Our inventory of fine canvas tents comes from a small company in Arizona called Stout Tents. Find out more about them and the bell style of tents in our interview with Stout Tent co-owner Caitlyn Stout.
Tell us a little about your tents.
Our tents come from a long-line of historical tent architecture designs, used throughout recent history, but first named and patented in the 1800's. The original design was done by Henry Hopkins Sibley, an officer in the US Army. He saw the Native American Tipi's along the Southwestern Frontier and used the conical design but a smaller tripod to make his Sibley tent. The tent then evolved to have a single center pole, and many guy lines to secure the canvas to the ground. Sidewalls were added for height and additional headroom, bringing it to current day architecture, now commonly referred to as a Bell Tent. The Bell tent was used by Brittish army's and is quite popular in Europe. Stout Tent integrated a second wall, the Bug Guard(TM) double-wall to it's design. We work hard to pick the best possible Canvas and have the highest quality canvas treatments done so that the canvas is breathable, but also water repellent. Breathability combats condensation, and overall stuffiness that can happen in a tent of any kind. The canvas also adds important wind resistance, coupled with the guy-lines this tent is pretty indestructible. We can do pretty much any modification you can dream up (and many do, especially the Burning Man tribes). We feel like we've restored the history to this tent by bringing them back to the US, and specifically the Southwest. While these tents look gorgeous on beaches, mountains, and rivers... they look like their original authentic selves in the desert.
How did you get into the tent business?
Stout Tent officially opened in 2013, by my husband, Jim Stout and I but our tent history dates back to the 1990's. Jim packed and sewed parachutes in the Army from 1991 - 1999. He is a detail centric guy, and has a deep working knowledge of material construction up to military standards. He performed over 180 jumps with parachutes he and his team sewed, literally betting his life on those skills. I found a Bell Tent in a European magazine and fell in love. I searched for them in the US, but at the time no one was selling them here. We purchased one from Belgium for our backyard and Jim couldn't help but critique it. He took it into our garage and made box stiches here and there to reinforce weak points, added other things. He kept spotting changes he's like to make, and things he would sew differently, including sewing in a second wall made of mesh/bug netting. We thought a business might have found us, so we did an initial photoshoot to promote the idea. We were completely overwhelmed with the response, and began our search for cut&sew factories to make the tents for us. Things have ramped up quickly, but we have maintained a small business built out of family and friends.
What's your favorite place to camp?
If Jim and I are camping alone - we desert camp. I was born in Arizona, and spent lots of time in Mexico. I love the stretches of vastness, the contrast of the granite gravel ground and screaming sunsets. I find comfort in hearing the coyotes howl at night, and I can truly relax when I can look all around and feel the freedom that comes with a bit of isolation. Now, when we have our three little girls with us, we like to be by the water, there are a few little spots on the lakes here where we can setup and let the girls splash about. They can entertain themselves for hours collecting small stones, and inventing games at the shore. If we can do the drive, we head to the North side of the Grand Canyon at Lee's Ferry. Lots of great views, tons of activities, and bursting with history.
Do you have any good camp tips, tricks or recipes?
1. Sleep well. Skip the airbed ;) Bring a sturdy, high quality camping cot, or better, a real mattress.
2. Eat well. Campfire cooking - even somewhat gourmet - can be incredibly simple with a good cast iron pan, and a YETI cooler to keep your ingredients fresh. Seriously, you can't beat that cooler.
3. Stay a while, and go often. It makes the preparation and clean-up that comes with a camping trip really pay off. You'll start planning your *next* trip the second you arrive because there's always room for improvement and new ideas. All part of the fun.