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Using Outer-Pitch-First WE Tents

This page includes a copy of the Quick Instructions provided in the carry bags, for the Outer-Pitch-First WE tent models. If you are familiar with these, probably of more interest will be the 'Extra Information' section which include expanded instructions and tips to help you get the most from your WE tent. The Extra Information section follows immediately after the Quick Instructions, about half-way down the page. Don't forget to also look at the Tent Care and DIY Tent Repair webpages.

Quick Instructions for the FIRST ARROW, SECOND ARROW and i-SHADOW

Components included in the tent package

Outer tent, inner tent, set of poles, set of pegs, two pole repair sleeves, 3 spare zip sliders, combination pole & peg bag, complete tent carry bag. Spare parts and pegs for different ground conditions are available on request.

Pitch your outer tent first, or together with the inner pre-attached

  1. Choose a safe, well drained, level area that will allow the tent to be best orientated to the wind and terrain. The small ends of the Arrow models should face the wind, while single pole designs (like the I-Shadow) should be pitched with the pole plane aligned with the wind. Clear away loose debris on the ground that could damage the tent.
  2. Always handle poles with care. Unfold them, making sure every section connects completely. (Our latest poles use the 'floating connector' FC system. The plain tube sections make field repair simple). When erecting your tent keep the pegs handy - in your pocket?
  3. Spread the outer tent on the ground so the pole sleeve ends are obvious.
  4. Match each pole with its corresponding sleeve in the outer tent. Insert the poles in sequence, Get used to the technique of only pulling the sleeve fabric onto the pole and only pushing the pole into the sleeve. (This is important as it keeps the pole in compression preventing sections from disconnecting).
  5. With the tensioning straps at the end of each pole sleeve loose, spring the poles tips into our purpose designed Acetal sockets. Evenly re-tension the straps at each end of each pole.
  6. Orientate your tent and peg down one end. 'Fly' the (outer) tent off this peg allowing it to spring to its natural shape, then drop it to the ground and place the remaining pegs so the tent is taut. Set guys as needed but do not over-tension them. Check again that all adjustments are firm.
  7. Enter the outer tent and hook up the inner if you have carried it detached from the outer.

Important Care Warnings

Do not expose your tent to open flames, sparks, or extreme heat. Do not leave your tent set up unnecessarily in direct sunlight. A tautly pitched tent will minimise the damaging effects of flapping in strong wind. In the field, if you pack your tent wet and move to built accommodation make sure you dry your tent as soon as possible. Only hand clean your tent. Use a soft sponge, mild detergent and warm water. Rinse well. After use, it must be clean and absolutely dry before storing.

Extra Information and Instructions for all Tent Models

HANDLING TENT POLES. Whatever type of modern backpacking tent you own it is essential that you develop the proper technique for handling the lightweight, aluminium alloy poles universally used for tent frameworks. Pole problems account for almost all after-sales tent problems. The page on Tent Care forewarns you about some potential problems that can easily be avoided, the DIY Tent Repair page gives you some some recovery methods.

The technique for fitting the poles into their fabric sleeves needs a little practice. Once the pole sections are connected properly together, with connecting tubes and inserts fully in the pole ends, it is essential that they remain this way as the tent is erected. A partly inserted connector can easily increase the stress at the connection point by two-fold once the pole is sprung to its final shape in the tent. Then it is almost inevitable that the tube section end at the faulty joint will split, particularly if the offending connection is near the top of the pole arc where the bending 'moment' or force is greatest. To avoid this problem always PUSH the pole into the fabric sleeve, never pull on the pole, and always PUSH the pole out of the fabric sleeve. In reality, this involves pulling the fabric over the pole so it bunches up. It is not difficult to get a firm grip on the pole through the fabric sleeve as you work along. When removing poles it is always tempting when the pole is almost fully out, to pull out the remaining length. More often that not this leads to regrets, as pole sections separate and need individual attention to extract! It is worth checking the tension of the shockcord in each tent pole. It should be a tight as possible without making the folding up of the pole difficult. By the way, always start this folding process in the middle of the pole and work towards the ends. This way the shockcord's stretch will be evenly called upon. It is simple to re-tie the shockcord to increase its tension. Unscrew or pull out one pole end-tip to expose the cord knot.

A final word on poles. Don't let the section ends smash together as you connect and disconnect them. The small indents may interfere with connector insertion or form the start of end splits. Avoid standing on them when erecting your tent. Always rinse poles that have been used in salty marine environments before storing them. Salt will eventually penetrate surface finishes, even hard anodising, and rapidly corrode the metal.

What to Expect From Your WE Tent

Site selection: Although WE tent floors have a high level of waterproofness and puncture resistance you should make sure the ground is thorn-free and as well drained as possible. Treat the floor coating with care. If you avoid wearing boots inside your tent and take other normal precautions the floor will remain waterproof for the life of the tent. The pigmented grey coating we use makes damage easy to see. A smear of PU sealant will make a permanent repair.

