Our first summer camping trip of the season found us trapped inside the RV. The yellow flies and sand gnats were so numerous and aggressive that we couldn't sit outside or even go for a walk without being swarmed.
We tried a variety of insect repellents, wore long pants and long-sleeved shirts, and even kept an electric fan going at the campsite. Nothing seemed to work. We knew we would need to find some kind of screen for the awning or a screened canopy if we were going to enjoy sitting outside.
Arriving at our next campground we noticed several dozen campers had the same type of screen tent. It was unusual in shape but quite good looking compared to the canopy tents we had seen before.
On our evening walk around the campground, we met one of the owners of these tents and asked him about it. He said, "Get One! You really need a screen tent if you're gonna camp in the summer. And this one is great!" He showed us how easy it was to set up and take down and told us the mesh screening was fine enough to keep out the tiny gnats as well as the bigger yellow flies that plague many coastal campgrounds.
Clam Screen Tent Sizes
We did a bit of internet research to learn more. The comments about the Clam Screen Tent were quite positive. There are several sizes and we were first drawn to the smallest, a 72" x 72" Traveler model. Perhaps a bit too small for us, with room for just a couple of chairs. We often get together with other campers on the road so we wanted one a little larger - to accommodate 4-6 chairs. There are two larger Escape models at 140" x 140" or 150" x 150" as well as a huge double Excursion model designed for large groups. After another gnat-plagued day in camp, we purchased one.
We ended up choosing the 140" x 140" Escape model in a Forest Green color. It is the perfect size for hosting a few friends and fits easily over a campground picnic table if we want to use it for meals. The screen mesh is fine enough to keep out even the infamous "no-see-ums" we have here in the South!
The Clam Screen tent arrived in a rather large box and we were concerned it would be too large to store in our small RV. Even tucked into its carry bag the Clam was too tall for our largest exterior compartment. But we found it fit just fine in the shower. (If you have a small RV you probably know that the shower is a great place to store items when you are in transit!). Although its size in the carry bag is small in circumference, it is about six feet in length. We are considering a cargo carrier on the rear of our unit for our bikes and the Clam. If your unit has a pass-through storage bay it may fit there just fine.
Setting up the Clam Screen Tent
Although we had watched a set-up video we were doubtful that it would be as easy as the video presented. To our amazement and delight, it performed exactly as shown! We set it up in flash. The tent is lightweight and so simple that just one person can handle setup. It comes fully assembled. No additional parts or pieces to lose or leave behind. I think setup took all of one minute; it unfolds, you pop out the top and sides, unfold the door braces and you're done! That part is important: When you're setting up or breaking down camp, the last thing you need is to fiddle with a complicated tent to add to your duties. The Clam Screen Tent can be set up by either of us and can be dismantled just as easily when it comes time to break camp.
Options for the Clam Screen Tent
The Clam's manufacturer offers optional wind panels that affix to the exterior of the screens with Velcro strips. We purchased a set of three panels, which cover about half of the tent. That's enough to shield you from the wind or a light rain coming from one direction and still allow you to enjoy the views from the uncovered side. If you want to use it as a sleeping tent you may want an additional set of panels for privacy. They also offer panels with a window insert.
There are grommets in the skirt of the tent if you want to stake it but you would need to purchase tent stakes. We have a set of stakes leftover from an old canopy that works just fine, although it is quite sturdy without stakes in calm weather.
We've owned the Clam Screen Tent for about two months and we love it. In fact, we actually use it at home too. It's a great spot to sit outside in the backyard without any worry about mosquitoes, gnats, or bees.
If you're looking for a screen tent that is portable enough to take on the road, this may be your best option!