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  1. #1
    Senior Member mattbicycle's Avatar
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    tent advice - concealing yellow colour for wild camping

    Hi everyone,

    I am planning my first tour and yesterday I bought my first ever tent! It was heavily discounted and after having a quick look at the picture on the box, hastily got my cash out and took it home.

    I'm very happy with the tent, but after (successfully!) assembling it in the back yard, I notice it has more yellow in it than I had realised from a quick look at the cover photo.

    My question: Is there any ingenius, simple way of concealing the yellow colour (spray paint / mud / staining it with coffee?!?) to make it less conspicuous? I hope this isn't too stupid a thing to be asking; maybe I should have chosen more wisely although the tent itself seems fantastic.

    Any comments would be appreciated.

    Thanks,

    Matt
    Australia
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  2. #2
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    You can get a camo tarp.

    I'd just return it and get something else. Looks kind of big anyways for bike touring, are you going to be using it for two or more people?

  3. #3
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    It ought to have a separate fly sheet to go on the outside of the poles

  4. #4
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    Err, yeah, there should be a fly that goes over the outside, which will be a different colour. Possibly even worse.

    Steve

  5. #5
    Senior Member badmother's Avatar
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    The sun is soon going to take care of the colour..

    Is the fabric water proof? Weight of the tent? Big size is ok, heavy tent is not, they often "go together". I bought a bright yellow "tipi tent" last autumn. Said to accomondate max 6, I would say four. Bought it for my, son + dog. can sit innside in chairs + plenty lugage. Can cook innside if rain. 4 kg. Reduced this by buying alu pegs instead of the steel it came with. Reason for light weight is only one owersized alu pole in the senter.

    Pegs and poles (mostly fiberglas) is the main reason for weight in a tent. Can be modifyed to alu or carbon (like the ones for kitemaking) if you like the tent and want to keep it.

    I bought a tunnel telt cheap years ago. 3 persons + lugage. 2,7 kg. Alu poles. Like it alot, but too old now to crawl around on hands and knees, so it is for the kids to take it fishing.

  6. #6
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    I'd suggest experimenting with cold-water dyes. Your coffee stain idea might work at a pinch. Check the craft shops and haberdashery departments for cold-water dyes. You'll probably have to think about how you are going to apply it -- splash it on with a brush, or with a bucket!

    Light misting spray paints in brown and green might also be an option. I'd mask off the bits you don't want touched, then spray from about double the recommended distance away from the yellow surface. You'll have to be patient to get the right build-up or depth of colour. You'd be a graffiti artist in your own backyard!

    I presume your tent is one of the single-skin jobs that are becoming more available. FWIW, your tent is about the same size as the one I used on my first-ever bicycle tour and some short tours afterwards. It served me quite well. Likely yours is lighter. These days my tent sizes are based on likely occupants plus one person... so for me alone, a two-person tent, for me and a touring partner, a three-person tent. That ensures you have plenty of room inside for gear.

    Glad you're happy with the tent other than the colour.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

  7. #7
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    Fibers take dye based on their chemical composition. Cellulose fibers (like cotton) will work with "fiber reactive dyes", which have an alkaline pH and work at low temperatures. Coffee and tea are natural fiber reactive dyes. Protein fibers (like wool) work with acid dyes, which have an acidic pH and will only work at fairly high temperatures. 170F or so is typical. Most synthetic fibers are plastic, and don't take either kind of dye well. Nylon seems to do a bit better than the average synthetic and seems to respond best to acid dyes. Both kinds of dye are best treated as toxic, and should not be used in any container that will be used for food.

    Using the wrong kind of dye on a fiber means the dye won't work well, or the dye damages your fiber (usually both).

    So, I would not try to dye your tent. There's a risk of damaging it from they dye reaction. There's a risk that any fabric treatments used on the tent fabric will degrade when exposed to dyeing temperatures. And it takes a *lot* of space. (the toxic part isn't a huge deal with proper equipment... which you probably don't have)

  8. #8
    cyclopath vik's Avatar
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    One thing I really like about my Big Agnes Seedhouse SL2 is the fabric of the tent and the fly is very hard to see from any distance in most environments.
    safe riding - Vik
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  9. #9
    Senior Member foamy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vik View Post

    One thing I really like about my Big Agnes Seedhouse SL2 is the fabric of the tent and the fly is very hard to see from any distance in most environments.
    +1
    None.

