Getting the Most Tent For Your Buck

One of the joys of tent camping is the simplicity—just a humble shelter stands between you and the wonders of nature. Then again, today’s tents aren’t necessarily all that humble.

Generally speaking, you pay more for a tent with additional features, advanced materials or one in which you can stand up.

Prices can range from about $50 to more than $500, and as with most things – you get what you pay for.  There are huge differences between a 10×10 which costs $99 versus one that costs $500.  To choose the best tent for your camping style, first answer a few questions:

How many campers does your tent need to accommodate?

Tents are sized by sleeping capacity: A two-person tent will fit two average-sized adults sleeping shoulder to shoulder. In other words, cozy. If you want room for gear, pets, sleeping cots or simply getting dressed, opt for a tent that accommodates the campers plus one or two more.

The tent’s shape also affects interior space. More vertical walls and generous peak heights will feel roomier than a tent with sloped walls. The latter will be more resistant to wind and snow loading but can feel a bit cramped around the edges.

What kind of camping will you be doing?

If you’ll be pitching your tent near your vehicle, you can get a tent with additional features without fretting over the pounds they’ll add. You might want to consider extras like multiple doors.

Where will you be camping?

Choose tent materials to suit the climate. Mesh and ventilation are key in warm and humid places like the Southeast; if you’ll be camping in winter, look at four-season tents that provide extra resistance to snow, wind and cold.

Everyone wants a dry tent, so pay special attention to the roof and floor construction.  Factory tape-sealed seams indicate a high level of quality in construction.

I also recommend styles that elevate the floor seams a few inches off the ground. This is referred to as a bathtub style floor.

Care and Maintenance

Give your tent a little love, and it should last for a decade or more. Follow these five tips:

Waterproof the seams. Even if your tent has taped seams—and it should—take the time to apply seam sealant, which fills in those little stitched holes. Do it when the tent is new and reapply at least once a year.

Protect the bottom of your tent from abrasions with a durable footprint, which can be purchased as an accessory for most tents.

Always stake down your tent and tie rain flys with guy lines. Flapping fabric—or worse, tumbling tents—causes rips and damages tent poles.

Pack it dry. Store a damp tent and you’ll forever have a mildewy tent. Mildew will then rot your fabric, destroying your tent.  Air-dry it completely when you get home.

PITCH PERFECT: Foolproof tips for setting up a tent

Practice. Pitch a new tent (or one you haven’t used in a while) in the backyard before you head out. Most tents are easy to erect once you’ve done it a time or two.

Bring the instructions. We sew our instructions into the pole bag, so they are ever handy and not to get lost.

Choose a location—carefully. Search out a flat spot, preferably one that sits on higher ground. Avoid or move sharp objects. And be sure to look up, too; don’t camp under hazards such as dead branches.

Lay out the groundcloth. Then lay out the tent, poles and stakes.

Orient. A tent facing east will give you more early morning sun through the tent door.  To sleep later, turn your tent to face west.

Assemble the poles. Some poles slide through tent sleeves first, others clip to the tent once it’s assembled.

Stake it. Pull tent corners outward and stake them into the ground. Follow directions to erect the tent and attach it to the poles.

Add the rain fly. This protects the tent from showers. Use guy lines and stakes to ensure that it’s taut.

Celestial Navigator November 2013

2013 has been called the Year of the Comet – and November has some great star-gazing events that you wont want to miss!  Starting with a full moon, followed by two meteor showers, and ending with a view of newly discovered Comet ISON as it passes by our Sun. Will Comet ISON (C/2012 S1) be the comet of the century? We’ll find out soon, as estimates have the object visible through binoculars in early November.  So grab your PahaQue Tent and your telescope, and enjoy some great Fall camping and awesome stargazing in November.

