Campfire Tent
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The Campfire Tent

baker tent Baker Tent Hunt   In Search of the Modern Campfire tent

 From the good folks at Green Outdoor, find them at

                http://greenoutdoor.co.uk

           Green Logo

This is the second outing of my campfire tent. The first trip up at the Red Squirrel in Glencoe almost ended in disaster! The Ground is very stony and requires careful pitch selection. The front poles of the canopy section (which consists of 2 uprights and a crossbar with the option of a centre upright) came down in the middle of a stormy night. I managed to save the tent from collapsing but after having a chance to evaluate what happened, I came to the conclusion that the failure was a combination of me not understanding the forces and tensions on the tent (guy line positioning is crucial!) and the tent pegs supplied being unable to cope with the rocky ground (a few got bent in the process and I had to double up the pegs on the main guys to hold the tent in place). A couple of pole spikes broke (actually its a plastic insert which fits in the top of the pole and the spike locates in that - its a nifty idea because this is the component which will fail first thereby saving the pole from damage) but a quick email to Marcus at Green soon had new spikes c/w plastic inserts winging their way up to me. Marcus even sent me heavy duty rock pegs and some bamboo (yes bamboo!) sand pegs.  He didn't have to go to that bother but it just shows the dedication these guys have to their products, not to mention their customer service which is fantastic. Next time I get the urge to go for yet another tent, I will be making a beeline for their website!

 

This is supposed to be a review so here goes!

Location:- Red Squirrel Campsite, Glencoe. 15th April 2010, 3 nights.

Weather:- dry and sunny on Thursday, Friday - rain never too far away. Wind picked up on Saturday, rain during the night Friday & Saturday.

First thing that hits you is the size of this thing!

Find a pitch at least 10 paces long by 5 paces wide (BIG paces!)

I have laid the tent so that the rear is facing up the photo. I have inserted the cross bar of the "goalposts" into the sleeve. This forms the main frame of the tent. Next, insert the uprights in at each end and at the bottom of the pole, locate the small retaining pin into the pole then nip up the tensioner. The tension band is pegged at both ends, the whole tent will pivot about those pegging points. The top spike is small and only goes in to the ridge pole but not out the other side. I wondered why but when it rains, no hole, no water ingress! neat!

 

 

 

Make sure to tie on the uprights (2 sets of ties) and tuck the ridge ends neatly in to the top. There is a reinforced section here to protect the canvas.
Now we are ready for the big lift!

 

I pitched this tent alone which makes it a bit more tricky but it can be done!

At the rear, I loosely pegged out the centre guy line to offer some resistance and using the centre guy at the front I hoisted it up. It has to be said that you are trying to lift a goalpost with a sail attached! Be aware that this beast will try and twist and turn like a bucking bronco so HANG ON!

This is the only tricky bit and a second pair of hands would certainly help here.

baker campfire tent 3

Ray Mears in action using a campfire tent, or "baker tent" as they are also known.

 

This is the view from the rear at the same stage as above. There are only 2 guys holding the "cave" (my new name for it!) up and if there is anything stronger than a breeze at this point I would advise pegging out at least 3 of the rear guys and possibly a side guy (loosely at first).
  As can be seen here I have pegged down 3 out of the 5 rear guys. You can see the effect of the breeze on the side of the tent.
My Iphone comes with a spirit level application. I used it to make sure the poles were vertical!

 

Back to the front now and by progressive tensioning of the front guys and loosening of the rear ones I am bringing the goalposts gradually up to the vertical.  This is why you only peg out the rear guys loosely to begin with otherwise it would be a struggle to hoist it up.
 

 

Nearly there now. The front guys come in 2 pairs with an extra one in the centre (I only used this centre one for the initial pitch then tucked it away afterwards). It did come in handy, however, first time as I used it to give extra support to the tent when the front canopy poles collapsed. Not using the front poles in this way gives a more stable structure in high winds. Just one of the many variants possible.
  I can now concentrate on the side guys to provide lateral tension. There are 2 sets, One pair on the goalposts - they provide the best support for side winds, and a pair mid way down which give some stability but also "pad out" the form of the tent. There is almost a natural curve to the canvas at this point and those guys in combination with the two mid point lines on the roof (seen here still hanked) help to shape the tent. I have also inserted the 3 small rear poles. Again this is for assisting "shaping" the tent and you don't necessarily need them.

