• Back Packing Tents
  • Family Dome Tents
  • Cabin Style Tents
  • Touring Tents
  • Trailer Mounted Tents
  • Roof Top Tents
  • Tarpaulins
  • Tent Maintenance
  • Mildew
  • Back Packing Tents
Photo:  Graur Razvan Ionut  Source: Free Digital Photos

Photo: Graur Razvan Ionut   Source: Free Digital Photos

Back Packing Tents

Tents that are used for back packing or bush walking are required to be a lightweight and designed to be carried in a backpack by the bush walkers. These tents do not have a lot of room, just enough to sleep. They are usually designed for either for one or two persons with the weight being a big consideration. The rule of thumb is 1kg to 1.5kg per person. The tent consists of a Nylon fly with a breathable inner, poly floor with a fibre-glass or alloy pole system. The more expensive have oxford nylon floor with the alloy poles.
There was also the older conventional style of hike tent being the “A” frame type. These have just about disappeared off the market and been replaced by the dome style tent but there is a lot still out there being used. Some of the expedition “A” frame type tents are still available from manufactures like Vango and Eureka and Southern Cross Canvas, but these have a high price tag. There are various designs available to fill consumers’ requirements in the lightweight hike tents and usually the price indicates the quality of the product. One thing to watch and that is some tents you pay for the brand.

Family Dome Tents

Dome type tents have gained in popularity since the 1990′s with the larger domes available being considered by families. Because of their compact nature, campers that have a limited space in their vehicle, can usually find enough space to fit a three metre by three metre tent which is 1.83 metre in height that weighs only about 10kg to 12kg. This type of tent would take up only a portion of the space that a cabin style tent would occupy. They are usually easy to erect and self-standing, usually manufactured of polyester nylon with a poly floor and supported by fibreglass pole system. When looking at this type of tent, remember it is only a lightweight construction, and care needs to be observed when using, and is not recommended for consistent use on a long trip. Another type of tent could be more suitable, so chose carefully.

Cabin Style Tents

Cabin style tents are the larger types of tents for family camping. This type of tent is mainly used for extended stays in the one spot rather than for touring, as they take some effort to erect. They are available in a variety of sizes and quality. It usually requires at least two people to erect this type of tent because of the design of the frame. These tents are available with one or two room with an awning out the front, with the usual option of being able to enclose the front awning and making into another usable room. This is called the sunroom.
The normal sizes for tents of this type are 10′ x 8′, 12′ x 9′, 13′ x 10′, 15 x 12′ and for those wanting plenty of room there is also available an 18′ x 12′. There are also tents larger than this available. If you would like to get away for a weekend now and again and don’t mind putting up a large two-room tent that’s ok by me but here is an option to think about.

You have a family of say two or three children and to have every one sleeping the same area can sometimes be awkward especially when mum is trying to get changed and one of the kids barge in with some new found friends, got the picture. An option would be to have two smaller tents, say 10′ x 8′ or 12′ x 9′ tents erected with the awnings facing so that they can be joined. This gives a breezeway and an area that can be enclosed if you so desire for setting up the kitchen etc. Mum has her privacy and the kids have their own tent. For a weekend away only one tent needs to be taken where for the extended stay, then the two can be erected. Depending on the size of the tent the packed up size can be quite bulky and of considerable weight. A 15′ x 12′ two room tent weighs approx 45/50kg.

Touring Tents

Touring tents are for the campers who are on the move, here today, there tomorrow and somewhere else the next day. With extended trips that could last a number of weeks, this can mean a lot of wear and tear on a tent. With this in mind, a tent that is going to do this type of service has to have a number of special features other types of tents mentioned before don’t have. It has to be tough and it also has to be easy to erect otherwise it is likely to become a chore setting up camp every night.
Some of the touring tents on the market are of better design and materials than others, some have poly floor with the better ones having reinforced vinyl floor. This material can be patched in a number of ways that is successful where the poly floor can be patched, but not with permanent success like PVC based materials although there are some very good products available that we sell that can be classed as permanent.

There are a number of tents on the market that could be recommended.

The one that every one tries to copy is the Southern Cross Touring tents. These tents are made in Australia from Australian material for Aust. Conditions. These are available in a number of sizes. The most popular being the 9′x 9′, 10′ x 10′, and 10′ x 13′ configuration in 10oz canvas as well as their double enders. The floor is a reinforced vinyl and awnings are available.

For a good tourer at a budget price Outdoor Connection have a range that has its own awning and are well priced that and have features others on the market don’t have. They have been designed for the Queensland market being a company based in the north. They have given a lot of thought to the ventilation side of things and they done it properly. A lot of thought has been put into the design and as a result come up with a very practical tent. They are worth while looking at if you are in that market.

Just remember any canvas tent has to be bone dry before you store it otherwise you could find the smell of mushrooms when you go to use it the next time. Mildew will actually rot the tent and take the strength out of the canvas and you can just push your finger through the material. This is how mildew affects canvas so be warned. If you come home after a trip with a wet tent, don’t just leave it and say you will put it up when the weather clears because that could be in a week or so. The tent will not get mildew into it if you put the tent up, and when the weather is favorable then dry the tent.

One thing that can be done, if you have a garage or carport big enough is to hang the tent up. By getting the air through it, no mildew will form and it will dry to some extent and when the sun comes out, then cook the tent so it is 100% dry.

