Canvas bell tents were used big-time during the Crimean war (1850s) by the British military. During this time and until fairly recently, waterproofing a canvas tent was achieved by utilising and applying various mixes of linseed oil, wax and sometimes paraffin – making the already heavy canvas even heavier – and probably more than a little smelly!
More recently bell tent makers have invented the A-frame, which gives us the porch-like entrance providing increased headroom, whilst at the same time eliminating the problem of rain hitting and wetting the front half of the groundsheet when the entrance flaps are opened, as will happen in a tepee or early-style bell tent with no A-frame.
The other great invention of zips means it doesn’t take ages to get out of your tent (or back into it!!) in the middle of the night when you’re busting to empty your bladder! Zips are also a lot less draughty than the original Dutch lacing system.
Our Pukka canvas bell tents are built from a heavyweight 360gsm (10.5oz/yd2) 100% cotton canvas fabric. This canvas is a modern version of the old-fashioned, traditional and really very heavy canvas and has been treated (during the manufacture of the fabric) with modern proofers which provide resistance to water, UV and mould. The bathtub SIG or ZIG style heavyweight pvc groundsheets also mean modern bell tents are considerably more weather-and-bug proof than the earlier bell tents.
We now enjoy mesh covered air vents in the side walls (otherwise called windows) and also at the tent apex, plus Pukka bell tents (as well as a few others) have secondary mesh doors (with zips of course). Pukka’s mesh is midge-proof and all zips used are top quality YKK. If you’re not camping in a heavily midge-infested area, you can unzip your Pukka mesh windows open – this hugely increases the airflow on particularly hot days. And in a ‘nod’ to the original, we do use wooden sliders and thick guy ropes. It just feels so much better!
With the more recent arrival of the popular in-tent stoves (Pukka stoves are multifuel) and integrated flue exits, as well as the roll-up side walls together with toggles, ties and optional inner tents – Well! Bell tents have truly made it into the 21st century – Sorted!!
So, Pukka bell tents are one of the best examples of ‘traditional-meeting-modern’ – with bell owners appreciating the benefits of chilling under canvas comfortably and getting back in touch with the outdoors.
See our range of Traditional yet Modern canvas bell tents here.
Getting away from frenetic modern life with all the stresses it brings has just got better.