Canvas tents - what's the big deal

Submitted: Thursday, Mar 08, 2007 at 13:42


Can someone please tell me what I am missing here?

We bought a canvas tent, single centre pole, 3m x 3m tent. While it does the job I am not convinced it is the best material for a tent but I think I must be overlooking some huge fact because so many on here sware by them.

Canvas is heavy – Nylon is light
Canvas rips easy – Many Nylon tents has rip stop now.
Canvas needs to be dry before packing – you can get away with packing up a damp nylon tent.
Canvas is very bulky – nylon packs away nice and small. Seeing that space in the 4by is a premium I see that is a huge disadvantage for canvas.
If you touch the sides on a Canvas tent during a downpour the rain comes in, that doesn’t happen with Nylon.
Canvas tents are expensive and nylon one can be cheaper but not always.

I am not trying to start a war here I am just trying to figure out what I am missing as it seems like we have taken a step back 20 years with our canvas tent.
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Reply By: taize - Thursday, Mar 08, 2007 at 13:47

Thursday, Mar 08, 2007 at 13:47
I think one of the reasons people go with canvas is for the durability. Its fairly easy to put a hole in a nylon tent whereas its harder to hole canvas.

For us, we get a canvas tent because of the shape it has when its pitched. We wanted fairly straight sides and nylon tents did not offer this. They were generally dome tents of some sort.
AnswerID: 226066

Reply By: Wingwang - Thursday, Mar 08, 2007 at 13:51

Thursday, Mar 08, 2007 at 13:51
We had a canvas tent and changed to a Coleman tent and would never consider going back to canvas. Cannot see any advantage in canvas only pain.
AnswerID: 226067

Reply By: Member - Jack - Thursday, Mar 08, 2007 at 14:07

Thursday, Mar 08, 2007 at 14:07
Canvas breathes. I had a nylon one and found it "stuffy" in warm, humid weather. I personally prefer canvas, but like everything, including nylon, it has it drawbacks.

"When I die I want to go in my sleep like my Grand father did, not screaming like the passengers in his car. "

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AnswerID: 226070

Reply By: derraux - Thursday, Mar 08, 2007 at 14:22

Thursday, Mar 08, 2007 at 14:22

Yes canvas is heavier than nylon but quality canvas will be harder wearing,last longer and breath better.
Quality canvas does not rip easier and yes they do make it in ripcheck aswell.
All tent's will go mouldy if packed away wet.
Qulity canvas tents do not leak when touched from the inside.
Yes quality canvas tents are more expensive you pay for the quality and the fact that quality canvas tents are made in Australia or New Zealand.
Not all canvas is the same.
AnswerID: 226072

Follow Up By: HowdyDoody - Friday, Mar 09, 2007 at 12:47

Friday, Mar 09, 2007 at 12:47
Hi Darraux, I agree. We went from a great quality nylon to a Black Wolf - will never go back. It's survived storms and winds that would have had me sh***ing myself in the nylon expecting to wake up floating on the 4by mat.
FollowupID: 487162

Reply By: joc45 - Thursday, Mar 08, 2007 at 15:05

Thursday, Mar 08, 2007 at 15:05
Horses for courses.
When I travel, I don't tow a trailer and put minimum stuff on the roof rack. Therefore I have to utilise interior space to the max. I chose a dome nylon tent because it packs up into a small package, something I couldn't do with an earlier canvas tent.
True, nylon doesn't breathe, but the double-skinned dome tents allow moisture to pass thru the inner lining to the ventilated outer lining, so condensation is not a problem.
Both nylon and canvas can go mouldy when packed up damp. But the nylon does not rot, whereas the cotton does - the nylon just gets smelly. Saw a friend's new canvas tent ruined from rot after just one camping trip (nobody had warned him about not packing up damp).
True, the nylon is not as durable, but I get about 5 years out of a dome tent, before I see something new I like better and move on and ditch the old. All for a fairly low price.
Single-skinned tents can sometimes have leak issues at the stitched seams, tho on the outer skin of my current dome tent, the stitching is covered with a bonded tape, making the seams totally drip-free.
But I must say, I have used the canvas Oztent, and apart from its considerable size when packed, is a magnificent invention - truly the 30-second tent. But it did drip when it rained.
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AnswerID: 226078

