In the previous blog post, Want a Cooler Tent - Use Shade Cloth, I shared some comments and pictures from campers that used either shade cloth or a tarp to create shade over their tent and camp area. This has been my most widely read blog post to date, so there appears to be great interest in better controlling the temperature in our tents. The blog post generated some comments and questions that are addressed in this blog. I will also share with you some additional pictures from one of the campers and some unique fixes for a problem that he experienced.
I remind you that I am not a shade cloth expert. I do not yet own any. I have some insulation for my tent and will be sharing my experience with it in a future blog post. The campers that shared their experience with me are all personal friends and we have camped together many days.
Here is the camp from respondent #3 from the earlier post. You will notice the shade cloth extends from the poles on the left, over the seating area, over his tent and then attaches to his trailer. There is about a 5-foot gap between the tent and the trailer. His creative method of securing the shade cloth to the trailer was described in the previous post and expanded on later in this post.
A question a reader asked was could the shade cloth not just rest right on top of the tent and be tied down like an additional rain fly. I had wondered this same thing. I was in Korea last year and saw shade cloth used widely on green houses. I thought if they could use it on a green house like that, why couldn’t one use it on a tent. An important consideration however, is that green houses are made of Plexiglas material so it is a much more durable than a rain fly. If anyone has experience in using a shade cloth right on top of a rain fly for an extended period of time, please comment and share with us. Two advantages of having shade cloth off you tent - First it allows air circulation so the heat that the shade cloth blocks is more effectively dissipated. Second, you can extend the shade cloth beyond your tent to create a more comfortable seating/meeting area.
Camper #3 didn’t have his shade cloth secured right on top of his rain fly, but he did have the shade cloth resting on the top of his tent as it extended from his trailer to the poles on the other side. He found that this was unacceptable since the shade cloth fabric and the fly moved differently in the wind. If he had camped several weeks with this setup, the shade cloth would have worn right through the rain fly. That would be a terrible situation; to have a rain fly with holes along the peak of the tent.
His counsel was to not have the shade cloth directly on the tent, as it could comprise the integrity of the fly and the tent roof. However I do not know for sure that the shade cloth would damage the rain fly if it rested directly on top of the rain fly and was secured with the same rope.
This camper came up with a creative solution that I am excited to share with you. Here is his list of parts:
1. 11" plastic disks from Deluxe Camping. (This is 1/2" cutting board material - the remains of the hole that is cut in the Deluxe Camp Sink counter top). There is nothing magic about the size and material of the disc. Something is needed that sufficiently supports the shade cloth, doesn't abrade it and is sturdy.
2. Find the center point of the disc
3. Drill 3/8” hole
4. Use 16” length of 3/8” all thread (grind one end rounded
5. Use 2 - 1 ½” x 3/8” washers (one washer on each side of the plastic disc)
6. Use 1 - 3/8-16 locking Nut for the top nut (do not run the bolt all the way thru the nut)
7. Use 1- 3/8” locking washer (use this locking washer between the bottom large washer and 3/8-16 nut)
8. Use 1 – 3/8-16 nut
9. Use 3/8” standard thread coupler to attached to tent threaded top bolt where tent attaches through grommet
This support system keeps the shade cloth off of the rain fly, allows air circulation between the fly and the tent and provides a sturdy platform for the shade cloth to rest.
Here is additional information regarding how he secured the shade cloth to his trailer.
1. He used 3 lengths of awning track and attached it to aluminum angle metal and trailer using 1-1/4th” self-tapping screws. Purchased at sailrite.com.
2. 3/16” thick aluminum angle metal (this is used for rigidity purposes)
3. 14” Length of 3/8th inch paracord
4. ¼” ID x 1” length tube washer/insert washer
Regarding poles -He is using Military Aluminum Poles that are 4’ lengths and can be added together for desired height. I am also using two different kinds of tops, one that is round, and the other that has three prongs that can adjust to fit are it is holding up.
Other general comments and questions -
There was a comment about the shade cloth slipping on the top of the support poles. It seems like a solution for that is to make sure the shade cloth is tightly anchored to eliminate slippage. Some are going to glue some anti slippage pads on top of the spreaders to eliminate slippage.
It was asked if shade cloth could/should be left up in the winter. There are several reasons this is a bad idea. First, one would want the heat to enter your tent in the winter. Second if living in area where there is snow in the winter, the shade cloth would restrict the snow from sliding off the the rain fly, putting unwanted weight/stress on the tent.
It was asked weather black, green or tan is the best color for shade cloth. Black is typically cheaper and lasts the longest. It is recommended that you get shade cloth with finished edges and grommets.
Thank you for your interest in this important topic. There is still much to learn. If we share with each other we can come up with solutions that will help all of us.
BTW, at this camp I saw dozens of Deluxe Camp Sinks and Deluxe Tent Showers. Several women sought me out to thank me for making their camp more clean and comfortable. If you haven't got your camp sink and shower don't wait.