Tent topographics: Brands propose new interior space measurements

Footprints and center heights don't always provide an accurate picture of the space inside a tent. Find out how some brands want to update the system.

When we talked tent trends a year ago at Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2012, a key topic was how manufacturers were increasing space in their camp quarters.

Those latest tents, which are debuting to consumers this summer, not only increase base-level footprints, but more notably expand upper shoulder and headroom space for when campers are sitting up.

The question that arose at Summer Market: How to measure that upper space? Floor footprints and center heights don’t provide a complete picture, and there is no set standard on total tent volume.

The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) and its outdoor industry stakeholders discussed the matter during their meetings last year, and as Summer Market 2013 approaches, members are returning with their latest proposals.

The folks at Nemo Equipment recently pitched one idea to consumers to gain feedback before the show. They’re calling it “tent topographics.”


The idea is to give consumers a better grasp on tent’s total interior space much in the same way a topgraphic map shows the volume of a mountain. The proposal, which stemmed from numerous ideas put forth at the ASTM meetings, gives a visual topo map of the tent’s volume at 0 inches (floor height), 12 inches (sleeping height), 24 inches (shoulder height) and 36 inches (sitting height).

In explaining the conundrum to its customers, Nemo compares two of its tents with very similar footprints and center height measurements. By those figures, the tents might seem equal to consumers, but in reality, because one tent employs a pyramid shape, and the other a dome construction, the interior livability is drastically different.

"In the end, we're trying to give our customers better tools to choose the best tent for their needs,” Nemo Director of Engineering Connie Yang told SNEWS. “The tent topos give you a consistent and easy-to-understand graphic that can be used to compare different tent models."


At this point, Nemo is proposing that the tent topographics stick to a visual graphic representation. While a square footage could be assigned to each topo height for further comparison, officials said that it might bombard customers with too many numbers.

The discussion will continue at Summer Market 2013.

--David Clucas

 What do you think of the latest tent measurement proposals? Share your opinions and ideas in our comment section below and on our Facebook page.



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