[pct-l] Tent Design for Happy Hikes (part-3)

ned at mountaineducation.org ned at mountaineducation.org
Sun Nov 6 17:49:37 CST 2016



Clearly, your shelter from the elements is going to be brought with you,
somehow. You will not be driving it to the campground as a backpacker. You
will either carry, float, stow, or tow it somewhere in your future! Small
tents are more portable than large ones..


-          Size, Weight, and Volume:  Big, bomb-proof tents weigh more, take
up more room in/on your pack, and require a great deal of tolerance,
strength, and conditioning to carry, but offer lots of room inside to store
everyone and everything out of the elements and still have room to move
around, cook, and play cards! Finding a big enough piece of ground for these
guys may be another challenge. However, they are a God-send in nasty,
multi-day snow storms! See, How to Carry, below.

Smaller tents for groups of two or three hikers sub-divide nicely (see
below) for ease of carrying and weigh less per person, but everyone has to
end up in the same campsite at the end of the day!


One or two-man tents offer the best freedom during the day for hiking speed
and individual style, but each person will have to carry their own tent.
Although a two-man tent for one person may sound excessive, when the wind is
crazy or the weather is storming, you'll have plenty of room for all your
gear and cooking, too!


Smaller shelters like one-man tents weigh less, compact down to little, and
sometimes go unnoticed in the pack, however they can be very confining,
offering little room for gear organization, bad weather storage, or even
changing out of wet clothes. 


Low, tubular bivy tents are smaller and lighter, but take the above problems
to the extreme. All your gear has to stay out in the rain, you have to cook
in whatever weather you get, and you must change into your sleeping clothes
outside before sliding into your bivy. If it starts raining or snowing at
night, you're in trouble. 


Simple tarps are the lightest and most compact shelter that can be suspended
as a roof for shade, pitched under/over for a 3-sided feel, or pulled over
you in a storm (be aware of condensation problems). If you have an issue
with bugs and animals, you might not want to go this way. 


Again, only experience with your comfort tolerance in different designs will
dictate which might treat you best in the conditions anticipated! Remember,
don't base your design selection on ideal or even hoped-for weather
conditions as mountains make their own weather! 


Size, weight, and volume of what you choose to carry may also be dictated by
1. how far you have to go, 2. how you will carry it, 3. whether you can
sub-divide it, and 4. the amount of room in or on your pack you have for it.


1.       Difficulty of the trip:  If you don't have to go far, some folks
will elect to carry the big and heavy in favor of its design or roominess.
Keep in mind, in the summer mountains, big campsites that can take a big
tent are few and far between. However, on snow, where you can camp anywhere
imaginable, huge geodesic dome basecamp structures are even possible! On
longer trips, where your pack is full of additional food and gear leaving
little room for a tent, you may elect the smaller tent or tie a bigger one
on the outside.

If you have a long way to go and are not in the best of shape, consider
something light and compact. Yes, the body will grow stronger, but if you
ask it to do too much too quickly, it may rebel with cramps or scream with
pain. Start all trips with slow and short days for the first week or less to
let the body adjust. Once in "trail-shape," you can use the bigger tent, if
you wish!


2.       How to carry it may be affected by the size of your group and


In the summer, it will go inside or be strapped to your pack. Depending on
how your pack transfers weight to your body, you may feel the weight of a
heavy tent! In the winter, you have the option to tow it and the kitchen
sink on a sled! Across deep river crossings, you may find yourself floating
it and your pack on your inflatable sleeping mattress to the other side. In
a kayak it just needs to fit through the compartment door. On horseback, it
needs to meet weight restrictions for the horse or mule.


3.       Sub-dividing it to fellow hikers in a group allows you to take a
bigger, stronger tent, if you want. Thankfully, most backpacking tents can
be broken down into four different subsets, Body, Fly, Poles, and Stakes
making the carrying of each by different people easy, light, and small. You
just have to finish each day as a group at your campsite to put
Humpty-Dumpty back together again! Obviously, if you're on your own, you'll
have to carry all of it. 


4.       Pack room and design can be a big limiting factor! If you don't
have enough room to put your tent inside your pack, you will have to strap
it on the outside, preferably to the frame on top so it rides close to your
spine for balance and maneuverability. If you have a non-waterproof pack
that needs a rain cover, putting your tent on the outside may leave some of
your pack exposed to the rain. If you have to carry a bear canister to
protect your food, it will occupy most of your pack and your tent will have
to go outside, unless you buy a bigger pack, of course! As you become a more
experienced and stronger hiker, you may want to bring more "luxuries"
necessitating a bigger pack. Remember, the more stuff strapped to the
outside, the greater the possibility of losing something, either the item or
your balance!



Ned Tibbits, Director

Mountain Education, Inc.

ned at mountaineducation.org <mailto:ned at mountaineducation.org>  


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