According to the folks at tentmaker NEMO Equipment, there isn’t currently an easy way to compare the livable space between tents without setting them up side by side, a difficult thing to do in many retail stores and certainly when shopping online. NEMO wanted to help tent shoppers understand differences between tents, and ultimately, choose the best tent for your needs.
“We put a lot of thought into interior volume and we think you should get the full benefits,” says the company.
With that in mind, NEMO added tent topographic diagrams to its spec charts. Just like the contour lines see on trail maps, tent topos help shoppers see the steepness of the slopes, but instead of showing valleys and hills, it reveals the headroom and livability of a tent.
On a typical topographic map, contours join points of equal elevation. By looking at the topographic map, one can get an idea of both the shape of the mountain and the steepness of the slopes. So, the closer the lines are together, the steeper the elevation (or the walls of your tent). In the same way, NEMO’s tent topos show the contours of a tent at various heights, so that at a glance, tent buyers can understand where in a tent you can sit up, sleep, and fit your shoulders.
“If you’re not able to set the tent up before buying, this is an easy and quick way to understand the livability of a tent,” posted NEMO.
“The main stats that people look at when buying a tent are weight, floor area, and peak height. If you only look at these numbers, it’s easy to forget about what’s going on between the floor and the peak height,” says NEMO.
Take the example of a pyramid style tent and a dome style tent.
“Both tents have more or less the same floor area and the same height but vastly different arrangements of interior volume,” says the company. “In the pyramid style tent, you can only sit straight up in the middle, and height of the walls reduced dramatically as you move to the edges of the floor. The dome style tent has nearly vertical walls, which means that you can sit straight up even when you are on the edges.”
The point is that shoppers can’t look at tents two dimensionally and only think about floor are, as tents with the same floor areas and peak heights can have a very different amount of usable interior space.
NEMO believes it is the only tent company utilizing tent topographics, although the groundwork for generating these types of diagrams was originally laid by the Outdoor Industry Alliance’s ASTM committee. The committee’s eventual goal is to create a standardized method of generating the topo diagrams, and Nemo reportedly is working with the ASTM Working Group to change the way tent manufacturers communicate product specs.
Of course, these things take time. But during the last couple of years, NEMO has done much work to refine these methods to create the most accurate diagrams possible.
“Taking the measurements and producing the diagrams still takes some work, but we’ve developed some tools to help the process and we are hoping topo diagrams will soon be adopted by the rest of the high-end tent industry,” says NEMO.
Topo diagrams are available on NEMO’s Web site, with plans to include them in hangtags starting 2014 and on as many retailer partner Web sites as possible.