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"Our goal is to make the finest canvas tent and camping products that money can buy. Through years of experience we have developed the techniques and products to make the most rugged outfitting, horse camping and lifestyle canvas products you can find. Read on to see how we have refined our craft."

Gear Scout: Dave Ellis Torrent Tent

Dave Ellis has created one of the best canvas tents we have ever used. Robustly constructed and thoughtfully designed, it’s no wonder his tents are so highly regarded. At a shade over $650 for a 6x8 Torrent with a detachable floor, it’s also a fantastic value...
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Canvas Tents, Deck Tents, Bush Tents, Bedrolls, Teepees

The Southwest part of the United States is unique in the world. This is where the mountains meet the desert and elevations go from below sea level to over 14,000. This unique and scenic environment makes for great ranching, hunting, camping and just plain old outdoor living. The key is you have to be ready for any and all conditions. We can have rain or blazing sun in the winter or snow in the middle of July. This environment calls for the best in its people and their equipment. That's where we come into the picture. We live here and understand the needs of the environment and the people who go out into it on a regular basis in every condition you can imagine.

We didn't learn how to make the finest canvas products by accident. Close by here in Durango, Colorado there are over 40 licensed outfitters, we saw their needs and learned from them. We have perfected our craft through their experiences and through years of hard use and feedback. A bit of our story follows, come a long and learn why you should buy your next Canvas Tent from David Ellis Canvas Products.

Come along with us as we travel to one of the most spectacular areas of the Western United States, deep in the Weminuche Wilderness of the San Juan Mountains. This area was heavily glaciated and the valleys have geologic features featured in textbooks. Here we set up camp in a beautiful meadow in the glaciated canyon of the Florida River.

Some years back, I got to know Rusty Rankin, Down in San Antonio. Rusty throws down a nice camp but better than that, he dishes out some of the best chuck wagon cookin’ I have eaten anywhere. Best of all, he’ll take his rig right out to your ranch and set up camp and be your cook for a week.

A bit less traditional, Ross Anderson decided to drive stakes in a whole new way and set up camp on top of his NYC office building. With the Manhattan skyline as a back drop, the translucent tent makes him feel like he’s spending the night in a lantern and the city falls away to his outdoor experience.

Out beyond the United State’s only four corner intersection of states, is a little place called Monument Valley were Guide Ron Pfeffer will be happy to take you for an epic week of soul searching Cowboy style featuring our tents and camp gear.

Up North on the Red River in British Columbia, you can take a boat ride into the box canyon of the Shenandoah. Once you are there, where else would you set up your roomy tent but on a barge in the middle of the river?

Whether you have a "lower forty", secret camp spot or a vacant lot, a Canvas Tent will have no lasting impact on your land but plenty of positive impact on your soul’s enjoyment. Your comfort level can be as refined or as primitive as you wish with our tents.

Long ago I decided I could take one of two paths, I could be a great outdoorsman or an experienced fabricator, I have become the latter! My love for constructing a premium tent or lodge exceeds my love of living in one. Through the years I've heavily relied on outdoorsmen greater than myself to understand the practical application of my products, and I have been blessed with the finest.

All kinds of folks have used my products, people like Jimbo Humphreys at The 6’s Ranch; Val and Lotis DeMars, tepee pole gatherers; all the Colorado outfitters like Richard House at Wolf Creek Outfitters, Willy Swanda at Crazy Horse Outfitters, Ron Pfeffer, Seven Mazone, Rick Baird, Dirk Ross, Aaron Taylor, Terry Palmer, Denny Schulthuis, and many other Ranchers, Cowboys, Hippies, Cooks and historical Reenactors. For over twenty years I have sewn their tents, tarps, bedrolls and lodges. The knowledge and fulfillment of these lifestyles enriches my own. God bless you all.

Why should you buy a tent from me? Because that guy behind the sewing machine there... well that’s me. Yep, I still do most of the sewing around here. That means that when we talk and decide what you want and how we’ll make it, there is a 100% chance that is what you will get. We are a small shop, so it's easy to pay close attention to detail; this also enables us to upgrade our designs as needed without sacrificing our consistent quality. I think for these reasons we make the best tents in the industry. I have been sewing since 1981 starting with replacement and custom upholstery and car interiors. Soon, I began to focus on boat canvas and custom awnings. Since 1992 I have been, where I’ve made canvas tents my priority.

