Winter Shelter Options
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Chris S
(csteutterman) - F

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Winter Shelter Options on 10/25/2011 13:06:29 MDT Print View

I was just adding to Justin's "Tarping in the snow?" thread, but started getting a bit off topic and adding in tarptents and double walled tents, so I figured I'd start a new thread.

Anyway, I'm also looking to start winter camping this year and was wondering what the best shelter options are, especially for someone like me with virtually zero winter backpacking experience. Sounds like a mid is the way to go if going the tarp route, but how do people like the Trailstar in winter conditions? Do you typically add a bivy when using a mid or just a groundsheet?

Also, when using a regular double walled tent (in my case a Copper Spur UL3), how bad do the conditions need to be for this not to be sufficient and a 4 season tent would be worth the extra weight? And how does something like the Double Rainbow handle the snow? I see it's listed as a 3+ season shelter.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
mid on 10/25/2011 19:21:03 MDT Print View

I use a mid (Duomid) for summer, shoulder and winter seasons- in the summer I use an inner net, shoulder season/winter ditch the inner net and use a groundsheet (tyvek)- no bivy

I use an inverted V setup, gives me more room and I think the additional pole adds to the stability of the shelter- have to use pole jacks to get the right length though (trekking poles are too short in this configuration)

the problem w/ most three season tents is they don't handle snow loads very well- if you know it's not going to snow (in the Rockies this is often tough to predict) you will probably be just fine

mids are nice in that they are pretty versatile, roomy and light, they do have a little larger footprint which can be sometimes be a bit of a pain

David Adair
(DavidAdair) - M

Locale: West Dakota
Copper Spur in snow on 10/25/2011 20:16:19 MDT Print View

>Also, when using a regular double walled tent (in my case a Copper Spur UL3), how bad do the conditions need to be for this not to be sufficient and a 4 season tent would be worth the extra weight?<

Your Copper Spur has a longer fly and a tighter weave on the lower body so it shouldn't be too breezy. If you did have a bit of a draft or had snow blowing in you could probably pile some snow outside against the fly. The high level vent is good. You'll want to keep the snow bumped off.

No big problems, just go do it. If it all goes to heck you'll have a good story to entertain us with.

Andy F
(AndyF) - M

Locale: Midwest/Midatlantic
Re: mid on 10/26/2011 08:01:50 MDT Print View

Mike,

When pitched as low as possible, and without the inner, how much headroom do you have in the Duomid when laying down on your sleeping pad? Is the hood or foot of your winter bag anywhere close to touching the wall?

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Re: Re: mid on 10/26/2011 08:28:38 MDT Print View

Andy- I've got good clearance w/ a neo air and a ridge rest pad combined w/ a 0 bag (Lithium), I'm 5'11'' and am not sure at what height you'd start running into trouble??? I know Ron suggests taller folks to sleep at an angle which would give additional room- the inverted V I think would make this easier.


Mike

Andy F
(AndyF) - M

Locale: Midwest/Midatlantic
Re: Re: Re: mid on 10/26/2011 09:08:34 MDT Print View

Thanks Mike. I'm 5'9", so the clearance sounds great. I'll have to reconsider the Duomid more seriously. I really like the idea of using two poles to eliminate the center pole. I wasn't happy with the clearance in my Golite SL3, but part of that was the challenge of pitching a complex shape optimally in snow.

David Olsen
(oware)

Locale: Steptoe Butte
Outside scissor poles on mid on 10/26/2011 09:11:26 MDT Print View

Another arrow in your quiver of mid set up options.scissor poles 1 mm cordscissor poles on pyramid

Edited by oware on 10/26/2011 09:12:52 MDT.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
innovative on 10/26/2011 12:40:06 MDT Print View

^ Dave- I like that :)

Chris S
(csteutterman) - F

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: mid on 10/26/2011 15:22:31 MDT Print View

For using trekking poles to support a mid, are there problems with the poles sinking into the snow? Or any stability problems in high wind and/or a lot of snow? Was wondering if people bring a dedicated, stronger pole for winter conditions.

And with the reduced ventilation when pitching low enough to the ground to manage spindrift, how bad does the condensation get?

I also came across This Article, which was pretty helpful. Loooks like Steven answered my question about the Double Rainbow in the comments section (last comment on first page). Although the picture of the DR in the article tells a different story.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
mid on 10/26/2011 17:02:42 MDT Print View

I haven't had a problem w/ my trekking poles sinking, I use the handle end down

I haven't had really heavy snow loads w/mine, but have seen some pretty impressive pictures posted on this site :)

for high wind I use the additional guyouts and haven't had any problems (if adequate snow, piling it around the edges helps as well)- probably in the range of 40-ish mph winds, I'm sure there is a point where the mid is not going to fare well- but don't know where that point is (and I hope I don't find out :))

condensation hasn't been much of a problem for me, I do try to keep an edge up or the door partially opened a little bit and the top vent open- but it's generally drier in Montana than a lot of other places too

I should add that Andy Skurka chose a mid for his trans Alaska-Yukon trip, that should be somewhat telling :)

http://www.andrewskurka.com/AK10/gearlists.php

Edited by mtwarden on 10/26/2011 17:06:24 MDT.

Paul McLaughlin
(paul) - MLife
Re: mid on 10/26/2011 22:24:55 MDT Print View

A mid does well with light snowfall if pitched TIGHT, and if it snows heavily you will need to get out and move snow off the bottom of the sides or they will sag so much you'll lose significant space. this is less of an issue with a Twin Peaks or Betamid, as they have steeper walls - but it still happens, just not as fast. Of course, this will happen with any tent at some point, it's just differences in how many hours you can go between outings if you get a real dump.
My experience is that the real issue with single-wall(nonbreathale single-walls anyway) shelters in real winter conditions is condensation due to poor ventialtion. I made my own sinlge-wall dome with nice big vents in order to deal with this, and it was better than my pyramid or my twin peaks, but still not wonderful. For real winter (as opposed to spring snow camping), I'm a double-wall kind of guy - unless it's just a couple of nights. For a couple of nights you can get away with a lot in terms of moisture. Not so much if you're talking about 5 days or a week.
By the way, my experience is all California mountain winters - other places/conditions may vary a lot.