General FAQ

General FAQ

Why are your tents more expensive than others I could buy?

When you purchase a Tentsmiths tent, you are paying for quality, and for a tent that can last decades if you care for it.

CONSTRUCTION – All our seams are double sewn, flat-felled seams, which is the strongest seam we can do. This creates a structural “skeleton” for the tent, which produces a structure able to withstand anything Mother Nature offers. All of our tentage has wall seams that line up with its roof seams, which adds to the structural support of the tent, instead of stressing the canvas. It takes a great deal more time to make tents this way but we feel it’s worth it and yesterday’s makers must have, also, as every historic tent we have seen was done this way.

DOORS – The small wedge and wall tents are an overlapped reinforcement around six inches wide, tie inside and out. If the door is a vertical wall, there are ties to secure it to the adjacent pole. On larger wedge and wall tents the overlap is 8″. Doors can be tied open on most tents. Marquees have a full panel overlap as their doors. At approximately thirty-four inches wide, this makes for very weatherproof security.

REINFORCEMENTS – Reinforcements are placed where we have seen wear. Thirty six years of tent making and research has shown that tents seldom wear in their ridges, so why introduce weight, needle holes and the chance for trapped moisture in that area. Abrasion causes wear, so we reinforce a tent’s peaks, door overlaps, stake loops and eaves area, as those are the potential problem spots. We have built thousands of tents. We have had to repair a handful. We’re doing something right!

MUD FLAPS – Mud flaps are standard on all tents, except wedge tents, unless specified otherwise. Historically, mud flaps were called sod flaps or “rot cloths”. Our mud flaps finish around 10″ wide. They lay on the ground on the inside of the tent, keeping the wind from blowing the rain in. With a floor laying over the top of the mud flaps you can create a nice envelope effect in your tent.

CLOTH LOOPS – All TENTSMITHS tents use sewn Sunforger Army Duck for both guy loops and stake loops. We do not use webbing, because webbing sucks up moisture, especially ground moisture, and can rot your tent. Grommets are available if you prefer, but loops are more easily replaceable when damaged and do not affect the surrounding areas.

Will you make a tent in a different fabric?

The canvas we use is the strongest, longest lasting, most weather proof and flame resistant out there. We want your Tentsmiths tent to be your shelter for a long time to come, which is why we use Sunforger brand water repellent, rot and mildew resistant, flame resistant 100% cotton army duck in 10.10 oz. weight. This tightly woven, high thread count fabric is preshrunk for the Marine Industry and factory finished with Sunforger, a baked in, invisible, durable process that makes the canvas mildew resistant and water repellent. Sunforger Army Duck canvas offers the best of the old world and the new, a fabric with the appearance of the past and the livability we demand today.

All our patterns are created for this fabric and have not been designed with other fabrics in mind Given that many states and organizations have strict laws and rules around what is an acceptable fabric for public events, we have found this the best choice for us and our customers. 

We will make tents, tarps etc. out of a few choices, and those include:
• 13 oz Sunforger Flame Resistant Canvas
• Non-flame resistant canvas, if the tent is for display only and not for reenactments
• Tan or gray color canvas for the tents that historically require those colors
• Oilskin for tarps and shelters 
If you have something else in mind, give us a call or send us an email, but be prepared that the answer might be no.

To be more accurate, I would like you to make a tent in another fabric. Can you do it?

We get it, we love accuracy as much as you do. We’ve worked and presented in time periods from the 1100’s through WW2. But, well, there are limits. First off, most fabrics before the mid-19th century will leave you wet. We’re not saying damp, we’re saying WET. We have quotes from the American Revolution that indicate tents just “slow down the rain.” You and those who come to see you really don’t want that. We promise we are constantly on the look for fabric options that have a more authentic feel without making it impossible for a modern presenter to do what you do best.

That said, if you really need a particular fabric and look, we’ll share our research and experience with you to create the most accurate impression possible, no charge!

Can I get my tent in colored fabric?

Period fabrics had issues, too long to go into here. Most historical tents were not made in cotton canvas, the material we work in. And most tents, if made in color, were either woven from fabrics with a natural color (like wool) or were dyed mid- process. We have yet to find colors outside of the tan and gray that we currently offer that meet our very tough standards. The second we find other colors that meet our standards, we’ll let you know.

We’ve also found that white tents have advantages over colored ones. They stay much cooler in the bright sun. They’re much easier to light as the white will reflect well. And, especially if you’re vending doing a display, items inside the tent will look true to their colors rather than being tinted by the color of the canvas.

Can you hand sew the visible seams?

Historically, a tent would not be expected to last more than a few years at best, probably no longer than a single season, but nowadays buying a tent is an expensive proposition, even when stitched by machine. We want you to have yours for at least a decade or more (Crazy in this age of obsolescence, right?) We have engineered our tents for machine sewing so that they are strong and long lasting, but also so they take a lot less time to put together than it would if we had to do it by hand. So if we were to stitch them by hand they would be prohibitively more expensive, and have a much shorter life span.

Will you build me this obscure tent I found in a random woodcut/sketch/notebook?

We have patterns for a lot more tents than are on our website, so give us a call or send us an email and ask if we’ve ever made a tent based on the one you’ve seen. But if we have a lot of tents on order already, it can take a long time for us to get to a very specialized tent. Additionally, the cost will be greater for a one-off tent.

How do I know what size tent I/my family will need?

Here is the best way to figure out what size tent you will need: take a rope into your backyard, some chalk on your driveway, or even some painter’s tape in your living room, and lay out the footprint of the size tent you think you want. Then fill that space with all your gear, your sleeping bags or beds, and chairs or tables you might take with you. Then try moving through your space, laying down, getting dressed, all the things you will want to do once you are actually in the tent. Sine everyone uses their tents slightly differently, there is no one easy answer, but if you do a little work before you order it can make a big difference to your comfort later.

Which tent is acceptable for my unit/organization/time period?

We will gladly share any and all documentation we have for the tent you desire but we can not guarantee that any particular unit or governing body will accept the tent we make you. We will provide photos and swatches on request in addition to historical documentation, but it is up to you to verify these with any group to which you belong.

I need a tent for a specific event, can you deliver it to me there?

The first time you set up your tent should really be before you need to use it. Especially since tents require ropes and poles, which may need adjusting. We would much rather ship your tent to you prior to your event so you can set it up, check it over, and make sure it will fill your needs before you must depend on it. If we’re at an event we might assist in your set-up, but once you own the tent, it will be your responsibility to set it up and care for it.

I need to clean my tent, what is the best way to do so?

As much as we would like to say don’t get your tent dirty, we’re all only human, right? Our dog has run over the roof of our tent with muddy paws while we were trying to put it away, our son spilled grape juice on the back wall of our tent. Once, the roof vent in our trailer was blown off by a fierce windstorm and one of our tents was folded up right underneath that roof vent. Things happen. Having said that, the best way to clean a Tentsmiths tent is to let is dry and brush it off. A good stiff scrub brush can get off a lot of dirt once the canvas is dry. But for things like mildew, grease or anything else, washing with soap will destroy the weatherproofing. If you absolutely must we recommend Iosso products for both cleaning and then for re-waterproofing once you are done with the cleaning. 


I am a long-time Tentsmiths customer and would like to talk to former owner(s) Peter and/or Deborah, how do I get ahold of them?

You can email Peter and Deborah at Peter@tentsmiths.com or Deborah@tentsmiths.com. I’m sure they’d love to hear from you.

Ordering FAQ

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