Get to know your Robens tent

Each of our five tent ranges feature models answering different needs to provide every adventurer the best possible choice.

In this section we will explain the many technical features that goes into making a Robens tent, to ensure everyone is able to make an informed purchase and better differentiate the tent models.

In 2017 there are five categories of Robens tents:

  • UltraLite – for fast moving outdoor adventures where weight and pack size are critical
  • Scandinavia – tough, lightweight, low bulk tents for all-season outdoor adventures
  • Trail – ideal for a wide range of outdoor pursuits and activities like motorbike touring
  • Adventure – spacious polyester tents with high strength to weight ratio and ease of use to meet group and family needs
  • Outback – eye-catching spacious family and group tents in superlative polycotton.

Use dictates a tent’s style and we use the following to address different needs:

Dome tent

These have at least two hoop poles that cross over above the middle of the tent. The crossover poles enable dome tents to be free-standing and create a lot of internal space that can be enhanced using an extra apex pole to enlarge the entrance porch. Long poles and the fact they catch the wind when pitching makes them awkward to use.

Tunnel tent

The tunnel tent has hooped poles that sit in line normally through pole sleeves on the outside of the tent. This means they are easier that a dome to pitch in windy conditions for they can be readied for pitching close to the ground and only raised when ready to quickly peg out. An extra hoop is sometimes used to create a generous porch with plenty of room for luggage, or cooking when the weather is bad.

Geodesic tent

Uses a number of hoop poles that cross each other to create lots of small triangular panels that create a geometrical sturdy weather-beating structure with great resistance to wind and heavy snow. Geodesic tents are free-standing and in normal weather do not require guy-ropes.

Semi-geodesic tent

These tents move away from the geometric design in order to include extensions and other features that interfere with the basic sturdy triangle panel.

Single Hoop tent

These tents use a single hoop to create a lightweight fast pitching simple tent that’s perfect for trekking.

Tipi/Bell

These feature a single centre pole and an excellent wind shedding profile with eye-catching appeal and speedy pitching times.

Ridge tent

This traditional design uses front and end poles to support a ridge pole to provide lots of useable space. Front and rear poles are often replaced by A-poles for enhanced stability and easy access.

Tarps

The versatile tarp has many uses, such as a sunshade, temporary day shelter, ersatz tent, or to create a protected area to supplement a small trekking tent. Tarps can be erected in many different ways, including using walking staffs, paddles, branches or between trees – or attached directly to the tent as an extra room.

Fabrics

Basic fabric terms:

Denier – this is the linear mass density of the fibre and used to describe thicknesss – the higher it is the thicker the material feels. However, the higher the denier then the fewer the thread count – the number of fibers within a given area. This means that a coating has more space between fibres to cover.

Oxford – Type of weave that provides high levels of durability

Ripstop − ripstop materials have a crosshatch pattern of reinforcement threads running through it to enhance tear strength

Taffeta – a durable soft light plain-woven fabric perfect for technical tents

Flysheet materials

Nylon Advantages
  • Very light
  • High tear strength
  • User friendly maintenance
Nylon Disadvantages
  • Higher price compared to polyester
  • Sags when wet
  • Low UV resistance compared to polyester
  • Noise in wind
  • Condensation
Polyester Advantages
  • UV resistance
  • Hydrophobic − stays taught when wet
  • Cost
  • User friendly maintenance
Polyester Disadvantages
  • Weight penalty to achieve the equivalent tear strength of nylon.
  • Noise in wind
  • Condensation
Polycotton Advantages
  • Better strength and mildew resistance than cotton
  • Better resistance to heat and UV light than polyester
  • Breathable and moisture absorbent properties eliminate condensation
  • Maintains a stable temperature inside
  • Noise free in windy conditions
  • Great feel and smell
  • Lifespan
Polycotton Disadvantages
  • Initial cost

Preparation, maintenance and storage – see Weatherproofing

Understanding weatherproof properties – see Weatherproofing

Weatherproofing and Coating

Synthetic fabrics rely on a coating to provide a waterproof finish. Seams are either sealed by tape or a seam sealant.

