Khaki generally means simply duck or twill that has been colored to the familiar leaf brown of hunting togs. It may be had in almost any grade, the best, of course, being army tent khaki.
The strength and durability of duck depends largely upon its weight per square foot. Standard tent duck comes m weights of 8 ounces, 10 ounces, 12 ounces, .and upwards, to the running yard of material 29 inches wide (army duck, 28 1/2 inches). But other duck is made in 36-inch width, or wider. The 36-inch stuff is about one-fourth lighter per running yard than 29-inch duck; in other words, its " 8-ounce" weight is really about 6-ounce, it3 " 10-ounce " is 7 1/2-ounce, its " 12-ounce " is 9-ounce stuff, as compared with standard goods. Bear this in mind when comparing qualities and prices of tents by different makers. Some tent makers specify in their catalogues which width is used; others do not. In case of doubt, get samples of cloth before purchasing.
Since guys and beckets (loops for the pegs) generally are fitted only where there are seams, it follows that a tent made of wide duck is not so stanch as one of standard widths. All things considered, 8-ounce army duck (28 1/2-inch) and 10-ounce double filling standard (29-inch) are superior to 12-ounce double filling of 36-inch width.
For fixed camps, nothing less than 10-ounce standard duck for tents, and 8-ounce for flies, should be used; 12-ounce for tents, and 10-ounce for flies, is preferable, unless the tent be quite small and portability is a factor to be considered.
Not all of them, by any means; but a few tricks for the novice to look out for if he is not sure of his tent maker.
Prices fluctuate, of course, with the cotton market, at least in the better grades of duck. And yet, in the same season we may notice considerable difference in prices for what is ostensibly the same thing. There is a legitimate margin of variation in tent prices according to local cost of production; but when " bargains " are offered, keep your weather eye open. There are many different qualities of duck in grades that nominally are alike — all the way from honest clear cotton to weighted stuff that is almost shoddy.
A tent may be stunted in height to deceive the purchaser, since most buyers consider only the ground dimensions. A flattened roof and low w7alls mean less head-room and greater danger of leakage. Very cheap tents may have worthless jute ropes, instead of hemp or sisal, and their poles and stakes may be defective.
Low prices generally go with inferior workmanship. Look out for single seams, chain stitching, insufficient stay-pieces or reinforcements where the chief strains come, and machine-clamped brass grom-mets, that tear out easily, instead of galvanized iron rings sewed in by hand.
High prices, on the contrary, may mean refinements that ordinary campers do not need. Between the two extremes there is wide room for choice. For example, at the time of this writing, you can get a new 9x9 wall tent of single filling duck (29-inch), complete with fly, poles, stakes, and ropes, for as little as $11.50. For the best grade of U. S. Army 9x9 officers' tent you would pay $51.50. Of course, the army tent is of far better material than the cheap one, and it is higher at center and walls, but a good part of the difference in price is due to hand sewing and hand workmanship throughout, in the officers' model, even to finishing every becket and door-string with a Matthew Walker knot.
A waterproof tent needs no fly to shed rain; but it should have eaves to carry drip free from the walls, if there are any. It costs less than a plain tent of equal quality with fly, weighs less, bulks less when packed, does not mildew, does not have to be dried out every time before moving, and is easier to set up and manage than one with a fly.
A prime advantage of the processed cloth is that it does not shrink when rained on. This means a lot of trouble saved. With a tent of ordinary canvas it is necessary to slacken guys before a rain, and at night before turning in, lest the stakes be pulled loose. Of course, if long guy ropes are used they will shrink, and must be eased before a rain, even though the tent itself be waterproof.
Waterproof materials, and home methods of waterproofing tents, are discussed in Chapter V. For heavy tents, such as we are now considering, my own preference is either " green waterproof" (Willesden) duck or a cravenetted khaki. Both of these are perfectly rainproof, in heavy and closely woven stuffs; they are soft, and are not affected by heat or cold.
Colored tents, either khaki or green, are restful to the eyes, blend pleasantly with their surroundings, and are not so likely as white ones to attract the attention of unwelcome visitors, from insects to tramps. They do not soil so easily as white canvas, and do not make shadow pictures of the inmates by lantern light. Khaki or green is cooler under the summer sun than white. It moderates the glare for those who would .sleep late or take a siesta (some cannot sleep well in a white tent under a full moon), and it does not light up so brilliantly as white canvas when the lightning flashes.
A fly is an auxiliary roof of canvas, to shed rain and to make the tent cooler.
Most tent flies are set tight on top of the regular ridge pole. A better plan, when the camp is not to be shifted for a good while, is to use two ridge poles, and so have a space between the fly and the ridge for air to circulate through. In small tents, it is handier to have a stout band on the ridge of the tent itself, with strings by which it can be suspended from an outside ridge pole that is cut in the woods, this pole being set up on shears at each end. This leaves the doorway unobstructed. Such a rig permits the use of any sized fly, with only one ridge pole (Fig. 11).
Many like to have the fly large enough to form a 7- or 8-foot canopy in front of the tent; but there are disadvantages in this rig: it cuts off side entrance, and it makes the fly a sport of the winds. A gust can get tremendous purchase under a protruding roof and is likely to send it sailing. Even in moderate winds there will be a great slatting and banging, just when one wants to drop off to sleep. Generally it is best to have a spare fly, as I have mentioned for the dining place, and erect a frame in front of the tent over which this cloth can be stretched for an awning (Fig. 2). In this case the awning can be rigged as high as one wishes, and will not be in the way ot entering the tent from one side.