Compact idea to keep tent cooler?

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Compact idea to keep tent cooler?

Postby tattoogoddess » Mon Jun 25, 2012 12:32 am

This year I have no room for a shade structure. So was playing around with the idea of getting one of those mylar blankets.I have read they are like a potato chip bag? So what is I took one of these and say glued it to a piece of white fleece or some other heavy fabric then put it over the top of my tent. Do you think this would work?? The blankets are like less then $2 online and I have some old fleece blankets here.

Any input?
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Re: Compact idea to keep tent cooler?

Postby BBadger » Mon Jun 25, 2012 4:46 am

Only if you want an easy-bake oven. My friend tried putting one of those on his tent, and it just didn't work. The emergency blanket is only useful for you if it is reflecting heat away, but if you're putting fleece or something over it, it defeats the purpose and acts more like an insulator--reflecting heat back in. The worst part about those emergency blankets is that they're extremely flimsy; so you'll probably end up tearing it, or after your fix it inside your tent it'll fall back on you, or--God forbid--you may think to put it on the outside of your tent and it'll fly away. You're not gaining much with the emergency blankets over just using a silvered tarp, so if you want to block heat or light, get a silvered tarp instead.

The key to most shade structures is to have a floating structure above your tent that blocks the sun, but lets air flow through. We tried just putting a tarp over the tents one year, but that didn't work well because it would float down and we wouldn't get the air flow. I would try putting some sort of rigid center-span over your tent and then staking down a tarp so that it is open on both ends, but blocks the sun. For that rigid structure, you can just go buy some tent poles from a cheap tent; then fix it around your current tent with an opaque silver tarp on top. They're really portable and you don't need something like PVC poles.
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Re: Compact idea to keep tent cooler?

Postby Zhust » Mon Jun 25, 2012 5:15 am

I bought 70% shade Aluminet from Gothic Arch Greenhouses in 2007. It's woven mylar plastic which surprisingly does not shred. Wind passes through it easily: a 5'x10' sheet in 50mph wind won't knock you over, unlike a sheet of tarp which will send you down the Playa (if you can even hold onto it). I bought a big sheet with grommeted edges for a big shade, but that doesn't work because the fabric is pretty stretchy so it'll sag no matter how taut you get the edge. I also bought a smaller sheet (with no grommets) which I used as a "tent blanket" in 2010. I figure it gained me about 1 hour of sleeping time so I would start really cooking myself awake at 10:15 a.m. instead of 9:15 a.m. A larger sheet would have helped, and a larger air gap too.
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Re: Compact idea to keep tent cooler?

Postby VultureChow » Mon Jun 25, 2012 5:35 am

I'm dealing with a similar issue. I got some good sun shade tarps and will be experimenting over July 4th (my parents are out of town and I can use their house and yard). My idea is to rig some form of clamp to extend an 8 inch piece of pvc pipe from the top of my tent where the two poles meet capped with a tennis ball to raise the tarps over the roof of the tent. It's a Kodiak canvas, so I think it's sturdy enough, with extra guy lines, to handle the added stress. If not, Kelty makes some adjustable tarp poles that might work.

As for your issues. I had some weird ideas when I first started looking into this, but maybe they might help you. Instead of using the space blanket, what about a big flat king sized sheet? You can probably get one cheap at goodwill. For fastenings, you can't cut into it or it will start to tear, but you can use the trick of putting a small rock or ball into one side and tying off around it. Use small inflatable beach balls or pillows on top of the tent at strategic areas (probably held in place by a combination of tape, the placement of the tent poles and tension of the sheet) to hold the sheet over the tent at some distance. Guy out the sheet.

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Re: Compact idea to keep tent cooler?

Postby International Incident » Mon Jun 25, 2012 5:38 am

I used a silver tarp and two long tent poles as a shade structure (plus some heavy duty pegs). Doesn't take up much room and it gave me an extra hour of sleep before my tent became an oven.

Emergency blanket thingys won't help you out.
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Re: Compact idea to keep tent cooler?

Postby Bob » Mon Jun 25, 2012 12:23 pm

melaniejane wrote:I used a silver tarp and two long tent poles as a shade structure (plus some heavy duty pegs). Doesn't take up much room and it gave me an extra hour of sleep before my tent became an oven.

Emergency blanket thingys won't help you out.


