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Anna T
(danceswithlight)
Help for camping in the rain with Skyscape Scout tent on 09/25/2013 14:38:16 MDT Print View

I have been hiking and camping for several years, usually with minimal gear, but so far only in fair weather. I would like to learn how to camp in the rain. To my surprise, I have found relatively few resources on this particular topic, so I'm posting here. Sorry for my bajillion questions, I just haven't ever experienced rainy camping so I'm a newbie in this regard.

I have a Six Moon Designs Skyscape Scout tent. I'm pretty happy with it in terms of size and weight. How can I best use it in the rain? Specifically...

1. How do I set it up in the rain so that it doesn't get wet?

I practiced in the backyard yesterday, and I can get it set up within a few minutes, but during a downpour I think it'd be soaked no matter how fast I did it (especially if it was windy too).

My current setup procedure, which takes about 4-5 minutes:
- lay out stakes
- put together poles
- quickly unroll tent
- put in only head & feet stakes, leaving a bit of slack
- go under the canopy, being careful to move the inner net tent all the way under the middle of the canopy first, and put up the poles while inside the canopy
- put in the side stakes
- adjust tension on stakes as needed

How do I keep the tent dry when unrolling, especially if it's windy or a downpour?

And if I'm wearing wet raingear, like a poncho or rainjacket, how do I keep the tent dry when I'm putting up the poles inside the canopy?

2. After it's set up, how do I enter/exit without getting everything wet?

This is the part I'm having most trouble with. Where do I take off/put on wet raingear? And where do I store it when I'm not wearing it?

The vestibule in this tent is tiny - not even enough room to crouch in or store stuff in.

Do people generally carry a separate tarp to put up over the tent, which creates a rain-free zone underneath it? If so, how big would you recommend and what's the best way to put it up? I am considering making a DIY silnylon tarp for this purpose.

3. How do I cook in the rain?

Where do you cook, if you have a portable stove?

Do you typically try to set up the stove under a separate tarp?

Do you just cook in the rain and let rain get all over your food?

Do you skip cooking entirely on rainy days and instead choose to eat cold foods inside the tent?

4. Any other tips/tricks/strategies?

How does it work if you have multi-use gear like a tarp/poncho? Doesn't that mean you would get soaking wet while setting up/taking down the tarp, or while going to the bathroom outside of the shelter, since you wouldn't have any raingear covering your body?

How do you sleep with the rain pounding on your tent? I've slept in it while it was raining a few days ago, and it was incredibly loud even with earplugs. Is this another thing that the separate overhead tarp would help with, or do people just learn to deal with it?

I do know that you can wipe down any water inside the tent with a sponge/towel/bandanna. But what happens after you wipe it down - does the rest evaporate, or does it just stay there and will probably get on your stuff and you just have to deal with it?

Any resources, books, websites, personal stories, recommendations, etc. for camping in the rain are welcome. Thank you for your help!

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
Re: Help for camping in the rain with Skyscape Scout tent on 09/25/2013 14:49:32 MDT Print View

1. ive never used yr specific tent ... so i wont give advice on that

2. in continuous rain you will get wet, your systems should be designed to deal with it ... keep it away from your bag ... as to a separate tarp some people do that, but yr no longer UL

3. if there are bears ... cook as far away from your tent as possible ... some people use a tarp, but thats no longer UL ... if there are no bears you can cook inside the tent with all the normal caveats of doing so

4. theres a reason most people dont use poncho tarps in continuous rain ... you still want a rain jacket if you need to go outside and take care of business ... in high humidity enviroments wet cloth does not dry, the water does not evaporate much

basically there is a huge difference between occasional showers/thunderstorms that many people deal with ... and all day continous rain at cooler temps that are standard in the PNW shoulder seasons/winter ...

your systems need to be designed with the fact that you WILL get wet no matter what you do in such conditions ... the key is to have quick drying clothes, a spare pair of sucks and perhaps underclothes ... knowing how to use body heat and hawt nalgenes to "dry" clothes ...knowing how to layer insulation to minimize body vapour and condensation

some people consider continuous rain near freezing as more challenging and dangerous than winter conditions ... hypothermia is a serious concern if your insulation strategy fails ...

;)

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Help for camping in the rain with Skyscape Scout tent on 09/25/2013 15:35:58 MDT Print View

> Six Moon Designs Skyscape Scout tent... How can I best use it in the rain?
Ah - pitch it under a very large tarp?
This is not a tent designed for serious bad weather or for heavy rain. It's OK for light short showers and for keeping insects out.

