1. COTS: I recommend you purchase cots that are approximately 18" high. Everyone can put their gear under their cot. Putting gear under the cots keep the center of the tent clear of items. Camping in a cluttered tent is not much fun.
2. DO NOT ALLOW SNOW TO ACCUMULATE ON TENT. Always knock off snow to insure your frame or roof is not damaged. Keep you tent roof tight by adjusting guy ropes. There is no tent or frame than withstand snow load accumulation for long periods of time.
Snow loads. Canvas tents are not designed for heavy snow loads like a wooden structure. Houses have rafters every 2 feet to carry the weight of snow on the roof. If you plan on leaving your tent set up during winter you need to have at a minimum rafters every 2 feet.
Even with tent rafters every 2 feet it is still possible your roof will cave in during heavy snow loads.
Remove snow daily from the roof or every couple of days depending upon snow loads..
You must also have a fly/tarp on your tent. A poly fly allows snow to slide off much more easily than canvas.
The tent and fly must be very tight to prevent snow, rain and ice from collecting in the eave trough.
The trough is the area at the bottom of roof just before the side horizontal tent frame poles.The more water and ice accumulates in the eave trough the deeper the eave trough becomes. Ice and water in the eave trough can collapse a tent.
3. FLOORS: I recommend heavy vinyl floors over canvas or relite. A relite floor is thin and can be punctured easier than a vinyl floor. Put your sod cloth to the inside and put your floor on top of the sod cloth which forces any water under the floor and helps keep insects out. Never use a canvas floor. A canvas waterproof floor will eventually soak up water. Canvas floors will also eventually turn black and mold on bottom and top of the canvas floor.
4. SEWN IN FLOOR: I do not like sewn in floors in canvas tents due to the increased difficulty of setting up a frame while you are inside the tent. It takes 3 people to set up a frame with a sewn in floor. However, under certain circumstances a sewn in floor is recommended, such as :
- Snakes. Certain parts of the country have lots of snakes. The sewn in floor is the only way to help keep a snake out of your tent.
- Mice. At night mice will come inside of your tent for food if you have a loose floor or no floor.. I set 6 mouse traps at night to reduce the mouse problem. However, if you are a light sleepr the mouse traps going off at night might wake up. After a few nights the mice population is under control. Sewn in floor prevents mice coming inside the tent.
- Wife or children that are very concerned about insects, snakes, mice etc. that can come in a tent without a sewn in floor.
- Setting up your tent for long periods of time.
5. TENT STAKES: I prefer to use 5/8" rebar cut 2' long for my corner guy ropes and 18" long rebar for my non corner ropes. I like/recommend longer stakes than normal in order to better secure the tent during high winds. By having longer than necessary stakes you can use one stake for both the tent guy ropes and fly guy ropes thus reducing the total number of stakes required. Most lumber yards will cut your rebar free for your required rebar lengths. I like to have a 3" piece of rebar welded about 1 " from the top forming a "T". Tie the fly guy ropes just below the top "T" of the rebar and the "T" prevents the fly guy rope from slipping off the top. For the tent eave ropes weld another 3" piece of rebar about 6-inches from the top of the rebar. Tie the tent eaves guy ropes to the lower "T". You can also use strong metal concrete stakes.
6. STORING TENT FOR THE WINTER
YOU MUST INSURE YOUR TENT IS TOTALLY DRY , INCLUDING GUY ROPES BEFORE STORING YOUR TENT. Regardless of what type of treatment you have on your tent, I guarantee you will have mildew and rot on your tent if you store the tent when it is damp or wet. If you can't set up a wet tent outside to dry properly, your only option is to hang the tent in a shop or garage. If you don't want to set up a frame, use a rope for a ridge pole and secure the guy ropes to something to pull the roof fairly tight. Leave the garage or shop open if possible to let the wind help dry the tent. Double check to insure your guy ropes are dry if you store them with the tent. Anywhere a wet guy rope touches the tent will cause the canvas to mildew and rot. If you are unfortunate and have mildew or rot on your tent, your tent will never be water resistant in the areas of rot/mildew unless you apply canvak to the dry rot/mildew areas after you clean the area with diluted bleach water. Only apply the bleach water blend to tents on the rotted area as the bleach concentrate will destroy the water/ mildew treatment on any area it is used. If you ever have rot or mold on the roof, I would just bite the bullet and buy a fly to insure your roof doesn't leak when you are hunting or camping.
7. FLY: A fly should rest on the tent ridge and, in non windy areas, have a gap of 3-4 inches at the eave allowing airflow to dry out any moisture on the tent roof. I let my fly lay directly on the roof as I do not want the wind getting underneath the fly and causing a lot of flapping noise. If you let the fly lay on the tent roof you increase the liklihood of mildew forming on your tent roof. Once a week, I raise my fly off the roof to let my roof dry out.
8. STOVE PIPE ABOVE RIDGE OF TENT: It is best to have your stove pipe long enough to extend 6 inches or more above the tent ridge. Having the stove pipe above the tent ridge allows the wind coming from any direction to blow sparks away the tent roof thus reducing the possibilty of spark holes being burnt in the roof.
9. FIRE TREATED CANVAS TENTS VS STOVE SPARKS: Stove sparks will burn holes even in a fire treated roof. A spark arrestor will prevent most sparks from reaching your roof. However, the only 100 per cent method to prevent spark holes in a tent roof is to use a fly to protect the roof.
10. REDUCE SMOKE ODOR IN YOUR HUNTING TENT: To reduce smoke in your tent always open the stove door slowly with the damper wide open. If you open the stove door quickly smoke is drawn into the tent.
11. CREOSOTE BUILD UP IN YOUR STOVE PIPE: The more you damper the stove pipe down or/and reduce the air intake on the stove door the more creosote build up you will have in the stove pipe and spark arrestor. If you get too much creosote in the stove pipe you can possibly have a fire in your stove pipe. When breaking camp, remove the creosote in your stove pipe by gently banging the stove pipes together to loosen the creosote. It is normal to periodically clean the spark arrestor every 2-3 days.
12. DO NOT ALLOW A WATER TROUGH NEAR THE ROOF EAVE. Keep you tent roof tight by adjusting guy ropes to prevent a rain water trough on the roof near the eaves. If there is a water trough near the eaves the canvas will eventually become saturated and a leak is likely. Water in an eave trough will cause the canvas to rot. There is no warranty for canvas rot.
13. STORE YOUR TENT IN A WOOD, PLASTIC OR METAL CONTAINER. Mice like to burrow into canvas tents. Mice will burrow all the way to middle and make a home the winter. As a result, you will require many patches in your tent.
14. PYRAMID TENT: Using a pyramid tent in heavy snow it is best use a rope through the roof opening and tie the rope to a tree limb which will reduce the amount of snow on the tent. Remember, the snow load on a pyramid tent has all the pressure on the pyramid peak.
15. HEAVY SNOWS: To reduce the possibility of frame failure during heavy snow loads it is a good idea to use a lodge pole to support the middle of the ridge.
16. DRYING RACK INSIDE TENT: Tie 2 loops about 8' in diameter 7' apart to your ridge frame. Slide a 8' piece of conduit through the loops. This 8' conduit makes a good drying rack as your stove heat rises to your tent ceiling.
17. STOVE SIZE: Buy a stove 1 size larger than recommended for your tent. You can always put less wood in a large stove if high heat is not required. However, the large stove gives you the capability for much more heat in very cold and wet conditions.