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Freestanding winter/summit tent
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marc D
(mareco) - M

Locale: Scotland
Freestanding winter/summit tent on 09/25/2013 13:54:44 MDT Print View

I recently made a tent customized for my own needs, particularly for longer duration hikes in exposed and high wind areas.

The basis of that design was to combine trekking poles with flexible alloy tent poles to work both with and against each other. It seems to work well, so I have taken this principle a stage further and designed another one for more extreme use.

e29

e9

e16

e15

This tent is slightly heavier than the other one, at just over 1 kg, the 2nd pole making the difference. It is slightly smaller inside too, but is going to be used mainly for weekend trips over the winter months.

It is designed again for strong winds, but also with snow loadings in mind. There has been snow on the hills here already this week so hopefully I will get a chance to really test it out soon.

If anyone wants further information feel free to ask.

Erik G
(fox212) - F

Locale: THE Bay Area :)
Most excellent! on 09/25/2013 15:08:18 MDT Print View

I'm seriously impressed by the design and craftsmanship of this tent and your other, single tent pole design.

Keep up the good work!

And E
(LunchANDYnner)

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Nice on 09/25/2013 15:42:05 MDT Print View

Can't believe how light that tent is considering how burly it looks. Nice work!

Valerie E
(Wildtowner) - M

Locale: Grand Canyon State
Just Gorgeous! on 09/25/2013 16:10:00 MDT Print View

Great idea and beautiful work. An inspiration!

Anthony Britner
(ant89) - F - M

Locale: North Wales, UK
Also nice on 09/28/2013 04:36:17 MDT Print View

Looks very good. The colour scheme is very Terra Nova.

Any plans to make these for sale? Or at least drawing up some detailed templates?

marc D
(mareco) - M

Locale: Scotland
Re: Also nice on 09/28/2013 14:49:55 MDT Print View

Anthony

I have had some similar requests, but I want to do more testing on these tents first, especially in winds over 50 mph.

I am still finding improvements that can be made. The 2-pole tent doesn't breathe as well as the single pole tent, for example, and I think it could benefit from a high level vent at the rear of the tent.

I will make up another 2 of these tents in October, which I will give away as samples, as I would like to get other peoples' opinions. If the feedback is positive, I will make these tents available, either through commissioning a short production run, or possibly as a MYOG option.

Colin Krusor
(ckrusor) - M

Locale: Northwest US
Excellent on 09/28/2013 16:07:41 MDT Print View

Marc, as others have said, your designs and fabrication are beautiful. Nice work.

peter vacco
(fluff@inreach.com) - M

Locale: no. california
sweet work ! on 09/28/2013 18:58:34 MDT Print View

the man asked for opinions .. ohhh kaayyyy ..
i might consider adding a ground-level tape on the door side, so as to take the strain when the door is open and you have everything pulled quite tight.
in that way, the zipper would not be so stressed pulling your act together.

it is indeed, a very nice looking tent.

v.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Freestanding winter/summit tent on 09/29/2013 02:15:04 MDT Print View

Bearing in mind that the basic concept of a 'freestanding winter tent' is patently absurd... But this one has guys ropes too.

Cheers

marc D
(mareco) - M

Locale: Scotland
Re: sweet work ! on 09/29/2013 03:29:36 MDT Print View

Peter

That is a good idea, thanks.

marc D
(mareco) - M

Locale: Scotland
Re: Re: Freestanding winter/summit tent on 09/29/2013 03:36:16 MDT Print View

Roger

I agree, I always make use of the guy ropes if I can.

Sometimes I cant though, like the situation in the first photo on the summit. I think I managed to get just 2 stakes a few inches in at the corners of the tent, and with a few rocks 'borrowed' from the summit cairn put on the floor, it was enough to stop it blowing away.

just Justin Whitson
(ArcturusBear)
Re: Re: Re: Freestanding winter/summit tent on 09/29/2013 10:20:05 MDT Print View

I just want to echo what others already said, nice work, and for a newbie sewer especially--quite impressive. I actually have a hard time believing this was your first sewing project.

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Re: Re: Freestanding winter/summit tent on 09/29/2013 10:35:29 MDT Print View

"Bearing in mind that the basic concept of a 'freestanding winter tent' is patently absurd... But this one has guys ropes too."

