Fabric Houses

I’ve been researching tents, trying to find one that is livable for more than a night or two. If I ever went on an epic walk, I’d probably have to get something extremely lightweight, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to carry it, but if I went car camping, I’d have many more options.

The simplest tents are little more than a tarp. The most complicated have multiple rooms and even more complicated set-ups, especially if one person has to do it alone. The cheapest tents cost about $40. The most expensive top $4,000. The biggest tents seem to be circus tents, which are not something I have any interest in owning. (That’s just a guess about circus tents being the biggest. For all I know, the military has constructed temporary hangars that would make a circus tent look small.) The most terrifying are the bivy bags — they look like something a vampire would sleep in. I can’t imagine waking up in the middle of the night, still half-asleep from remembered nightmares of being buried alive to find the tent inches from my face. Oh, my. Sounds like heart failure waiting to happen.

Tents as both portable and ptentermanent housing have been around for probably 40,000 years. The list of materials used for making tents throughout the ages reads like a mini history of peoplekind — mammoth hides, deerskin, silk, canvas, nylon, cuben fiber. Colors varied, too, from basic dead animal skin to rainbow hues, to camouflage and other “natural” tones.

When I imagine tent living, I don’t think of modern miracles of lightweight shelters that keep out both bugs and rain (though of course, I would need both such amenities). What I think of are glorious and sumptuous structures right out of Scheherazade or the Arabian Nights or even a fabric representation of Jeannie’s genie bottle — lots of jewel-toned pillows, rugs, silk swaths.

Sounds kind of fun, actually. I doubt I would make such a colorful tent — way too much trouble especially since there are thousands of styles on the market. Besides, I’m more of a practical person, at least on the outside. I can see getting a durable and sensible tent but inside, where it counts, furnish it with simple, colorful, lightweight portable luxuries.

I’m probably being silly since I don’t know what is feasible when it comes to fabric-home living, but I like the idea of decadent luxury coupled with sturdy practicality. Who says I have to get a solo tent? Who says I have to use a boring old sleeping bag? Who says a fabric house can’t feel like a home?

Who says I can live in a tent, even for only a night or two? I certainly don’t know, but as with all the rest of my whimsies, it’s fun thinking about.


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

12 Responses to “Fabric Houses”

  1. sumalama Says:

    My best friend, after careful researching, purchased a Hillberger tent for just over$1,000. It is marvelous! Worth every penny. Don’t forget to check that brand out when looking to purchase.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Thank you for the suggestion. There are so many tents out there, it’s almost impossible to figure out what to get, especially for a neophyte. Even that one company has a huge assortment. Luckily, I don’t have to get one today.

  2. SFH Says:

    We have one of these:

    It’s super light and comfortable, but only works in places where there are trees (so maybe no good in the desert…)

  3. Constance Says:

    Interesting article on tents. What about keeping snakes out?

  4. Wanda Says:

    Any decent tent will have an attached floor so you can zip up in confidence that no creepy crawlies get in. My favorite tent was a 2-room tent. Not hard to erect and I had a bedroom and a porch/dining area/second bedroom if needed.

  5. Kathy Says:

    This is what makes this stage of your life – fun! Thinking of possibilities – what a blast!

  6. Ree` Edwards Says:

    Sheesh, Pat all I can say is you have more “guts” (perhaps saying you are a ‘braver person’ would sound better) than this gal. I cannot imagine going out alone, particularly in this day and age, and camping by myself in a tent. Not even sure I would consider an RV an alternative with all that goes on in this sad, ugly world we currently reside in. And that, in and of itself, is such a darn shame. (Also unfortunately shows my lack of faith in my fellow man as well) Ever thought about getting a Doberman to travel with you?

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I don’t think camping is any more dangerous than anything else, particularly off the busy paths. There are so many easier pickings. I try not to think of the danger of today’s world, otherwise I would become the catless crazy cat lady who never leaves her apartment. (But if I don’t have an apartment, I can’t become her.)

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