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Objective standards for shelters
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Stuart Allie

Locale: Australia
Objective standards for shelters on 06/21/2010 23:42:04 MDT Print View

The freestanding vs non-freestanding debate that goes around and around here (and elsewhere) makes me really wish we had an objective standard for measuring a tent's ability to cope with weather. We have a standard for measuring sleeping bag ratings; why not one for tents?

I'd like to see tents rated for: sustained wind speeds; wind gusts; snow load; rain intensity; and maybe one or two other things. I wonder how much it costs to hire a wind tunnel for these sort of tests?

A cheaper alternative would be for somebody to do a "field" test with a bunch of tents set up on an exposed site. Each tent could have a wind monitor next to it to record wind speeds at that particular site. Watch the tents till they blow over/away and write a report at the end of it. I wonder how many manufacturers would volunteer their products for such a comparison?

A snow load test in the field could be done in a similar way.

Rain intensity is more difficult, but if you can find a site with a high likelihood of really intense rain it could be possible. Measure (or merely photograph) the amount of water that makes its way onto the tent floor, or onto a groundsheet if the tent is floorless.

I'd love to have the time and resources to do something like this myself - it'd be a fascinating experiment. Not only would it give us information about which shelters faired best under different stresses, it would also tell us a bit about the modes of failure. Ie. is it the stakes pulling out; the tie-out points failing; poles breaking; fabric tearing; etc.

So how about it BPL? Roger C did a great job with the stove testing; how about a return to the scientific approach at BPL with a comprehensive test of shelters?

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: Objective standards for shelters on 06/22/2010 00:20:33 MDT Print View

I'd like to see something like that, but it may be tough to find a standard for storm pitches with tarps. The results would be worth much less if different guylines or stakes were used and if the pitch of the tarp wasn't provided in accurate painstaking detail. I would like to see it though.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Objective standards for shelters on 06/22/2010 00:34:49 MDT Print View

I remember watching some tent testing that was done a few years ago. The testers mounted a large flat wooden platform on the back of a pickup truck. Then they fastened different test tents onto the platform. They drove the truck at certain constant speeds to simulate that speed of wind on the tent.

That would be better than nothing, but I am not convinced that it would simulate real fluctuating wind.


Mat Tallman
(wehtaM) - F

Locale: Midwest
Re: Objective standards for shelters on 06/22/2010 00:54:49 MDT Print View

Wind testing in sustained winds would be possible I suppose, but a typical tent is going to vary in its ability to handle wind, depending greatly on wind direction.

As far as a tent blowing away, that's almost certainly going to occur because a stake let loose, which does not reflect the tent's performance.

Wind gust behavior is going to depend on how abruptly the windspeed "ramps-up" which again, would yield an infinite number of test scenarios.

Snow load testing, likewise, could have a million different outcomes. One tent might shed powdery snow very well, but not wet snow, and vice versa. Wind direction again would play a role in how the snow is falling, drifting, accumulating, etc.

IMO rain would be the easiest to simulate, but the results would still be highly subjective.

Sleeping bags assume you're an average human, in still conditions. Very few variables here. A tent has a million different confounding variables that would really yield any such experiment inconclusive, and subject to a lot of subjective interpretation that can be spun for or against a particular product.

Just my thoughts on it, I suppose if you were having one trusted, experienced expert pitch a ton of shelters in a particular location, and then deliver impressions of their performance, it could be somewhat useful, but I still think the results would be subjective and inconclusive.