Forum Index » Editor's Roundtable » Tunnel Tents Tutorial and State of the Market Report - Part 1: Definition and Pitching


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Russ Porter
(Russp17)

Locale: Anchorage
tunnel tent on 04/15/2012 23:47:00 MDT Print View

Hey Roger,
Here is a larger tent for you to check out:
http://www.alaskatent.com/oven/aopipeline.html#
Not for backpacking but for base camp it is getting quite a bit of use up in Alaska. In places like Kodiak and Western Alaska that gets 70+mph winds and terrible amount of rain it has held up well. (Alaska is part of the United States I think we can compare our weather)

Edited by Russp17 on 04/15/2012 23:49:11 MDT.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: tunnel tent on 04/16/2012 00:41:04 MDT Print View

Hi Russ

Fun stuff! Bit big for the two of us though ... Some of those tents are really good for base camp stuff though.

Cheers

Josh Leavitt
(Joshleavitt) - F

Locale: Ruta Locura
For Sale on 04/16/2012 09:43:04 MDT Print View

I am going to start building copies of Rodgers tunnel tent. Could all potential customers please provide feedback, as to what you would like to see in the finished product. Price points, colors, other features, etc. I dont know anything about tunnel tents, but it should be pretty easy, Rodger has already done most of the work.

Ron D
(dillonr) - MLife

Locale: Colorado
Re: For Sale on 04/16/2012 13:06:44 MDT Print View

Josh - It's great to see someone take on manufacturing Roger's tent design
Ron

Daniel Sandström
(sandstrom.dj)
Outside pole sleeves on 04/16/2012 13:12:53 MDT Print View

First, I also think are superior to hooks for the same reason mentioned above. Hooks attached by webbing will have a small attachment point <-- weakness.

My point though - or actually the Norwegian adventurer Lars Monsens experience. In his book he said he'd had problems with the sleeves freezing shut on shelters with tight channels, if internal making them even harder to sort out. Recommended (for example) Hilleberg tents, which have fairly large external channels. Another point to check when considering a shelter.

thorbjorn lyster
(nqnq) - MLife
Tunnel vs geodesic dome personal perspective on 04/16/2012 17:58:47 MDT Print View

Great article, and great debate from everyone. This is the sort of honest, evidenced (and sometimes opinionated!) discussion that keeps me coming back to this site.

I have had the honour of owning both a Macpac Olympus and a The North Face Mountain 25, which are (I think most would agree) popular benchmarks for tunnels and geodesic dome/pop-ups respectively. Whilst hardly a hardened mountaineer I have had the good fortune (or misfortune) to use both in reasonable anger. So a personal perspective can be added.

The older Olympus was similar in weight to the current Mountain 25.

From my experience the Olympus was definitely easier to set up generally, in high winds and by oneself in trying conditions. I don’t agree with the off-cited idea that the freestanding tents are easier to move about and place. I found the tunnel design actually easier to set up in tight places. Once you are accustomed to the tent it is very easy to estimate where it will sit and pitch accordingly. At worst a slight rearrangement of the end pegs gets the tent into perfect position.

Going against the grain now though but I prefer the Mountain 25. Some of that is due to features that exist in other tunnels but not the Olympus (like the really big vestibule of the Mountain 25 for cooking and preparations). I was never left wanting when I had the Olympus. Having said that – the biggest storm I have experienced was in the Mountain 25 and both me and my climbing buddy felt that the Olympus likely would not have survived (we were worried at several points about the Mountain 25 surviving but it performed well).

Main issue with the tunnel is that you are very dependent on the pegs. Setting up on boggy soil, soft sand or fluffy snow and I would be nervous a peg would pull and the whole thing would come down like a pack of cards. Also setting up on rock, without peg options, it can be hard to get an acceptable pitch (in terms of wind security) with the tunnel.