Coatings

Silicone elastomer
Advantages:
  • Non-organic hydrophobic polymer
  • High UV-resistance
  • Very tough and flexible
  • Will not delaminate for it impregnates the base fabric’s fibres
  • Slick finish sheds water and makes the tent easy to pack
  • Rain beads and runs off the tent
  • Low weight penalty
Disadvantages:
  • Price
  • Seams cannot be traditionally taped but require the use of a specialized seam sealant. This has led to some manufacturers to compromise by using silicone on the outer face and a PU-coating inside to accept tape
Polyurethane
Advantages:
  • Cost
  • Seams can be taped
Disadvantages:
  • Hydrophilic and this can cause hydrolysis over time, leading to self-amalgamation and delamination if packed for extended periods
  • It requires more coatings to obtain a higher hydrostatic head so there is a weight penalty
  • Requires a durable water repellent finish to help rain bead and run off the tent rather than be absorbed into the fabric
Polycotton

Unlike a synthetic fabric polycotton does not have a hydrostatic head rating as it does not use a coating. It is in part a natural fibre and its waterproof properties depend on cotton’s ability to absorb water and swell to fill the gaps in the weave. While we should describe this as water resistant this process is highly efficient – especially when the gap to be filled is very small as that in our densely woven HydroTex. A Durable Water Repellent (DWR) treatment assists rain bead and roll off the fabric’s outer face.

It’s good camping practice to ‘weather’ a cotton tent before first-time use or after long periods of storage. You wet out of the tent either by rain or the use of a hose. It is then left to dry naturally before repeating several times. This ‘activates’ the cotton fibres and allows them to swell and contract rapidly. While our fabric does not require weathering it helps to check the tent’s seams and practice pitching before the tent is used for a holiday. Seams are not sealed but a cotton/synthetic thread is used and this swells to fill the needle holes. Drips caused by slightly oversize holes can be cured by a dab of seam sealant.

Dirt, detergent, oil and grease may damage a fabric and will certainly impact on the way cotton reacts to water. These should be removed immediately, the area cleaned and, if necessary, re-proofed. Try not to touch the sides of any polycotton tent when it is raining for body oils may allow water to pass through the fabric. General reproofing is not a regular maintenance task but should only be done if the fabric shows signs of leaking or wear.

Polycotton is high maintenance and a tent has to be thoroughly cleaned and dried before storage to avoid mildew. But, polycotton provides a high quality camping experience. Those tiny holes allow water vapour to pass through the fabric to eliminate condensation inside. Combined with its extra weight and insulation you get that highly appreciated ‘air conditioning’ effect throughout the year and the unique much sought after memory-evoking ambience. Long life and high resale values add attraction.

Flysheet: Robens flysheets are generally made from polycotton, polyester or polyamide (nylon), with the synthetic fabrics coated with either polyurethane (PU) or silicone.

Inner tents: Inner tents are made of breathable materials and protect the occupants from draughts and condensation.

Groundsheets: Robens groundsheets are made of nylon or polyester fabric of various thicknesses and hydrostatic heads.

Poles

Aluminium alloy poles are used for their high strength to weight ratio. These are classified depending on composition.

  • #7071 – alloyed with zinc for hardness
  • #6061 – alloyed with magnesium and silicone for easy machining and general purpose use
  • T6 – Solution heat treated and artificially aged
  • Anodisation – An electrochemical process that converts the aluminium surface into a thick decorative, durable and corrosion-resistant oxide finish
  • DAC – Dongah Trading Corporation, the premium producer of tent and trekking poles and tent parts
  • Pressfit – DAC-patented method to attach poles together using a tube insert pressed into one end of a pole section. Helps eliminate pole failure.