View Full Version : Egyptian Cotten?

01-08-2005, 08:40 AM
I ran across a company called Tentsmiths that along with canvas they also make tents with Egyptian cotten which they claim is more durable than canvas, breathes really well and has no condensation problems but holds heat from a woodstove very well. They concentrate on historical tent reproductions but say they'll custom make anything. One of their models is a conical shaped tent which has a single pole and is staked down much like the Kifaru. And their Egyptian cotten tents includes a "Top of the World" model, which is 2 conical tents, one within another, the inner one has 20" walls, and both have stove jacks. They're available seperately too. I'm not knocking Kifaru tipis, I believe the Tentsmith ones are a good deal heavier, but the Egyptian cotten ones are lighter than canvas. They claim they're expedition quality, will hold up to sunlight for many years unlike nylon tents. Someone asked on another thread if anyone else was making something similar to Kifaru. This is the only one I can find.


01-08-2005, 10:21 AM
Oops, that should be "cotton".

01-08-2005, 12:26 PM

As you are aware, there are many different types of shelters available today.

Some are designed to hang from a sheer rock wall (important if you are a stranded climber)

Some are designed to accommodate a whole troop of adventurers, (I have one of these, and there is room for your van beside the wood stove)

My all time Fav. Is the Native American tipi, but due to the limited number of women in my camps……. The darn thing would never get setup, let alone be relocated.

Kifaru tipis are designed to be carried into the wilderness and setup by one man. That same adventurous soul then warms his bones by the “Ultra light” stove system.

The different designs are out there, pick the one that “Floats your boat” and remember, The only important thing this is that “Your boat floats”

Enjoy the outdoors


01-09-2005, 09:55 PM
I think I'd be skeptical of any particular advantage to Egyptian cotton. There seems to be a movement out there where Egyptian cotton somehow is "better". I don't know if it's some sort of agricultural sustainability arguement or precisely what. I get the impression it's snobbery against American agribusiness, perhaps some supposed difference in pest control practices, etc. I bet if you looked into it closely you could find equally horific Egyptian agricultural practices. For that matter you could point to the Aswan dam if you wanted to go looking for environmental issues.

Or maybe the issue is supposed fiber length. Again, I don't think the issue holds much weight. Ask the seller how the strength qualities are measured? If they give you a non-scientific answer, one that doesn't specify how the difference is measured, consider it baloney.

01-10-2005, 07:10 AM
Egyptian cotton is a variety, not a location. It's a very long staple cotton producing a thread of considerable strength and durability.

Fabric names can be misleading. "Balloon silk", the cover and lining material of my first down sleeping bag isn't silk at all, but a fine and tightly woven cotton.

Before the advent of synthetics there were quite a few cotton fabrics used in tentage that are no longer made. Aberlite, developed for David T. Aberchrombie and used in his tents was one. There were several others but I disremember the names.

The primary disadvantage of cotton was the requirement to pack it dry. lest mold and mildew infect the piece. The advantage was no UV deterioration. Tents designed to go up and stay up for protracted periods (U.S. army) are still made of cotton canvas for this reason.

01-10-2005, 08:14 AM
I was pretty sure the local Futon sellers were saying it had something to do with being "pesticide free" and "sustainable agriculture"? Of course, what can you expect from a futon seller.

There's Pima and Supima cotton which are grown in the US and are high-quality.

Adam Stevens
01-10-2005, 08:50 AM
The Eqyptian Cotton Is long and Staple and has been used in fabrics like VENTILE from the UK since the war.
These fabric are treated against water and mold.
Yours Adam

01-10-2005, 09:48 AM
Check this site (http://www.supimacotton.org/supima/faq.htm) for more info on Egyptian, Pima and Supima cottons.

Adam Stevens
01-10-2005, 10:43 AM
Thanks, So the cotton thats grown just up the road is good stuff.
Thanks Adam

01-11-2005, 09:48 AM
Egyptian cotton is good stuff but it is extremely hard to find. Many canvas tent makers have had options in the past to have your tent made out of it, but with dwindling supplies fewer now do. The cotton used to be used for sails, but with sails now made out of synthetics there is less demand.

It is also a great material for making parkas and other winter clothes. Again, you need to actually find it. The Egyptian cotton used in sheets etc is not as strong as that used in tents.

Tents made out of Egyptian cotton are pretty expensive, much more so than a Kifaru. One of the big advantages of the Kifaru is that it packs down so small. Using a compression sack my six man packs to the size of a volleyball, and this is with the liner.

There are lots of options out there.

01-12-2005, 07:38 PM
You guys know tents! Here's that website I was referring to:


Their "Top ofthe World" tent is the one I was referring to.


01-16-2005, 04:54 PM
Vantexan, I took a look at the web page and they do look like quality tentage. My impression is they are catering to a specialized market, mountainmen, SASS and BPCR shooters for example. I would suggest that although they are referring to their tents as "Egyptian cotton", they are in fact just light canvas fabric. No doubt a high quality cotton, (not knocking 'em here, mind you) but technically, still canvas. Typically, a cotton canvas tent is fabricated from 6-7 oz/yd fabric. These, being lighter will be more susceptible to tearing, regardless of their advertising. They are certainly too heavy for the backpacking hunter but may be suitable for the packer or vehicle supported outdoorsman. I use large canvas tents for my base camps, along with wood stoves, dutch ovens, gas lanterns etc. and go light for the high country. Three things drew me to the Kifaru philosophy, standing room, light weight and the wood stove. I have spent too many nights scrunched over in "backpacking" tents in extended inclement weather trying to stay warm and cook from inside a sleeping bag and I'm not going back there.
I try to get up to Yellowstone each fall for a week just before the park closes to do some fishing and I set up my expedition camp when I go. One large sleeping tent, one cooking tent and an overhead fly. Camp includes multiple lanterns, tables, chairs, stoves, dutch ovens, huge fires etc.etc. Life is large and it just cracks me up to see all the other tenters in their geodesic domes cooking ramen over their Sveas. I feel like Finis Mitchell must have back in the early days of the Wind Rivers. I suppose if I were in the market for tents to do that type of camping, I'd look closely at the Tentsmiths' products.

01-17-2005, 07:00 PM
Thanks Elmbow, that's as good a summation as I could have hoped for. I really like Kifaru's ease of set-up compared to most tents. Round with one center pole just makes sense to me. Thanks again!

01-17-2005, 08:14 PM
I agree with elmbow's assessment. I think there is a cachet to "Egyptian cotton" and have to wonder if they mean long fiber and draw on some of the natural connotations the term has. I expect they are making quality cotton canvas tents in traditional forms.

01-18-2005, 05:16 AM
Without having a sample of the stuff I suspect the material is a long staple, finely woven light canvas probably similar to the material used in the old GI shelter halves.

There are a few designs that lend themselves to backpacking, the tarp tent, the Whelan lean-to for instance.

I think where these would work best is when you intend to leave the tent pitched in direct sunlight for some period of time. The cotton canvas has minimal problem with UV deterioration and that advantage in the cited situation would make the additional weight/bulk acceptable.

My biggest, heaviest tent is a GI light hexagon arctic tent about 12' in diameter x 9' tall with frost liner and Yukon wood stove. The tent is about 45 lbs, the stove around 35 lbs, but the rig will last for many years and work in true arctic conditions, as long as you don't have to lug it around on your back.

01-19-2005, 01:26 PM
A friend of mine has one of the egyptian cotton tents from Tentsmith. It is real Egyptian although there are often shortages so they don't always have it in stock. It is really about half the weight of the heavier canvas. It doesn't stuff very small though.