What brands of canopies survived Convention?

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What brands of canopies survived Convention?

Postby Teresa » Aug 5, 2007 2:52 pm

Ok, we know the Easy-Ups were also the Easy-Downs. Mine (not an Easy-up, but one with a rectangular top, gajillion poles, polyethyene cover, and stake-downs inside the legs) went crashing, too. Obviously, ones with white poles were toast.

But who had rain/shade canopies which survived, and what brand? We saw a number of hex-sided canopies still standing. I bet there are an oodle of people in the market for canopies now.

Information/opinions?
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raim crews

Postby JamesCrouch » Aug 5, 2007 3:14 pm

Some of them at least were still standing because there were folk there battling the storm!
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Postby wendy » Aug 5, 2007 5:39 pm

Mine kinda survivied, it just came unstaked and leaned to one side, but the poles and the structure of it were intact. It was a $24 screen room from Wal-mart
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Postby weevil » Aug 5, 2007 7:25 pm

saw a few kelty,s standing tall
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First Up survived but I think it had to do with our location

Postby CaverScott » Aug 6, 2007 8:00 am

We had a generic ez-up from WalMart called "First up." Three of the four 8 inch stakes were 75% out of the ground when I returned during the Photo Salon. One side of the FirstUp was somewhat bent or so we thought, but it folded up perfectly fine. All of the side guidelines were still in place.

We had rigged a tarp over our tent and one of those two tarp poles snapped but our bedding was dry.

I think what "saved" us was our camp location. We were down the ridge from that small pavillion in the noisy camp, and against the treeline. Another camper was not lucky as his small, green tent was wrapped around one of the nearby wooden poles that was 600 feet away from where he left it earlier.
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Survivability of Tarps/Canopies

Postby KENTO » Aug 6, 2007 6:01 pm

Well, here is my two cents worth, I would warn against making any purchase decisions or panning/dissing/booing any one companies technology. The storm that hit the campground was one of the most fascinating storms I have ever witnessed in my life, counting the awnings that were ripped off the R-V/popup campers I believe there was over 10 thousand dollars (maybe 15 ) loss in ruined equipment. I was just finished up eating a delicious fish supper under the shelter of the Great Big Circus like Tent next to the Expo Hall when the rain began. Though I had been planning on catching the next Bus to the Slide Salon with Eric Higbie , I reconsidered because of my fears someone was about to be hit by the numerous near ground zero lighting strikes. In fact , I went about the tent warning people standing in the multiple puddles of water to please come inside the hall for safety sakes. I then went to our food service staff and asked them to at least move their line farther into the tent space away from the 50 foot long 6 inch deep puddle with a waterfall pouring more down just behind them off that end of the Big top. I said they should seriously consider packing it up right then. I went inside the Hall to talk to the Fairground Supervisor and local Go to Guy Mr. Jim Ade. He informed me the local forecast was for severe thunder, lightning, rain and winds to 50 mph which is what I would estimate we had already had seen at least that already. I went to Medical and informed our skeleton crew not at the Salon to be prepared for the worst. The rain hitting the steel roof was so loud we could not hear each other speak...then there was a lull of about 45 seconds...then a different and louder sound began, Hail, I really began to worry then a tornado was a possibility. I went back out to the circus tent because I found out the vendors this evening were not affiliated with the fairground. I felt bad because they were not allowed to bring their equipment inside the hall because there was no room in the kitchen storage rooms which were full of fairboard property. I jumped through the stinging gauntlet of hail to the bigtop tent which was billowing and flapping straining at the monster stakes and ropes. The vendors were indeed busy trying to pack the food away safely into some containers and trying to keep the table with the cashbox from blowing away. I walked down to the middle of the tent where my friend from Champaign Illinois Mid ILL. Grotto, Larry Cohen was sitting with his girlfriend. He had a smile a mile wide, this is the guy who begged me to stay longer for just one more rollercoaster ride the day before at the Holiday World. Just then the wind picked up even more, we heard a couple of screams, looked down the tent in time to see tables turning over. Flying by not 25 feet from where we were was hundreds of dollars worth of commercial food serving equipment, stainless steel chafing pans, heavy heat lamps , shattering glass 150 watt heat lamp bulbs, glass shards flying out into the campground. But no one was shocked because the servers had heeded my advice and unplugged everything. Out in the campground we could see some areas barely hanging on, due to human supplementary anchors in some cases , some due to just pure chaotic luck. There were visible areas being hit by micro-burst windshears just tearing every thing up in the quiet area up front and SENDING it on back to the Not so Quiet area in back. At this point , I could not believe there was no funnel cloud dancing around out there, we were fortunate there was not.

