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Dirk Rabdau
(dirk9827) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Weather on 04/12/2012 02:42:53 MDT Print View

One of the advantages in the United States is that you can do some pretty amazingly long hikes in the late spring to early fall and encounter relatively little weather that would require much more than a tarp.

Particularly in the west, you can experience very fine weather during the summer months that lend itself to relatively worry free hiking experience. That it doesn't require a bombproof tent is reason enough to be thankful, if you ask me.

I don't think the point was to slight the United States, rather illustrate some of the reasons why the United States doesn't produce a large number of shelters designed to withstand the harshest of conditions. Simply, most of the time you won't need it if you hike during shoulder and peak season.

That there are places where the weather on average is less hospitable to hikers than the United States is of little surprise. Not many people on these boards seek out places where the weather is challenging. Like most people, I rather go when I can see something besides whiteout conditions or be stuck in a cloud bank most of the time.

Not everyone has the luxury of time or travel, and must make do with what they have nearby. And from that grows the need for tunnel tents that can withstand a hurricane.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Weather on 04/12/2012 04:06:31 MDT Print View

Hi Dirk

Nicely put. Thanks.

Cheers

Daniel Sandström
(sandstrom.dj)
Wonderful on 04/12/2012 07:05:03 MDT Print View

Thank you. That was a very throughout article. Enjoyed it, will now proceed to read all comments.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
US Weather on 04/12/2012 07:36:58 MDT Print View

The weather here can be bad. It can be excelent. The country is too big to say. These are regional differences. In the High Peaks area of NY we get some vicious weather, similar to what Roger is describing. I believe Mt. Washington has some pretty bad weather, part of the same mountain chain in that region. Alaska is worse. Bermuda is better. Hawai may be the best. These are regional differences. Deserts? Mountains? Plains? Hell, most countries have regions that get bad enough to warrent a tunnel tent. I believe we could easily point to one region or another and support or refute Roger's statements. It depends on where you like to hike, or, perhaps where you hike most often.

That is really not the point, after all. Roger obviosly knows that. He is poking fun at the *yanks* for the 99% of the casual car campers out there that cannot even set up a *free standing* dome. The vast majority of our population lives in cities and suburbs, after all. It WAS advertised as "free standing," wasn't it? Of the 320million people, only about 4500 or so are interested enough in "real back woods camping" to bother to even join BPL, even though we have one of the highest amounts of open land available in the world to do so. His pictures were from some music festival...not a camp ground. And not of hikers that *have* to camp just to sleep. They were of mostly disposable single use dome tents, well suited to the disposable nature of the crowd.

Different populations promote different needs. As Dirk said "I don't think the point was to slight the United States, rather illustrate some of the reasons why the United States doesn't produce a large number of shelters designed to withstand the harshest of conditions." Well put.

Roger didn't invent tunnel tents. He has is his opinion. He does not mention the extreme snow loads that 4' of snow can add to a tent overnight, even in the heavily forested ADK's. They simply shed ice and snow better, building up an insulating barrier around the tents without drastically reducing interior space. I know they are not as strong as some geodesic designs. They aren't as heavy, either. BPL is about packing for the contions we expect to encounter. And, the compromises we make to meet those conditions.

Under the conditions that Roger describes, I would also choose a tunnel tent. THIS was Rodger's point. He was not slighting anyone. As a writer, you *know* what you are writing and what objections may be raised. Read his preamble. A typically Aussies way of laughing out loud at the stupidity of the lemming like behavior he see's around him. Perhaps nowhere so pronounced as in the USofA where you could sell anything provided "...AND, get the second one FREE!!!" is stated so they knew they would get ripped off ahead of time.

I usually use a tarp for weight savings three out of four seasons. When I bring the wife, I bring a tunnel tent. Lighter for the comfort it provides. I have no preference, really. I have spent 2-3 thousand nights out in all sorts of tents and tarps and seen some fairly harsh conditions. Usually the forest cuts any 70mph winds down to about 30mph, so chosing my location carefully, also means "out of the wind." I have ridden through the edge of a tornado in a tent...70-80mph winds. Trees have come down in my area on several occasions due to severe downdrafts or what we termed as "gustnadoes" when I worked in meteorology...very localized. Dead falls, and widowmakers are a constant hazard. I recognize the signs and avoid these camping spots with all their nice downed wood in the same direction. With my wife, I tend to be very conservative and prefer the tunnel tents, or at least the fly and poles. Anyway, tunnels are a good compromise between weight, performance, and comfort. Even if it is not under gale like conditions that Roger describes ... worst case is. I doubt that Roger would expect to encounter these conditions on every trip out. I have to deal with very different conditions than Roger's. Yet, I follow the same logic to the same conclusion.