All of our tents are hand sewn in Durango, Colorado in the good ol’ United States of America!

The Importance Of The Materials

Choice of fabric is one of the most important choices to make when you set the specifications for outdoor canvas products. Manufacturing techniques and treatments directly affect the strength and durability of the fabric. This is especially important in demanding conditions like winter weather, range camping or hunting camps, where conditions can change hourly. The number one pick of fabric experts is marine treated, pre-shrunk Army Duck cotton canvas (a type of canvas weave specification see ’Terms’). We have made the fabric choice easy for you as we only work in industry leading fabrics for all of our products at David Ellis Canvas Products.

Mine is not a tent and awning shop, so you will never find leftover awning fabric hanging from the bottom of my tents (pretending to call itself "sod cloth"). I purchase all of my fabrics for specific designed use and the required fabric qualities. I will never use a fabric simply because its lying around and has been paid for. When reinforcing a stress point in a tent I don’t use some non-conforming bomber nylon that will outlast the tent by 20 years. I simply double or triple up the same fabric that the tent is constructed with, this allows the reinforcement to shrink or expand with the tent, as it should. Other tent companies may sew nylon webbing continuously along the top of the wall, which is great to hold grommets in place, but nylon doesn’t shrink like canvas, therefore, when the canvas gets wet, the grommet tab curls forming a gutter that leaks water into the tent; this is not good for you or your tent. We reinforce the grommets individually letting the top of the wall hold its own, which it does just fine. In fact, to ensure good drainage we stitch the eve tab to the wall between the grommets. The grommets in a David Ellis tent are rolled edge and spurred and I use a #10 zipper in the door and protect it with a healthy 6" weather flap. This flap has grommets and D-rings incorporated inside and out for tying, as extra protection against zipper failure. These are just a few of our design features that show the superiority of our construction techniques.

We use exclusively Army Duck woven cotton canvas in the following weights: 7.5 oz., 10.38 oz., and 12.63 oz. The 7.5 oz. fabric is unique to us and a winter tent manufacturer named SNOWTREKKER TENTS. These tightly woven, "Double Fill Duck" canvases have a higher thread count than most canvas products and the long lasting capability shows through over time. They are 100% cotton and preshrunk for the marine industry then factory finished with the The Sunforger finish makes the canvas mildew resistant, which is an important attribute in a tent that we all know will get packed up wet more than once. Sunforger also transforms the canvas into a water repellent medium. This allows your tent to breath while keeping the rain outside where it belongs. I know what you are thinking and yes, you can touch the tent when wet and it will not leak through onto you, as inferior materials are known to do.

Each of these Canvas fabrics can come in an optional "fire retardant" finish see "Terms". This additional finish is applied to the Canvas at the finishing plant, and meets the Industrial Fabric Association's Tent Specification CPIA-84. The federal government and many states have adopted this specification as the standard for tent fire protection and safety. While not making a tent flameproof, it offers a margin of safety previously unavailable in a canvas tent. I strongly recommend the purchase and use of a flame resistant tent, especially if you intend to operate a stove, campfire or allow smoking inside your tent. Some states have mandated the sale of only flame resistant tents to be sold within their borders. A flame resistant fabric does not preclude good judgment when dealing with fires in camps. Always act responsibly around fire, especially in large camps where so many families and worldly goods are at stake.

Cotton Canvas will be used on the roof of all of our tents and where breathability is required. I have no synthetic materials that can take the place of cotton for its ability to allow moisture to exit the tent. There is research that shows that even a sedentary body looses 7/10 of a liter of water daily (almost an ounce per hour) through breathing and sweating which increases in colder drier conditions like fall camping. This can easily rise to equate to 2 quarts of water in the air when 4 adults sleep in a single tent, hence the need for breathability. When I do blend synthetic materials with cotton canvas to build a tent, I will only use the synthetics on the floor, around the base, or on the doors and walls. The three synthetic fabrics I use are listed next.

