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Above the tree line shelter?
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Christopher Forsberg
(Chris.Biomed) - F
Above the tree line shelter? on 10/28/2011 01:15:38 MDT Print View


I'm planning on venturing out above the tree line for the first time next summer (Lapland, Sweden) and need a shelter that can handle those conditions.

I need a shelter that:
- can handle strong winds
- keep me safe from mosquito hell! (It's so far north that the sun never sets, and hence the mosquitoes are active 24 hours a day, them bastards!)
- can handle rain
- I can cook inside of
- is large enough for 2 people and their gear

Those that I've considered are:
- MLD SPEEDMID (with perimeter bug netting, or DIY fully enclosed bugnet floor as zpacks tents)
- Zpacks Hexamid Twin (with screen) *it's quite a pricey option*
- MLD DUOMID (with innernet or perimeter bug netting)

Any thoughts, pros/cons or another option to consider?

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Bug Bivy on 10/28/2011 05:15:45 MDT Print View

I'd consider a bug bivy over other options. I personally favor the SMD Meteor in most cases, but have used a few others.
Lighter and allows for more flexibility than a full inner or perimeter net.

Mark Ryan

Locale: Somewhere. Probably lost.
Good Weight? on 10/28/2011 06:23:32 MDT Print View

Whats a good weight

Christopher Forsberg
(Chris.Biomed) - F
Weight on 10/28/2011 07:29:17 MDT Print View

A maximum weight would roughly be 2 lbs? The lighter the better.

Might also consider doing some DIY if I can come over some nice plans.

John Le
(jplblue) - F

Locale: Northeast
Re: Above the tree line shelter? on 10/28/2011 08:37:42 MDT Print View

Stupid question, but do mosquitoes live above the treeline?

Paul Wagner
(balzaccom) - F

Locale: Wine Country
mosquitoes on 10/28/2011 09:03:23 MDT Print View

Yes. Mosquitoes live above the treeline. in clouds.

ed hyatt
(edhyatt) - MLife

Locale: The North
Above the tree line shelter on 10/28/2011 11:30:08 MDT Print View

If you want a shelter that can handle exposed bad conditions I think you'd be better off with something along the lines of a semi-geo , strong tunnel, or similar.

I live in the UK and frequently summit camp (sometimes, though not through choice) in some fairly foul weather. I don't think the UL 'USA specific' shelters can cut it in such conditions if you want to be comfortable.

Diplomatic Mike

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Above treeline on 10/28/2011 12:13:35 MDT Print View

I have a Duomid as a solo shelter, and i love it for milder conditions. It would be a tight squeeze for two plus gear. Cooking inside is fine solo, but could be a problem with two folk.
99% of my hiking is above the treeline, and as ed said, if you expect wild weather, there are better choices.

Ben Wortman
(bwortman) - M

Locale: Nebraska
SL2 on 10/28/2011 12:26:10 MDT Print View

How about a golite shangri La 2 with a full netting floor sewed in? It shoude come in at just about 2 lbs after the netting is added. Of course, you would need to use trekking poles.

Roger B
(rogerb) - MLife

Locale: Here and there
Re: Above the tree line shelter? on 10/28/2011 12:39:07 MDT Print View

I used a Golite SL 2 in Lapland last summer with an MLD Solo inner net, it worked perfectly for me, SL2 details here

I intend to use this set up again next summer in Lapland

Here There
(cowexnihilo) - MLife
Re: Above the tree line shelter? on 10/28/2011 12:50:43 MDT Print View

If you're looking at the Speedmid, something about the same size but with no zipper to potentially fail is the MLD Trailstar. The SuperMid is also very nice and a good size for two with gear, though a worse profile for wind. BearPaw Wilderness Designs can make you a reasonably priced inner for any of those.

I can't really see the Zpacks Hex Twin fitting the needs you've outlined, and I agree with Mike that the Duomid is too small for two people, gear, and cooking.

Mids are great, but the importance of anchoring them well can't be overemphasized since if one tie-out goes, the whole shelter goes. Also, in strong winds you'll want to have a really stout center pole.

While I like mids and find them to be great for a wide variety of conditions, I have no experience with the region you'll be in to know if you will require something more than they can provide.


