Tents.-Large Tents.-The art of tent-making has greatly advanced since the days of the old-fashioned bell-tent, which is so peculiarly objectionable, as to make it a matter of surprise that it was ever invented and used. It is difficult to pitch; it requires many tent-pegs; it has ropes radiating all round it, over which men and horses stumble; and it is incommodious and ugly.
In choosing a tent, select one that will stand in some sort of shape with only four pegs, or with six at the very utmost; it should admit of being pegged close to the ground without any intervening 'fly'; it is no objection that it should require more than one pole; and, when considering how much weight it will be possible to carry, it must be borne in mind that the tent will become far heavier than it is found to be in the peculiarly dry atmosphere of a tent-maker's show-room. It is very convenient that a tent should admit of being pitched in more than one form: for instance, that one side should open and form an awning in hot weather; also, that it should be easy to attach flys or awning to the tent to increase its available size during the daytime. All tents should be provided with strong covers, for pack-ropes are sure to fray whatever they press against; and it is better that the cover should suffer than the tent itself.
Comparative Size of Tents.-The annexed diagram will show the points on which the roominess of a tent mainly depends. A man wants space to sit at a table, and also to get at his luggage in order either to pack it or to unpack it; lastly, he wants a reasonable amount of standing room. A fair-sized tent ought to include the figures drawn in the diagram; and I have indicated, by lines and shaded spaces, the section of various descriptions of tents that would be just sufficient to embrace them.
One side of the ordinary conical tents (fig. 1), of a front view of fig. 5, and of pyramidal tents (fig. 6), are represented by the line A B C. Those that have a “fall” (fig. 2), by the lines C D L F. Gipsy-tents, as described p. 161, umbrella-tents (fig. 4), and Jourts, p. 157, by the lines G H B K. Marquees (fig. 3), and a side view of fig. 5, by G L B M.
Notwithstanding the great height and width of conical tents, compared to the others, we see by the diagram that they afford scanty space at the level of the head of a seated person. There is a recent contrivance by Major Rhodes, to be seen at Silver and Co.'s, that is a modification of the gipsy-tent. Among ordinary, well-known tents, I believe none will satisfy the varied wants of a traveller so well as Edgington's three-poled tents (fig. 5). After these I should choose a small marquee (fig. 3); but it is less secure in wind, and the pitch of its roof is bad for rain, and the numerous straggling tent-ropes are objectionable.
A pyramidal tent (fig. 6), of seven or nine feet in the side, is remarkable for its sturdiness: it will stand any weather, will hold two people and a fair quantity of luggage besides; it weighs from 25 to 40 lbs. It is not a good tent for hot weather, for it is far too stuffy, though by taking an additional joint to the tent-pole, and using tent-ropes (as may also be done with any other kind of tent), it may be made more airy by being raised up, and by having walls added to it (fig. 7). In default of canvas, the walls may be constructed of other materials. (See “Materials for Huts.”)
Small Tents.-For tents of the smallest size and least pretensions, nothing can be better than the one represented in fig. 1: the ends are slit down their middles, and are laced or buttoned together, so that, by unfastening these, the tent spreads out to a flat sheet of the form of fig. 2, well adapted for an awning, or else it can be simply unrolled and used with the bedding. It is necessary that a tent should be roomy enough to admit of a man undressing himself, when wet through, without treading upon his bed and drenching it with mud and water; and therefore a tent of the above description is found to be unserviceable, if less than about 7 feet long, or ending in a triangle of less than 5 ½ feet in the side. Peat, the saddler in Bond Street, once made them; they cost 2l. 10s., and weighed 9 lbs. when dry. They are liable to bag in the side when the wind is high: a cross-pole or two sticks, following the seams of the canvas in the above sketch, would make them tauter.