Here's our much requested, often copied original canvas information page...
Buzz words in the industry are 10 ounce, 12 ounce, 14.90, numbered duck, single fill, double fill, army duck, bull denim, twill, shelter duck, untreated, both wet and dry finishes of canvas, water and mildew treated, water mildew and fire treated, sunforger, boatshrunk, marine grade... It can all be overwhelming! And that's just for canvas!
Then there are other materials like: realite, polaris, gala, nylon... all the synthetic fabrics that DO NOT BREATHE! That's the reason we don't use them for our tents. I read somewhere recently that with cool, dry conditions the human
body will produce 1/2 a liter of condensation from their breath in one night! Add this to three buddies and you have 2 liters of moisture dripping from the roof of your tent because the moisture cannot escape from those fabrics.
Having said that, let me share with you what we do know about canvas in plain English. How do you choose the canvas that is right for you? The short answer is 10.10 oz. marine grade canvas. Here's why:
One of the biggest mistakes I have seen people make when purchasing a canvas wall tent is assuming that "heavier is better," that a 12 oz.. canvas wall tent must be better than a 10 oz.. canvas wall tent or that the 14.90 canvas must make a better tent than either of the above. Just because it is heavier, people assume that it will be more durable and will outlast and out perform a lighter canvas. WRONG - this is simply not so because of "fill."
The reason the 10 oz.. fabric that we use to make our canvas wall tents is superior
to the above mentioned fabrics is due to one VERY important feature: our 10 oz. cotton is known as DOUBLE FILL - where two threads are twisted together to make a single stronger, more durable thread. What that means to you is that the fabric is a much tighter weave because the threads are much closer together - more "filled in." I like to compare it to buying a bed sheet or fine linen. Quality in fine linen is rated by threads per inch not by how heavy it is. It is the same with cotton (canvas); it is much more important to consider threads per inch and hence the tightness of the weave. Let's think about that for a minute...let's think about canvas as a filter and what we are filtering is water. Do you want a fabric that has course threads and is heavy? Why? Or one that is tightly woven with a lot more threads per inch? It makes sense that a tighter woven fabric (filter) will keep more moisture out of a tent and more heat in. As for the durability, the double fill adds to the integrity of the fabric which gives it far better durability than the single fill products.
Army Duck, Army Duck, Army Duck... What is this and do I want it? Yes and No. "Army Duck" merely refers to a military designation -- the material must be of equal strength in both directions (warp and fill), it does not address the quality of the fabric. So you can have desirable or undesirable army duck. It still boils down to threads per inch and treatments which will tell you good army duck or not so good army duck.
I'm sure you see why double-fill cotton makes a better wall tent - it breathes and is of superior quality.
The next area of confusion is what kind of fabric treatment do you need? This is tough because it depends on you the end user,
Lets say we set up three 14 x 16 wall tents all 10 oz. double fill:
#1 The first tent is untreated meaning no treatments for water repellency or mildew.
#2 The second tent is water and mildew treated (sunforger / marine grade / boatshunk).
#3 The third tent is water, mildew, and fire treated.
It rains, snows, hails, and the wind blows...ALL THREE TENTS WILL PERFORM GREAT! So what's the difference?? The difference is how you treat them when you are done with your trip
Tent #1 . If you roll this tent up when it is wet and let it set for three or four days you might as well throw it away because it will be ruined. It has mildew! You need to be absolutely sure an untreated tent is bone dry when you store it for any length of time. We have customers who have had these last 30 years and are still using them. We have also had customers ruin their tent the first time out. (Note you will also have some shrinkage.)
Tent #2 (Our recommendation) Some call it sunforger, others boatshrunk or marine grade. What that designates it has been run through the vat twice and factory treated for water and mildew repellency, The big advantage here is the mildew repellency; even though you want to avoid storing your tent wet, one that is water and mildew treated is much more forgiving if you are a bit careless.
Tent #3 is the same as tent #2 but with an additive to prevent the spread of fire. To burn this tent, it would take "supported flame" - i.e. if you held a flame directly to the tent, it would burn, but if you removed the flame source the tent would stop burning. Tents #1 and #2 could continue to burn without the flame source. Please note that CA, LA, MA, MI, MN, NY, and NJ are states that require any tent shipped to their state, or set up within their state needs to meet the cpai-84 fire retardant code.
Beware! Not all 10.10 oz. fabric and treatments are equal. Before you buy any tent make sure you are buying sunforger finished canvas. Not some cheap imported knock off. You will be glad you did.