John Coyle

Locale: NorCal
Above the Tree Line Shelter on 10/28/2011 13:16:01 MDT Print View

I agree with Ed Hyatt. The American ultra-lights are not for sustained winds above 30MPH. I am an American and I have a Tarptent Moment and now a Six Moon Designs Trekker. I have camped with the Moment in steady 30MPH wind with gusts to 50MPH. I had major sidewall deflection and one of the stakes pulled out which collapsed the whole tent. The American UL tents are light and easy on the back, and wonderful for moderate weather, but if you are encountering high winds I would look elsewhere.

Here There
(cowexnihilo) - MLife
Re: Above the tree line shelter? on 10/28/2011 14:04:26 MDT Print View

Christopher, it might be helpful if you could clarify what conditions you expect to face. Above tree line in summer can mean a lot of different things, so you're going to get a lot of different suggestions based on what different people have experience with.

It doesn't sound like you're worried about snow, and based on the shelters you initially posted it doesn't look like you were anticipating intensely foul weather or summit camping.

What exactly does "can handle strong winds" mean to you?

Here There
(cowexnihilo) - MLife
Re: Re: Above the tree line shelter? on 10/28/2011 14:16:15 MDT Print View

Also, here's a review that specifically addresses the wind-worthiness of the Trailstar, and a BPL thread with some related commentary (including dissenting opinions).

Trailstar Review

BPL Thread

If you are anticipating snow, then I definitely don't recommend low mids like the Speedmid or Trailstar.

Edit: fixed links (I hope...)

Edited by cowexnihilo on 10/28/2011 14:30:03 MDT.

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Low Pyramids on 10/28/2011 14:24:32 MDT Print View

I have had low pyramids shelters hold up well in very strong winds, but as noted, they require that your stakes are well placed. If they pull out, your shelter collapses.

One case, 50 mph gusts, one GG Spinnshelter, one Gatewood Cape, several 3 season domes. It was in an area with very little in the way of wind breaks.

The Spinnshelter and the Gatewood, both low pyramids, did not cave in or collapse and the owners slept reasonably well consider the horrible racket.
Most of the dome tents did cave in and the ones with fiberglass poles busted their poles and collapsed.

The domes would have held better if they had side ties, but either they didn't or the users didn't think to use them.

I have heard lots of good reports on other mids, but again, they were solidly attached.
And of course there is the popular video of the MLD Trailstar in Scotland.

Diplomatic Mike

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Above tree line on 10/28/2011 14:32:15 MDT Print View

As others have said, it depends what you mean by 'strong winds'.
A trek on my list of 'futures' is the Arctic Circle Trail in Greenland. I would be happy to take my Duomid along on that. Lapland in summer would be pretty similar, i would think.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
TT MOMENT on 10/28/2011 20:41:26 MDT Print View

Unlike John my TT Moment did not have problems in 35 to 45 mph sustained all night winds at Arapaho Pass in Colorado. I had it very well staked out and guyed out from the pole sleeve guy loop on the windward side.

BUT... it was breezy inside even with all the roof and end vents closed B/C there was the perimeter neetting above the floor wall and the door side was all netting inside the silnylon vestibule. Plus there was the unnecessary (IMHO) "raised floor" netting at each end. That gets replaced with silnylon soon to keep out wind, ground moisture and some wind-blown dust.

From that Colorado 11,500 ft. experience I have since carried snap-on TripTease guy lines so I can rig them in a hurry. If I go above tree line I cary 2 extra MSR Groundhog stakes for the guy lines AND my crossing pole (which I modded to fit inside the ridge of the Moment's roof). All this gives me the support that makes ths Moment very stable in high winds.

Next I'll add some light ripstop material to the door side of my Moment liner to cut down on more interior breezes.

But for 2 people I'd look at Hilleberg tents for above treeline camping.

Edited by Danepacker on 10/28/2011 20:43:41 MDT.

Harald Hope

Locale: East Bay
wind cold rain bugs on 10/30/2011 15:10:15 MDT Print View

I've camped in Norway before, and rain is the main motif, if it's summer. I was up in the Lofoten Islands 2 summers ago (didn't get to camp, sadly, oh well), and it rained every day. Not just drizzle, real rain. Don't know about Lapland in Sweden, but if it's above the treeline, that's far North, or high up, ie, it's basically tundra. This past summer in Norway saw almost constant and daily rains, so that's what I would plan on if I were you, ie, wet, swampy, tundra ground, which suggests a real tent floor.

