FAQ | CanvasCamp
Advantages of a Cotton Canvas Tent
Learn more about Why Canvas Tents Rule and compare the differences between cotton canvas and synthic plastic tents.
Cotton Canvas vs PU-Coated Cotton Canvas
There are plenty of Bell tents on the market which have been PU-coated in order to be rendered waterproof. This is a cheap way of making a cotton canvas tent waterproof, but fails to retain the benefits of breathable cotton. It is also a poor method of waterproofing because it is susceptible to cracking, discoloring, and UV damage. PU coated tents are difficult to repair, and are not retreatable. The PU coating degrades to the point that it’s useless as a tent, but will sit in a landfill for an extended period of time and leach plastics and chemicals into the earth.
The PU coating is a plastic layer that an adverse effect on the natural look and feel of the tents. PU coatings tents prevent the canvas under it from breathing, which causes condensation to form on the inside.
CanvasCamp tents have been impregnated to be both breathable and waterproof, and do not have PU coatings. CanvasCamp’s 100% cotton tents are waterproof, breathable, repairable, and retreatable. When shopping for canvas tents, make sure you are aware of the canvas weight, chemical applications, and construction quality.
Don’t buy a PU coated tent for camping, certainly not glamping.
Canvas Fabric Weights and Treatments
Cotton canvas tent fabric comes in a variety of weights measured in “ounces per square yard”, or “grams per square meter” in metric. Modern tent canvas weights are usually between 7.5oz/yd² and 13oz/yd² (250g/m² to 440g/m²). Lighter weight canvas provides easier portability and dries faster at the expense of being somewhat less durable than heavier canvas. Lighter weight canvas is better for leisure, short-term, and fair weather.
Heavy weight canvas provides superior durability and lifespan, but dries slower, and is less portable. Heavier canvas is best suited for, semi-permanent shelter, inclement weather conditions, and rugged or commercial use. CanvasCamp's wide range of Sibley tents are made in canvas weights from 9.4oz/yd² to 13oz/yd² (320-440g/m²), enabling you to find the perfect tent for your application.
CanvasCamp develops canvases to complement the intended use of the tent design. Our most notable canvases are the 100% cotton canvases:
Classic Canvas (320 gr/m² or 9.5 oz/yd²): Ideal for casual camping, recreational use, mild to moderate climates.
PRO Canvas (360 gr/m² or 10.62 oz/yd²): Ideal for long term use, commercial applications, mild to moderately severe climates, and four-season use.
Weight is not the only measure of quality canvas, and canvases of a similar weights can perform differently. You can have a very heavy canvas fabric that is made from weak yarn, inferior cotton, a poor weave, or inferior treatment. You can also have a light canvas with a heavy treatment. Additionally, the dyeing and treatment processes of the yarn and canvas can compromise its strength.
Different cotton varietals and maturities have different fiber lengths. The way cotton is processed can also impact fiber length. CanvasCamp uses long fiber cotton because it is stronger and fewer fibers are needed to spin it into yarn, meaning it can be weaved more tightly. Egyptian Cotton has the longest fibers, which is why it make great sheets.
The waterproofing treatment on the canvas, and how that treatment is applied, plays a central role in performance, durability, and breathability. The ‘heavier’ the treatment, the more durable and less breathable the tent is generally. Heavy treatments can be applied to poor quality canvas, and light treatments can be applied to quality canvas, and vice versa.
All of our tents start with high quality canvas made from 100% cotton, which means that heavy treatments are not necessary to achieve the level of performance we strive for. CanvasCamp canvas treatments are impregnated into the canvas before the tents are constructed, with a thermal bath and heat curing process for maximum absorption. Our impregnation process ensures the treatment protects the canvas inside and out, unlike PU coatings or spray on treatments which are cheaper and less effective. Our proprietary treatments aim to strike the right balance between breathability and durability, while refraining from using harsh chemicals that can negatively affect human health and the environment.
Fire Resistant Treatments
There is no substitute for practicing responsible fire safety. Under no circumstances should your approach to fires be influenced by the presence or absence of fire retardant technology, labels, or prevailing regulation. Assume that everything can burn and act accordingly. Always respect local fire bans and restrictions, never leave a fire unattended, and never start a fire that you are not adequately equipped to extinguish quickly and completely.
Research the products you buy thoroughly. Use your purchasing power and influence as a citizen to support products and regulations that are environmentally sound. Be skeptical of cheap knockoffs on Amazon and eBay. The only way to stop the influx of harmful chemicals into our wild spaces is to not introduce them in the first place.
Fireproof is a laymen’s term that is often used (or misused) to describe a material that is nonflammable, incombustible, fire resistant, flame resistant, flame retardant, or heatproof. Technically speaking, everything in the physical universe we occupy that will burn eventually. The term fireproof is generally used to describe a material that resists burning in a specific set of circumstances, in a specific time frame. A fireproof material may still burn when exposed to fire exceeding the intensity or duration that it is designed to withstand.
Multiple standards and tests for fireproofing exist around the world. For the sake of clarity and simplicity, we’ll generalize the key takeaways for you. As it relates to camping tents, it all comes down to two tests: The cigarette test and the open flame test.
