This Old Tent
A three-man Taymor 'Hunter'

A photo essay describing our $30 three-man Taymor Hunter tent, its adventures, and modifications

Our $30 Three-Man Taymor Hunter Tent

Diana and Bob's first canoe trip was to Whitson Lake on the Petawawa River on the July long weekend in 1973. We were able to borrow a canoe from Diana's parents, a 16 ft. St. Maurice, but for camping gear, we were on our own. While we didn't have much money -- Bob was still a student -- we were able to assemble a serviceable kit. One of our purchases was a tent, a three-man Taymor 'Hunter'. It was a nylon wall tent, with 7' by 7' floor, 5' high at the ridge line, with 18" sidewalls and two sectional aluminum tent poles. It was available for $39.75 at Canadian Tire but we got it for $29.95 at ABC Sports (now gone) on Yonge St. It remains our favourite tent to date. Our subsequent tents are "better" but we just don't like them as much.

The orange nylon fly (7' by 10') was available separately for $12 at Margesson's Sporting Goods (now gone) on Adelaide Street; instead we opted to buy a 10' by 12' vinyl tarp from the Outdoors Store (also gone) for $4.49.

threeman Taymor Hunter tent at Whitson Lake

Here is the tent with vinyl fly pitched at Whitson Lake, 1973 July. This setup required two trees in the right alignment to be able to string a rope to support the fly.

We undertook several additional forays that year and the next, and during that period we concluded that life would be easier with the "proper" fly rather than with the vinyl tarp. However, even with the proper fly, the front door and the back window were unprotected from the rain. So in 1974 we bought another fly from Canadian Tire as a source of fabric, and fashioned two extensions to the fly to improve the weather protection. This project required some interesting three-dimensional geometry calculations by Bob. After checking the results by building a scale model out of paper (everything seemed to fit properly), Diana did the cutting and sewing. A few years later we bought another identical fly for $16 at the Hudson's Bay Company, to use as a windbreak and tarp.

threeman Taymor Hunter tent at Skuce Lake

(explore

Camped at Skuce Lake in 1975 (see Brent / Maple Lake / Catfish Lake Loop - 1975 August 11 to 21). The tent now sports the "proper" fly, but modified with protective hoods front and back.

threeman Taymor Hunter tent at Nadine Lake

(explore

Nadine Lake (1975)

winter camping at Mew Lake Algonquin Park  1976 March

(photographed: 1976-03-27 - explore

This photo from Mew Lake in 1976 (see Early Spring Weekend at Mew Lake - Camping in the Slush - 1976 March) actually shows our friend Herman's Hunter tent with the unmodified fly. Herman's tent was newer than ours, but in our opinion not as good. Our tent came with a heavy nylon floor (waterproof but not coated), whereas Herman's tent came with a floor similar to Canadian Tire blue plastic tarps.

threeman Taymor Hunter tent at High Falls on Nipissing River

(explore

Here (the top of the portage around High Falls on the Nipissing River in 1976 May) is the tent without its fly. We are perhaps drying it out. On the 3700 yd portage from Whiskyjack Lake to the Nipissing River just above High Falls (this portage no longer exists), Diana had taken an unintended dip at a creek crossing with a Duluth pack on her back (see Canoe Lake to Brent and Return - 1976 May 14-25). The creek flowed into her pack.

threeman Taymor Hunter tent at Cedar Lake

(explore

On the shore of Cedar Lake (1976 May) in the midst of a bit of a blow. This is probably Herman's tent, but in any case it shows the lack of wind-worthiness of this type of tent. Note how the tent door closes with a series of ties. (Phyllis is fashionably dressed in her green garbage bag rain jacket.)

threeman Taymor Hunter tent at Burntroot Lake

(explore

The two Taymor Hunter tents (ours and Herman's -- one modified and one stock) pitched on our favourite island in Burntroot Lake (1976 May). There is obviously a bit of wind here, too, but not as bad as on Cedar Lake in the previous photo. Note the back window: it is a small panel of nylon covering a screened opening in the back wall. It has two side zips and two snaps to keep it closed and has two ties to roll it up when open; simple and effective, but not very convenient to adjust in the pouring rain in the middle of the night.

