In Search of the Fabled Forester Tent

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Last summer I put up these two photos of the design and a prototype for a “Forester” Tent.  While I have neither achieved, or even attempted, any further progress, it continues to be something I would like to have. With just the proper placement of tie-outs and staking points it can be “folded” from a simple flat tarp. It can also be constructed with specifically shaped panels as a single-form tent.

These days in the ultralight community there are mostly two different fabrics that are utilized for shelters. These are cuben fiber and silnylon. Cuben is the top choice, but is ridiculously expensive. Cuben fiber tents cost $600-$800 and up simply because of the cost of the material itself. Silnylon is not quite as lightweight, and is certainly not as strong as cuben, but costs a fraction as much. Last night I found a source on the Internet for silnylon at a cost of $5.98 per 60 inch wide yard. The material cost for a 10 x 10 tarp thus is only about $40. This seems pretty fair for what you’re getting… waterproof, windproof and very light in weight.

I made a quick call to my dear friend, and highly accomplished seamstress, Miss Connie down in Raleigh, North Carolina.  She said that if I would send her the material, together with a reasonably detailed design, she could throw one together for me.

EDIT~~ Miss Connie delivered:  and

I have now have the opportunity to use the tarp several times, and while the weather was never terribly inclement, the sil-nylon proved to be an incredibly nice fabric. A quick flick with a finger against the inside and the dew rolls right off. It packs up ridiculously small compared with the older tarps of my experience, and the weight is hardly more than the ubiquitous little $10/ 5’x7′ blue polyester tarp from WallyWorld’s camping section.


5 thoughts on “In Search of the Fabled Forester Tent

  1. Yes. I only saw the silpoly after I had seen the silnylon and written the post. Do you have any experience with both of them?
    It looks like the silpoly has less stretch, but some people have commented that the heavier threads in the ripstop part of the weave could compromise the long term preservation of the coating.

  2. I just saw your post about the finished tent. Sorry that I didn’t see your question earlier. I have the SilPoly 1 that was originally sold. I’ve known about the SilPoly 2, but haven’t bought any. Only last week, I got around to making a tarp out of my SilPoly 1, I’m aware that there have been problems with seam sealer not adhering to Silpoly1, but my tarp has only a center seam and it’s backed up with 3/4″ grosgrain ribbon so I don’t think that I will have too much trouble sealing it. I’m going to try diluting one part of pure silicone with three parts of mineral spirits and paint this over the grosgrain to see if it soaks in. This was my first experience sewing SilPoly and it’s just as slippery as SilNylon. I have adopted the method that Dan Cooke uses on his CCS tarps by putting grosgrain ribbon under each seam and hem. It’s tricky, but I think that it reduces slippage on the feed dogs. For the seam, I used Sailrite seam tape to hold the two pieces of fabric and the grosgrain. I taped the two edges and then folded them over and ironed the fold. I then applied another strip of seam tape and put the ribbon over the fold. My first stitch was on the edge of the ribbon away from the edge of the fabric. I then unfolded the fabric and stitched along the other edge. This results in something like a flat felled seam with a ribbon underneath. I left the ribbon about a foot long on each end so I have a continuous ridge line built in, if I want to use it. I did the same thing on all four hems, but sewed my tie outs to the back of the ribbon first. I folded and ironed the edge and then laid it over the ribbon with the tie outs to the outside. I spaced my tie outs from the center of each side. The ends all run about a foot long, so there are two tie outs at each corner. I’ll decide whether I like this after I set the tarp up. I like the idea of the Forester tent and I might make one after a while. I’ll probably use the old canvas pattern that is floating around the internet, but I’ll orient the fabric so that the long edges will run with the ridge line. I’ll have to add some fabric to the edges at the front, but that will put my seams toward the edges, so less chance of leaks that will bother me. All of these tricks make it easier for me to sew this slippery fabric, but I also like the grosgrain ribbon reinforcement. It adds a bit of weight, but also adds considerable strength to the seams and hems.

    I’ve been wanting to make some fire starters out of hamster cage cedar shavings and paraffin and I tried this last night. I was hoping that I could get the shavings to stick together and compress into cakes. This idea didn’t seem to work very well. I would have to use more paraffin than I want to use. I still might try to make some by grinding the shavings to dust in an old blender and then casting cakes in a silicon muffin mold. The shavings are too springy to compress and stick together without using a hydraulic press and a mold. This is just too much work. In the end, I melted a stick of paraffin and added shavings while stirring until they were wet with paraffin, but didn’t stick together. After cooling, I put the shavings in small zipper bags. They are loose in the bag, so I just shake some out and light them. I’ll try soaking some in water and see if I can light them while they are wet. That’s really the whole point since the dry cedar shavings also light well. I have a Firebox Folding Wood Stove that I want to try burning wood pellets in and these chips should work to start the pellets. Why pellets? Just convenience and the desire to try something new. I’ll probably use smoker pellets and see if I can grill over them.

    • Your idea of using the flavored smoker pellets is great. I have a bag of [full wood] Mesquite chips that you can scatter on charcoal that have been lying around out in the shed for a couple of years because I only use the gas grill. I’m going to have to try them in my cleaned up version of the two-can wood burner that I made down-and-dirty last summer. It really would be great to have something that would allow you actually grill meat, although that might require making the two-can stove out of a one gallon paint can.
      Thanks for the idea.
      You also could try smooshing some of your hamster/cedar chips into a piece of the softened firelogs. If you soften up a piece the size of a horse apple in the microwave it comes out relatively sticky until it cools to room temperature again. I would think that some of your chips would squish right in. I haven’t tried it out yet, but I was thinking of making Little “fire bombs” by softening up a chunk and sticking in one of the no-blowout birthday candles, so that you could just light the candle wick.

      If it is alright with you, I will probably share things from both of these posts about the tarps in a couple of new posts.

      • Fell free to use anything that you wish. I did make some fire starter patties. I took some that were fairly wet with paraffin and rolled them into a log in aluminum foil. While they were wrapped up in foil, I stepped on them to flatten them out and let them cool. So now I have some shavings that are fairly heavy on paraffin in foil wrapped patties and some that are light on paraffin that are loose in plastic bags. I have no doubt that they will work, but I want to know how little paraffin I can use and still get reasonably waterproof shavings.

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