View Full Version : to tent or not to tent, that is MY question

01-20-2003, 20:28
this is my first post on this board, and i might as well start out with the biggest question that i have on my mind right now: so im planning my thru-hike solo style, and i cant decide on whether or not to bring my tent. I just weighed out my fully loaded pack (without food) and without my tent it weighed 25.5 lbs... with the tent it weighed 33!!! holy crap thats a heavy tent i thought. see its a two person 3 season tent that i love, but its really heavy. should i bring it or not? considerations include weather, crowded shelters, weight, price of a new tent or bivvy sack.
anyone got some input here?

Oh btw, theres a huge ultimate frisbee tournament in savannah, GA right around st pattys day. Ill be there, anyone else? St pattys day in savannah is supposed to be insane... what a way to start the hike.


01-20-2003, 20:37
My opinion, YMMV, I'd tent, but I'd ditch the 7.5 lb tent for something lighter. You can still get a 2-person 3 season tent but cut at least 4 lbs off that weight. I like the Clip Flashlight myself.

See ya in the woods,

01-20-2003, 20:54
I gotta agree with kythru on this one. I would definitely bring some sort of shelter, regardless what type.

Trail Yeti
01-20-2003, 20:58
Ditch that tent if nothing else. However, you should look for a good tarp or better yet hammock on line somewhere. Its time for all the really good sales....just surf the web...you can find some good stuff cheap!

SGT Rock
01-20-2003, 21:01
I vote hammock. Lone Wolf said there was a Crazy Crib on sale for $50 at the local outfitters there.

Bad Ass Turtle
01-20-2003, 22:34
I have to agree with the tenters. I carried a Lightyear CD (sierra Designs). I can never remember how much it weighs, but Footslogger just told me it was 2 pounds 14 ounces. I loved being able to zip it up and keep out all of the bugs. I used to lie there at night listening to the mosquitoes buzzing outside the mesh and just grin to myself.

01-21-2003, 00:04
Let the mice have the shelters, go tent.

Or better yet, hang a hammock.

01-21-2003, 00:48
if you are like me you might want to hammock but wait until all the kinks are worked out in staying warm...even a march 1 start could put you in some seriously cold weather.
Tents are so warm=10 degrees extra for free and if you are going solo there are many many choices...I like the Hilleberg Akto just because if you do get a snow dump it wont phase it and it has a vestibule, is a two wall tent so condensate is minimized but like I said so so many options...what about Shires Tarp Tent? or the Wanderlust series? Just dont accept any tent that weighs more than 2.5 pounds and that is if you are bound and determined to tent. I, like many here at Whiteblaze have tarped for a long time and have lived to tell about it! In fact tarping is probably the lightest way to go....look at Golite's nest, it will take away fears of bugs if you do decide to tarp....
me, if I was thru hiking I start off tenting until I was sure warm weather was here and then pick up a hammock in Damascus and then have the tent waiting up north

just my 2cents

01-21-2003, 08:54
If you are not starting with the rest of the
herd in March, I would consider not carrying a
tent, or a tarp, or a hammock. Just shelter hop. If you start in late April, besides having good weather and lots of pretty flowers, you will have more of the trail to yourself and you won't have the worry of shelters being full constantly. If you start in March, you'll want some sort of portable structure. Bear in mind that leaving such a thing behind means that you have to plan out your hiking in a sensible manner. You may have times when you have to decide between a 12 mile day and a 22 mile day (or 8 and 15, etc). You may not be able to catch the sunrise from Max Patch because the weather the night before looked off. You may come to a full shelter and have to make creative sleeping arrangements (i.e, outside, on the porch, under the shelter,etc) or hike on to the next shelter. Of course, you can always bring your tent with you at the start and ship it home when (and if) you want to go with something lighter or nothing at all.

01-21-2003, 08:57
I just ordered a tent from Dancing Light Gear. The Arapaho Solo shelter with stakes and stuffbag weighs just under two pounds. It's singlewall so it easy to setup out of the bag, and easy to pack as well. It has a huge awning covered vent too, so condensation should be minimal. I'm 6'1 225lb, so I like lots of room. It gives you 4ft by 8ft of space. Hand crafted for superior quality, and available in a rainbow of colors (lol).

It costs a little more than mass market tents, but I think I will enjoy it much more. DLG will also customize anything you want on the tent for a minimal fee.

01-21-2003, 09:57
And this is without your food and tent? What else you got in that bag?

SGT Rock
01-21-2003, 10:05
Kai, why don't you post your packing list under gear or something and we can help you go over it. 25 pounds sounds like an expedition.

