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Lythe 10-10-2014 02:04 AM

DIY project - tent
After hauling a 6 lb tent on my last hike, I have decided to try and build my own lightweight tent.

I already own a Tarptent Stratospire 2, which is nice and light at 1.35 kg, and is great for 2 people when you have heavy rains or wind. The downsides are a fairly high weight for a lightweight tent, and if you want ventilation it generally involves leaving doors open. The upside is I have a tent to look at for figuring out how to do seams and other aspects of the tent.

The 2nd tent would be geared for when I may be:
-solo (but still capable of sleeping 2)
-wanting more ventilation (without having to open doors/compromise rain protection)
-serious wind/rain isn't likely
-needing a 2nd tent when kids are along
-want a smaller/narrow footprint

The design I've been considering is based on the Tarptent Squall 2
This design seems relatively straight forward, fairly forgiving, and a decent performer. It is quite similar to a version no longer available, the Cloudburst, as described here:
It is light (just under 1kg), well ventilated, can sleep 2, not too wide, has some headroom and seems pretty straight forward.

I'm assuming this project will take me months, partially because I'm still learning to sew (my 2nd time ever touching the sewing machine involved a silnylon pack cover with hood... and it didn't scare me off). I have most of the materials for this ready to go, just need to find time.

If I had the money I'd just buy a tent, as it is for $200 in materials I'll (hopefully) end up with a tent, a lightweight ~10x12 tarp, and a custom packcover (based on the OR Pack Hoody)... which would cost me ~$600 if I bought it all retail.

My main concerns before starting:

*Are there any must-see designs I should check out first that also fit my criteria? I'm aware that Tarptent has plans for a DIY tent, but they don't quite fit what I envision.

*The only part/materials I may have difficulty with optaining is the curved pole at the foot end (this is the main reason for my post). What I do have is an old aluminum tent pole left over from an old destroyed Eureka tent, that I may be able to bend to fit. The pole I have is about 3.2m long, about 8.5MM diameter with a sidewall thickness of 0.7-0.8mm (guestimating, I don't have calipers), weighing under 200 grams.

-I've read about bending aluminum, what I don't know is how well a pole this thin would work.. though it has some minor bends (no kinks) already from when the original tent got destroyed by heavy snow, though these will mostly work in my favour. The existing bends add up to about 25 degrees, and at 3m+ length I have no problem making a half-circle, though the tent requires this at a ~1.5m length

-I'm wondering if this pole is sturdy enough for what I intend. Does anyone have guidelines?

-I've figured out that perma bends at the joints are a bad idea, my jig will reflect this

-It'll be interesting dealing with the string inside the poles

-While a single straight end pole may be apealing for simplicity, the curved design will gain much needed volume over an A-frame wall with minimal material

-any thoughts about clips vs sleeves? for a pole this short a sleeve shouldn't be too bad (and my pole has smooth joints between sections, my biggest pet peeve with budget tent poles which don't). Also it's not exactly easy to find clips for a DIY project.

Any thoughts on my pole issue, or anything relating to this project in general are welcome.

TofuJoe 10-10-2014 12:08 PM

That sounds like an amazing project! Are you planning double-wall or single-wall? Since you're not looking for serious rain protection, skipping seam sealing/taping should save significant weight.

I think a few of the folks at backpackinglight have gone this route before.
The consensus is bending your own poles is a labor of love and it's hard to get identical bends without serious equipment. Building a jig was a definite requirement, plus packing the poles with a fine sand to help during the bend. The good news is vendors like Easton do sell every type of pole component and various pre-bends that you could combine to make the ideal pole setup you need.

Have you considered aluminum pre-bent for your angles and carbon pole sections for the straights to save weight?

I like sleeves for overall strength and packability but if weight is a priority - do a quick calculation of material and sewing string weight for the sleeves vs the x number of clips. My guess is sleeves will add more weight on an ultra-light tent vs clips.

Good luck and post pictures on your progress,

Lythe 10-10-2014 03:00 PM

Definitely single wall, but I will seam seal.

I am using trekking poles for the front so only really need one pole bent for the foot end, and the one I have long enough that I could make a spare, or just bend it in sections and use the sections that turn out best. A simple semi circle should be straight forward to do and the pole has enoughflex that I can use a bit of fabric tension help out

There is a short pole section at the head about 40cm long that's perma fixed but I could use any scrap for that

I'm not counting grams for the weight, just relying on the design and then accepting the result.since I'm essentially reverse engineering the squall from pictures I figure I'll be very close in weight

Definitely leaning more to sleeves instead of clips for even fabric tension, just makes more sense for this design

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