What could make a tent better when camping, working in remote locations or during a natural or man-made disasters? The ability to keep the resident comfortable. That is, cool in hot weather and warm in cold climates. As well as keep out insects and undesirable wildlife such as snakes. I’ve been using tents to reside in at infrequent intervals for various reasons since the mid 1970’s. My experience has taught me that the value of getting a good night rest and recuperation cannot be overstated.
Over the last 6 months all but 1 of our 20 year old tents have been replaced. That means we have tents in our inventory without air conditioner hose plenums or sleeves. Those sleeves would allow either an internal or external air source to blow or draw in air for cooling or heating. In the past if a screened window on a tent would zip closed to help keep in cool or warm air that is what was used. Keeping the window cover closed always kept occupant from seeing what was going on outside. I never did like that.
Window with Velcro sewn on
Being unhappy without a view I decided to change how I modify the tents. New tents with screened windows will now be outfitted with clear vinyl removable panels. For this project Velcro brand hook & loop will be sewn to the tent and vinyl panels. That way the original function of the window will still work as designed. The Velcro will allow changes to easily be made in minutes.
One of two triangle roof vents
The Eclipse tent also has two triangle screened panels on the roof. Those panels will be placed on the outside of the tent. That way it will help prevent sagging into the interior space. The ventilation sleeves will be 8″ to accommodate 6″ – 8″ hose typically used for smaller home size air conditioners and heaters. At the end of the hose sleeve will be a cinch cord that can be tightened around the hose to reduce air infiltration and keep the unwanted out.
The first step for this project was compile a list of materials needed. Next, obtain them. I had the 210D nylon oxford fabric that I used for the ventilation sleeves on hand. I used about 1 1/2 yards at a cost of $4.99 a yard. The Velcro needed was about 20 yards per tent, cost for 50 yards of the hook and loop was about $100.00.
Making a template
The vinyl was purchased from Joann’s Fabric. I went to the store to buy some but they didn’t have a continuous length of 14 yards. I then looked for more locally on their website. Turns out that was a really good thing. If I had been able to get the 14 yards in store it would have cost $70.00. Making the purchase online I was able to pick the order up at another store with a cost of $43.00. That was a full 25 yard, 54″, 8 gauge roll. A really good deal, plus I’d have some left over for other projects or repairs.
Layout cut lines using a template
Using template to mark sew lines onto the tent
Once I had all the materials on hand I was eager to complete the project. I made templates so it would be easier to duplicate the vinyl panels for the window and triangles. Each panel was laid out then cut to size. After that the sew lines could be laid out onto the tent.
Sewing Velcro onto vinyl panels
With the panels cut out and the sew lines marked I sewed the hook side of the Velcro onto the vinyl. I used a Harbor Freight soldering gun I modified to function as a hot knife to cut out the ventilation sleeve hole. I then sewed the ventilation sleeve onto the tent. I learned the hard way that care must be used when sewing them because the fabric had partially been cut on the bias which would make it stretch out of place easily.
Cutting ventilation holes with a soldering iron hot knife.
The most challenging part was next. Getting all the tent fabric though the sewing machine arm while the hook part of the Velcro was applied. That part of the project slowed my progress down a lot but it did go quicker than I expected. Once the ventilation sleeves and the window parts were complete it was time for testing.
Sewing ventilation sleeves onto tent wall.
The tent was set up and all the panels were installed. With few exceptions the panels fit well. I did have trouble in a couple of places where the tent fabric had shifted when the sew lines were laid out. Those were easily remedied by shifting the panels slightly one way or another. The project took about 20-22 hours once the materials arrived. The time and financial cost will be well worth it for the comfort level it will provide. This project was fun but I’m glad it is over.
Placing vinyl panel over an open window
I made a video of the project progress if you’re interested. If you’ve ever modified your tent what did you do? How well did it work out? Have a question or comment post it here. -13