Calliope Vinyl Coated 9.0 oz. polyester duck weave: This is a flame retardant material I use on my Range Tent floor, tent fly, and Bush Tent canopy. We have found that this material stands up to continuous sun exposure very well.

We use 15 oz. Starfire, which is a superb polyester cotton blend woven fabric, which I use on the walls and door of the Bush tent. Starfire is a low-maintenance material that withstands mildew and dry-rot very well.

Multi-Mesh flooring is a multi-colored woven vinyl product. It is an open weave mesh fabric made from vinyl coated polyester yarns. This is the same strong material used for truck tarps and can stand up to highway speeds covering a load. It doesn't smother the ground and water will not puddle on it. Rangers really like this feature, as the flora under the tent isn't all dead when the tent is removed. Yes water will come through it from beneath but let's face it, that isn't were water should be anyway. If water is coming up in your tent then you should divert it some way or move the tent to a new location. Multi-Mesh is the least expensive material in my shop.

Super-Poly is a white polyethylene material weighing 4.8 oz. per square yard. It is fire retardant and we use it for its snow slippage qualities for a Wall Tent Fly. This material should not to be stretched beyond the roof of a tent.

Our Window and Door Screens are made using Fiberglass Screening Material. This Mesh is a vinyl coated pvc over 20 X 20 woven fiberglass and is flame retardant weighing approximately 3.3 oz. per square yard.

We make our Flame Proof Stove Jack by layering fiberglass and Kevlar fabrics, which makes our Stove Jack unique. Because it is sewn with Kevlar thread, it will never burn or unravel. The stove flap is completely detachable from the roof or wall, where it is attached with Velcro beneath a canvas hood, that routs water away from the stove hole. There will never be a fire started because of a weather flap that has become untied and touches the stovepipe on one of my tents.

Finally, here are 2 fabrics I keep around the shop for special situations.

Number 8 Duck; This 18 oz. per square yard numbered duck has a looser weave than Army Duck. Although there is a larger yarn in this material, the tighter weave of an Army Duck gives better water repellency. I use this fabric on the traditional Cowboy Bedroll only.

TEX-TEX is a 5.2 Oz. per square yard “Texturized Polyester”, a lightweight, water, mildew and flame retardant tenting fabric. Other tent companies call it "ultra light". I wouldn't make a complete tent using this material exclusively, because it doesn't breathe, but I like to combine this material with canvas in some situations to save weight. The two materials in combination can make a great lightweight Wall Tent.

Caring For You David Ellis Canvas Products

Care for your Canvas Tent: After you buy a tent you should set it up and wet it down. This will let the canvas shrink a bit and make it even more water proof. I say shrink a "bit", because there is no benefit to "over shrinking" a tent. The best way to keep it from doing that is to let it dry on the frame while fully staked out. Put the tent on the frame, stake it to the ground, guy it out and only then, wet it down. Let it dry completely and then put it away.

Cleaning: Should be a mild experience on the canvas. Use a soft bristle brush, cold water, and dish soap. If mildew is on the canvas a highly diluted mixture of water and bleach can be used but should be rinsed immediately. Never pressure wash the canvas unless you are planning to give a full dose of sun and fire retardant treatment afterwards. Of course, if your tent is a completely untreated canvas product then bomb away, but don't say we didn't warn you. The majority of my tent fabrics are treated with Sunforger. There is no exact replacement for Sunforger, but I have a product that is compatible. It is called Nik-Wax "Cotton Proof", which you may find at a sporting goods store or we have some to sell. It is a concentrate, which costs $20.00 per bottle and it makes a half-gallon. You will need a gallon for every 100 square feet, so do the math and give me a call.

Repairing: A hole is not as difficult to repair as you might think. There is a glue/seam sealer called Val-A Tear mender, which we have used with success. Using Val-A and some comparable canvas patch material, you can repair almost any size hole. Although, a patch can be applied when the tent is standing, it is best to do the repair when the canvas is on a hard surface. On the inside or outside of the tent, or both, cut a patch and outline it on the hole. Squirt some Val-A on the outlined area of the tent and then on the patch. Using a foam brush spread the glue evenly, briefly air dry and then apply the patch. If you have a fabric roller (a small hard rubber roller to apply even pressure) use it on the new patch and you should be good to go.