Stretch Tents at Burning Man: a Hell of a Tarp [Anecdote]

Every festival goer knows the Nevada Burning Man festival – the most renowned festival in America and beyond. At least, that’s what the CanvasCamp chief believed when the Burning Man organization knocked on our door last year. Yet, every team has a festival nitwit and that just so happens to be me in this scenario. Be as it may, hands were shook and 22,000 ft² of CanvasCamp FlexTents were going to be pitched in Nevada. So, a crafty CanvasCamp team left for Burning Man to get the Black Rock Desert ready for the biggest festival of the year :)!

Flex What?

Flex tents – aka stretch tents, tension tents, pole marquees or bedouin tents – are tall party tents made out of a large piece of flat stretchable fabric and quite a few poles and clamps. The first “freeform” tents were used by South African nomad tribes to protect themselves against the harsh winds and cold nights of the African desert. The main advantage of this type of event tents is that you can pitch them how and wherever you need. 

The first thing that came into my head when I saw the festival site was “WAW”. I was absolutely flabbergasted at the sight of the Black Rock Desert, especially because we were about to pitch 22,000 ft² of Flex tents around the Man – the main attraction of the festival – in the middle of what seemed to be a deserted piece of land, yet to be discovered by mankind ;). Although that sounds slightly dramatic, it is fair to say that I had no idea as to what the Burning Man festival looked like before we arrived. Things went great until we tried to drive one of the pegs into the dry soil. Some of us – including me – felt a mild panic attack coming on, when the chief suggested we screwed the pegs into the ground using a post hole digger. It worked! “Woohoo!!” The joy we felt when we managed to screw the first pegs in was indescribable. We went on securing the pegs and straps, sweating like mad in the blistering sun. Luckily, we could count on a team of skillful volunteers who supported us and lent us a most-welcome helping hand in pitching the huge tent construction. As the Man was being built in the centre of our work site, we went on securing pegs, clamps, poles and straps in between the occasional windhose to get the construction ready. When the papers reported about an all but flooded festival site, we had just fixed the last strap. The rain had washed away most of the desert dust leaving our tents shining brightly in the sun when the festival started. I will never forget the grateful smile on the face of Chief Burner when the tents were pitched, nor the delightful cheers of the festival goers, for that matter.

3 Major Advantages of Having a Sibley at Burning Man

It wasn’t until the festival had kicked off and most of the burners were settled that we realised the whole site was sprinkled with Sibley tents here and there. Not only did they serve as luxury sleeping tents, many burners also decorated them and rolled up the side walls so as to turn them into comfy lounge areas where anyone could pop in and share a beer. There is no doubt about it, the Sibley tent is hot at Burning Man. This is why:

  1. Wind/ Weather resistance: Its dynamic design and durable material allow the teZip-in Bell Tent in the Desertnt to withstand virtually anything the Nevada weather throws at it.
  2. Zip-in/ Sewn-in groundsheet and accessories: Most of the Black Rock dust is kept out by the Ultimate (PRO) or Deluxe groundsheet and whatever little does get in the tent is stopped by the Inner Tent.
  3. Cool and comfortable: Made of sand-coloured, easily ventilated cotton canvas and provided with roll-up side walls, our Sibley’s can be turned into cool relaxing areas in only a matter of minutes. This in comparison to the suffocating feel of a polyester tent in which you cannot even spend a minute when the sun’s out.

Although the Burning Man organization changes the scenery on a yearly basis, our Flex tents will again be present this year. And what’s more, a little bird just told me that our Sibley's promise to excel on the camping site. Why, o why, I wonder… ;). Click here to see what the Burning Man festival site looked like last year.