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Coffee
09-16-2014, 08:24
My current tent is the Hexamid Twin which I have used for 56 nights. I am very pleased with the tent's performance and 20.4 ounce weight (including everything - tent, groundsheet, stuff sack, stakes). However, although I have never camped in conditions of accumulating snow, I have my doubts regarding whether this shelter is capable of handling accumulating snow and/or conditions prevailing in a winter storm such as snow drifts, horizontally falling wind driven snow, etc...

Although I do not go on winter camping trips often, this is an area that I am looking to get into in the future. I also am in the beginning stages of planning a PCT thru hike and will be taking a snow skills course in the winter to prepare. I would like to bring a snow worthy shelter on that trip, and also possibly use this shelter in the high Sierras and the Cascades depending on the time of year I enter those areas. I am already planning a gear swap in Kennedy Meadows and might want to swap out the Hexamid for a more snow worthy shelter, particularly if I go with my plans of an earlier than typical start which would put me in the Sierras in late May or early June.

I had a Copper Spur UL1 prior to the Hexamid which I found too small both in terms of having gear with me in the tent and being surprisingly restrictive in terms of length. However, I felt like that shelter could be very good in snow even though it is not a "four season tent". I don't think that I'm going to find anything that is truly "four season" and also light weight. Does anyone with a Copper Spur have experience using it in accumulating snow and/or heavy snow storms? Or are there any other suggestions for a tent meeting my anticipated usage patterns?

(BTW, I know that most PCT thru hikers do not switch tents at Kennedy Meadows and in fact many go with UL shelters. My personal preference is to make some gear changes at that point, both due to advice that I trust as well as general risk aversion, and I'm willing to take the weight penalty and possibly make less miles per day in the High Sierra as a result. So I'm not looking to turn this into a debate over whether or not to use UL shelters in the Sierras in early season, just seeking advice on snow worthy lighter shelters. )

Thanks for any input.

10-K
09-16-2014, 08:33
I doubt you're going to get any significant snow in the Sierra in May/June and if you're in the Sierra in May you'll probably be in Washington before the snow starts flying there. This year there were a few snow events in early May but well south of Kennedy Meadows so a shelter change at that point wouldn't have made a difference.

zPacks shelters were *everywhere* on the PCT this year and I mean everywhere. I was in the Sierra in mid-May and cowboy camped most of the time.

So... if you like your Hexamid really I can't see a reason to swap shelters at KM based on my one time PCT thru experience, which doesn't make me an expert by any stretch.

Edited to add: I'd worry a lot more about navigating on snow. Sleeping wasn't a problem for me at all. It was getting around without freaking out that I had trouble with.

Coffee
09-16-2014, 08:43
I'm definitely more concerned with my ability to navigate through the snow successfully which is one reason that I'm taking the snow skills course. What got me thinking about the tent is that the course has a list of recommended gear to bring and a four season tent is recommended. Of course, the goal of the course is not solely to provide training for a PCT thru hike but also for people who just want to get out during the winter on various trips, so recommending a four season shelter makes sense. However, when corresponding with the school, it seems like they are strongly suggesting that PCT thrus more carefully weigh the benefits of a more snow worthy shelter for May/June travel in the Sierras. But they did confirm my impression that most PCT thrus do not make a shelter swap.

I can rent a four season tent just for the course which is what I had planned to do but then I got to thinking about whether adding a couple of pounds just for the Sierra section of the PCT might make sense. I'm already planning to switch to boots, some traction device, and carry an ice axe as well as my bear canister at Kennedy Meadows so this would be another item in the gear swap I'm already planning.

10-K
09-16-2014, 09:05
I get it, and being comfortable with my gear choices whether anybody else agrees or not is a big deal to me too so please don't think I'm trying to persuade you to change your mind.

The heaviest my pack was on the entire PCT was leaving KM... There was the bear canister of course but I added a lot of winter gear that I wound up not needing or using. My shelter on the entire PCT was a TarpTent Contrail and most of the time it was a $250 groundsheet I slept on cowboy camping.

A bit off topic but I'll say it anyway - the PCT offers frequent opportunities to hit up outfitters and stores so if it turns out you find you need something you can almost always get it within a few days. The same goes for food resupply. Even in the Sierra there are several ways out if you need to get into town.

Coffee
09-16-2014, 09:11
I am planning on resupplying over Kearsarge Pass to reduce some of the weight and I guess that would provide an opportunity to switch out gear as well if needed.

Regarding total pack weight, I've speculated that some of the desert areas might actually involve pack weight approaching what I'll carry in the Sierras due to the weight of carrying several liters of water. However, I haven't put together a detailed gear list or even looked at the water situation yet.

One of the real issues with the KM gear swap is whether it might also involve a pack swap, which could be the case if the combination of winter gear and food would overload my ULA Circuit. I'm hoping that a resupply over Kearsarge Pass, rather than trying to make it to VVR, will help.

