I hate nylon tents. I feel suffocated in them and they are miserably hot as soon as the sun comes up. They're gross. They serve a wonderful function for many around the world, but I hate them. So usually when we go camping, we set up the tent, and then I sleep in the van. For real. I go vanping. Our van can accommodate an air mattress or sleeping pad and with the chairs out or folded flat is basically a full sized bed. Sweet, right?!
However, vanping is not exactly glamorous. Vanping is practical for me, but it's definitely not glamping, and my hubby isn't partial to sleeping in the van.
I have been pricing canvas tents for years, and could never justify the expense with the frequency which we would use it. THEN. One day I went to my Father-in-Law's yard sale, and he had his old canvas tent for sale. (!!!!) I told him I wanted it, he wouldn't let me pay him for it, and we took it home. We have been accumulating the things we need to repair it and finally we just took the time to set the tent up and repair it over a few days in our front yard. Yes, the front yard 'cause we're classy like that.
The first thing we did before we ever even thought about repairs was order this bag from Walmart to store it in. It was a great value for the quality and has held our tent well.
- First, there were the parts. All the parts fit together in a specific way that we had to figure out a bit like a puzzle. Once we cracked the code, we then color coded each part so that putting it together next time will be a breeze. We used electrical tape from the dollar tree that I had bought for hula hoop making (another post, another time :)). I love that I can get 6 colors of electrical tape for $1.
- Secondly, we had to figure out how to get the tent from flat to 3 dimensions. Again, this was not a task that came without struggle. We knew that each part was where it was supposed to be. But the tent, it wasn't a-raisin'. It was still flat as a flitter until my problem solver of a husband figured out that we needed to raise the side poles before we could get the center pole inside and raised where it needed to be. Looking back it all seems so simple...
- Once the tent was raised we inspected it to find several tears in the screen door, and a couple small holes in the bottom of the tent that needed patching. It also became apparent after a couple days out in the weather that it would be wise to waterproof the roof again, just in case. So off to Dick's Sporting Goods my husband sent me to pick up the canvas waterproofer, and patch kit that we needed.
- Nathan waterproofed the roof of the tent(and probably his hands) . It was pretty straightforward and was a quick and easy fix. We did have to let it dry completely, but luckily we had a perfect week of sunny weather to help us out.
- I sewed up the holes in the screen door with some heavy duty thread and a needle. Then Nathan went back over that with some no fray glue. I'm hoping it will hold out like that for a couple years anyway.
- Then, Nathan repaired the holes in the bottom of the tent with a tent repair kit from Dick's. It seemed to work pretty well.
- Lastly, we let the kids pile up in it and see how comfy it was. They approved.
Packing It All Back Up
- Before, our poles and our rolled up tent were tied together by some rope. It served it's purpose well enough, but Nathan thought ratchet straps would do better, plus they will serve double duty. When we set the tent up they will help hold the tent taut and secure.
If you happen upon a vintage tent, don't feel daunted! With a little problem solving and a few supplies we now have our dream canvas tent at only a fraction of the cost of a new one. Plus, I don't think they make them like this anymore, with the green and white stripes! It's so cute I can't even stand it.