Technical Guide to Our Robens Tents

Robens tent buying guide - which tent is the right one for you?

When choose a new tent many factors need to be taken into account so you can find the right model for your requirements.

Time to choose your perfect tent and these are the questions to ask:

  • How many people will be sharing the tent?
  • How will you be travelling with the tent?
  • Where are you headed?
  • How often will you have to take the tent down and re-erect it during your adventure?
  • Will your tent be used a great deal?
  • How many people will be sharing the tent?

    Manufacturers of trekking tents have agreed on a standard width of 55cm per person. Will that be enough, or do you want a more spacious tent? Naturally, a three-person tent offers two people considerably more space, so long as you don't mind coping with the greater volume and extra weight.

    How will you be travelling with the tent?

    While you are in a car, the size and weight of the tent package will not matter very much, but as soon as you try carrying it on your back, or on a bike, motorbike or canoe, the difference will become much more significant. With their boots and leathers, motorcyclists often need more storage space for their luggage than a person on foot. A lightweight tent will generally weigh between 1 and 2kg per person.

    Where are you headed?

    Some types of tent will suit you better than others, depending on where you are going and the climate. In bad weather areas, where you may need to erect your tent in the rain, having the poles on the outside means that it will stay dry inside. In hot weather, tents with openings at both ends are easier to air. Where the weather is generally good, a domed tent will usually be adequate, and if it is warm at night you may only need the inner tent. Domed tents are generally cheaper than tunnels.

    How often will you have to take the tent down and re-erect it during your adventure? Will your tent be used a great deal?

    Over a lengthy tour you may sometimes have to erect the tent in bad weather, in which case you will be better off choosing a tent with the poles outside. Fast and easy erection is also important. There are tents available with hooks that enable the poles to be fastened very quickly. If you will be using the tent in all weathers, a large porch can be very important. In poor weather it serves as your lounge as well as kitchen and dining room.

    Once you have these answers clear in your mind, the following descriptions of the available designs and materials will help you decide which type of tent most closely meets your requirements.

    TENT MATERIALS:

    You know what you need from your tent, now it's time to consider what type is best for you.

    Flysheet:

    Flysheets are generally made from polyester or polyamide (nylon), coated with either polyurethane (PU) or silicone.

    Nylon

    Advantages: Very light. High tear strength – ripstop nylon has a crosshatch pattern of reinforcement threads running through it to enhance the already high tear strength.

    Disadvantages: Higher price. May sags when wet. Low UV resistance compared to polyester. The last two points may be negated by the use of silicone elastomer coating each side of the fabric.

    Polyester

    Advantages: UV resistance. Stays taught when wet. Cost.

    Disadvantages: Weight penalty to achieve the equivalent tear strength of nylon.

    Coatings:

    Silicone elastomer

    Advantages: This non-organic hydrophobic polymer has high UV-resistance, is very tough and flexible and will not delaminate for it impregnates the base fabric’s fibres. Its sleek finish sheds water and makes the tent easy to pack. It is normally used to proof higher specification nylon tents for its properties mean lower weight fabrics can be used and extends the tent’s lifespan.

    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 take the tape.

    Polyurethane

    Advantages: Cost. Seams can be taped.

    Disadvantages: The coating is 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.

    Inner tents:

    Inner tents are made of breathable materials which, together with the vents, ensure a pleasant atmosphere inside the tent. Avoid large areas of mesh or your inner will get uncomfortable in cold or windy weather. Robens’ inner tents allow you to close almost all the mesh against draughts and temperature loss.

    Groundsheets:

    Groundsheets are made of nylon or polyester fabric of various thicknesses, with heavier materials offering a high 10,000mm hydrostatic head. Protect thinner groundsheets by placing a footprint between it and the ground.

    DESIGNS:

    Dome tent

    Dome tents have at least two arched poles that cross over above the middle of the tent. In most models you set up the inner tent first and then fasten the waterproof flysheet over it. The crossover poles enable dome tents to be free-standing, and they need little extra anchoring unless it is windy. Some dome tents have an extra apex pole to enlarge the entrance porch. Many models have two entrances, so that one will be usable even in heavy slanting rain and the tent will be better ventilated.

    Tunnel tent

    The tunnel tent is normally pitched flysheet first, ensuring the inner remains dry even in the rain. All the arched poles run parallel, normally through pole sleeves on the outside of the tent. This system makes a tunnel tent easy to pitch in the wind. The flysheet is usually cut very low and often has two large air vents. Both features are very important in bad weather. The vertical walls of the inner tent provide plenty of headroom. Some tunnel tents use a third hoop to create a generous porch with plenty of room for lots of luggage, or for cooking when the weather is bad.

    Geodesic

    Here, a number of arched poles cross one another several times, producing a 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.

    Tarps

    The versatile tarp has many uses, such as a sunshade, temporary day shelter, ersatz tent, or a small 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.

    For more information on materials, coatings, designs and other technical features go to our Tent guide in the Know you Robens Product section.