I think it's a primitive act that comes out in all of us while camping; the desire to properly storm proof your tent. Just watch next time foul weather is brewing -- Each member of your group of campers will try to throw their two cents worth towards techniques on how to prepare for the approaching weather front; especially men, and especially men with an Engineers degree.
I once went on a canoe trip with five engineers, the kind that design bridges for a living. The trip was going smoothly until a storm began to brew. One of the participants thought up some mathematical formula proving his theories of storm proofing the tents, and others disagreed. All hell broke loose. In fact, two of the paddlers on the trip haven't spoken to one another since the altercation.
Being the writer (not engineer) of the group, I spent the time putting pen to paper and scribing all the points made throughout. Here are the tips suggested. Keep in mind that all are just theories. But none of the bridges the engineers built have yet to collapse, so these notes may be of some value.
- First things first: you need a good tent. A three-season with minimum waterproof rating of 600 mm for the flysheet and 1000 mm for the floor.
- The more ventilation systems the tent has the better it will keep condensation out and your sleeping bag dry.
- Slab on generous amount of seam sealer on a new tent, prior to your trip.
- A tent's weakest link is the door's zipper. Position the tent door away from the prevailing winds to reduce the chance of water seepage.
- Place a plastic tarp inside on the tent floor, not outside. Having it outside will just help collect the water. When the water begins to soak through, and it eventually will, having the tarp inside guarantees a protective layer between your sleeping pad and the soggy tent floor.
- Nylon guy lines loosen when wet; attach shock cord loops to each one. This will guarantee they keep taunt and absorb any stress placed on the tent fly when the gale force winds begin to howl.
- Sew on extra stake loops to the sides of the tent. Most tents only come with three of four; that's not enough to stop the fly from flapping in the wind.
- Tie two three foot lengths of parachute cord at the front and back of the tent, attached to the poles and not the fabric. Double stake each one.
- When packing up, stuff your tent into its storage bag rather then rolling it. Not only is it less harsh on the fabric, it also reduces the bulk in your pack.
- As soon as you get home, pitch the tent in your backyard to properly dry it out. The moment mold and mildew set in, your tent will never hold up against wind and rain again.
Kevin Callan is the author of eight books including "The Happy Camper: An Essential Guide to Life Outdoors." He is a recipient of the National Magazine Award and a regularly featured speaker at North America's largest paddling events.