What is the best approach for a tent?
by Gary Cole


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On FPHQ it is frequently asked what is the best approach for a tent or housing for festival work. It is universal for folks to be drawn to a quick setup and the pop-up style tents are the rather obvious. I have cut and pasted several responses to this very question. Obviously what you end up buying might depend on your budget and if it is for a one time setup or if you plan on being a gypsy on the road at festival after festival you will want something that is more durable and travel worthy. It is important to consider also the weather that you tend to use this tent with. If there is going to have any wind at all you will need to have a strategy to keep our tent in tact as if you add the walls. If you have walls or gusts of winds your tent can become a sail. If you have gusts of wind, it can be very dangerous so you need a good strategy. A low-end tent just does not have the structure needed to withstand either high winds or loads of rain on the roof. Your choice for a tent really depends on your personal conditions and your personal budget. Over the twenty years I have done festivals I have tried multiple pop up tents. I started off by buying the bargain pop up 10 x 10 one can buy at a Sam's. While the price was right, the tent did not even make it through the first event without the roof supporting bars snapping. I ended taking that one back to Sams and lucky for me, I got a full refund. My supplier of choice was www.getundercover.com  They have a wide variety of tents to choose from. They are very mobile, they set up and tear down quickly and they come in a handy, portable storage case. In our case we needed a bit of flexibility as sometimes we need a 10 x 10, sometimes a 10 x 20 and sometimes a 20 x 20 foot booth. I ended up getting two 10 x 10s and one 10 x 20 foot booth. With this combination I can tie them together to meet my flexibility needs. I add a big banner at the top and carnival lighting around the outside so that it becomes rather obvious we are all about face painting. The carnival lighting can really draw the crowds at nightfall because you can be seen from a mile away. In our case we stake down the corners of the tent with the event states that are nailed into the ground or we bring along 8 empty 5 gallon buckets. We want to keep the buckets as much as possible out of the way of others so we put the tent post inside a plastic trash bag and then pour in cheap play sand in the bucket. You do not want to get sand into the legs as it makes it hard to slide them up and down. One bag of sand is about 50 pounds. If you have 4 to 8 of those your tent will stay put. You just need to be very aware that gusts of wind can be very dangerous. At the close of our event, we just toss the sand as I find that easier than transporting and storing sand until the next festival. Others have suggested sand bags or concrete in the buckets but that again becomes a storage and portability issue. Your tent can easily collapse or go airborne if you do not have it secured. I add a daisy chain of light bulbs in the roof (found at any Home Depot type store) for night lighting but be mindful your light bulbs are not touching the walls or roof or you will melt your tent. My tents have sidewalls and if it is chilly you will be glad you had them. The walls are also very good as a barrier to keep people out of your tent for better line control. from Gary Cole

Viewpoint 2 - White 10 x 10's are the best because many festivals specifically require them. I bought the E-Z Up brand because they are professional grade and I got a good deal from a lady selling one on craigslist. I paid $120 for the an almost new one that came with the four walls, It's huge but comes in a rolling bag. It's fairly simple to put up and take down with two people, but I don't think I'd ever do a festival without my husband there to do the muscle work for me. We use E-Z Up sand weights I bought on Amazon. They were quiet pricey, but I didn't want to mess with making my own (and he may have muscles but not a do-it-yourselfer). I believe I paid close to $90 for the four bags and weighed them down with sand. I had heard too many horror stories about people losing their tents with insufficient weights and wasn't gonna take a chance. Some festivals don't allow the tie down stakes and many times you'll be on concrete anyway so good weights are essential. I am the type of person that rarely spends a dime without reading reviews on a product anyway, so I did plenty of research before purchasing. I have only used it three times so far and have never used the side walls, but I like that I have them. From what I hear it's best to not have walls up when there is wind, so that the wind flows through. I use my banners as pony walls on the side of my tent to keep people from crowding the inside of my tent. contributed by Evelyn Perdue

Viewpoint 3 - Whatever you decide be sure to get one that does go up easily.  I got cheap and bought a sun shelter on sale for about $40.  It took 30+ minutes to put all the poles together to set up.  I sold it on craigslist and bought a better one. contributed by Twysters 


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