When you start searching for information about wall tents, you will find there are many wall tents designed without any modern inventions like zippers, Velcro, snaps, mosquito netting, modern nylon rope or even tent stakes unless they were handmade by a blacksmith.
There may be nothing to help keep out the cold winter breeze except a string to tie the door flaps shut. These tents are designed for “re-enactors” looking to recreate a “period” experience from the past.
Assuming that you do not have such an aversion to zippers and Velcro, there are several basic things to consider that will make your camping experience more enjoyable and your wall tent last longer.
Wall Tent Design Features To Consider:
- Reinforced webbing at all areas of tension and wear (ridge pole, storm flap, end wall corners and eaves)
- Reinforced D rings – stronger than grommets for tie-downs
- Reinforced webbing to stake tent to ground
- At least 10 oz weight double-fill cotton Army Duck Canvas – Look at Canvas 101
- Sod Cloth – A flap of canvas or vinyl (ours is vinyl) at the bottom edge of the tent – used to seal the tent edge by overlapping with the floor material, by covering with dirt or weighted down with rocks – keeps out wind and creepy-crawleys
- Heavy YKK Zippers and Buckles on Storm door flaps – Nylon zippers are durable and do not freeze up like metal zippers
- Heavy YKK Zippers and Velcro on window flaps to keep out the cold wind
- Ridge pole opening with flap or sleeve to fit tightly to pole and to cover the empty hole when using internal frame
- If using an internal frame, foot pads help to prevent dirt from going into the bottom of the leg poles. Foot pads also prevents leg from working down into soft ground and prevent legs from damaging the sod cloth. Foot pads are nice, but if ordered with the tent, can cost as much as $10 each. We use plastic pads that are made to prevent furniture from making dents in the carpet and have also used wood chips when we forgot the carpet pads.
Wall Tent Options
When you are ready to order a wall tent, there are many options to consider.
- Internal Frame– easy to set up tent, but heavier to pack, order angles only and cut 1 inch EMT conduit (tubing) to make poles yourself to save on costs and shipping
- Extra Doors or Windows – good for cross ventilation on hot days – easy and inexpensive to add when you order, expensive to add later
- Rain fly – protects tent against weather and dirt, also prevents sparks from stove pipe from burning pin holes in the tent
- Sewn in Floor – At first, seems like a nice options to have, but increases cost and weight and would be very hard to set up with an internal frame
- Tarp or Canvas Drop Cloth for Floor – less expensive option for a floor that can be left behind when weight is critical
- Cut out in floor for Stove – stove is likely to burn holes in the floor anyway, good option but adds cost and floor adds weight
- Fireproof mats for Stove – good idea if you have sewn in floor. Better option for stove is sand box or bare ground under the stove
- Stove Jack (fiber glass lined fireproof holes) for stove pipe (5 or 6 inch) in roof or wall. Includes flap for protection against rain when not in use
- Clear plastic vs canvas for windows – plastic allows in more light, more cost, less privacy and I assume the plastic is noisy in the wind
- Screen Door flaps – Adds cost and a small amount of weight, but helps keep the skeeters and flies out – which makes Mamma happy
- Zippered Corners to roll up side walls in warm weather – probably a nice option for Summer camping, not necessary or even desirable for Winter
- Door cut for wood frame door – this would be for those that intend to set the wall tent up in a semi-permanent situation on a wood platform floor
- Screen side walls – also probably a nice option for Summer camping, not necessary for Winter
Randy Newberg, host of “On Your Own Adventures” explains the quality features on his wall tent:
Wall Tent Extras
If you are considering a wall tent or if you already have one, there are many extras that are available to add space or organize all the gear.
- Porch – Attaches to tent, can include walls and roof, or you can create your own porch with a longer tent fly (roof only)
- Cook Shack – extra space that attaches to existing wall tent – No tent shack for me in bear country
- Gun and bow racks
- Hangers – good to have to hang lanterns or clothes from the internal frame – but very easy to make these yourself
- Hanging Organizers
- Hanging Shelves
A Tent Fly is Important to Protect Wall Tent
We didn’t include a tent fly when we ordered our wall tent, but a tent fly is important for the many reasons (listed below). It is simpler to order the tent fly from the same place you buy your tent and you can be sure the tent fits properly and it will already have a hole for the smoke stack. We made a tent fly out of a tarp that was larger than our tent. I made the hole for the smoke stack by burning a circle. I also made a metal spacer from several large (gallon?) sized tin cans. The spacer slides over the stove pipe and prevents the tarp from touching the hot smoke stack. Our tarp is inexpensive and will probably not last longer than four or five years, but the main purpose of the fly is to protect the tent from burn holes.
Advantages of a Tent Fly for a Wall Tent
- Prevents sparks from smoke stack from burning small holes in canvas – even fire retardant treated canvas will get pin holes – always use a spark arrestor
- Helps prevent canvas from leaking
- Helps keep canvas clean
- Small air space between tent and fly helps keep tent warmer in Winter (if wind is calm)
Disadvantages of a Tent Fly
- Tent fly can block light and make the inside of the tent darker, it helps if fly is lighter color or translucent
- Tent fly adds more weight, more ropes and more set up time
- In windy weather, the fly can billow up and actually move the smoke stack – must take care to tie-down the fly properly and to secure the smoke stack
Check out our Wall Tent Size Guide for specifics on choosing a size for your needs with layout examples.
Other Wall Tent related posts:
- Canvas 101
- Wall Tent Internal Frame – How Many Rafters?
- Wall Tent Internal Frame – Getting the Size Right
- Wood Stoves for Wall Tents
Q: What are the most important features you are looking for in a wall tent? Let us know below in the comments.