Glossary of Awning and Tent Fabrics and Jargon


Whether you are new to camping or looking to upgrade your tent or awning it can be a challenging process deciding between models. Comparing two tents or awnings that are very similar in style, shape, size and sleeping capacity can leave one umming and ahhing. If you find yourself in this situation, what normally distinguishes both models of tents and awnings is the material.

In this article, Leisure Outlet will provide you with definitions surrounding the material and technical jargon that you may have already seen or are yet to see when reading our product description pages; especially when looking for a tent, motorhome/campervan driveaway awning or caravan awning.

A fixed sleeping area or bedroom within a tent. Five-berth (5-berth) simply means a tent is able to sleep up to five people.

This a unit of weight by which the thickness or thinness of silk, rayon, polyester is measured. The lower the denier number the lighter and less dense the material you feel and see is. The higher the denier number, the heavier and denser the fabric is.

For example, a 70-denier fabric is light, easy to handle and packs down to a compact size, perfect for those who require lightness from their outdoor equipment and suits those who are frequently on the move.

150 to 250-denier and plus rated fabrics, for example, are heavier and provide you with an awning or tent that can be pegged out over multiple days. For family camping, with people coming and going a tent or awning with a higher denier number is preferred.  For couples and those short weekend trips away, lower denier numbers will leave you a material that delivers upon speed and lightness.

Also, consider your location and the weather conditions, you will find an awning or a tent with a heavier canvas is favourable in stronger winds. Factors such as condensation and internal temperature within an awning or tent, regardless of the material denier, can be reduced or controlled through their own ventilation points, air flow systems and simply opening and closing entry and exit points.          

Hydrostatic Head (HH)
Hydrostatic Head is another form of measurement. This measures how water-resistant your tent or awning material is. Simply put, it determines how much water the fabric can hold before water starts to seep through the weave. For example, a tent or awning that reads a Hydrostatic Head rating of 4000mm means that the tent or awning fabric could hold a column of water that is 4000mm tall. The larger the rating the tent or awning is, the better it will be at holding water back. We state that no fabric is waterproof only water-resistant.

Awning and tent design has improved over the years. Awnings with zip protection such storm guards and rain channels around zip openings help to keep out the weather and the water, and likewise, tents and awnings with an overhang or canopy entrance can provide rain-safe entry.

Polycotton Fabric
Simply a material that is a mixture of polyester and cotton. Robens and Vango polycotton tents have a 35% polyester to 65% cotton ratio – the Polycotton fabric is cotton rich! So why should I buy a polycotton tent? The material is breathable offering cooler living conditions in summer and in warmer climates, and during the winter the material can lock in the heat so you can stay cosy and comfortable. Reduced condensation – Polycotton fabric allows moisture to pass through to the outside of the tent, more porous than polyester providing a better circulation of air and flow and thus the material is able to wick moisture away easily. Longevity – Polycotton tents are able to stand up to the sun's UV rays and deterioration is less likely to occur compared to polyester tents. Polycotton tents do come with a higher price point but if you are looking for a superior tent that is breathable, going to stand the test of time, offers a luxurious look and feel (ideal for glamping) then the price is easily justified.

Polyester Material
A generalised term for any fabric or textile which is made using polyester yarns or fibres; it is a shortened name for a synthetic, man-made polymer. The thicker the yarn used the higher the denier number of the material will be. Polyester is used on most tents and awnings on the market and without going into scientific details, the material is essentially a form of flexible plastic.

PU (Polyurethane) Coating
Simply put, a PU coated fabric has been treated protecting the material against dirt, grime, corrosion, abrasion and provides an extra helping hand to hold back the water. Polyurethane coating is usually applied to the outside of the tent or awning. The PU coating will fade over time and you can purchase additional waterproofers to revive the material.

Ripstop Fabric/Material
As its name suggests really! Ripstop fabrics are manufactured using a special technique that makes the canvas resistant to tearing and ripping. During weaving, (thick) reinforcement threads are interwoven at regular intervals in a crosshatch pattern. Look closely at a tent or awning with a ripstop material you will see the fabric is made up of lots of tiny squares adding rigidity to the form of the canvas. Should you do get a tear in the material the tear will not go beyond the next square and thus isolating the rip. Polyester is often used to make a ripstop fabric within tents and awnings.   

TenCate Material
TenCate is found on our range of Dorema Full Caravan Awnings. The material offers comfort, durability and rigidity in all seasons; essentially a four-season material! The material is designed to lock in the warmth during winter and remains cool in the warmer seasons. In addition, the material offers outstanding water-resistance and is extremely durable for those long breaks away. For seasonal pitching of a full traditional awning, we recommend you use a steel frame.

UV Guard Protection
UV Guard Protection is a coating designed to increase the longevity of your tent or awning canvas. This protects the material against the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays; protects the material against burning, fading and thinning under direct sunlight. Think of it as pre-applied suntan lotion for tents or awnings!?

Tents Styles – Read our article: Choosing the Right Tent with Leisure Outlet