Above treeline; rough weather and UL USA designed shelters in the UK
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ed hyatt
(edhyatt) - MLife

Locale: The North; UK
Above treeline; rough weather and UL USA designed shelters in the UK on 05/13/2011 15:13:06 MDT Print View

Now we all (?) want light; but I want seriously robust and weather-worthy as well.

In the UK - with a focus on Scotland and summit pitches - an UL shelter that can withstand all that UK conditions can throw at it would be great.

So, in Summer think winds and rains perhaps to 60mph++ (if you are unlucky) and reasonably cold to be realistic. Above the 'treeline' (cos there ain't one) i.e. exposed.

Pitched at 800-1000m or so. That height might mean little to those who have yet to experience the UK; we just don't get the lovely settled conditions at 2000-3000m that I experienced on a JMT thru-hike a couple of years ago.

So will an MLD Duo-Mid cut it, a Contrail, a Lightheart solo, Hexamid, Trailstar.......and so on?

I don't see that many reports of UL shelters and their performace in such conditions?

Andy F
(AndyF) - M

Locale: Midwest/Midatlantic
Re: Above treeline; rough weather and UL USA designed shelters in the UK on 05/13/2011 15:24:26 MDT Print View

I've seen mentions of the TT Moment and Scarp in UK conditions.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Above treeline; rough weather and UL USA designed shelters in the UK on 05/13/2011 15:31:15 MDT Print View

Hi Ed

My opinions on this are probably fairly well-known, but fwiiw:

American-made tents are designed for the average American walker in average American conditions. They are generally not designed for Northern European conditions and generally just not suited to the wilds of Scotland. If you want a reliable tent for Scotland you need to buy a tent designed for those conditions: it will likely be from a European company (or a New Zealand one).

Personally, I favour tunnel tents as the ultimately reliable bad weather tent. But they are not cheap. We will have a survey later this year of tunnel tents.

Cheers

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
"Above treeline; rough weather and UL USA designed shelters in the UK" on 05/13/2011 15:44:13 MDT Print View

"But they are not cheap."

Nor UL.

BRIAN TACKETT
(tacksman99) - F

Locale: So Cal
BAMF Tent on 05/13/2011 16:23:28 MDT Print View

Try this one.
http://www.rei.com/product/739354/rei-mountain-2-tent

I own it. Its really good. Not ultralight by any means.

Jason Elsworth
(jephoto) - M

Locale: New Zealand
Above treeline; rough weather and UL USA designed shelters in the UK on 05/13/2011 18:38:53 MDT Print View

Hi Ed,

My first years 15 of backpacking were spent in the UK and the next have been here in New Zealand. I never used UL shelters in the UK, but have used three (but not extensively)in New Zealand. Currently I have a TT Squall, a MLD Duomid and a MLD Trailstar. I use the Squall for below the bushline summer camps. It is good in heavy rain and I have modified it a bit to make it better in winds.

I have been blessed with calm conditions so far when using the Duomid, but did give it a strong wind test pitching near my house. I concluded that because of its height it was best for moderate winds.

Only two nights in the Trailstar so far and again very clam. A test pitch in strong winds is planned and I will report results. My initial impressions is that it will do well when pitched low and used with good stakes.

I have had a three pole geodesic tent badly bent out of shape, in the tail end of a typhoon that hit us at a low level camp near Wellington (not called Windy Wellington for nothing).


From the blogosphere I have seen a number of people are using UL shelters in UK conditions with success. However, everyone of course has different expectations of what success is. Do you want to have a tarp pitched 6 inches above your face whilst you are in an eVent bivy? The following seem to be the most popular in the UK.

1. MLD Duomid - however not everyone thinks these are up to strong winds and I would agree.
2. TT Scarp - works well, but is a std tent really.
3. MLD Trailstar - the current fave and a number of reliable reports of it working well in 60mph winds. http://www.andyhowell.info/Colin-Ibbotson/Trailstar-review.html. http://summitandvalley.blogspot.com/2011/01/rain-wind-and-sometimes-it-was.html
4. Tarps - These are definitely in the minority. See here for details http://www.andyhowell.info/Colin-Ibbotson/Colin-Talks-Tarps.pdf.