Trailer Mounted Tents

Over the last decade tents mounted on trailers have gained popularity. This market has grown and there are now all types to choose from. If you own a trailer, then you can purchase a pack that will just bolt onto it. On the other hand a complete ensemble can be purchased. If you are into four wheel driving then an off road trailer unit is available with the same tires as your vehicle. There are ones available that are what is called true track – as these follow the tracks of the towing vehicle. There are units available with built in kitchens, racks for the fuel jerry cans, water tanks built in, storage cabinets and so the list goes on. If you can’t find one to suit, you haven’t been to the shows.
There are a variety of setups from the basic to some that are now multi – room. All have one feature and that is a double bed mattress on top of the trailer.

Some are easier to set up than others, and it means that you can leave all you camping equipment stored in the trailer for the next weekend away. All that has to be done is the food shopping -kids into the car, hook on the trailer and you are off. On arrival at location, most are quick to set up and you are set for the weekend of camping, fishing etc.

Roof Top Tents

Roof top tents are another type of accommodation and are great for people on the move as they only take a couple of minutes to set up. There are a number of different configurations available which are similar to the camping pack available for trailers.
The original ShippShape Tent, designed by Doctor Shipp in 1985 has stood the test of time and thousands have been sold in Australia and overseas. These were a side fold out unit and a room could be added. They have now been copied by so many manufactures and also the Chinese.

They are very quick to set up and to pack up. The beauty with this type of accommodation is that your bed is up off the ground on top of your vehicle. One problem with this type of camp set up is if you want to go anywhere and do a bit of sight seeing or shopping, its pack up time as everything is attached to your vehicle.


When camping in most cases you don’t spend a lot of time in the tent. You only use the tent for getting changed and to sleep in. With this in mind you also want to keep out of the elements, be it rain or sun. One way of doing this is to erect a tarp. Walk through any camping ground and you will see dozen of ways campers go about utilizing a sheet of plastic to keep out of the elements. All that is required is a bit of imagination, a tarp, poles, ropes and pegs and you now have a utility area. This area is where you can set up the kitchen, tables and can also be used as an entrainment area where you can sit. The main thing is you have a roof over your head and will make your camping experience.

When erecting a tarp, the easiest way is to lay the tarp out on the ground with the poles in their location with the ropes laid out and pegged in the ground ready for erection. Your ropes should all have springs on them and for the corners have a double or two ropes. The corner ropes are done having them at right angles. You can adjust the tarp once erected a lot easier rather than having just one rope.

Once the lay out is done and the ropes are pegged down, poles in position, have one corner fixed, either to a vehicle or even peg a corner to the ground. Then go to the diagonal corner and put the pole in position with the ropes holding it. It doesn’t need to be extended at this time as the adjustment can be done later once the tarp is standing. Now work your way from that corner putting the poles up. Once you have three of the corners standing the fixed corner can be released and complete the erecting.

Tent Maintenance

One of the main thing to remember is that now that you have the equipment to go camping, it must be looked after. If you don’t, the next time that you intend to go camping and pull the equipment out, disaster could have crept up without you knowing until it is too late. At this stage I am going to advise you, do not to lend your equipment to anyone. I have seen and had to repair tents that were loaned to so called friends or relatives and been returned with damage done and nothing said. There is also the very familiar statement given on the return of the equipment, “Oh yes, the tent has been cleaned and is bone dry”. If you have been fool hardy and lent your equipment, Do not take their word for they are not going to worry if you don’t check it. Pull the tent out and check it, because if you don’t, when pulled out six months later and you open the top of the bag and it smells like mushrooms, you then know that you should have checked it, for now it has the dreaded lurgy – mildew. I could keep going with these disaster stories but I think you get the drift. If you are approached to lend your equipment just say, ‘I think I’m using it that week end’ and suggest that if they really need a tent for that weekend had they thought of buying one or hiring it. (Hint hint)

Tents, no matter what type, must be 100% bone dry before putting away in storage. With all our hire tents, on return, we sun them for a number of hours to get all the moisture out of the material. If on return from camping, the tent is wet, don’t leave it in its bag, get it out and hang it in the car port or garage and let the air get through it, or put it up in the garden. It is surprising how dry you can get them this way. While they have air-circulating mildew won’t start.


If by chance your tent does get mildew into it do not use soap or detergent to have a go at removing it. There are special chemicals that are used to remove the mildew if it has not gone too far. Soap and detergents are wetting agents and once into the fabric are very hard to remove and the reproofing process has a tendency of not sealing the material. If you have a problem with mildew consult a professional camping store that know what they are doing in this area otherwise the problem could get worse.

I have also writen the article titled Mildew – The Curse of the Camper (PDF printable guide) on this problem because of all the wet weather we have been having and equipment having to be packed up still damp. This article explains why mildew occurs and prevention. I hope this will assist you if the problem arises after all prevention is better than cure

Cleaning of tent

Dirt or other substances like bird droppings should be removed as soon as possible as these are deleterious to the tent. Don’t use any detergent or soap of any description on tents as detergent or soap are wetting agents and could cause leakage. Use a soft brush around the bottom of the tent to remove grass, sand and dirt before you pull it down. Bird droppings can be lightly scraped off and washed with just water and a soft brush. Before pulling down the tent, sweep out the tent thoroughly, for it is a lot easier to clean while the tent is up. It also means that next time you go camping it will be clean. A dustpan and brush has been included in the kitchen equipment list. I have seen the results where a small amount of food was left in a rolled up tent and a rat burrowed through six layers of canvas to get to it.

Another little tip is to put a tarp down under the tent before you put it up. By doing this, the tent floor stays clean, you have a clean surface to fold your tent up on and it is a lot easier to clean off a tarp than a tent floor of decaying grass, mud or sand etc.
©Harry Cramer 2011