Reply By: Member -Signman - Thursday, Mar 08, 2007 at 15:33

Thursday, Mar 08, 2007 at 15:33
Durability !!!
AnswerID: 226081

Reply By: neptune - Thursday, Mar 08, 2007 at 15:49

Thursday, Mar 08, 2007 at 15:49
Even with UV stabilising a nylon tent left sitting outside in the sun will last about 2 months before major damage is done. I was in a friends dome tent with fly attached that he had for about 5 years and raved about when it started raining cats and dogs. A fine spray of water went through the entire tent until everything was saturated. I think longevity is the main reason people in the know purchase canvas tents, and these same people would always set their tent up at home to dry out if wet from camping. I have also seen a dome tent go up in flames within seconds when a bit of paper from a fire apparently landed at the bottom of a nylon guy rope and the flame went straight up the rope and engulfed the tent before anyone knew what was going on.
AnswerID: 226086

Reply By: Member - John L G - Thursday, Mar 08, 2007 at 16:43

Thursday, Mar 08, 2007 at 16:43
I have a large 8oz canvas shade/weather awning, long as the truck and 12ft wide, set up on one side of the truck for shade and a 12oz lean to on the other side for sleeping when the weather turns..
They are both about 15 years old now and whilst they cost a bit initially, have never had to have them repaired and for shade of course they're unbeatable, compared to nylon, cutting down not only the UV but the glare.
The other great advantage is that they don't flap around in the breeze like nylon because they have some substance to them.
I have seen the awning gather some serious pools of water overnight in rain and never a leak.
AnswerID: 226096

Reply By: Member - Davoe (Nullagine) - Thursday, Mar 08, 2007 at 16:59

Thursday, Mar 08, 2007 at 16:59
my $250 nylon tent got put up exactly 2 1/2 times
1/2? yep it was that darn hard to erect i cracked the bleep es with it and tore it to pieces and no it didnt take much effort I will be buying a canvas tent next although i prefer my swag
AnswerID: 226100

Follow Up By: Footloose - Thursday, Mar 08, 2007 at 17:35

Thursday, Mar 08, 2007 at 17:35
I'm a tent putting up idiot, after a long day in the saddle I'm non compus mentus. But I've put up my nylon tent in the dark, wet etc. Much easier than the canvas ones I used to own. 4 pegs, two extending metal poles and presto. Basic but I can sleep like that for the night, or I can put out some guys and a shade etc if I'm really keen (which I'm usually not) Easier to store and clean. But smaller nylon tents can be painful in the tropics.

Swags ? Huge and heavy. No tray or rack so no swag.
FollowupID: 486987

Follow Up By: Member - Davoe (Nullagine) - Friday, Mar 09, 2007 at 21:06

Friday, Mar 09, 2007 at 21:06
huge and heavy but 80 series to yourself so no worries. Wouldnt even consider replacing the tent but now have a significant other. Modern canvas tents are 4 pegs and wack in the centre pole - done. problem with my nylon tent was it was a flash harry antarctic style tunnel dome one PITA to put up but for weather like we have now with george piddling it down and blowing it is (was) ideal
FollowupID: 487260

Reply By: Kiwi Kia - Thursday, Mar 08, 2007 at 17:27

Thursday, Mar 08, 2007 at 17:27
Good canvas does not rip easily.
If you touch the sides of a nylon tent when it's cold outside you will find it is VERY wet with condensation.
Well waterproofed canvas sheds water easily and does not hold much water when you fold it up wet. Yes, you do have to dry it as soon as you can but this is also true for nylon (otherwise it stinks).
AnswerID: 226107

Reply By: wbsl - Thursday, Mar 08, 2007 at 17:35

Thursday, Mar 08, 2007 at 17:35
I have done a lot of camping over the past 30 years. For the last 10 I have used a Southern Cross canvas tent and it is still in a good nick as when I brought it.

