February 18, 2020 3 min read
Watch as these two tent materials face off in the ultimate contest to find out once and for all which material comes out on top in this head to head 8-round smackdown!
Nylon tents simply don’t breathe the same way canvas tents do. Anyone who’s camped in a nylon tent will know that it doesn’t deal well with humidity. This means that any moisture gets trapped inside the tent causing condensation and making you feel muggy in the hot weather or chilly in the cold weather. Canvas allows small particles of moisture to pass directly through the tent fabric and this means that you can breathe, cook, and sweat in peace. Breathe a sigh of relief: canvas wins!
Canvas is a naturally waterproof material made of closely woven fibres. A properly weathered tent will keep you and all your things dry even in heavy rainfall. All water absorbed by the fabric will cause the fibres to swell, packing this weave more tightly together. Nylon tents are not good absorbers of water – this means they can repel it, but less breathability means moisture can’t escape, so you might actually get wet from the inside! But strictly speaking that’s a breathability issue, so we’ll call it a score draw on this one.
All tents do need to be fully dried out after use, but canvas is more susceptible to mould and mildew than nylon, and it’s heavier, so it makes it a bit more hassle to take down in the rain. However, our favourite thing about canvas tents is that you can safely install a wood-burning stove inside your tent with its own little chimney flue. Anyone who’s been inside a tent with a stove will tell you just how wonderful it is, and it can also help to dry it out at the end of a wet winter camping trip. Canvas is also a pretty excellent insulator so all that lovely warmth will stay inside when you need it to. Nylon tents would melt if you tried to install a stove and aren’t very good at all at helping keep you warm. Canvas just edges it on this one.
Although nylon tents are cheap, they’re easily torn and once they’ve got a rip — they’ll never be the same again. While small rips can be patched with tape, on nylon tents these are often short-term fixes before the tent has to be replaced altogether. However, on canvas tents a rip can be patched permanently to bring your tent back to full working order again! They also usually come with strong, thick poles and will hold up much better against the wind. Again, a clear win for canvas.
Canvas tents are often more expensive than nylon tents! – However, when considering value for money durability also needs to be taken into account. It’ll cost you far more regularly replacing your nylon tent than your investment in a canvas tent that’ll stand the test of time. So, it’s a draw again.
Nylon is the clear winner here. They make great backpacking tents or festival tents if you’re lugging all your stuff over several fields from your car. However, bear in mind that most camping trips only involve pulling up to a pitch and lifting your tent out of the boot.
Even though it is clear canvas is a lot more durable than nylon, when it finally does come to the end of its (much longer) life the canvas will naturally biodegrade completely, rather than spending years and years in landfill (or worse). Cotton canvas is the hands down winner here!
A gorgeous, breathable canvas tent with a fab wood-burning stove will keep you perfectly warm, and it can be decorated in style. A stuffy, poorly ventilated nylon tent on the other hand…
Unless you’re carrying all your camping equipment in a rucksack for an expedition, the outcome is clear: canvas wins over nylon. That’s why James & Sarah founded Glawning back in 2013 when they wanted a drive-away canvas awning to attach to their campervan and found that they hadn’t been invented yet! The Glawning is so amazing that it can be used as both a standalone bell-tent as well as a campervan awning. If you’re ready to buy a new tent for your camping holidays or want a fabulous awning to go with your van — consider a glawning before you settle for second best!
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