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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)