Vintage tents.

10:03 a.m. on February 9, 2012 (EST)
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I was reading the "I dare you not to Laugh" and it got me to thinking about tents that were used in the 50's though the 70's. There is so little information on the internet about these tents, let alone reviews. They are due some respect.

Back in the 60's my dad took us camping for weeks at a time. I dont even remember the tent my oldr brother and I slept in. But I remember well my moms and dads tent. It was a monster canvas tent. It  was around 16'x16'. And set up like a tarp. Two 9' tall poles on oppisite corners, and 2 18" poles for the other corners. The top of the tent overhung the main body by a foot or two. The roof was all white, and sides were a bright red. One large door with a zippered screen, and I think a vent on the other end. In all our, and my travels I have never seen another one. It was a thing of beauty.

I remember my dad looking at those new "pop-up tents" (dome) and saying how they were toys. And that no true camper would be caught dead in one. Oh-my how things have changed.

I'm writing this becouse I'm perplexed on what to do with my 1973 Browning West River tent. It is in near mint condition. I used it the other day. And to tell you the truth it took me back in time. Being 40 years old the tent looked great. And I'm planning to do a review on it. But just how does one do a review on a older tent like this? I didnt expect it to be water tight anymore, and it wasnt. But in its day this looks to be one heck of a tent.

But after my review just what do I do with the tent? Do I dare to keep using it? At 40 years of age the stitching will fail. Or do I send it out to a collector ( think Brian). Anyway I'm a bit off subject here.

I would like to hear of some memories that others have on some of the vintage tents that they might have used. Vintage cookware, stoves, backpacks.....are all well documented. But the tents are lost in time. A good discription of the tent will due, a picture even better.

Thanks Mike

1:18 a.m. on February 13, 2012 (EST)
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I don't know if anyone besides myself ever owned one, but my favorite "vintage" tent was a single wall pop up insta-tent. (Not one of those toss into the air and your tent comes back down all set up ones.) It was a strange, but oh-so-friendly, sorta geodesic tube / pup tent. Pull it out of the bag, spread it out a bit, grab the sides at one end and pull outwards. Then pull open the other end and your done. (Aside from the pegs of course.) It was silver, had a couple of very small screened windows in the middle of the tent sides, and doors at both ends. It looked cool, was a bit heavy, (~6 lbs.) absolutely waterproof, and oxygenproof at times too, but we'll get to that later. ;-) I've been trying valiantly to find a picture of it somewhere, but to no avail, can't find one.  (Just asked a campin' buddy from years back to look through his pics of our 80's camping trips to see if he can find one.) Anyhoo, my most memorable time in that tent... Hey! Get yer minds out'a the gutter! Sheesh!  ...ANYways. It was a dark and stormy night... No, really! It was. And it was just a howlin' and a pourin' buckets. So, me in my (ahem) infinite wisdom sealed the tent up COMPLETELY. Doors; Zipped tight. Windows; Lashed down and sealed. Itty-bitty roof vent; Sealed. So, a couple hours later and I wake up with my head swimming, (figuratively) gasping like I'd just run a marathon at sprinting speeds, and just MESSED up. I immediately pop open the door and oose my head outside and just BREATHE. Turns out that when the tent is completely sealed, it's COMPLETELY sealed. To  the air too. Almost suffocated in my dang tent! However, I did say that is was my favorite vintage tent, and that's because on more occasions than I can remember, it started to pour mountain lions and bears while we were hiking... (None of this dinky cats and dogs stuff. REALLY raining.) ...And from pulling off the backpack, to being inside the tent took less than 30 seconds. It was a sweet little two person tent that was ridiculously spacious inside due to it's geodesic based design. I loved it. And I'd still be using it today if it hadn't degraded to dust from the UV's. Well, that's not quite true, NOTHING could ever entice me to replace my Clark NX-200 Hammock.

Righty then, that's my favorite vintage tent. Next!


10:40 a.m. on February 13, 2012 (EST)
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I was born in January of 1956, in July of that year when I was about 6 months old I went on my first camping trip with my parents. It was in the Catskill Mountains of upper state New York near where I grew up. They had an old yellow canvas tent with big 2 inch diameter wooden poles. It was an I-ple tent with a solid back and door flaps in front.  We went on family camping trips every summer till I was 16 when we moved to the south. I used to play in the tent in our backyard  where my dad left it sat up all summer. My friends and I would camp in it some nights.

I have no idea what brand or model the tent was. The canvas was very thick and smelled like dried hemp. It was waterproof but if I put my finger tip against the inside of the canvas during a rainstorm it would leak right at that spot. It used heavy duty hemp rope and huge steel stakes to hold it up. It was quite a undertaking to set it up. It also had a wooden pole from the front to the back along the ridgeline. It was tall enough for an adult to stand up in.

My first real backpacking tent was a Timberline 2 in 1978 when I was in Alaska.

12:44 p.m. on February 13, 2012 (EST)
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When I started backpacking with my parents in about '62, we used nylon tarps, and I continued to use tarps on my wilderness trips until the the late 60's, early 70's. One tent that I do not remember fondly, was a very early dome tent made by Eddie Bauer. It was when their store was on 3rd Ave., and they had just introduced dome tents to their customer base. They had two that were virtually identical. One was nylon and the other cotton. I chose the cotton one for my first canoe trip, ten day trip in BC's Bowron Lakes circuit. The poles were rigid aluminum, not shock corded, so that when putting the sections together, other sections would tend to fall apart. The fly was designed to be stretched and pockets fitted into some of the pole ends on the dome top. Once the fly got wet, it shrunk, and the best we could do was lay the fly over the tent. It was the only time I used that tent and I was sorry I hadn't gone with a simple A tent. But dome tents were the new thing. I don't have any pictures that I know of, and wouldn't want to remind myself of that tent.

1:13 p.m. on February 13, 2012 (EST)
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My aunt has a tent that she used in the mid '60s to take a car camping tour of the West.   She and my grandmother took me camping in the Smokeys a couple of times in elementary school.  It was green canvas, with an external frame.  According to her she got it because it was much easier to put up than the pole-in-the-middle tents.  She proved this when she and my mom beat the pants off of my uncle and his 2 boys putting up their pole-in-the-middle tent.  Apparently they were still poking around trying to get the pole in the place and they were sitting in lawn chairs watching. 

She still has it along with a 2-burner white-gas stove and a catalytic tent heater.  

Also found this site with over 250 photos of vintage stuff.  It has a few tents but is mostly stoves and lanterns.

Another page with a few more tents.

3:58 p.m. on February 13, 2012 (EST)
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1,902 forum posts

When I was in the Boy Scouts way back when, we used Army shelter halves that buttoned together to make a two person "pup tent" that used wooden poles with metal fittings that were either two or three pieces that fit together. I think these were probably WWII or Korean War vintage.

Years later, a friend of mine bought a TNF VE-23 for beach camping. I think we used it once. Nice summer tent. I also had a SD Flashlight-the original one; a nice little tent.

My current tent is this one-

Apeman has one and it looks like this-

11:04 a.m. on February 14, 2012 (EST)
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Tom, a friend had one those of button up pups that his Dad brought back from the Pacific Theatre. My first mountain tent was an REI Expedition Crestline. My second was a Bibler Impotent, Todd sewed it in his living room in Magnolia when he was a student at the UW.

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