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Tenting It: Why Canvas?

Jun 17, 2008
Tenting has changed over the last decade. Canvas once prevailed as the fabric of choice for tent construction. Over the years, though, new technology introduced the use of other materials in tent-making. Nylon is popular today, along with polaris, gala and realite. Each material has unique qualities and may serve well under various conditions. However, many die-hard campers still swear by canvas tents. Here are a few of the reasons why:

* They're strong. Canvas, which can hold up against the wildest of circus elephants, is also ideal for use in camping tents. It's perfect for the hunter who spends days in the wild. It can take all of the abuse that nature throws its way. It will withstand wind, thunderstorms and even hail. Even curious forest creatures will have trouble penetrating a canvas tent.

* They're durable. The average life of a nylon camping tent is about three to five years, depending on frequency of use. By contrast, a canvas tent may last 10 years or more.

* They're breathable. Canvas is made from cotton. Unlike other common materials used in tent manufacturing, cotton breathes. Nylon, polyester and other fabrics do not allow air to pass through easily. This can create a sauna-like atmosphere inside tents made from these materials. By contrast, canvas allows for the exchange of air between the interior and exterior of the structure.

Canvas is so durable that it is also used in the construction of some semi-permanent structures. Canvas covers are frequently used over traditional cement foundations and wooden frames. These "cabents" last for decades and provide a way to maintain low-cost housing. In poor countries where extreme weather variations are rare, canvas or part-canvas homes are the norm. They stand up well to moderate weather conditions and are a cost-effective alternative to bricks and mortar.

When choosing a canvas tent, look for the following features. They will ensure that your canvas tent will get years of use:

* Strong seams. A canvas tent is only as strong as its seams. Make sure they are double-stitched. Not only does this create a more streamlined seam, it adds an extra barrier against separating and tearing.

* Durable zippers. Often the first thing to go on any camping tent is the zipper. Make sure that zippers are top-quality. Nylon zippers with large teeth that can be zipped up and down easily are ideal. Zippers should be securely sewn into the fabric.

* Durable flaps. Inspect door and window flaps closely. Flaps should have strong mechanisms with which they can be secured, whether opened or closed. Toggle-style flaps should be securely fastened to the canvas in order to withstand pressure from inclement weather. Flap zippers should be strong and durable.

* Weatherproofing. As already mentioned, canvas holds up very well under many weather extremes. Do you expect that you'll be using your tent in very rainy conditions? In these situations, extra weatherproofing may be necessary. It may need to be treated with a rainproof coating. Another option is to purchase a tarpaulin that can be hung or draped over top of the entire structure to keep rain out.

Canvas tents come in a variety of sizes and styles, with many options for features. This makes it easy to find one that perfectly suits any need and any use.
About the Author
Warren L. Smith offers a fountain of information on Camping, such as Camping Tips, Family Fun, Hunting, Fishing, Tents, Equipment, and Wilderness Tips. For the best, up to date information, go to: http://www.CampingBreak.com
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