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Traits of a Rainy Day Tent
Rain screens and bathtub-style floors
A tent with a rain fly is like a tent within a tent. The rain fly acts as an outer waterproof/water repellent barrier to help keep the rain away from the tent itself. Ideally, it should be kept out of direct contact with the tent material, as contact will promote the transfer of water to your belongings on the inside. Has anyone ever been startled awake by a screaming 4 year old crying because they just woke up in a wet sleeping bag? I shudder just thinking about it. A good rain fly is worth its weight in gold, and it beats trying to rush up to tarps or retreat to the car for the next 14 hours straight. A tub or bathtub floor will also go the extra mile to keep water away from your belongings. This style of flooring carries the waterproof flooring material partially up the tent wall, usually 8-12 inches, and prevents much of the rain that drips from the roof from mixing with the mud and soaking the side wall of the tent.
With 4 or more people stuck inside a tent on a rainy day, the humidity inside the tent will rise quite quickly. You’ll be trying to play cards only to suddenly disappear… to be found an hour later stuck to the side of little Trent’s clammy leg. You also won’t be able to stop the downpour, or your breath for that matter, but you can choose a tent that has at least 2 shielded windows on opposite walls. Or, just as effectively, a vented dome top with a ground vent shielded by the rain fly or a vestibule. Any combination that allows the movement of air will be a great advantage.
Vestibule and screened porch
Many tents are now available with a vestibule… a semi-protected area above the doorway formed by an extension of the rain fly. These work quite well to protect the door from direct exposure to rain. A vestibule is also very convenient for removing and leaving behind wet and muddy shoes, soaked clothes and for storing anything else that is waterproof to free up space for the restless occupants trapped inside the tent. Some of the larger “cabin style” family camping tents now come with a screened porch. If the rain isn’t too heavy, these screened porches are great for allowing the family to spread out a bit until the rain lets up. Not only does it allow your family to physically spread out, it can greatly promote mum and dad’s emotional well-being as it gives them a few minutes of relative peace while the kids occupy their own time playing nearby, safely out of the weather.
Okay, some of these aren’t on the Old School “roughing it” list, but let’s face it, few of us are going out on this rainy weekend adventure to be Davy Crockett or Lewis & Clark. There are currently tents on the market that have built-in LED lights and fans, powered by readily available rechargeable DC sources. No more kicking over the lantern or trying to hold the flashlight in your mouth while shuffling the cards and helping your daughter into her hoodie at the same time! Most tents have some form of internal storage pockets, but did you know that there are now tents with lockers? Yes, you read that right. These specially designed “bump out” closet areas free up valuable floor space on a rainy day, giving you more room to maneuver around the sea of people stuck in the tent with you.
Does it seem like many of the 12 year olds are almost 6′ tall these days? If you’re stuck inside a tent all day, or worse, ALL weekend due to rain, the ceiling height of the tent becomes extra important. Your body naturally wants to stand up at some point, and it’s pretty uncomfortable if you’re 6′ tall and the tent is only 5’8″! The range used to be somewhat limited for tall tent campers, but has recently blossomed. with a fair number of tents with ceiling heights of 5′ 10″ or greater. I would also suggest looking into a cabin style camping tent rather than a dome as the former will provide more room to move around in the higher headroom.
So if you’re new to tent camping, looking to retire or upgrade your existing tent, or busy compiling your Christmas camping wish list, consider these features in a new tent. Doing so before you’re trapped inside with the whole family in an extended downpour can go a long way to a more enjoyable weekend getaway… and to maintaining your continued sense of sanity.
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