A top guide shares his tent-camp secrets.. Colin Hayes

Can’t afford a cabin? That’s not a problem, because you don’t need one if you have a wall tent. The best way to buy one, set it up, and make it a snug abode in the boondocks is to listen to a man who lives in a wall tent all season—Darl Allred of Idaho’s Sawtooth Wilderness Outfitters (sawtoothadventures.com).

The Setup

Clothesline: Tie a rope to the end and middle of the ridgepole, letting it sag over the front half of the tent, toward the stove. You’ll need this to dry wet hunting clothes.

Pantry: This corner is a good spot for food supplies. Allred keeps his in pack boxes, but milk crates or lidded plastic boxes work well, too.

Dining Table: Chow down and plan the morning hunt at a Roll-A-Table with collapsible camp chairs placed just off the wall.

Lamp: Run a coat hanger over the ridgepole, make a hook in the end, and hang your lantern.

Bunks: Three cots go on top of the carpet, one along each wall. Allred uses packable Roll-A-Cots and adds 2 inches of foam padding.

Floor: Cover the ground in the back half of the tent with indoor-outdoor carpet to make the sleeping area more comfortable.

Cookstove: Set it up between the woodstove and the bunks. Allred opts for a four-burner propane model by Partner Steel Co. Inc.

Heat: Allred puts a wood-burning Riley tent stove right behind the one flap of the front door and runs the pipe through it with an elbow to keep sparks from falling on the roof. The more conventional setup is through a stove jack in the roof. Just make sure you use a wire spark catcher on the stovepipe end.

The Frame

Packing a canvas tent is easier if you make your frame onsite (check local regs first).

[1] Cut the poles to length with a chainsaw. Size depends on the dimensions of your tent, but err on the long side. You can always trim.

[2] Lash the back of the ridgepole to a tree.

[3] Slide the tent apex over the ridgepole.

[4] Put two scissor poles in front to level and secure the ridgepole. Now set two in back.

[5] Lash the side rails to the tops of the ­scissor poles.

[6] Stake the bottom of the tent with 3-inch-diameter sticks split in half.

The Tent

Allred gets all his tents from Thunder Mountain Tent & Canvas. But before you buy, check out his recommendations:

Material: Don’t skimp. Army-duck, ­marine-grade canvas is water- and ­mildew-resistant and will last twice as long as cheaper cloth.

Footprint Size: Go with a 12×14-footer for two people, a 16×18 for three or more.

Wall Height: Get 5-foot walls for more space.

Handy Features: A zippered door and sod cloth keep out drafts. A back door or window is a nice extra.