Sigh, Roger, what if everyone used self supported instead of freestanding?

marc D
(mareco) - M

Locale: Scotland
Re: Re: Re: Re: Freestanding winter/summit tent on 09/29/2013 10:56:56 MDT Print View

Justin

Thanks.

To be honest though, I had to do the single pole flysheet twice. On the first attempt, I cut the fabric to follow the arc of the pole, not allowing for the extra stretch that you get when you cut on the fabric bias. I could never get the side panels really taut all over.

Most of the stuff I have learnt about sewing I have got from this forum. Also, some of the things to consider in a design I got from previous articles. My mother taught me how to use a 1956 Singer sewing machine that had an electric motor retro-fitted. It only does 1 stitch, but if you use a crossed box pattern for tie-outs, that seems to be all that is needed.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Re: Freestanding winter/summit tent on 09/29/2013 14:48:39 MDT Print View

Hi Ken

> Sigh, Roger, what if everyone used self supported instead of freestanding?
The exact words do not matter. You will notice that Marc wrote 'I agree, I always make use of the guy ropes if I can.' When the wind is strong enough, poles by themselves are just not strong enough.

The term 'free-standing' is a bit of marketing spin. The problem with using such terms is that novices may believe in them, and then find themselves in an unfortunate situation where their gear fails completely, imperilling their lives.



Cheers

marc D
(mareco) - M

Locale: Scotland
Re: Re: Re: Re: Freestanding winter/summit tent on 09/29/2013 16:55:32 MDT Print View

"Freestanding winter/summit tent" was probably not the best way to describe this tent, I am not trying to suggest that it can be used in the winter or on summits without the guy ropes.

My understanding is that if you have a strong pole structure that is self supporting and the panels are tight, then the guy ropes are really only doing one job, acting against wind loads. Some tents require a high degree of tension in the guy ropes to be pitched right, even before taking wind loads into account, so there may be more strain in their guy ropes/stakes, all other things being equal.

That is the only real advantage I see to the self supporting type, you might be able to get away with less stakes in the ground, or alternatively, the stakes are less likely to get pulled under the same wind loads. Obviously this is a bit of a generalisation, as there are many other factors that determine the loads on the guy ropes/stakes in a design.

Samuel C. Farrington
(scfhome) - M

Locale: Chocorua NH, USA
Peril on 09/29/2013 18:47:09 MDT Print View

Hi Roger,
The posts on the Gear spot often make me think of lives in peril. There was also an article here - sorry I forget the title - about several days in late autumn with minimal gear. At least the author was honest about some of the guys wet and shivering all night - fortunately they were young enough to survive it.

Many of the posts appear to have a marketing component that raises concerns similar to yours. But marketers are free to post here, and I wouldn't have it any other way. I think we just have to rely on you as editor, and others who are more experienced, to point out some of the more obvious fallacies. To bad it has to happen like Groundhog Day (that's a Hollywood movie about the same day happening over and over again).

And accounts of unexpected extreme conditions, as in your "When Things Go Wrong" article are helpful also. Let some imagine dealing with that in their dream 12 ounce shelter. But I guess you actually have to be there in the soup to get the whole picture.

Terminology aside, I like having some kind of a framework over me when the weather gets really nasty. Now that I've finally found stronger carbon shafts, it seems a framework can be fairly light as well. And if you're going to have a framework, it might as well support the canopy.

Keep tramping.

Matt Dirksen
(NamelessWay) - MLife

Locale: Mid Atlantic
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Freestanding winter/summit tent on 09/29/2013 21:35:14 MDT Print View

When the tent has enough inherent (freestanding) structure, then there is a greater potential of lateral forces (wind) to be resisted by compressive forces of the structure, and not just by the tension of the guy lines...

Or at least I think that's what you are trying to achieve, right?

:)

Chris Stafford
(chrisman2013) - F
Plan/Patterns? on 09/29/2013 23:19:08 MDT Print View

I've been hammocking for the past several years, and thus haven't been using a tent. I recently moved into the mountains though, and have been hiking above tree-line quite often, so I've decided to switch back to a tent. This looks just like the tent I've been envisioning in my head. Is their any chance you could post the plans or patterns for the community? Thanks,

--Chris S.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Freestanding winter/summit tent on 09/30/2013 00:55:12 MDT Print View

> When the tent has enough inherent (freestanding) structure, then there is a greater
> potential of lateral forces (wind) to be resisted by compressive forces of the
> structure, and not just by the tension of the guy lines...

