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A year in a tent
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douglas ray

Locale: Olympic Peninsula
A year in a tent on 03/01/2006 19:40:38 MST Print View

I'm considering spending a year living in a tent, wandering around my home state backpacking and camping full time. I'll be hauling everything with me in a car of some sort but I want to keep things as compact as possible, and obviously I will have a limited budget. I've got lot's of questions about what equipment would be appropriate, but my biggest concern has been to find an appropriate tent, some way of heating it to dry out stuff, and an cooking system. Any sucgestions would be appriceated?

Bill Fornshell
(bfornshell) - MLife

Locale: Southern Texas
A Year in a Tent on 03/01/2006 20:17:44 MST Print View

I have a Coleman "Cabin" 7' by 21', 3 rooms with one being a screened in room for eating or what ever. Tall enough to stand up in. This is a real nice "BIG" tent. Has a more or less full tent fly. It also goes up easy, one person can put it up.

David Bonn
(david_bonn) - F

Locale: North Cascades
Re: A year in a tent on 03/01/2006 20:22:01 MST Print View

Actually the difference between living out of a tent the way you are talking about and backpacking are quite large.

For the living out of the tent part, I'd find a reasonably priced and simple tent and place a giant blue tarp (you know the kind, at hardware stores) over it and skip using the rainfly on the tent. That will keep you nicely dry and also give you lots of ventilation, plus lots of room to cook under the tarp and dry things out. I'm thinking like a 12' x 20' tarp.

In a smallish, well-ventilated tent a coleman lantern does a great job of heating up the space. Under the tarp that same lantern could provide a reading light and be useful for drying out clothes.

A coleman two-burner camp stove would be fine for cooking.

One reason I mention the coleman stove and lantern is that they last forever and used ones are available quite cheaply at swap meets and garage sales.

Those are reasonable things to haul around in the car but totally unreasonable for backpacking. What I would do is choose a small double-wall tent that can serve double duty under that huge tarp in a base camp (without the fly) and also when out on the trail (with the fly).

Mark W Heninger
(heninger) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: A year in a tent on 03/01/2006 20:57:36 MST Print View

That is what old VW vans are for! Better, get a camper with a pop-top.

My family of 5 and I spent a month last year in one and loved it.

cary bertoncini
(cbert) - F

Locale: N. California
bill - how much would that cabin weigh in cuben fabric? on 03/01/2006 21:28:40 MST Print View

but then, what would the price be!

Bill Fornshell
(bfornshell) - MLife

Locale: Southern Texas
A Year in a Tent on 03/01/2006 22:34:20 MST Print View

I went to the Coleman web site to re-check the size etc. The Tent is 17' by 9'. It is called the

Doing a little simple math I think if the tent was made with 0.44oz per sq yard Cuben the tent/sewn in floor, alone, would weight somewhat under 4 pounds. The tent has a heavy set of poles that would have to be addressed as a separate issue as would the tent fly.

I forget one small detail, price of the Cuben. As Ryan J, might say, $2,000 and change.

This tent is really nice to use as a base camp tent when buillding or working on trail when you will be out in the woods for a week or so.

Edited by bfornshell on 03/01/2006 22:41:00 MST.

cary bertoncini
(cbert) - F

Locale: N. California
bravo! on 03/01/2006 22:47:51 MST Print View

I'm glad you played - I couldn't resist (and I really was curious!)

Holy cow - 4 lbs for a tent that size!

Bill Fornshell
(bfornshell) - MLife

Locale: Southern Texas
A Year in a Tent on 03/01/2006 22:49:38 MST Print View

I was sure you were having a good time but it is interesting how you can go from "really heavy" to very light for only $2,000.

douglas ray

Locale: Olympic Peninsula
wet issues on 03/02/2006 17:11:33 MST Print View

You are right in that this sort of living is very different from backpacking. One of the issues I have been addressing is that I live in a very humid climate (Western Washington) and it's often quite difficult to keep soft goods from mildewing and rotting, and hardgoods rust and corrode. I've been considering a canvas tent with a wood stove, also because nylon tents aren't very UV resistant. My backpacking shelters are silnylon and don't take up much space, so I think one tent for both would be an un-necessary compromise. I like the coleman stove and lantern ideas, I'll have to keep my eyes open. I'm also looking into some candle lantern options, mabe in addition to the coleman, or instead.

Jim Hutton
(jimh6) - F
tent on 03/02/2006 17:34:16 MST Print View

My wife and I travelled for 6 months and lived in a 7x7 kelty tent. Paid around 200 for it. Big mattress fits inside and you can stand to change. Great to have a big tent if you have a car to lug aroung your gear.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: A year in a tent (or van) on 07/21/2006 17:51:55 MDT Print View

If he needs to buy a car anyway, that's a good idea. Even a soccer-mom minivan with a little conversion work could be really comfy. One of those teardrop trailers would be fun, but they are $13,000 plus for a new one. I considered doing something like that with a trailerable sailboat-- use in on the water or like a camp trailer.

Take a look at some of the trailers here, then think about building a small trailer on one of those hardware-store utility trailer frames. They will hold upwards of 850 pounds, so you could build a little box with a bed, icebox, portapotty and some sort of safe heater. They have used small coal and charcoal stoves in sailboats for a long time-- they aren't cheap though. One used model to look at is the Cole Stove. I don't think they are made any longer. Search on "marine cabin heater" and see what you get: for example.

Andrew Hedges
(alhedges) - F
tent, etc. on 07/21/2006 20:03:06 MDT Print View

I think if you're really going to spend a year in a tent, you need something pretty substantial, like this tent:

or this tent:

Both tents can accept (or maybe include) a woodburning stove.

You may be able to find a small popup camper that would suit your needs as well - used might be a good bet.