Cheers

Ross Bleakney
(rossbleakney) - MLife

Locale: Cascades
Re: Re: Help for camping in the rain with Skyscape Scout tent on 09/25/2013 16:06:20 MDT Print View

I think in general it is very difficult to put up any tent in the rain without getting some water in it. Some do better than others, though. I own a Skyscape X, and have been lucky enough to not have the problem. I would not hesitate, though, to use it in heavy rain. Personally, I think you would be fine with setting up the tent as you suggested, then dealing with the moisture. You can use a bandanna, or one of those super absorbent (and very light) towels. I recommend those things -- they are really light. One strategy that works really well is to use two of them. Use the first one and keep wringing it out until you pretty much have reached the equilibrium point (your damp towel won't pick up any more moisture). Then use the other (bone dry) one to finish the job. Whether inside or outside (which would only be needed when packing up) this does a fine job.

As to getting in and out, that is again, tricky in most tents. I thought there was an add-on for the trekker that was basically a bigger vestibule, but I can't find it on the website. Whether you buy this, or a very lightweight tarp, it might make sense for a trip where you are expecting to see rain. Tarps can be ridiculously light these days, and there is nothing wrong with taking advantage of this, even if you are adding weight. I'm sure there are plenty of trips where the camper thought "I wish I had a nice tarp with me right now, instead of my 8 ounces of camera gear".

Personally, I wouldn't worry about it too much. Again, with a couple little camp towels and some forethought, you should be fine. Before you enter the tent, wipe off as much rain off your jacket as possible. Then, right before you enter, take off your rain gear. A few seconds of rain really isn't that much. Stick your head out of the tent, shake off your rain gear, and set those outside the tent (or even inside). Use the towel(s) to deal with the rest. Or, if you prefer, just get in the tent with your raingear on. The Skyscape has enough room in it to provide for a sleeping pad and a bit of extra space to sit next to it. Take advantage of this. Slide the sleeping pad over and sit down. Then take off your jacket and pants, set them aside (outside is probably better) and wipe up your "sit spot". Slide your pad back and then you are ready for a nice warm snooze.

Generally speaking, it is a good idea to add a bit of gear if you expect rain or colder weather. For example, bring the bigger sleeping bag. If you only have one sleeping bag, then bring warmer clothes. Unless you get to the extremes, the strategy for dealing with colder than usual temperatures and wetter than usual temperatures is quite similar (assuming you have a waterproof tent, etc.).

Harald Hope
(hhope) - M

Locale: East Bay
wrong tent? on 09/25/2013 18:04:41 MDT Print View

tarptent sublitesil henry hides this on his site, no idea why, it's a much better tent, ie, it's water proof, than the regular tyvek sublite. 24oz, give or take 10%

That is similar to the skyscape in some ways, two trekking poles, but with one key difference, the poles are attached outside.

Like all henry products, easy to pitch.

I have not had the joy of using it in the rain yet, but I hope to be able to at some future rain outing.

4 stakes, attach 2, attach trekking poles, outside, then last two stakes, pull upright. I would imagine that with practice it goes up in around 2 to 3 minutes, whether or not it's raining. Add a small cuben tarp for rain entrance or cooking outside it, weight, 3oz, and there you have it, a real rain setup, 27oz, all groovy.

I have to admit, when I first was looking for getting some light gear, skyscape setup video was what convinced me NOT to buy it, their own guy could barely get it setup with those internally set trekking poles, was the most awkward thing I'd ever seen someone do, and that was their own choice of setup person, and video, ie, I assume that's about as good as it gets.

Since you already got your tent, this isn't an option, but if you find the open sides of the smd tent not really important to you, and rain setup important, I'd think of swapping them.

Edited by hhope on 09/25/2013 18:05:54 MDT.

robert van putten
(Bawana) - F

Locale: Planet Bob
a picture is worth many words on 09/25/2013 18:10:49 MDT Print View

Living and hiking where I do, I often operate in a good deal of rain!
I think I can answer many of your questions with one picture -

cooking in vestibule

This goofy photo of me was taken recently by my wife after a long night of howling wind and rain at 6,000 ft.

The vestibule of this tent, a TT Rainshadow, is plenty big enough to cook under. In that shot I'm cooking a heaping hot breakfast for five people a Trangia 25 stove.

To get in and out of the tent without shipping lots of water you first get under the vestibule overhang and take off your jacket. I then like to re-close the jacket which keeps the dry inside dry. Then zip open the bug net door, turn around and sit down in the doorway, then take yer rain pants and boots off. If yer real flexible, talented and got good balance, you can slide yer rain pants down as you sit, so only yer dry fanny hits the inside of the tent.

