams on the flysheet. However this coating does not stick to canvas tents, so seam sealing is required. It is recommended to seam seal the floor seams of any new tent with a seam sealer.

What seams do I seal on my tent?

As a general rule any waterproof material that is stitched to another waterproof material needs to be sealed if it is not protected by the fly. Any waterproof material sewn to a breathable or permeable fabric need not be sealed because water will go through the permeable fabric anyway so sealing that seam is a waste of time and it is protected by the fly anyway. Some tents have Factory sealed seams usually done with a clear seam tape on the coated side of the fabric. These seams do not need to be sealed. You can seal them if you want on the other side of the seam, but it is generally not necessary. Putting sealer on the tape is not recommended as it won’t stick. Generally, 2 light coats of a water based sealer on both sides of the seam is better than one heavy coat. Here is a list of seams that need to be sealed on most tents. Again if these seams are taped they do not need to be sealed. All main fly seams need to be sealed. Perimeter fly seams can be ignored. On the body of the tent any corner seams, reinforcements or stake loops need to be sealed. Side wall seams where the floor and wall meet need to be sealed unless covered by the fly. Outer seams around windows and doors need to be sealed on the outside. If webbing is attached to the corners, it should be sealed top and bottom unless factory taped. If your tent has a sewn-in floor with an outside perimeter floor seam this seam needs to be sealed on the outside top and bottom all the way around the tent. This seam should not be sealed inside the tent because the seams are not accessible and you will glue the floor and wall together causing damage to the floor and wall. Never seal a seam directly adjacent to a zipper because if you get sealer in a zipper it may impact its performance. Also seal the stitching of any guy rope tabs or Velcro loops on the fly. Remember to follow the directions on whatever brand of seam sealer that you use. Of course, each tent is different in what is sealed and what needs to be sealed. For more info on your specific tent, or if you have any questions please email.


What are the top 5 ways to destroy a tent?

1. Store it damp or wet (mold and mildew).
2. Leave a non-canvas tent in the sun for 3-5 months (ultraviolet light damage).
3. Forget to peg it down (it will blow away).
4. Store food in it (critters will come visit).
5. Lend it to a friend (fool ;).

Should I cook or put a candle inside my tent?

Combustion consumes oxygen and can produce dangerous levels of carbon monoxide, which could lead to serious injury or death. Some tent materials are treated with a fire retardant treatment, however they will still burn if left in contact with a continuous ignition source and so will you.

What is better, clips or sleeves?

Both are good and both have advantages and disadvantages. Sometimes, setting up a tent with clips is easier especially with fiberglass poles as the ferrule (the metal end of the fiberglass pole) can get caught on the sleeves. Clips allow greater air circulation under the fly thereby reducing condensation. Clips can be faster to set up than sleeves, although in high winds some folks believe that continuous sleeves can be a little easier. Sleeves provide a more even distribution of stress on the tent (particularly across the centre arch where you will find many tents have sleeves), although it is rare for a clip to pull out due to wind especially in high-end tents. Continuous sleeves are better than non-continuous sleeves as they are generally easier to set-up. Sleeves do inhibit airflow under the fly. Mesh or vaulted sleeves allow more air to pass than solid sleeves.

What is condensation and how do I prevent it?

Condensation forms when the tent is warmer inside than outside (physics). When people are in a tent it will always be warmer in the tent than outside the tent. Warm bodies heat up the tent and the colder outside air hits the warmer tent wall forming condensation. Also, each person in a tent exhales approximately 1/2 a litre of water each night. If that water cannot evaporate out of the tent through venting it will form on the tent walls and floor. You should leave every window or vent open as much as possible to minimize condensation especially if there are a lot of people in the tent or it is very small. Only close your windows if it is very cold or rain is coming in. Remember, the more ventilation the less condensation!

Should I believe everything I read in a tent catalogue?

No. Don’t believe everything you read especially from a tent company. They have a vested interest in making you believe that their tents are the lightest, strongest and roomiest on the market. Research your purchase. Ask the sales staff any questions you might have, tell them how you intend to use it and in what conditions it is to be used. Tell the sales staff what you want from the tent. Buy the tent that is right for you and not the one that had the catchiest ad campaign or the shiniest new colors. Keep in mind things like weight, size, shape, number of people, the season it is to be used and if it is going to be carried long distances or just set down and left there.

What is the difference between Fibreglass, Aluminium and Spring Steel tent frames ?

Fiberglass poles are less expensive than aluminum poles. They are more likely to break, especially in temperatures below 50 degrees. In order to get the same strength from a fiberglass pole it has to be longer and thicker than an aluminum pole which can be problematic for a backpacking tent. Aluminum poles are lighter than fiberglass, less likely to break, stronger and suitable for cold weather. They are more expensive than fiberglass and work well in any temperature. In backpacking tents, the sections tend to be shorter to make for a small pack size. Aluminum poles are essential for 4 season tents (snow and wind).

For weekend tents, practical cost comparisons and performance, many tents will use fibreglass poles. There are various thicknesses of fibreglass poles on the market. Fibreglass poles can fracture and break in winds above approx. 30km/h. Steel frame structures are the best option for cabin style tents for their added strength and reasonable cost. Spring steel frames are the strongest possible frames available for dome tents. The spring steel offers flex, and because they are not hollow, they can withstand much greater forces than hollow aluminium or fibreglass frames. These frames have been tested to withstand 100km/h winds. These frames are heavier to carry than aluminium poles, therefore are not suitable for hiking tents, but are ideal for car camping tents and semi-permanent tents for commercial use. These frames generally do not require guy ropes for stability like other frames, as they are so much stronger. All tent poles can and will break if the force applying pressure to the structure is greater than it is designed to handle.

What are the season ratings for tents ?

3 Season
Spring, Summer or Autumn. No snow – fiberglass poles. Vents and windows may not close.
3.5 Season
Spring, Summer or Autumn. Cold weather, no snow – aluminum poles. Vents and windows may not close.
Light Duty 4 Season
Spring, Summer, Autumn or Winter. Light snow in a sheltered area – aluminum poles, all vents and windows close.
4 Season
Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. Snow or wind – more aluminum poles, all vents and windows close.
4 Season Expedition
Winter – heavy snow. Anytime anywhere – Arctic, Mt. Everest, Mt. Washington etc – even more aluminum poles, all vents and windows close.

What is a four season tent ?

A tent that can take the forces applied in all four seasons – high winds, heavy rainfall, high heat, and heavy snowfall without collapsing. It must have strong aluminum or spring steel poles. It has the structural integrity to withstand snow loading and high winds (usually this requires extra bracing or cross over poles, especially for aluminium frames). The ability to close all windows and vents to prevent spindrift or blowing snow from getting inside the tent is vital. Some four season tents with aluminium frames are specifically designed for snow conditions, and are not generally recommended for summer conditions because they can lack effective ventilation. Campmor Canvas Dome Tents have been specifically designed for rugged conditions in harsh terrain and ideally suited for use in hot climates.