That sort of A-frame is the direction I'd go if you want something as compact as possible. You'd need two collapsible or sectional tent poles about a foot longer than the height of the tent, a bunch of parachute cord (figure 100 ft so you have plenty), and 6 to 12 stakes. Military surplus stores in the area should have 9" aluminum stakes (like this) for less than $2/piece (less than $1 where I shop). Tie a short loop of parachute cord through the hole in each stake so when you drive them an inch or two below the playa surface you can locate the stake and tie a guyline to the loop. A 20 oz carpenter's hammer is enough to drive the stakes. To pull the stakes, hammer lightly on the sides to loosen, then hook it with the hammer claw and yank it out. MSR Groundhog stakes are lighter and more compact, but closer to $3/piece.

For the awning material, coated nylon tarps would be lighter and pack more compactly than the silver poly tarps. If you're handy with sewing and can manage lap seams (like the inside seam on Levis) and installing grommets, you could sew one yourself, or go with something like the Kelty "Noah's Tarp" or other prefab coated nylon tarps. They do let about 50% of the light through, whereas the silver tarps essentially block 100%.

Knit greenhouse shade mesh is a little bulky for packing, but pretty lightweight. Local tarp and rigging supply shops can make up custom tarps using this, with reinforcing tape sewn in along the edges and grommets installed. Black 70% mesh should be less than fifty cents a square foot, but might take a few weeks lead time. Black is the usual color choice readily available, and the stock widths are 6, 12.5 and 17.5 ft off the roll, so you might choose 12 ft wide to avoid interior seams (eg a 12x18 ft tarp to cover a typical tent with an A-frame). Try this site for estimating and comparisons.

I suppose you could DIY using wide canvas or a couple of king-sized sheets, though you might want to reinforce with nylon webbing along the middle where you stretch the tarp between the poles, and at tie or grommet points along the edges.

I often use lightweight cotton canvas 9x12 ft dropcloths from the hardware store. For ad hoc tie points, I cut wine corks in half, pushed them in from one side of the canvas, and tied parachute cord around them (either a slipknot, lark's head knot, or two half-hitches). Rolled up tightly and stuffed for packing, a pair of dropcloths should be about the size of a backpacker's sleeping bag or smaller. It's sometimes possible to place small grommets along the edges of these between the hem stitching, but since it might create a weak spot, you might fold webbing over and sew through, then install grommets inside the hem.
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Re: Compact idea to keep tent cooler?

Postby Bob » Mon Jun 25, 2012 1:05 pm

p.s. If you can find a local supplier for buying 12.5 ft wide shade mesh off the roll, and their lead time for fabricating a hemmed tarp w/grommets doesn't fit your schedule, you could go slightly cheaper just using it as-is and making your own tie points. You could use the corks or another method at the corners, possibly plastic tarp clips from the hardware store. Some lumber yards stock the wider shade mesh, also some scaffold rental yards (they use it to wrap around scaffold to keep dust and paint spray contained). But the tarp shops use industrial chain- or lock-stitch machines and would do the best job.
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Re: Compact idea to keep tent cooler?

Postby theLynxmissesthesnow » Tue Jun 26, 2012 12:44 am

Zhust wrote:I bought 70% shade Aluminet from Gothic Arch Greenhouses in 2007. It's woven mylar plastic which surprisingly does not shred. Wind passes through it easily: a 5'x10' sheet in 50mph wind won't knock you over, unlike a sheet of tarp which will send you down the Playa (if you can even hold onto it). I bought a big sheet with grommeted edges for a big shade, but that doesn't work because the fabric is pretty stretchy so it'll sag no matter how taut you get the edge. I also bought a smaller sheet (with no grommets) which I used as a "tent blanket" in 2010. I figure it gained me about 1 hour of sleeping time so I would start really cooking myself awake at 10:15 a.m. instead of 9:15 a.m. A larger sheet would have helped, and a larger air gap too.


I'm looking to create a shade structure and searching thru the gothic arch site... are you unhappy with their product? do you think it's better than a tarp?
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Re: Compact idea to keep tent cooler?

Postby Zhust » Tue Jun 26, 2012 10:33 am

theLynxmissesthesnow wrote:I'm looking to create a shade structure and searching thru the gothic arch site... are you unhappy with their product? do you think it's better than a tarp?


I only bought the 70% "ultra shade" aluminet shade cloth. I had a 10x20 sheet with the edges taped and grommeted, but the 4x10 piece I bought with no taping I like far better (I'll probably cut the taping off the larger sheet to use it this year). If I were forced to come up with a complaint with the stuff, it's that Playa dust seems to cling with electrostatic tenacity to it. I bet it gains 50% of its weight in dust (it is incredibly light, so it's not too bad, but it is noticeable). It rinses clean, though.