I used to sell lot's of camping equipment at Galyan's Sporting Goods. I knew from past experience that the tradeamarked E-Z up Tarp awnings are wonderful for keeping the sun off your lemonade stand and picnic table beside your tent but are quickly vulnerable to destruction if storms bring winds beyond 10-15 mph. In recent years Walmart and other retail outlets have offered cheaper but heavier weight copies of the E-Zups...if you don't mind lugging the extra 35 pounds of steel from your trunk/SUV roofrack to your campsite these things are way better. The Scissors mechanism is much less prone to tweaking and damage in surprisingly stiffer winds if you have them well anchored out with big heavy steel Tent pegs. Wow cheap crappy steel awnings versus expensive flimsy aluminum ones both made in China...although E-Zups used to be made in the USA at least. After the rain subsided , I walked and drove my truck around in the campground, I would say the only equipment not harmed was the expensive low to ground 4-season mountaineering tents that some cavers in the know have invested in and had properly anchored out especially the designs with " Catenary Cut design " Or there was a mix of sites with middle of the road to cheap equipment that perhaps survived because of a contour of the land , windbreak from Trees/Structures or a daring bunch of cavers hanging on for dearlife like in the Youtube videosegment. My hat goes off to those people, my language would have required editorial warnings too. What amazes me, is there was maybe 150 people scattered about with the lightning, flying glass and poles etc. with only one person requiring stitches. PM me if you would like some more technical evaluations/ carefully considered opinions of the most trustworthy equipment, because I do pay attention to stuff like that and there were some obvious winners in this battle with Mother Nature.
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Postby Cheryl Jones » Aug 6, 2007 11:59 pm

If I'd known a nasty storm was coming I (hope I) would have taken the canopy off of my instant shade. Maybe then the frame would have survived.

And perhaps if it hadn't been staked and weighted down so well (the legs were firmly anchored after the storm!) I could have just picked the whole thing up a couple hundred yards away near the school where it would have landed elegantly on a bush, unscathed. :big grin:

I was just glad some supports didn't break loose and gash my tent.
I would say the only equipment not harmed was the expensive low to ground 4-season mountaineering tents that some cavers in the know have invested in and had properly anchored out especially the designs with " Catenary Cut design "


Mine and the other tent in my camp were 3 season, not low-to-the-ground or mountaineering dome tents, and they weathered the storm just fine. :calvin:

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Re: Survivability of Tarps/Canopies

Postby NZcaver » Aug 7, 2007 1:12 am

KENTO wrote:...I would say the only equipment not harmed was the expensive low to ground 4-season mountaineering tents that some cavers in the know have invested in and had properly anchored out...

Hmmm, yes. Another reminder that my decision to bring an about-to-fall-apart old cheap summer tent to Convention was not a good choice. By an amazing miracle the tent was still up when I returned, although the inside resembled a paddling pool. My sleeping bag was soaked, as was my pillow, and my clothes. My Convention guide book was half underwater, and ended up a sodden mess. Guess I should have brought my Mountain Hardware 4 season tent - oh well.

