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What Makes A Camping Tent Worthy or Trash? ≈ Intel Is Same As Ca$h


So there I am in REI looking for a motorcycle camping tent… The panic had set in. The voices had come back. It’s like speeding through a cold tunnel with your eye closed. The last thing I remember were the numbers and letters and tent-y/ campy buzz words bouncing off of my chest. I held strong but he wouldn’t stop. You hear me? HE JUST WOULDN’T STOP!!!

When I came to I had the sales guy gnarled up in a ball, half stuffed in a kayak, screaming bloody murder. I mean… I was screaming bloody murder… he had already went into some sorta shock, all wide eyed, clammed up and smelling like a fart. Camping gear and tents were strewn about the place, pierced with broken poles. Mannequin parts were strewn the same and the store was empty… it looked as though the Donner party had gotten raided by the po-po. I stood up and grabbed a nearby earth-friendly bag in hopes of using it to hyperventilate in… but let me back up a sec and start from the top…

I went into REI after they lifted my most recent ban. I was highly purposed and intent on being good and was excited to get a new tent perfect for camping on a motorcycle.

The season was drawing near and I wanted to be ready. A super nice young camping gear specialist fella was assigned to me. His job was to put me into the right tent. He was highly knowledgable and began his schpeel as we walked through the display tents. — “You might want to think about that one. You don’t want that one. That was is overpriced IMHO, This one is great but I’m not satisfied with the zippers.” I made the mistake of asking him about the materials used in tent making. I mentioned that it had always intrigued me to know. I should have known better. The salesman turned on a heel and gazed deeply into my soul and a smile washed over his peeked face. Almost as if on cue he breaks into a ‘near Straight Outta Compton Rap’ comparing specifications on all these tents around us… pointing, spewing out codes and thread counts, and denier classifications,

I began to sweat...


He carried on....and ripstop and PU waterproofing vs. Silnylon...

...tunnel vision starting...

...and why and how and which one breathes and the zippers ( we are now 17 minutes in and awkwardly all I could do to stay grounded on earth is hold tight to this mannequins butt cheek and squeeze, hiding my hand with an empty stuff sack ) He rambled ruthlessly onward about metal alloys and fiberglass comparisons and ….. I was o.k. … I was holding …. I really was… but then he said that HH means hydrostatic head and that 800mm is… and...

SNAP… that’s all I remember.

You know the rest of the story. And while I can never again legally come within 1500 feet of an REI I still maintain a mad respect for them. I’ll never really understand how that albino sales kid knew so much about the outdoors but I guess we all have our pasts to contend with right?

(I didnt do any of those things and I can still go to REI).

If you go to buy a motorcycle camping tent or any tent and you know nothing about tents… guess what?

...Unless you get 'cosmic-alignment' kinda lucky, you aren’t getting the best tent nor the best deal.

However, if you read this article… you’ll have enough of a working knowledge to perhaps get outta there a couple bucks heavier with a good tent in tow. Because at the end of the day even if you don’t retain this info you’ll at least still have enough recollection of it to pump the brakes and step outside for a minute to google that shiz. SO… enough with the playfulness… let’s get down to it:

Here's the rule of thumb in the matter for buying any camping gear:

High-end brands usually mean good gear at exaggerated prices. No-to-low-end brands often mean bad gear for reduced prices. Note the terms 'usually' and 'often'. They aren’t absolutes. SO… you gotta stand in the variables... in the lil gaps. If you get good at it that you’ll enjoy reasonably good gear at reasonably low prices.

So where / what is the lil gap? The lil gap is knowledge. So many study and study however and still rarely get to stand in the gap. I do believe I know why. You ready for this? You are about to be totally offended or elated. Know that in either case it’s because you know I’m probably right about what I'm about to suggest.

Please don't misconstrue my tone as surly in the matter. Far from it. I do poke fun but the fact of the matter is that we came about this wisdom the VERY HARD way and there is no sense in not sharing it if someone else can benefit.

The reason so few pull deals from the gap is just a result of the type of research many do. People study brands instead of products. It’s that simple. Here’s the thing about that … most companies are good. They didn’t get successful by cheating people. But at the same time they didn’t get successful by pointing the way around paying their prices either. We have been marketed to in such a way that we now rely on the brands to tell us what it good. And like I said... most often they do. You are gonna pay for it though. Im just here to say that if we all had our senses about us, we'd be studying the materials and craftsmanship of the products and making decisions that way instead. It would stimulate the market in a very unique way. I digress.