Forgive me if I disagree for rather basic technical reasons, but the problem lies initially in just one word. That word is however vital. It's 'compressive'.

The only things in a tent which has any compressive strength are the poles (CF or Al). They have way more than enough compressive strength, so that is not an issue.

The poles also have flexure (bending) strength. In general this is not enough to keep the tent up in any decent wind. Why? Because the large sail-like areas of the fly pull on the poles and bend them, to the point where the poles can bend and collapse.

So what keeps the poles in their right shape? Well, with some tents, not very much. Those are the tents which I tend to dismiss as being useless in a wind: I am sure you all know what general classes I mean. Any tent with a throw-over fly falls into this class. Any tent with l-o-n-g unsupported poles does so too.

However, there are tents where the poles are held in shape by two forces. When the pole is short and bent it tends to be a bit stiffer against further deflection than the long ones arching over a pop-up. This is pole strength, albeit not enough in itself. When the pole is sleeved into the fly and the fly is properly guyed, the tensile strength of the fabric of the fly restrains the pole from bending in 'unfortunate' directions. You have to prevent the fly from distorting too much of course, and that is the main purpose of the guy ropes. When the fly is tight and guyed, the poles find it very hard to deflect. So the poles stay up, and so the fly stays up, and so the occupant has a good night.

I apologise if this sounds pedantic. But reread it at 2 am in a howling gale and see what you think.

Cheers

Ivo Vanmontfort
(Ivo) - MLife
sleeve fabric on 09/30/2013 01:26:12 MDT Print View

Marc,
What fabric have you used for the sleeve?
It looks different from the flysheet.
Have you used the seam Roger Caffin suggests for tunnel tents (and the tent pole sleeve design connection to the flysheet)?
Most (but not all) of the pictures of the diagrammatic cross-section’s are removed from the web.
Right at this moment I am busy with making a wooden frame for a tent (soulo hilleberg style)
A lot of questions …will make a new topic about tent clips versus tent poles and its implementation

Chris S.
I think it’s almost impossible to give a pattern because not all lines are straight some are curved.
See
http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=46644

Matt Dirksen
(NamelessWay) - MLife

Locale: Mid Atlantic
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Freestanding winter/summit tent on 09/30/2013 05:15:14 MDT Print View

Thank you, Roger.

In my architect's imagination, I was seeing numerous poles transferring their "compressive" energy into the ground below them, like lots of little point loads. (Insert architect joke here...)

But I thoroughly understand what you speak of and will gladly enjoy re-reading it the next time I'm out in a gale at 2am. That would be a much better place to be than where I am right now...

:)

marc D
(mareco) - M

Locale: Scotland
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Freestanding winter/summit tent on 09/30/2013 05:25:47 MDT Print View

"When the tent has enough inherent (freestanding) structure, then there is a greater potential of lateral forces (wind) to be resisted by compressive forces of the structure, and not just by the tension of the guy lines..."

This was not my intention. I would say this is only true when the wind is coming from the rear of the tent, the 2 alloy poles act like compressed springs to resist the wind forces.

My primary aim was to achieve a fairly rigid pole structure that doesn't distort in strong winds and have fabric panels flapping about. I hate that feeling of being stuck in a plastic bag that has been caught in a tree, it doesn't make for a good nights sleep.

A secondary aim was to reduce the reliance on stakes if possible. I often struggle to find a site where I can get 6 or 8 stakes securely in the ground. I don't think lightweight pole structures in themselves are capable of resisting wind forces, it would take quite a lot of poles crossing each other many times and with small fabric panels to achieve this, but then the weight goes up.

What I am finding is that this tent is placing less load on the stakes than previous tents I have used. I don't have scientific data to validate this, but I have never had to get up in the night and re-set a stake with this tent, which was a frequent occurrence with other tents. Wind loads aside, it is not placing any loads on the stakes, unlike for example, a pyramid type tent that needs to be tensioned onto the stakes just to stand.

