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Tents for Uneven Ground
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Foster Price
(tentman) - F

Locale: Southland
Tents for Uneven Ground on 08/14/2012 15:35:01 MDT Print View


I’m a keen tramper (hiker) and hunter down in southern NZ, with favourite my territory being the Southland and Otago “high country”, occasionally I venture into Canterbury. Many of my nights are spent above the bushline, that’s about 1000m minimum mostly, and I’m nearly always “off trail” and in all seasons – we can and frequently do get all 4 seasons in one day here.

I have recently started to review my gear and approach, a lot of which hasn’t changed much in 25 or more years, I’m a Macpac Torres pack, Fairydown Plateau tent, and Fairydown sleeping bag sort of guy, my pack weights have been 18-20 Kgs bu I'm trying to get that down to 12-15 Kgs.

Anyhoo I seem to be out alone a lot now my kids have “flown” and I need a new “one man” tent – the Plateau is over 4.00 kgs (9.0lbs) for a smallish two man tent – bulletproof it may be but it needs more and younger legs (than mine) to carry it !!

So I started looking and looking and looking (and reading to the same degree) – man there is a lot of choice out there !! I have also trialled a couple of tents, a Macpac Solo and a MSR Hubba. Both are only just OK. My biggest gripe with them both is pitching them on difficult ground – is it just me but do flat spots where all the peg points/guys are able to be set out “nicely” at the correct angle REALLY exist ?? Neither of these tents pitches well where there is uneven ground, the inner ends up touching the fly or your person if they can’t be accurately staked out.

I’ve now gooten two options in mind, the SMD Luna Duo (Outfitters version) and the TT Double Rainbow.

Can anyone offer any insight or experience about how these two tents might fare pitched on uneven ground etc. I should add that this isn’t about the durability of the tent floor, I am careful to “garden” the footprint area.

Nathan Stuart

Locale: Hunter Valley - Australia
Lucky Bugger on 08/14/2012 18:39:26 MDT Print View

Your a lucky man living over there. I'm backwards and forwards to NZ and it's a great place.

I have no experience with either of the tents you have mentioned but I know it can get a tad windy above the treeline in NZ......

You might still require a decent tent in those conditions. I know lots of people use tarp tents in questionable weather but I'd say they don't plan on bad weather. In NZ on the other hand it's can be very sketchy weather. A lot like Tassie.

I have a Hexamid Solo Plus and have used it Alpine in OZ in some questionable weather but nothing over about 75km wind gusts, It certainly wasn't planned to be like that. It holds up fine but the shape is pretty aerodynamic in some ways.

Not sure how easy it is for you to duck down below the treeline and camp. I know last trip I had in NZ I swore when I return I'll bring my hammock and just camp where I please in those prestine beech forests. They look like a hammockers dream come true !!

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Tents for Uneven Ground on 08/14/2012 18:59:21 MDT Print View

The first thing that came to mind for uneven ground is a hammock. Trees normally required, although I have seen rigs with a nut or cam into a rock face on one side and a tree on the other. Best for below bushline of course.

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
Tents for Uneven Ground on 08/14/2012 19:14:07 MDT Print View

You can contact me here : re info on Tarptents.
BTW, if by "Macpac Solo" you meant the Microlite, than the DR will not work either...

Edited by Franco on 08/14/2012 19:45:09 MDT.

Foster Price
(tentman) - F

Locale: Southland
Wind and Treeline on 08/14/2012 19:18:03 MDT Print View

Thanks Nathan and Dale

Yes wind is a big factor on the tops (above the treeline), and our conditions are often pretty "rigourous", With a tarp its essential to have a snow and sod flap (I'd have to add one to both the DR and LD) so that wind can be shut out, and the structure kept stable.

The unpredictable weather is a big factor that causes deaths here each year, there is only 1200 miles of open sea to our east with no shipping, so unpleasant weather surprises are frequent.

Hammocks just don't work here above the treeline.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Wind and Treeline on 08/14/2012 19:29:09 MDT Print View

Foster replied, "Hammocks just don't work here above the treeline."

hehehe-- I don't think the hemisphere makes much difference-- hammocks need trees. I like being an Ewok :)

Matthew mcgurk
(phatpacker) - F

Locale: Central coast California
tents on 08/14/2012 19:39:47 MDT Print View

first let me say that I realy love the tarp tent. That said above the tree line in inclimate conditions with any tent that relies on staking and guying for stability seems a bit sketchy. The copper Spur Big Agnes may fit the bill. It seem sturdier than the fly creek. I own the hubba hubba and like it but there are lighter tents out there. The tarp tents rely on staking and perfct pitches to be at there strongest but will hold up well in my opinion in everything but a heavy snow. Part of the reason you are having difficulty is that tents have become more and more specialized over the time you have owned the last one. My Suggestion is buy the tarp tent take it out in anything but heavy snow and you'll love it but save for a four season tent for the snow. My brother and I have looked over all of the trekking pole tents and tarp tent seems to best take care of the condesation issues you get in single layer shelters through condensation. I really like the six moons but have seen it sag in conditions 10 f when condensation hit the tent the nylon froze and strreched it held up but looked questionable. I think some of tarptents designs had roof vents that would come in handy in those conditions. My biggest suggestion to you though is a war bonnet black bird hammock with a Quilts under and top and drop below the treeline, much better in a storm anyway lightning is not a backpackers friend. Happy hunting on both accounts.

Here There
(cowexnihilo) - MLife
Re: Tents for Uneven Ground on 08/14/2012 20:06:29 MDT Print View

You may want to check out the MLD Duomid, paired with an inner if you want to make it double walled (I don't know if MLD will do a fabric instead of mesh inner for cold weather, but bear paw wilderness designs will make one to your specs to fit). Will handle wind very well and some snow loading. It's available with a mesh perimeter, but if you contact Ron he might be willing to do a sod skirt instead.

wander lust
trailstar or tarptent scarp on 08/16/2012 07:20:10 MDT Print View

I doubt that a Duomid will cope with such heavy winds as you one can experience in NZ, we are talking about 60mph and more.

If you want something that is "bombproof" to use above the bushline either get a mld trailstar or get yourself a tarptent scarp plus extra poles.

the trailstar can be used on almost any ground, but you either want a bivy bag (non waterproof but breathable top fabric) or go for an innernet from oookworks.
note that you need good stakes for it. it will collapse on you if it is not staked down probably.

the scarp will be as stable as the trailstar, but it is a true double wall tent that will handle snow better and it should take you less time to pitch it.

I would go for the scarp in your case, as it is easier to pitch and gives you more "useable" space and is easier to use in my opinion.

any other setup (tarp or tent) will either not do the job for you or will weigh more.

to bad that we still have to wait for roger caffins tunnel tents.


the aarn spacer tent would be interesting as well if you use trekking poles though. note, that Aarn Tate won't tell you that his tent will take strong winds (100kph) for sure, he is very conservative about it. but it seems that some people in OZ and NZ are happy with it.
Aarn also has a tester program.

another interesting shelter is the brooks range propel:
read this and make up your mind:

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Tents for Uneven Ground on 08/16/2012 08:07:06 MDT Print View

"My biggest gripe with them both is pitching them on difficult ground – is it just me but do flat spots where all the peg points/guys are able to be set out “nicely” at the correct angle REALLY exist ??"

Yes, such spots do exist, and those spots inevitably have no drainage and turn into lakes in a hard rain!