Tent buying 101: Your guide to terms and materials

This glossary of terms will help take the mystery out of the features you’ll want to understand before making your tent purchase.
exterior small coleman tent desert
January 22, 2018 10:44 AM

Aluminum Frame: Lightweight and strong, making it great for backpackers

Anti-Wicking Materials: Thread, webbing and zippers treated to repel rather than absorb water

Door: More common styles are ‘D’ and ‘Inverted T’; both generally have two layers (one fabric and one screen) and offer the ability to roll back the fabric and use the screen for ventilation and insect protection; tent doors feature zipper cuffs that add an additional layer of protection to the tent door

Fiberglass Frame: Strong, flexible and resilient in the wind

Guylines: Used to add structure to the tent; as the tent poles flex in the wind, guylines help keep it upright and sturdy

No-See-Um-Mesh: Tightly woven mesh that provides a barrier against insects and allows for breathability and ventilation

Polyester: Offers sag resistance and good UV resistance

Polyethylene (PE): A waterproof material that is tear and puncture resistant, making it a strong material for tent floors

Polyurethane (PU): A coating used on tent fabric for water protection; PU coatings are rated in millimeters (MM), for example ‘PU coated to 450MM’; a higher MM coating will increase water resistance

Shock-Corded: Elastic or wire cord run through the inside of the poles to keep the pole sections connected, thereby making tent assembly easier

Steel Frame: Creates upright walls with high strength

Taped Seams: Plastic tape that is applied over the seam (where the fabric pieces meet) during the manufacturing process to cover needle holes for increased weather protection


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