Buying our first IC Tent

Hello! Our group is looking to buy our first IC tent for our Navarr striding. ATM our plan is to have a 4m bell tent as a base camp but as we are a 6-person group currently, it will probably not be used to sleep in apart from any ad-hoc decisions (aka whoever’s too… hydrated to walk back to the OC area).

2 questions for you all! Firstly, how do you usually share tent ownership among a group? We were considering all chipping in a more or less equal amount but it’s a little difficult with our wildly different incomes, haha. Any success stories of shared tent ownership, or is it more common that one person just buys it and shares it with everyone for free or charges a little rent each event?

The other question is about materials. We are currently looking at tents from Boutique Camping : this one is made of Oxford fabric [canvas-look polyester] and comes in either 100 gsm or 230gsm. Seems to me (from the fabric guide) that the lighter fabric is easier to transport, put up, and dry, but may not look as much like real canvas as 230gsm. It does look a little thinner and more transparent - opinions on this? does it look IC enough? Should we aim for a material that looks more like canvas? And if anyone has used one in a similar material, is there much difference in internal temperature and insulation?

The other option is a Polycotton canvas one which comes in 200 or 285 gsm. Really no idea how these weights translate and what they mean. Please give me the stats on your IC tent and how it feels and looks! We need to decide soon because of camp planning (but luckily they ship quickly!)

Obviously the final (biggest) consideration is cost. Oxford 100 = £289, Ox 230 = £389, Poly 200 = £369, Poly 285 = £409 (ouch). There are huge differences in the prices but we just have no idea what the different fabrics mean. Sorry for such a big post, I’ll be so grateful for any morsels of guidance!

Basic answer, heavier the fabric, the more weather proof it is likely to be, especially when considering E1 and E4 temperatures, and wind. I am sure they are all waterproof but again the heavier canvas will likely keep the damp out for longer in a heavier downpour.

If you’re buying to invest it is always worth going with the best you can afford, and the heavier canvas will likely last longer being pulled around by the wind, and enthusiastic campers.

Oxford fabric is fine for IC as far as look goes at least.

Do you have one person willing to transport, store, and re-pitch it to dry if it comes down wet, with space to do that? The tents are only an investment if they last, and they do need some more care than a plastic tent. I know you are worried about the weight, I have a full cotton canvas zip in groundsheet 4m bell, I take the poles separately but can shift the tent in it’s bag on my own fairly easily. The canvas 5m we sometimes use I can haul around short distances but lifting that is hard.

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Thanks, we do have someone who’ll look after and transport the tent - currently would be able to re-pitch it to dry it out but that will change as likely moving to a flat in the summer. That’s the main thing drawing me to the 100gsm oxford fabric rather than carry weight, as it is the quickest drying one (as well as price, of course). Though if no-one in the group will be able to re-pitch it after a particularly wet event as none of us have gardens, we are probably stuffed anyway!

It’s tricky deciding how much to invest in this as we aren’t planning to sleep in it as of now, but we do want it to be good enough to last us a couple years at least and to have the option in the future.

Your other option if you’re looking for easy to shift and easy to dry (over the balcony perhaps) how about just getting a shelter? Peg it to the floor at the back on the windy side, fire pit at the front and you’ll be warm enough. Basically a flat piece of canvas, 2 or 4 poles, easy to pitch and store, and packs down flat!

Then when you do plan to sleep IC you can use the shelter as the porch for your IC tent.

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Having it as an IC base of operations is great; you can store stuff there, meet folk inside it, and cluster for a quick (if small in a 4m) IC meeting.

Shared tent can be a bit of a bugbear, and it’s worth sitting down and working out a social contract for the group, in as much as who does what.

I have, in past years, ended up bringing an IC tent for a group. It was hired from a mutual friend, I was responsible for transporting and cleaning it. Everyone else chipped in with the cost each event, and helped pitch and strike it. If they did not, they contributed some other way.

For example:
Alex buys the tent, and transports it.
Bob brings the camp furniture
Craig brings the IC food
Dave brings the drinks
Eddie is responsible for co-ordinating all the above, including the camp planning, group downtimes, and keeping the tent clean and tidy during the event.

You could try for buying the tent with the costs split equally, or let people pay off their share a little at a time, or have folk pay other ways…

My current tent is a large Dutch pyramid tent, sleeps my whole family IC, and coast quite a bit. However, this is also the OOC family tent, and as long as these things are looked after, they retain a lot of value.

Oh, and re cleaning/drying them.

Even if you have no garden, you can usually get away with pitching the tent on an area of parkland or similar nearby, for a couple of hours. It doesn’t need to be fully erected, just spread out (possibly with a chair or something inside to separate out the layers and allow air flow) to catch the wind and sun.

For cleaning it, even at muddiest, I’d suggest a simple bucket of water with a little washing up liquid and a scrubbing brush… Of course, you’ll still need to dry it out, see above.

Other ways to dry tents have included dangling over a balcony, over a (sturdy) washing line, or even covering a car.

I can’t help you re prices/fabrics, but remember that an IC tent is the biggest and most expensive investment* you are likely to make, and it’s worth paying for quality, if you can’t get a good one second-hand.

*Unless you buy full articulated plate armour.

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While looking for marquees I’ve come across some fairly cheap canvas on eBay that could be used for a bespoke shelter in the right hands. It won’t, however, help me replace the roof of our 25’ octagonal marquee so for now we’ll have to stick with a 16’ square that we’re about to buy shares in from the owner (also part of our guild but unable to store or transport it for future events).

FYI, there is a used 6 berth Dutch Pyramid tent available here right now for £300 + £30 courier. Very similar to a bell but with a large porch, more standing space inside, and proper quality canvas that looks IC and will last decades if looked after. We got a very similar 4 berth from the same guy about 6 years ago and it has been an excellent investment.

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For what it’s worth, when I lived in a tiny 1 bedroom flat I used to dry my 4m cotton canvas bell draped over the kitchen table.