Compact, effective shade structure for Burning Man?
July 16, 2012 2:13 PM   Subscribe

Asking for a friend: "How do I best go about buying/getting/building a shade structure for Burning Man? Specific requirements, as always, inside."

She says: "This is my fourth Burning Man, but due to circumstances I will be camping alone this year, and I'll need my own shade structure. The high winds and other unusual conditions mean that I am only interested in structures that are designed for the playa or have been proven to be effective there. I have an early entry pass, so I'll be showing up by myself before most of the city is there, and I am a petite woman who is moderately (but only moderately) handy. I have a 2008 Mazda3 Sedan that will need to fit all my gear, including this structure.

Where should I start? What should I do? I am particularly interested in pole or support solutions that will have easy connectors but can still fit in my vehicle."
posted by KathrynT to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (15 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
It may sound obvious but has your friend read the Shelter and Camping subforum at ePlaya?
posted by cabingirl at 2:17 PM on July 16, 2012

Roof rack? Back when I went regularly, a partial dodecahedron made of 10' lengths of 1½" or 2" PVC with a cargo chute cover was a fantastic resource. The 20 pipes fit on top of my Nissan Maxima, with 2' rebar anchors the structure was bomb-proof enough that in one particularly ugly year ('99? '00?) we became the gathering place for the neighborhood and I made some good friends and got some great stories.
posted by straw at 2:19 PM on July 16, 2012

Response by poster: not to threadsit, but i should have included this in the question: a roof rack isn't possible right now. She does have a soft top container so she can make more room inside the car, but poles will need to break down to sections less than five feet long.
posted by KathrynT at 2:24 PM on July 16, 2012

Alow me to present the Hexayurt. Designed for the playa. Can be made in many sizes including one person.
posted by The Violet Cypher at 2:25 PM on July 16, 2012

I came here to also recommend the Hexayurt. I visited one a couple times on the playa, and its amazing how cool it was inside, even during the afternoon.
posted by tinymegalo at 2:42 PM on July 16, 2012

Seconding the Hexayurt. If you made one of the small ones, I bet you could get it to fit into the Mazda. The last time I went to Burning Man my fiancee and I took a hexayurt and it changed the whole experience. It was cool and dark and dust free and you could sleep in well past sunrise. I've done a tent and a parachute covered dome before, and the Hexayurt was much much better.
posted by pombe at 2:42 PM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Does she want something open that she can put her tent under? Something enclosed?

A burner friend of mine mentioned this thing to me. Kelty makes something similar that looks more solid, but I don't know its track record on the playa.

Hexayurts are cool, but there's no way to get one of those on a car, and they are murder to set up by yourself in the wind. And they're not really shade structures per se anyhow.

I have built a couple of bjurts. These were designed by a burner and mine have withstood 80 mph winds. They're too big to get into or onto a car. However, is your friend coming from Seattle? I would be surprised if there weren't a community truck or someone with extra room on a vehicle that would let her ship something too big for her car.

She might be able to make a variation on a monkey hut where the ribs are split into 5' lengths for transport and joined with sockets. That should fit in her car. I think.
posted by adamrice at 2:46 PM on July 16, 2012

Rent a cargo van. Put aluminum foil on the windows.

Make bed in the back. Buy four stakes and a big 30x30 shade tarp. Tie one side of tarp over the roof of the van to the wheels and stake the other side.

Sleeping area + shelter.

A car can be used in the same way, but is less convenient.
posted by rr at 2:57 PM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: More information: she has a tent, which she loves. She's specifically looking for a structure to use when she's not using her tent, rather than something to use to keep her tent cool and dark. This would be something to hang out under during the day that would still allow her to interact with other people outside.
posted by KathrynT at 3:15 PM on July 16, 2012

Best answer: The Monkey Hut is proven, effective, simple, and straightforward. The only trouble is getting the 10ft PVC poles to fit in a car, but I've heard of modified designs that uses 5 ft sections with sleeves at the joints, presumably at a slight loss of strength. (Example)
posted by PercussivePaul at 4:03 PM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

For a simple, turnkey shade structure that packs down relatively small, I have used two different versions of the 15'x13' Coleman Screen House on the playa for nine years running. (Apparently they don't call them that anymore, but they do still make them.) When guywired properly it will handle the worst wind the playa can muster. A single person can get the thing up and guywired in about an hour. Don't go for the smaller version; it is flimsy by comparison.
posted by /\/\/\/ at 5:49 PM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I've made a Monkey Hut with 5 foot sections, with sleeves to join the lengths together, and it worked fine.

We didn't bother with the T-connectors at the top, though; instead we used old bike inner tubes to lash the tubes together at the intersections. I think I saw that suggested on the shadegeeks tribe page. Looks cheesy, but they bend and stretch nicely with the wind, and are easy to adjust if you want to tighten things up after a few days.
posted by xil at 6:17 PM on July 16, 2012

Best answer: Monkey Hut!

You can make it for 50 bucks, you can make the legs into two parts. It provides full shade IF you get a really good silver tarp. You pre-make it at home, so it will take less than half an hour to put up. I am a petite woman who went alone one year and put up a 10x20' monkey hut in a matter of about 20 minutes. Just make sure she knows how to lay it out before she gets there.

They can put a car under it to keep everything in the car cool, and put some tie downs from the car to the hut to be even more secure.

Place it with the sides facing east and west, so they will get full shade at all times.

She can always make a smaller one, so that every leg is just under 5', but make sure the tarp will fit tightly against the poles so that there is no billowing.

It's a quick, easy and cheap solution. They can also wrap lights around the poles so they know where their home is in the middle of the night.
posted by Vaike at 6:20 PM on July 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

(also bring one or two extra poles just in case. I always do, and wind up using them for them for some other 'very important' need. PVC is endlessly useful.)
posted by Vaike at 6:22 PM on July 16, 2012

Response by poster: She's decided to go with a Monkey Hut! Thank you so much, everyone. Metafilter wins again.
posted by KathrynT at 10:56 AM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

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