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Half Pyramid
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jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Half Pyramid on 03/01/2012 14:17:03 MST Print View

I recently made this half pyramid:


end view

side view

Door is open, but can be zipped closed.

I like my pyramid tent but it weighs too much, so I left half as is and converted the other half into a triangle.

So, one side is 9 feet long by 4 feet wide, the other side is a triangle that extends 4 feet the other direction.

The design height is 48 inches, but it stretches to maybe 50 inches, I use a 53 inch pole so there's a small gap all the way around. This is the smallest height that works for me. My pyramid is 60 inches which is unnecesarily high so it weighs more and gets blown around by the wind more.

Tarp is 14.6 ounces including the zipper lock bag. Pole is 0.44 inch Easton - 53 inches long - 3.8 ounces. It would be perfect to use a trekking pole instead. Stakes are 2.3 ounce Ti. 21 ounces total.

What I like about this is:

all sides close to ground for better wind resistance

I can open the door totally or partially for ventilation if it's not raining and windy - not totally immune to condensation but about as good as it gets. If there is condensation the walls are steep so it runs to ground and there's enough head room (barely) to avoid touching walls when I lie down.

there's a triangular covered area to put my stuff

enough headroom so I can sit up - this is good if it's raining - I can sit under cover, fiddle with stuff, cook,...

I have tried various A-frame tents, hoop tents,... but I don't like these because I have to contort myself to get in, rotate feet around with dirt from my boots falling onto the sleeping bag. With a pyramid or this half pyramid I just sit down with my dirty boots in the "porch area", take boots off, lay down.

I might re-do it in Cuben which would save about 6 ounces so that would make the tent 9 ounces and total weight 15 ounces. I think I'll use this silnylon version for a while.

A lot of people consider a zipper something to be avoided, but I don't see it.

The two diagonal ridges are cat cuts 2 inches deflection. I should have had cat cuts for the zipper.

This is similar to Lawson's tarp and MLD Trailstar, but I like that I can close door totally with zipper.


Locale: Northwest Mass
looks sweet on 03/01/2012 14:24:13 MST Print View

Looks great! do you have anymore info/pics on how you executed the apex of the pyramid? how does your pole stay up when the door is open?


Eric Lundquist
(cobberman) - F - M

Locale: Northern Colorado
Re: Half Pyramid on 03/01/2012 14:32:24 MST Print View

Fantastic! I've been lusting after a Duomid but can't justify the purchase just yet. MYOG is much easier to justify.

Lawson Kline
(Mountainfitter) - M

Awesome on 03/01/2012 14:53:25 MST Print View

Awesome Design and Very Lightweight for the amount of coverage. I would be interested to see more photos.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Awesome on 03/01/2012 15:47:20 MST Print View

Okay, couple more pictures : )

Obviously, anyone is free to copy this for personal or commercial use

Here's how I laid out cat curve. Sew the sides together with straight seam. Make a mark every 2 inches. Use the Roger Caffin spreadsheet to find the deflection for each 2 inch point and make a dot on the fabric. Sew through the dots:
cat layout

I'm done making templates - don't like that anymore. Although if I made multiple copies of the same tent I might change my tune.

Peak detail:

I sewed the triangular side pieces together up to the peak. Get's a little funky right at the top. Set up tent. Cut a circle of silnylon. Hemmed it around the edges. Put one hand stitch for each of the 6 seams of the side triangle pieces. Made a gather in the circle so it conforms to the pyramid shape of the tent.

A long time ago I tried making a cone shaped piece, but why bother. Circle with gathers is easier.

Then I took down the tent and did two rows of stitches all around the perimeter.

Before, I made the circle of heavy Cordura nylon but I think this is unnecesary. The only thing is the pole may abrade the nylon inside and eventually poke a hole through. There are mulitple layers of fabric from the side seams so I think I'm okay.

Notice that the zipper almost goes to the circle piece. Next time I'll run it all the way to the circle piece. That solves the problem of what to do at the top of the zipper.

So, to sew on the zipper, take each side piece and mark a straight line. Then mark a cat curve line (mark every 2 inches, measure deflection and make a dot. Cut off everything but 1/2 inch. Fold over twice and sew to make hem. You want the edge of the fabric at the hem to go through the dots. Sew it to the zipper.

Other details are the same as pyramid tent including the cat curve spreadsheet.


Locale: Northwest Mass
very cool on 03/01/2012 17:17:48 MST Print View

thanks for that info

David Passey
(davidpassey) - F

Locale: New York City
Re: Re: Awesome on 03/02/2012 07:28:08 MST Print View

Wow--nice shelter design. I would love to know the dimesion of the basic triangle you used to create the half-pyramid and the basic dimensions of the "door" panel. Very nice.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Awesome on 03/02/2012 08:13:18 MST Print View

The rectangular sleeping area is 9 feet by 4 feet.


Any less than 9 feet or 4 feet wouldn't work because with the 53 inch peak height, the walls don't go up steeply enough so you have to stay at least a foot away from the edge before the wall is high enough.

With a 60 inch peak, you can get a little closer to the edge so maybe 9 feet is a bit more than necesary.

The triangular area is 9 feet long and goes 4 feet sideways

You can open either side of the triangular area depending on where your head is. Or where is best to put your stuff under cover or get in and out.

Brian Barnes
(brianjbarnes) - M

Locale: Midwest
RE: "Half Pyramid" on 03/02/2012 09:17:46 MST Print View

Great design Jerry! Well thought out, storm stable, light, functional. Captures much of what I look for in shelter.

