A dining shelter or screen house provides shelter from the rain, wind and bugs while camping. I never go car camping without my screen house because it helps to mitigate the risks of bad weather and bugs. The weather in the Canadian Shield, just north of Toronto, can frequently change from hot and sunny to cool and rainy. In fact, it is not uncommon to go camping there for a week and have rain at least every other day. A screen house will minimize the impact of rain and bugs on any camping trip. Instead of a screen house, some campers hang a tarp over their dining area. This option provides protection from the rain and some wind protection but no bug protection. When purchasing a screen house, consider the following features:
Storm Flaps: Don’t by a screen house that doesn’t have storm flaps on the sidewalls. Without storm flaps on the sidewalls, your dining area is guaranteed to get soaked in a downpour. The storm flaps can be rolled up to allow for a nice view and breeze when the weather is good.
Zippers: Zippers may break if there is a lot of traffic going in and out of the screen house, especially with children. Screen houses with good quality zippers are worth paying extra for.
Framing poles: The framing poles should be durable and shock-corded. Shock-corded poles are sequenced in sections and are held together by an elastic cord that runs through the insides and lengths of the poles for easy assembly. Avoid purchasing screen houses with bulky, heavy, hollow steel poles. These poles rust and buckle easily. Many of the less expensive screen houses have these poles.
Awning poles: Awning poles allow the storm flap on the entrance of the screen house to be propped up as a porch roof for the screen house. This is a nice feature because it adds to your sheltered space while you are camping.
Size: The screen house must be large enough to house the picnic table that is provided at the campsite. Keep in mind that different parks have different sized picnic tables. Additional space is required for your cooler, dry food box, water container, dish and cutlery box, and other gear. Purchase square or rectangular shaped screen houses as they provide more useable space then the round or octagonal shaped ones. Also ensure that dimensions are at least 11 feet by 11 feet to ensure that you have adequate space. Many campers regret purchasing smaller screen houses; they struggle to get large picnic tables into them.
Stakes: Screen house stakes should be durable; otherwise, they may bend or break when being anchored. Aluminum or steel pegs will outlast the plastic ones. Many of the cheaper screen houses come with poor quality stakes nowadays.
Assemble it at Home: If you are planning on purchasing a new screen house, ensure that you assemble it at home, before going on your camping trips. You may have parts that are missing or defective. Most of this equipment only comes with two-week in-store warranties nowadays, so test it out and exchange it as possible to ensure the equipment is satisfactory.
You can see a good screen house by clicking the following link: http://astore.amazon.com/tip4cam-20?node=12&page=2, which displays a Eureka Northern 12’ x 12’ Breeze screen house with storm flaps and awning.
For more details on screen houses and other camping gear, see The Camp Tripper. The Camp Tripper includes: trip planning, reservations, gear, meals, setting up camp, activities, breaking camp, maintenance of gear and many tips for memorable camping trips in Ontario. The book is very reasonably priced and small enough to fit in the glove compartment of your vehicle. Here are four reasons why you might prefer to order it in e-book (electronic book) format:
- The e-book price is 37% less
- No shipping costs, which saves you even more
- Instant delivery to your computer or hand-held device
- Eliminates paper and saves trees
This book is currently only available in online bookstores.