Have you ever wondered what are tents made of? When you come to think of it, it is really fascinating how a tent can make us feel at ease even if we are sleeping in the middle of a scary forest. Add to that the risk of your campfire attracting wild animals.
Yet, just like in movies, a foolproof way to stay safe while out in the wilderness and when presented with dangerous situations is to stay in the tent. For this reason, we can’t help but wonder that tents are possibly made of such strong materials. After all, they can withstand the harsh conditions of the wild.
What Are Tents Made Of?
Knowing what kind of fabric a certain tent is made of lets you know how durable it is, whether it is waterproof and windproof, and if it has special features. Similarly, learning about what the poles are made of is also very important so that you know if it can survive the conditions you intend to put it under.
What About Poles?
Now, you might be surprised why we are talking about poles when the majority of the tent is all about the covering material. Well, the truth of the matter is that the poles play a huge part too. In fact, they are the ones that hold the fabric together.
Tent poles are rather peculiar because, in order to support the shape of the tent, they have to be sturdy yet flexible too. There are two types of poles in general. The most common type is made of aluminum, while the other ones are fiberglass.
Aluminum tent poles are very strong despite being lightweight in nature, making them an ideal material for use in various camping gear. However, they are rather expensive and corrodes easily.
On the other hand, fiberglass tent poles are cheaper and not just corrosion-resistant but also rust-proof. The downside to using this kind of tent pole, though, is that they are not as strong nor are they as resilient as aluminum tent poles.
The Different Fabrics
The other main component of tents is the fabric that acts as the covering material. Literally, this is the only thing that stands between you and the wilderness. Hence, it is important to know what it is made of as well as the features and functionalities that it offers. The four most common fabric type used in tents are nylon, cotton, polyester, and polycotton.
Among the fabric types used in tents, nylon is usually the fabric of choice because of how durable and lightweight it is. However, most nylon tents are not readily waterproof, requiring you to apply a sealant on it to protect you from the rains. By default, untreated nylon fabric is water-resistant, but it is not waterproof. If you need a waterproofed tent, then you would need to treat the nylon fabric with polyurethane.
Camping tents made of nylon fabric are usually used for small or huge tents but rarely on middle-sized tents. They are the ideal tent fabric for campers who wish to have a camping tent that does not require too much maintenance.
A heavier-duty type of nylon fabric, called ripstop nylon, is also used on tents. This features added fiber that is woven to the already existing fibers. As a result, you get a stronger and more durable tent. The downside, however, is that it weighs heavier than regular nylon fabric.
This is probably the weakest fabric in this list in terms of waterproofing. However, if you are going to go camping in hot and humid weather, a cotton tent is your best friend. Actually, it can provide warmth on cool days too.
However, it is not advisable to be used on rainy days. The solution is to weather-proof it, but it still would not guarantee that there won’t be any leaking. This fabric type is also the heaviest compared to the other fabrics on this list.
Its biggest selling point, though, is the fact that it is breathable—so much so that ventilation inside the tent won’t be a problem.
Camping tents made of polyester are actually the ones that come multiple layers of different coating. The trick is to find one that offers breathability, which means that the air should conveniently pass through the tent without trapping any moisture inside.
In a sense, this fabric is just like nylon. However, polyester is more durable. Nevertheless, it is the fabric of choice for three-season and four-season camping tents because it can hold its own against extreme rays of the sun. In addition, it does not become too baggy when it gets wet. These qualities make polyester the go-to fabric when you plan on camping for a long time.
As its name suggests, polycotton is a hybrid between polyester and cotton. Basically, the base of this kind of fabric is made of cotton, but there are polyester woven into it too. Now, you might think that that’s a good thing, but it is not always the case.
Along with the combination of the two fabrics are their disadvantages too. These include issues with weight, maintenance, and leaking. However, the winning point is the fact that it is more resistant to any type of tearing. It can also resist mildew.
What Is the Best Tent Fabric?
As you may have already realized, each of these fabric types serves different purposes in varying situations. As such, there really is no best tent fabric. In the end, you just have to choose accordingly based on the preconceived conditions of your camping trip.
If you need a tent where you can cool off and breathe easily, then you should go for either cotton or polycotton. During the winter season, though, polyester tents are recommended. On the other hand, if you are going on a short trip and need a comfortable tent to sleep in, then you should go for nylon.
Additionally, you can also gauge what kind of tent is best for you based on their additional features, such as storage for gears, light strips, flaps, and more. Furthermore, you should also take a look at how easy or difficult it is to pitch that certain tent. Usually, cotton tents are the hardest to set up.
Those are the four most common fabric types used for camping tents. It is up to you to decide which one is best suited to your particular needs and preferences. Do take note, though, that the material of the pole is also dependent on the type of fabric used on the tent. This is because the fabric should not be consistently tugging at the pole that the latter loses its shape.
Our website author Tom is a devoted outdoor enthusiast and active blogger who has a profound love for the great outdoors, especially camping and kayaking.
This passion for the outdoors combined with studying an MSc. in Product Design, and working as a Product Engineer gives him the perfect combination of experience and expertise to help guide you on the best camping and kayaking gear.
Tom aims to inspire other travellers to appreciate nature’s beauty by sharing their experiences, wisdom, and intriguing stories in engrossing blog articles. He believes in working to promote respect for and preservation of our priceless landscapes out of a dedication to environmental stewardship.
Join Tom on their quest to find undiscovered treasures, exchange helpful advice, and arouse awe for the vast outdoors.