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Tunnel Tents Tutorial and State of the Market Report - Part 1: Definition and Pitching
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Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Tunnel Tents Tutorial and State of the Market Report on 04/13/2012 15:21:55 MDT Print View

"I had one of those blue and white Flashlights. Used it till it disintegrated. Still being made. Amazing since it came out in 83?"

Yeah, but the newer ones are heavier :(

Running the poles through the sleeves makes the old one more stable and less flapping in the wind. The lack of a vestibule is a bummer... but that probably makes it lighter. Plus new newer one has a lot of buckles and other nonsense. But I have always been partial to Sierra Design tents. Pretty good products at a reasonable price.

And here is my first tent... not a tunnel, not light (5.5 lbs), not good in snow, single wall & condensation, and not that good in wind. But hey, not a lot available almost 50 years ago.

REI Tent Label

REI Tent Front

REI Tent Rear

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Tunnel Tents Tutorial and State of the Market Report on 04/13/2012 16:11:40 MDT Print View

> Is it just me (and my wife) that don't like to sleep with our heads at the door?
I tend to agree with this, but there are conflicting features here.

Many tunnels are (rightly or wrongly) tapered to the windward end. Why they do this is not always clear, but it does save a little bit (not much) in weight, and might (in theory) streamline the tent against a tail wind a bit. Sometimes I think it is a lack of understanding by the designer; sometimes I think it might be a marketing 'feature'.

I make my tents fairly symmetrical in profile. The extra bit of silnylon really does not weigh much. An extra little bit of CF tubing does not weigh much either. The increased internal space is wonderful. The lack of a taper does not make the tent more susceptible to the wind in my experience.

Cheers

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Re: Tunnel Tents Tutorial and State of the Market Report on 04/13/2012 16:13:18 MDT Print View

Hi Nick

I have one very similar, but in green Japara (cotton) fabric, with little walls at the sides. it was my pride and joy in the Boy Scouts (early 60s).

Cheers

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Schedule for Part 2 on 04/13/2012 16:15:17 MDT Print View

Hi all

Addie has Part 2 - I sent it in with Part 1, and it is scheduled for 'fairly soon'. I can't be more specific: that's Addie's department.

Cheers

Martin Rye
(rye1966) - F

Locale: UK
Re: Re: Tunnel Tents Tutorial and State of the Market Report - Part 1: Definition and Pitching on 04/13/2012 16:16:49 MDT Print View

Miguel well said. In the UK we find the wind the main issue camping as it's exposed a lot. Trailstar now has a cult following. Everyone it seems wants one.

Roger a superb article and thank you for writing it. Tunnel tents are superb. I have a Vango one. Cheap, superb and good in the wind. External guy points and internal tension band gives rigidity to the poles and it works great. Space is good for two. Just hardly use it. Solo its a bit overkill.

I had to smile at the Arctic exploration tent photo you shared. When I read about trips across ice caps, or attempts to get to the South pole. I normally see three pole tunnel tents are the tent of choice. Tells you all you need to know about how good they are.

Look forward to more. Nice to see you back sharing here.

Jeremy Platt
(jeremy089786) - F

Locale: Sydney
Weather on 04/13/2012 17:05:38 MDT Print View

For the sake of tourism to Australia, I would say most of the continent usually experiences reasonable - good and often predictable weather (think deserts, most valleys, most places near the coast). Unless I am in a handful of locations (Snowy mountains, most of Tasmania, exposed ridges etc) I always opt for a tarp. While in nastier however, tunnels are amazing and I'm eagerly awaiting the pick of the crop in the next installment.

Also, it seems like freestanding tents get a bit of bad mention in this article. I am a massive fan of freestanding tents (if I can afford the weight) and as long as they are properly designed (proper attachment to the ground), are at least as stable as tunnel tents (I'm in the process of building a freestanding tunnel). They have the big advantage of allowing a quick location change in unfavourable conditions (often in basecamp and or civilization: noise lights etc).

Edited by jeremy089786 on 04/13/2012 18:01:09 MDT.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife

Locale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
Tunnel Tents Tutorial and State of the Market Report - Part 1 on 04/13/2012 18:54:27 MDT Print View

I had one of those SMD Flashlights (the same as shown in the earliest photos above) from the mid-1980's and a later Clip Flashlight (because I gave the old one to my daughter) from the mid-1990's. Both were condensation traps because of the outward-sloping screen door, which meant the fly had to be zipped up tight even in the merest drizzle. (I note that the door of the most recent version shown above is nearly vertical, most definitely an improvement.) Especially in the clip version, I had puddles of condensation on the floor and my sleeping bag in the mornings. That's why I now insist on a single-wall tent with lots of ventilation--at least I can reach the condensation to wipe it off! It was good in strong winds, though, especially the one with the sleeves. The Clip version is easier to set up but not as strong, IMHO. I'm not sure why it had more condensation than the old one, since the door situation was the same in both.