To conclude I do think UL shelters can work in conditions outside of the USA. However, if I was summit camping in Scotland, on a regular basis, I would probably look at a tent of some sort. I strongly favour designs where the poles are attached to the flysheet rather than the the inner, with the fly then stretched over them. If you want to go the tarp route have a look at the Trailstar.

ROBERT TANGEN
(RobertM2S) - M

Locale: Lake Tahoe
Rocket Tent on 05/13/2011 20:38:09 MDT Print View

Rocket Tent Specs:
Winter weight (without poles): 1 lb 5.9 oz (620 g)
[87” long according to the floor plan, to the exact rear point, so it is not all useable.
It is 48” wide, 38” peak height, seven square-foot vestibule.]
The Rocket Tent
Rocket Tent Specs:
Winter weight (without poles): 1 lb 5.9 oz (620 g)
Summer weight (with included poles): 2 lbs 0.4 oz (920 g)
Floor area: 21.5 ft2
Vestibule area: 7.0 ft2
Peak height: 38"
Packed size: 6" x 10" x 2"
For What It’s Worth: (I have no affiliation with the following): The Cuben fiber (metallic coated CTF-3) Rocket Tent by Brooks-Range Mountaineering is billed as able to handle all four seasons, weighs under 1 ½ lbs (620 g), and is reviewed with LOTS of pictures at: http://www.alpineambitions.com/Alpine_Ambitions/Rocket_Tent.html

Douglas Ray
(dirtbagclimber)

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Light Shelters for rough weather... on 05/13/2011 21:30:48 MDT Print View

I've camped in the conditions you describe with an Oware Cattarp 2 and a DWR bivy sack successfully, although I would say it was the limit of that system's ability. I would take my Golite Hex 3 if I was expecting that weather.

Tall pyramid shelters do tend to have issues in strong wind, although with good staking I've known people to use them in 60mph wind successfully.

The lower, fully enclosed floor-less shelters such as the BD Betamid, Golite Shangri-La 2, and MSR twin-sisters are reportedly more wind-worthy than single-pole pyramids, and I would speculate that they would be the lightest realistic option. I know several people who regularly use them for high alpine camping the the Cascades, even in winter.

Most American tents have lousy entrances that make it impossible too get into them in the rain without getting a bunch of water in there with you. The non-breathable single-wall models usually either have condensation problems in this sort of very wet weather or so much ventilation that they leak in wind-driven rain. The only time I have ever gotten my sleeping bag very wet was camping for four days in 40mph wind and rain in a hybrid single-double wall tent poor vestibules.

I'm thinking a strong and carefully-crafted tunnel tent made from Momentum 50 and Cuben fiber, patterned after the ones by Hillberg or similar, could be of great value in many wet parts of the world.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Above treeline; rough weather and UL USA designed shelters in the UK on 05/13/2011 21:48:43 MDT Print View

I would use the yummy Integral Designs Wedge for those conditions. Pegged out, it isn't going to budge and at under 3 lbs, I do not know of a lighter bomber type shelter.

Michael Skwarczek
(uberkatzen) - F

Locale: Sudamerica
RE: Above treeline; rough weather and UL USA designed shelters in the UK on 05/13/2011 23:20:15 MDT Print View

Minor derail, though in the same direction: so, I'm taking a Pyramid style single-wall (Shangri-La 3) into some reputedly high wind conditions in Sudamerica (according to Danny and Kristen's recent reports). What mods should I consider, like additional guy's on the side walls or additional guy-lines from the peak? I heard the latter may stabilize the center pole. But I'm not sure where the failure will occur in high wind, and thus where I should be concerned with the pitch.

cheers,
-Michael

ed hyatt
(edhyatt) - MLife

Locale: The North; UK
Above treeline; rough weather and UL USA designed shelters in the UK on 05/13/2011 23:42:28 MDT Print View

Morning (well it is here)

Some interesting answers - thanks all.

I use a Scarp for most backpacking in the UK, a Hex (two-up) for the Alps and other European mountains, and have just invested in a Rab Summit Mountain bivvy for UK summits.

I keep trying to persuade myself UL shelters can do what I want, but reality bites. I almost took my Grace Solo and Katabatic bivvy on a recent five-day hike in Assynt (a wonderful landscape none of you should ever visit ;-).....but something told me 'no' - and the winds that almost knocked me over on a ridge confirmed it was the right decision.