The company seemed okay to deal with. I think I talked with them on the phone about my options and I recall them being nice. Of course, that was 5 years ago, so things may have changed.
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Re: Compact idea to keep tent cooler?

Postby Bob » Tue Jun 26, 2012 10:51 am

The Cafe uses miles of 70% shade mesh w/ grommets every 12" along the edge, but it's tied off to 5/16 steel cable. If you can't get it taut you need to prop it up or use taller poles. It's saggy because it's a knit. Denser mesh might be stiffer and sag less.
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Re: Compact idea to keep tent cooler?

Postby Zhust » Wed Jun 27, 2012 7:46 am

Bob wrote:The Cafe uses miles of 70% shade mesh w/ grommets every 12" along the edge, but it's tied off to 5/16 steel cable. If you can't get it taut you need to prop it up or use taller poles. It's saggy because it's a knit. Denser mesh might be stiffer and sag less.


FWIW, I think the Cafe's stuff is "shade cloth" like this which is a nylon weave. Aluminet is a weave of aluminized mylar and it's far lighter weight.
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Re: Compact idea to keep tent cooler?

Postby Bob » Wed Jun 27, 2012 8:15 am

No. The only nylon is in the thread they use to seam and hem it. The Cafe tarps are knit polypropylene. Aluminet is knit polypropylene coated with shiny crap.
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Re: Compact idea to keep tent cooler?

Postby Canoe » Thu Jun 28, 2012 5:56 am

For the 2010 cold nights, I gave some foil-sided bubble-wrap to a guy in a tent to use as a blanket. He said it kept him warm. He then used it to line the inside of his small tent on the sun-side and he said it kept it cooler. Once past the early cold nights, he'd be out all night and wonder back to his tent sometime shortly after dawn, then sleep in past noon.
Foil-sided bubble-wrap would be very bulky to travel with.

I've seen the same wrap taped/tied to the sun-side of tents to reflect the worst of the sun away; no idea how well it works for that. If your tent or tent fly is dark in colour, I'd expect it to help a lot to keep it from soaking up heat in the sun, but it won't "make cool".

Cheap to try (<$30), and small/light to travel with:
Mylar “Space”/”Emergency” Blankets
reflects sunlight and heat, but no insulation.
Easy to cut, but once cut may easily tear. In wind: prone to noise; and tearing unless it's one with a strong re-enforcing lining/backing which is typically a plastic tarp or ground sheet (commonly red, blue, green or camo), often with grommets.

one example for $14 (http://www.rei.com/product/407106/space ... er-blanket)
407106Lrg.jpg



Also, once on playa at your camp, see if there's any shade to set your tent up in. Bigger tent, van, truck, RV, etc..
You want the shade for the core 8:00 a.m. to noon window, or 6:00 a.m. to noon or longer if possible.
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Re: Compact idea to keep tent cooler?

Postby Canoe » Thu Jun 28, 2012 6:25 am

If your tent fly is dark in colour, and a white/silver one isn't available cheap, would a silver/aluminum can of Krylon spray paint help?
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Re: Compact idea to keep tent cooler?

Postby Token » Thu Jun 28, 2012 7:06 am

Canoe wrote:If your tent fly is dark in colour, and a white/silver one isn't available cheap, would a silver/aluminum can of Krylon spray paint help?


Sure it would but then it would flake off and make a nasty mess that someone has to cleanup. Don't do it.
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Re: Compact idea to keep tent cooler?

Postby Canoe » Thu Jun 28, 2012 11:09 am

Token wrote:
Canoe wrote:If your tent fly is dark in colour, and a white/silver one isn't available cheap, would a silver/aluminum can of Krylon spray paint help?

Sure it would but then it would flake off and make a nasty mess that someone has to cleanup. Don't do it.

If you try to put it on 1/8" thick maybe. Krylon has a very good bond. Material stays flexible. I'd show you my tent fly but my Dad has it packed for his trip out West (80 and touring).
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Re: Compact idea to keep tent cooler?

Postby Bob » Thu Jun 28, 2012 11:49 am

Feel free to spraypaint your tent, or glue on a tinfoil hat, and get back to us. Infrared pistol thermometers are pretty cheap.
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Re: Compact idea to keep tent cooler?

