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Samuel C. Farrington
(scfhome) - M

Locale: Chocorua NH, USA
favorite 3S 1P tents on 01/19/2013 21:24:28 MST Print View

Max,
Yes, I was wondering why your thread didn't lead to postings about more different tents. A thread like this comes up fairly regularly, and it seems like it is often the same tents that get posted. Not that there is anything wrong with them, but it would seem that there should be more tents out there worth learning about from people who have used them.

Clayton Mauritzen
(GlacierRambler) - M

Locale: NW Montana
re: Trekking Poles vs. Dedicated Poles on 01/19/2013 22:22:07 MST Print View

Trekking pole shelters are not stronger than pole-based shelters in my opinion. Shelters that are designed to be supported by a trekking pole but offer a carbon fiber pole for those who don't use trekking poles ARE stronger with trekking poles though. By this I mean, go up Denali and no one will have a trekking pole supported shelter because they are NOT stronger, but if given a Contrail (and I have tried both single carbon fiber and trekking) the trekking pole is no comparison and is significantly stronger.


Chase, I'm going to have to disagree with you on this point. We're talking three-season shelters here, so of course no trekking pole supported shelter will make it up Denali.

The real key in shelter stability is the ability for the fabric to be tensioned well and provide a role in the shelter's support. Very few shelters designed with dedicated poles do this well. They are set-up inner first, and the outer is draped or tensioned across the frame but not as an integral part of. Certainly, there are some that can use a dedicated pole in place of a trekking pole, but they are designed with trekking poles in mind, and as you pointed out, trekking poles are simply stronger. For a dedicated pole to be as strong, it would have to weigh nearly the same, so then why not just carry a trekking pole for creek crossings, etc.?

The one notable exception that I know of to this rule of thumb would tunnel tents like the ones Roger C makes, but note there that he properly anchored and tensioned fabric as an essential part of the tent structure. So, yes there are a few exceptions, but generally speaking, shelters which use trekking poles to support and tension the fabric are the ones to best take advantage of the strength of the fabric itself.

Edited by GlacierRambler on 01/19/2013 22:27:54 MST.

Clayton Mauritzen
(GlacierRambler) - M

Locale: NW Montana
re: Shelter History on 01/19/2013 22:49:42 MST Print View

Like Chase said, you can expect to go through 3-4 shelters as you refine your goals and build up your lightweight kit. In fact, that's about where I'm at now.

My first (non-lightweight) shelter was a Sierra Designs Flashlight Clip, which I really enjoyed and took on a number of (mostly car-) camping trips. But after hauling it and the rest of my gear up from the Colorado in the Grand Canyon, I decided it was time to go lighter.

My first truly lightweight shelter was a TarpTent Rainbow, which I still own and use. However, it's mostly been relegated to two-person use. It's a bit tight, but it works plenty well if you're comfortable with the other person. My wife won't sleep in a floorless shelter, and she likes to be close, so it's worked reasonably well for us. At some point, I'd like to replace it with a StratoSpire 2, but we're happy for now and the money is better spent elsewhere. The Rainbow is light enough that if I take it out for solo use--especially when the bugs are out--I don't feel penalized for it. I just don't do that much anymore.

My third shelter is a silnylon tarp that I made myself. As a shaped tarp, it doesn't have too many options in pitching, and it's actually rather simple to set up now that I have the hang of it. I'm pleased with it overall, and it's light and airy, all good things in the summer. But as it was my first real MYOG project, there are a lot of things I would do differently if I made it again. I think I've accounted for all my mistakes (time will tell), but there's a perfectionist in me that wants to make it better and a little differently.

My fourth shelter isn't technically my fourth shelter yet. I ordered a Duomid about three weeks ago, and I'm waiting for Ron to make it and send it my way. My reasoning behind the Duomid is that I want something that can handle any weather I care to be out in. I'm very interested in expanding my skills to winter camping, but I don't have a proper shelter for that yet. Given the Duomid's ability to handle wind, rain, snow, or most anything else (except griz), I have had my eye on this shelter for a year and a half now. So, I can't say for sure that I'll like it, but after a lot of research and contemplation, I think it will fit my needs nicely. I'm hoping that once I get it and set it all up, my wife will decide that she's okay with going floorless, and she can use it with me. It might be a tight fight for two in nasty weather, but that's how we like it anyway.

I'm also planning on making a flat, probably square, tarp sometime in the next few months. If I make it out of silnylon, it will only cost $60 or so in materials, and I've been itching to apply what I learned from my first tarp on another project. RJ's recent article got me thinking that this could be a fun thing to sew when I get some free time in April-May. The weight would only be slightly less than the Duomid, but the creativity in pitching options would be a lot of fun to play around with. I also haven't worked on my knot-tying skills since rock-climbing in college nearly a decade ago, so that's a serious advantage too.

Honestly, I'm hoping that these last two will be my only new shelters for a long while. I don't like to have too much gear, and this list is already long.