In this video (http://youtu.be/PHBAtmQyDFo) the tent is being hit by winds in the 30 - 40mph range directly side on from the right. The frame itself doesn't move out of position, but the lower part of the right pole below the cross over point is getting slightly pushed in. Without the guy line there, it might fail at the joint.

marc D
(mareco) - M

Locale: Scotland
Re: Plan/Patterns? on 09/30/2013 05:51:14 MDT Print View

Chris

I would love to try hammock camping, but the Scottish Highlands just isn't the place for it.

Tent plans here:

plan inches

plan mm

Unfortunately, when I made these tents, I didn't make templates. I had no idea if they would even work. I will be making another sample of each tent in October though, incorporating some minor improvements. I will take notes and make templates as I do them.

marc D
(mareco) - M

Locale: Scotland
Re: sleeve fabric on 09/30/2013 06:16:46 MDT Print View

Ivo

The sleeves use the same PU coated 40D nylon that I use for the floors. I think they will be less sticky in frosts than silnylon sleeves, but have yet to test this.

I can't seem to find Roger's seam that you referred to. I have used flat felled seams throughout, where the 2 edges overlap each other twice, and have 2 rows of stitching going through 4 layers of fabric. I believe this is the way Hilleberg do them.

For the sleeves, I cut a length of fabric 100mm wide, fold it in half, and run a line of stitches 5mm in from the cut edges. This edge of the sleeve is then inserted 10mm into the top fold of the flat felled seam and pinned. I then sew the seam so that there are 2 rows of stitches going through the panels and the sleeve, so that the stitches are going through 6 layers of fabric.

There may well be better ways of doing this, I have not had any problems with the seams this way though.

I initially used full length sleeves for the poles in this design. I found in strong winds, the sleeves at the top of the tent were catching the wind and putting a strain on the poles at this point, so I changed to the clips, which work far better.

Chris Stafford
(chrisman2013) - F
Re: Re: Plan/Patterns? on 09/30/2013 08:21:43 MDT Print View

Thanks Marc that's exactly what I was looking for. What minor improvements are you thinking of incorporating? The tents already look as good as anything that's on the market.

marc D
(mareco) - M

Locale: Scotland
Re: Re: Re: Plan/Patterns? on 09/30/2013 08:50:24 MDT Print View

Chris

Venting mainly. The single pole tent has a 60mm gap all round the bottom edges, and a high level vent, which seems ok. The 2 pole tent has the hem of the flysheet right down to the ground, as this one is intended for winter use. I think the front vent should be lower and larger, then a high level vent added, to make it breathe better.

Also, I have put in too many inner tent hangers, adding to the weight and time to assemble.

I have a trip to the Outer Hebrides coming up, and I will be camped mainly on remote beaches, in amongst the sand dunes if possible. Those storms that roll in from the Atlantic will probably reveal other improvements that can be made as well.

Chris Stafford
(chrisman2013) - F
Re: Re: Re: Re: Plan/Patterns? on 09/30/2013 09:08:32 MDT Print View

Could you describe how you set up the hangers for the inner tent? Does the inner tent hang from grosgrain loops on the flysheet?

I also noticed that you use a pole sleeve for the bottom half of the poles, but switch to clips on the top half of the poles. Was this for extra strength? How do you think the tent would perform if using only the clips?

Thanks for all the information!

Daryl and Daryl
(lyrad1) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest, USA, Earth
Re: Freestanding winter/summit tent on 09/30/2013 09:20:37 MDT Print View

Marc,

Here's another example of a side entry tent/tarp. It's more like mine than yours.

here

marc D
(mareco) - M

Locale: Scotland
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Plan/Patterns? on 09/30/2013 09:45:53 MDT Print View

The inner tent has elastic loops that are sewn into the top seams, the elastic loops go through bullet shaped toggles (cant remember the exact name for them).

The flysheet has grosgrain loops sewed into the flat felled seams, 1/2" stuff is fine, there is not a lot of stress on them. The grosgrain goes through 15mm 'O' rings. To attach the inner tent, feed the toggles through the O rings.

I changed to clips for the top half of the poles as the sleeves were catching the wind and appeared to be putting a strain on the poles up top. My knowledge of aerodynamics is extremely limited, but I suspect the wind hits the side of the tent then accelerates upwards. Either that, or the wind is just stronger at that height, or just catches on the lip formed by the sleeve.

