Will my tent be ruined?

Ideas, advice, tips, and tricks regarding shelter, shade, tents, and camping. Yes, this includes RV's too.

Will my tent be ruined?

Postby iridachae » Mon Jan 09, 2012 3:49 pm

Hi all!

I'm going to Burning Man (fingers crossed!), and it'll be my first year. So, here's the question. I've been told can use the family tent for any camping I want to do. It's a nice, 6 person Coleman. We're had it for years, it's sturdy, and in very good shape. But I really think my mother meant I can use it for normal camping. How badly do tents suffer due to the dust? Will the tent be a write-off for anything other than Burning Man? Also, I've gone to a few festivals before, nothing like Burning Man and nothing in such harsh conditions, but... how much damage is there to tents and shade structrures due to drunk people? Several people fell on my (cheaply made) one-person tent at the local festival here and broke it completely. I really don't fancy replacing this tent.

Should I chance it? Or should I buy another cheap tent and risk it not lasting very long? I'm absolutely loathe to spend more money than I have to and I dislike buying cheaply made camping gear, but it'd cost me more in the long run if I come back with a broken tent. Any advice, ePlayans?
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Re: Will my tent be ruined?

Postby Savannah » Mon Jan 09, 2012 4:15 pm

I have not observed a whole lot of drunken people falling on tents. Or any, actually. I've heard precisely one tale of it happening, secondhand between friends, but it's not something that one should generally expect. Burning Man does not support a culture of tent-vandalization. *grin*

Illuminating your guy lines with light strings, glow bracelets, solar lights, etc--and leaving a bit of walking space between tents, but not such huge holes in your camp that people constantly cut through--goes a long way toward avoiding accidents. So does topping your rebar with plastic pop bottles, tennis balls, or Barbie doll heads. If you don't cushion your rebar, well--I'll meet you in the med tent. :)

No one can promise you that the tent will come home unscathed. I would say . . . talk to your mother and find out how great the sentimental value is (if there's any). If it's sturdy and you use 10 inch stakes or rebar, here's a pretty good chance it'll come home just fine, if very dusty. Whether you'll want to wash it or just keep it for playa use (or both) is up to you. I used one cheap dome tent for the years 2000, 2001, 2003 and 2008. I treated myself to a new $120 tent for 2009, and used it in 2010, 2011 and will use it again in 2012. I don't have a yard, so I don't bother washing them.

If you can stand up in it, that's a point in its favor. After a few days, having a tent in which you can stand fully is such a nicety.

(If it has a lot of unprotected, uncloseable mesh and you don't want to sew things over it, that is a point against it.)
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Re: Will my tent be ruined?

Postby Ugly Dougly » Mon Jan 09, 2012 4:25 pm

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Re: Will my tent be ruined?

Postby AntiM » Mon Jan 09, 2012 4:25 pm

We had a six person Coleman, and it died at our regional. A wind gust snatched it and broke a pole. Last day, so it was alright, but quite disappointing. At Burning Man, we used a small REI backpacker under a carport, that tent has been on the playa for ten years and is still going strong. We now have a nice "one minute" tent for a tick more elbow room. But again, we keep it under a carport, partly for shade, partly for protection from the winds.

Wind is more of a threat than drunks.
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Re: Will my tent be ruined?

Postby A Jester » Mon Jan 09, 2012 4:33 pm

Your tent will never be the same, whatever tent you bring will be your Playa tent. You will never get all the dust all the way out of it (well, maybe if you wash it, but I've never tried.)

Blinkies and stuff are good not just to ward off staggerers but also to help you find it, but it's the wind and the dust that will do whatever damage.

Pretty much plan on owning whatever tent you bring, unless your family is cool with playa dust.
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Re: Will my tent be ruined?

Postby jcliff » Mon Jan 09, 2012 4:57 pm

The larger the tent, the more it suffers in the wind. You can get a little bit of shelter for it by parking your vehicle ahead of the prevailing winds (west to east.) Even better is to have an RV parked next to you. I've gone with a cheap $100 tent for 3 Burns and haven't had a problem, but it's a 3 person. Agreed that you will never get the dust out of your tent completely. If you're expected to hand it back in the condition you got it, I'd suggest looking for your own playa house. Lighted or flagged guy lines are a must for any tent. The 6" stakes that come with most tents won't cut it on playa. You can buy 12" stakes that you can pound in to ground level so you won't have to worry about someone hurting themselves on them. The only person who's ever fallen on my tent has been me, but it just popped back up and was no worse for it!

