View Full Version : Tents

08-03-2015, 03:57
Has anyone hiked with a floorless tent successfully? What are the pros and cons, in your opinion? I am considering a floorless 3 man with a one man bivy for summer. I need the size of the three man, but don't want the weight. I will be using either a cut down tarp for a footprint, or my military grade poncho.

08-03-2015, 08:55
A floor less tent is basically a tarp. In your case, a big tarp. How effective this is would depend a lot on where you use it and what you use to support it.

On the AT where you typically need to squeeze into tight places to camp, it probably wouldn't work too well. Out west where you have more open spaces to camp in, it would be okay.

The disadvantage of a floor less shelter is mud and water splash coming in under the edges.

Tipi Walter
08-03-2015, 09:30
On my last trip I was caught in a gully-washer Deluge and as usual I had my Hilleberg tent which has the best floor on the market and so when I got the inevitable ground water and "lake effect" not a drop of the stuff came onto my floor. See below video. Tarps or floorless shelters cannot do this and so you end up placing all your stuff on top of other stuff to stay dry. And a ground cloth in a tarp also gets swamped by this sheeting ground water.

Many will say, "Pick a better location! Practice careful site selection!!" Problem is, in the Southeast where I backpack a deluge soaking will cause 95% of all campsites to get flowing ground water.


08-05-2015, 12:29
The disadvantage of a floor less shelter is mud and water splash coming in under the edges.
Don't forget the potential critters running around inside the shelter with you. I've had all kinds of bugs and mice run through mine. That's why I don't do that kind of shelter anymore...a totally enclosed one with a floor and enough room for my gear is worth the extra weight.

08-05-2015, 16:11
It is certain in really bad rain conditions that water will flow under the tarp as was mentioned. But many hikers do exactly what you are describing as a bivy under the tarp (used properly) will keep you dry except in the worst conditions. A lot of tarp issues are what your tolerances are for discomfort. Tents are always nicer along those lines. But they have the weight tradoff issue. You did not say where you were hiking? I have used a tarp all over the west and in Alaska where you are. Rather than water the biggest issue in many of those locations was mosquitoes and no-see-ums. Your bivy will need a bug net set up to keep them out of your face.

I am curious why you 'need' a 3 man size tarp. Dog with you? In general a two man tarp would seem huge for 1 person as tarps are normally bigger than a rain fly for a regular tent.

Also many who use a bivy don't use a ground sheet to cut weight.

Tipi Walter
08-05-2015, 16:27
I find a bivy to be hot and constricting. Once I had to escape bad mosquitoes in a bivy and I burned up inside. Another time I woke up in the middle of the night suffocating because my mummy sleeping bag zipper was on one side of my neck and the bivy zipper was on the other side and I couldn't easily get out.

In terrible weather conditions a bivy in my opinion is a poor substitute for an enclosed tent with a floor. In fact in bad conditions a bivy is your only protection both for your self and your gear and esp your down sleeping bag.

Plus, in a blizzard under a tarp can everything be placed inside your bivy with you like your boots and down parka and down pants and extra socks and underwear and your ditty bag and headlamp and ETC?? An enclosed tent with a floor and a decent vestibule allows ample storage with no wind blown spindrift.