Inaki Diaz de Etura
(inaki) - MLife

Locale: Iberia highlands
Tent scene, weather is not everything on 04/12/2012 08:03:58 MDT Print View

Prevailing weather is one of the factors when choosing a tent but so is exposition when camping. In Europe, it's too common to camp in very exposed places, consistently, day after day if you're on a long route, well beyond the known weather forecast. It's a matter of population density and the fact that most of western Europe is so urbanized the only wild-ish places are high in the mountains. In North America, camping in protected locations is much more often an option, a good option. I find myself paying more attention to my shelter choice when I hike in Europe. What Mary D described for the Wind River Range is pretty much the default. I actually live and hike in Spain, most of which looks and feels a lot like California but the actual camping is very different. I don't know about Australia in this regard but in Europe is definitely a factor. One of our regular BPL contributors usually reports the same for Japan.

Stuart, I have used a tarp in Scotland! a simple, rectangular 8x10 with beaks, for a week in march/april across Knoydart and north. It's doable but too exposed and wet to be the best option. Next trip in Scotland, I've taken a tunnel tent :)

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: weather and objectivity on 04/12/2012 08:30:50 MDT Print View

Great article Roger, gives me lots to think about. As a purely personal matter, I prefer articles whose opinion and bias is overt rather than lurking behind the curtains.

I suspect that a lot of this weather/climate "debate" has to do with latitude, proximity to oceans, and their resultant influence on treeline. There is plenty of nasty wind around here (Glacier/Bob Marshall), but treeline is quite high relative to the peaks and thus there isn't any reason save preference to camp in exposed locations. I usually tarp it and scuttle down into the trees when conditions dictate.

Jeremy Osburn
(earn_my_turns)

Locale: New England
Roger's Designs on 04/12/2012 12:15:59 MDT Print View

I have been eye balling Roger's designs for a few years now. He has basic dimensions and versions of them here:

Summer
http://www.bushwalking.org.au/FAQ/DIY_RNCSummer.htm

Winter
http://www.bushwalking.org.au/FAQ/DIY_RNCWinter.htm

I am hoping to see a lot more pictures and some better detailed thoughts about his designs in the second installment to muster up the courage to build one myself.

Hint! Hint! ;)

Ben Pearre
(fugue137) - MLife
conversions on 04/12/2012 13:41:44 MDT Print View

Nice article!

But one thing that keeps coming up at BPL is:

"and winds of 100 to 150 kph (62 to 93 mph)"

This is good: http://www.chapmancentral.co.uk/blog/2012/02/meaningless-precision/

In this case Roger even provided a measure of uncertainty: it's not 100.000 to 150.000 kph, but a windspeed in that rather broad range--the roundoff scale is on the order of 50km/h. 93mph indeed. By the "translator"'s reasoning the first number should be 62.137119 mph. Really?

Throughout most of this article, conversions are handled pretty well. But every time one isn't, a little piece of me dies.

Ok, I feel better for having gotten that out :)

Edited by fugue137 on 04/12/2012 13:59:05 MDT.

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: The Great Lakes Bay Region
Re: Tunnel Tents Tutorial and State of the Market Report - Part 1: Definition and Pitching on 04/12/2012 14:58:38 MDT Print View

Hi All,

I moved to Michigan in Febuary and have seen the craziest lightening and rain storms I have ever seen. I was Wild camping in Ireland last night and the weather was far from what was forecasted :-)

I am back out tomorrow for 4 nights and no doubt the weather will be different from the forecast.

Edited by stephenm on 04/12/2012 15:00:52 MDT.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: conversions on 04/12/2012 15:50:41 MDT Print View

Hi Ben

> "and winds of 100 to 150 kph (62 to 93 mph)"

Guilty as charged. That should have been 60 to 90 mph. I can only plead exhaustion by the time I got all the conversions done and all the pictures labelled...

Cheers
Roger

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: US Weather on 04/12/2012 15:57:11 MDT Print View

Hi James

Thanks for the comments. It might be more appropriate to change the sentence in your second para thus:
'He is poking fun at the 99% of the casual car campers out there that cannot even set up a *free standing* dome.'
Not restricted to the USA by any means.

> mostly disposable single use dome tents, well suited to the disposable nature of the crowd.
Ouch!
What really did concern me were the photos or videos I saw of people burning their (pop-up) tents after the event, so they didn't have to carry them home. They were standing around cheering as the tent burnt.
Sigh.

Cheers

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: Tent scene, weather is not everything on 04/12/2012 16:37:57 MDT Print View

Prevailing weather is one of the factors when choosing a tent but so is exposition when camping. In Europe, it's too common to camp in very exposed places, consistently, day after day if you're on a long route, well beyond the known weather forecast. It's a matter of population density and the fact that most of western Europe is so urbanized the only wild-ish places are high in the mountains. In North America, camping in protected locations is much more often an option, a good option.