I accept that a good tunnel may be resist wind really well due to an ability to flex. I always tried to pitch mine with a vestibule end pointing into the wind. But that flexing puts some major strains and shocks on the guylines/pegs. Again – I think you need bomber pegging for tunnel tents in more extreme situations. And the guylines to hold up. I have experienced some of the Kevlar guylines on the Mountain 25 being eventually cut by (I think) constant flying ice. I think a tunnel would have suffered more for the loss of those guylines with the all directions gusts we were experiencing.

The Mountain 25 can be a b#$ch to set up. There is a technique to it in rough weather to avoid damage to the poles and tent but it is never as easy as the Olympus. Two people helps. But once up it is not coming down, and it is a lot more comfortable to wait out a storm (for days if need be). Even if the guylines and the pegs on the ends pull, I doubt the main body is going far with a couple of people and their gear inside. Once a bit of snow has settled the tent is sort of seated in and I expect would hold up in a good wind even without any pegs. I believe (no data to prove) that the Mountain 25 tolerates gusting swirling winds (from all directions) better than the Olympus. The geodesic can be internal guyed as well – something I have never needed to do.

It is much quieter in a big wind which is nice, and the tighter inner means less frost falling on sleeping bags from the flexing inner tent. It still moves about and flexes a fair bit in big wind – but in a more consistent and controlled manner. Maybe not a fully rational perspective, but the geodesic dome feels more secure and so is more ‘relaxing’ to wait out a storm. This is not such an issue for an overnight – but on the third day in a tent and still waiting it matters.

I prefer the fight for 20 minutes setting up knowing that there is little to worry about for the (potentially) days tent-bound after that. However I really wish that the likes of the Mountain 25 could be designed with an easier, integral pitch.
If we can discard some laws of logic and engineering all I ask is a slightly simplified, spacious two-man, geodesic dome type tent, with a simple integrated pitch system, and about 2.0-2.5 kilos ;). I am sure someone here can knock me up something like that!

Despite the above – I agree with what I think is Rodger’s central thesis – that the tunnel tent is a much ‘misunderestimated’ and underappreciated design by many outdoorspeople. And those Hilleberg’s sure look good :)

Josh Leavitt
(Joshleavitt) - F

Locale: Ruta Locura
Chiming in on 04/16/2012 18:40:32 MDT Print View

Thorbjorn

You should chime in more than twice in 5 months, good to see new posters.

I think his name is spelled roger, but thats ok I call him Rodger too.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Tunnel vs geodesic dome personal perspective on 04/16/2012 19:28:16 MDT Print View

Hi Thorbjorn

> The older Olympus was similar in weight to the current Mountain 25.
My old Olympus was 3.6 kg; the current M25 is 4.34 kg. But both weights are HEAVY.

> Main issue with the tunnel is that you are very dependent on the pegs.
I agree. In particular, the two windward end anchors are critical.

That said, two of my Ti deadman anchors (170 mm x 80 mm) held my tunnel for the whole night with 100+kph wind in dry snow with no movement at all. I think boggy soil would hold similarly, but in soft sand I use large dead sticks instead. For the Ti anchors, see
http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/make_your_own_gear_titanium_snow_stakes.html
and
http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/myog_ti_snow_stakes_part_2.html

> The geodesic can be internal guyed as well – something I have never needed to do.
Same with a tunnel. I have used internal guys at times. They work well.

> If we can discard some laws of logic and engineering all I ask is a slightly
> simplified, spacious two-man, geodesic dome type tent, with a simple integrated
> pitch system, and about 2.0-2.5 kilos
:-)
It's getting the poles into the sleeves in a storm which is the BIG problem, isn't it? The weight ... would be tricky.

Cheers

Samuel C. Farrington
(scfhome) - M

Locale: Chocorua NH, USA
What I meant was ... on 04/16/2012 23:33:01 MDT Print View

Roger,
Did not make clear that I was talking about having the longitudinal side netting under the canopy, so it can remain open in the rain to ventilate. It's hard to do this with a tunnel, on one side, let alone both. Warmlites have optional side flaps that guy out over the openings, but not high enough to make a decent sized door.

