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Need a little guidance
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Gregg Meyer
(oscar52) - F
Need a little guidance on 08/27/2010 20:48:09 MDT Print View

I read recently some guy was really tearing up tarptents. I watched the video and was not particularly impressed by the negative stuff. i am trying to learn. been camping for decades but need/ want to trvel much lighter than I have. My quest is I want to go lighter, much lighter with a new tent/tarp but don't have a clue where to turn. I saw where the video guy was pushing the ti stakes into the ground with the palm of his hand. I live in the center of the country and we have hardpan out here. It truly is concrete. From North Dakota to Texas it is tough country. I usually use a much bigger tent stake and a light hammer to get the job done. I also see these set up on perfectly flat ground. When you have a slight slope, and no floor you will quickly find yourself half out from under your shelter covered with dew or rain. I also question the large/huge gaps under the tarps. Where i live, when it rains and I mean 2-3 inches in less than an hour it comes down horizontally at times. These units look like the super light down bag I would be in would be soaked in seconds. I have also camped/backpacked in weather where the wind has blown in huge storms where the wind speed is in excess of 80 MPH. These little tarps would be gone-dddyyyy. in this senario i have been in a 6 pole tent that is a dome and weights a whopping 50 lbs. NO BACKBACKING for sure. Does any one have a suggestion of a system that is light, tough, roomy and a little more substancial than the thong like shelters. Open minded but need some tent tarp features to address these needs.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Need a little guidance on 08/27/2010 21:50:36 MDT Print View

Most shelter users have a small collection of stakes. If you are experienced with North Dakota or Texas or anyplace else, you have a good idea of what kind of ground you will be trying to drive your stakes into. It may be hard, sandy, rocky, or whatever, but you will have some advance idea, so your collection of stakes should show that, and you may have a couple of extras for strange ground.

Personally, I would never carry a light hammer to pound stakes into the ground. I would, however, try to find some baseball-size rock to use as a hammer if I had big stakes. If you use skinny wire-thin stakes, you ought to be able to push them in with your boot unless the ground was solid rock.

If you get 2-3 inches of rain in an hour, that is called a "frog choker rain" or else a "gully washer" just depending where you are.

The secret to using a lightweight shelter in adverse weather conditions is to very carefully select your camp spot. That 80mph sounds pretty tough.


Ross Bleakney
(rossbleakney) - MLife

Locale: Cascades
Re: Re: Need a little guidance on 08/27/2010 23:34:17 MDT Print View

Tarptents vary quite a bit, just like tents do. Many of them are wind worthy, while others are not. Tarp tents are just single walled tents. They have many of the advantages, and disadvantages, of double walled tents. The main disadvantage of a single walled tent over a double walled tent is that managing condensation is more difficult. Other than that, the issues are pretty much the same.

Some tarptents are free standing, others are not. Even with a free standing tent, you have to secure it. If you don't put in the stakes, the tent will fly away. From a stake perspective, though, one advantage of the free standing tent is that if only one stake is poorly set, it probably doesn't matter. With a non-free standing tent, it may tip over if only one stake comes loose. There are a lot of outstanding ultralight folks in your neck of the woods and I'm sure they have a lot of experience with pounding stakes. That almost deserves it's own forum topic ("Using stakes in tough Texas dirt"). Depending on how many people respond to this post, you might split this into the above topic and perhaps "Wind Worthy Tarp Tents" and see what you get.

I don't think the slope issue is a very big one, assuming you have a good tarp tent. Even with a tarp, I'm sure there are lots of things you can do to reduce or eliminate drafts (the one big advantage of a tarp is that you have complete flexibility -- set it up high when the weather is nice, or set it low when it isn't). Personally, I'm not a tarp guy, as I typically camp during bug season. I am, however, completely sold on tarp tents (call them single walled tents if you want). The slope issue (and bumpy ground in general) is more of an issue with the sleeping pad. Lots of people love inflatables, despite their generally higher weight (over closed cell foam), because they can handle a few bumps on the ground.