threeman Taymor Hunter tent on Petawawa River

(explore

Somewhere along the Petawawa River between Radiant Lake and Lake Travers, probably just upstream of Bypass Falls. (1976 September -- see Wendigo Lake to McManus Lake via Petawawa River - 1976 September 18-25)

threeman Taymor Hunter tent at Little Thompson Rapids on Petawawa River

(explore

Cooking in the rain at Little Thompson rapids on the Petawawa River in 1976 September. In case of rain, we would cook under another fly in front of the tent. If we had our stove we would attach the extra fly directly to the front of the tent. For cooking over a fire, we wanted a greater separation between tent and fire. In the 70s, it was still common to find cut tent poles leaning against a tree at campsites. Such poles facilitated the contruction of tripods, such as the one in use here.

winter camping at Mew Lake Algonquin Park  1977 March

(photographed: 1977-03-06 - explore

Mew Lake, 1977 March. Here we have carried the attachment of extra tarps to the front of the tent to extremes, but it provided lots of room for gear and cooking on our stove. Before this trip we had also made a frost liner from sheeting material bought at Stitsky's for about $22 (Stitsky's was a well known fabric store in Toronto, located on Bathurst Street, but -- regrettably -- like all the other places we bought materials, now gone). We added tie points made from scrap nylon fabric to the interior of the tent. This trip was the first (and probably last) time the frost liner got used, as we did not pursue cold-tenting much further. It did work quite well, keeping condensation off our sleeping bags, retaining warmth inside the tent, and creating a more cheerful feeling in the tent since it was white rather than blue.

Somewhere about this time -- probably the winter of 1976/77 -- we undertook a major modification to the tent body. This was the replacement of the top part of the back wall with a large triangular window that could be opened and closed from the inside. This window had mosquito netting on the outside and a zippered nylon triangle inside (two zippers along the gables, meeting at the top). The nylon fabric came from Stitsky's, the netting from Black's, and the zipper (by the yard, with sliders as required) from Margesson's, for a total of about $8. Black's too, is now gone from Toronto, but continues to operate in the UK.

Also around this time, we improved the front door flaps by adding zippers - one vertical and two horizontally across the bottom, meeting in the middle. The door could still be closed just using the ties in warm and/or calm weather, but if it was windy or cold, the tighter closing made the interior much more comfortable. The zipper was heavy nylon coil with double-tab sliders, bought from Margesson's. The zipper was cut to the appropriate lenghths and the ends sealed with five-minute epoxy.

The front door netting is still the original rather coarse mesh, closed with metal zippers. It keeps out the blackflies and mosquitoes effectively, but we did have the occasional uncomfortable night provided by no-see-ums, which can pass through the net quite easily.

All of these modifications worked out extremely well -- or rather -- exactly as planned.

Here are some further adventures of the tent.

hike around the Highland Hiking Trail in Algonquin Park in the fall of 1978 campsite at Mosquito Creek

(photographed: 1978-09-29 - explore

At Mosquito Creek -- see A Fall Hike on the Highland Hiking Trail - 1978 September

threeman Taymor Hunter tent at Big Porcupine Lake

Thanksgiving 1978 (somewhere south of Hwy. 60, probably Big Porcupine Lake)

threeman Taymor Hunter tent on Western Highlands Hiking Trail

Cooking under the front fly along the Western Uplands Hiking Trail (1979 April)

threeman Taymor Hunter tent at High Falls on the Nipissing River

High Falls, Nipissing River, 1979 May. Tent on the ground, fly on the canoe, Diana changing into cold frozen socks while standing on the extra fly. (see Nipissing River Loop from Kiosk - 1979 May 17-24)

threeman Taymor Hunter tent at Little Osler Lake

At Little Osler Lake, 1979 May

threeman Taymor Hunter tent at Greenleaf Lake

At Greenleaf Lake, 1979

threeman Taymor Hunter tent at Carcajou Lake

At Carcajou Lake, 1979. One issue with this tent is the large number of pegs -- 20 -- required to pitch it. This can be a particular problem when camping on bedrock. Improvisation using sticks and rocks is required.

threeman Taymor Hunter tent at Dt Francis Lake

At St. Francis Lake, 1979 October

threeman Taymor Hunter tent at Misty Lake

Misty Lake, 1980. Looking through the tent, you can see the modified back window.

threeman Taymor Hunter tent at Big Trout Lake

Island on Big Trout Lake, 1980 May. The extra fly is stretched out to the front to provide a sheltered cooking area. Damp clothes are hung underneath. (That was a damp and miserable night, the only time we have ever failed at getting a fire going.)

threeman Taymor Hunter tent at Burntroot Lake

Back at Burntroot Lake, 1981 May. We keep returning to that little island. (But if truth were told, most of the time we visited there, it was in the rain; we have very few photos of Burntroot Lake in the sunshine.)

