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Water Barrels and Tents – An Unfortunately Common Pairing

Water Barrels and Tents – An Unfortunately Common Pairing

Every tent – be it a frame or pole style, be it in sandy areas, wetlands, or fields – needs to be properly anchored. In the case of Pole Tents, that anchoring is what creates the tent itself. This is why pole tents can also be referred to as ‘tension tents’ or ‘push pole tents.’ The tension across the tent fabric between anchoring lines is what creates the tent. Frame tent are supported by their metal frames and are freestanding from that standpoint (ha get it?), but still require anchoring in order to make sure that errant winds don’t turn your shelter into a tumbleweed.

Staking is the standard when it comes to connecting your tent to the ground. Simply drive in a stake, tie your guy lines to it, and you’re on your way to a complete tent setup. While the guy lines can change (most commonly being ratchet straps or simple ropes with rope locks), the same basic operation is in use. Using water barrels as ballast at tent pole locations has also been a common practice, though using barrels to keep tents in place is much more dangerous than people tend to think.

Anchoring Specifics

What do you need to keep a tent in place? The best anchoring for a moderately sized tent is normally achieved by attaching guy lines to stakes that are driven into the ground. This base amount of force is going to fluctuate based on a number of factors:

  • Size/Style of the Tent

Smaller tents are going to generate less pull than larger ones, and anchoring in general needs to be checked more often on pole or tension style tents as this keeps the roof lifted.

  • Weather Conditions

Imagine you’re holding an umbrella in the rain. Not so bad, right? Add in some wind, and you have an entirely different game. Water pocketing, wind loads, and severe weather conditions are all factors that need to be considered before and during a tent installation.

  • Soil Conditions

Since the ground is what you’re tapping into for strength, it matters what it’s made of. Loose, sandy soils have greatly reduced holding power and will require better fortified anchoring methods, as will wet or rocky soil.

Water, Water, Everywhere ….

This will be so easy, you may be thinking to yourself – why can’t you just fill water barrels to match the force require at a staking location and be home free? No stake driving or pulling, no cement anchors to drill. You basically bypass the “Soil Conditions” portion of anchoring and move on!

That would be great … if the weight of the barrel translated directly to holding force. While they are both measured in pounds, you need to remember that pounds of force and pounds of weight don’t directly coincide. The actual force holding your tent in place is limited to about half of the of the barrel’s weight. Things like the coefficient of friction for the barrel’s surface, and the location of the anchoring line mostly being at the top of the barrel reduce the holding power of each individual unit.

With so much riding on your tent’s anchoring, it almost seems counter intuitive for water barrels to be as prevalent as they are. Yet since they can be filled on site, are easier to use, and are safer for crowds to avoid, the desire to cave in and use them is always prevalent. Celina offers a wide range of stakes and guy lines for use in every tenting situation, and only suggest using ropes or ratchet straps tied to stakes to anchor our tents.

More information on proper staking procedures can be accessed 24/7 on Celina’s YouTube page, or in the Knowledge Center of our website, GetTent.com. If you any questions, feel free to contact us!