9 inch heavy duty steel pegs, let's see mother nature rip them out!

 

These bad boys wont pop out in a strong wind! Marcus sent me those heavy duty rock pegs - they go in a full 9 inches so expect a JCB to remove them!

At this stage I only have 2 ground pegs in - the 2 at the tension band (first photo). I can now peg in the rest of them. This is slightly different to the first pitch. I found that the tent "found" its shape better and it looked more natural. Note that the rear short poles have pin locators just like the main goalposts. This will stop them popping out in a strong wind. I also pegged the mid way ground pegs slightly "off line" adding a curve to the base of the tent. This ensures that the inner, if used, wouldn't touch the outer in a side wind. You can see it in the photo above just at the mid-way side guy line.

Note the chopping block, I needed to stand on that to attach the zips to the side wings!

 

Back to the front. Now I have inserted the frame for the canopy. Again this is a "goalpost" configuration. The ridge bar doesn't sit in a sleeve but it isn't really necessary. I use it because it gives a "clean" shape to the front end. There is also the option to use the extra upright supplied in the centre. I prefer to use it at the rear though as a support for the 2 mid point lines. (photo below somewhere!) At this stage I have also attached the side wings, by means of zips and rolled them back. A small point here, for lazy sods like me who don't want to keep zipping the wings on and off, a couple of toggles would be handy.
Cheated a little bit, had a gas barbeque! - but -

This is my preferred method of cooking!

 

The inner literally goes up in seconds - all elastic clips - 4 on the floor, a row at the rear (height of the short poles) and a row of 5 or 6 along the front edge then 4 or 5 down each side and that's it! In about 30 minutes (ok I was alone and taking photos) your cave is your home!

I also fitted the canopy front, you see it here rolled up out the way. It has 4 toggles to hold it up.

A closer view of the rear pole and rear vents.

 

Here is the rear support pole in place. All I did was wrap the 2 lines round the spike then anchored both lines to the ground. You can also see the rear vents. They have a nifty 3 way configuration - fully closed, rolled up or gussets opened for air. I opted to have the gussets zipped open as the prevailing wind (and accompanying rain) was from the rear thus avoiding the rain getting in but giving me ventilation. The inner tent has rollup hatches with mozzie netting at those points.
I pegged the front canopy door out to keep the rain off the fire. I could say that the crazy angle was to shed the rain, but in reality there was a tree to tie to on one side and not on the other!

Alder wood doesn't burn well! Too much water content.

 

And what would a campfire tent be without a fire?

In this instance a Yukon Firebox (raised on a log, the site owner gets a bit twitchy if you have fires out with the "authorised areas"!

    A couple of "belt & braces" things I never did first time round.

I wrapped a couple of pegs round the bottom of the canopy uprights just in case the wind decided to whip them out again.

I put the plastic stoppers on the ends of the spikes, in theory that should help avoid the spikes slipping out the eyes.

I angled the front guy line pairs so that each pair had a forward facing line and one which almost went off perpendicular to the tent to help stop side winds moving the whole tent sideways.

   
It blends into the background well.
Sit back and watch the wildlife come to you.
This little beggar chased the chaffinches away to pinch my titbits.

  In summary this is a very well made and very well thought out tent. It offers versatility unrivalled by any other type of tent. It does need to be understood though - the forces and tensions required to keep it stable are critical as is the matching of peg to type of ground.

There are lots of little components that fit in well together for example the double zips on the vents, giving plenty of scope for adjustments, likewise the removable side and front panels allowing for changes in wind direction providing protection from all angles.

It wont shed the wind as easily as a tipi but then with this shape of tent you would be foolish to think it would, but it will perform admirably in most conditions, especially good for shedding rain - it is completely waterproof!

A good purchase, one which I am confident will give me years of abuse! Many thanks to Green Outdoor, especially Marcus. A true gent. It has been a pleasure doing business with you and your company and hope to do so again in the future. Keep up the good work, your customer service is second to none!

 
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