10-K
09-16-2014, 09:12
But... speaking to a lightweight 4 season tent - check out the Mountain Laurel Designs solomid/solomid XL/duomid.

They're floorless shelters but now that I have one I can't imagine a lighter shelter that would handle a snow load as well as pyramid. My Duomid is right at 24 oz, with lines and seamsealed.

You can add an inner net tent with bathtub floor...

http://www.mountainlaureldesigns.com/shop/product_info.php?cPath=47&products_id=105

garlic08
09-16-2014, 09:32
I'll add another voice to not needing a snow-worthy tent on the PCT. It's California in June, after all. Quite a few PCT hikers don't even pitch a shelter more than a handful of times, as 10K noted.

I've had my Tarptent in falling snow, up to eight inches of wet stuff (as in the North Cascades, as well as the Smokies), and it's done just fine as long as it's pitched tight and gets knocked a few times. (When it gets real quiet and stuffy, you know you're covered in snow and you should probably work on ventilation.)

Tarptent makes a four-season tent, but it's necessarily expensive and relatively heavy.

Brush up on water crossing skills as well as snow hiking. On my PCT hike, the stream crossings were much more hazardous than walking on the snow.

10-K
09-16-2014, 09:32
One of the real issues with the KM gear swap is whether it might also involve a pack swap, which could be the case if the combination of winter gear and food would overload my ULA Circuit. I'm hoping that a resupply over Kearsarge Pass, rather than trying to make it to VVR, will help.

I had the same concerns and before I left for Campo I sent back my Circuit and exchanged it for the Catalyst so I hiked the PCT with bigger pack from day 1. No problems, no complaints. One plus about the Catalyst is that the bear can (BV500) will fit horizontally.

OTOH, my hiking partner for nearly 1000 miles carried an Ohm 2.0 and he did just fine too. It boils down to what are you willing to carry.

But... no way could I have gotten from KM to VVR without resupplying if I had not had the Catalyst so definitely I wouldn't do it any differently. Going from KM to VVR without going off the trail is the biggest personal accomplishment of the entire hike for me. It really gave me an idea of what I'm capable of and it totally redefined what I think of in terms of how far I can go without coming off the trail (the AT 100 mile wilderness is a bit of a joke now....). It's not for everyone, but definitely something to consider.

Coffee
09-16-2014, 09:40
I had the Catalyst before the Circuit and definitely find the Circuit more comfortable, so I am hoping to use it. However, the Circuit's comfort level really degrades fairly quickly beyond 30 pounds for me. If I calculate that my anticipated total weight will regularly exceed 30 pounds, I am probably going to purchase the Catalyst since the overall comfort level should be greater.

KM to VVR is a huge accomplishment for sure. I pretty much exhausted the capacity of my Bearikade (custom 12 inches, 750 cubic inches) from MTR to Whitney Portal last year over seven days which isn't a fast pace but might be ambitious with the trail under snow. Kearsarge is supposed to be a nice pass so I wouldn't really mind going over it.

Malto
09-16-2014, 09:44
A snow capable tent would be so low on my priority list for another PCT hike. yes, there is snow but it also known as Sierra Cement. Could you get fresh snow? Sure, you could get it any time of year in the Sierra. I would rent a four season tent for you class.

another data point on PCt shelters. I used my shelter a grand total of three nights, once for rain, once for snow, rain, sleet and everything in between and once with the look of rain.

Another Kevin
09-16-2014, 09:48
I've had my Tarptent Notch in snow, and been surprised at how well it stood up. I have the "three-and-a-half season" version with the half-solid panels on the inner tent, which does a much better job at keeping the wind out. Knock off the snow and tighten the lines when you wake up in the night. Bring some extra Spectra cord and set up wind guys. Switch out to snow stakes, or use rocks, snowshoes, etc, to anchor. If you know the tricks, most "3 season" tents can be adapted for four seasons.

CarlZ993
09-16-2014, 12:02
In the unlikely event you need a 4-season tent, hike over Kearsarge Pass to Big Pine & then hitch up to Bishop, CA. They have an outstanding outfitter there. Get what you need & hitch back. Make you a "I'm a PCT hiker" sign to help w/ your hitch.

If you're further along on the trail, hike over Bishop Pass & hitch to Bishop from the TH. I doubt either scenario will prove necessary.

Good luck on your planning & your hike.

Coffee
09-16-2014, 12:37
Obtaining more robust gear while on the trip is certainly a possibility but I think that relying on that possibility overlooks the motivation for thinking about the subject in the first place: potential survival scenarios that are unexpected but can plausibly arise while on the trail. The probability is obviously very low, but not zero, for a snow event that would overwhelm a shelter like the hexamid.

