Tents, weights, wind, and safety. After having witnessed many tent disasters at various outdoor events, I feel this needs to be discussed. It’s so important to protect yourself, your products, and your fellow vendors, from potentially dangerous weather situations. One good strong gust of wind can wreak havok on an outdoor event, but this can be avoided in most cases, if everyone is properly prepared.
Many outdoor shows require every vendor to have proper weights for their tents. A 25 pound-per-leg minimum is a common requirement. Some shows require 50lbs per leg, or even more! Shows that do not require weights, in my opinion, should. A tent without weights is not only trouble for the vendor who owns it, but can also cause damage to other tents, and even worse, could seriously injure someone. Nobody wants that to happen.
Some people want to use tent stakes or spikes to anchor their tent. Please keep in mind that staking the tent legs can be insufficient and often is not permitted. If you use stakes without permission, it can also be dangerous, as there may be underground utilities running that you are not aware of. Proper weights are generally the best option.
Let’s have a look at the different types of tent weights available to purchase, as well as some DIY options you can make.
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Sand filled: These are the type of bags I use. I have worked them hard for two years and they are just starting to require a few minor repairs. I lined each chamber with a plastic bag, then filled smaller plastic bags with play sand. Put the small bags inside the larger bag, and sealed it up. This way, I don’t have to worry about getting sand everywhere through the seams. Also, the bags dry very quickly if they get rained on, as none of the sand gets wet. Mine weigh in at about 35 lbs. each.
Water filled: These work well, but a water source is not always handy, so filling them on-site could add a substantial amount of time to your setup. As an option, you could fill these with sand instead. These weigh 22lbs each when water filled, 31lbs with sand. If you will be set up in a high wind situation, and using water, you may want to add a second set, and use 2 per leg.
Weights: These are solid concrete filled weights. At 15lbs each, you would need 2 sets, to put two weights on each leg. These are nice and streamlined, and stay out of the way against your tent leg.
DIY: The two most common types of tent weights to make yourself, are the bucket style, and the PVC pipe style. Either style is made by filling with concrete, and securely embedding a sturdy ring for fastening the weight to your tent. There is a good tutorial here:
In a pinch, get four 3-gallon buckets, fill with sand, tie them to your tent.
*IMPORTANT NOTE: No matter what type of weight you choose, it is important to attach it to your tent properly! I have seen heavy weights swinging from the top bars of tents, and I have seen sandbags and buckets just sitting on the tiny little foot of tents. Both of these are very bad ideas for so many reasons. The best practice is to have your weight sitting firmly on the ground. It should be firmly attached to the leg. It should ALSO be firmly attached to the top corner of the tent frame. There are many strong materials to choose from to attach your weights to your tent. The weights I use have straps which wrap around the tent legs, and a ring on the top, which I attach to the top of the tent frame with a bungee cord. You can use strong bungees, rope, strapping, tie-downs, etc., to secure your tent weights.
DO NOT tie your tent to your tables.
DO NOT tie your tent to another tent.
DO NOT weight your tent unevenly. Put the same amount of weight on each tent leg.
DO NOT use insufficient weight, this can be even more destructive, as the wind could take that with it!
A gallon jug of water is not even close to being sufficient, it only weighs 8lbs. You would need a bare minimum of 4 per leg, all securely attached to each other, the tent leg, and the top of the tent frame. Though they may seem like an easy solution, they really are not. Please consider all of the other options first.
*READ MORE: Here is an example of one market’s requirements, there is some great information, and I highly recommend you read it before doing another outdoor show:
Be safe out there, and have fun!