Pyramid tent - 11 x 11 feet
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Elliott Wolin
(ewolin) - MLife

Locale: Hampton Roads, Virginia
Pyramid tent - 11 x 11 feet on 08/21/2011 13:02:07 MDT Print View

I finished the pyramid tent just prior to our trip to Denali and the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska. Originally four of us were going but my daughter had previously taken too much time off from work and couldn't make it. That left three of us. Thus we used the pyramid tent while car camping (8 nights) and used a three-person tarp in the Denali backcountry (4 nights). It is pretty large for three people. I suspect it should comfortably fit four, would be sort of full for five, and would be a bit of a squeeze for six, especially if the bottom is flush with the ground.

Dimensions are 11 foot on a side, about 92 inches tall in the center with the sides just touching the ground. I used silnylon 2nds from OWF. There is a 16 inch no-see-um netting skirt all around. The 0.742 inch center pole (from Quest Outfitters) can be adjusted to 106 inches to raise the tent up so the netting just touches the ground for ventilation and more room. The netting can be rolled up and tied to the tent bottom for even more ventilation if there are no bugs. The peak vent is held open with a short length of 1/4 inch poly tubing. I used a little over a 1 inch/foot catenary cut on the ridge seams. Finally, the ground sheet (not shown) is an 8 1/2 foot square of silnylon.

Tent weight is 2 lb 10.8 oz. Pole is 13.6 oz without extension, 15.4 oz with extension. Ground cloth is 11.1 oz.

Many thanks to all the BPL posts for inspiration and many suggestions.

Note that any resemblance to the MLD Supermid is purely coincidental. I have no idea how the panel design, door, door roll-up mechanism, tie-outs and peak vent came out looking exactly like the photos on the MLD web site... ;-)

If I had to do it over again I'd:

- use less catenary, maybe 3/4 inch/foot

- not botch cutting the fabric for the catenary (the tent is slightly asymmetric, hard to see in the photos)

- not botch the peak, it is a bit of a kludge

- make the peak vent larger

- use a larger ground sheet

- find a larger sewing table...dealing with the large pieces on a small table was challenging


Nevertheless it worked fine, although we had no wind to speak of in the campgrounds.


At a campground near Kenai Fjords National Park, just outside of Seward:

In a campground


In my backyard with my son Brian (5'8") for scale:

For scale


With the door part way opened:

Door part way opened


Peak details from the outside:

Peak details, outside


Peak details from the inside:

Peak details, inside


Door detail:

Door detail

Edited by ewolin on 08/21/2011 14:48:24 MDT.

Ryan Smith
(ViolentGreen) - F

Locale: Southeast
re on 08/21/2011 15:47:32 MDT Print View

Holy Cow, that is a huge tent! Workmanship looks excellent.

Ryan

Elliott Wolin
(ewolin) - MLife

Locale: Hampton Roads, Virginia
RE: Pyramid tent - 11 x 11 feet on 08/21/2011 18:05:34 MDT Print View

Yes Ryan, it is mighty large!

The idea was to have something light enough for backpacking but big enough for the whole family. Also, it packs fairly small and is easy to take on an airplane. Finally, it is suitable for car camping when we cannot bring our big, heavy tent.

David Goodyear
(dmgoody) - MLife

Locale: mid-west
wow on 08/21/2011 19:00:42 MDT Print View

Very impressive, That must have been a nightmare to sew...cat curves and all.

Dave

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Pyramid tent - 11 x 11 feet on 08/21/2011 19:47:18 MDT Print View

Nice looking tent, good job

What do you mean 3/4 inch per foot catenary? The ridges must be about 9 feet, so that would be 6 3/4 deflection at the center?

How did you botch cutting the catenary curve, did you make a template and use it to mark where the cat curve is for each piece?

Did you find the vent effective at reducing condensation?

Andrew Bishop
(copperhead) - M

Locale: Down Under
Super mid on 08/22/2011 02:11:33 MDT Print View

Looks terrific, Elliott.

That's a heroic bit of sewing!

As with Jerry, keen to hear about the effectiveness of the top vent.

Andrew

alan york
(alanyork9) - MLife

Locale: PIEDMONT N.C.
Re: Super mid on 08/22/2011 09:53:56 MDT Print View

Very nice work!

