View Full Version : sil nylon tents in the winter

11-11-2013, 14:32
Happy Vet Day to the people who have served. Thank you for your sacrifice, If could see you I would shake you hand. Thank You !

I had a question about sil nylon tents. How do they stand up to winter hiking? I have a six moons skytrekker that I use, but I also have a REI passgae 2 tent that is 4 1/2 punds.

I do intend on doing part of the MST between either Asheville NC and Mt Mitchell or between Mt. Mitchell and Linville Gorge sometime during thanksgiving break.

I do have a Kelty comic down 0 bag that is about 4 pounds as well, and does not compress well. I do have a BA insulated aircore as well. I thought I should mention my sleep system as a whole since it does function this way.

My concern is can Sil nylon handle sleet, freezing rains, etc....

I like both tents, but I gotta tell you that passage 2 tent for one person is like a Taj Mahal for one! Plenty of vestibule space for cooking and storing. The Six Moons not so much. You do however suffer the weight penalty for it.

Any suggestions and comments are greatly appreciated and very welcome!!

Again thank a Vet!


11-11-2013, 15:39
I'm not really sure what defines "Winter" from a backpacking standpoint technically. I've hiked with my silnylon tarp in feet of snow with nighttime temps in the teens and 20s. I can tell you that the fabric stayed pliable (no worry of cracking) but I did not subject it to serious snowload either. All that said, as long as you have a bag rated for the temps and a way to keep drafts off of you you should be fine in an open shelter. Where a double wall tent comes into play is reducing condensation and giving a bit of a warmth bump from the trapped air between the two walls, something we tarpers lose a bit of, depending on our pitch.

As for sleet and freezing rain I don't expect that I would want to be in a tarp or sil tent in a freezing rain scenario as it may be difficult to break the ice chunks off. If you couldn't do that (I've never had to try) it could easily collapse your tent/tarp from the weight. Sleet and snow I could just keep sweeping off or "puffing" the sides out from the inside to cause it to fall. I wouldn't really worry about it with SilNy. But I speak without experience here. The snow was already down when I pitched mine.

11-11-2013, 15:52
I had my sil-nylon tarp out a lot last winter. Had snow once and freezing rain once... It did fine in both.

11-11-2013, 15:53
I would go with the lighter setup for that kind of miles. Would consider the other for a low mile trip in deeper winter.
Have fun. Did Table Rock to Mitchell in high school, spring of 73. 50 miles. Before the MTS existed. Bushwhack from Dobson's Knob to Woods Mountain. The Balsams on Mitchell were amazing then! So were the girls.

Do you know how to tell a he-balsam from a she-balsam?

11-12-2013, 09:06
It's not really the fabric that makes a tent winter-worthy, it's the design. There are several good shelters out there made of silnylon that can handle winter -- or at least, winter in the South. Looking at photos of your two tents -- the REI tent is a basic 3-season tent and might be able to handle some wind and a little snow if it's guyed out properly. The SMD tent will handle the weather as long as you're in a sheltered area and you get up to knock off any snow accumulation during the night (been there, it's doable but not fun.) The major difference will be in temperature control -- I expect the Trekker will be much colder, as it has mesh walls to allow cool breezes, while the double wall REI tent has solid inner walls down near the base. If there is a lot of blowing snow, I'd expect to wake up covered in spindrift in both tents (it comes through the mesh.) Both tents will be difficult to use if it's snowing or raining heavily, as the door designs allow precip inside when you enter and exit.

So neither of these is ideal, but they would both work okay for a cold weather hike (except that a serious winter storm would be a problem.) If it were me, I'd probably take the Trekker to save shelter weight and carry some extra food. But I understand the appeal of the REI tent with space for all the gear, etc.

English Stu
11-12-2013, 10:08
A non nylon double skin would be a bit warmer but warmth is better organised through the clothes,sleeping bag and the sleeping mat.
I used a TT Contrail on the JMT and had one snowy frosty night; the issue was carrying a frozen tent in the morning, I was scared I ripped it folding it up. It wasn't really an option to wait around. I was just very gentle but it weighed loads with ice on it. I was able to stop after an hour or two and put the Contrail up again to dry out and for the frost to drop off.It would have been a pain to carry frozen it all day.I guess that would be the same for any tent but suppose the silnylon is less robust.

11-12-2013, 10:48
I've used my Contrail in light snow, very low temps, plenty of sleet, heavy hail, and it's done well. Like Big Cranky said, it's not the material and I'll add it's more about experience. An experienced hiker with light gear is often more comfortable than a newbie with the heaviest equipment. If you allow sweat and respiration to permeate your bag on the first night, your second night will not be any fun, no matter what you use.

11-12-2013, 17:32
Hello and thank you to all,

I left a post a few months back and got some cold winter clothing. Still need a few pieces like hat gloves and probably rain gear. My only rain gear is my frogg toggs, which I have not problem with anyother season.

My concern is over the shelter. I will try the skytrekker and see how she does. I will try to pitch it low and keep the vestibules small. Heck they are pretty small already.

Another question I mostly use a alky stove, I use a cannister only when I go out on small runs with my son. I live in NC. Will alky stoves work well for the winter we have here?

I ask a lot of questions only because I love getting out this time of the year. The other is inexperience in this season. Also I'm runing out of dough!!!! (sorry to cry poor) So any help is greatly appreciated and very welcomed!!!!

Best Regards,

11-12-2013, 21:41
...Another question I mostly use a alky stove, I use a cannister only when I go out on small runs with my son. I live in NC. Will alky stoves work well for the winter we have here?

Not sure about NC but I've used alky stoves in the Colorado high country in winter, up to 12,000' and at zero F, and in the Cascades at similar temps and lower elevations. Only for solo overnighters though. It works fine with a longer priming time, which is actually helpful for melting snow. For more than an overnight and/or for a group, I'd use gas.