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how to make a 'polycro' tube tent
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matt kirk
(matthew.d.kirk) - F

Locale: southern appalachians
how to make a 'polycro' tube tent on 05/01/2011 07:43:16 MDT Print View

Let me know what you think. Thanks.


Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: how to make a 'polycro' tube tent on 05/01/2011 09:23:42 MDT Print View

A bit too snug for my own tastes on planned nights out ... but it looks like an interesting idea for an emergency shelter.

Rather than sewing loops I've used 3M fiber reinforced transparent duct tape to make stake/guyout loops on polycryo ground sheets using ideas adapted from Al Geist's heatsheets shelter. Look at the second posting on this page.

Chris Muthig
(cmuthig) - M

Locale: Georgia
Re: how to make a 'polycro' tube tent on 05/01/2011 10:30:17 MDT Print View

I would agree the fit is snug at only 28" wide, but it is a really interesting project. Have you had a chance to test it in rain conditions? I'm curious about the overall durability too. Did you use cuben on the doors for any specific reason? Would more polycro work there as well? It seems like it would be a great piece of gear for your use on fastpack trips.

Also, can we get some pictures of your backpack. I really like that design. What's the material on it?

todd h
(funnymoney) - MLife

Locale: SE
Re: how to make a 'polycro' tube tent on 05/01/2011 12:28:18 MDT Print View


I think your ideas show some very creative thinking. Bill Fornshell's envelope-pushing designs come to mind.

Thank you for experimenting and sharing with us. I want a slightly larger model, and I, too, want to see more about your pack - close-ups please!!!!


matt kirk
(matthew.d.kirk) - F

Locale: southern appalachians
thanks for feedback on 05/01/2011 15:46:37 MDT Print View

Thanks for your feedback.

Yes, I too agree that it's snug, more so than the prototype #1 version pictured here:

After finding the supplies at the local hardware store and in an interest of streamlining the production of the tube tent body (now maybe even quicker thanks to the advice of Jim about the 3M guy outs), I went with the simpler more snug design, but so far it's okay for me.

I have had a chance to test it in a deluge, and it has kept me dry. The mosquitoes aren't out yet, but hopefully they too will be effectively repelled. The reason I went with more expensive material on the doors is that I hope to continue to use this design for fastpacking and as the tent body gets worn beyond repair, I can continue to reuse the doors from the previous tent while easily replacing the body.

Durability will get a good test this June with a near 1000-mile fastpack. I've made a couple back-up bodies to switch to at mail drop locations as need be and will definitely be carrying repair tape.

As for the pack, here are some pics of it in action in 2009:

more specifically the flikr album:

It's evolved over the years, but essentially the same old $1/yd white mesh. No signs of serious wear and tear after several hundred rugged miles. Thanks again for the feedback.

Mark Dijkstra
(Markacd) - F
Potentially dangerous! on 05/01/2011 16:02:08 MDT Print View

Am I the only one who looks at this and thinks it could be a deathtrap? This is a tent with very poor (if any) ventilation with the cuben doors closed. You could suffocate if you spend a night in that plastic bag. I can see this tent working if you just use mesh doors, but I wouldn't want to go to sleep with those cuben doors closed.

Walter Carrington
(Snowleopard) - M

Locale: Mass.
RE: Potentially dangerous. on 05/01/2011 17:09:35 MDT Print View

Mark said, "Am I the only one who looks at this and thinks it could be a deathtrap?"
Deathtrap might be an exaggeration, but I agree it is potentially a suffocation hazard in two ways. The polycryo is very thin, like stronger saran wrap (food wrap) and could possibly cause asphyxiation while sleeping by just draping across your face. There could also be a danger of the thing being well enough sealed to cause asphyxiation.

This is not purely theoretical. There used to be cheap plastic tube tents that were similar, but without the end caps. There is a sad case of a young woman who died of asphyxiation sleeping in one in the parking lot of the AMC Pinkham Notch camp during an ice storm.

Terry Trimble
(socal-nomad) - F

Locale: North San Diego county
polycro tube tent on 05/01/2011 17:11:42 MDT Print View

Matt congratulation on the only finisher in the BMT race look pretty Gnarly. You could get rid of the closing doors and put a long beak on one end and a short beak on the rear with netting over the rear invent for air.

In Boy scouts we use tube tents all the time we just needed some parachute cord between 2 trees or bushes and we used 6 rocks one in each corner and 1 on each side half way point. Close pins to close off the ends except at the top. Be prepared for condensation like crazy in less you have the vents. Even with vents you will get condensation.

Edited by socal-nomad on 05/01/2011 17:12:45 MDT.

matt kirk
(matthew.d.kirk) - F

Locale: southern appalachians
clarification on use... on 05/01/2011 17:48:24 MDT Print View

Thanks for the heads up on the hazard.

