Canvas vs. Synthetic Tents
Canvas: Canvas is heavy. The Crystal Moon Tent which fits 2.5 people and gear weighs eight pounds. Use it for car camping, festivals, backyard sleeping, base camp when weight isn’t an issue.
Synthetic is light and is the choice for backpacking where weight is an issue. Synthetic tents can trap moisture inside and make you feel damp and thus cold. Get around this by using an open tarp which allows ventilation on both ends. Especially the Ray Way Tarp This two person shelter weighs a whopping 1 pound when made with silnylon or Dyneema fabric.
Canvas: Humidity is the most critical factor in environmental comfort. Unlike synthetics, canvas allows small moisture particles from breath, sweat, and cooking to escape.
Synthetic: Non-breathable vapor-impermeable fabric prevents moisture from sweat and breath from escaping. High humidity means sweat won’t evaporate, making it feel even hotter inside than outside. Don’t be fooled by words. When they say ‘breathable’ fabric in synthetic such as in Gore-tex type fabrics and Dyneema, that only means slightly more breathable than other synthetic counterparts.
Warm in Cold Weather:
Canvas: Canvas tents do to their insulating ability hold some heat in from the ground, as well as from body heat and even perhaps a candle keeping you warmer during chilly weather. They also release moisture from breath keeping the air from building up moisture inside.
Synthetic: Plastic builds up humidity making you colder and has scant insulating ability.
Cool in Hot Weather
Canvas: Canvas allows air to pass through it making it the tent of choice in the tropics and summer. Pitch the Crystal Moon Tent six or more inches off the ground for 360 ventilation. Keep the door open during dry weather or even open the tent as much as 1/2 by undoing some of the stakes and folding it back.
Synthetic: Synthetic tents are stifling during hot weather since the only ventilation is that from mesh netting.
Canvas: Canvas is tough, rip resistant, and repairable. The Crystal Moon Tent has a beeswax coating which offers protection from sun damage and can be easily retreated to maintain that protection for years to come. A properly maintained canvas tent can last for years.
Synthetic: Breaks down from UV radiation (sunlight). Rips and tears easily and difficult to repair. Damaging UV rays degrade synthetic fabric quickly while canvas endures. Once weakened, plastic fibers are prone to breakage and aftermarket treatments can do little to prolong the life of the tent. Not a long life expectancy.
Canvas: The conical design, robust 10 oz. canvas, and 16 lightweight stakes stands up to high winds, driving rain, and blowing snow. It is like a mini tipi!
Synthetic: Poles with a smaller diameter than a Slurpee straw, a thin plastic tent membrane, and miniature aluminum stakes simply don’t do the job when you need them most.
Canvas: Organic canvas coated with beeswax is as good as it gets…no VOCs, PBDEs, flame retardants, or phalates at all.
Synthetic: Synthetic tents off-gass toxic endocrine disrupting chemicals such as VOCs, PBDEs, flame retardants, phalatesand. THey are also a fire hazard.
Canvas: Rain causes the fibers of the canvas to swell. The surface tension of a rain drop prevents the water from passing through the tight weave of quality canvas, keeping you dry, naturally. The beeswax coating works in harmony with the swelling fibers to offer further protection without hampering the breathability. Since the canvas tent is also allowing moisture to pass out of the tent, you feel the fresh air even as the rain is staying out.
Synthetic: Silnylon and Dyneema are very good at shedding water. However they also trap moisture with their limited breathability, increasing humidity, making the inside feel damp.