What is the link to the guy who doesn't like tarp tents? I'm curious, as I've read some silly comments made by people on YouTube.

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: Need a little guidance on 08/27/2010 23:38:31 MDT Print View

As Bob said, site selection is important. So is discretion. Do you really need to be out there when you know a big storm is blowing in?

Light, tough and roomy are a challenge, that's for sure. At least you didn't request that it be anything other than very expensive. Since you mentioned sideways rain and 2-3 inches of rain an hour, does this mean you want a shelter with a bathtub floor?

How does this suit you? Size looks to be on the small side, although I like that you don't have to share elbow space with you gear because the vestibule is above your head. You might want to have the vestibule made custom with a floor since the version I saw had a floorless vestibule.

I know this is the silnylon version, but Big Sky had a cuben fiber version. Bob thought he might classify it as a 4 season shelter. He probably meant just the cuben fiber version which isn't listed on his website. Condensation might be a problem when it's not windy, although you wouldn't suffer from blow-through misting when it is raining and blowing hard.

Roger is bound to come in and say it, so I'll add that if you enter while it's raining hard, you'll get the floor flooded. Set up before it rains and use a pee bottle.

And now I'm kicking myself for losing my pictures of the cuben version.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
TT Moment on 08/28/2010 01:57:01 MDT Print View

I have a TarpTent Moment that I've found VERY wind-worthy in Colorado's Indian Peaks range, a windy range if there ever was one. Like its name, it sets up in a moment with 2 stakes, one at each end. I also like its large vestibule (large for a solo tent).

Also I use MSR Groundhog Y section aluminum stakes which you can definitely pound on W/ a rock. Plus they have handy cord pull loops that are also reflective. Unless you expect a lot of wind you only need to carry 2 Groundhog stakes (plus an SMC snow stake to dig cat holes). I've found thesnow stake is nice used as a windward tie-out stake. Be sure to carry 2 pre-made guy lines W/ a snap hook on one end and a tiny plastic line tensioner on the stake loop end (like BPL's or TarpTent's tensionsers).

Hope this helps.

Gordon Smith
(swearingen) - MLife

Locale: Portland, Oregon
80 MPH on 08/28/2010 11:02:19 MDT Print View

80 MPH wind is within the range of a Category 1 hurricane. Good luck with anything but the most bombproof of shelters if you are fully exposed to that kind of weather. As mentioned though, site selection is critical in serious conditions. Even a storm of that magnitude can be weathered in a Tarptent Contrail if you pitch it properly in a sheltered enough location. That said, I'd prefer to be in something like a Terra Nova Laser, or Hilleberg Akto, or Tarptent Moment or Scarp for that kind of weather.

As to the hardpan, if the ground is that hard I would expect the Ti shepherd hook stakes to work well. Pounding them in with a rock should be plenty easy, and they should hold very well if the ground is that hard. You can put a rock on top of each stake for good measure if needed.


Edited by swearingen on 08/28/2010 11:25:58 MDT.

Gordon Smith
(swearingen) - MLife

Locale: Portland, Oregon
Tarptent Video on 08/28/2010 11:21:22 MDT Print View

Is this the Tarptent video you saw? That guy cracks me up. Another case of someone knocking something they not only don't own, but also haven't taken the time to fully understand and use properly.


Edited by swearingen on 08/28/2010 11:23:24 MDT.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Compromise, compromise, compromise on 08/28/2010 12:23:20 MDT Print View

There are compromises in any gear selection. A main principle of UL is that you are in control of your pack weight. What compromises you make are your personal assessments of comfort, weight, complexity, performance, and cost.

There are many variations on the theme of shelters now:

Stakes should suit the ground they are used in. You wouldn't use the same stakes in snow or sand, so don't get hung up over using different stakes for hard ground. 2g titanium stakes don't work everywhere, every time. Experience does help. I prefer stouter stakes myself. Easton tubular stakes are strong (watch the caps). Aluminum "Y" and "V" stakes can take more abuse too. Try some aluminum gutter spikes in tough ground. A rock or thick stick is all you need for hammering. I've used a boot too.

