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Shelter - Day Hikes
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Kevin Lane
(Paddster) - F

Locale: western NY
Shelter - Day Hikes on 01/24/2007 12:53:00 MST Print View

We will be taking a couple of long (14 hr plus) day hikes and the subject of a group lunch shelter came up. It would shield us from the wind - snow in the northern Adirondaks. ANyone have a suggestion? I was looking at the Integral Designs product but it seems too claustrophobic, may just bring a Hex

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: Shelter - Day Hikes on 01/24/2007 13:14:56 MST Print View

I occasionally carry the OR LightHaven, which seems similar to the ID design, although a bit heavier. Used on snow you can pretty quickly dig a footwell, then it's quite roomy for two or even three.

The biggest consideration might be that it be easy to set up, otherwise it'll probably stay in the pack.

James Watts
(james481) - F

Locale: Sandia Mountains
Re: Shelter - Day Hikes on 01/28/2007 13:29:53 MST Print View

I think the Hex could be good, depending on the size of the group and the quality of the snow you're staking into. I've found that pitching the hex well is pretty hard if your stakes aren't pretty solid (in loose sand or snow), so if the snow is heavy and/or you carry good snow anchors, you can throw it up and tear it down pretty quickly, but if you have to wait for deadmen to freeze in, it might not make the ideal quick day shelter. YMMV.

Kevin Lane
(Paddster) - F

Locale: western NY
Re: Re: Shelter - Day Hikes on 01/28/2007 13:50:16 MST Print View

I agree, either that puppy goes right up or it takes forever

Kathleen B

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Shelter - Day Hikes on 02/08/2007 13:49:24 MST Print View

Since this is just a lunch-break shelter, you've probably already got what you need. Just dig a knee-deep circle in the snow, the diameter of which will depend on the size of the group (about 2-3'), use the perimeter as a bench, have everyone in the group sit on a sitpad or their pack on the bench, and drape either a lightweight tarp or the rainfly to a tent over everyone's head. Everyone holds the edge nearest them as far over their backs as they want. It doesn't need to cover a lot, and you won't get in trouble with your mom for putting plastic over your head. You can put a trekking pole in the middle, if you think it's necessary. People can eat, visit, vist the trees, and return with no hassle. Instant warmth. Instant rain/snow cover. Instant cozy, social lunch setting. Instant take down. Instant cheap.

James Watts
(james481) - F

Locale: Sandia Mountains
Bothy Bag on 02/08/2007 14:26:53 MST Print View

I believe what Kathleen is describing is known as a Bothy Bag. They're frequently used by alpinists and seem to enjoy a pretty good following in the UK and europe as emergency shelters for hikers and such, but you don't see much of them here in the states, for whatever reason. They're essentially a giant stuff sack for people, but I've heard they work well (never tried one myself).

Edited by james481 on 02/08/2007 14:28:47 MST.

Kathleen B

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Bothy Bag on 02/08/2007 15:59:04 MST Print View

My idea was to hold a tarp-like something, parachute-style, over everyone without actually climbing into anything. Any reasonable facsimile of a lightweight tarp will do.

Kevin Lane
(Paddster) - F

Locale: western NY
Re: Re: Bothy Bag on 02/08/2007 19:54:01 MST Print View

Here we encounter the difference between west coast and east coast winters. Here in the east, we can have sub zero temps with perhaps a foot maybe two of snow. Thus, the ability to dig in and bothy does not exist, or more accurately cannot be counted upon

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Check HILLEBERG on 02/08/2007 20:32:08 MST Print View

HILLEBERG TENTS makes just such an item.

David Couch
(Davidc) - F

Locale: England
Re: Re: Re: Bothy Bag on 02/09/2007 02:12:38 MST Print View

There seems to be an impression that Bothy Bags are only of use in the snow, after digging a central footwell. Here in the UK they are used most often for lunchtime stops in cold wind, with or without rain and with no snow in sight, though they also work in snowy conditions. Read the reviews at , which is one of the items found from the link "Bothy Bags" James Watts gives above.

Brett .
(Brett1234) - F

Locale: CA
del. on 02/09/2007 02:51:28 MST Print View


Edited by Brett1234 on 02/27/2008 00:26:22 MST.

(mwigmani) - F
Terra Nova Bothy/Vango Storm Shelter Online on 02/12/2007 02:17:01 MST Print View

Does anyone know of any US retailers that sell Terra Nova Bothys or Vango Storm Shelters? I can only find them for sale in the UK.

Kevin Lane
(Paddster) - F

Locale: western NY
Lighthaven On Sale on 02/14/2007 11:31:47 MST Print View

Altrec has the Lighthaven Bothy on sale for jsut about $79

Brian James
(bjamesd) - F

Locale: South Coast of BC
day hike shelter on 02/21/2008 21:54:19 MST Print View

It's a bit pricier and a bit heavier, but seriously multi-use: consider the OWare USA 10x10 pyramid tarp. (24 ounces)

I bought one for snow camping, but the light weight (24 ounces) and massive size (10x10 feet, 6' tall *before* you dig) make it too cool to leave at home on dayhikes.

