It’s great to get out in the fresh air, enjoying all that camping offers, but that doesn’t mean we have to share the place with every airborne critter that takes a fancy to our food or our bodies.
I’m really talking about flies and mozzies but some other critters also enter the equation. Pest-free relaxing is now a definite possibility with screen tents available at major camping suppliers.
The range is quite extensive, from basic screen mesh to full screen tents with sewn-in floors and cover to provide protection from insects, wind and rain. The addition of a screen house to the camping kit can provide an excellent kitchen so that all the foodstuffs can be safely stored away from inquisitive creatures.
It can also become the social meeting area of the camp. We have seen many nights where the mozzies could have carried us away but we were still able to enjoy the evening enclosed in the safety of our screen house.
When purchasing a screen house, there are a few questions you should ask yourself. How often will you use it? Will it be used solely for camping or do you do a lot of entertaining at home as well? Do you need a floor? If camping in the bush, a floor is a bonus because snakes, spiders and ants don’t need an written invitation to invade. A floor offers a convincing barrier.
If your screen house doesn’t have a floor, don’t forget to sprinkle talc powder around the edges –this does keep the creepies away to some extent. Another point to remember is that screen tents are manufactured to provide protection from critters and are not necessarily suitable to be left standing in a force 10 gale.
The smallest screen dome is made by Black Wolf and is designed to be used as a day shelter or storage. This dome is only 95cm high but comes with an optional fly so that it can be used as a lightweight tent to sleep two. There is also a geodesic screen dome in the range 210cm high with a floor area of 305cm by 305cm. This one doesn’t have an optional fly.
The larger, room-style tents use steel poles and may have dual entrances. The Ivanhoe tent weighs 10kg and measures 365cm x 365cm x 250cm and the Camelot, the largest in the range, is 14kg and 465cm x 465cm x 250cm.
The Sportiva range includes an all-mesh, tent-shaped screen house 360cm x 360cm x 210cm which weighs 10.5kg. It has a steel frame, laminated UV-stable PE with double-layer reinforcement on all peg-down points. This tent is available with all fine-screen mesh and no floor, with front and rear openings. There is also a screen tent with a solid rear section and a sewn-in floor, providing a large shade area.
On our travels we have actually seen this version used as a tent for in hot weather. The innovative owners had sewn extra tabs to the inside of the tent where the mesh and the enclosed section meet and had hung a very lightweight shower curtain across to provide privacy for dressing and sleeping. This curtain was opened during the day to allow full use of the screened area.
There is also a geodesic screen dome with a sewn-in floor. This model provides protection from insects with the new No-See-Um mesh and protection from the sun with a silver-coated UVTex2000 polyester roof. An optional silver-coated UVTex2000 fly is available. The basic dome weighs 9.5kg and the extra fly 3kg. The tent with the fly can sleep up to 6 people and measures 330cm square with a centre height of 210cm.
Our local camping superstore also has limited-edition Timber Creek dome-style shade tents. They have no floor but the 450cm x 395cm (240cm high) tent represents great value at $79.95.
The Camelot from Black Wolf is the largest of the screen tents, and with the sewn in floor, can be used for many purposes. Fully extended folding table and chairs, esky, food hampers and supply cupboard all fit with plenty of room for the family to move around freely.
The Oz Trail Geodesic dome has super fine mesh to keep out even the sandflies, and with the optional fly becomes an all weather shelter.Reads: 934