Flat tarps can be pitched low and in a number of different shapes. They are cheap, simple and light. They are not as good in the wind as a shaped tarp with a caternary ridge line and beaks. Small flat tarps can be used in conjunction with bivy sacks or simpler sleeping bag covers to improve weather resistance, but that adds weight and cost. Poncho tarps and capes are multiple use options for plain tarps. Bug shelters can be added to make a quasi double-wall tent with a floor-- more weight and expense again. Trekking poles are typically used.

Bivy shelters be very easy to set up, but aren't always light. They can be expensive and claustrophobic. Some are as complex as tents and others are as simple as a human-sized sandwich bag :) Some use them with a poncho tarp over at leas the head end to allow some venting and entry/exit in poor weather.

Shaped tarps are better in the wind, are more expensive, and have fewer pitching options. As above, bug shelters can be added. Trekking poles are typically used.

Single wall tents are another notch up in weight, expense, and complexity. Interior condensation is an issue. Some eVent models are improving that problem, but at increased expense. Some have screened doors and other options for venting while maintaining bug-proofing. Some require their own poles, others use trekking poles.

Double wall tents are coming down in weight every model year. Some are complex to pitch--- a Big Agnes one person tent has 12 stakes! Taught construction and guy lines can take a light tent though high winds and 4-season use. The best have superior ventilation, bug-proofing, and weather tightness. Weight, complexity and expense are added.

So there is the range of UL shelters as I know it. That covers a range of a few ounces for a simple Cuben tarp to 3 pounds or less for a double wall. Prices run $50 to $400.

My personal list:

Poncho tarp and emergency bivy sack: fair weather solo day hikes for backup rain gear and shelter options. Six stakes and 2 guy lines minimum.

SMD Gatewood Cape: solo summer overnights/multi-day trips at minimal weight/multiple use--- rain gear and shelter. 6 stakes, one guy line and one trekking pole.

GoLite Utopia 1: solo overnights/multi-day for 3 season use with conventional rain gear and poor weather. I chose this single wall tent as a true free-standing option. There are a couple guy lines to add wind stability and ventilation. It is 6 stakes max-- four corners and 2 guys.

Andy F
(AndyF) - F

Locale: Ohio
Re: Need a little guidance on 08/30/2010 12:52:41 MDT Print View

Tarptent makes a double wall tent made for more severe conditions called the Scarp. Extra poles, guylines, and stakes are needed for high winds and snow.

Especially well-suited to high wind conditions are the pyramid "mid" or tipi-shaped tents.

Because I couldn't decide between the two, I have both the Scarp 2 and the Golite Shangri-La 3 (hex-shaped), but haven't tested either under severe conditions yet. The SL 3 has a polyurethane floor (separate item). I coated the ground side of the silnylon Scarp floor with a 1:4 dilution of silicone caulk and mineral spirits, and then put dots of the same on the inside to help with the slippery slope issue. Testing on typical slightly sloping ground shows that the unmodified SL3 stock floor and the Scarp floor treatment works well. I tested with both a Ridgerest CCF pad and an Exped Downmat 7 with SeamGrip dots on the bottom.

Edited by AndyF on 08/30/2010 12:54:01 MDT.

Piper S.
(sbhikes) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Re: Need a little guidance on 08/30/2010 14:10:03 MDT Print View

Is it just me or does the original post sound like a wind-up?

Nobody says that one set of gear can handle every difficult situation out there. I can say for a fact that carrying a hammer, huge stakes and a hurricane-proof tent is not appropriate gear for a summer weekend where I like to go.

I can also attest that over 3000 miles of backpacking on the Pacific Crest Trail and in the backcountry of Santa Barbara County during the months of November, January and March through April I never once found a location or weather that I could not set my camp up in and maintain enough warmth and dryness to stay comfortable.

Pitching on concrete-like hardpan, on a slope, in an 80 mile an hour hurricane with 2-3 inches per hour of rain. Is this your standard backpacking scenario every time you go out?

