8

Several posts on this side make mention of tent "skirts". For example:

I found some for sale here, but without a picture. Google Images appears to show tents with an extra flap at the rainfly, but the rain would have to be extremely horizontal for rain to hit the inner tent that way. Is it for single roof tents?

  • Your quotes mention wind and sand. Your question mentions rain. It's actually wind chill inside the tent that's the issue, along with other related discomfort. IME rain is only relevant if you've got puddles right next to the tent and heavy rain causing splashing. – Chris H Oct 10 '17 at 16:25
  • The inner tent of a good all-weather tent blocks some wind too, in my experience. – gerrit Oct 10 '17 at 16:58
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    It does, though even an all-weather tent needs some ventilation to the inner. – Chris H Oct 10 '17 at 18:38
10

You pretty much answer your own question.

Snow skirts are primarily used on 4 season tents designed for high altitude or arctic conditions. The idea is that you pile snow on the skirt to seal the perimeter and prevent the entry of wind-driven snow. The skirt can also help anchor the tent and reduce flapping in extreme winds.

enter image description here

However skirts add weight and reduce ventilation options in good weather, so in modern designs they are frequently omitted. For example Hilleberg tents, which are widely used in arctic conditions, do not come with skirts as standard. Instead, the fly is designed to hug the ground and the user would simply create a wall of snow around the hem.

enter image description here

Less commonly skirts are used in summer, when they are referred to as "sod skirts". You pile dirt on the skirt to keep out wind, dust, sand, insects, snakes and vermin. This technique is mainly used in floorless tents as the skirt is pretty much redundant if you have a sewn-in groundsheet.

  • It reminds me of something our car-camping bungalow-tent had in my childhood, I forgot the Dutch word for it, but I remember walking around the tent and hammering pins into the ground. Otherwise it sounds like a recipe for suffocation… – gerrit Oct 11 '17 at 0:29
  • @gerrit - yes - every year in the US there are people who die of carbon monoxide poisoning when they use stoves or heaters in over-sealed tents. If you're going to use a skirt, you'd better know what you're doing if you are going to heat it or cook inside. That's one reason why skirts are falling out of fashion, I suspect. – Tullochgorum Oct 11 '17 at 0:57
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    My Hilleberg tent even has a label warning that with poor ventilation, people can suffocate in tents without any stove inside. I am quite skeptical of that claim, but perhaps it can happen when getting buried in snow. – gerrit Oct 11 '17 at 1:06
  • The sod cloth was standard on all the old army tents we used as scouts. It's not so much that they're rare in Europe as that the concept was made obsolete for most purposes by sewn in groundsheets. – Separatrix Oct 11 '17 at 9:56
  • @Separatrix You make a fair point - I remember that my school in the UK had old army tents with sod cloths. But floorless tents are pretty rare in Europe while they are still in use in the US (particularly with hunters and the woodlore crowd). I'll edit my answer. – Tullochgorum Oct 12 '17 at 23:34

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