One thing you should be aware of with the big tents is how much open mesh you have. A wicked dust storm will fill your tent in a short time. Even with a rain fly on, you'll get dust inside. If you can find a tent that has a rain fly that goes to ground level, you'll be better off. The bigger tents don't offer the same protection. You can seal off mesh screens with nylon sheets or any fabric and gorilla glue, but then you don't have the same air flow.

Sorry if I've complicated matters for you. You'll be fine no matter what structure you sleep in.
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Re: Will my tent be ruined?

Postby AntiM » Mon Jan 09, 2012 5:34 pm

We provide small loaner tents to our campmates, 3~4 person, the mesh is not as issue because we clip pressed felt blankets or light comforters over the vents. No glue or sewing required, and if the campers remember to zip the tent and not wear shoes inside they are effectively dust free.

These tents are mostly used under our carports, but they have withstood winds during the event when out in the open. Yes, they do kinda flatten out now and then, but the smaller tents seem to pop back up better than the larger ones.

Of course, you can't really stand up in them, but no one really hangs out in their tents.
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Re: Will my tent be ruined?

Postby Bob » Mon Jan 09, 2012 5:42 pm

Ugly Dougly wrote:Image


Ditto. Don't ruin something with family sentimental value. Grow the fuck up and get your own tent. Ten or twenty bucks at a yard sale or a thrift shop can get you a similar Coleman-type tent. Build a shade awning around it with side curtains on the windward side, and you'll feel all radically self-reliant and shit.
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Re: Will my tent be ruined?

Postby NellieX » Mon Jan 09, 2012 5:57 pm

Search army surplus stores and thrift shops, and buy your own tent. One less thing to worry about.
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Re: Will my tent be ruined?

Postby funkyjigsaw » Mon Jan 09, 2012 6:10 pm

Put far more energy into what shade structure you will have .... best advice EVER!
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Re: Will my tent be ruined?

Postby 48_love » Mon Jan 09, 2012 6:46 pm

Bob wrote: Grow the fuck up and get your own tent


rites of passage was last year, dude ... lol
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Re: Will my tent be ruined?

Postby iridachae » Mon Jan 09, 2012 7:22 pm

Grow the fuck up and get your own tent.

Man, I knew there was something I'd forgotten to do today.

Oh well, I was just trying to conserve as much money as possible and borrow what I could, but I really hadn't factored in the wind. Smaller does sound like it would be better. Thanks!
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Re: Will my tent be ruined?

Postby MikeGyver » Mon Jan 09, 2012 7:32 pm

for 2011 (which was my first year) I took our 10 man coleman tent, it was great, had plenty of room, figured out the more room just means you make a bigger mess, this year im going to bring a 4-6 (depending on the size of air mattress I bring) and put a Monkey hut over it, I kinda liked getting hot and waking up with the sun, but its still nice to go sit in it in the middle of the day when your tired of being hot if its cool in there from having a monkey hut over it. The tent is just fine, the only problem would be it will never be the color it was before unless you spend days washing it. but its a tent what does the color matter, BUT! from what ive been told it wasnt near as windy as it normally is last year so one could get damaged more if it is more windy this year.
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Re: Will my tent be ruined?

Postby Sham » Mon Jan 09, 2012 7:35 pm

I've used the same tent for at least 10 years---and it was a shitty Walmart tent to start with. I've made a few patches, but I think it is worthy of yet another year. Eventually it will give out and shred, but until that happens it will go back once again. Yes, it has a lot of memories, and if it could talk, it would scream, but it's just a tent.
If I get a vote, I would tell you to bring the family tent and take care of it the best you can.
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Re: Will my tent be ruined?

Postby dragonpilot » Wed Jan 11, 2012 1:37 pm

I used a Coleman car camper tent for about 30 years before taking it to the playa where it's been used for 7 years. Other than stitching some blanket sections over the upper mesh to reduce dust infiltration from above, it's stock...and still in serviceable condition.

I always position the tent behind some sort of wind break and when I get home I thoroughly clean it with liberal spritzings of a water-vinegar solution...rinse with fresh water, dry, store.
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Re: Will my tent be ruined?