The clips definitely work better, and the fabric is still plenty taut. Whether this would work the full length, I don't know. I prefer to have the poles in continuous sleeves built into the flysheet wherever possible, preferably flat pole sleeves, like in the single pole tent.

Bear in mind that if it is all clips, it is going to take longer to set up. Not what you want with cold hands and dodgy mountain weather. I can feed the poles through the clips at the top, rather than clip them on, as the poles are already pretty much held in place from the sleeves lower down. Clips are also heavier than sleeves.

marc D
(mareco) - M

Locale: Scotland
Re: Re: Freestanding winter/summit tent on 09/30/2013 09:54:30 MDT Print View

Daryl.

That is impressive, thanks for the link.

I need to start reading me up on cuben fibre I think!

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: Melbourne
Freestanding winter/summit tent on 09/30/2013 17:41:25 MDT Print View

"Either that, or the wind is just stronger at that height"

Yes it is.
Next time you are out in the wind lay down flat on the ground and that will become very obvious.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: sleeve fabric on 10/01/2013 04:08:32 MDT Print View

> a length of fabric 100mm wide, fold it in half, and run a line of stitches 5mm in
> from the cut edges. This edge of the sleeve is then inserted 10mm into the top fold
> of the flat felled seam

IF I understand this correctly, which is not guaranteed, that gives you a 40 mm wide sleeve? If correct, then I would guess it is far too much. Even my winter tent has only a 25 mm wide sleeve, and that handles getting frozen solid. It also is much less susceptible to the wind.

Cheers

marc D
(mareco) - M

Locale: Scotland
Re: Re: Re: sleeve fabric on 10/01/2013 14:58:32 MDT Print View

"IF I understand this correctly, which is not guaranteed, that gives you a 40 mm wide sleeve? "

Yes, 40mm is correct. I used a 30mm wide sleeve on the single pole tent and the pole doesn't run as smoothly as I would like.

Anthony Britner
(ant89) - F - M

Locale: North Wales, UK
Poles. on 11/04/2013 13:59:01 MST Print View

Hope you don't mind me asking, but have you got any Easton poles available that I could have for my own shelter project? Happy to pay to cover the cost of the poles plus postage from Scotland to Wales.

marc D
(mareco) - M

Locale: Scotland
Re: Poles. on 11/04/2013 15:35:52 MST Print View

Anthony

Just enough Easton to fulfil orders at the moment, should have more in about a week. PM me and I will see what I can do.

Anthony Britner
(ant89) - F - M

Locale: North Wales, UK
Windy on 12/08/2013 04:32:17 MST Print View

I hope you had these tents pitched during the recent storms!

marc D
(mareco) - M

Locale: Scotland
Re: Windy on 12/08/2013 05:39:36 MST Print View

I hadn't checked the forecast and wasn't able to get out in the hills anyway, but I had left this tent out on the timber deck in my garden, not staked down.

I had tied one side panel guyrope around a heavy hardwood bench. In the morning, both the tent and bench had travelled about 30 yards, stopping against a fence. The tent is Ok but the bench is a bit smashed up. Even concrete paving slabs were airborne, wild!

Jeremy Platt
(jeremy089786) - F

Locale: Sydney
NIce! on 12/08/2013 06:40:53 MST Print View

That is a seriously impressive tent! I got halfway to building something like this (before other projects took precedence), but yours looks to have a better design, (by finishing the alu poles at the beak of the tent and putting the hiking poles out front).

Although the concept of 'freestanding' could be misleading in extreme environments, man it is useful in many moderate ones. I recently came back from a 5 day hike through Tenerife where the soil is often very hard but also very brittle (like super compacted sand) and having a tent like this would have saved me 30 minutes of searching around for suitable rock anchors!

marc D
(mareco) - M

Locale: Scotland
Re: NIce! on 12/08/2013 10:09:51 MST Print View

Thankyou.

I never hiked in Tenerife, but sounds like a great trip! I do recall there being a lot of dark, hard soil there, probably remnants of lava deposits from its volcanic past.

I like to do the occasional overnight summit camp, where the ground is often rocky. Although no tent is truly 'freestanding', I would not like to risk attempting this in a tent that is not self-supporting.