To clarify: when up the storm flap attaches only at the apex at one point. It still lets in a good bit of air, but will mostly be left tied down as it is definitely not ideal in that position (rather I predict rolling it up from the inside only temporarily to protect from shifting winds in a passing storm).

I guess I should have prefaced the design (which is certainly not for winter/alpine use, or for perpetually rainy climates either): this is for a June trip in NC. Short term storms/showers and bugs are the things I'll be seeking protection from.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: how to make a 'polycro' tube tent on 05/01/2011 19:27:25 MDT Print View

More ventilation needs to be built in, agree.

Dan Johnson

Locale: PNW
Top Vents on 05/01/2011 23:15:19 MDT Print View

I wonder if one could create vents on the top, much like the TT Moment has? This could help with ventilation right? The idea behind this tent is awesome and I look forward to hear how it does on it's 1,000 mile journey!

Matt will you please post updates of your progress with the tent? Also where would I find your gear lists that you have for your trips? I'm so curious!

matt kirk
(matthew.d.kirk) - F

Locale: southern appalachians
will do... on 05/02/2011 06:47:51 MDT Print View

Hey guys,

Thanks for the ideas with ventilation. I'll definitely report back on how it does for me this summer on the bpl forums.

Once I have my final gear list together (later this month), I'll probably post something similar to what I did on my blog pre-BMT:

Thanks again for feedback, I appreciate all your thoughts and insight.

Ernie Fuentes
(askernie) - F
TUBE TENT PONDER.... on 05/02/2011 12:50:20 MDT Print View

I have long wondered why a " high tech" tube tent has not been made by any of you guys. I'm just a Boy Scout Master and not a hard core backpacker like some of you guys and gals, but lets face it a tube tent is fast to put up and pretty decent in the rain.

I have wondered about a silnylon or cuben tube tent, with zippered or velcro end caps like the one discussed. I was thinking about maybe a 3x3x3 equilateral triangle thats possibly 8 feet long.

Ventilation can be put in the form of netting with closeable flaps on the sides or top.

Am I missing something? I just think it would be a quick, efficient and light shelter.

I think this guy is on to something...

ernie the eyeball

P.S Thank You...all of you for the valuable advice and experience I receive here on this forum.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: TUBE TENT PONDER.... on 05/02/2011 13:24:59 MDT Print View

An 8 x 10 tarp can be a quick tube tent. Not sure of what height can be attained inside.

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: TUBE TENT PONDER.... on 05/02/2011 14:27:48 MDT Print View

See the thread Jim Colten referred to above. Technically, it's not a tube since the floor is separate, which would make sense really since it takes the most abuse.

Troy Ammons
(tammons) - F - MLife
how to make a 'polycro' tube tent on 05/02/2011 14:44:04 MDT Print View

10x12 tarp would work better.

12" fold up at one side leaves 11' so it makes a 3'8" wide x 3'2" high x 10' long tube.

George Geist
(geist) - M

Locale: Smoky Mountains
Re: how to make a 'polycro' tube tent on 05/02/2011 20:02:35 MDT Print View

> Let me know what you think.

Hi Matt,

Nice work. A few tips to consider besides the ventalation
issues already brought up.
1. Velcro and noseeum are mortal enemies.
The hook side of velcro (even a tiny edge sticking out
from the mated loop side) can get a grip in your netting
while folded up and rip the netting when you unfold
the tent (voice of experience)

2. Sticky back Velcro (even cut in half) is quite heavy
compared to the other materials you've used.
You use a lot -- running all the way around both ends.

3. You might want to consider taping the
the end triangle across the bottom and up a couple inches
to form a bathtub, then run two #3 zippers up the sides
meeting at the top.

You might say that this would make it hard to reuse the ends
when the floor of the tube wears out, but you could just tape
the last 1" of the tent onto a new polycro tube each time.

Good idea using elastic cord it makes the tent much stronger by
reducing the shock loads on the polycro at the expense of having
the tent move around a bit in wind gusts.


Mark Rash
(markrvp) - M

Locale: North Texas
Hey Al Geist on 05/03/2011 10:42:06 MDT Print View

Hey Al:

The Philmont Links at your website of your awesome projects aren't working currently. Is there anything any of us can do to help host those files? They are a tremendous resource and I hate to lose them.


George Geist
(geist) - M

Locale: Smoky Mountains
Re: Philmont Innovations website on 05/03/2011 20:42:58 MDT Print View

>The Philmont Links at your website of your awesome projects aren't working currently

Hi Mark,

Thanks for the offer. My web provider said that their servers are
"down for maintenance" for a few days. We'll see...
If my Philmont Innovations site isn't back up by the end of the
week, let's talk some more.

Appreciate the offer to host,