Snow load on your canvas tent: 4 effective ways to manage it

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Winter camping can be a highly rewarding experience. You get to enjoy the serene, winter landscape without being annoyed by summertime bugs. But with snow, comes a snow load, and that has to be taken care of. 

Most canvas tents are 4-season tents due to the fabric and sturdiness of the frame. Ideally, your tent would be made from 100% army duck canvas and treated to be water repellent and mold resistant, which helps increase the lifespan of these heavy duty camping tents. 

The best canvas tents should come with a built-in stove jack. This enables you to quickly get going with a stove so you can stay warm inside during colder weather. Most canvas tents from White Duck Outdoors, for example, come with a heat-resistant silicone-coated stove jack, with a 5” and 6” pre-cut pattern. 

If you’re exploring tents for sale with the idea of using one through winter, it’s a good idea to be aware of how to manage the snow load on it. 

Here are some recommendations to help you manage your snow load while using a canvas tent:

Calculate your snow load

The first step is to understand what kind of snow you will be dealing with. No two volumes of snow are the same, which understandably makes it difficult to calculate the exact amount of snow you’ll be dealing with. There are some general guidelines you can use, though.

If the snow is wet it’s going to be heavy and you should try to brush it off before the next dump of snow comes your way. 

If you’re dealing with dry snow, that has a puffy powder-like texture, you can probably handle more of the same volume of snow before worrying about the canvas giving way. 

Wet snow can be up to three times as heavy as dry snow, so make sure you evaluate your snow load accurately. 

As a general rule, the larger the canvas of your tent is, the more snow it can hold. Even with a large canvas tent though, it isn’t impossible that your tent gets damaged. For this reason, it’s essential that you take some measures to protect your tent, the fabric and its frame.

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How to brush snow off your canvas tent

Snow is beautiful until you have to clean it up. It gets even trickier if the snow accumulating on your canvas isn’t melting before the next round of snowfall. 

When dealing with the exterior of your canvas tent, we recommend using an ice scraper or brush to remove the snow load. Gently brush the outside of the tent to make sure you don’t cause any damage. 

Also, keep an eye on the edges of the roof, which tend to collect piles of snow and wear down the structure of the tent.  

As a general rule, you could make it a habit to brush the snow off the top of your canvas tent when you wake up each morning. This is a small, fairly simple task but can go a long way in ensuring the longevity of your winter tent. 

Look inwards for heating solutions

While sitting inside, you can poke and beat the tent gently to cause snow to fall off outside. 

Canvas tents are already made up of thick materials to trap heat but using your tent stove can also help bring up the temperature. 

This is not just to keep you warm but can help melt or dampen the snow settled on the exterior. We wouldn’t recommend doing this all the time but if you’re looking to warm up and need some help, this is a good way to go. 

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Make use of a rain fly or fly sheet

If you’re going to be setting up your canvas camping tent in snowy conditions regularly, it’s probably worth investing in a rain fly to place over the top of the roof. 

Fly sheets are usually made from PE and do a great job and preventing snow from landing directly on the roof of your canvas shelter. 

If snow starts to collect on the roof and you don’t get the time to brush it off, a heavy load can start to impact the integrity of the canvas fabric and place unwanted load on the frame of your canvas tent. A rain fly is a practical way to prevent this from happening. 

If there isn’t a rain fly available specifically for your tent, a makeshift solution is to drape a tarp over the top, to serve the same purpose.

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