Storms Ali, Bronagh, Callum, Deirdre, Erik, Freya, Gareth and last week-end storm Hannah, have all shown their might across the UK this year. I do love a good storm but prefer not to get caught camping out in them!
Here's a video of my 'Pad in my garden, caught in a storm back in 2015 - I forget the storm's name, let's call it 'The Bastard'.
I knew The Bastard was coming, all the weather forecasts were right. Inbetween pairing socks and counting pegs (or whatever it was), I just didn't find the time to take down my 'Pad. The Bastard ripped through the garden with no regard for bell tents, relentlessly, for a good six hours. The Bastard wrote-off three fence panels and my favorite terracotta plant pot that day. Luckily, my 'Pad survived unscathed. It stayed up and all I had to do was re-peg a few guy lines and tighten up the slides. The Bastard had lost this battle at least.
I say 'luckily' because there are so many variables at play. The strength of the wind, whether it's constant or gusty, the softness of the ground, how well I'd pitched my 'Pad, whether or not it had it's back to the prevailing wind...and so on.
Diligent SoulPadders will contact us before a storm, to check if their SoulPad is storm-hardy and their holiday plans should go ahead - hard to predict with so many variables. Less diligent SoulPadders will contact us after a storm, some with the great news (and high praise) that their SoulPad 'survived', others with the sad news that theirs did not.
Are SoulPads Stormproof?
No. It's with good reason that you won't find any at the basecamp of Everest. Having said that, the SoulPads have ridden out plenty of storms over the years. Here's our most recent Facebook feedback: -
Lynne Gilmore to SoulPad
April 28 at 9:19 PM
Bit nippy this weekend, but cozy in the tent! It stood up to Storm Hannah with no problems.
To date, we've not found an independent testing house prepared to design and implement a test specifically for storm-testing our bell tents. But we do have a wealth of experience ourselves and some great tips gleaned from our more successful, storm-defying customers over the past 12 years. I'd like to share those here.
- Consider the weather before setting off.
Be prepared to cancel your plans if a storm is on the horizon, especially if you're heading to an exposed area. This is our preference. SoulPads should not be used in extreme weather conditions.
- Pitch with the back of the 'Pad to the prevailing wind.
If your holiday simply must go ahead, give your pitch some extra thought. Sure, the view is lovely, but is it from where the prevailing wind will come? Check with the landowner if you're unsure.
- Avoid pitching near trees.
Branches and trees that seem OK during the calm can easily become weapons of mass destruction during high winds. Avoid.
- Avoid pitching near other temporary structures.
When we pitch at campsites and trade fairs, I'm more concerned that other people's gazebos and make-shift structures will become airborne and so damage our 'Pads. Whereas I'm pretty confident the SoulPads will be OK and won't cause damage to others.
- Switch out guy rope stake pegs from metal ones to wooden.
This is especially important if the ground is already soft from previous rainfall. At the very least you can switch out every other stake peg. Wooden pegs gain a better purchase in soft ground and so are far less likely to pop out.
- Switch out every other regular slide for a Guylox slide.
Switching out every other slide with a Guylox will minimise movement without removing flexibility altogether. Slides are called slides as they are meant to move/slide and so take some of the load off of the canvas and central pole, especially in a gust.
- Take sanctuary elsewhere while the storm passes over.
Neither the kids nor the dog will appreciate a collapsed tent in the middle of the night, or at any other time. If it feels scary and there is too much movement in the canvas for your liking, ¹be prepared to evacuate. If there's lightning there's risk of a strike too. Too much rain, and there could be a risk of flooding. Better to spend the night in a B&B than A&E.
- Don't blame the tent!
It's unfortunate if things do go wrong during extreme weather, but isn't necessarily the fault of the tent. Sometimes we get caught out and are forced to pitch no matter what the weather is doing, especially if on a touring holiday. Most storm damage to the tent can be repaired. We're not so easily repaired, so our own safety should always, always come first.
Typical failings in extreme weather might be the collapse of the central pole - the most load-bearing part of your 'Pad, and ripped canvas - sometimes the A-frame can come loose and the spike at the top can cause a tear, or the top of the bell can eventually break through. All of which are signs your 'Pad is being over-stretched (it's past time to evacuate!) All can be avoided if you refrain from using during storms or extreme weather.
¹The SoulPads are temporary structures intended for light leasure use. Apply extreme gumption when considering a campout during a storm or extreme weather.