Tent tips & tricks
A bit of history
It all began in the Lower Paleolithic period, or about 380,000 years ago. Man led a herd-like, hunter-gatherer life and used the simplest tools: a stick, stone and fire (and their combinations) to shape the space around him.
By the way, he discovered that it was possible to arrange broken branches in such a way that the space created under them gave protection from rain and cold wind. He began to build shelters.
This is how the foundations of our civilization were born.
Tent practical advice – Terra amata hut
People from the period of the Ashkelian culture built light shelters from poles and branches, additionally reinforced with stones at the bottom. The whole structure was arranged on an oval plan. The first traces of such organized camps in Europe come from Terra Amata.
The second significant step in the development of consciously built shelter comes from a period more than 200 thousand years later.
A hut near the cave at Lazaret (c. 160,000 years ago) is already covered with skins of fur-bearing animals. The use of hides greatly improved the tightness and thermals of a shelter made in this way.
With the end of the glacial period (Magdalenian culture – about 18 thousand years ago) organized hunting for reindeer herds begins, and with it the necessity of efficient transfer of the camp.
The tents are covered with skins and resemble Indian tepees in construction.
This is probably where the proper career of the tent – a waterproof portable shelter – makes its debut.
Years passed, whole centuries, and the waterproof “material” stretched on a possibly light and strong frame is still widely used – from refugee camps in Palestine to luxurious camping sites in Norway.
Some (wild?) part of human nature still aspires to use the original, natural shelter of the tent.
Modern designs vary depending on the purpose and the constant development of technological innovations. However, there are still a few important guidelines when pitching a tent:
Tent tips & tricks
It is a good idea to get a tent that is designed for more people than the actual number of occupants. This provides far more comfort and space for people and equipment inside the tent, while the weight of the tent will only increase slightly thanks to current technology.
You can also choose one that simply has additional luggage space – then the size and weight of the tent will definitely be (all)right.
Setting up a tent before a trip “dry”, e.g. at home, in the garden, etc., allows you to check whether the equipment is complete and gives you a chance to get to know the specifics of a given model. Thanks to that, later in the field, we will save a lot of time and avoid most of the mistakes when setting up the structure.
Usually we are guided by the best possible view that stretches around the camping site. And rightly so. However, it is also good to pay attention to a number of other things, so that in the morning the impressions are no less pleasant than in the evening.
- Place the tent on a hill (even if only a small one) – this prevents the tent from being washed away by water (e.g. flood).
- It is advisable not to put up the tent in the path of animals (even such small insects as ants) or directly at a watering hole.
Unexpected visits by animals are not always pleasant.
- The place for the tent should be as flat as possible (and on a hill), cleared of sharp stones, branches, cones, etc., according to the principle: as you make your bed, so shall you sleep.
- It is wise to set up the tent with its front (entrance) to the wind. Insects will hide from the wind on the leeward side of the tent. Another equally important reason is to improve ventilation in the tent.
- If possible, shade from surrounding trees, rocks, etc. should fall on the tent in the afternoon. This way, in the morning when it is cool the tent will be warmed by the sun’s rays and in the afternoon the shade will provide a pleasant chill.
- Do not pitch your tent directly under tall trees, especially those with withered branches. Tall trees can “attract” lightning during storms, and dry branches can break off in strong winds and destroy the tent. And let’s not forget about the feathered inhabitants of trees. Bird droppings have destroyed the shell of many a tent.
- Fireplace and toilet should be located away from the tent – never on the windward side. This will prevent smoke and unpleasant smells from blowing inside your tent.
At present, most tents have one or two skins, depending on their kind. One skin tents are usually lighter, whereas two skins provide far better thermal comfort. You should choose ones tent according to its purpose. However, there are some universal rules.
- Both when pitching up, as well as when dismantling the tent, the zippers should be closed. This will enable us to pitch up the tent so that the skins are correctly tightened and there are no problems with zipping and unzipping.
- It is important that the objects inside should not touch the outer skin – otherwise the tent may leak during rain.
- It is worthwhile to fold the tent in different ways to prevent wearing out the folds (especially important with poorer quality fabric).
- The tent should be folded when dry. Should it be impossible for various reasons, it should be spread out and dried at the nearest opportunity. Otherwise we shall have to get used to the characteristic, long lasting smell of mildew.
The Guy rope
Pay attention to correct anchoring and tension of the guy ropes, so that the outer shell should be taut and the structure strong.
- Some good solutions are; elastic bands, (especially important in windy areas)
- Applying “tension loop”, should let even a weaker person tighten the guy ropes – especially applicable with older and slack tents.
- When pitching up the tent upon a stony ground or snow one can apply a so called “deadman”.
- The guy rope should be tied in the middle of the peg and then buried under stones, preferably large ones, or buried in snow (depth min. 50 cm)
- If for various reasons one cannot use pegs or screws, we can bind the guy to a sack, filled with earth, gravel, sand etc.
- Tying the guy to young saplings /strong bushes. It is to be preferred to bind at the height of approx.30-50 cm, which will secure the right tension and grip.
All of the above recommendations should be taken into account, although it may be difficult to remember them all at the beginning, or conditions in the field (e.g. beautiful views ;)) will not allow it. However, treating the above advice selectively it is recommended to make the best possible choice.
Personally, I think that sometimes views are much more important than reason, and adversities are often the beginning of an unforgettable adventure. ;-)
So I wish you lots of good views for unforgettable adventures.
Traveler, businessman, bushman