The rain in haiti and tents
February 10, 2010 10:23 AM   Subscribe

Best waterproof tent for Haiti on a budget?

A midwifery organization on the ground in Haiti has asked for tents (of all sizes as long as they are waterproof for pregnant and birthing mothers) to be sent to two locations in the United States in the next week. They have a boat ready to take these tents to Haiti.

I need some help selecting a tent because I don't know what will be sufficient for the weather in Haiti. Since my husband and I are very poor students, we need to keep it in our budget.

Can people who are knowledgeable about the weather in Haiti please tell me which of the following tents will work? Or, please suggest other tents.

Tent 1
Tent 2
Tent 3
Tent 4

Thank you!
posted by long haired child to Science & Nature (16 answers total)
I don't think any of those are going to be remotely waterproof. You're going to need to look for a 3-season (maybe even 4) for a true waterproof tent, and you're going to be hard pressed to find one under $200. I've done a lot of camping in various levels of tents, even a really nice 4 season one, and it wasn't even truly waterproof.

Now that doesn't mean you can't make them somewhat mroe waterproof. There are coatings available that spray on or can be spread over the seams that will vastly help. The biggest suggestion would be to rig a tarp (which are usually fairly waterproof) over the tent (not touching) that would divert the water. I've seen setups like this in some of the footage from the disaster areas.
posted by Big_B at 10:40 AM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Actually keeping out heavy rain is one of the big things that differentiates a nice tent from a cheap tent. All of the tents you posted are cheap tents. Tents 1 and 4 don't have full rain flys and would probably be worthless in more than a drizzle.

This tent is more expensive but still cheap for a decent tent and looks like it would keep water out better.

This one
also looks decent

Things you're looking for: Full fly, taped seams, bathtub floor (in cheaper tents)
posted by ghharr at 10:40 AM on February 10, 2010

Tent 4 is tallest and has the most room. Most backpackers buying a tent are concerned about weight, since they'll be schlepping it a long distance. Get some seam-sealer, and seal the seams before you go; this makes a big difference in weatherproofing. Seal the seams on the rainfly, as well.
posted by Mom at 10:41 AM on February 10, 2010

Best answer: Of what you listed, I'd say tent 2 is the best option. It has a nearly full coverage rain fly, and is dome shaped, which a generally the most spacious and easiest to take down/put up, and easy to move, as you don't need to stake them down.
posted by ShootTheMoon at 10:44 AM on February 10, 2010

Another issue with cheap tents is that their poles will be really cheap and break easily, which pretty much makes the thing worthless. Honestly I would think people on the ground would be better off with a tarp and some rope than a $30 tent.
posted by ghharr at 10:47 AM on February 10, 2010

Skip all of these tents entirely, as they are a waste of money and resources, and will be useless soon after arrival, and are not worth wasting shipping resources. Send a donation of funds to the organization so they can put it to best use, or work together with others to buy a useful product. If you can't do that, then buy some large tarps with grommet holes, and/or a box of tubes of seam sealer because chances are the organization will be faced with many crappy tents which will require reinforcement.
posted by kch at 10:57 AM on February 10, 2010 [17 favorites]

Seconding what kch said. I've lived in tents for months on end in rainy climates.The best way to keep dry, regardless of the quality of the tent, is to position a large tarp above the tent, and to make sure the ground slopes away from it and the tent. Send money or tarps.
posted by mareli at 12:07 PM on February 10, 2010

Best answer: I'm not sure if this is within your budget at ~$65, but this Alps tent is a good product at a really good price.

If your choice is strictly between the four tents you listed, tent 4 looks to me to be the most comfortable for 2 people, given that one of them will be giving birth. It is listed as water resistant, but if you can swing for a tarp as well, I think it would do.

HTH, and what a lovely donation to make; kudos.
posted by faineant at 12:17 PM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

None of these tents are suitable for the purpose you intend.

If you only have under $40 to spend, just send them the money.

If you want to send them a tent that will work for the purpose - not only waterproof, but sturdy and big enough for a woman and a midwife to comfortably go through the birth process in, look at tents like these, these, or these. Notice the difference in not only price, but construction details between those tents you picked out and these family camping tents.
posted by anastasiav at 12:21 PM on February 10, 2010

I suggest googling for "tarp garages" in the $150 to $300 range.

A decent sized tarp garage can cover at least two of the smaller (and barely water-resistant) tents that they will have in excess.
posted by terpia at 12:37 PM on February 10, 2010

Don't want to derail, but recently frontpage'd humanitarian blog blood and milk has a post on why this is very likely less good than giving money. Even if it's just a little.
posted by tmcw at 12:55 PM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Nthing above comments re: cheap tents like the ones you listed as not being weatherproof enough.

More importantly - if these are being used for pregnant mothers, you really should consider getting a tent that is TALL enough to enter as well as accommodate having more than 1 person at a time (keep in mind that tents that advertise a capacity for 2 people really mean 1 person).

I can't imagine being 9 months pregnant and having to stoop to get into the small tents that you listed. That would be absolutely unforgivable to donate a tent without taking this into consideration for the mothers.
posted by HeyAllie at 12:57 PM on February 10, 2010

Response by poster: Thank you everyone for the responses. In response to TMCW, I have read the post you linked to and would never think to send supplies, only in this case they were specifically requested, and the organization has already arranged for transport.
posted by long haired child at 1:35 PM on February 10, 2010

Keeping dry in a tent is more about knowing how to put up the rain fly than it is about buying the right tent.

My cousin was married on his grandparent's farm in the late 90's. Many brought tents to save money, it was encouraged. When I pulled in, the rain was starting to drip down. I immediately set up the tent and the rain fly, exactly as the directions suggested. It was a low end tent, but good enough for solid backpacking. Everyone's tent was soaked as the rain poured down for 3 days. Except mine, which was dry as a bone the entire time. Make sure it has a good rain fly. The tent means nothing.

Backpacking is more about doing a few easy, but slightly time-consuming things well, rather tham having expensive gear.

I suggest REI.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:36 PM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I have a cheap tent, but we did a great job on the seams, and it kept us dry for many trips. I used it for a storage shed, and the sun finally weakened the fabric. If this tent is to send to Haiti, not for you to use, see if a sporting goods store will donate or discount a family-size tent.
posted by theora55 at 3:24 PM on February 10, 2010

Response by poster: Thank you to everyone who replied. All of your replies were helpful. I emailed the director of the organization and sent her a link to Tent 2 based on the advice of the ShoottheMoon. I asked her whether it would be better to send tent sealant and tarps or to send Tent 2. She said it would be better to send Tent 2. Apparently they are hoping to give each new mom a tent after she gives birth to take with her. So they do need a large quantity of tents, although I'm sure the extra sturdy ones would be great as communal birthing facilities. Anyway, thank you to everyone for helping me choose!
posted by long haired child at 3:35 PM on February 10, 2010

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