The perfect tent site is generally level ground but with a slight convex buldge that will cause ground water to run away from the tent. It's worth eyeing the ground for this curvature, especially if you are camping on clay soils or a rock surface where drainage is usually poor. Also consider the use of natural wind-breaks like rocks if high wind is or may become a problem. For a wind-break to be effective the tent must be located as close to it as possible. Take note of possible hazards like overhead branches, loose overhangs, unstable slopes, flood risk, etc.

Pitching: If you keep your tent pitched taut at all times you can expect it to withstand winds that you might think twice about camping out in. A taut pitch is essential as soon as the wind starts to blow. Any fabric that is allowed to flap and flog will quickly deteriorate. If you hear the whip-like crack of a badly flapping tent panel take immediate action. The fabric is being subjected to extreme forces and is at risk of failing. Think ahead when choosing the orientation of your tent. Which way could the wind come from? In hot weather breeze scooping door settings make a big difference. In wet, windy weather set the tent so an open door shelters the entrance during entry and exit.

When setting guy cords and pegs consider the possibility of the cord abrading against its anchor or something nearby. Guys are in constant motion when the wind is blowing. The shockcord part is constantly elongating and contracting which is why it is located against the tent and not at the outer end. Our guy cords are light and thin Guard against abrasion.

Moisture-vapour penetrating the tent floor: The nylon floor fabric used for WE tents are pigmented polyurethane coated. The (hydro-static head) water entry pressure we specify for this coating is 8,000mm. While this is a highly waterproof performance level PU coatings are not impervious to water vapour. Given the right conditions it is possible for dampness in the ground to ‘appear’ inside the tent as condensation on the underside of sleeping mats and so on. One solution is to choose a vapour barrier coating on the floor fabric. PVC is the only practical possibility. We don’t use it because it is heavy, stiffens and cracks in cold conditions and involves highly toxic chemicals in its production. Another solution is to use a polyethylene (PE) builder’s plastic membrane under the tent floor. Our floors are tough. Carrying another layer just to avoid some occasional dampness is something we just wouldn’t bother with.

Condensation: The first thing to note is that if you camp low, near a water body, such as a river, lake, swamp or by the sea, the air is likely to have a much higher moisture content than the air away from such features. Elevation makes a difference. The fact is that, given saturated air and falling temperature, condensation will occur on a piece of mesh left in the open. In such conditions condensation on and inside your tent is unavoidable. The ‘Staying Comfortable in the Outdoors’ page under Other Stuff in the head menu provides a full explanation. Tent fabrics containing a high component of cotton fibre can mask condensation by absorbing it. This is not a solution. The extra weight of water must then be packed with your tent on a typical bushwalking trip. The solution to minimizing condensation is to provide as much effective ventilation as possible. The problem is worst in windless conditions so tent design that allows the warm, moist breath of the occupants to rise unobstructed out a vent will perform best. Flow-through must be allowed for. An intake needs to be provided so the warm air flowing out the vent can be replaced. If you are dug-in for a mountain storm, cooking under the vestibule or lying around trying to get damp clothes dried, you must provide flow-through air movement through the tent. Excellent ventilation design is a strong feature of all WE tents. If valances are fitted to your outer tent to limit spindrift snow or sand make sure there is still some intake point, even if it is in the form of a tunnel under a valance. The cut-off shape of the Arrow model big ends causes wind flowing over the main arch to create a low-pressure area around the vent opening. This mild suction just needs an intake at the small end of the tent to achieve maximum effect. Always open insect screens if possible. They are a huge impedance to air movement. Provided it is safe to do so always try to camp under trees or overhangs when the sky is cloudless and the air is still, damp and cold. This will greatly reduce heat loss and condensation. Remember, there will often be times when condensation is unavoidable.

Stoves: You should avoid using any stove inside a tent unless conditions force you to. In this case use the stove only in the vestibule, clear of nearby and overhead gear. You must be 100% proficient in the stove’s maintenance and operation and constantly attend it during operation. Beware of rising heat. Ground level ventilation is essential to prevent carbon-dioxide accumulation, as well as overhead to vent vapour.

How strong are the aluminium tent poles?  Wind: We have had several memorable experiences being holed up in three day snow storms with winds frequently gusting well over 100 knots. With sensible orientation and secure pegging and guying the First and Second Arrow tents can withstand such ferocious conditions. Geodesic models (those with crossing-over poles) need effective guying to prevent pole stresses increasing unacceptably due to tent deformation. Snow: The greatest threat to tent poles is excessive static loading from accumulated snow on flat, upper tent surfaces. Pitch your tent in the open where the wind can scour it, not in the trees where snow tends to drop out with the turbulence. Knock snow from the top of the tent if it builds up. Dig away snow if it exceeds side guy height. Set a regular wake-up alarm if you need to. You can plant your skis beside the tent so the side guys run up over the bindings. The upward tension will help support the snow load. If you take these precautions your arches will be unlikely to suffer compressive buckling or bending failure. If you break a pole use first aid adhesive plaster to locate a repair sleeve over the fracture.

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