Thanks for the thoughts.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: "Above treeline; rough weather and UL USA designed shelters in the UK" on 05/14/2011 00:23:46 MDT Print View

> "But they are not cheap."
> Nor UL.
I beg to differ.
My 2-man single-skin summer tent provides comfortable living space for 2 people and weighs 1.26 kg including poles. It has taken European bad weather and snow.
My 2-man dou8ble-skin winter tent provides comfortable living space for 2 people and weighs 1.86 kg including poles. It has taken extreme bad weather on ridge-tops in gales.

Do these qualify as UL? Well, tarp-weight they are not, but measure them against 2 small tarps plus two decent bivy bags plus 2 groundsheets, and think again.

Cheers

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: "Above treeline; rough weather and UL USA designed shelters in the UK" on 05/14/2011 02:19:31 MDT Print View

Roger, I love your tents and always love hearing about them, ever since I first started reading about them ten years ago... but unfortunately they are not available to others, unless they know how to design and sew a tent and craft its parts. There is not much available that is like your tents. What to do?

By the way, I've always wondered what you do (if you ever do) going solo...

Fred eric
(Fre49) - MLife

Locale: France, vallée de la Loire
rough weather on 05/14/2011 02:55:34 MDT Print View

Its not UL but my kifaru para tipi ( 935g ) did cope with Scottish and Patagonian weather ( for the camp sites that were not sheltered from the wind )

Add 150-200g for a solid groundsheet or 350g for a myog inner ( if midges , mosquitoes etc..)

its the 14 stakes that add weight but they are useful in case of strong wind.


the shelter that i used before i bought the paratipi ( and for a while if snow camping afterwards ) is the MSR twin sisters, its probably the most storm worthy shelter i had if staked properly ( but i love the 56" peak height of the paratipi instead of the 48" of the MSR )

i wouldnt use a shelter less than 48" high, my back is in too bad shape for this

i used the MSR in very strong winds in Iceland Hornstrandir ( you couldnt walk standing straight ) and it coped without problem.

msr hornstrandir


I wouldnt say the same about my shangri la 5, i bought it because now we hike with our son, but its so big, it doesnt likes wind :)

Edited by Fre49 on 05/14/2011 03:07:29 MDT.

Martin RJ Carpenter
(MartinCarpenter) - F
Terra Nova on 05/14/2011 03:01:47 MDT Print View

Well some of the slightly mad things that terra nova are doing probably do qualify as at least light (~600g for the ultra, which uses some relative of Cuben).... In that case of course cheap very much another matter!

Diplomatic Mike
(MikefaeDundee)

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
ID Wedge on 05/14/2011 07:21:45 MDT Print View

If ID ever reverse the zip on the Wedge, i would have one in an instant. The top opening design kills it for me as a stormy weather summit shelter.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Rocket Tent on 05/14/2011 08:17:47 MDT Print View

That Rocket looks very cool - perhaps a very nice 1-person winter tent. Hmmmmmm.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: ID Wedge on 05/14/2011 08:27:57 MDT Print View

"...If ID ever reverse the zip on the Wedge..."

Granted, I've never seen one ...
... but anyone competent with a sewing machine could mod the door/zip configuration, stopping at the "knee" of the pole bend.

So it just depends on how much you want it.

nanook ofthenorth
(nanookofthenorth) - MLife
... on 05/14/2011 08:45:24 MDT Print View

I had a Rab Summit Superlight or whatever they call them. Horrible tent for percipiention, the door was so flat you were lucky if you could leave the bottom unzipped. Really designed for crawling in, sealing up and going to sleep in.
Doesn't the ID Wedge have an optional vestibule? That might be OK.
What about the Rocket tent, or one of the less expensive MSR Silinylon Single Skin tents? Its hard to go SUL in driving rain, other then those options I'd say you could try something like a BetaLite or go for a light double skin tent that sheds wind.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Wedge on 05/14/2011 08:57:52 MDT Print View

The kicker with shelters that do really well in high wind is having them as close to the ground as possible. Low profile. Higher shelters simply become wind walls. It's why the Trailstar does so well in extreme wind compared to other shaped tarps. Personally, the UK has a lot of exposed, windy, rainy areas. I would want a full shelter because of the rain and wind above treeline.