IT ALL STARTS WITH QUALITY COTTON CANVAS
A good quality, tightly woven, 100% cotton duck canvas is at the heart of every Springbar® Tent. Finished for additional water resistance and to be anti-mildew, our canvas will keep you dry in downpour, help you stay cool in warm weather, and will last and perform for years when properly maintained. Apart from its utility, canvas imparts a warm, comfortable, classic camping vibe that synthetic tent fabrics can’t even begin to imitate.
Good quality, 100% cotton duck canvas is not cheap, either. That’s a big reason why a Springbar® Tent has a higher price tag than most synthetic tents on the market. It might be surprising, but good cotton canvas is substantially more expensive than synthetic materials. And when it comes to the canvas we use in our tents, we refuse to cut corners.
Quality Canvas is the Original Waterproof/Breathable Fabric Technology
Often, one of the first questions folks ask us when they see a Springbar® Tent is “is it waterproof?” The short answer is yes. We often follow that up by sloshing a bucket of water on the tent so they can watch it run off like water off a duck’s back—it really is quite impressive.
That being said, canvas is not ‘waterproof’ in the same sense as plastics and some synthetic materials. Quality canvas with a tight weave is ‘watertight.’ When rain and moisture contact the canvas, the individual cotton fibers swell and tighten, creating a ‘watertight’ self sealing effect. Even in wet weather, the canvas remains breathable, allowing condensation to escape for a high level of interior comfort. Additionally, Springbar® tents are sewn with special seam construction techniques and three different types of thread to prevent any leaking or water wicking at the seams.
It was because of these performance characteristics that canvas duck was the outdoor fabric of choice for hundreds of years—from the covered wagons of pioneers, to army tents, to the sails of explorer’s ships.
You Know that Super Comfy Feeling You Get in Your Favorite Cotton T Shirt—Sleeping in a Springbar® Tent is Kind of Like That
Camping is all about having a great experience, and the way you camp has a big effect on the experience you’ll have. We have a lot of nostalgia for when our parents took us camping, and we take our kids camping to pass on the same thing. We have incredibly beautiful National Parks, and Monuments, and Public Lands and camping in them is an American birthright. When you’re camping, the experience is everything.
Now, we’re definitely in the realm of the subjective here, but to us, canvas just plain feels better. It creates a warm, soft, vintage vibe that feels the way we imagine camping should feel. Canvas feels at home surrounded by pine trees and mountains and the scent of sage in the desert just after a rain. It connects you to a rich heritage of pioneers and mountain men and scouts who camped under canvas. We think canvas goes a long way in helping a camp feel the way it should.
Canvas Tents vs. Synthetic Tents
The two biggest differences are 1) weight and 2) cost. Canvas also has several performance advantages over synthetics in context of a car camping or base camping tent.
First, let’s address the weight issue. A Springbar® Tent is not light—the total kit with tent, poles, and stakes comes in at about 80 lbs. That said, the tent and poles stow in separate bags and are really quite easy to manage. And as far as the bed of your pickup truck is concerned, 8 lbs. or 80 lbs. might as well be the same thing.
If you’re in need of a lightweight backpacking tent, a Springbar® probably isn’t for you—unless you’re really really strong and enjoy carrying heavy objects long distances in an alternative fitness masochist sort of way. A Springbar® Tent is designed for vehicle accessed camp sites, i.e. car camping and overlanding. Fortunately, there are a virtually unlimited number of incredible, wild places that can be accessed by car or truck in this fine country of ours. Car camping is as American as baseball and apple pie.
Synthetic fabrics, like nylon or polyester, are necessary in lightweight backpacking tents. The curious thing, is that the vast majority of ‘family’ and ‘car camping’ tents out there look more like glorified backpacking tents. Made with lightweight plastic-like materials and flimsy poles, these ‘car camping’ tents end up being too heavy and bulky for backpacking applications but are left wanting in the car camping department, in terms of both livable space and weather worthiness. In our opinion, if you’re car camping, there’s no good reason not to do it comfortably and with some style. Do it in a Springbar®.
Now to address the second difference: cost. It might come as a surprise, but quality 100% cotton canvas is significantly more expensive than synthetic tent fabrics. Good canvas is an essential component of a Springbar® Tent, and we refuse to cut corners in this regard. You will pay a bit more up front for a Springbar®, but if you take care of it, you’re investing in the last car camping tent you’ll ever need. Our tents are covered by a lifetime warranty that covers defects in materials and craftsmanship, and we fully support and encourage repairs to wear and tear. In an age where the majority of tents are more or less disposable, repair is a radical approach. Less tents in the landfill is a good thing.
Canvas can Breathe. And Breathability is a Big Deal.
The primary benefit of canvas over synthetic tent fabrics is breathability. Canvas allows condensation and moisture to escape the tent, keeping the interior tent climate dry and comfortable. Synthetic tent fabrics like nylon and polyester do not breathe, and often trap condensation inside the tent. Even if the rain stays out, synthetic tents can leave you feeling damp and claustrophobic. The breathability of canvas keeps you cooler in hot weather, and because canvas is heavier and more substantial than synthetics, it will keep you warmer in cold weather.
Always Store it Dry
The number one rule of caring for a Springbar® Canvas Tent is to make sure its dry prior to long term storage. Cotton canvas is a natural material and will mold and mildew if stored wet—just like a load of laundry will mildew if you forget about it and leave it in the washing machine for a few days. Our canvas is treated for mold and mildew resistance, but still needs to be stored dry. If you’re forced to break camp in the rain, you’re tent will be fine for a day or two, just remember to set it up in your backyard when you get home so it can fully dry before storage.