I expect a lot of people go camping because of the peace and tranquility. Quiet is good, at least in the late evenings and small hours when people are trying to sleep and you can hear a gnat fart.
As a parent of relatively young children I still find that I’m tuned to noises in the night. I know if one of them has a cough and can be there quickly if they are ever sick due to my parental super-hero hearing. (I can, Husband perhaps less so.) When camping I know when one of the children wakes up as I can hear their breathing change. It’s almost like this change reaches into my sleep and drags me out of it, in a way that only a mother’s instinct can.
So why is it that you can only get in and out if a tent via the noisiest mechanism known to man? I swear, a zip being opened at 3am is akin to a fighter jet taking off in the next field in terms of its potential to stir those of us who are the lethal combination of campers, parents and light sleepers.
I probably first discovered how noisy zips on tents are when camping with my parents as a teenager. You know that stage where it appears you have glorious freedom and yet they still want to know you’re back in your tent at a decent time? Zips became like the camping equivalent of a huge security light turning on if you tried to sneak in/out and I’m sure have alerted many a parent to the late arrival of an errant teenager.
I’ve discovered that you can deaden the sound somewhat if you push your finger on the underside of the zip, but given that I have to open and close two in order to make a late-night bathroom trip – that’s four lots of opening and closing – that’s not a lot of comfort. I recognise that my fellow campers may not be as easily disturbed as me, but I still try to be considerate.
In some ways it’s a good thing – my kids won’t be wandering off in the middle in the night without me noticing – but I’m not sure that one advantage outweighs all of the disadvantages.
But what’s the alternative? It would have to be something that would keep the wet out (because, camping isn’t possible without rain, in our world at least) and properly seal the tent. It would need to stand up to lots of opening and closing, bend so that the tent could be packed away and be accessible from both sides – the obvious advantage of a zip. Velcro would be even more noisy and probably wouldn’t last as long as a zip would. A bendy magnetic strip perhaps? Although this would require some precision to properly seal it.
Toggles perhaps, like the old canvas tents? Or the closing on a zip-lock bag? That would be quiet but perhaps not accessible from both sides.
Have any of your more-experienced campers come across tents with anything other than zips?
Note to readers – I started writing this blog a while ago, but since Hazel at Yellowfields Camping wrote her fab blog about things for camping she wishes someone would invent, I’ve been spurred on to complete it. (Go have a read, it’s a good blog) If you follow us on Twitter (she’s @YellowFieldsH, I’m @lu_turner) you might have seen an odd discussion between us, Vango, Outwell and a couple of others about alternate ways to close up tents. Suffice it to say, their R&D teams are on it. Result.