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How to tell which way the tent floor is sloped on a level site?
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Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: .
Re: How to tell which way the tent floor is sloped on a level site? on 11/18/2010 04:21:37 MST Print View

When I read the question I can't help but ask, is this a joke?

"which way the tent floor is sloped on a level site"

Doesn't level imply no slope?

Edited by simplespirit on 11/18/2010 10:43:12 MST.

Chris Benson
(roguenode) - F

Locale: Boulder
RE:level site on 11/18/2010 05:29:15 MST Print View

Maybe you can flip the problem a bit. Instead of looking for a campsite level to within 1-2 degrees and fighting it when you don't, you can come up with a pad system that allows you to adjust as needed.

Or try a hammock. :-)

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
"How to tell which way the tent floor is sloped on a level site?" on 11/18/2010 05:42:42 MST Print View

Spit, then see which way the dribble slides across the nylon.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: How to tell which way the tent floor is sloped on a level site? on 11/18/2010 07:11:00 MST Print View

Most I hike with either eyeball it or lay down on top of their ground sheet to see which direction feels best.

Steve O
(HechoEnDetroit) - F

Locale: South Kak
Re: Re: slope on 11/18/2010 09:16:21 MST Print View

"I don't think the thicker mattress will help compensate. I might be wrong in my thinking, but if it is placed backwards it might exacerbate the problem because your upper body is heavier than your legs thus sinking deeper into the mattress at that end, making the problem worse."

You have a point, in that your legs may be above your head without the use of a pillow. Looking at it from another angle, a thicker mattress will allow you torso to sink deeper and thus, should be less likely that blood should inundate your head. On a slight slope it helps me quite a bit.

Andy F
(AndyF) - M

Locale: Midwest/Midatlantic
slope on 11/18/2010 10:41:05 MST Print View

Maybe try to sleep on a very slight slope which is more easily discernible? That would be better drainage too if it rains. You'll have to test and find the limits of when your pad and bag slides though.

Otherwise, I think the only way you'll be able to reliably figure it out (without specialized surveyor tools) before pitching your shelter is to just lie down on the groundsheet for a few minutes.

Using a pillow and maybe some gear under your sleeping pad will help too.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
How to tell which way the tent floor is sloped on a level site? on 11/18/2010 12:14:52 MST Print View

I figure that if I can't tell by eyeballing, the slope isn't significant enough to make any difference. However, you can always lie down to make sure.

I'd rather have to fight a slope than be in a spot that will become a lake in a hard rain! (Been there, done that, never again!)

For a lightweight pillow, check

Edited by hikinggranny on 11/18/2010 12:20:48 MST.

Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: How to tell which way the tent floor is sloped on a level site? on 11/18/2010 12:59:43 MST Print View

For everyone- my body (head) has a very low tolerance for sleeping with my head on the down hill side.

@Chris W, I would have thought that also but level is always relative (you ought to see some of the houses I've had to fix that were built "level" originally.

@Chris B, most of the cascade mtn trails have very established campsites so for LNT you take what is already there.

@Eugene, I don't think that technique would be expectable to my wife or ok for my sleeping bag

@John, the whole reason for going out on a limb with my ego on this tread is to avoid what you are suggesting (thats what I've done for years)

@SteveO, Thicker mattress is in the works. I have a Neo and a BAIAC but they are too cold for where I hike most of the time (I was snowed on in August)

@Andy, a bigger pillow might just make a pain in my neck, solving one problem by creating another.

@ Mary, I agree with the water issue- if its raining I just move on and look for a sloped site. Its when it is nice out that I have to do all the gyrations to get comfortable.
I am talking with Bender about both a custom mattress and pillow

Edited by bestbuilder on 11/18/2010 13:03:03 MST.

Denis Hazlewood
(redleader) - MLife

Locale: Luxury-Light Luke on the Llano Azul
Re: How to tell which way the tent floor is sloped on a level site? on 11/18/2010 15:04:25 MST Print View

In my 43 years of backpacking experience, I have pondered this question. Much study went into a system which I have successfully used for decades. My system works in the lowest desert. It works in the highest mountains. It never fails whether it rains or shines. I give this to the BPL community free gratis. To wit:

If in doubt regarding the slope of a potential tent site: 1. Place your walking stick along your chosen axis and view it from different angles. Determine the slope and adjust your axis accordingly. 2. Erect tent and ready your sleeping system.