Prior to that a tent used to last me about 3 years, the nylon would rot, largely caused by UV damage. The final straw with nylon was buying a new one which didn't last 1 night in a wind storm.

The nylon tents where a combination of cheap and expensive, didn't make a great deal of difference.

Wouldn't hestitate to buy another canvas tent if I ever need to.

Regards Wayne
AnswerID: 226109

Reply By: Bilbo - Thursday, Mar 08, 2007 at 20:03

Thursday, Mar 08, 2007 at 20:03
Never mind all that "ripstop" rubbish 'n all that "it's hotter in summer nonsense" 'n all that "longevity" garbage,,,,,,,,,,,

Try having sex in a nylon tent with a vestige of light in the background and see whos' the talk of town next day - everyone sees what's happening.

Doesn't happen in a canvas tent,,,,,,,,,,,,


Bilbo - "The watchful hobbit"
AnswerID: 226151

Reply By: Muddy doe (SA) - Thursday, Mar 08, 2007 at 21:31

Thursday, Mar 08, 2007 at 21:31
After 3 years with a largish nylon dome tent we have just changed to a centre pole canvas tent. It also has a side pole kit included so we can set it up with clear floor area if we want to.

It is a bit heavier but we have found it quicker to put up/take down and in the wind it did not move. The dome tent was a shocker in the wind and this was the main reason for the change.

Only done one trip in the new canvas one so far but we are pretty warpped!

AnswerID: 226186

Follow Up By: Muddy doe (SA) - Thursday, Mar 08, 2007 at 22:36

Thursday, Mar 08, 2007 at 22:36

We are not warpped!!!!

FollowupID: 487072

Follow Up By: Bilbo - Friday, Mar 09, 2007 at 16:27

Friday, Mar 09, 2007 at 16:27
See? See?

That's what having sex in a canvas tent does for ya. You end up "warrped",,,,,,,

Disgusting,,,,,,,,,,,kinky but,,,,,,,,

FollowupID: 487221

Follow Up By: Member - Kingsley N (SA) - Friday, Mar 09, 2007 at 20:54

Friday, Mar 09, 2007 at 20:54

I know I'll get flamed for this but the vernacular expression you are looking for is actually "rapt" short for "enraptured" or "in love!" True!

FollowupID: 487258

Follow Up By: Muddy doe (SA) - Friday, Mar 09, 2007 at 22:03

Friday, Mar 09, 2007 at 22:03
Thanks fellas!

Yes the canvas one is better for keeping those nocturnal activities private!!!

we are RAPT!!!!!!

Muddy and Judy

OK - back to more mundane 4WD type stuff now or David will get annoyed!
FollowupID: 487287

Reply By: Barn - Thursday, Mar 08, 2007 at 22:32

Thursday, Mar 08, 2007 at 22:32
l use a canvas tent made in the early 80's, 30foota for long stays, and while it cost over $2000 then, it has been worth every cent. l also use a small canvas tent for the short stay, you just cant beatem. lve tried the nylon domes, (4 man) and it was crap. You can have it for $50 used once, cost about $180.00
Nylon is cheap and nasty and if you have a good look around at the serious campers, they all have Canvas of some discription. Well thats my view.

AnswerID: 226207

Reply By: Dave731 - Thursday, Mar 08, 2007 at 23:51

Thursday, Mar 08, 2007 at 23:51
We have just purchased a canvas centre poll tent....

Main reason for doing so was durability. Both cheap and expensive nylon domes that we have had have been built cheaply - they have all failed during trips and led to much frustration.

We tend to camp in some pretty exposed areas and always have had trouble with the domes needing a dozen guy ropes out and still then things rip and break away when the wind comes up. Combine that with often camping on rock ground and banging in all those tent pegs starts to get frustrating (for me at least!!)

The other thing we found last trip when we were hit with a dust storm was that the dome is perfect for channelled windblown dirt and dust up under the outer fly and in through the mesh netting on the inner tent. Led to 5-10mm of dirt all over everything inside.

Although I haven't had it in to the field yet, the centre pole was so simple to put up and down in the back yard - even first time around.

AnswerID: 226231

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