Speaking of weather, I just saw this post on the PCT-L from subtropical (?) southern California (Mt. Laguna): "at 5pm [Pacific Daylight time], 30F, 40mph wind and quite a bit of snow..." [-1 C, 65 kph, "quite a bit" doesn't translate to metric :-) ] I pity the PCT hikers out there right now!

While my Gossamer Gear/Tarptent Squall Classic is not quite a hoop tent, the back end is a hoop, the front is V-shaped (and uses my trekking pole, so nice and strong), it has side guylines, is nicely streamlined and has a low profile. I've found that it does very well in strong winds. It's of course more vulnerable to side winds than a tent with more than one hoop, but it has done extremely well for me so far. It's a great design by Henry Shires (I have the 2009 version) and I'm sorry that GG discontinued it!

I'll wait patiently for Addie to do her thing with Part 2, and I look forward to more comments from Roger. It's amazing how much interest this article is getting! Hopefully it will inspire more of us to think outside the box, or rather, outside the pyramid and dome!

Edited by hikinggranny on 04/13/2012 19:08:56 MDT.

Samuel C. Farrington
(scfhome) - M

Locale: Chocorua NH, USA
tunnel tents on 04/13/2012 23:14:35 MDT Print View

Roger,
One niggle about the single wall tunnels. I always used to get a fair amount of condensation along the walls, a little bit up from the floor. This was with awnings over the ends, but otherwise open, except for the netting.

That's what drove me to other designs with the entry located on the longer side of the tent. Perfection would have been if Henry had figured out a way to to have netting walls at both the front and back of the Moment, like the Scarp, but without the four corners. There can still be some condensation overhead with this approach, but on both sides of you, from head to foot, there is the netting, which for me, makes the inevitable condensation on a single wall much more tolerable.

Although there have been some attempts, the tunnels don't seem to lend themselves to netting along the length of the tent, on both sides. Unless the center of the tunnel is much larger than the ends, as in the tents mentioned above, which kind of grates against your concern about the pole length. The beefier carbon poles, like the Easton FX, can arc 7-8 feet, though, with a pole 10-11.5 feet long. Not sure that this longer pole length is that big a deal when it is only one pole to be threaded through one sleeve, and guyed if needed.

We see pole sleeves less and less now in the US, and more and more clips. They seem to think we are too lazy or stupid to thread sleeves, so must have the clips, despite the downsides. And not just for 'folk festival' tents. Ditto on the 'freestanding' domes. The smaller companies, not so wedded to these developments, or MYOG, seem to provide the only alternatives.

Edited by scfhome on 04/13/2012 23:16:53 MDT.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: tunnel tents on 04/14/2012 05:04:10 MDT Print View

Hi Sam

> the tunnels don't seem to lend themselves to netting along the length of the tent, on both sides.
Well, having netting along both sides of a single-skin tent is actually quite easy.
Summer V7P3 Sue Inside 2SS

This shows one of my summer tents with dark netting along both sides. Good ventilation from those gaps, but no insects. And the middle of the tent is not much higher than then ends. Yes, there is at least a 50 mm gap between the top of the bathtub and the fly.

Yes, we can get some condensation, but I have been pleasantly surprised at times by how little we get. The high ventilation outlets and the low inlet ventilation is at least partly responsible for this - combined with the heat output from two bodies driving the convection flow.

> We see pole sleeves less and less now in the US, and more and more clips. They seem to
> think we are too lazy or stupid to thread sleeves, so must have the clips, despite the downsides.
For which you can blame either the marketing departments, or their possibly correct assessment of the vast newbie market. Consumer appeal outranks functionality every day.

Cheers

Edited by rcaffin on 04/14/2012 05:08:13 MDT.

Ryan Smith
(ViolentGreen) - F

Locale: Southeast
Re: Tunnel Tents Tutorial and State of the Market Report - Part 1 on 04/14/2012 06:09:57 MDT Print View

Nice article Roger. I've been interested in tunnel tents for a while, but like it's been said, not much info on them here in the states. Look forward to Part 2.

Regarding weather - Here in the Southeast US where I live our weather is typically very mild (thankfully). Can get a little dicey in the Spring sometimes. We actually get hundreds of tornadoes in the South every year which a lot of people don't realize. Below is a pic of an EF-4 tornado that went through the Smoky Mountains and into the Citico Wilderness last year. Part of a nasty storm that spawned nearly 400 tornadoes in April 2011.


yep

Edited by ViolentGreen on 04/14/2012 06:14:34 MDT.

. .
(biointegra) - MLife

Locale: Puget Sound
Re: Re: Outside, clipped poles and wind on 04/14/2012 15:21:51 MDT Print View

@ Roger & Inaki, etc. re: VauDe

FYI - Vaude have taken a unique approach to clips, which mitigates some of their inherent problems, but at the cost of weight and unnecessary complexity:

link to article w/ photos

As far as I know, all of their "power" line of tents have a similar system which locks the clips in place on the poles and is quite rigid. I had one of them, but returned it, because the weight was unjustifiable, IMHO:

Agreed: sleeves are tried & true when done properly.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Tunnel Tents Tutorial and State of the Market Report - Part 1 on 04/14/2012 23:17:06 MDT Print View

Hi Ryan

Yeah, I'm impressed!
We do not get tornadoes here. Cold fronts with 10 minutes of hail in mid-summer maybe, but not tornadoes. Thank Heavens.