I'd agree with this. Most of the members here are from the States, so of course the perception of where most people camp is going to be highly affected by the kinds of places that most people camp in in the States. But the US (and Australia) just doesn't have the population density that Europe (or here in Japan) does. That's going to leave you mostly camping very high up, away from the reaches of civilization below.

One of our regular BPL contributors usually reports the same for Japan.

Heh, heh... I take it that is me (though it could be Arapiles as well). Japan is so crowded and so tight land-wise, that the only places you can get away and do real backpacking is from 1,000 meters (3,000 feet) and up. Most of my camping is around 2,000 meters (6,000 ft). Since the mountains in Japan are extremely steep, flat ground is at a premium, and often those tend to be in very exposed saddles or ridges. So when you bring a shelter in Japan it must be able to handle high winds and very heavy rains. Going floor less in Japan often means sitting in ankle deep puddles or mud since you often have no choice of where to set down your shelter in the crowded camp grounds. People do use tunnel tents more these days, and they are what I use exclusively whenever I go hiking in Europe, but tunnels need big footprints for the many (very useful and effective) guy lines. More often than not I end up having to scramble in the bamboo grass and impenetrable creeping pine surrounding the scrape of flat open ground for the shelter, to try to get the pegs in and not succeeding. So smaller, alpine-style dome tents tend to be the most popular designs here in Japan. Most tarps and tarp tents would get blown to smithereens in the heavy winds, or the tendency to be pitched with exposed sides makes them very cold or wet inside with the side-blown rain. Recently, UL'ers have tended to go with enclosed pyramids like the Locus Gear Khufu, precisely because they have small footprints, can be stable with shorter guy lines, and can be pitched right to the ground.

I'd still prefer tunnel tents, though. For their weight they have so much more usable room than any other design. And they are so easy to pitch in any weather. During my wife and my 6-month bicycle journey around Europe we started with a geodesic dome tent, but it was so heavy and ungainly to carry around, that we sent it home and bought a tunnel tent for the rest of the trip. No matter what the weather it always performed perfectly, even way up north in the Shetlands, Norway, Sweden, and Scotland. During storms we'd make sure to set all the guy lines (double, like Roger suggested), crawl way back into the back of the tent, and lie on our mattresses reading books or napping while the front door was open and the storm lashed about.

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Re: Tunnel Tents on 04/12/2012 16:41:57 MDT Print View

So many here only use a solo shelter. This will make tunnels a tough sell. So few solo designs. I just never liked the end entry. Too tight to swing my big feet and long legs around in.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: Tunnel Tents on 04/12/2012 17:11:18 MDT Print View

Well, the Akto, Competition, Photon, Scarp, Moment and Vela are all solo tunnels, just with one hoop instead of two. They set up exactly the same way as a two hoop tunnel.

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Re: Tunnel Tents on 04/12/2012 18:33:38 MDT Print View

Exactly. So like a dozen perhaps. Dozens of other designs available. And I should have clarified I meant those with an end entry. Like the Sierra Designs Flashlight.

Edited by kthompson on 04/12/2012 18:41:12 MDT.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Akto & TT Moment on 04/12/2012 18:38:08 MDT Print View

The TarpTent Moment is very similar to the original Hilleberg Akto in basic design, with both having a central tunnel" pole. Thus it is subject to the same weakness as the Akto in heavy snow or very high winds... UNLESS proper mods are made.

I have modified my Moment's longitudinal "crossing pole" to run INSIDE the Moment and out the apex of the end triangles thru holes in the Velcro closures sewn there on the end netting. Placing the crossing pole inside give a lot of contact with the tent canopy and distributes loads much better than the original external configuration.

With the internal crossing pole and the main tent pole guyed out (plus 4 stakes at the 4 grossgrain ribbon loops I have sewn equidistant around the bottom hem) it's very wind resistant and should be able to withstand the odd heavy snowfall far better than the Akto, even with a second (or heavier)pole inserted in the Akto's pole sleeve.

Photos to follow.

Edited by Danepacker on 04/14/2012 13:09:20 MDT.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Tunnel Tents Tutorial and State of the Market Report - Part 1: Definition and Pitching on 04/12/2012 19:38:57 MDT Print View

Roger C,

Really enjoyed your article and your biased Aussie humour (I found an extra "u" on my desktop and placed it inside of "humor" for you).

Here is a chapter from the Field Manual for the U.S. Antarctic Program, don't know how old it is, or if the Antarctic gets windy or much snow, but they seem to have mis-placed their tunnel tents. Interestingly they also used Sierra Designs Super Flash tents (not to be confused with the current Clip Flashlight), so this places the time frame probably mid 80's to early 90's?