This post is the first in a number of blog posts and videos we have planned intending to cover every HOW-TO aspect of motorcycle camping, dual sport and adventure riding from the perspectives of brotherhood and affordability-- and of course a little humor for safe measure. Be sure to subscribe to our website so you don't miss new articles, promo code deals and our latest posts.

And without further ado... Let's learn a bit

about tents...

Take these specs for example from the Redverz Atacama:

Rainfly = Coated Ripstop Polyester 68D 210T 4000mm

Tub or Bottom = Polyester 70D 190T 10000mm

Main Tent Body = 75D 190 T/P breathable

Knowing what the hell those thing mean along with a couple other factors, like, gaining an understanding of the manufacturers quality control patterns by reading reviews. Things of that nature.... at length they begin to translate to MONEY in your pocket... 100% of the time.

You just gotta trust me on that.

Let's dig into these specs real quick...

Rainfly = Coated Ripstop Polyester 68D 210T 400

Let’s take Polyester 68D first:

The D stands for DENIER—which is a unit of measurement that tells the thickness & weight of a single thread used in making the fabric...

≈i am a single thread≈v

No matter what the fabric is made out of-which in this case is POLYESTER-- it starts with a thread. For further reference see below that a 40D thread is 2/3 the weight and thickness of a 60D thread...

≈I am a single thread 40D thread with my friend a 60D thread≈

Coated Ripstop Polyester 68D 210T 4000mm

Next up: 210T

The T stands for thread count.— which is factored by determining how many threads running perpendicular to one another are used in an area of 1 square inch.

So for example… a fabric with a lower DENIER COUNT (D) can still be as strong or stronger so long as the Tread count is higher.

≈I am a single thread with my friends. Together we make a fabric≈

Coated Ripstop Polyester 68D 210T 4000mm

Next up: Ripstop

RIPSTOP is a brilliant concept that is achieved by weaving a substantially thicker (higher D rating) thread consistently throughout the fabric. When a tear does occur the RIPSTOP thread stops it from getting worse.

≈Here we are as a special fabric with larger threads woven in called RIPSTOPS

Coated Ripstop Polyester 68D 210T 4000mm

Next up: Coated

COATED refers to the fact that the fabric was chemically treated for the purpose of waterproofing. There is an entire science to this and each of these categories for that matter, but this small study doesn't reflect all the answers, it will serve to get you thinking about the right questions.

Coated Ripstop Polyester 68D 210T 4000mm

Next up: 4000mm

4000mm refers to how much water the fabric can hold back. The testing is done with a Hydrostatic head or HH. Essentially a column of water used to test the fabric's ability to hold water back after being COATED. The test ranges from 800mm to 10000mm, with 1500mm being considered waterproof.

Tent Body = 75D 190T/P Breathable

And Finally Breathable:

We’ve got the 75D ( DENIER ) as well as the 190T/P ( THREAD COUNT ) and youll be happy to know that the P in 190T/P stands simply for Polyester.

This leaves only the BREATHABLE claim to contend with. The breathable factor in reference here comes from the right combination of THREAD COUNT and DENIER in a given square inch. It’s leaves the perfect hole— too small for water to get through but still just large enough for air to pass.

≈Here we are as another special weave that allows air to pass but not water≈

And that concludes TENT FABRIC 101. You now know more on the matter than most humans walking the earth. Congratulations.

Note that this information only scratches the surface of the subject of fabrics and fabric treatments. Then there's zippers, screening, stakes, guy lines, styles, ratings, weights, pack sizes, brands... consider that the list goes on and yet you STILL now know more than most. And just this little wee bit of info will already serve you the ends of making a smarter buy and certainly so will help you identify one if it comes your way.

Be sure to check out this insane gear deal report ... The entire kit costs less than half your lowest possible guess. Try me on that one.

$TUPIDLY Affordable Adventure Riding Gear

Billy J isa co-founder of Story Moto ADV, a dual sport / adventure riding brand with strategic initiatives serving the health of the adventure touring community in order to develop a unified voice for speaking resolution into motorcycle land closures in the U.S. due to overcrowding and other public land use conflicts. He has been a rider for 45 years, an extreme adventurer for 31, and an avid dual sport adventure rider for 20. His first time living on a motorcycle for more than a year was in 1988 and most recently for 16 months living and riding full time with his wife Bonnie J and their kids on a tour that wrapped up in the summer of 2019. The are plugging away at the Story Moto ADV compound for another round set to commence in the Summer of 2020.



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