Cheers

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Re: Outside, clipped poles and wind on 04/14/2012 23:24:19 MDT Print View

Hi Bio

Yeah, I looked at the Vaude tents. They still have the top of the door overhanging the groundsheet, which has GOT to be the sign of incompetence in design. I mean, for that amount of money, you get snow and rain inside the bathtub?

And the clips still can rip out of the seams: the stress is too localised. Their excuse for using clips is just that: an excuse for putting cheapness over performance.

Cheers

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: Re: Re: Re: Outside, clipped poles and wind on 04/14/2012 23:36:28 MDT Print View

That guy made his own groundsheet. It looks like he used a tarp and tucked the corners.

The door wall of the inner tent appears to be absolutely vertical according to their diagram, so the vestibule door wouldn't be over the bathtub.

sean neves
(Seanneves) - M

Locale: City of Salt
Great info so far on 04/15/2012 11:37:02 MDT Print View

Really liked this article, Roger. Your writing style is infectious. I will toss my few cents in. I have been the proud owner of a first-gen TNF Westwind and it is still proudly serving me in harsh winters (except for this one!) in the Wasatch. One thing drives me nuts on most of the older tunnel designs, including the original Westwind: non-continuous sleeves. Nothing is worse than fiddling with 12 (!) different sleeves with a 50 MPH driving blizzard . The designs seem to have changed so that's a good thing.

On the weather thing, I am in Salt Lake and when March rolls around, it means it's canyon time. I just got back from five days in Grand Gulch and saw everything from 80 degree days to 25 degree nights, rain, snow and swirling 80 MPH dust-devils. To be clear, this is normal for the Southwest in shoulder (read: available water sources) season. Most people aren't wandering around the Maze in August because of availability of water, so I'll call the 'shoulder season' the 'real season' in the south west. I have really seen it all, including surprise 10-inch blizzards (and a small but definite earthquake this last week!), but really, we can count on wind and plenty of it. Mix a two-day 70mph gale with sand and you get the idea. I am just pointing out that weather means many things to many people and no, we aren't sitting around in bikinis sipping mai tais in the sun out here in the west. Well, not all the time at least.

Summer rolls around and we're talking about the Wasatch, Sawtooths, Wind Rivers, Uintas, San Juans, etc. Daily thunderous downpours, ever-present threat of snow and massive winds. So weather is a problem no matter what.

I have been using a Lightheart Gear Solo for the last year from March until November and it has been perfect other than some blowing sand/snow inside the tent, which I don't care about. I will not use it in winter and would never use the Westwind in the summer. Hard to argue that one is better than the other, however. They both serve a purpose.

Edited by Seanneves on 04/15/2012 11:41:16 MDT.

Daryl and Daryl
(lyrad1) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest, USA, Earth
Similar to MSRs first tent on 04/15/2012 14:16:09 MDT Print View

Roger,

Your tent is very similar in shape to Larry Penberthy's MSR tent from the mid 70s.

He tested it by mounting it to a frame on top of a vehicle and driving it down I-5 in Seattle. Great advertising.

That tent was heavy, however. It think it weighed about 9 lbs. Had a fly with an inner tent. The gap between the inner tent and fly (about 1") was maintained by small pieces of closed cell foam that were attached to the inner tent every few inches.

Daryl

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Great info so far on 04/15/2012 15:22:15 MDT Print View

> no, we aren't sitting around in bikinis sipping mai tais
What colour bikini?
Sorry - my very bad sense of humour. :-)

Cheers

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Similar to MSRs first tent on 04/15/2012 15:24:04 MDT Print View

Hi Daryl

Yes, very likely. None of us have much claim to 'owning' any design.

I can understand the closed cell foam idea, but my experience has been that it really is not needed.

Cheers

sean neves
(Seanneves) - M

Locale: City of Salt
Re: Re: Great info so far on 04/15/2012 17:18:56 MDT Print View

I am partial to camouflage, personally. Thankfully, my lady friends are not! I am looking forward to part 2 of this series. Very good analysis.

Best.

Daryl and Daryl
(lyrad1) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest, USA, Earth
Re: Re: Similar to MSRs first tent on 04/15/2012 21:22:56 MDT Print View

Roger,

My point in comparing your tent design to Larry Penberthey's MSR tent from the 70s is that great minds think alike.

Each of you, independently, came up with similar solutions to the problems a tent faces in extreme weather.

Thanks for taking the time to write all of this down.

Larry is dead but I would have loved to hear a discussion between the two of you on this subject.

Daryl