Postby hotmess » Wed Feb 08, 2012 10:10 am

Colemans are good for one, maybe two burns if you are lucky. If you end up loving the event and want to come back you will find yourself buying a new tent in the next year or two if you decide to buy a coleman, I guarantee it. I would not borrow your parents tent. Anyone who "lends" me something to take to burning man I explain to them that they should only be lending it to me if they are comfortable with never seeing it again.

That being said, INVEST IN A TENT. I recommend Springbar tents. The larger once are a bit pricey but there smaller tents are well priced and will last forever. They are made here in the USA and are dust proof and water proof. I found that the only dust i brought in was the dust i had on me. Last year i was able to sleep in a dust free bed for my entire 10 days out there. One bit of advise, if you do decide to purchase one I would suggest getting one before May. Between the burn and the boy scouts of america they normally run out of inventory by June/July.

P.S - be sure to purchase a ground tarp. It will help protect the floor of your tent and increase the longevity of the tents life.
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Re: Will my tent be ruined?

Postby glitteranddust » Tue Feb 21, 2012 5:44 am

If the family expects the tent back in similar condition, don't bring the tent.

I brought the family tent my first year. Thank goodness it was the same tent I'd broken a pole on once as a kid (a friend and I got an idea into our heads to use it like a giant hamster ball >_< ). My parents (being the not-so-communicative couple they are) went off to fix that problem independently; my mother forcing my 10 year old ass to pay a blacksmith to have a new pole made ($120) and my father making me buy a new tent because he bought a new one and threw away the receipt before he heard my mother's plan ($200). So for the first time ever when I brought the tent home caked in playa dust we couldn't get out, my father (whose not normally that gracious) was like, "Well, we have a another tent thanks to you making $3hr babysitting... so this one is yours because you bought the replacement parts for it." Moral of the story: Don't bring the parent's tent unless you've already bought them a new one, preferably one that they already feel a little guilty about owning.

I still use that same 4 person Coleman tent my father let me keep and I love it. I've used it for three burns so far. With the Coleman tents I've noticed the newer ones aren't that durable. Mine is one of the older ones... I think maybe from the late 70's/early 80's. It was perfect the first year. I can set it up alone in the wind in minutes, no vents to sew up (all mine zip tightly closed)... virtually no dust if I took my shoes off and it held up and stayed dry thought rain and wind without a hitch. The second year I tripped and fell into my tent when I was taking my boots off. The tent was only unzipped on the bottom to top zipper so the right to left one broke as I fell in. I took on a lot of dust that year. I fixed it but never quite got it as dust free again. Just to be sure, I will now have reinforce the replacement zipper each year before I go but it's worth it for me for such an otherwise easy, durable tent that doesn't take on any more dust than I walk in there with. One more word about most tents, especially the Coleman ones: If you leave stuff (or yourself) propped or touching the sides of the tent during a heavy rain, you're asking for some water to seep in. I haven't ever had an issue with that because my father used scold me for that as a kid so I knew not to do it but I've had a friend who semi-flooded her tent that way.
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Re: Will my tent be ruined?

Postby Drawingablank » Tue Feb 21, 2012 8:59 am

Take a look at some of the tent interiors pictured at the thread below - then try to imagine how you could possibly restore that to an unplayafied condition.
http://eplaya.burningman.com/viewtopic.php?f=56&t=54347
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Re: Will my tent be ruined?

Postby laffingblonde » Sun Mar 04, 2012 7:25 pm

Shambala wrote:Yes, it has a lot of memories, and if it could talk, it would scream, but it's just a tent.


Thanks for the laugh, almost fell outa my chair. :lol:

Seriously though smaller is better. Be sure to weight down the corners and get some diesel stakes. I'd recommend 12" army surplus. Can get 'em for like $4 a pop and they aren't coming out of the ground. Don't hammer them in to far or packing up won't be much fun. Glow tape is pretty rad too.
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Re: Will my tent be ruined?

Postby Ugly Dougly » Mon Mar 05, 2012 5:16 pm

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Re: Will my tent be ruined?

Postby Marscrumbs » Mon Mar 05, 2012 8:32 pm

Never bring anything to the playa that it is not ok to lose.
Oh and you will never completely get the dust out of it.
Otherwise, sure why not.
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Re: Will my tent be ruined?