I like to store all my gear and food, even my muddy boots, inside the tent, and so I use a tent that has plenty of room to do so without compromising living space.

As to setting up in the rain, some tents are just better than others. With the TT Rainshadow and similar but smaller Squall 2, you just roll 'em out, insert the back pole, stake the back and then go deal with the front. No real rain should get inside during the process because it is a single wall tent. The bottom is as waterproof as the top so it doesn't matter which side is up when you pull it out of the bag. The side mesh can let a little water in during the pitching process, but these tents go up so fast I don't have as problem with it.

Note that my solo tent is the TT Squall 2, which is supposed to be a two man tent.
It has more room, is easier to pitch and has a good covered opening yet is lighter than your tent!

Squall 2 -

Squall 2

A feller can only sit up in the very entrance though.
The vestibule is smaller on this tent that on the similar but bigger Rainshadow 2, yet it is still usable for cooking and makes a decent enough foul weather entry.

Note I keep my stove just outside of the vestibule when I cook in front of my tent.
I know some folk shudder at the thought of cooking right in front of a tent, and for storing food inside the tent for that matter, but I've been doing this for decades with no problem and I consider a dry entry and ability to cook while under cover an essential feature of any decent tent.

It's what I look for first when checking out a tent!

The rain gear I'm wearing is 20 dollar Dri Ducks. My size medium suit weighs 10.1 ounces and is an excellent investment for operating in wet weather.

As for sleeping in the rain, I don't seem to have any problems. Heh, if I did, I'd have to move to a different state...

Once this summer I was out of town on a job and rather than blow 60 bucks on a motel room for the night I camped out on some local BLM land.
I forgot to bring a #@!#&^*!! trekking pole ( I don't use 'em, my wife does ) which is needed to hold up the front of the tent so I used a shovel I had in my car!

It was pitch black that night with a very strong wind blowing. I simply opened up my tent and made dang sure to hold on to it, found the back and staked it down! The wind unrolled it for me. After inserting the back hoop and pitching the front with my shovel as an upright, I climbed in. The wind was blowing so hard the floor of the tent was billowing up trying to meet the top of the tent! This didn't matter after I was inside with my gear.

I turned on my little MP3 player and was shortly lulled into a deep sleep. I was very tied, it had been a rather long day. Heh, at about three AM I was woken by a huge peal of thunder and a blinding simultaneous flash of lighting, seemingly right above my tent! I think my body levitated 12" straight up in surprise, sleeping bag and all!
The wind blew and rain hammered down. I groggily checked to see if I was shipping any rain. Nope. I actually found the sound of the rain soothing and fell right back to sleep!

Now the humble tarp has significant advantages when dealing with rain.
Who cares if a tarp gets all wet when you pitch it? They work equally well when wet or dry.
The floor will ever get wet, because it doesn't have one!

When it is all set up you get under with your pack, remove your rain gear, spread out the ground cloth, unroll your sleeping pad and relax! Now break out the stove and cook a hot meal. Packing up is simply the reverse. I love tarps for there simplicity of use and versatility.
I do prefer a rather large tarp though. I tried a Spinn Twinn for a bit -

spinn twinn

And found it way, way to small for two people in rainy weather!
To me, it is barley big enough for one person in bad weather!
Of course, with tarps you don't get bug protection, but that's a different story.

Anna T
(danceswithlight)
Re: Help for camping in the rain with Skyscape Scout tent on 09/26/2013 18:56:52 MDT Print View

Thanks for the comments so far! It's quite helpful to read your answers.

Can anyone else offer their perspective on camping in the rain (with this tent or any other tent)?

I'm still wondering about entering/exiting strategies and where to store wet gear, if the tent doesn't have a big vestibule. (It seems like having a big vestibule is a huge advantage of the TT Rainshadow... but I'm confused why it seems like no one talks about vestibules in general. And judging by the reviews, plenty of people seem to be satisfied with the Skyscape in the rain.)

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: Melbourne
Help for camping in the rain with Skyscape Scout tent on 09/26/2013 20:53:32 MDT Print View

Harald Hope,
"TT Sublite Sil ,henry hides this on his site, no idea why"

The Sublite lives in the Tyvek finish (a niche product...) but has been replaced by the Notch in sil.
Easier and faster to set up, 2 usable vestibules/entry points and relevant to this thread a rain protected inner.
Easy enough to set up in the rain without getting the inside wet.