Just a thought about all those EZ ups from Wally Mart. If any were recent purchases and the receipt was kept, you could always return the tattered remains for a refund. Just act mad and say it fell apart on you. :wink:
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Re: Survivability of Tarps/Canopies

Postby Teresa » Aug 7, 2007 9:58 am

KENTO wrote:Well, here is my two cents worth, I would warn against making any purchase decisions or panning/dissing/booing any one companies technology. <snip> PM me if you would like some more technical evaluations/ carefully considered opinions of the most trustworthy equipment, because I do pay attention to stuff like that and there were some obvious winners in this battle with Mother Nature.


This is the reason I started this thread :hairpull: -- to find out what equipment survived, and what didn't and share that information with everyone. I'm sorry, in normal sunny weather, anything survives..that's why I wanted to know specifically what survived to see if there were any trends. More people's experiences are better than just one or two, and when it comes down to it, people are going to buy X brand or Y style. We do this all the time discussing headlights. Why not canopies?

It's not a matter of dissing any brand-- it's a matter of finding out what designs are more likely to stand up to this sort of weather brutality.

Is there anything you can say in public about certain styles or designs without mentioning any names?
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Good Canopies

Postby KENTO » Aug 7, 2007 11:56 am

Well here goes, I framed my post towards a fair explanation of the many different equipment choices and people here still pegged me for an elitist gear nut.... ,,, which is what I am.

Well in general this year I saw lots of the MSR tents known as the Hubbahubba and the 3 person version " Mothahubba " weather it well, the same goes for several 3-4 season tents I saw from Kelty, North Face and Sierra Designs. But the real cruel thing about this Storm was how chaotic the storm was, trashing the burliest most expensive and sturdy equipment here, practically not even raining on a flimsy cheap tent over there. As for the Tarp/Awnings , I would have to say the best performing overall tarp for the money still is those cheapo Easy Downs from Walmart we have all been laughing about. IMHO here, if we had had enough peoples on hand to drop the canvas tops off those things and stash the hotdog buns etc. into the Rubbermaid Toteboxes there would not have been the gigantic piles of the busted frames piled up everywhere. As for the Grottoes,( other groups ) who have invested in the bigger galvanized pipe and bungiecorded Tarp configuration, they are probably grateful to be faced with replacing some bent heavy duty steel pipes currently, not replacing the entire 250 dollar investment for those beasties. I have and will be glad to continue to help anybody set those things up and tear them down, but if left to me I would never buy something that complicated and expensive.
As for the classic Family Tents the Canvas walled Tents with the right pole design will always win out at NSS convention stormfests but I would have difficulty to explain lacking a photo or a link to a vender catalog/website. I will try to describe them though: the classic Cabin one room supported by Heavy Gauge Aluminum Ridgepoles over the main central area with poles anchored near the center of the tent and cantilevered out to the peaks of the smaller side rooms are amazingly rugged in storms like this. You could spend a shocking large amount of Money on a tent from LL Bean, North Face, Kelty etc. that have 3 season features and poles scaled up to Family Cabin tent dimensions. Those are the worst investments possible although they look and work great in relatively mild weather, when the wind picks up all that surface area of nylon begins to billow and flap and the poles can't work together in support because they are not in sleeves or linked together in synergistic circles and TRIANGLES like the 4 season tents they emulate visually. These tents poles are going to snap and tweak no matter what they are made of, ( usually fiberglass(( they got to make their profit somehow...)) , if you are lucky there is a tent left with some stuff inside of it, soaked or otherwise. You then get to learn how well the company is prepared to serve their customers by making replacement poles or not. This requires phonecalls and measurements and referring to the instruction manuals, before you can have your replacement poles sent to you for a mere $85 plus $10 S&H.
*%*%85 Fricking dollars you say..." I spent 250.00 when I bought it from...SierraTradingPost, Cabela's on Closeout, Ebay...whatever" " I can do better, Yousay"..." I'll just march right down to Dick's and buy those replacement poles, I saw hanging on a hook for $19.99..." " I do wish I hadn't thrown the owners manual away in the cardboard box"...you say...
Just one problem those poles for $19.99 fit nothing out there , except possibly some weird tarp My chintzy old buddy Bill Baus found for 5 dollars at a yard sale. If you don't know Bill, he would appreciate this flattering comment and approve it's message...I assure you.
But...I digress, obviously I do have some opinions here, I think you all would be best served to enjoy researching and having people at REI or Backcountry.com or the Eureka Tent Company**** select a wise purchase in advance, knowing full well what kind of replacement poles you might need after the....Next Big NSS convention storm. Why do we attract such Suckerpunches, anyway?....sigh, LOL
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Good Canopies