Postby Lassen Forge » Mon Mar 05, 2012 9:02 pm

I've run everything from $109 huge-ass costco specials to a 6x9 3 person out there... IF you have it set up right, keep the skinny side to the wind, and et it well staked down, it will be fine. Maybe dusty... but fine...
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Re: Will my tent be ruined?

Postby robbidobbs » Wed Apr 11, 2012 5:50 pm

My first tent was a Coleman Vagabond canvas tent. I bought it for $30 and had to build the conduit poles for it. It worked fabulously in 1999 in 75mph dirt storms. I kept the windows and door open and put a sheet over my bedding. Worked great. The next year it came out, and my conscientious neighbor closed all the window and the door as a dirt storm was coming. Blew out the windows and popped the conduit joints. Word of wisdom: if you think it will burst in a dirt storm, it will.

Go low - low profile. Or put a shade structure over it, with rebar foundation and heavy duty tarp at the prevailing wind side (like a lean-to). Gonzo put double tarps last year because the tarp split the prev year. This IS the Dept of Over-Engineering.

Drive at least 2' rebar at every point. This is not a drill.

Make sure that every time you leave your camp you imagine a 100mph dirt storm coming through after you leave. EVERYTHING must be secured, put away, or bagged and tied to something secure, REGARDLESS OF WEATHER CONDITIONS. No shit, it can happen.

Good luck.
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Re: Will my tent be ruined?

Postby 9ah » Wed Apr 11, 2012 11:59 pm

[quote="48_love"][quote="Bob"] Grow the fuck up and get your own tent[/quote]

rites of passage was last year, dude ... lol[/quote]
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Re: Will my tent be ruined?

Postby BBadger » Thu Apr 12, 2012 12:17 am

decidida74 wrote:
48_love wrote:
Bob wrote: Grow the fuck up and get your own tent


rites of passage was last year, dude ... lol

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Re: Will my tent be ruined?

Postby 9ah » Thu Apr 12, 2012 12:55 am

Thanks BBadger :oops:
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Re: Will my tent be ruined?

Postby Drawingablank » Mon Apr 30, 2012 1:25 pm

Was cleaning the tent yesterday and figured I'd post some pics here:

This is me with a handful of playa dust - the tent was shaken out before we packed up, but when I cleaned it yesterday found about half a pound of loose dust. I would also like to point out that I am kneeling on a navy blue floor although you'd be hard pressed to see any blue.

Image

This is a similar view but it includes the threshold. After vacuming, vinegar / water, scrubbing, hosing it out and drying it doesn't look much better.

Image

Although perfectly usable still, there is no doubt as to where it has been since much of the blue is now permanently playafied.
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Re: Will my tent be ruined?

Postby hotmess » Mon Apr 30, 2012 2:40 pm

I found a great way to clean off your tent/tarp/shelter or whatever from my neighbor last year. Leaf blower. Plugged that baby in and BOOM, all that heavy dust was kicked off my structures.
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Re: Will my tent be ruined?

Postby Harinama » Mon Apr 30, 2012 3:41 pm

My "family" style 3 room tent died the second day on the playa. The poles are too flimsy, and the winds made mincemeat out of it. Now....that was the year with the SUSTAINED 70 mph winds for HOURS, that destroyed my entire camp! (3 shelters and our main dome destroyed). My friends and i holed up in a small springbar tent.

The biggest problems about tents on the playa are durability, vertical strength, and keeping dust out. Most tents allow a shitload of dust in via the mesh panels. This is a bad thing. Also, most tents use very flexible poles, also a bad thing.

I purchased an 8x10 Springbar Tent from Utah, and it is like a taj mahal. It lets in almost ZERO dust, and can stand up to a hurricane.

Do yourself a favor, get a nice springbar tent, and never look at another tent again for BRC. Also, i highly recommend a shade structure. I just purchased an old style costco carport for $150, which makes the combination BOMBER.
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Re: Will my tent be ruined?

Postby Clar-i-ty » Mon Apr 30, 2012 3:55 pm

I have a Coleman 10 x 10 that has lasted 4 Burns. The trick is doing a double wrap with tarps. I set up my tent then use zip tied tarps to make a second layer around the tent. This cuts down on dust in the tent and saves it from total destruction.
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