I'm on the more risk averse side of the spectrum so it's really a question of what I'm willing to pay in money and weight to alleviate those concerns. I do find it valuable to read about the near unanimity among PCT hikers regarding the lack of need for a tent swap, but in the back of my mind there are still concerns, especially given the recommendation I received from the snow school.

Coffee
09-16-2014, 12:44
I've had my Tarptent Notch in snow, and been surprised at how well it stood up. I have the "three-and-a-half season" version with the half-solid panels on the inner tent, which does a much better job at keeping the wind out. Knock off the snow and tighten the lines when you wake up in the night. Bring some extra Spectra cord and set up wind guys. Switch out to snow stakes, or use rocks, snowshoes, etc, to anchor. If you know the tricks, most "3 season" tents can be adapted for four seasons.

thanks. I'll read up on the Notch. At 27 ounces and $275, it might be a good option. The main concern would be space since I like to keep my gear with me. Maybe the vestibule could be used for that purpose.

Gambit McCrae
09-16-2014, 12:59
I dont know what you consider Lightweight but this Hilleberg I have is Bombproof and I would put it against any other <5.5 pound tent out there!


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iP28mW8WAKs

Another Kevin
09-16-2014, 13:28
I dont know what you consider Lightweight but this Hilleberg I have is Bombproof and I would put it against any other <5.5 pound tent out there!


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iP28mW8WAKs
Hillebergs are terrific tents, but heavy and expensive. If I did long duration winter travel, I'd want one! But they're overkill for a night or two in the snow, particularly below timberline. Even ADK Winter Mountaineering School considers a 3 season tent adequate to a Northeast winter peak bagging trip. Student handbook at www.winterschool.org says:

Tent:
Most modern dome, tunnel, or “A” frame tents designed for 3-4-season use are acceptable. The tent should have a breathable body, a waterproof fly, openings that close tightly, and the strength to withstand winter winds. Large areas of mesh in the ceiling, which is becoming more popular in many 3-season tents, is a drawback as snow may get in during a storm. Be sure to seal all seams if they are not factory sealed.
Snow Stakes:
Necessary if your tent needs stakes. Skewers or standard pegs will not hold in soft snow. An alternative is to fill any stuff sacks with snow and use them as “dead men.”
Groundsheet:
A groundsheet will protect your nylon floor from the abrasiveness of the snow and other forest products.
Snow Shovel:
A collapsible, lightweight snow shovel is very handy for constructing snow kitchens, digging snow caves, and creating emergency shelters.

Gambit McCrae
09-16-2014, 13:39
Hillebergs are terrific tents, but heavy and expensive. If I did long duration winter travel, I'd want one! But they're overkill for a night or two in the snow, particularly below timberline. Even ADK Winter Mountaineering School considers a 3 season tent adequate to a Northeast winter peak bagging trip. Student handbook at www.winterschool.org (http://www.winterschool.org) says:

Tent:
Most modern dome, tunnel, or “A” frame tents designed for 3-4-season use are acceptable. The tent should have a breathable body, a waterproof fly, openings that close tightly, and the strength to withstand winter winds. Large areas of mesh in the ceiling, which is becoming more popular in many 3-season tents, is a drawback as snow may get in during a storm. Be sure to seal all seams if they are not factory sealed.
Snow Stakes:
Necessary if your tent needs stakes. Skewers or standard pegs will not hold in soft snow. An alternative is to fill any stuff sacks with snow and use them as “dead men.”
Groundsheet:
A groundsheet will protect your nylon floor from the abrasiveness of the snow and other forest products.
Snow Shovel:
A collapsible, lightweight snow shovel is very handy for constructing snow kitchens, digging snow caves, and creating emergency shelters.

Expensive yes
Heavy? Not the lightest
But I can vouch that after spending nights on very windy balds, very heavy winds, and some bigol storms, I was smiling ear to ear knowing I was protected in my Hilleberg, Even to the point where STRONG winds felt more like a nice little fan instead of becoming uncomfortable. I always sleep like a baby in the Hille

But I do agree, it is slightly overboard

Just Bill
09-16-2014, 15:06
More of a general comment not specific to the PCT-
I would second looking at a pyramid shelter, that is a pretty proven lightweight design that would meet your needs.
Get a floorless design and use a bivy/ground sheet as cowboy camping is common enough and would leave you more versatile.
In true snow (like if you take up winter camping in general) you can dig out the "floor" and make a vestibule, sleep shelf, etc. and truly enjoy the space.
One underlooked aspect of a mid- it's a good sun/wind shelter as well.
You already have experience with a pole/trekking pole shelter so the transition would not be hard for you to make.

The only big ding with a MID, they require a larger foot print than some shelters and use a large amount of fabric, meaning a CF or UL sil shelter is almost required to keep the weight reasonable. In addition, if you don't use poles, the pole weight is fairly substantial. That said- there are great designs at BPL for DIY folks. If you don't sew, there are members here who can for you.