Edited by alanyork9 on 08/22/2011 09:56:43 MDT.

Ultra Magnus
(Ultra_Magnus) - F
Awesome on 08/22/2011 12:34:53 MDT Print View

I have been building up my sewing skills with the intent to eventually build almost exactly what you have going on right there.

Very nice work...

BM

Elliott Wolin
(ewolin) - MLife

Locale: Hampton Roads, Virginia
RE: Pyramid tent - 11 x 11 feet on 08/22/2011 19:10:18 MDT Print View

David: It was not particularly difficult to sew. Mostly straight seams, although some were pretty long. The catenary curve was no problem since it's mostly straight at the level of a foot or so. I just pinned all the seams and it worked fine.

Jerry: Yes, about 12 feet of ridge line, half is 6 feet, so about 6 inches catenary at 1"/foot. I didn't use a template, instead I marked one piece and lined another below it and held them together with clips while I cut. It worked fine on three of the big triangular pieces. On the door piece the zipper and flap in the center caused some problem so when I was done, much to my chagrin there was an extra inch of fabric cut off compared to the other panels. All my fault for taking short cuts due to time pressure. Could have been avoided if I was more careful or if I used a template for each cut, rather than cutting two edges at once.

Jerry and Andrew: I think the vent is too small, although it was quite humid each night and it rained a few times, so it is possible even a larger vent would not have stopped condensation. The condensation actually wasn't that bad, no drops raining down, but the walls were fairly moist in the morning, and you got wet if you rubbed against them.

Ultra Magnus: Sewing such a tent does not require great skill. If you can sew a straight stitch and a flat-felled seam, and a little zig-zag for reinforcement points, you can do it. Cutting is tedious but straightforward. Design is a different matter, you really have to think through everything carefully (and be comfortable with simple geometrical calculations). On a small project you can mess up a piece and just rip out a seam or two and make a new one. On such a large project the pieces cost too much. All the better if you can get a design from someone else.

I did manage to catch a fold or two and had to rip out some stitches and sew again, then seam-seal the holes in the fold that got caught.

All the cutting, sewing and finishing maybe took 20 hours, I didn't keep track. Not that long if you spread it out. Having someone to help with the cutting can save a bunch of time (I had some help, not much). Having a large space to lay out, measure, cut and sew would have helped (I did it all in a not terribly large dining room and living room).

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: RE: Pyramid tent - 11 x 11 feet on 08/23/2011 09:50:56 MDT Print View

"Jerry: Yes, about 12 feet of ridge line, half is 6 feet, so about 6 inches catenary at 1"/foot. I didn't use a template, instead I marked one piece and lined another below it and held them together with clips while I cut. It worked fine on three of the big triangular pieces."

That's about twice the deflection that I would do the next time I made a tent, but I'm not sure. Is this what you'de do the next time you made a tent based on your experience?

I've tried doing catenary curves using the mark one piece and line up others/use clips/etc. The results weren't as good as when I spent more time and made template. I think that if you're going to spend the time and money to make a tent, better to make template.

regarding vent - I made a tent with vent maybe 2 or 4 times as big, but it didn't seem to make much difference with condensation. I think maybe a vent like that doesn't really work hardly at all. You need to have a big vent - like leave the door open - that makes a difference but even that isn't perfect.

The other thing with a tipi, is that it's big enough you can move around without touching walls, and the walls are steep so any condensation will just drip down to the edge, and then the ground. And the wall is far enough from your face that your breath won't condense on the wall.

Troy Ammons
(tammons) - F
Pyramid tent - 11 x 11 feet on 08/23/2011 20:19:43 MDT Print View

Sweet,

Haa its huge and weighs less than my old A frame 2 man tent.

Nice job.

Elliott Wolin
(ewolin) - MLife

Locale: Hampton Roads, Virginia
Jerry: Pyramid tent - 11 x 11 feet on 08/24/2011 13:43:36 MDT Print View

Jerry: I also think I used about twice as much catenary as needed, but I have little experience with catenary cutting and don't know if 1/2 inch/foot would be enough. If I made another of the same size I'd go with the smaller catenary. I think 1 inch/foot cut out too much living space.

