Polar pyramid tents

Diagram showing location of gear inside the tent
Organising gear inside a polar pyramid tent

Based on the design of tent used by Sir Robert Falcon Scott in the early twentieth century, the modern polar pyramid has been modified and enhanced with modern technology. Collapsible in two sections for easy deployment, the tent is quick and easy to assemble and is the most frequently used of our tents.

A modified version has been collaboratively designed by the AAD with our Australian supplier for subantarctic use, using waterproof fabric and a vestibule. These models have also been trialled by the NZ Antarctic programme and the British Antarctic Survey.

This tent is designed for two or three persons but four can be accommodated in an emergency.

The polar pyramid, if properly pitched and well-secured, will withstand winds of up 100 km/hour in full blizzard conditions. It relies on its pyramid shape for stability and on the load of snow packed on its valance.

Each polar pyramid weighs about 30 kg.

When pitching the tent in a wind the following method usually works:

  1. Lay the tent down with its top to the wind, and drive in the valence pegs on the windward side.
  2. Assemble the pole sections and lock and tension the side release clips.
  3. Peg one of the windward top guys with an ice axe or snow stake.
  4. Raise the tent against the attached guy, allowing the wind to assist you, pulling out the leeward poles.
  5. Angle the tent such that the wind does not hit one face square on and the entrance is downwind.
  6. Peg the upwind guys and tighten them, then pack the valances with snow.

Never pitch the tent with the entrance tunnel into the wind or directly downwind where it will be buried by drift. The entrance should face across the wind to prevent it from accumulating snow.

Depending on surface conditions, shovels, ice axes or skis may hold better than pegs. If so they should be used particularly on the upwind side.