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Tarptents and Appalachain Trail
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Karen Pospichel
(uspsmia) - F
Tarptents and Appalachain Trail on 02/24/2007 10:22:36 MST Print View

I plan to hike the AT in 2008 and am very interested in tarptents. I've been told that they are not recommended for the Eastern US because of mositure. Any experienced hiker comments welcome.

Drew Davis
(drewnc2005) - F

Locale: Hillsborough, NC
Re: Tarptents and Appalachain Trail on 02/24/2007 10:28:42 MST Print View

I have a Rainshadow 2 and it usually sleeps my wife, my dog, and myself and we have had no condensation issues. Proper pitch is crucial to the tarptents working as intended and perhaps that is why some have experienced difficulties. I have had mine out in trips where we sat inside for hours while it rained outside (very humid and damp) and condensation was simply not an issue. These things are designed to let air come in and out freely (thus all the mesh) and for me, it usually happens. I can remember one night where I woke up and the area above my head had some frozen condensation from where I apparently had been breathing during the night. This was a non-issue because it was frozen. In my opinion, you can't go wrong with any of Henry's designs in any location. There would be obvious exceptions to that "rule" but the southeast, in my experience, is not one of those exceptional places.

Zack Karas
( - MLife

Locale: Lake Tahoe
RE: AT tarptent on 02/24/2007 10:57:35 MST Print View

I actually wouldn't hike the AT in anything other than a tarptent. You'll definitely want some bug protection, you'll want it to be light and have good ventilation to combat condensation--so why not take a tarptent?

Kirk Beiser
(kab21) - F

Locale: Pic: Gun Lake, BWCA
Re: Tarptents and Appalachain Trail on 02/24/2007 11:15:28 MST Print View

Another consideration would be how often you planned on sleeping in shelters.

If it was very often, it might be beneficial to take a tarp and one of the bug bivy's that could also be used in the shelter. For example the equinox mantis (4oz).

The tarp, bug bivy, groundcloth, and stakes would probably weigh about the same as the tarptent contrail. (+/- 3oz estimate)

If it were me I would take a tarptent and try to stay out of the shelters. I love my tarptent, but wanted to give an alternative viewpoint.


Ken Bennett
(ken_bennett) - F

Locale: southeastern usa
Re: Tarptents and Appalachain Trail on 02/24/2007 11:44:00 MST Print View

Tarptents are a terrific choice on the A.T. They are light, airy, bug proof, and very protective in a rain storm. When we take 2 or 3 people on an AT hike, our Rainshadow is the perfect shelter.

For me as a solo hiker, I go with the small tarp/bivy combo for the versatility, as mentioned above. However, if I were planning a thru-hike, I would take a hard look at one of the solo Tarptents.

Matthew LaPatka
(gungadin) - M

Locale: Pittsburgh, PA
Re: Re: Tarptents and Appalachain Trail on 02/24/2007 14:19:24 MST Print View

While I have grown to prefer the tarp/bivy combo myself, I also have great feelings for my Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo. It would be a great choice for the AT.

Shawn Basil
(Bearpaw) - F

Locale: Southeast
Re: Tarptents and Appalachain Trail on 02/24/2007 15:10:27 MST Print View

In cooler or downright cold humid weather, you will likely experience a noticeable amount of condensation on the interior of a closed-up tarptent. I experienced this during an unusually rainy and humid stint this past summer on the Colorado Trail. I have also encountered it this past Thanksgiving in my OLD SMD Europa. However, the amount is not a substantial issue. I have NOT expereinced drips or pooling from this condensation or any conditions in which my down quilt was ever threatened.

When opened up, my SMD Lunar Solo offers better ventilation than any double wall tent I own (with the rainfly attached at least). The only downside to a tarptent is that the shelter system on the AT can become very addicting. You then wind up not using the Tarptent all that much and still lack a degree of bug protection in the shelter. My solution that I will try on the Long Trail this summer is to carry an SMD Gatewood Cape and either a Mombasa Defender Hanging net or a Gossamer Gear mosquito net, both of which could be rigged under the tarp or inside a lean-to as well.

A third simpler though heavier option would be the 1-pound REI Bug Hut One, a great bug shelter inside a wooden lean-to.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
tarp tent or "TarpTent"? on 02/24/2007 18:13:25 MST Print View

I have tarped many times, summer and winter but prefer a real tent.
So I bought a TarpTent Contrail and am very satisfied with its design, quality, storm worthyness, ventilation and roomyness.
And all at a packed weight of about 25 oz.!


Edited by Danepacker on 02/24/2007 18:14:01 MST.

Jan Unneberg
(BlueSkyII) - MLife

Locale: Pennsylvania
Re: Tarptents and Appalachain Trail on 02/24/2007 18:44:00 MST Print View

Don't believe it! I used a floorless Squall as my primary shelter from Harpers Ferry north and loved it, as did the other Squall users I met, but I'd get one with a floor the next time. I had one really bad night when I set the Squall up in a low spot and it rained hard all night, but that was my fault.

Handi-wipes, at 1/3 oz., are great for wiping off condensation. I always tried to camp under the tree canopy to minimize condensation, but that's not hard to do on the AT.

Good Luck

Karen Pospichel
(uspsmia) - F
AT & Tarptents on 02/25/2007 09:56:57 MST Print View

All Great Comments. I don't plan to use the shelters too much as I will be in a group of four and I will need privacy at some point. Plus I"M not big on mice so I plan to use my tarptent alot. Pitching it seems to be all important and hopefully I will not be challenged too much with getting it right.
I will be at Trail Days and plan to check out tent/tarp city.