I've camped on the tundra on Hardangervida, was a long time ago, but I have memories that it was a real pain getting just 6 stakes for a doubled hooped tent attached, let alone the many solid stakings you'd need for a mid.

I was curious about this question, and apparently there are some fans of the duomid for that area now, though I wouldn't be one of them based on my experiences in that climate, I want the type of tent that they make there, a double walled, serious, strong, wind shedding tent, like a Terra Nova or Hilleberg, or a Helsport, if you can afford it, which I can't. To me, if you look at the tents made for that climate, they are all made expecting high winds, a lot of constant, and driven, rain, bugs, bugs and more bugs. I guess a Scarp now also would work fine after it was tweaked to work in that type of rainy climate. No need for the cross poles.

Also, in the tundra, it can get really cold, really fast, basically the second the sun goes behind a cloud, it gets cold almost instantly, the air doesn't hold any warmth. With that type of cold I'd want a double walled tent, though I can see making a single walled work if your sleeping bag system is good enough, but seems unpleasant to me to be dealing with cold air blowing through the tent at me at night, I'd rather have a double wall there.

I also wouldn't even consider a tent that doesn't have full bug screening, and bug doors, ie, really, if you look at what works best there, you end up with something like a Helsport, Hilleberg, or Terra Nova. No surprise. But there seems to be some fans now of the true pyramid, though in my opinion, that pyramid needs to have fully integrated bug screens, and a real floor. In fact, heh, sounds like a perfect project for Henry at Tarptents, but the sides of the pyramid would need to go all the way to ground if you needed that.

Clouds of flying things, that's exactly right, if you've never seen it, it's hard to imagine. The joke in the North there is: How do you make a mosquito sandwich? Answer: butter two slices of bread, slap them together. That's not much of an exaggeration, around water sources especially it's stunning to see how bad the mosquitoes/midges/gnats can be.

Oh, and any tent you get should be fully capable of supporting one or two days of unexpected really bad rain, ie, sitting in the tent waiting for the rain to stop.

On the bright side, you might luck out and get really warm nice weather, albeit cold, but you simply cannot count on that up there, you have to assume bad weather and be happy to get good.

Any tent that uses a beak type method (ie, not fully to the ground) to protect against rain I'd immediately remove from your list, rain is just too steady and constant there to use what are essentially 2 season methods.

Wow, I just remembered, when we moved here from Norway, ages ago, my dad had an old canvas norwegian tent, and it was in fact a type of pyramid, except it had 4 arms that folded out to make it sort of boxier on the top part. Of course it had a floor and all that, wooden main pole, but that kind of thing I guess was the old school way there, so maybe Henry really should give this a shot, it's exactly the style he makes already in some ways....

Edited by hhope on 10/30/2011 15:29:54 MDT.

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Pyramids on 10/30/2011 15:22:56 MDT Print View

Be aware that a pyramid with a bug bivy is basically a four season bug proof floored tent. That combination is somewhat popular in those regions. Maybe not so popular with your average hiker, but many of the more experienced hikers do go that route.

Also, many pyramid shelters are full coverage and if your aren't careful you can even pitch them with too much coverage and not have enough ventilation.

If pitched correctly they will withstand much wind, rain and snow.

Harald Hope

Locale: East Bay
that's what I realized too on 10/30/2011 15:34:15 MDT Print View

Yeah, my first instinct was to totally reject all the options, but the pyramid seems like it could work, if it had a full bug inner so you can sit in out of the bug area. Or a bug door/bug edges, or whatever.

But tundra gets swampy, I'd want a real floor, I can see doing it other ways but doesn't seem very pleasant to me, I'd carry that extra pound or whatever and be very happy to do so. A bivy isn't something you can hang out in the rain, and rain is what I always think of when I think of that climate.

The more I think of it though, the more I can see a new product for TarpTents, a pyramid with bug edging, a higher bathtub edge, and a silnylon type floor, with variable edge heights, that would actually work pretty well.

Edited by hhope on 10/30/2011 15:36:20 MDT.