I have been working on making my own gear for a few months now and I think I might actually be getting better at it. I really enjoy being able to have high quality lightweight gear, that is made exactly to my preference, and is a fraction of the cost of what outdoor companies charge. Plus, it's incredibly satisfying to build a piece of gear and see it actually work!
This project is my first original design, not using any templates from an outside source. I did get some inspiration about overall size and structure but all the measurements, decision on the types of materials, and creating my fabric templates, I did myself.
The first thing I needed to do was decide the overall weight that I wanted the tent to be. I have one (big outdoor brand) tent that I love, but it's 2.6 lbs and kinda small, a true one person tent. I made a tarp tent out of 1.1 oz silpoly and added a polycro floor with some mesh for bug protection. This one is under 20 oz total, but it has a front entry and I want something that would be more comfortable to get in and out of. So what I came up with is a design that uses trek poles for pitching, a side entry with a vestibule, sub 20 oz weight, and has a mesh enclosure, because I live in Louisiana and there are mosquitos in January!
I've always wanted to work with cuben fiber so I chose the .51 oz version with a green coloring to use on the top. Using 1.6 oz silpoly is something I'm comfortable with so that was my fabric for the floor (coyote brown). The mesh I chose was a standard .7 oz noseeum that I've used for my shelters before. With these choices I was able to design a tent that had 21 sqft of floor space, 11 sqft of vestibule area, and has a total weight of 19.5 oz total, including stakes and guy lines.
Like any tent build the work is in the design. I spent a few days working on the overall design, figuring out the measurements, and drawing fabric templates. All the details like reinforcing tie out points, adding cord-locs for the guy lines, how the vestibule doors will work and what angle to attach them to name a few. I was really surprised at all of the little things you have to consider when designing a tent. I've always used other peoples designs that already had these little things worked out already.
The finished product! It came out great except for running out of cuben fiber to use on the rear vestibule doors. I had to improvise my design to be able to use this in heavy rain which is also common here. My solution is when expecting rain I'll remove the rear trek pole (pictured top right), and have a utility hook that will use tie out points to create tension on the back side. (pictured bottom middle) Also to keep rain from splashing up and in through to mesh on the side, I will use this great idea that I got from Zpacks (pictured bottom right) which is a tie out on the floor and ceiling, that I will attach a bungie to and it will pull the floor up and away from the rain. The bathtub floor has 8" sides (pictured bottom left) which will also protect me from light rain during the middle of the night, and by lowering the trek poles I will be able to allow more ventilation by lowering this height. The vestibule doors in the front (pictured top left) will also use a utility hook to close. I hope this will be good enough but if they come apart during high wind I plan on attaching a toggle loop to secure the doors at the mid point. This vestibule allows for 11 sqft of storage room for my backpack and cooking area during continued bad weather.
So I'm not going to bore you with all of the technical details of my design, so if you are interested in these just email me and I'll be happy to share my information.