This is a clip I shot a few months ago of me setting the Notch up in the rain.
My worst set up of the Notch ever and I did manage to drip on the floor getting in trying to keep my camera dry, still without that I would not have had a drop inside.
Setting up the Notch in the rain

I'd love to see some of those inner first tents erected in that sort of weather....

Samuel C. Farrington
(scfhome) - M

Locale: Chocorua NH, USA
camping in the rain on 09/26/2013 21:24:44 MDT Print View

1. "Can anyone else offer their perspective on camping in the rain (with this tent or any other tent)?"

I now trek only in Colorado and northern New England (reasons for that are another story). In NNE, rain may go for days, but there are regular periods where the rain abates a bit. Plus there are lots of conifers that provide further shelter. So I just wait till the rain lets up a bit, and then get the tent up. Ditto for nighttime exits in my undies wearing the rain top if needed over a fleece top and cap, and neoprene divers sox. Burrrr!

In Colorado, the rainstorms are usually short, but sometimes they can be very strong all afternoon and night. These are the challenging times you raise in your post.

One approach is to bring a light cuben tarp that can be strung between tent poles or trees, and use it for cooking and eating. This approach won't work, though, in a real blow. For this and other reasons, finding a protected site is a key to camping in the rain. If too far above timberline to do so, you should have planned better, and may have to eat cold food, as you intimated.

A small chair is also great to get off the ground and relax for dinner.

I use only dome tents, partly because they provide plenty of space to move around under cover so I don't get wet rubbing up against the tent walls. Still, as already noted, the size of the vestibule is a key to rain management. My last tent had awnings, rather than closed vestibules, at front and back. I camped only in protected areas, and for the first time, enjoyed cooking and eating in heavy rain, with the gear stored under the rear awning and not in the way. Sat and cooked in the chair in the tent, looking out at the downpour, but did have to keep my feet from sticking out from under the front awning. Never tried this in areas where bear visits are prevalent, and don't intend to. (How do you know if you're in such an area? That's another story, also.)

The current tent has a good, but average size vestibule, not enough for my former routine, but needed something that would totally button up for camping in open places. So, I'm working on a tent now that has the best of both worlds, with a front awning that locks down into a closed vestibule for blown rain. Still won't be able to cook comfortably in a real blow, though, without the awning.

With a good tent, I find the pounding or pattering of rain, as the case may be, to be comforting, and it puts me right to sleep. It may depend on the quality of the tent. If you don't trust it, especially if it shakes around and spatters moisture on you, the pounding could be nerve wracking. That's another reason I like good quality domes - very stable.

2. "I'm still wondering about entering/exiting strategies and where to store wet gear, if the tent doesn't have a big vestibule. (It seems like having a big vestibule is a huge advantage of the TT Rainshadow... but I'm confused why it seems like no one talks about vestibules in general"

As you point out, next to inner space, the larger vestibule is the key. A second vestibule is ideal for wet gear. Under the rear cover, I put the boots next to the floor wall, then the folded mesh chair, then lay the pack on the chair, then spread the rain top over the pack where it will dry a bit.

But you also need a good size door in the outer tent that is large enough to pass through without getting wet, and most important, extends over the perimeter of the inner tent so rain will not fall inside.

And you need a tent that sets up without allowing rain to pour onto the bathtub floor.
I've gotten around this as mentioned, by waiting for the rain to let up a bit. But sometimes it doesn't. Got nailed only once in recent years, but it was no fun toweling out the bathtub floor, and my Sheltie was really PO'd. The solution can be as simple as a tent with DWR 'solid' inner with vertical mesh windows, that will keep the rain off the floor for the few minutes it takes to get it up and get the fly over it. With a single wall, or single/double hybrid, a design that pitches without exposing the floor is needed. Not too many light tents around like this, especially from the large companies.

By now, you may see why I make or mod my tents. What's for sale is either too heavy, too skimpy, or both. It would be good if tentmakers had to trek solo with their own products for at least a month every year (no llamas), preferably in the great North West. We'd have much more functional and lighter tents. But not gonna happen.

Many on BPL are using tarps, often of cuben, and often with bivy sacks, as is apparent from the posts and articles here. So naturally, vestibules don't enter into the picture for them. But for tenters like me, BPL is a great site, with lots of ideas for lighter and more functional tents, especially on the MYOG forum. It's a work in progress, so no one can direct you to the perfect tent. But if I didn't do my own, the TarpTent Rainbow solo or duo would probably be my tent, based on the considerations stated above. Although I liked the original Rainbow better with the zip up to the peak, and would probably put more tension on the floor corners, and make a dome-shaped netting inner for it, not for bugs, but to protect from the wet canopy. The Lightheart Gear tents look interesting, also; but I have no experience with them, or knowledge of how they compare to the SMD tents. The return of tent surveys to BPL would be a big help in this area.