  10. #10
    eternalvoyage
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    Hi Matt,

    One possibility that has worked well for me is to take along some lightweight black nylon netting -- the type that is used in orchards and vineyards to keep birds out. This type of netting is very light and inexpensive and durable, and it is great for camouflaging. You can use leaves and twigs and weeds and bark and small brush and dead plant materials and whatever else is locally available and useful for camouflage: these things stick to (and can be fastooned all over) the netting, and they can create an excellent cover.

    The level of camouflage attainable this way is often quite a bit better than relying on camouflage colors or paint alone; and you can also vary the colors, textures, types of materials, and levels of camouflage according to situations and local conditions.

    ***
    Another approach (it could be used alone, or combined with the above) is to use some acrylic paint to cover the yellow. Good quality acrylics will adhere well and last well, even in very lightweight, thin layers. You can also find lightfast pigments that will hold up very well in the sun. The lightfastness ratings are avaliable from the companies.

    If you get two or three colors, you can use them straight and also in various combinations or mixes, to get better camouflage effects (in the natural world, colors usually come in many subtle hues and variations -- not just one straight green or brown or gray, for example, but many blends and in-betweens, differing shades and broken colors and variegated effects).

    If you email tech support at http://www.goldenpaints.com/ they will probably answer as promptly as they can; their products are of the highest quality. Other companies, such as Liquitex, also make good acrylic products; but they are often not as helpful and responsive.

    Both the Golden website and the Liquitex website contain information and instructions on fabric painting, if you dig around enough. If done properly, it is quite durable. (You might want to ask them about the best procedures for this specific fabric.)

    Tech support at http://www.goldenpaints.com/ can probably provide some extra, situation-specific help via email.

    ***
    If you really want to delve into the world of mixing colors (various sorts of realistic greens for example), digging around this website will tell you more than most people might imagine there is to know about it:

    http://handprint.com/HP/WCL/tech34.html

    http://handprint.com/HP/WCL/palette2.html

    http://handprint.com/HP/WCL/palette2.html

    ***
    [Although this site deals primarily with watercolours, acrylics can be used in much the same way, and they contain many identical pigments and colors.]
    Last edited by Niles H.; 04-21-08 at 02:35 PM.

  11. #11
    eternalvoyage
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    Quick note on mixing realistic greens: by combining varying amounts of dark sienna or burnt umber or various reds (or combinations of these) with the greens, the colors often turn out to be more natural-looking and effective.

  12. #12
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    You can buy stuff in a spray can called "mar-hyde".It's made for changing colors of car interiors.Should work good on the tent.Comes in a rainbow of colors.
    Everything should be as simple as possible...But not more so.---Albert Einstein

  13. #13
    Senior Member mattbicycle's Avatar
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    Thank you very much to everyone for the advice.

    There doesn't appear to be a fly that sits over the top, just a small kind of handkerchief-looking contraption that clips over the top mosquito-netting part.

    Badmother – it appears to be waterproof from testing with the garden hose but as for a deluge, time will tell! I plan to tour in the summer months and the tent will hopefully not see much action!

    Size is 2m wide by 1.5m high. There are two foldable fibreglass poles which arc over the top of the tent, meeting in the middle. Four or five pegs then pin the tent to the ground.

    It doesn't seem to weigh any more than 2kg. The bathroom scales are barely moving when I put it on. Perhaps this is an indication of poor quality! But again, I'm not expecting much rain.

    Rowan – I appreciate the spray paint option suggested and the kind words.

    Vik – your tent looks fantastic! The colour and low profile design would be perfect for the type of camping I'd like to do. If that baby folds-up small and is lightweight, I reckon you're on a winner!

    Niles – yes, my parents have that netting here for the apple trees and there is some old material sitting in the garden shed that I will look at after writing this. Thank you for that suggestion and the research done on the paints. My tent is straight from K-Mart (Australia, but I believe the US stores are similar…) and cost under $40. I'm not worried about stuffing it up with my poor spray paint skills, but you're right – a quality paint might be a good investment.

    Thanks also to Booger!

    Lastly the tent claims to be made of "poly-tex" which I haven't heard of before, but again, I know very little about tents J

  14. #14
    cyclopath vik's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mattbicycle View Post
    Vik – your tent looks fantastic! The colour and low profile design would be perfect for the type of camping I'd like to do. If that baby folds-up small and is lightweight, I reckon you're on a winner!
    The tent weighs 3lbs and packs down to 15" x 6" without compression. I haven't found a better tent in terms of size, weight, strength and low impact colour.

    I slept in it approximately 40-50 nights and it doesn't show any appreciable wear. I don't leave it up during the day so UV hasn't been a factor.
    safe riding - Vik
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    Quote Originally Posted by vik View Post
    The tent weighs 3lbs and packs down to 15" x 6" without compression. I haven't found a better tent in terms of size, weight, strength and low impact colour.

