Designing your own tent

Forums Camping and Backpacking Designing your own tent

  • Post
    Barry Gray
    Here at the Outdoor Athlete Community we would like to hear your thoughts on what constitutes a good tent. Feel free to name drop companies that you feel are good and getting right and those that don’t. From the feedback we receive, we will design and create that tent.

    Let us know your thoughts:

    What do you like and do not like?

    Is it about the price?

    Is it about the strength?

    Is it about Durability?

    Tell us by responding here on this forum and engage with others. One individual from the forum will be randomly selected to win one of the new tents!!

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  • Replies
      Matt Mason

      For myself it’s all about light weight and being able to pack it down as small as possible. Being able to get it onto a bike or into some panniers for touring is optimal. Even an extra cover to place over the bike to protect it and the panniers from the weather (I’ve not seen a tent that does that).

      Price has to be reasonable, my kids seem to drain my bank account!

      Durability is important as I would want it to last the distance, strength can be traded for lightweight durability, if the weather is that bad, I’ll lay up in good cover for extra protection.

        Matt, when you say an extra cover for the bike, do you mean built into the tent?  If so, I have seen a few tents which attempt to do this, in fact, one of the early prototype samples we looked at was designed to fit a bike inside the admin area. The downside is that it added quite a lot of weight in material to the tent and in order to make it tall/wide enough to fit a range of bikes we would have had to make it larger.

        I was originally, pretty set on designing a tent which could be used specifically for bike packing but thought better of it after a few attempts at finding a practical solution. I now feel that a more flexible option is to carry a lightweight tarp.

        Be interested in your thoughts.

        Live your life by a compass, not a clock
      Baz Gray
      Matt Mason


      Thanks for your comment, some very good points there. I do like the integral bike cover idea, this has been mentioned before and with off grid cycling becoming a rapidly growing outdoor activity we may have to give it some consideration.

      Your are right, there will always be a toss up between durability, weight and price. The stronger and more durable, the higher the cost, its simply down to material quality, stitching, type of zip etc.

      Our initial range is trying to become an almost one size fits all, if that is even possible and aimed at the one person market. This will then grow to two and four person models. Once established we can then look at these very specific niche areas by going lightweight summer, extreme durable winter etc.

      Please keep engaging and following the project.



      If i was to design a shelter system i would look at the activities i am interested in and then look at the kit available. I do : BackPacking, Bikepacking & Paddling. If i could fit all my shelter requirements in one half of a 30 Ltr Daysack it would be perfect. I could do ultralight Backpacking & i would know that i could fit everything in a bikepacking rig or packraft.

      You could call this the minimum requirement.

      There are three elements (Bare with me here).

      • The shelter – Tarp, Hamook.
      • The Mat – Self inflating – i think the market have missed a trick here with sidewalls and integrated pillow.
      • Sleeping System. You could combine a quilt & Bag. but the important thing is to have this for Cold weather minus Zero UK and it packs down to a small package. it should double as a quilt or a mummy/hybrid. (pack size & weight is key).


      There is another element of packs as a whole. when i pack any of my kit i still use the tesco self seal waterproof freezer bags. i do not get on with these waterproof roll bags like sea to summit. However if i was to design a waterproof bag it would be a robust self seal with a one way air valve. many sizes for small & Large. i am in the old school of waterproofing all my individual items and having an outer bag liner.

      This is about designing your own tent but i think the system as a whole is important. 🙂

      I have an MSR carbon reflex 2 for lightweight trips when i want a proper shelter

      I have a tarp with Hammock when i want a super light minimum option. bungees, Walking poles as tent poles. I can hang in a tree & set up a Tarp tent/bivvy

      I have a winter tent which is a Luxe outdoor matterhorn 2 with a 3W Tent Wood Stove (Titanium).

      so i have three setups. the last is a luxury and is for a Full Burgen yomp or in a canadian canoe


      However I do think that a system could be designed that incorporates all three including the Stove jack. imagine a system that can be stripped down to the bare essential Hammock & tarp and be extended to a full Winter teepee with a stove jack? I think it can be done because essentially you have one bit of material and some fixings/poles. if that bit of material is super strong, light and packable then you have a winner. just look at the MSR carbon reflex. that is super light and strong (waxy in feel)

      in summary i think a system could be designed as a whole. there is a massive amount of experience on this site and TBH i dont think it has been done because it means that individual components make more money. the industry is based on horses for courses. I can talk about this for Hours!



      (*_*) Just over the next hill...
      Barry Gray
      Check out my blog on part two of out tent design

      Keep the conversation going on here, would love to know more of your thoughts and ideas. Be in with a chance of winning one of these tents for yourself.

      Fascinating topic going on here! I am enjoying reading your ideas.

      Certainly something to think about, that’s for sure. We all know and appreciate just how important a good night’s (or day’s!) sleep is to just about everything so designing a space to escape from it all is a great challenge! So many factors involved so I doubt there’ll be too many wrong answers! Because we’re outdoors folk negative motors I’d say size and weight will be leading the way, here! Also important is flexibility of purpose. I’ll have a good old think and return with some (hopefully!) useful ideas! 👍🏻😎👍🏻

      For me when looking at a tent I look for quite specific things; pack size, materials used, weight, wind worthiness and availability.

      I normally camp above the tree-line and generally as high as I can for the views. This has meant that at times I have been in some pretty strong storms, winds in excess of 70mph and I want to know that the tent/shelter and everything that goes with it, pegs, poles etc are up to the task. I am generally quite tidy at camp and also like a setup that’s easy to take down if needed in a hurry.

      I have owned quite a few conventional tents over the years and did not really like or get on with any of them. About five years ago I bought my first shelter supported by a trekking pole an have not looked back.

      For me, the trekking pole system offers so much verticality through pitch height and configuration and overall weight saving.

      With the recent advances in nylons and other composite fibers, fabrics have become much stronger and much lighter, there are some good material options out there, more widely available than ever before.

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