I also don't see the value in cuben fiber. For me, the cost per ounce of upgrading to cuben shelters is around $20/oz. That's more than I'm willing to pay, and I'd rather put the money elsewhere, into something like packrafting. Plenty around here disagree, and if I could afford cuben, honestly, I'd probably go for it. Right now, though, the tradeoffs are too high as that limits my expansion into other areas of wilderness travel.

So there you have it. I hope it helps you make some decisions. Of course, everyone's choice is always deeply contextual, but in seeing why some make the decisions they do, you can get a good idea of what you're experience might be.

Good luck.

/*/Edited: damn you grammar and spelling/*/

Edited by GlacierRambler on 01/19/2013 22:53:59 MST.

Chase Norton
(Micronorton) - F
Re: re: Trekking Poles vs. Dedicated Poles on 01/19/2013 23:17:33 MST Print View

Wait, what are you disagreeing with me on? I feel like from your post, we are agreeing. Confused by the statement "very few are designed with dedicated poles" can you clarify why you think that? As you mentioned, I already stated my point on trekking pole strength. But tunnel tents are not exceptions, tunnel tents are required shelters to many in required conditions. Perhaps I am confused by your post? You seem to agree with me and disagree and i am not sure where that line is. shrug

Edited by Micronorton on 01/19/2013 23:22:31 MST.

Clayton Mauritzen
(GlacierRambler) - M

Locale: NW Montana
Re: Re: re: Trekking Poles vs. Dedicated Poles on 01/19/2013 23:49:02 MST Print View

You made a generic statement that "trekking pole shelters are not stronger than pole-based shelters." For three-season conditions, I disagree. Few, if any, three-season shelters use their poles as a means to tension the fabric appropriately so that it offers the most stability. Shelters that are designed to use trekking poles but offer a light, dedicated pole as a second option aren't a good example of your point because they're designed with trekking poles in mind, and the dedicated pole is a clear second choice.

Remember too that tunnel tents are usually for four-seasons conditions too (a point I should I have made clearer). That Roger Caffin uses them for three-season camping anyway (and a few other versions of this design are better suited for three-seasons too) make that a relatively rare exception.

Most of the time, I think the OP will find trekking pole supported tents to be more stable than traditional, if lighter weight, pole supported ones that he was looking at (like the MSR Hubba or Big Agnes tents).

Otherwise, I fully agree with what you said. It was particularly well-put too.

kevperro .
(kevperro) - F

Locale: Washington State
Re: Re: Story Time on 01/20/2013 18:08:47 MST Print View

For me the need to water the bushes. I leave my snoring women at home.

In terms of shelters... as you can see people will argue all day long. There is more information/opinions on the web than is useful. You eventually have to trust your own experiences and make a choice. It is easy enough to sell and try again if it doesn't work out the first time.

I find most shelter choices are just that.... choices. There isn't a right or a wrong so pick something that fits your need and go use it.

Edited by kevperro on 01/20/2013 18:13:08 MST.

John Reichle
(mammoman) - M

Locale: NE AL
Weather Expectations on 01/21/2013 19:17:13 MST Print View

The DuoMid is one of the best all-around shelters out there...certainly suitable for 4-season use. I'm not sure it'd be my first choice in a rainy area, as the door isn't protected, but OTOH not many shelters can handle snow and summer, and this one can.

Among the better 3-season shelters I've used and/or owned (besides my already mentioned Hexamid Solo-Plus) and really liked are the Lightheart Gear Solo (and the SoLong looks even better) and the Tarptent Scarp 1 (my personal winter tent for the SE USA). The Solo had some shortcomings in heavy rain- the silnylon really absorbed water and sagged on this shelter- but was otherwise excellent. The Hexamid Solo=Plus, well, I haven't found a significant drawback with it yet....some complain about the relatively low entrance though. The Scarp 1 can handle some snow, is juuuust long enough for me (6' 2") and hasn't been too hot in the summer, and is easy to set up.

Max, you sound like someone who wouldn't need a conventional tent. Save yourself the weight and get one of the above, or one of the several other fine lightweight shelters others have mentioned....AFTER researching them further and deciding how the strengths and weaknesses of each mesh with your needs and wants. Happy hunting!

Stuart Armstrong
(strong806) - F

Locale: Near the AT
RE: Contrail on 01/27/2013 10:00:32 MST Print View

I've had a Contrail for a number of trips and I really like it. It's a single trekking pole design and I only use one trekking pole. It fits 2 in a squeeze or a couple with a shared quilt. I like having the extra room inside for organizing my gear before bed.

I have not had any condensation problems and have been through some moderate rain storms in it and staid dry.

It requires some learning to get a good pitch and will not perform as well unless you have alot of space to get a good pitch. You also have to learn how to adjust the guy lines to get the best performance, tightening them before you go to sleep. See the photo below for a time when I pitched it quickly and fairly poorly, which would not be ideal for rain.



Contrail