I can pitch it in a heartbeat, especially with a group. If you "quick-stake" it rather than digging holes for your stakes, the base winds up about 6-8" above the snow which gives it great breathability and extra height.

The edge it has over bothies is:

a) size. Comfortably sits 6-10. (seriously!)
b) it's a full-fledged 4-season shelter - in case you get caught out, or for camping
c) it doesn't need people to hold it up. I can pitch it in advance of group members arriving, or someone can go outside to take a leak without the shelter collapsing
d) it's as airy as you want it to be. Not that I've ever used a Bothy, but everyone sitting on the edges must cut into ventilation. The 'mid is tall, 100 square feet, and can be pitched with the door wide open if it's humid or you're running a stove.

This picture doesn't give you a very good idea of how tall it is:


This picture shows the mini snow kitchen we carved, with the intention of sleeping on the benches. As you can see, it could be made a lot bigger with an eye to head an legroom:


The guy in the second picture is 6'2". Imagine a pyramid extending 6' above the snow walls you see.

Two of us dug and shaped this kitchen in about 10 minutes...

Edited by bjamesd on 02/23/2008 10:31:38 MST.

Stephen Klassen
That's not Giza on 02/27/2008 00:14:10 MST Print View

Hmmm, looks a lot like Elfin Lakes.

Brian, would you rely on a pyramid like that for a longer traverse, something like the lillooet icefield in April?

Brian James
(bjamesd) - F

Locale: South Coast of BC
Re: That's not Giza on 03/02/2008 23:34:06 MST Print View

Good eye. The hut has 34 beds and there were easily 50 people in there that night, snoring and farting and getting up to pee all night long. It looked like a Katrina refugee camp in there with people sleeping on tables and benches and behind the stairs. One of the guys with me slept inside but got zero sleep; he should have opted for silnylon and -10C rather than that mess!

As for using a tarp for a long above-treeline ski tour, I'm not the guy to ask. I think so, yes... especially with some insurance such as eVent bivy and/or a synthetic bag to deal with the gnarly humidity that sometimes comes off wet snow in the Coast Mountains. But this is theoretical.

Dave Olsen of OWare says that his pyramids are used by NOLS and that people pitch them on Denali; looking at the construction (flawless) I don't see why it wouldn't survive a week-long spring storm on a glacier. But I have *not* tested it as such and have never actually read of someone doing the same. And the site is a bit vague -- nowhere does it say that the ultralight 30-denier silnylon is truly 4-season when used on such a huge square pyramid.

I believe that a lot of people do exactly what you described with Megamids and Megalights; this trip report and others like it are what originally gave me the cojones to switch to a tarp for winter camping.

My strategy is to use it as a kitchen tent for the group and/or sleep in it within crawling distance of a "real" tent or a hut until I've seen it survive a real blizzard with my own eyes. After that, yes ultimately I'd like to use it as the sole shelter for a party of 2-4 doing a backcountry tour above or below the treeline.


PS the guy to talk to on this forum about OWare mids is Viktor Karpenko. He's been using them in the Sierras with great success and he may have more insight into their weatherworthiness. It was definitely the only tarp pitched at Elfin that night...

Edited by bjamesd on 03/02/2008 23:53:55 MST.

Al Shaver
(Al_T.Tude) - F - M

Locale: High Sierra and CA Central Coast
Mids on 03/04/2008 18:41:32 MST Print View

Bela Vadaz's ASI (Alpine Skills International)anually runs springtime 6 day Haute Route trips with paying clients across the Sierra Nevada with Black Diamond Mids. One team starts on the East and the other on the West. They meet in the middle and exchange car keys.

I've always thought this would be a great opportunity to drop a full day's cache of food and fuel at each camp for the first half of the trip. On the second half you would have stocked camps and tent platforms waiting. After day one the weight of your packs would decrease by twice the normal amount each day.

Of course you would carry emergency fuel and food on the second half of the trip. If you had a problem and had to turn around before meeting, both parties would still have stocked camps waiting for them.

This is a situation where sat phones are worth their weight in gold. We tried this trip from the East. Due to warm conditions we turned around. How nice to call our support team and tell them pick us up at the drop off point rather than the West side 200 miles away.

Stephen Klassen
Blizzards and spindrift on 03/06/2008 01:44:16 MST Print View

Thanks Brian - it sounds like there the potential to handle winds is there. I will have to give tarps a try.

Thom Darrah
(thomdarrah) - MLife

Locale: Southern Oregon
Winter Tarp on 03/06/2008 08:28:24 MST Print View

A tarp that is made for winter conditions is MSR's Twin Peaks (2008 model is called Twin Sisters). This is a tough, fairly light (at under two pounds) and enough room for two plus gear. This is a good shelter to transition away from a four season tent. There are lighter shelters but this is a tarp designed for use in winter conditions.