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Not All Tents Are Created Equal – Part 1

By: Kathy A. Newby, Sr. Event Consultant – The Stuart Rental Company

Not every tent style can be used for the same event.  Being well informed when you speak with your client and tenting company is very important.  Yes, you are hiring a tent professional for our expertise, but you should be well informed to make sure that the style tent meets the needs of your client.

The style of tents and what they are called may vary in your area.  Not all rental companies carry all the variety of tents.

  • 2” Frame Tents
  • Festival
  • Fastrack® / Jumbotrac® Tents
  • Pole / Tension / High Peak Tents
  • Clear Span Structures – American & European versions

Terminology is important too, for example a tent that has no walls is called a canopy. If you ask for a canopy your rental company will know you don’t want side walls, but they should always ask the question as a point of clarification.

All tents and canopies need to be anchored in some fashion, the preferred method is staking into the ground.  This not always possible so other options are water barrels, concrete blocks or cement anchors.

All tents or canopies over 400 sq. ft. and with more than 1 side of wall must be permitted with the local fire marshal, and in some cities the planning and building department require a permit.  Permits may also be required for propane heat.  Your rental company can provide the permitting service or you can do it on your own.

2” Frame Tents come in a range of sizes from a 10’ to 40’ wide and the length can vary. They come with white or clear tops and there is a crossing cable at the eave line (the top of the wall pole where the ceiling pole start) which helps keep the tent squared.  The wall poles are spaced every 10’ and the leg height can be 8’ or 10’ high, and in some instances they can be 12’ high.

2” Frame Tents are not engineered for specific weight loads.  Objects of any significant weight need to be hung as close as possible to a pipe joint versus the middle of the pipe span.  The tops of the tent lay flat against the frame which can tend to look loose. 

Photo #1 - A 2” frame canopy with a standard “hip” end

Festival Tents come in sizes from 20’ to 80’ wide, the length can vary, and they have white tops.  They can have cross cables at the eave line with a mast pole that creates the high swooped peak or they can have a pole from the ground to the peak. The smaller tents are commonly seen at fairs at festivals.

Photo #2 - 20’ x 20’ Festival or High Peak Canopy

Fastrack® / Jumbotrac® come in a range of sizes from a 20’ to 80’ wide and the length can vary. They come with white or clear tops and are available in either Hip ends (sloping peaks on all four sides – see photo #1) or Gable ends (the vertical triangular end of the top of the tent – see photo #3).  Each style has a different type of squaring cables which can impact items that can be hung in the ceiling.  Check with your tenting rep for the style they use.  The standard wall poles or legs distances can be every 10’, 15’ or 20’. 

The tops on these styles of tents get pulled through rails (tracks) in the frame keeping them taut.

These styles of tents have a “beefier” frame so the weight load to hang items in the ceiling are increased over the 2” frame tent.  It is important to connect with your tenting representative to discuss rigging clamps, location and weight of objects.

Photo #3 - Fastrak® Gable End Tent with Window Wall

In part 2 of this series we will look at Tension / Pole tents, Clear Spans, and accessories such as flooring, fabric décor, ceiling treatments and climate control.  Look for it in the April 26th BAWN Blog.