Postby Norm Berg » Aug 9, 2007 8:05 pm

At the Central Conn Grotto camping area we had three canopies set up, each was a 10x20 with 8 or 6 legs and made by Powell & Powel. After the storm, about 1/3 of the metal connecting pieces were bent, usually a leg and bent at the joint. None of the joints were damaged and none of the tarps (that came with the canopies) were damaged, so just the connecting tubing needs repair. Thought not repaired yet, I did a similar repair in the past when a tree fell on a canopy. The tubing is 1-3/8 diameter steel, which is the same diameter as the tubing for chain-link fencing, making it easy to replace if needed. We will straighten the tubing by inserting iron bars and applying a little leverage (barbell iron bars work well). Some tubing may crack when straightened; this we will replace, or insert a wooden dowel into it, or cut off the damaged end and combine the good lengths (using a tubing joint piece that is sold cheaply where fencing is sold). The key point is that none of the joints were damaged. This type of canopy can be repaired in the field by unbending the tubing and using some scrap wood or metal to splint any severely damaged tubing. These canopies were bought before the widespread use of instant canopies. They were made in the USA and were more expensive than what is now commonly sold at retail stores.
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Postby CaverSteve » Aug 10, 2007 2:30 pm

Having destructive weather at a NSS Convention should not be a surprise. I've been to 19 conventions. At 5, there were high winds, heavy rains, and significant destruction. That is about one in every four conventions. It is also about 4% of the number of days most people stay at a convention. If you look at this map (http://www.nssl.noaa.gov/hazard/hazardmap.html), you will see that we are getting thunderstorms at the normal rate.

In every wind event, many of the sunshades get destroyed and just about all get blown down. About the only sunshades that don't get destroyed when they get knocked down are those made from blue tarps. They generally fall down and wad-up in the slightest wind. I personally don't think that anybody should bring a sunshade to the convention. They will inevitably be destroyed and will have to be thrown in the non-recyclable trash.

I made and ad-hoc study of the tents that survived the windstorm at the convention in Sault Ste Marie, Michigan (1987). The campground site was a plateau. Almost the entire site was exposed to any potential winds. The thunderstorm that hit the site caused a lot of destruction. It blew some tents and sunscreens into the woods around the campsite; some items were never found. I estimated that 90% of the tents were collapsed or blown over. Mountain bivouac tents collapsed. Dome tents collapsed. Family tents collapsed. The tents that consistently survived were only of two types: tightly pitched pup tents or tents with both longitudinal and crossed poles.

I had a pup tent not because I was then experienced with the survivability of tents, but because I was cheap. I had purchased it for $3. I did the right thing for the wrong reason.

When it came time to replace my pup tent, I purchased a Sierra Designs Lookout CD. My Sierra Designs Lookout CD did not collapse at the convention in Marengo nor in any other storm event. There may be similar designs with crossed poles offered by competing brands. You can empirically tell whether a pitched tent will withstand wind. Just lean against the side; it it collapses easily it will easily collapse in a storm. Perhaps you should purchase a similar tent before the next convention and do the right thing for the right reason.

Besides wind, there is also water runoff that causes damage. If you pitch your tent in a drainage swale, water will enter your tent and damage your stuff. At Marengo, I observed from 3-inches to over 1-foot of water flowing through some of the tents. These cavers either didn't observer their surroundings or allowed others to pick their tent sites for them.

Good campsites are not easy to come by at most convention sites. In Sault Ste Marie, most of the site was exposed to the wind. That is the reason for the widespread destruction in that convention. At Marengo, the 60 acre site had perhaps 15 acres with good drainage and maybe 2 acres with both good drainage and limited wind exposure. There are similar issues at every NSS Convention campsite.

