A few months ago, we sent in a request for comment regarding reflective sheeting used to keep the inside of our tent cool in summer.
We bought a cover and found that the silver coating started to shred and crack. Along with this, there was a loss of waterproofing.
We had many replies from the magazine but nobody had an answer to this universal problem.
We decided to try out 95-100% shade cloth and bought enough to cover the entire tent and caravan, with a bit extra to supply some more shade over the veranda. We had it made up and used our old reflective sheet as a template for eyelets.
The 3-metre-wide shade cloth was joined using webbing and we reinforced the entire edging with the same webbing for added strength to stop the shade cloth from stretching.
We used the existing tent poles, so no extra poles were necessary, and added “extensions” to the poles to lift the shade cloth off the tent to improve airflow, which helps keep the inside of the tent cool.
Within 24 hours of setting this up, the acid test came –a howling gale. We had decided to do away with the storm net, as wind goes through shade cloth. We were very happy with the way the shade cloth stood up to the wind.
We have since had some very heavy rain, and while some water does go through the shade cloth, most of it just slides off.
The end result is this: At the same cost as new silver reflective sheeting, we now have a product that stands up to wind, water and birds, and should last for at least 5 years. We have been able to get rid of the storm nets and extra poles. This has also lightened the weight we carry.
The reflective properties are not as good as reflective sheet when new, but certainly as good as a worn one (3-6 months if you are lucky), but we still find it cooler than not having the protection.
Our tent is new and does not leak, so the water that may come through is not a problem. Bird and bat droppings, tree seeds, and leaves wash off in the rain without going through the fabric.
The tent can “breathe”, so we think that there will be less chance of mildew forming than with the reflective sheet. The caravan is a lot cooler because hot air rises and can now escape out of the open vents.
The tent and caravan are also much lighter as the old reflective sheeting was solid and made the tent dark. Our fellow campers have all been waiting on the sidelines to see how this has worked out, and we can say that we are very happy with the result.