Technology Page - Lightwave Tents


There are two basic Lightwave tent designs, Tunnel and Geodesic ('t' and 'g' tents). Tunnel tents are lighter than Geodesic but are not as stable in high winds.

Each tent is made in two fabrics; Ultra and Hyper tents are made from the lightest fabrics, similar high strength as Trek and Trail tents but more expensive. The choice between the two fabrics is about price and weight, not strength.

Tents with the XT extension to the name have an extended porch.

Ultra and Trek tents can only be pitched inner first whereas Hyper and Trail tents can be pitched either inner or outer first.

 Tunnel vs Geodesic Design

Tunnel tents are highly efficient in terms of space and weight. They are very simple to erect, as the poles are easy to insert and flex into shape. When well pitched (head or tail into the wind with good anchor points), the tunnel shape is aerodynamic and forgiving in strong winds. Tunnel tents require fewer and shorter poles than similar sized geodesic tents, giving them the competitive edge in terms of weight. Lightwave tunnels are both roomier inside and lighter than their geodesic equivalents.


Lightwave semi-geodesic tents have three poles with three intersections. They are slightly heavier and more compact than a tunnel, but their structure is more rigid and less dependent upon anchor points for overall stability. Geodesics generally take marginally longer to put up than tunnels, but being less reliant upon pegging points can be easier to pitch on mountainous or rocky ground. They are also easier to position on exposed sites as they are less sensitive to wind direction. Finally, they are also very easy to re-position if you find you've inadvertently pitched your tent on a sharp rock!


ARCHitekture Pole Structure

ARCHitekture is our name for a pole configuration that uses pre-bent angles to reduce the curvature of the individual pole sections. It gives an appearance similar to a Gothic arch.

Compared to a traditional hooped pole, ARCHitekture reduces pole stress, increases tent stability in high winds and improves water and snow shedding.


ARCHitekture increases pole reliability by reducing stress in the pole curvature.
BRlightwave_info_hoop.gifA hoop bends the pole through 180°BRlightwave_info_arch.gifAn arch bends the poles through an equivalent 135°
 ARCHitekture improves resistance against side-winds as the shape stiffens the pole structure.
BRlightwave_info_hoop_wind.gifHoops experience high deformation in strong windsBRlightwave_info_arch_wind.gifAn arch experiences reduced deformation
 ARCHitekture improves water and snow-shedding capability by creating a defined ridgeline.
BRlightwave_info_shed_hoop.gifSnow sometimes settles on the roof of a hooped tentBRlightwave_info_shed_arch.gifSnow is very unlikely to settle on the ridgeline of an arched tent

Condensation is a fact of life when camping in tents. The physics is simple: moisture carried in the warm air inside a tent condenses on contact with a cool flysheet – typically, when the outside temperature drops overnight. The result is water on the wrong, inner side of the fly.

The volume of water vapour ready to condense on your flysheet is a direct product of environmental factors (ground and air humidity) and human activity – we breathe, perspire and insist on drinking hot steamy tea, brewed up in the porch, inside our tents.

The only solution is to remove water vapour before it condenses, which for our Lightwave chemical engineer-cum-tent designer (Carol McDermott) means a ventilation system based on three years’ not entirely wasted study of fluid mechanics and thermodynamics. For air to move through a channel without stalling (and consequently condensing on the fabrics around it), frictional drag must be kept to an absolute minimum. In other words, the passage followed by the air must be kept short and straight. In Lightwave tents, this is achieved by aligning scooped vents at the front and back of the flysheet with cut-outs in the mesh of the pole sleeves, creating unobstructed air channels between the inner and the fly.

It is another fact of life, however, that even the best-aligned vents can only work if there is a mechanism to move the air – and the only one available is our erratic friend, the wind. Lightwave vents work in anything from a gentle breeze upwards and in fact we’ve rarely closed them even in storms. (In clouds of Scottish midges, on the other hand, you’ll be glad of the Velcro seal.) It is a bitter irony of tent design, nevertheless, that features such as low-cut flysheets and impermeable silicone-coated fabrics only contribute to the problem of condensation – by trapping humidity inside the tent, and keeping out the very weather that could carry it away.