Field Manual

I don't want to debate tunnel tents, because I know nothing about them, and of course I live in the mild climate of Southern California everyone is kidding about, mostly hiking in the desert. We do get a little wind. But then, what would I know about wind? 6 miles from my house is the San Gorgonio Pass which has something like 300 days per year with an average wind speed of 16-17 mph. I know this because there are now over 4,000 windmills near me, and there is a lot of publicity about it. Often we get wind storms with sustained winds above 60 mph, and gusts above 95 mph. It is not unusual for the roads out of town to get several feet of sand drifts in 24 hours, which closes the roads until heavy construction equipment can be sent out to clear it. And some of us American sissys do hike in this weather.

Now towering above my house (elevation 500 ft above sea level) are two small mountains. Mt. San Jacinto at 10,834 feet and Mt San Gorgonio at 11,499 feet. These peaks are in different mountain ranges and the pass mentioned earlier is between them, which causes our breezy weather. And when the pass is blowing, it can be worse in the mountains. And some of us hike from the desert floor to the top of these peaks... although sometimes I cheat and take the Tram part way to San Jacinto.

I have used the tent below (Super Flash) in winter storms on San Jacinto with several feet of snow falling in 48 hours, and a little bit of a breeze. One particular trip in the 80's I was stuck in my tent for two days and nights. I was the only one on the mountain. The rangers knew I was there and wanted to check on me, but they could not get to work (they take the Tram to get to the Ranger Station), because the Tram shuts down when gusts exceed something like 80 mph. And at almost 2,000 feet above the tram, it was a little breezier than the Tram station.

Super Flash w/o Fly
Notice the Super Flash has 3 poles vs 2 used with the Clip Flashlight

Super Flash Front

Super Flash Rear

This is a 2 person tent and weighs around 6lbs. Don't know if it is convenient for two people, since I mostly hike alone. I only used this for winter weather may years ago. I happen to have these pictures because my daughter and her husband borrowed it and used them to instruct them on how to set it up.

I also have a Chouinard Pyramid that handles wind well. But too much condensation in cold weather for me.

But then, I normally don't use a shelter if there is no rain/snow and wind is under 50 mph. A rock or bush works fine, as some BPL members can attest to from a recent trip we did.

We do have dozens of mountain peaks in the US that are twice as high as Mount Kosciuszko in the US. You might like either one of our White Mountains. Highest recorded wind in US was in the White Mountains in New Hampshire, on Mt Washington at 232 mph. But I think one of your mountains may have a higher recorded high. The White mountains in California pale in comparison with a feeble record of 162 mph. But those of use who hike in the California's White Mountains don't write trip reports... we want to keep the rift-raft out :)

Mt Shasta (14,000+ feet) and Mt McKinley (20,000+ feet) are totally unpredictable when it comes to weather.

Anyway, looking forward to the next installment. Just wanted to give you a little bit of hard time, not debate the merits of any tent.

- Cheers

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: US Weather on 04/12/2012 19:59:55 MDT Print View

What really did concern me were the photos or videos I saw of people burning their (pop-up) tents after the event, so they didn't have to carry them home. They were standing around cheering as the tent burnt.
Sigh.


Stove fuel is not the only use of ethyl alcohol:-)

Arapiles .
(Arapiles) - M

Locale: Melbourne
Re: Re: Weather on 04/12/2012 20:00:18 MDT Print View

"I don't think the point was to slight the United States, rather illustrate some of the reasons why the United States doesn't produce a large number of shelters designed to withstand the harshest of conditions. Simply, most of the time you won't need it if you hike during shoulder and peak season."

And in addition, if the US does in fact have lots of bad weather then I think that Rog's point is that he would suggest that you'd be better off in a tunnel.

I have an NZ Fairydown tunnel which looks like an Olympus - but it has a ridgepole as well!

Katharina ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Re: Re: Weather on 04/12/2012 20:07:11 MDT Print View

Dirk:
"One of the advantages in the United States is that you can do some pretty amazingly long hikes in the late spring to early fall and encounter relatively little weather that would require much more than a tarp.

Particularly in the west, you can experience very fine weather during the summer months that lend itself to relatively worry free hiking experience. That it doesn't require a bombproof tent is reason enough to be thankful, if you ask me.

I don't think the point was to slight the United States, rather illustrate some of the reasons why the United States doesn't produce a large number of shelters designed to withstand the harshest of conditions. Simply, most of the time you won't need it if you hike during shoulder and peak season.

That there are places where the weather on average is less hospitable to hikers than the United States is of little surprise. Not many people on these boards seek out places where the weather is challenging. Like most people, I rather go when I can see something besides whiteout conditions or be stuck in a cloud bank most of the time.

Not everyone has the luxury of time or travel, and must make do with what they have nearby. And from that grows the need for tunnel tents that can withstand a hurricane."


+1

This thread is sounding almost/oddly patriotic.