The Tribe

TENT SHADE AND INSULATION

Tents can get really warm once the sun comes up - which kinda sucks if you have been out and about most of the night.

Many people set up their tents under some sort of shade structure - like a Monkey Hut or the Conduit pipe based shade structures - similar to those sold by places like Yuma Bargain Warehouse or Blackrock hardware. They both work well but the downside is that both add to the amount of "stuff" we have to bring to and from Burning Man.

Store room
The monkey huts are very popular and can house tents and a living area. They are somewhat bulky to transport.
Shade cloth over 
Conduit based shades are modular and can grow with your needs. However they are heavy and bulky to transport

If space (and funds) are limited you may opt for something easier to pack like radiant barrier material


twin dome tent

Tents with a rainfly:

These are relatively easy. I use a radiant barrier material as insulation between my rainfly and the tent, and down to the bottom on the East side of my tent (protects against the morning sun), as this significantly reduces the heat inside the tent. The insulation allows me to sleep as late as I wish in the mornings (usually around 11am), without any serious discomfort. Since the mornings tend to be dust free, I usually open up my bedroom windows and the door to allow for airflow. I always set up my tent with the door facing towards the west (away from the morning sun) so that I don't get burned to a crisp as the sun comes through my door. People who are sensitive to sound and light should consider bringing ear plugs and sleep masks. Bring spares as you'll likely lose at least one pair.

 

Internal frame for insulation for tents without rainflys.Kodiak Canvas Tent

Canvas tents like the ones make by Kodiak are growing in popularity because they are well built, breathe, and are very dust-proof. However they too can get very warm.

In 2015 I had a large shade structure over my tent, along with a Homer Bucket Swamp Cooler - and it did the trick. But shade structures are bulky, heavy, and somewhat expensive. And they still aren't as good as radiant barrier when it comes to blocking the sun.

My old method of Radiant barrier on the outside won't easily work because there is no rainfly on a Kodiak, and there is no easy way to secure Radiant Barrier to the outside of the tent.

My camp mates, the Johnstons, came up with an interesting idea. They built a PVC internal skeleton for their Kodiak. Here's what they said:

I assembled the endoskeleton tent reflection system. Once inside the tent the reflective barrier is place over it.  I did not unroll it all the way, but starts at the bottom of one side, over the top to the bottom of the other side.  The weighted tube (sand inside, duct taped ends) is used to help keep it in place.  For our tent, two pieces of barrier are used.  3/4” PVC Schedule 120, with fittings from the Home Depot (contractor packs). Aluminum foil tape is good to use (never cut tape), found in ventilation aisle. I have a 8 foot tube for storage and transport. Our tent has two sections, so there are 2 sets of pipes.  In addition to labeling the fittings and pipes with (A, B C) there is another marking for which section (main, awning). The wood stick is not part of it (just to hold it for the pictures). Caps on ends that hit the floor of the tent.

I'm may to try this out in 2017 and will update this tutorial

PVC frame
The (internal) frame for the radiant barrier material
PVC joints
Angle and T joints connect the PVC together
Radiant barrier over the frame
drape the Radiant barrier material over the frame and tape it to hold it in place
PVC feet
Cap the feet so that they don't damage your tent floor (maybe cap them with tennis balls?)
Radiant barrier
You can buy Radiant barrier at hardware stores or online. Try and find stuff that won't shred.
silver tape
Aluminum foil tape is good. Be careful because the edge is razor sharp
8" pipe for transportation
If you wish, you can use a length of 8" diameter pipe to transport your shade kit.

Other options

More info on Insulation/Radiant Barrier Materials - Basically you want to use some material that insulates your tent from the heat of the sun. Your bedroom tent needs material on top, and on the East side to protect you from the morning sun. Your tent needs it on top and on the East side (sunrise) and possibly to protect any heat sensitive materials like coolers... so perhaps on the East and West sides too.

  • The major problems with using radiant barrier is securing it to your tent, and not allowing it to shred and MOOP all over the playa. Some friends of mine have come up with an ingenious INTERNAL skeleton for their tent. I am going to try it out this year and plan to insulate my East, Top, and West sides. Follow this link to learn more about this endoskeleton for radiant barrier insulation
  • Some people use the emergency blanket material but IMHO it is too thin, and your tent sounds like you are in a potato chip bag when the wind kicks up. However this is the cheapest solution since the e-blankets are about $2 for a 6'x3'piece of mylar. If you hot-glue it to the insides of your tent it would be less noisy and you could make a fun-house/hall of mirrors out of the tent... which may end up being a problem if you inadvertently or otherwise consume some magic mushrooms... but I digress.

Radiant Barrier

Click on any image to enlarge

Other help pages

Version 1 - updated July 26, 2010
Copyright None - But drop me a note if you find this to be helpful or have any suggestions
Email: ruvi (at) burningtribe (dot) com
Member of The Tribe