To pass the cigarette test a fabric needs to not ignite into flame and does not smolder and spread when a lit cigarette is put to it. It can still burn a hole clean through the fabric and pass the test. The cigarette test is the minimum standard for any type of reputable tent. What this means for the practical user is that if a hot coal or spark from a campfire lands on a tent, it will make a hole or a burn mark, but it won’t cause the tent to burn down. This is the industry and world wide standard and that makes most canvas tents safe to use with a tent stove. All CanvasCamp tents pass this test.
The open flame test is the most stringent test. The open flame test requires a piece of fabric be exposed to an open flame for 12 second in a windless box. A fabric passes if it self-extinguishes in a few seconds and the damage done is limited to a certain area. To simplify the pass standard and not bore you to tears: damage area is about 6 inches for heavyweight canvas. To be clear: Fabric that passes the open flame tent burns, it just burns less than fabric that doesn’t pass.
CanvasCamp believes in fire safety. We exclusively use fireproofing treatments that are determined to be safe for both human health and the environment. There is no room for compromise on protecting and preserving places worth camping in, or the health and safety of our customers: people that camp. Every product we make is designed from the ground up to be used safely and manufactured responsibly. We hold our company and our products to the highest standards.
Bath Tub Floors, Footprints, and Sod Flaps
Upward of 60% of the humidity inside of a tent enters through the ground if there is no vapor barrier in between. For this reason, in high humidity conditions a tent with a bathtub floor such as our Deluxe, Ultimate, Pro or Protech series is the wisest choice. In low-humidity conditions, a semi-floorless tent such as our Sibley Standard series can by advantageous when used in combination with an Inner Tent. This combination gives you a bathtub floor, while still allowing you to perform camp chores from inside the comfort of the tent without fear of getting the floor dirty.
Our Deluxe, Ultimate, Pro and Protech series tents feature a PVC “bathtub” floor. This means that the PVC floor of the tent wraps 4¾ ” up the side walls of the tent, creating a waterproof “bathtub”, guaranteed to keep you absolutely dry in all but the worst floods. This is not a “tarp” floor, as seen on many large tents; it is extremely thick with an almost rubber-like texture. Our ripstop PVC floors can withstand almost any terrain conditions, puncture and tear-free, for years of service.
Our Sibley Standard series comes with 9” PVC “sod flaps”, and a detached oxford polyethylene footprint that serves as an optional floor. This is the traditional way in which tents were made for thousands of years & is still an ideal design for some applications even today. In a tent that will experience high foot-traffic, such as commercial applications, attached floors can quickly get dirty or wear out. The attached sod flap on our tents were traditionally made of canvas, and were buried in sod dug from around the outer perimeter of the tent to make a “rain gutter”. This not only kept the dirt floor in a tent substantially drier, but held the tent down in a way stakes alone cannot do. Turned outward, they are called “snow flaps”, and are likewise buried with snow. This design creates an incredibly strong shelter that will take as much wind or snow as the fabric can handle.
Tent Stove and Stove Jacks
A wood stove inside of a canvas tent on a chilly night is a wonderful experience that demands knowledge and respect, so we have put together a brief set of guidelines to assist you with the basics. CanvasCamp advises that you study these topics on your own to have a full understanding of wood stove mechanics, thereby minimizing the chance of accidental damage or injury.
What size stove?
Actual stove output is measured in kW or BTU's, however the layman way to measure this is by cubic feet of firebox volume. We recommend the following size stoves for our tents:
- Up to 2cf for a Sibley 400
- 2-3cf for Sibley 500 and 600 Twin
- 3-4cf for Sibley 600
Which Stove Jack?
It is more important to match CanvasCamp Stove Jacks by stove output than by stove pipe diameter. CanvasCamp defines a 4kW/13,000BTU stove as any stove larger than 2cf. If your stove is larger than 2cf, you have 2 options:
- Use a double-wall stove pipe with an Exit I Stove Jack so long as the pipe O.D. does not exceed 5".
- Use a single-wall stove pipe with an Exit II Stove Jack so long as the pipe O.D. does not exceed 4".
- Install a spark arrestor on the end of your stove pipe.
- Install the stove at least 36" from the walls and roof.
- Use a spark mat under your stove.
- If possible, extend your stove pipe 12" above the peak of the tent.
- If possible, place the stove pipe downwind from the rest of the tent.
- Though it is not necessary, apply Burnblock to at least the side of the tent on which the stove pipe is installed.
No canvas is fire proof, and no fire standard, regardless of how stringent, will insure the application of common sense. Keep fire away from canvas. That said, all CanvasCamp tents are compatible with all CanvasCamp Stove Jacks, which are installed by the end user in the location of your choosing so that you can have your stove where you need it.
NOTE: CanvasCamp tents are not for use with an open fire, patio-style fire pit, or propane heater. Educate yourself regarding the dangers of carbon monoxide as a result of stoves and heaters. CanvasCamp is not liable for any damage or injury resulting from the use of any manner of flame or heat source inside of any CanvasCamp tent.