  • November 3 – New Moon. The Moon will be directly between the Earth and the Sun and will not be visible from Earth. This phase occurs at 12:50 UTC. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.
  • November 3 – Hybrid Solar Eclipse. A hybrid solar eclipse occurs when the Moon is almost too close to the Earth to completely block the Sun. This type of eclipse will appear as a total eclipse to some parts of the world and will appear annular to others. The eclipse path will begin in the Atlantic Ocean off the eastern coast of the United States and move east across the Atlantic and across central Africa.
  • November 4, 5 – Taurids Meteor Shower. The Taurids is a long-running minor meteor shower producing only about 5-10 meteors per hour. It is unusual in that it consists of two separate streams. The first is produced by dust grains from Asteroid 2004 TG10. The second stream is produced by debris left behind by Comet 2P Encke. The shower runs annually from September 7 to December 10. It peaks this year on the the night of November 4. This is an excellent year because there will be no moonlight to spoil the show. Best viewing will be just after midnight from a dark location far away from city lights. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Taurus, but can appear anywhere in the sky.
  • November 17 – Full Moon. The Moon will be directly opposite the Earth from the Sun and will be fully illuminated as seen from Earth. This phase occurs at 15:16 UTC. This full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Full Beaver Moon because this was the time of year to set the beaver traps before the swamps and rivers froze. It has also been known as the Frosty Moon and the Hunter’s Moon.
  • November 16, 17 – Leonids Meteor Shower. The Leonids is an average shower, producing an average of up to 15 meteors per hour at its peak. This shower is unique in that it has a cyclonic peak about every 33 years where hundreds of meteors per hour can be seen. That last of these occurred in 2001. The Leonids is produced by dust grains left behind by comet Tempel-Tuttle, which was discovered in 1865. The shower runs annually from November 6-30. It peaks this year on the night of the 16th and morning of the 17th. Unfortunately the glare from the full moon will block many of the meteors this year, but if you are patient you should still be able to catch quite a few good ones. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Leo, but can appear anywhere in the sky.
  • November 28 – Comet ISON Closest Approach to the Sun. Newly discovered comet ISON will make its closest approach to the Sun on November 28. If the comet survives its encounter with the Sun, it could be one of the brightest comets in recent memory. Some astronomers estimate that it could even be bright enough to be seen during daylight hours. In August and September, the comet will begin to be visible in the morning sky in dark locations with telescopes. In October it will start to be visible to the naked eye and will continue to get brighter until November 28. If the comet survives, it will be visible in the early morning and early evening sky and could be nearly as bright as the full Moon. Some astronomers are already calling it the comet of the century.

FALL CAMPING – IT’S NOT TOO LATE!

FALL CAMPING

IT’S NOT TOO LATE!

Are you one of those folks that love the idea of camping, but dislike the heat, the buzzing insects, and crowded campgrounds of summer? Waiting until after the crowds have left, and the weather has cooled, offers many advantages for campers seeking solitude and quiet.  We recently asked our customers what are their favorite things about Fall Camping.  Here are the top five responses:

#1  Smaller Crowds – Summertime generally means crowded campgrounds. One customer compared it to a being in a hotel without walls.  Not so in the fall, when you may find yourself the lone camper in a campground that was filled to capacity two months ago.  That means more peace and quiet, cleaner facilities, and better site selection options.

#2  Cooler Weather – warm days and cool nights make a great combination.  Perfect for hiking or exploring during the day, and the cool nights are great for sleeping, all cuddled up in your sleeping bag, or sitting around a warm fire wrapped in a toasty blanket, sipping hot chocolate.  Which leads us to –

#3  Clear Nights – Fall is perhaps the best time of year for star-gazing.  Crystal clear nights, and the return of the winter constellations make Fall a great time of year to bring along a telescope, or even just a pair of binoculars.  For smart-phone users, apps such as Google Sky or SkySafari add an entirely new dimension to viewing and understanding the heavens.  Campgrounds – generally away from urban areas, are great places to star gaze.

#4  Lower Rates – Many campgrounds offer discounted off-season rates, making an already affordable activity – camping – even more affordable!  Camping is perhaps one of the most economical, and healthy activities available, and even more so during this time of year.

#5  Fall Colors – this is perhaps the highlight of Fall camping.  All other advantages aside, and as if to say thank you for coming to visit, Mother Nature unleashes her annual display of colors that can be as captivating as staring at the camp fire.  So bring your camera!

If Fall has already passed by in your neck of the woods, then I hope you had an opportunity to enjoy at least one Fall camping trip this year.  And if Fall weather is still on the menu where you live, then grab your gear and go!  Soon the leaves will be gone, winter will be upon us and the camp gear will be stowed away, waiting for Spring.

What is your favorite time of year to camp?  Please share your camp stories and photos with us – we would love to hear from you and learn about how and when you like to camp!  We will share your stories and photos on our website and Facebook page.  To contact us, please email your stories, photos and comments to happytrails@pahaque.com

I hope to see you ’round the campfire soon!

Jeff Basford

President