It might be possible that 1 inch/foot is ok on smaller tents, where it doesn't add up to much because the ridge seams are not that long, but is too much on big tents which have long ridge seams and you land up cutting out 6 inches in the center (where in hindsight 3"-4" seems about right).

And I definitely would be more careful doing the cutting next time. It's not really a big deal that I messed up, you have to look carefully to see the asymmetry, but as all MYOG folks know, every little mistake looms large in your mind.

Sounds as if a larger vent would not have helped much, as I suspected.

Edited by ewolin on 08/24/2011 19:11:59 MDT.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Jerry: Pyramid tent - 11 x 11 feet on 08/24/2011 19:37:03 MDT Print View

So it sounds like you and I are consistent - 2.5 inch for a 9 x 9 x 5 foot high tent

Definitely not being critical of not using template, especially because I've done the same thing, maybe someone else that's reading this will learn from our experience.

robert v
(mtnbob123) - F

Locale: Upstate South Carolina
Beautiful Job!! on 08/24/2011 20:00:59 MDT Print View

Just saying!!! Your work is an inspiration to us who have squirreled away a ton of Sil-Nylon and are trying to think up things to make with it!!!

Elliott Wolin
(ewolin) - MLife

Locale: Hampton Roads, Virginia
RE: Pyramid tent - 11 x 11 feet on 08/24/2011 20:06:28 MDT Print View

Jerry: I think it's important to discuss one's mistakes as well as one's successes. Some MYOG posts sound as if the person started with no knowledge, came up with a perfect design, didn't make any construction mistakes, and voila, out popped a perfect piece of equipment. I much prefer to hear about the screw-ups so I can avoid them myself. And Roger C. once wrote that he doesn't get a project right until the fourth or fifth attempt!

I know I've avoided mistakes because others listed theirs, and I plan to return the favor. I hope other MYOG enthusiasts do the same.

Edited by ewolin on 08/24/2011 20:07:32 MDT.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: RE: Pyramid tent - 11 x 11 feet on 08/24/2011 20:08:34 MDT Print View

I thought I made a mistake once ... but I was wrong

Elliott Wolin
(ewolin) - MLife

Locale: Hampton Roads, Virginia
RE: Pyramid tent - 11 x 11 feet on 08/24/2011 20:10:42 MDT Print View

Robert: Ah, the old squirreling away of silnylon problem...so I'm not the only one! I typically buy from OWF and they give a big price break at 20 yards of one type of fabric, so I usually buy that much or more. The result: lots of fabric always laying around. The big pyramid used up a lot, though, but I still have plenty for a one-person tarp, maybe a smaller pyramid, and who knows what else...

robert v
(mtnbob123) - F

Locale: Upstate South Carolina
Silnylon hoarding on 08/27/2011 21:11:45 MDT Print View

I am in an area where Walmart regularly got silnylon in the discount fabric racks. No one in SC seems to even know what it is! They are shutting down all of their fabric sections so I bought all I could find at $1 a yard. I think I have about 80 sq yards lol. How much did you use on your tent?

Elliott Wolin
(ewolin) - MLife

Locale: Hampton Roads, Virginia
RE: Pyramid tent - 11 x 11 feet on 09/04/2011 09:45:00 MDT Print View

Robert: The 11' square pyramid uses about 22 square yards of material, giving around 2 lbs of fabric. Using 60" wide fabric and assuming no waste gives about 14 linear yards. Adding waste gives maybe 15-16 linear yards of 60" fabric (I planned the cutting carefully and had little waste).

Ultra Magnus
(Ultra_Magnus) - F
Re: RE: Pyramid tent - 11 x 11 feet on 09/27/2011 15:15:10 MDT Print View

Elliott- I've been going back and re-reading this thread. I do have one more question, how did you handle cutting pieces of fabric that large? I mean, it must take quite a bit of floor space to roll it all out to mark and cut. I'm thinking how I would do it at my house- I've got a pretty huge family room if I were to push all the furniture out of the way, but it's carpeted, so that would be a bit of a problem...

My best bet would be to probably do it at work. My boss wouldn't mind and I've got enough shop floor space...but it'd need to be cleaned pretty well first...

What would be ideal would be a giant 6' x 20' cutting mat...

thanks
BM