A careful examination of the above photo show that we are no longer staking out the the fly and tent sides separately. Instead, the tent is guyed to the fly with large rubber bands -- nowadays, one would use bungee cords. This modification made the tent easier to pitch and resulted in a less droopy pitching since the "pull" on the tent sides is in a more favourable direction.

threeman Taymor Hunter tent at Wagtail Lake

At Wagtail Lake, 1982 May, see An Early Spring Hike to Eustache Lake and Wagtail Lake - 1982 May & 1984 April -- another spot that required rocks and logs to pitch the tent on bedrock.

The Taymor three-man Hunter tent was our tripping tent until the late '80s. Then, one night, we got caught in a bit of a windstorm while camped in the narrows on Catfish lake -- the wind sure does funnel through there! But while we didn't get much sleep with all that flapping going on, the tent held together. Even so, we thought that we should get a tent with better wind resistance. We decided to move into the modern age, to get a dome tent with shock corded poles. And we did. More than one. But we never liked any of them as well as our old Taymor Hunter. It has more space and is more versatile. A broken pole is not a big deal. Maybe we should go back to it.

The following photos were taken recently with the tent set up in our front yard, and detail some of our modifications.

threeman Taymor Hunter tent modification

(photographed: 2012-09-02 - explore

Cap for top of tent poles. (The end of the tent poles penetrate through the modified fly and thus need protection.

threeman Taymor Hunter tent modification

(photographed: 2012-09-02 - explore

The extension fly for the front is tied on to the main fly. Thus we added ties to the extension fly and tie points to the main fly. We added the tie points to both ends of the main fly to keep it symmetrical for ease of pitching.

threeman Taymor Hunter tent modification

(photographed: 2012-09-02 - explore

Modified rear window -- open

threeman Taymor Hunter tent modification

(photographed: 2012-09-02 - explore

Modified rear window -- mostly closed

threeman Taymor Hunter tent modification

(photographed: 2012-09-02 - explore

Details of how we guy the tent to the fly along the sides. The rubber bands are permanently attached to the tent; the toggles are permanently attached to the fly. The toggles were made from old toothbrush handles.

threeman Taymor Hunter tent modification

(photographed: 2012-09-02 - explore

We added an inside clothes line of parachute cord, attached to loops made from scrap nylon fabric.

threeman Taymor Hunter tent modification

(photographed: 2012-09-02 - explore

For winter use, we added vents to the front and back. These vents were closeable from the inside. The rear vent disappeared when we redid the back window.

threeman Taymor Hunter tent modification

(photographed: 2012-09-02 - explore

Also for winter use, we added, front and back, nylon pockets to capture the ends of the tent poles to preclude them disappearing down into the snow. (Or rather, to slow their descent.)

In addition to tent modifications, over the years we have done various other camping-oriented sewing projects, such as tarps, rain chaps, food bags, stuff sacks, bags for cooking pots and grill, kitchen roll, etc. We also never hesitated to modify purchased items to "improve" them.

Fabrics were bought by the yard or cannibalized from unwanted or unsuitable items, or from items bought for the purpose of cutting them up, such as the extra tent fly we used to make the extensions on the original fly. The thread used was Gütermann's spun polyester in various colours, and all the sewing was done on Diana's basic little Singer machine, now 46 years old and still working. While we still have enough leftover fabric to make some smaller items if the need arises, securing appropriate material seems harder now, probably because most related manufacturing has moved overseas.

Sources

We found these two books to be useful and influential:

Robert Sumner (1976), Make Your Own Camping Equipment, Drake.

Gerry Cunningham and Meg Hansson (1976), Light Weight Camping Equipment and How to Make It, Scribner's.(Gerry Cunningham was the founder of the Gerry outdoor equipment company)