canvas tents

Canvas Tent Terminology - Understanding

Understanding Tent Terminology

Before you purchase a wall tent it will help to know the definitions of tent terminology in order to compare quality and price of the different wall tents available.
Tent Terminology:
    • Army Duck - Double Fill: The highest quality canvas made. Canvas is made by weaving threads together, crosswise and lengthwise. The Army Duck canvas has 2 threads twisted together making 1 thread. These double twisted threads are woven into the canvas going both crosswise and lengthwise. Twisting 2 threads together into 1 makes Army Duck canvas stronger more durable, and also allows the canvas to breath better. A 10.1 oz Army Duck wall tents are just as strong as a 12 oz Dual Fill.

    • Dual Fill: Two threads are twisted together to make one thread for all threads going only crosswise in the canvas. Threads going lengthwise in the canvas are only single threads. Dual fill does not meet Army Duck manufacturing specifications.

      • Single Fill: Single threads are woven together both crosswise and lengthwise to make the canvas.

      • Untreated Army Duck: Army Duck, like all canvas, is naturally water repellent, but untreated. When you put these wall tents away they must be completely dry or it will mildew and rot. Additionally, all untreated canvas will shrink each time it gets wet. Consequently, you will have to cut your tent frame constantly. Untreated canvas will shrink at least 10%, making your tent 10% smaller! Naturally, untreated army duck is less expensive, but the untreated tent you purchase will become 10% smaller. Therefore the savings is not that significant.Only purchase untreated canvas if you summer camp or you are willing to take the time for its extra care in storing and you can deal with continually cutting down your tent frame. The best frame for untreated canvas is a lodge pole A-Frame so you won't be continually cutting down your expensive internal frame.

      • Blend tent: is available/recommended for individuals who prefer a lightweight tent or pack tent. Canvas roof and relite walls (synthetic material). Saves approximately 40% in weight from standard 10.1 oz wall tents. Blend tents lighter weight makes larger tents much easier to transport, set up and take down. My blend tents are made by Montana Canvas Wall Tents.

    • Reenactor/Rendezvous Tent: Tent made to look like tents made during the Civil War, fur trade, or Revolutionary War. No modern features such as zippers, nylon.

    • Water Mildew Treatments
    • There are 3 different types of water mildew treatment.

    • 1) Marine Grade Boat shrunk (2) Sunforger, (3) Paraffin are the terms used to state the canvas has been treated for water and mildew resistance. Water and mildew treated tents will not normally shrink more than 1-2 %. Water/mildew treatment is worth the extra expense.

    • There is no difference in the quality of these water and mildew treatment. I sell different models of tents with each of the 3 water mildew treatments. After selling thousands of tents, there is no benefit of one water mildew treatment over the other.

    • Paraffin Finish: An exceptionally heavy finish that treats canvas for water, mildew and fire resistance. However, significant weight is added to the tent.
      • Recommendation: Do not purchase untreated canvas then apply a water resistance material like "Thompson's Water Sealer". By applying your own water resistant treatment you plug up the spaces between the threads which will not allow your tent to breathe. Therefore your canvas tent will have condensation inside the tent just like a synthetic material tent such as Relite.

      • Recommendation: Do not purchase wall tents that are not treated for water/mildew as it will shrink 10-15% when it gets wet.

      • Fire Resistant: Meets CPAI 84 fire retardant code. If a tent is not specifically treated for fire resistance it will burn quickly. Fire Resistant canvas will only burn when there is a flame source present on the canvas. When you remove the flame source the wall tent will stop burning. However, there is no wall tent made that will not burn.
        • Recommendation: I strongly recommend you consider fire treatment. The additional expense is worth the peace of mind that your tent will not readily catch on fire. I think it is the same pricile as buying insurance.
        • Recommendation: Do not buy a tent that is not treated for fire resistance and then apply a fire retardant. By applying your own fire resistant treatment you plug up the spaces between the threads which will prevent your tent to breathe. Therefore your canvas tent will have condensation inside the tent just like a synthetic material tent such as Relite.

        • Relite: Synthetic fabric. Tents made of synthetic fabrics don't breathe and may condensate. Using a propane stove or boiling water will cause condensation. A wood burning stove usually helps prevent condensation inside a relite wall tent caused by breathing. Opening a window several inches also prevents condensation. Relite will not shrink 1-3% like canvas and no shrinkage reduction factor is required for an internal frame. Synthetic tents are much lighter for packing but you must determine if the reduced weight is worth condensation inside your tent. Relite is strong as canvas and retains heat inside the tent equal to canvas. However, sparks will burn a hole in Relite much easier than canvas. If you purchase a Relite tent I strongly recommend a fly to protect the Relite tent from sparks.
          • Recommendation: Unless weight is extremely critical, I would recommend a blend tent (canvas roof and relite walls) over and all synthetic tent if you want to reduce tent weight. The canvas roof allows the tent to breathe which reduces condensation and reduces the possibility of a spark hole in the tent roof.
          • Recommendation: If you plan on buying a relite tent I recommend a pellet or wood burning stove. Propane stoves cause condensation. Boiling water also causes condensation.

          • Canvas Weight: Heavier canvas is not necessarily better. Double Fill weave both length wise and crosswise (Army Duck), water/mildew/fire treatment determines the quality of the wall tent - not the canvas weight. I rarely sell a 12 oz canvas tent. Even my outfitter clients do not purchase a 12 0z tent because the 10 oz wall tents are more than adequate.

          • Sod Cloth: Normally a piece of 9 " - 10" vinyl that is sewn to the bottom of all tent walls. The sod cloth acts as an air seal and helps keep the tent clean since the vinyl sod cloth is touching the ground instead of the canvas. Never allow the wall tent canvas touch the ground as it wicks up the water.

          • Eave: Location where roof and side wall meet with a 2"- 4" overhang.

          • Eave Socks: Openings at the end of the eaves that allows connecting a tent internal frame to the porch/awning/cook shack frame.
          • Floor: Can be sewn in, staked, or attached to tent with D-rings.

            • Recommendation:Don't purchase a sewn in floor when using an internal frame as it is extremely difficult to set up unless you have a lot of snakes or bugs or the wife wants a sewn in floor.

            • Recommendation: Always have fireproof material underneath the stove with a 2 foot radius , or cut out/ zippered are floor where stove is located when using a floor.

            • Fly: Water proof material used to cover tent roof. Protects canvas tents from sparks, UV rays, moisture and allows snow to slide off easier. A factory fly has an area cut out for the stove jack and has a flap.

              • Recommendation: Buy a fly to protect your roof from sparks or if you are going to leave your tent set up for extended periods of time. UV rays are very damaging to canvas.

              • Awning: Extension of roof only. Sides and front open. Can be sewn on or extension with 8-12 inch overlap.

              • Porch: Extension of roof and walls of the tent. Front is open. Porch can be sewn to tent or extension with 8-12 inch overlap.
              • Cook Shack/Kitchen: Extension of roof, walls, front enclosed with a door. Cook shack provides a totally enclosed area for storage and cooking. Can be sewn on or extension with 8-12 inch overlap with wall tents.

              • Swedged: A tent frame piece necked down to fit into another tent frame piece or angle.
            Note: Internal frames should be reduced 1 - 2% for new tents to allow for tent canvas shrinkage.