Postby Canoe » Sun Jul 01, 2012 1:26 pm

Bob wrote:Feel free to spraypaint your tent, ...

That's tent FLY.
There are many reasons you won't want to spray paint a tent.
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Re: Compact idea to keep tent cooler?

Postby Bob » Sun Jul 01, 2012 2:20 pm

Well, neither tent nor fly material is generally designed to be painted, if it's designed and treated to resist liquids and rot, and it's likely prone to damage if exposed to solvents. If you consider the fly on a cheap tent to be sacrificial, that's another matter. Still wouldn't trust Krylon to bond well in the heat and buffeted by the wind.

Actually, a couple of those REI blankets per your previous post might help, draped over the tent fly foil side out, and would pack compactly for travel (which I think is Tatgod's primary concern). At less than half an ounce per square foot it won't add much weight over the tent fly. Might add a few more grommets, or either hem it or tape the two together so it conforms to the tent shape. Or hang from a rope between two poles as an independent A-frame per my previous post.
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Re: Compact idea to keep tent cooler?

Postby Canoe » Sun Jul 01, 2012 2:58 pm

Bob wrote:... Still wouldn't trust Krylon to bond well in the heat and buffeted by the wind..

Used white, not silver/aluminum on mine. NOT PLAYA TESTED. Holding for six years: used in dry & rain, in heat up to 34C, cold to 5C, wind to 40kph.
Was applied as a mist, much like overspray, with multiple applications to get the colour without adding a lot of bulk/weight. Same technique I used for painting cloth for photographic backgrounds. Let the mist fall and bond to the cloth fibres - NOT try to apply a layer of a given thickness as spray paint is usually applied.

Bob wrote:...Or hang from a rope between two poles as an independent A-frame per my previous post.

Much more effective if you can get that bigger air gap. If taking such an A-frame wasn't practical on the train, perhaps if she was prepared to drape & tie the reflective tarps over the tent as you describe, but had some light rope/line to be able to utilize any nearby structures that didn't mind her tying on (car roof racks, trucks, RVs, larger shelters, etc...). A line between two objects could be the peak of the A-frame (I still remember those heavy green ponchos/ground-sheets and parachute cord from survival school). String the line through the grommets (almost sewing two sheets together) rather than drape the sheets over the line to chaff and wear?
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Re: Compact idea to keep tent cooler?

Postby theCryptofishist » Sun Jul 01, 2012 3:51 pm

Is there any chance that someone from BDV can bring the poles in exchange for something on your part, tg? Radical self-reliance can occasionally be supplanted by radical community if it's done carefully and consciously.
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Re: Compact idea to keep tent cooler?

Postby gyre » Sun Jul 01, 2012 4:50 pm

Check out silvicool.
There is also 100% solid aluminet, no longer sold in the usa.

There was a camp with glued mylar on tarps.
It did work.

I used light blocking tarps around my tent.
Good till 1 pm.
Never used any ventilation.
Had a small air gap.
Important to cover the entire tent.
Everything.
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Re: Compact idea to keep tent cooler?

Postby tattoogoddess » Mon Jul 02, 2012 9:43 am

theCryptofishist wrote:Is there any chance that someone from BDV can bring the poles in exchange for something on your part, tg? Radical self-reliance can occasionally be supplanted by radical community if it's done carefully and consciously.



Im not really sure. I have not reached out about it. I kinda feel like a asshat if I do. I have already asked someone to bring a inflatable bed for me and asked around about a bike. I feel needy at this point. :(
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Re: Compact idea to keep tent cooler?

Postby Elliot » Mon Jul 02, 2012 9:57 am

tattoogoddess wrote:...and asked around about a bike.

I'm putting you down for a bicycle. Please bring your own lights if you can; I've given up on keeping lights on a dozen bicycles. :D
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Re: Compact idea to keep tent cooler?

Postby tattoogoddess » Mon Jul 02, 2012 10:02 am

Thank you! I do have my own lights already and a bike lock. Keep in mind im 5'8 so no bmxers for me lol. Again thank you! :)
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Re: Compact idea to keep tent cooler?

Postby Elliot » Mon Jul 02, 2012 10:51 am

I have cruisers, mountains, and mountains with extra tall handlebars.
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Re: Compact idea to keep tent cooler?

Postby tattoogoddess » Mon Jul 02, 2012 11:16 am

sweet. I normally ride a mens beach cruiser with horse shoe handles :)
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