Other than true alpine or extreme winter camping, you don't need to go the route of a Hilleberg or other shelter. That's overkill for sure. That said, you can likely rent a north face winter tent at REI for your single trip.

An inner net tent, or simple netting skirt on the mid will handle bug issues (which are a PCT issue correct?) and give you space to eat inside. Something to consider if you are purchasing one down the line.

Franco
09-17-2014, 20:05
Coffee,
The Notch can take some snow :
http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e389/Francophoto/TT%20Notch/NotchScarp2_zpsa1d005dd.jpg
and it is long enough to take a wide/thick mat with a 6'4" person on it.
As for the vestibules , I recently took this photo :
http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e389/Francophoto/TT%20Notch/PackhangingNotch_zps681fa2ad.jpg
to illustrate how you can hang a pack with a piece of string.
Should give you an idea of the space available for a 60L pack . The other vestibule is the same size.
[email protected]

Malto
09-17-2014, 20:33
Obtaining more robust gear while on the trip is certainly a possibility but I think that relying on that possibility overlooks the motivation for thinking about the subject in the first place: potential survival scenarios that are unexpected but can plausibly arise while on the trail. The probability is obviously very low, but not zero, for a snow event that would overwhelm a shelter like the hexamid.

I'm on the more risk averse side of the spectrum so it's really a question of what I'm willing to pay in money and weight to alleviate those concerns. I do find it valuable to read about the near unanimity among PCT hikers regarding the lack of need for a tent swap, but in the back of my mind there are still concerns, especially given the recommendation I received from the snow school.

You didn't mention when you were going to "snow school". If it's early season, April or earlier and you are going rain or shine then it will be a bit more critical to have a four season tent than in normal thru timing. I was thinking of this thread on my way to work. A far more important consideration than snow for a PCT shelter is how it handles ants. I had more issues with ants than snow. Nothing like waking up to ants biting you.

10-K
09-17-2014, 20:48
Y A far more important consideration than snow for a PCT shelter is how it handles ants. I had more issues with ants than snow. Nothing like waking up to ants biting you.

Big, black ants. That bite.

They do definitely exist in infinite quantities.

Franco
09-17-2014, 21:04
insects... we have plenty here in Australia and that is why most don't use tarps nor non fully enclosable single wall tents.

That is why it is important to look at the final weight and cost.
A $200, 20oz shelter with an added $150 15 oz inner is not lighter than a 35oz shelter simply because you can separate the weight when in fact you use them together.
But of course you could use the Notch fly or inner only anyway...

Coffee
09-17-2014, 21:10
I stupidly pitched near ants in Colorado but was fine in my Hexamid. Avoiding insects is one of the reasons I have yet to cowboy camp.

The snow skills course date is TBD at this point but could very well be in March or April. Renting a tent is probably the way I'm going to go but I have some time to think about it.

Venchka
09-18-2014, 10:59
How about a TarpTent Moment DW with the optional crossing pole? Very light most of the time. Just a tad heavier for the other times. Get the solid wall inner tent as Kevin suggests. Ample vestibule room.

28356

Have a great hike!

Wayne

Another Kevin
09-18-2014, 13:45
Coffee,
The Notch can take some snow :
(picture snipped)
and it is long enough to take a wide/thick mat with a 6'4" person on it.
As for the vestibules , I recently took this photo :
(picture snipped)
to illustrate how you can hang a pack with a piece of string.


Funny, your pictures look a lot like mine! The vestibules are quite generous for a 64 litre pack.
https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3763/14278773134_b910043572.jpg (https://www.flickr.com/photos/ke9tv/14278773134/)

and it does indeed hold up in the snow.
https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3861/15279503752_faaaed304a.jpg (https://www.flickr.com/photos/ke9tv/15279503752/)

Coffee
09-18-2014, 14:10
That is pretty impressive. I really don't know how much the Hexamid can hold up to in terms of snow but my guess is that what I'm seeing in those pictures could be too much. I like the looks of the Notch especially the spacious vestibules. May be worth a closer look.

Another Kevin
09-18-2014, 16:28
I stupidly pitched near ants in Colorado but was fine in my Hexamid. Avoiding insects is one of the reasons I have yet to cowboy camp.

Blessed is he who sleepeth behind bug netting, for he shall remain sane.

1234
09-18-2014, 20:01
28370Bearpaw Liar, cuben fiber can be setup extremely tight, snow had zero effect on tent setup. 30-40mph wind, no issues, inside stayed snow free. It does require good stakes put in solid to keep then tight, gut the tightness can be continuously adjusted by merely pulling the strings.

Franco
09-18-2014, 21:39
That photo tends to confirm that snow does stick to Cuben...