Tents as Tiny Houses

There are still a few weeks of summer left and now’s the time to dig out another type of tiny house—the tent. While most people would never think of a tent as a tiny house, many people who spend months hiking over 2,000 miles on trails like the Pacific Crest and the Appalachian look at that bundle of nylon, cordage and plastic as their shelter, safety, warmth and haven.

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Like the turtle with its shell, there’s something to be said for being able to strap everything you need for the next few days, weeks, months or even years of your life onto your back. The sense of self-sufficiency and freedom is empowering.

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Caro Ryan, of the blog Lotsafreshair, posted a creative, little video of how her tent has become her tiny house. Caro is an Aussie gal who films some beautiful hiking and backpacking videos in the Australian bush and shares tips on how to get the most out of your fresh air trips. She covers how to cook and eat well, how to pack a backpack, hiking health and fitness and how to be as light on the land as possible. You also have to watch her videos just to hear her say “billy” in her Aussie accent.

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With the new movie, Wild (based on Cheryl Strayed’s bestselling book) coming out soon, folks may get even more inspired to chuck their material possessions and hit the trail. The idea of the tent as a temporary or long-term home may become even more acceptable—even in the tiny house realm.

Photos and video by Lotsafreshair/Caro Ryan

By Christina Nellemann for the [Tiny House Blog]

Moroccan Tiny Houses

After the beautiful country of Spain we headed down to the culturally fascinating country of Morocco. This small part of Africa is home a large coastline, parts of the Atlas mountains and touches on the nearly 3.7 million square mile Sahara desert. In these wild areas that seem to be on the very edge of existence are some interesting small, traditional homes.

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Many people (specifically the Berber people of North Africa) in the Atlas mountains live and work as farmers raising goats, sheep, olives, wheat and fruit like dates, pomegranates and oranges. Because of the heat of the desert, homes have to keep both humans and animals cool and many of the homes you see are still built the traditional way. Bricks made with mud, sand and straw (sometimes animal dung) are laid out in the sun to dry. They are then stacked on top of a stone foundation and covered with mud plaster. Many of the homes don’t have windows, but instead have intricate metal grates for safety and airflow. Ceilings are made with bamboo stalks, the trunks of olive trees and covered with rocks and more mud plaster. Doors are actually made from the doors of shipping containers and then embellished with metal filigree and colorful paint.
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Traditional Berber tents are located in the sand dunes of the Sahara. Unlike the Touareg nomads of West Africa, these tents stay in a location for years, even as the sandy landscape changes around them. Many small villages are built on harder rock that contains a small oasis. Wells are dug into the ground and water can be reached in about 15 feet. Tents and supplies are brought into the villages by camel or by dune buggy.

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Berber rugs made of colorful wool yarn from both goat and sheep are used for the walls and floor while olive trunks are used as supports. Bamboo stalks are used for the roof. Tents are placed in a circle for protection from wind and sand and rugs are placed on the ground around a central fire pit.

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You can take a camel trek out into the Sahara desert with several tour groups in the Marrakech area. The drive into the desert takes about two days and gives you an idea of how tough these people have to be to survive the extreme climates of this rugged country.

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Photos by Christina Nellemann

By Christina Nellemann for the [Tiny House Blog]

Canvas Wall Tents

The basic canvas wall tent, used by outdoor enthusiasts and the military for hundreds of years, can be turned into more than a tent with the simple addition of a wooden platform. My family has some property in a beautiful meadow with mountain views and we are looking to put up a canvas wall tent on a wooden floor to use for guest camping and enjoying the summer nights. Research for these tents has turned up some fantastic photos of what can be created with these portable but heavy duty structures.

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Photo by David Ellis Canvas Products

Wall tents are different than tipis and in that they have four sides and a peaked roof, much like a tiny house. Canvas wall tents have been used by the military as early at 1740 and were used extensively in the American Civil War. Hunters and trappers in the 1800’s used wall tents while on the frontier and they are still used today as shelters in refugee camps and by soldiers in Iraq.

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Photo by David Ellis Canvas Products

Canvas wall tents range in size from about 8-10 feet wide and 10-20 feet long. They can be supported with a simple wood frame, steel poles or traditional timber poles cut down on site. The walls are typically 5-6 feet high. Some canvas tents are large enough to contain a wood burning stove and the canvas roof can include a hole for a stove pipe. Furniture, carpets and even wall hangings can be used for interior decoration.

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Photo by Yellowstone Under Canvas

Canvas wall tents can actually be mounted to a hard surface deck. This keeps the tent from being blown away and damaged in the wind and also keeps out unwanted outdoor critters. These types of tents are called deck tents and can be secured even further with cable systems that tie the tent down to the deck.

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Photo by 1859 Oregon Magazine

Because of their sturdy construction and ability to let in fresh air while protecting campers from the elements, many canvas wall tents have become popular for glamping enthusiasts. The tents can be enjoyed in the summer and fall and then packed up and put away when winter arrives.

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Photo by Rand McNally – On the Road

Photos by David Ellis Canvas Products, 1859 Oregon Magazine, Yellowtone Under Canvas and Rand McNally

By Christina Nellemann for the [Tiny House Blog]