Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
Free-standing vs. Non-Free-standing Tents (both opinions wanted)
Display Avatars Sort By:
michael levi
(M.L) - F

Locale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles
comprimise on 07/31/2012 15:16:47 MDT Print View

Freestanding tents offer more convienience, but you pay for that in weight.

Freestanding tents are quicker to set up, just like a propane stove with piezo ignition will be faster than a DIY alcohol or esbit.

But they will be slightly heavier.

My advice is find the lightest possible tent that is freestanding, and see if its worth the weight gain compared to a tent that you need a bunch of stakes for.

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
Free-standing vs. Non-Free-standing Tents (both opinions wanted) on 07/31/2012 16:47:13 MDT Print View

Freestanding tents are quicker to set up

On hard ground or snow maybe , otherwise I can set up a few TTs in a minute or thereabout.
Never seen anyone setting up a tent faster than my Moment in 49 sec.
Pity that erecting tents will not be an Olympic sport (Backyard Olympics) till Port Melbourne gets to host them.

contrail in under 50 sec

a 49sec Moment

BTW, I have seen the latest and greatest (well lightest) "freestanding" tent. Only 6 stakes to stand up correctly. Well done !!!

Bob Shaver
(rshaver) - F

Locale: West
39 years FS tent user, 6 years NFS user on 07/31/2012 21:23:16 MDT Print View

I've camped on solid rock, and used rocks as anchors for my Tarptent Squall 2, a NFS tent. It has a floor, and is fully enclosed in mesh and has a zippered door, so bugs are not a problem. I've also camped in high wind in sandy areas, where the stakes would just get ripped out of the sand in a gust of wind. Again, rocks work just fine.

I've also had my FS tent blown into a lake when it wasn't staked down. If my sleeping bag had been in it, my sleeping bag would be in the lake.

My opinion: they both work. No characteristic of either can't be dealt with. For my Squall, a definite disadvantage is that I can't sit up in it. But if that is the only problem, and the payback is lighter weight for a huge floor space, I can live with that.

Edited by rshaver on 07/31/2012 21:24:39 MDT.

Aaron Croft
(aaronufl) - M

Locale: Oregon
Tents on 07/31/2012 22:31:33 MDT Print View

When I'm going on a short trip with friends where I know I'll be lounging around camp or when I want some space to spread out during nasty weather, I bring my FS tent.

When I know I'll be covering a lot of ground and spending less time at camp, I bring a NFS tent or tarp.

Generally, what you give up in fiddle factor you gain in weight and vice versa. Might I suggest owning one of both or living with the pros and cons of one or the other?

I've started to prefer more bug free space and less fiddle factor, myself.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Moment on 08/01/2012 08:08:36 MDT Print View

Wow, yeah, setting up my Moment was a joy. (Though eventually I sold it and changed to 'mids for more space and weight savings.) It is sort of a single-poled tunnel tent, per se. If the OP does decide to go NFS for some weight savings but wants full bug protection in a single-person shelter I'd have to tell him to seriously consider the Moment. With only minimum two stakes it is also pretty easy to find tie-outs even in challenging terrains as we have been discussing. (And y'know, I never actually realized that with the optional longitudinal pole it becomes freestaning! I just thought it was for wind resistance and snow-loading.) I did have wicked condensation in it once but that was in conditions about as extreme as it can get- high humidity with wet slushy snow and hail on and off- but that's just an inherent limitation of single-walled shelters.

Unfortunately my experience with newer FS shelters is not as comprehensive. I've heard that the Copper Spur line is considered good.

Stuart .
(lotuseater) - F

Locale: Colorado
Re: Free-standing vs. Non-Free-standing Tents (both opinions wanted) on 08/01/2012 09:33:19 MDT Print View

My shelter choices have evolved over the last couple of years after a decade-long layoff from backpacking. I started with a BA Copper Spur UL3 then added a Copper Spur UL1. Both are fine tents, but I had a few niggles with the cross-pole construction that helped to maximize interior headroom but impaired access when the flysheet was attached. I looked around at other FS tents, and saw a big weight penalty over NFS (I do use trekking poles). I now use a DuoMid and Kaitum 3, and am about to buy a Stratospire 2. My only FS shelter is a dedicated winter tent, the Hilleberg Soulo, specifically for its snowloading abilities. Not all NFS tents are tricky to pitch - my Kaitum 3 sets up in less than half the time my BA CS UL3 took, and only requires four stakes (but offers more more points to handle strong winds).

Jeff Bullard
(DallasJeff) - F
RE: on 08/01/2012 21:08:02 MDT Print View

@Dean Here are some pictures from our last trip. This is on the Colorado Plateau a pretty good ways above the Grand Canyon.


In this terrain a FS tent was the better choice IMHO. I'm probably different than most here but I rarely ever stake. Part lack of necessity and part lazy. Maybe once in 15 or 20 nights of camping. Setting up the tent is usually the last thing I do before bed unless storms are rolling in. But only if necessary - a lot of nights I just put the thermarest on the ground and don't set up the tent at all. It seemed to be the 'year of the black widow' on our last trip so most nights were inside the tent.

We're going back to S Utah for 12 days of backpacking Escalante Aug 29th. Can't wait. It will be an unstaked FS tent for me.

Edited by DallasJeff on 08/01/2012 21:57:11 MDT.

SPIRIDON Papapetroy
(spotlight) - F
Free-standing vs. Non-Free-standing Tents (both opinions wanted) on 09/03/2012 00:10:15 MDT Print View

A freestanding tent with 11 stakes?