Good tent sites are also artificially scarce at most conventions because "Sooners" mark out 1/4 acre or more for their friends or casual acquaintances. I don't think that it should be allowed, but I doubt that anybody has the balls or authority to stop the practice. Frankly, if you want a good tent site at convention, you have to rebel against this rude, self-centered behavior by pitching your tent in the best site for you. Be assertive, but be friendly too. It has always worked for me; it should work for you too.
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More $$$ for the damage total

Postby KsCaver22 » Aug 12, 2007 10:00 am

My cheapo $45 screen room came down but did not get blown away.

My ALiner camper came through with no damage at all. It has weathered some pretty good storms. I was near the east end of the campground on the north fence. There was a small puddle of water inside because I left one of the roof vents cracked open.

The REAL damage for me was to my truck. One of those big canopies with the 1-3/8 steel poles raked the right side. I just got it back from the body shop on Friday. The total was a tad over $2000, most of which was paid by insurance. I am out about $600 for the deductible and a week of rental car.

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we survived

Postby Ronaldo » Aug 12, 2007 11:42 am

We were camped on a tree line on the right as you would drive back to the rear part of the not so quiet camping. We were at the bottom of the hill which proved to be a spot where water ran down the hill. there was flowing water around our tents although we did not see it, we saw the debris that collected around the tents that looked like flood debris. We were at Holiday World having fun that evening and did not see any rain. We were surprized that the camp got hit since we were less than an hour away and saw nothing. The Interstate ramp at sr66 and I-64 was even dry only 6 miles south!

We were among a line of tents along the tree line which I am sure helped. But some of the canopies in that line were damaged and tents filled with water. We had 3 tents set up, one was a cheap wall mart type that has sewn in poles, you kind of throw it up to set it up. It filled with muddy water but really had only a few things in it. Right beside it was the tent we were sleeping in, a Eureka 4 man 3 season dome, a well designed tent, was about $150 new (5 yrs ago). Even though a creek was formed around it, water did not get inside and our sleeping bags were dry.

I had a small 2 man North Face that I was using for gear stowage and it stayed dry as well. I even had 2 guitars inside and all my caving gear. There was a little water seepage in both of the tents but not enough to ruin a nights sleep, just a bit of water under the pads. I have not sealed the seams in 5 years since buying them. In general, high quality tents faired better from what I saw.

My shelter was not damaged or blown down. A lot of our kitchen was spread about the area though. I have an MSR Outfitter wing which was pricy ($275) but has a lifetime guarantee and they will also repair damage at a low cost if needed. I was able to tye 2 of the tyes to trees which I am sure helped, but these types of batwing tarps are very versitile, can be set up with only 2 poles or you can add poles to each corner and the middle if you want. I often just find some dead saplings to add ploes, for the center one I cut the bottom of a small water bottle and put it over an extra pole to pad it. Kento can tell you how good the MSR batwing style tarps are. I bought the larger outfitter wing size which was more $ than their basic batwing tarp.

When using the 2 poles that come the batwings, you can tye the ropes down low to offer side protection or pull them way out for more room under the canopy. I think they are one of the best awnings going. They roll up into a bag including the collapsable poles that is not much larger than a tent, so they can be used for short range back backing and expedition type set ups, unlike the big heavy type awnings.

When we got back to camp our 8 year old daughter was traumatized a bit by the destruction we saw. She was crying and upset, she saw our friends tents with water standing inside and was scared. When she found out our sleeping gear was dry, she relaxed a lot, this really helped her confidence. My girls did however leave the next day , I could not talk them into staying for the banquet....

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Postby George Dasher » Aug 12, 2007 3:06 pm

My "new" Kelty tarp was ripped to shreds, but my older-than-dirt REI tarp survived 100% intact.

Was there any true to the story that one tent survived, but ripped down the chain-link fence it was tied to?
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