01-21-2003, 13:13
Hi my $0.02 worth,
Tent out it's much better in a tent.Do not I repeat do not go on the trail with out some type of shelter.There are lots of times that the shelters will be full.Besides you should always be prepared for the worst and carry a shelter with you.:)

01-21-2003, 13:18
I use a Hennesy Hammock Asym Ultralight ($150) that I love. It takes getting used to sleeping that way, and it gets colder than a tent because you are surrounded by air. I also like using a tarp. Again, another method that takes getting used to, but I prefer.


Trail Dog
01-21-2003, 14:58
isn't it gonna be a bit too cold in march for a hammock? i froze my but off one windy night in May in a hammock up at Bear Mt. Bivy sack or small tent is probally best.

25lbs without food aint that bad is it? Assuming the extra weight is due to cold weather clothing needed in March. My gortex extra pants extra fuel and poly pro add a few pounds.

01-21-2003, 15:06
25 pounds without food is fine. Particularly if that includes a tent and winter clothing. I was at 19 when I did my section hike last spring, but this did not include a tent or anything like that. Not everyone who hikes the AT does so in an ultralight fashion, contrary to the impression one might get in this forum.

SGT Rock
01-21-2003, 15:16
Well a lot of hammocks can double as a bivysack/tarp combo. Instead of gettint two different shelters, just get the one then set it up based on the weather. My experience with southern winters is despite the fact it is winter, sometimes you get those 70 degree days and 50 degree nights. Just don't skip the pad.

Forrest Phil
01-21-2003, 17:25
Kai, There is a lot of good advice above. If you are happy in a tent, try starting with a tent. Your tent does sound a little heavy. A shelter of some kind is necessary. After hiking a while, and moving into warmer weather, you may decide to try a tarp, or shelters, or a bivy sack, or something else. I believe Sgt. Rock has a good idea about posting a gear list. If you have time, experiment with your gear. From what you have mentioned it seems likely that you could end up with around fifty pounds included food, water, tent, and other odds and ends that haven't been included yet. Being open to change can hopefully help, but ultimately you should decide what is best for you. None of us will be carrying or using your gear. Good Luck!

01-21-2003, 18:57
wow i gotta say that this message board has the nicest folks out of any that ive ever posted on. i appreciate all the input. Ive already taken the advice and i bought a hennessy hammock today for 50 bucks. It was a hammock that they stopped making so it was really cheap. ill post my gear list once i add all the little nick-naks i dont have yet.


01-22-2003, 04:56
loose the goretex, rarely is it light....
think Frog Toggs
or Lowe Hydrenaline
go with the Rock's suggestion of the Hammock...practice setting it up as a ten/bivy before you go
I finished up the Smokies late October and carried winter gear-pack weight with food and water (and shelter)for 3 days was 26 pounds so dont feel bad about 25 pounds...6 pounds of mine was extra clothing and I was carrying an extra days food in case I looked down and saw bone sticking out of my leg skin, so it could have been 18-19 pounds...and forgot did carry that heavy digital camera but no more since I now know it doesnt work in extreme cold
If you dont know 'Cameling up' learn the concept and see if it works for you.
Explore the filtration bottles like the one AquaMira makes...it makes cameling up real quick and easy at streams/ponds/criks you find along the way....you can have water 'cooking' in your bladder (with KI, Aquamira,etc) while hiking to your campsite but the filter bottles are great for instant gratification.
You can loose significant weight on your sleeping bag (and save big money too) if you can use a VBL, some people hate 'em some love em but bottom line is 20 degrees more rating to your bag for 2-4oz-check with Wanderlust gear for a total body VBL for 25$, chek on Warmlite.com for a treatise written on the merits of VBL,
surely Sgt Rock being in the military would approve of VBL in the bag-it also decreases condensation in your bag/tent/hammock, and helps you stay hydrated overnight decreasing the amt. of H2O youwill need in the am.
Study and think about hiking with umbrellas, there is considerable merit in their use except when on a severe ridgeline in strong wind.
Dont forget gaiters, its a personal thing with me but they add warmth and keep junk out of the shoes/boots/clogs or whatever you hike in.
Can you deal with wool? consider Smartwool if you cant. I am living proof that it doesnt itch at all, before I would itch just looking at a wool sweater, wool has many advantages over synthetics but the biggest is comfort over a greater range..it may save you a garment or two.
Leaving in March will put you in some big rain and therefore muddy days with slick trails...think about cheap instep crampons, Black Dome outfitters in Asheville NC has them for 8 dollars, very light and can significantly improve traction not only in snow and ice but also mud-cheap insurance.

No expert but been section hiking the AT for 30 years and have a closet full (well actually a room) of mistakes and failures in all sorts of gear as do many of the posters here....anyway good luck and hope to cross paths with you. Simhiker