Hope that's of some help to you, Anna.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: camping in the rain on 09/26/2013 21:44:40 MDT Print View

I camp in the rain a fair amount

Floorless pyramid tent works pretty good. Numerous brands. MLD Trailstar is another option.

Have your tent, pole, stakes easily accessible. Pull them out of pack and re-seal pack. Set up tent. Put pack and you inside tent.

If it's 60 inches tall you can sit up and move around a little. There's room to cook. Should be enough floor area to put wet rain jacket and pack.

James Couch
(JBC) - M

Locale: Cascade Mountains
Rain camping on 09/26/2013 22:18:50 MDT Print View

If you have a pack with a separate "sleeping bag compartment" in the bottom, consider using it for your tent/fly/tarp instead of your sleeping bag. You can keep the wet shelter (from the night before)separate from your dry gear. It is easy to pull the shelter out without disrupting your other gear, set up the shelter then unpack your dry gear inside the shelter.

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Re: Rain camping on 09/27/2013 08:38:35 MDT Print View

"Can anyone else offer their perspective on camping in the rain (with this tent or any other tent)?

I'm still wondering about entering/exiting strategies and where to store wet gear, if the tent doesn't have a big vestibule. (It seems like having a big vestibule is a huge advantage of the TT Rainshadow... but I'm confused why it seems like no one talks about vestibules in general. And judging by the reviews, plenty of people seem to be satisfied with the Skyscape in the rain.)"


First of all, you do have to accept that if you are camping in the rain you are going to get wet. Maybe not drenched, but you can't expect to stay completely dry. Don't be afraid of it...it's just water! Enjoy!! Make sure you have dry clothes and dry insulation to keep you warm once you stop and get in your shelter. By far my number one advice for you right now...until you get more experience dealing with rain, do NOT experiment when temperatures can dip into dangerous territory. Stick with nice warm rain to start with...cold and wet and making a mistake of not having something warm and dry waiting for you when you stop is terribly dangerous.

Many of us who camp regularly in the rain actually make tent decisions based on that. I do a fair amount of wet hiking and camping and a vestibule is very important for comfort. Otherwise your only option is bringing all that stuff in your tent. Leave the shoes tucked under the tent floor a bit outside, then designate a corner of your shelter for the wet stuff. Just be diligent about keeping your sleeping clothes and your sleeping bag dry. Everything else, honestly, can get wet.

And to me, nothing is more relaxing than lying in my tent, hearing the rain on the shelter, reading a book or gently dozing off........

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Rain camping on 09/27/2013 08:50:27 MDT Print View

"I'm still wondering about entering/exiting strategies and where to store wet gear, if the tent doesn't have a big vestibule"

If you have a floorless pyramid, you don't need a seperate vestibule - the whole tent is a vestibule

You just need enough floor area to put your sleeping bag, wet gear, dry gear,...

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife

Locale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
"Help for camping in the rain on 09/27/2013 09:22:11 MDT Print View

This article taught me a lot even after 60 years of backpacking and horsepacking, much of it in horrible weather:

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/lightweight_guide_to_backpacking_in_sustained_rain.html#.UkWesxZBX8s

You'll need to buy a membership to read it, but it's worth it. The one caveat is that you don't want to be cooking or eating in your tent in bear country! (You don't want your stove inside or close to your tent anyway due to fire hazard.) Also, a few of the specific gear models shown are now discontinued. There are lots of other good articles in the BPL archives. Another one (to help you understand the principles behind the techniques) is:
http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/00184.html#.UkWkBxZBX8s

The article recommends a 6-7 ounce tarp. IMHO, in really wet weather it's worth the weight. You can cook under it (while wearing your raingear) so you're not cooking near your tent, use it for shelter at breaks, make a "porch" for your tent.

The other thing you should be doing is practicing all these techniques with your gear out in the rain. Your (or a borrowed) back yard or a nearby car campground are good places for this. That way, if you mess up, you can bail out to your nice warm bedroom or at least run your car heater for an hour or two. Dry off, go back out and try again! That way you can learn from your mistakes without serious consequences.

This weekend in the Pacific NW will be an especially good time for practice since the NWS expects 6-10 inches of rain between noon today and Monday morning. Evidently the remains of a typhoon got caught up in the north Pacific storm systems and it's all coming here.

Edited by hikinggranny on 09/27/2013 10:09:27 MDT.