SOTA Report on the Best Materials Used to Design a Camping Tent

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Design project three will require the application of skills gained from the other two projects to come up with an adequate solution to improve the quality of life for a paraplegic or optionally a triplegic. First, to come up with a solution, research from reliable sources is required to identify a need and a reason to implement the solution that will overall improve the quality of life for the specified target market. Secondly, after finding a need engineers must investigate existing solutions to see if others have tried to solve similar problems and if they have, see how they can best be modified for the client. This last point is essentially important to ensure that the solution is entirely unique and not identical another that already exists.


The need more specifically identified by design group eleven was that people with paraplegia and triplegia have a hard time being independent while camping due to hard tasks such as setting up a tent or trying to move in the dirt or sand which is the terrain at many provincial parks. Therefore, the solution for this problem followed the guideline of making camping more accessible for those living with triplegia. The client chosen for this need are triplegias who want to go camping even if they have not camped before. This means that one of the challenges during this design project is going to be making this solution easy to use for those who haven’t had any camping experience before.

This need was specifically chosen to be addressed for many reasons. First, 22% of the Canadian population camps on a regular basis which is approximately 7.9 million people. There are currently no statistics on how many people with spinal cord injury would be interested in camping, however with 85,000 people in Canada living with a spinal cord injury, if we assume that those with spinal cord injuries are equally interested in camping then approximately 18,700 people with spinal cord injuries in Canada would camp on a regular basis which means there is a potential target market (Canadian Camping and RV council, 2014). One challenge that would have to be addressed is the perceived barrier that people with spinal cord injuries may have with camping and therefore, this idea would need to be marketed to this population to overcome any fears or apprehension this population may have and increase the understanding of how accessible camping could be with the proper equipment including this camp kit. The early adopters of the tent kit would then be able to share their experience and this would build support for camping and would reduce perceived barriers to this activity.

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The solution to this problem is making a camping kit specifically made for two types of people first people with paraplegia which is no movement in both legs and secondly, people who have triplegia which is no movement in both legs and one arm. Objects included in this camping kit are the pop-up tent and attachable tires. The pop-up tent is going to be essentially a tent that will automatically set itself up with no work needed. Additionally, the tent will have wider doors then a regular tent for easy access in and out. This tent will also include a separate space specifically for the wheelchair so it is out of the way when the user sleeps but is also easily accessible when they need it. The door to the tent will also be a ramp made from more sturdy material so it is easy for wheelchair users to get in and out of the tent with protection from water due to a damp ground or rainfall. Secondly, the tires that come with this kit will be attachable to a wheelchair and designed so they are easy to take on and off. This will make it easier for the average person using a wheelchair to move across rough ground and sand which is usually the terrain at most provincial camping grounds.


This SOTA report is going to be focused on the sub-section of materials that can be used to design and develop the tent. First, it will talk about the current technology of materials and the materials that have been used in the past to solve similar problems. Secondly, it will talk about new technologies that have been made and materials that could be potentially used to increase the quality of the tent with possible improvements from current tents on the market.

Existing Technologies

The properties of materials for the fabric of the tent design group 11 is looking for are water resistant material to survive heavy rainfall, durability to be able to stay sturdy during heavy winds and lightness so it is easy to carry around especially for someone who has a disability. Common materials that have been used in the past to solve similar solutions are polyester and nylon (“Tent Fabrics”). These two materials were used to build pop up tents as well as larger military tents. First, nylon was used due to the 100 repeating units of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms each taking a load of stress when the fiber is stretched, this makes nylon very strong and elastic (“People and Discoveries”). This is good for tents due to the heavy rainfall and winds it must withstand. Due to the strength and elasticity nylon makes a tent able to cushion or absorb the blow from the wind making it not fly away. Secondly, polyester is used since it is a very lightweight material and can retain its tensile and tear strength over long periods of time. Polyester also has other features such as resistance to water and UV radiation without any loss of color (McGee, 2000). Secondly, the polls of a tent are also just as important as the fabric to keep a tent sturdy. In this case design group 11 is looking for polls that are very flexible and easily bent to compact the tent. The two most common materials used in regular tents are aluminum and fiberglass (“Mckinley”, 2018). In this case, however, aluminum and fiberglass polls cannot be used. This is due to the low Young's modulus making the material stiff, not able to be compact enough to fit in a self-erecting tent case. Instead, design group 11 proposes using a flexible steel ring to take the place of the fiberglass and aluminum polls. This is because, the yield strength for a steel ring is 1590 MPA which is higher than all the tensile stresses tested with different cross-sectional areas resulting in the steel ring having pure elastic behaviors (Liu, Chen, Meng, Chen, N/A). This means when the pop-up tent is compacted into the case the poles of the tent will not break and the stress levels won’t be close to plastic deformation keeping the overall quality of the tent the same.

New and Emerging Technologies

To increase the quality of the self-erecting tents a further look into composite materials is needed. This is because with composite materials the strength and durability of materials can be increased by combining two materials together and with the emerging technologies today this is highly possible. First, technologies have created a benzoylated bamboo fiber polyester composite which could be used in the future as a tent fabric. This would increase the tensile strength by 71% and Young's modulus by 118% compared to polyester fabric. Additionally, the flexural properties would increase by 50% and with the pre-impregnated process the water resistance of the polyester-based composite would increase as well (Kamel, M., Zawahry, E., Helmy, H., Eid, M.A. 2011). By increasing the tensile strength and flexibility this would make the fabric more durable. Essentially this would make it harder to rip the tent due to the increase in the tensile strength, improving the overall life of the material. Additionally, this would also help increase the water resistance of the material due to the properties of the bamboo fiber mixed with the polyester and would keep the inside of the tent dry more so then fabrics used today. Secondly, another emerging material today is interactive textile fabrics. These fabrics are made to respond to an environmental stimulus such as temperature, light, moisture, vapor or electronic signals. They would react by changing color, oscillating, swelling, conducting electricity, performing computational operations and even collecting/storing energy (Leitch, P., Tassinari, H. 2000). Theses interactive textile fabrics would have very good applications for camping for example if a tent was able to store and release specific quantities of heat this would increase the insulation in a tent keeping the user warm. Additionally, if it could change color it could sense bad environmental conditions making the tent into a warning sign for users.


In conclusion, there are many fabrics and metals that can be used for the construction of the tent and as discussed all have their own strengths and weaknesses. However, design group 11 will evaluate all material and design options to make an overall decision for what material will be used to develop the highest quality and functional pop up tent to be marketed to the specific target market. Overall decisions will need to be made regarding the four different subsections, which will be seen in the next stage of the design process.

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