March 26, 2012

"One of the most enduring items of the polar expeditioners' equipment is the polar pyramid tent."

Australian Antarctic Division "Throughout the heroic era to today the basic concept has remained."

'Tents are one of mankind's earliest forms of shelter, the impetus for their developments being to provide portable shelter for troops on the march or during a siege, or a portable home for nomadic life. In the far northern latitudes, round conical tent forms were favoured due to their ability to stand in high winds. They also provided a wind break and combustion chamber for the all-important fire. The conical tents of the Caribou Inuit was most likely borrowed from the Cree Indians and, from the process of migration, it spread among the Inuit peoples who had access to wood.

'The pyramid tents of the type more familiar to Antarctic expeditioners had it roots in the British Army, in the late 18th Century. The design was made up of four triangular sides with the central pole being the Enfield "Brown Bess" musket, the corners of the tent were pegged out using four bayonets. The design later came to be known as the pyramid tent, and also as a miner's tent, and saw use in Canada in the 1840s.

'The next development in the history of the pyramid tent was by Fritjof Nansen. Nansen used a single pole pyramid tent with lightweight silk covering on his traverse across Greenland in 1888. This was the first use of a lightweight covering. Later in order to better stand in high winds the tent had four corner poles of bamboo hinged at the peak, the tent of mainly Burberry canvas, then being sewn to the poles. During Scott's 1910-1912 expedition an inner lining was used, called a double tent by Scott, it is now referred to as a Scott Tent.'

'As can be seen, tents are not really an invention of one person, but an ongoing process of evolution and adaptation. This process continues today with the new generation polar pyramid tents, developed by the AAD staff in conjunction with Andrew King of One Planet Designs. First used at Heard Island in 2004, this design features a waterproof outer layer and the inclusion of a vestibule as a cooking and wet storage area.'

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