    I slept in it approximately 40-50 nights and it doesn't show any appreciable wear. I don't leave it up during the day so UV hasn't been a factor.
    I heard the Big Agnes is no good for anyone over 6 foot, any comment?

  16. #16
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    pick up a couple of drab or digicamo tarps and get good at POV concealment. There's a bright yellow tent in the right half of this photo.
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  17. #17
    I'm made of earth! becnal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert_in_ca View Post
    You can get a camo tarp.
    +1
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  18. #18
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    Matt, the other thing that comes to mind, and it's probably more important than camoflauging the tent, is that if it's a Kmart job, you should check to see if it's seamsealed, and if not, ensure it is with liquid seamsealer obtainable from Kmart (maybe), but more likely somewhere like Kathmandu, Paddy Pallin, Snowgum, etc.

    If your first tour is planned to be in Australia, and it's country, I wouldn't be too fussed about camoflauge. The tent I have used most is a Mountain Designs Hutt, and it's orange, and I have camped in all sorts of places in Australia, North America and Europe, in many cases in what some would call "stealth" camping spots. I have not once been challenged except by a very polite Frenchman who was excusing himself as he climbed past the tent guys on his way to a fishing competition further up the stream above which I was located.

    And, as an observation from someone who has been "country" for a while now, whatever the stealth campers think, *someone* knows they are there. It's amazing how just a slight disturbance of a scene, such as crushed grass, a tree limb out of place, or tracks disappearing off a trail, is obvious to a resident.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

  19. #19
    eternalvoyage
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    Quote Originally Posted by mattbicycle View Post
    Hi everyone,

    I am planning my first tour and yesterday I bought my first ever tent! It was heavily discounted and after having a quick look at the picture on the box, hastily got my cash out and took it home.

    I'm very happy with the tent, but after (successfully!) assembling it in the back yard, I notice it has more yellow in it than I had realised from a quick look at the cover photo.

    My question: Is there any ingenius, simple way of concealing the yellow colour (spray paint / mud / staining it with coffee?!?) to make it less conspicuous? I hope this isn't too stupid a thing to be asking; maybe I should have chosen more wisely although the tent itself seems fantastic.

    Any comments would be appreciated.

    Thanks,

    Matt
    Australia
    Hi, Matt. If you are still interested in ideas:

    Permanent markers (sometimes called laundry markers) could be used to tone down the yellow.

    You wouldn't need 100% coverage -- 50%, for example, would still tone it down quite a bit. You could also make camouflage-consistent patterns (zebra, for example, or tree shadows), and combine that with (varied) partial coverage of the yellow in other areas.

    ****
    Also, it would be easy to attach some lightweight fabric on top of the yellow. Polyester tends to hold up well in the sun -- much better than nylon.

    You might be able to find some lightweight fabric at a yard sale or other second hand source. Sometimes these things are practically given away for free, or actually are given away for free.

    If you could find an oversized 'big girl' Hawaiian polyester maternity mumu, with a (mellow) bird of paradise pattern, to take one example, it might be worth a go. Camouflage doesn't have to be ugly.

    You could use the remainder for a jersey (or whatever).

    There are many other patterns, and fabrics could also be cut into patterns and recombined.

    ****
    Another option: McNett Corporation makes excellent polyurethane products for tents, including sealants for waterproofing seams, and sealants that can be brushed over a larger area to seal rest of the fabric. You could add a pigment or colorant to the polyurethane coating (before applying it) to subdue the yellow. A little phthalocyanine green mixed in with the polyurethane would go a long way. You could enhance the waterproofness and mellow the color at the same time. [Although these sealants are often used on the inside, they are actually better (functionally) when applied on the outside, according to Sierra Designs.]

    Good luck with it.
    Last edited by Niles H.; 04-28-08 at 06:28 PM.

  20. #20
    cyclopath vik's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by StuckInMud View Post
    I heard the Big Agnes is no good for anyone over 6 foot, any comment?
    I'm 6ft and fit inside without an issue. I'd have to setup the tent and see how much extra space I had go give you an idea what height the tent would work for. I'll be heading to the mtns in the next few weeks for an overnight campout/mini-bike tour...I'll post back then.

    You could probably just call Big Agnes and they'd be able to tell you. I'm sure the question has come up more than once.

    Without thinking about it a really tall friend bought the same tent I had...turned out to be a problem as he was a lot taller than me and had to sleep with his head sticking into the vestibule....
    safe riding - Vik
    VikApproved

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