Tent modifications

Posted by: mimstrel

Tent modifications - 09/02/12 02:00 AM

I will soon be the proud owner of three and a half used tents to play with, courtesy of Tom (twistplank). I've requested 5 and will be sharing with a friend (he's paying for the other 1.5 tents). Each of us intends to refurb one tent as a "front country" tent, and that leaves us three to modify into smaller, lighter options.

I have been informed that the tents are 4-person pyramidal "Pingora" tents from Bridge Outdoors (personally I don't think they'd fit more than three people; I like some personal space, thanks). They include an inner tent that is basically a tub with mosquito netting, and an outer rain fly. I'd like to get at least one one-person tent and one two-person tent out of my portion of the three "modify" tents. I'm not sure if my friend is intending on a one-person or a two-person. Ideally, we could get two one-person tents and two two-person tents, but I'm not counting on it.

I'm pretty handy with a sewing machine, but as I'm searching for ideas, I come up a little bit overwhelmed. And of course, most often people are starting entirely from scratch rather than cutting down an existing structure.

I'd like some input on a couple of things from those older and more experienced than Mike and I. Obviously we have the option of trying a couple of options, but I'd like some feedback anyway.

1) I could either modify both the internal mesh tent and the rain fly, leaving me with a modular system that would allow either rain protection or bug protection, or both, as needed. OR, I could cut out most of the noseeum netting and sew the remainder directly to the rain fly. This cuts out a little bit of weight but means that if we want to sleep under the stars, we're at the mercy of the bugs. Not that we haven't done that before... but there's some appeal to having the option.

2) With regards to shape - I think I know what I want for my one-person - sort of halfway between an A-frame and a bivy. I can cut it down quite a bit because I'm relatively short. But for the two-man tent(s), I'm concerned that I may be limited by the materials, given that I'm not starting with a flat sheet of material: I'm starting with a tent. If anyone has experience with this sort of thing, I'd appreciate some input... or if anyone knows of an online resource showing a modification such as I'm intending, that would be great as well. I'm still looking.

I'm sure I'll come up with more questions once I have materials in hand, but thought I'd get a head start. Thanks!
Posted by: Cranman

Re: Tent modifications - 09/04/12 07:32 PM

First, if you go to the backpacking.net home page, on the left hand side there is a link for "make your own gear" section that has some plans on making your own tent.

I have used two of the same tents you are getting from Tom. I agree, three adults max and really two if you want to have good room for gear inside.

If you are going to make custom tents I think your best bet will be to break down the tent body and rain fly into flat sheets and build from there. Since the existing tent shape uses all flat panels you should get plenty of material to work with.

You may find, like I did, that among the group of tents you get there are some that look almost new, and some that look about ready for the scrap pile. So far I have been happy to use the newer ones as is for family car camping.
Posted by: mimstrel

Re: Tent modifications - 09/13/12 12:38 AM

Got my tents today!! Two of the five look like they've never seen the outdoors, they're seriously beautiful. Which made it easy to pick the two I'm not going to cut up.
Anyway, I started in on my one-person tent, and I thought I'd put on here what I did in case anybody is doing a similar project in the future.

I quickly discovered that there isn't a space in my apartment big enough to lay out the full tent flat, so the first thing I did was cut it in half (4' wide, leaving a little extra for seams and to fold up the side of the "tub" on the cut-off side) and cut off the top of the "pyramid" at 3.5'. Then I laid it out and figured out how much narrower I wanted it to get towards the feet. I sleep with one leg bent 90 degrees at hip and knee, which means I require a little bit more width at the hips than I honestly take up. So I laid down and measured, added a couple of inches so I'm not hitting the sides of the tent, and determined that I really ought to plan on needing 30 inches of width at the hips. So I chopped off the excess at that point. I don't require the extra space if I'm just hanging out reading a book or whatnot, so this is plenty of room This gives me a lopsided quadrilateral base for my tent.

Next, I evened up the smaller triangle at the "foot" end of the tent. It will finish at 2' tall, which is probably taller than really necessary, but that's how the angles came out. I left the original seam intact on the front corner and cut the other side to make it an equilateral triangle.

The harder one is the "head" end triangle. This is where the entrance to the tent is. I'm using the original zipper, which in the original tent was vertical. I used a little trigonometry and figured up that I needed the sides of the triangle to be about 3.5 feet long to give me the height I want. Notice that my first step was to cut off the top of the pyramid at 3.5'. This is where I got that number. So the next step was to cut the front corner seam and the zipper free of the rest of the netting on this triangle, and bring them together at the center point (creating a second equilateral triangle). I marked where they came together and cut off the extra netting (leaving a seam allowance as always. Then I sewed the zipper and the other seam back to this triangle with a "flat french seam" (I think this is the right term; it's a French seam that's then been sewn flat instead of just being ironed. This makes my tent tall enough at the "head" end that if I sit up very straight, I will hit my head on the ceiling.

Next, I cut a straight line from the top of the "head" triangle to the top of the "foot" triangle, along the netting that will make up the "front" of my tent.

That's as far as I've gotten at this moment, my next step is to cut pieces from the fly to form the rainproof portions of the tent.