After weeks of sending emails and googling for materials to continue with the build I’ve finally ordered the tent base. The actual build should develop in the coming days/weeks.
The design has reverted back to the oversized single person roof tent that I originally considered. I was encountering issues meeting the weight requirements of materials and other design considerations. Such as, strength and stability of the 30/30 extrusion being used as load bars and the design goals of the awning brackets (more on that later).
Here’s the short-term plan as it’s shaping up today.
- Fit a foam cored carbon fibre floor.
- Cut the frame to the new smaller size.
- Sew and fit the waterproof material on the roof section.
- Fit some hardware to keep the tent locked tight when packed away.
- Take it for a field test.
Fit a foam cored carbon fibre floor
I’ve ordered a foam cored carbon fibre panel for the floor of the tent. It’s the best strength to weight ratio material I could source in the size I need. It’s costly, in fact more money than the aluminium extrusion frame. However, I’ve high hopes it’s the right decision.
The high tension, stretched hammock idea didn’t pan out. Sagging too much and almost impossible to fit into the frame slots. Another lighter weight option was a soft-shell base with a bed slat style frame. I still like the idea of a bed slat soft-shell floor but it’s a lot of hassle and adding multiple points of failure. Far more time and experimentation will be required to pull that off and better sewing skills.
There’s still some work to decide how I fix the floor into the tent but there’s multiple options to try. All of which will work but I’ll go with whichever results in the least amount of added weight.
Cut the frame to the new smaller size
The length of the tent is not changing, just the width. I’ve bought a TCT mitre saw blade that should make short work of trimming the aluminium extrusion to the new width dimensions. I’ll need to tap the ends again, which is a pain in the ass on Aluminium in my opinion.
The narrower frame design means I’ll continue to use the Front Runner load bars. Probably 2 load bars as this supported 2 adults really well on the last tent. Two extra feet towards the front of the tent might be added but I’ll make sure these are fixed to the frame rather than adding another 4kg Front runner load bar slat. That part of the tent won’t be bearing much weight, the back half will need the most support. That’s where I’ll position the load bars.
Side note: Using the load bars means I can retain the use of the Darche awning brackets in the short-term. In the long-term want to design some awning brackets that allow for it to be positioned low against the roof during transit and extended up higher at camp. The reason for this is height. The Jimny isn’t as tall as most off-roaders and therefore the height of an awning is a bit low for someone 6 foot (183cm) and above. I don’t want the awning to permanently sit high on the car therefore to get the extra height I’ll look at some sort of adjustable bracket to gain the 100mm extra head room.
Sew and fit the waterproof material on the roof section
This part of the build is still open to change. I’ll start off by making a fully fixed cover slotted into the extrusion channels. I’ll test how flappy it is in the field then make any adjustments from there. A skylight would be cool. I’ll explore that later.
Fit some hardware to keep the tent locked tight when packed away
I’d ordered some toggle clamps made for jeeps but they’re too big and quite heavy. Plus they’ll only fit if you’re using 30/60 extrusion for both the roof and base of the tent. I’m using 30/60 on the base and only 30/30 on the roof. I’ll either run basic toggle clamps or make something myself.
Take it for a field test
It’ll look odd but I’m going to go camping with just the basic frame and no tent walls. I want to test the strength of the frame. It’s not going to give much insight into how the roof of the tent will perform without the wind catching the tent walls. Before I embark on making the tent walls I’d like to make sure the frame is sound and robust enough to sleep on and toss and turn during the night.
I can throw a tarp over it if the weather turns.
One last thing
I’ve been asked a lot in DM on instagram if the project is a success will I be selling tents?
Right now that’s a hard, No.
Making even the simplest of products commercially viable is extremely hard. Especially ones easy to copy and I’m already getting burned by copyright theft on other designs.
I want to share the process of this build as much as I can to help others who want to make their own, hopefully better than mine. I’m also taking many details from designs and ideas already shared online as you’ll have seen in my earlier blogs. In the light of this fact it would be hypocritical to try and make a profit from such a project.
My hope for this series of blogs is if one person makes their own custom sized tent, I’ll class that as time well spent creating blogs, sharing content on instagram and YouTube. I do suspect a generously sized single person tent will be far less attractive a proposition for 90% of folks out there so perhaps once this tent is finished it’ll remain a one-off.