There, that's all there is to it. When you drag your exhausted body into you sleeping bag and lay your head down, you will find that the lowest end of your tent is between your ears, where your pulse pounds in your temples. And your head feels heavy as your blood seeks the lowest level.

Sleep tight! Don't let the bed-bugs bite.

Michael Cockrell

Locale: Central Valley, Lodi-Stockton, CA
Re: small round bubble level on 11/18/2010 15:33:32 MST Print View

For my telescope, and landscaping of paving stones, I purchased a small round "button-bubble level" at the hardware store.

Weights "nothing" and I can place it on my Thermarest to see a 360-degree level. When I place it at each four corners of the pad, I can see if I really am sloped correctly for a "heads-up" set up.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
How to tell which way the tent floor is sloped on a level site? on 11/18/2010 15:36:17 MST Print View

I think Denis has it about right, lol!

I understand that Bender of KookaBay has made a bigger inflatable pillow for JollyGreenGiant, who of course requires a higher pillow than many of us. Tad, this might be something you'd want! You can inflate it lower most of the time, but inflate it higher if your head turns out to be downhill!

Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: How to tell which way the tent floor is sloped on a level site? on 11/18/2010 18:26:28 MST Print View

Cocoon also has some light, very packable, firm (if you want) inflatable pillows. Around 3 ounces. Several inches thick, probably takes up ~200ml of volume packed...

stefan hoffman
(puckem) - F

Locale: between trees
Slope on 11/18/2010 19:50:41 MST Print View

If your torso sinking into a thick pad is enough to give you a headache, you should have the same problem on your mattress at home. So, its psychosomatic. Or perhaps the solution is a pill to fix your blood pressure issue, or would that be too much to carry?

Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Slope on 11/19/2010 14:49:39 MST Print View

Steve, no mattress problem at home, slim build, definately not psychosomatic (many others have this problem), "no pills gonna cure on head"
Good try though

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
How to tell which way the tent floor is sloped on a level site? on 11/20/2010 15:04:48 MST Print View

Get a clear plastic tube as long as you can hold the two ends apart, Almost fill the tube with water . lay that down on the ground holding the ends up. Check the water level at both ends...
Something like this
Water level
To clarify (just in case...) having both ends up from the ground at the same height , the one with the water closer to the opening is at the sloping end.


Edited by Franco on 11/21/2010 21:21:12 MST.

John Wozniak
(woz9683) - F

Locale: Southeast
Slope on 11/22/2010 15:34:24 MST Print View


Find a site with a more obvious slope. Then you'll know for sure, no measuring needed :)

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Slope on 11/22/2010 18:25:51 MST Print View

I agree....look for a site with a discernible, yet still quite minor slope. I find I sleep better on a slight slope than truly flat ground anyways.

Part of your problem may be that the ground has a slightly dome to it, so regardless of which end your head is at, it it will feel like it's the low end because it's lower than your torso. Choosing a slightly sloped site, or a slightly dished site alleviates this.

Alternatively, you could get Bender to make you a wedge shaped sleeping pad (ie. 3" thick at the head tapering to 1" thick at the feet) so you always have your head at the high end, regardless of the actual ground slope :)

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Level? on 12/14/2010 16:40:10 MST Print View

Well, all levels are off to some degree. The easiest way to center it is to flip it around 180 degrees. If the bubble is off the same in both cases, it is level. This is an OLD carpenters trick. No level is ever bad, just the user doesn't know how to use it...ha ha.

The water level works, along with a trench filled with water.

A string, taught between two points will tell you if it is off, too. Simply put a couple drops of water on it at center(fold it in half to get center.) They will migrate toward the low end. I think the Egyptions used a plumb bob and a "T" as opposed to a bubble. 'Corse, this dates back a few thousand years, but still functions just as well. Lots of other ways, but, I really think this is trying too hard. (You do remember how to bisect a line with a compass??)

If it is that close to level, don't camp there. Chances are, in a rain you will get wet.

My thoughts only . . .

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
re on 12/14/2010 17:01:27 MST Print View

Ray Jardine says you should sleep with your head on the downhill end

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: re on 12/14/2010 18:15:35 MST Print View

> Ray Jardine says you should sleep with your head on the downhill end