Walter Carrington
(Snowleopard) - M

Locale: Mass.
Half pyramid with vestibule (Royce tent) on 03/02/2012 10:00:02 MST Print View

That looks like a version of the Royce tent. There's a design in Horace Kephart's "Camping and Woodcraft", 1921, p86-91, available free online in pdf and ebook:

The front vestibule extension adds almost zero to the weight of the tent (I have a spreadsheet someplace that calculates these tents).
Wind resistance is better than the usual vertical front of a half pyramid.
It's nice having a sheltered vestibule for gear.

I wish Oware would make a version of the Royce tent. It would take a very small modification of their alphamid.

I have an Oware nanomid in cuben that I bought in the BPL sale. I'm very tempted to add a little fabric to make it a Royce tent.

I made a double layered version many years ago that was partially successful.Royce tent

Edited by Snowleopard on 03/02/2012 10:01:23 MST.

Ty Ty

Locale: SE US
Love it! on 03/02/2012 10:59:23 MST Print View

This is great. I have been reading and re-reading your 9x9 floorless shelter article but kept wishing it was slightly smaller/lighter. This would be just the ticket.

One thing I want to add is put a little strip fo maybe 1/4" velcro around the perimeter then make a removable bug netting perimeter for summer time.

I see myself making one of these very soon.

Andrew F
(andrew.f) - F - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Half pyramid on 03/02/2012 11:18:33 MST Print View

That's a really good idea... like a Solomid with a vestibule. Or a cross between a Duomid and a Trailstar. Very interesting.

Mole J
(MoleJ) - F

Locale: UK
Great - thank you on 03/03/2012 03:23:46 MST Print View

Neat simple design. Thanks for clearly showing so much info.

I have a Hex and an Oware 9x9, but was hoping to make myself a solo mid sometime. I was confused as to how to go about sewing the cat curves - sewing the straight seam first has cleareed things up for me.

Rob Hubbard
(robwa10) - F

Locale: England
You beat me to it! on 03/03/2012 07:41:53 MST Print View


Great work! I was Hoping to do something similar this year, though a bit bigger so my son could go with me. Will definately be bookmarking this and rereading it when the time comes.

Ben Wortman
(bwortman) - M

Locale: Nebraska
Nice on 03/05/2012 10:08:18 MST Print View

That is sweet Jerry. I have been wanting to make one of that exact design for a few years. Your post I think will inspire me to finally get it going. I think this would be a superior design for 1 vs a normal pyramid. Maybe another variation would be to somehow use the basic shape of a shangri-la 2 (2 pole structure) and then instead of 2 long sides, take one and make it come to a point just as you have done here. That way, you could just use 2 trekking poles instead of joining them together on taller mid like yours. I'm not sure if that would be lighter or heavier. I'll have to draw one up on google sketchup and see. I am guessing that the one you made would be simpler to make just on the fact tht it only has one peak.

I also like your simplified cone. It looks alot easier than what I have done in the past.

Edited by bwortman on 03/05/2012 10:24:20 MST.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Nice on 03/05/2012 10:52:57 MST Print View

Doesn't your trekking pole extend to 53 inches? or even 51 inches? That would be sufficient peak height.

Then you can leave your other pole next to you in case you get attacked by a bear or mountain lion : )

Ben Wortman
(bwortman) - M

Locale: Nebraska
Taller on 03/05/2012 11:11:28 MST Print View

I guess I failed to mention that I would make it a little taller for me. I am 6'3" and like a little more headroom.

Another question: when I have made pyramids in the past, I have had a hard time keeping the straight sides at ground level. I stake out the 4 corners pretty tight, and when I raise the center pole, the midpoints of each of the 4 sides raise up a bit. I have tried staking the midpoints also, but it still was not the best answer.

I have never used cat cuts, so I am wondering if using one would solve this problem?

Any advice?


jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Taller on 03/05/2012 11:46:33 MST Print View

I'm 6' 1.5"

To me, the critical thing about height is I want to sit on my sleeping bag and move around a little, cooking or fiddling with my stuff, and not have my head touch the walls

I have a longer than normal torso and shorter than normal legs so I think 51 to 53 inches is all you'de need

I also have a 60 inch pyramid and that seems overly high - so it gets blown around by the wind more and it weighs more

I think the cat cuts keep the walls more taught - they don't flap around as much in the wind - may actually make the sides go further up away from the ground

On my pyramid, I used to have tent stakes on the middle of the sides, but they are pulled at more of an angle by the tent so they sometimes pulled out in heavy wind, yet the tent stayed up just fine, so I removed them.

But the pyramid is wider, so my sleeping bag is further away from the side so it doesn't matter that it's flapping around in the wind more. I made the half pyramid narrower so I may need to stake the side down to keep rain splash off my sleeping bag.

I think it's fine for the sides to go above the ground a bit so there's more air flow to reduce condensation.

David Olsen

Locale: Steptoe Butte
Re: Half pyramid with vestibule (Royce tent) on 03/05/2012 11:51:46 MST Print View

I hear you. I have that book and thought a little overlap/vestibule would work well.

Perhaps make some soon now there is interest.

Ben Wortman
(bwortman) - M

Locale: Nebraska
Panel width on 03/05/2012 14:08:20 MST Print View

I may be missing something, but how wide was your fabric for the 2 pieces you used for the vestibule? They have to be wider than 54in correct? I assume that you did not use the actual width of the fabric, but cut it diagonally?

Do you know the disctance from the edge on the corner to the peak for vestibule?



Edited by bwortman on 03/05/2012 14:23:06 MST.