Edited by sbhikes on 08/30/2010 14:10:41 MDT.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Re: Need a little guidance on 08/30/2010 15:20:23 MDT Print View

Is this Kutenay???

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Re: Re: Need a little guidance on 08/30/2010 15:58:11 MDT Print View

Ben, surely you don't mean.....

Greg, anything on Youtube from some guy named Hangemhigh2000 is worse than a waste of time. Don't judge anything by his videos, not for a second.

Edited by T.L. on 08/30/2010 16:01:37 MDT.

tommy d
(vinovampire) - F
80mph winds on 08/30/2010 16:28:59 MDT Print View

"Pitching on concrete-like hardpan, on a slope, in an 80 mile an hour hurricane with 2-3 inches per hour of rain. Is this your standard backpacking scenario every time you go out?" - Pipe S.

HA! I must say, that doesn't sound like any fun. I hope that nobody here on BPL is normally camping in a Category 1 Hurricane (74 to 95 mph wind).

After reading this thread about these awful conditions in North Dakota, I had to look it up to find out more. You might be interested to know that the last time the USGS recorded a wind speed over 72mph in North Dakota was on September 1, 1960. So, luckily, I'm pretty sure that most people need to handle those kinds of winds.

This summer I was in 80+ mph winds in the White Mountains on July 25 and 26. And the average wind speed was between 50 and 60 mph. One gust blew me a few feet to the left. It was an incredible experience. Honestly, I'm not sure how a person would set up a tent in a sustained 80+ mph wind, unless they found some sort of natural wind break. Personally, I wouldn't have even considered setting up any sort of temporary shelter in that type of wind. I just got below the tree line into a sheltered area.

In any event, if a tarp or a tarp tent or whatever doesn't work for you in a particular area, that's fine. There are plenty of options available. If you do want to try a tarp in high wind situations, you'll have to work on your pitches and how you reinforce your stakes.

Best of luck!
Vino Vampire!

James Lantz
(jameslantz) - F

Locale: North Georgia
The video was misleading on 08/30/2010 16:34:51 MDT Print View

I agree with Travis, especially since the Tarptent in the video was not set up correctly! It was obvious to me that the trekking pole was not at the correct height (too low) & the side guy lines were pulled too tight to artificially lower the ridgeline. Also, the vestibule was not correctly configured, nor was it demonstrated that the vestibule could be folded back for ease of entry. The bathtub floor was also not demonstrated either in its correct, taut configuration.
I have a similar tent made of spinnaker fabric (Gossamer Gear Squall Classic) which I've had in all types of weather without problems.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: The video was misleading on 08/30/2010 16:48:33 MDT Print View

Check out the Tarptent Rainbow, Moment, or Scarp. These all can be free standing with some additional poles. No stakes needed, except maybe the vestibule on the Rainbow. However, not staking any shelter down is a recipe for disaster. TUMBLEWEED!

Unless those really are your normal camping conditions, IMHO Tarptents offer great weather protection. The MLD Trailstar, which I've experienced very hard rain and wind in, is quite a stormworthy shelter. If pitched directly to the ground, you'd be hard pressed to find a storm it couldn't handle.

Aaron Granda
(Throckmorton) - MLife
The other videos on 08/31/2010 11:32:56 MDT Print View

Did anyone watch the other videos that guy posted? Wow,what a nut. Read the commentary he posted under them if you want a real laugh. He also posted a video of himself with his new AK 74. He really shouldn't have a gun.If the gun control movement ever sees that video it's all over.

tommy d
(vinovampire) - F
Re: The other videos on 08/31/2010 11:48:38 MDT Print View

I've seen that silly tarp tent video in the past, but I've never seen his AK video. Not to worry, if he loads up his magazines as poorly as he pitches his shelters, he'll have a FTF every time.


Sam Farrington
(scfhome) - M

Locale: Chocorua NH, USA
tents on 08/31/2010 22:17:50 MDT Print View

Look at the Big Agnes and MSR solo side entry double wall dome shelters before you decide.