All,
Given the great deal of interest on this thread about relative weather, I see that a few copies of Robert Rankin's 'Classic Wild Walks of Australia' is available on abebooks.com for under $25 and less than $5 shipping UK to US. Although this is a coffee table book, it has great maps as well as photos. I was able to follow Roger and Sue's route in 'When Things Go Wrong,' very clearly on one of the maps, complete with topography.

Edited by scfhome on 04/16/2012 23:34:48 MDT.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Tunnel vs geodesic dome personal perspective on 04/17/2012 00:23:57 MDT Print View

"It's getting the poles into the sleeves in a storm which is the BIG problem, isn't it?"

We were doing an overnight ski tour, and we got to our tent site a little past dark. There were three of us skiers, so I pulled out my three-man geodesic dome tent and we started to erect it. There are three segmented poles. The first two slid through the fabric sleeves properly. The third one was hung up on something, but it was getting dark enough that I couldn't see the problem. We were putting more and more force onto the third pole as we tried to force it along. All of a sudden, the pole shot through with such force that one end came out of the sleeve in a hurry. Unfortunately, I was standing there, and it hit me squarely in the chest just above the sternum. I felt like I had been hit by a bullet. I had a terrible bruise for the next three weeks.

Moral to the story: Don't stand squarely in the direction that the pole is aimed.

Alternative moral: Don't aim it at somebody unless you intend to kill them.

--B.G.--

thorbjorn lyster
(nqnq) - MLife
Re: Re: Tunnel vs geodesic dome personal perspective on 04/17/2012 01:17:56 MDT Print View

(My old Olympus was 3.6 kg; the current M25 is 4.34 kg. But both weights are HEAVY.)

OK - I remember about 4kg but I was paying less attention to weights then. Both heavy - yes

(That said, two of my Ti deadman anchors (170 mm x 80 mm) held my tunnel for the whole night with 100+kph wind in dry snow with no movement at all. I think boggy soil would hold similarly, but in soft sand I use large dead sticks instead.)

Looks great - now we just need adequate commercial versions for us technically challenged folk :)

(It's getting the poles into the sleeves in a storm which is the BIG problem, isn't it? The weight ... would be tricky.)

Yeah - it is the sleeves where they cross that is the worst - they snag with everything blowing around and even my arms are too short to push at one end and guide the pole at the other. Needs some sort of semi-hard plastic insert in the sleeve at the cross point so you can push poles through from one end without snagging (ever more complexity and weight!). Also for those sleeves to be in the 'fly' not the 'tent'.

I believe I read somewhere when I was researching the tent that TNF accepts the sleeves are finicky - but argue that they result in a better and more bomb-proof pitch. If that is correct I think they made the right choice to be in keeping with the functional brief for this tent.

Unfortunately nothing is perfect - just a matter of what set of compromises individuals prefer.

Edited by nqnq on 04/17/2012 01:19:59 MDT.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: What I meant was ... on 04/17/2012 05:41:31 MDT Print View

Hi Sam

> longitudinal side netting under the canopy
Um ... I though that was what I posted in this thread at 04/14/2012 05:04:10 MDT
If you mean something different, I would love to understand.

Cheers

Tony Ronco
(tr-browsing) - MLife
In the USA, Tunnel Tents have a long history on 04/17/2012 11:35:57 MDT Print View

It's nice to see a rediscovery and appreciation of a vintage concept.

Stephenson's Warmlite tents had been continuously using the tunnel design since their early prototypes in 1958. Both 2 and 3 hoop.

A nice 4 hoop tunnel tent was Early Winter's Omnipotent ... from almost 40 years ago.

... hmm, the more things change, the more things stay the same.

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: In the USA, Tunnel Tents have a long history on 04/17/2012 15:48:17 MDT Print View

It's nice to see a rediscovery and appreciation of a vintage concept.
.....
... hmm, the more things change, the more things stay the same.


Maybe that's because it is a Scotty thing?

Stuart Murphy
(stu_m) - MLife
Re: For Sale on 04/18/2012 08:35:43 MDT Print View

Re commercialising Rogers tent:

Would it be possible to modify the design to have an opening like the Wilderness Equipment Arrow tents?