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
Free-standing vs. Non-Free-standing Tents (both opinions wanted) on 09/03/2012 01:20:05 MDT Print View

Free is one of the most powerful words in advertising.
If you have a $25 item that costs $5 to post, advertise it at $29.95 with FREE postage.
You sell more that way.

Tom Lyons
(towaly) - F

Locale: Smoky Mtns.
re. on 09/03/2012 07:12:01 MDT Print View

I never tried a freestanding tent.
Every tent I ever had, even all the way back to my Cub Scout pup tent, was non-freestanding.

I guess I never had a use for one.

Erik Basil

Locale: Atzlan
Right tool for the job on 09/03/2012 08:45:48 MDT Print View

I've been using tents since before free-standing backpacking tents were readily available, and I still use an old NFS tent I've had since the 1970's. The development of NFS tents that are light, don't fall down easily and don't SUCK is relatively recent and it's downright funny to read comments from people that clearly just don't know any better.

I think that, if you find a tent you like that's NFS and it meets your needs. Go for it. Of course, in terms of non-tent "shelters", NFS is the way to go for super light stuff you can put up quickly.

In the alternative, if you'd like to be bug free, to have more location options, to have more storm-worthiness and don't mind the weight penalty, then check out the variety of pretty darn light FS tents out there.

You pay for quality with dollars, and you pay for certain conveniences and functionality with grams, ounces and pounds.

I have a buddy who uses a bivy bag and a low tarp and can set it up quickly and effectively darn near anywhere. His rig weighs less than half of what my Copper Spur UL2 does and takes way, way less space up in/on the backpack. His set up doesn't fall over unless someone trips over the guylines and it holds up in wind so far as I've seen. Pretty cool and totally NFS. In August, while I was ensconced in the relatively giant and heavy 3.5lb setup I use for my free-standing UL2, during a 14 hour rainstorm with occasional hail and tent-shuddering winds, I was dry, had room to set out gear for drying in my vestibules, was able to sit up in my tent and had a marathon game of cards with my son who came over to visit from his free-standing tent during the storm. I thought of the UL option, the NFS tent I could have used instead and how much fun that would have been. Could the UL/NFS option have worked? No doubt.

Bahahahaahaha!!!!! I'll carry the extra pound and a half in the High Sierra. 8 stakes will do me fine.

Paul McLaughlin
(paul) - MLife
Re: Free-standing vs. Non-Free-standing Tents (both opinions wanted) on 09/03/2012 12:07:24 MDT Print View

For me, it depends on where you're going. In the Sierra, I often camp on nice smooth flat granite slabs. They make a nice comfortable home for me, and in those situations, a freestanding tent is so much easier that it's worth the extra weight to me. But beware - most tents that are called freestanding require stakes for the fly, and so can only be stakeless if you don't use the fly.

And yes, I could find sites where I could get stakes into the ground nearly everywhere I go - it's just that I like the slabs better. A matter of taste, and selecting gear to suit that taste.

Aaron Croft
(aaronufl) - M

Locale: Oregon
Stakes on 09/03/2012 12:28:27 MDT Print View

I think the point that most free standing tents must be staked down is a good one, but it is also important to note a plus for FS tents: when they come unstaked, they generally don't lose all of their structure and fall on your face.

Edited by aaronufl on 09/03/2012 12:30:04 MDT.

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: Mind your own business
Re: Re: Free-standing vs. Non-Free-standing Tents (both opinions wanted) on 09/03/2012 12:31:48 MDT Print View

I have two free standing tents (1p & 2p) and two non free standing tents (1p & 3p)
The non free standing tents are at roomier and lighter for the weight but then the free standing ones are technically stronger and can handle snow loads better

I tend to use the 1p non free standing most of the year round and the 1p free standing is for when heavy snow is forecast.

The others are for year round use.

Sam Farrington
(scfhome) - M

Locale: Chocorua NH, USA
FS v NFS on 09/03/2012 20:02:16 MDT Print View

Maybe it would be helpful to call the FS tents 'self supporting,' or 'SS.'

In any case, what weight would make a FS tent competitive with NFS?
For example, would a high volume, roomy FS solo tent with front and back vestibules that weighed under 2 lbs, no more than a TT Moment without the cross pole, be considered BPL worthy? Would there be any point in marketing such a tent? Or have NFS tents become the rule for BPL?

SPIRIDON Papapetroy
(spotlight) - F
Re: Free-standing vs. Non-Free-standing Tents on 09/05/2012 06:20:58 MDT Print View

I think freestanding should be called a tent that needs the least amount of stakes. Many so called "freestanding" tents need 7 or more stakes while there are others that aren't freestanding that need only 4 or even 2 (tarptent moment).

Robert Blean
(blean) - MLife

Locale: San Jose -- too far from Sierras
Freestanding tents on 09/05/2012 06:35:14 MDT Print View

Note that there are some truly freestanding tents -- they are fully erected with no pegs. Of course even with those you need to use pegs to help stabilize them in heavy winds. (I am thinking of some of the Hilleberg tents; we'll ignore the Whillans Box.)

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Freestanding tents on 09/05/2012 07:07:16 MDT Print View

I like the idea of calling them self supporting


The Unna just needs them to keep things taught. 6 will do the trick if winds are light.

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
no one size fits all answer: Freestanding tents on 09/05/2012 07:15:40 MDT Print View

This is yet another discussion that makes the case that there is no single good solution to many (most?) backcountry camping needs.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: no one size fits all answer: Freestanding tents on 09/05/2012 07:17:52 MDT Print View

So true Jim. The manufacturers got to love that.