These are far more practical than the traditional tunnel door openings.

Keith Bassett
(keith_bassett)

Locale: Pacific NW
Re: For Sale on 04/18/2012 16:27:30 MDT Print View

Are you going to twist Roger's arm to get the original designs and layouts? I believe since he produced them he should have all the cutting dimensions etc ready to go.

I think they sound excellent, my only concern is cost. Roger often addresses the fact that the cost of a tent is relative to its quality and ability. As a terrifically cheap person, the value is key to me, but low relative cost is an important factor.

Alas, I suspect that doing this properly may put it out of my price range.

But I am excited to think that these are coming back to the market - should I suddenly have mad money to get one. :)

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: For Sale on 04/18/2012 20:54:39 MDT Print View

Hi Stuart

> modify the design to have an opening like the Wilderness Equipment Arrow tents?
How? Explain please?

Cheers

Inaki Diaz de Etura
(inaki) - MLife

Locale: Iberia highlands
Sleeve insertion for elbowed poles on 05/04/2012 05:42:41 MDT Print View

Roger, one late question I forgot in due time about the elbowed pole and sleeve insertion, as it is in your tents: sleeve insertion/extraction is easiest with the pole already assembled and this matches your description of the process but do the sleeves admit those angles in between straight pole sections? Are the sleeves oversized in diameter for this?

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Sleeve insertion for elbowed poles on 05/04/2012 16:36:33 MDT Print View

Hi Inaki

Good question.

I started off with a small sleeve to get the closest link between the pole and the fly, but quickly discovered that the smallness made getting the pole out difficult. When the sleeve crumpled up the pole jammed. I increased the size of the sleeve a bit.
Then I went snow camping and discovered iced-up sleeves ... so I made the sleeve a bit bigger again.

I found out several things from this. First, going up to about 25 mm sleeve-width has no discernable effect on pole performance in bad weather. Second, 25 mm pole sleeves seem to work fine for pole insertions and pole extraction under all conditions, even snow and ice. Really, with that size sleeve it is easy.

As to getting the elbows in and out of the sleeves - that is really a non-issue. The silnylon is very flexible and slides over the poles very easily. You don't even notice the elbows. Some of the tunnel tents reviewed had heavier material in the sleeves, which actually made pole insertion more difficult imho. I was told that the heavier material was needed to prevent novices from poking the pole through the fabric. Personally I don't agree with the principle, but I am not selling to the mass-market.

What does matter is that the bungee cord holds the pole fully assembled while the pole is being inserted and extracted. This is vital. Why?

When inserting the pole, you need to be sure every joint is fully socketed, otherwise the joint could break under load. For this reason I always check every joint as I assemble the pole and insert the pole. This applies to both Al and CF poles. It applies to all tents, actually.

When extracting the pole, the mess one can get into if the joints disassemble while the pole is still in the sleeve is amazing. Just don't do it! Never pull the pole out: push it out.

Cheers

Stuart Murphy
(stu_m) - MLife
Re: Re: Re: For Sale on 05/09/2012 08:12:12 MDT Print View

Hi Roger,

Sorry for not replying sooner.

Re opening:

I had a Minaret and now have a Second Arrow. The Second Arrow is more liveable across a range of conditions, in part because of the flexibility of the door. I think the Hilleberg Nammatj also has a side opening door. I much prefer that style. The Arrow goes a step further.

This is not my tent and it's an old model, but shows the flexibility of the entrance:
http://outdoors.webshots.com/photo/1239407401043166172MjFrLR

This is an old model - door can be opened either side from top or bottom, including almost completely:

Wilderness Equipment Second Arrow (old model)
432

Basically getting into and out of the tent is much easier than a door designed like the Olympus or Minaret. (Although you can simulate the side opening with those tents it's not the same -- the zip needs to be located near the pole arch for best convenience).

When I said modify, I guess I mean redesign.

Disclosure: I own this tent and have corresponded at some length with the designer.