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  1. #1
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    Default Factors in Choosing a Tent?

    Hello! This is my first post here on WB. I've been reading quite a bit here about all the different tents and shelter systems available, and I think my questions are a little more basic. I'll explain:

    So I've been backpacking for years now, and all of my hear is much heavier than it needs to be. Currently I've been using an Easton Rimrock 1P tent, which weighs 50 oz. The idea of cutting that weight almost in half delights my middle-aged hiking legs on week-long trips on the trails.

    I like the idea of ditching poles and using my hiking poles, but what tradeoff am I making against wind and rain?
    Silnylon is lighter than what I have, and less expensive than cuben tents, but how badly does it stretch when it gets wet? (re-adjusting my pitch through a rainy night is not my idea of late-night entertainment.)
    Double wall tents are a defense against interior wetness due to condensation, but are modern single-wall tents better vented to produce less of a condensation risk?

    I think getting those concerns answered will get me started (and spark more detailed questions about different models/designs). Thanks everyone.

  2. #2
    Registered User egilbe's Avatar
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    I dont use a tent. I use a SixMoon Designs Haven Tarp with the net tent. Weighs about two pounds. Uses my trekking poles. When the tarp starts to get saggy, I extend my poles a bit more. Dont have to go outside. Plenty of ventilation since the tarp doesnt have to go all the way to the ground. Enough room inside the net tent for two people plus some gear. Can use the vestibules for boots and packs.

  3. #3
    Hiker bigcranky's Avatar
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    I've been using trekking poles to support my tent since my first Tarptent in 2004. I don't think I'm giving up anything in terms of weather protection, and I think that there are more interesting designs out there for non-freestanding tents. Something like a Tarptent Notch packs an amazing set of features into 24 ounces or so -- double wall design, two doors on the long sides of the tent (for ease of entry and views), excellent weather protection, light weight. (I have no relationship with Tarptent except as a past happy customer, and in fact I no longer use any of their products, but they are well designed and well made.)

    Silnylon does sag or stretch a little when wet, even with just the evening dew. But I find that once I make a single adjustment to tighten it up, that's all I need to do. In some tents, you can do this from the inside by extending your trekking poles another centimeter or so.

    All tents will have condensation under the right conditions. Most single wall cottage gear made tents will have a lot of ventilation (so be aware of that on cold windy nights ), but they can get pretty wet inside sometimes. This is a tradeoff that I am willing to make (and I carry a small chamois towel to dry the inside of the tent in the morning as needed).

    Good luck with the research.
    Ken B
    'Big Cranky'
    Our Long Trail journal

  4. #4

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    50oz isn't terrible, but it isn't great either. They do make lighter 1P tents if you have the $$$ to spend, although probably more money than buying a tarp setup.

    Things which keep me in a tent:
    1 size fits all, because it's the size of the tent
    you don't HAVE to have trekking poles
    no guyline fiddling
    fly, or no fly depending on weather
    bugs

  5. #5

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    The only time I have had an issue with condensation inside my Duplex (love the CF for non-sag, and one of my priorities in a tent is waterproofness) is when camped right next to water (my mistake) or when it rained a lot and the ground was wet enough to create a similar situation to being on a lake. I also carry a super-absorbent cloth for my tent (and for my cook set) for those times I need it. I often leave one of the doors open too, unless the rain is coming down.

    Pick your priorities in a tent...for me it was weight and waterproofness/no sag. I was willing pay the price but that may not be for everyone.

  6. #6
    4eyedbuzzard's Avatar
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    So many options theses days. Which is good, but confusing. And single wall vs double wall is kind of blurred given the amount of upper netting on many of the "double wall" tents. I think normal weather conditions where a tent is used dictate a large part of the choice. I've successfully used a 20 oz Etowah Meadows (silnylon) tarp for years in the east. Roomy, but add to that a ground cloth at 6 oz and a mosquito net at 4 oz and you're up to the weight of a lot of tents and without bathtub floor protection. I'm currently using a new to me Big Agnes Copper Spur UL1. It's big for a one person tent, but still tight compared to a two person. But at 36 oz it's a pretty cool little free standing tent. I just prefer free standing tents over ones that aren't - easier to use and sturdier in storms IMO (yes, especially in bad weather you still need to stake them). The side entry, higher than average sidewalls, and relatively big vestibule are a plus for a small tent. Can't comment on condensation as I've only used it for two nights and it was dry, but it seems well ventilated.

    So many good options out there, good luck!

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigcranky View Post
    I no longer use any of their products, but they are well designed and well made.)
    I've been looking at Henry Shires Tarptent products--specifically the Notch that you mentioned. I'm curious though as to why you no longer use Tarptent products. Did you find something better or did your requirements change?

    Whatever tent I go with will have to be waterproof/weatherproof and protect from bugs. I don't want to sacrifice something that will crumble in a thunderstorm because it was the lightest tent available. To me, that defeats the purpose. I do always carry a pack towel or something similar, so if that takes care of condensation, then great. I just don't want to get water dripping on my down sleeping bag, or on the foot end of the bad due to rubbing the canopy during the night.

    I'm thrilled to hear that trekking pole supported tents are not much of a tradeoff in weather protection. That keeps me from having to carry the extra weight of tent poles. Price is definitely a consideration. I see some cottage industry tent systems in cuben fiber in the $600-800 range, and that seems a little extreme to me, considering that the weight savings over silnylon versions looks to be less than 8 oz. Granted, that weight savings may well be worth the expense to those who value weight over cost. If I can have a tent that is under 30 oz, then that's already a huge savings in my pack weight from my 50oz Rimrock 1P.

  8. #8
    GA-ME Feb. 27th–July 1st, 2016 lwhikerchris's Avatar
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    If it's light and waterproof and I can use my poles, it works for me. Look into used cuben fiber shelters; you can find them on BPL and other places at a good discount.
    John GoodMan

  9. #9
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    1) Sil-nylon gets loose when it gets wet just like your older nylon tent does. So, this is not a new thing to you, just a new awareness maybe. The sagging of wet nylon has become in issue to talk about only because there are other modern fabrics, like cuben, that don't sag/stretch when wet.

    2) Tent ventilation and condensation has as much, or more, to do you with your choices than the tent design. Leave whatever vents there are open and pitch in low humidity areas and condensation will be minimal in most shelters. Close vents against weather and camp in higher humidity, and you will get condensation inside any shelter. The double wall just protects you from accidentally touching the condensation or having the condensation run down the tent wall and puddle on the floor or otherwise soak your gear. A floorless single walled shelter (tarp or shaped tarp) eliminates the puddling, so you just have to be careful about touching. I net tent to protect against bugs when using a single-walled shelter is basically a less integrated double walled tent.

    3) With sub 2 and sub 3-pound double walled tents available, it starts making one wonder about the usefulness of single walled tents.

    4) Finally, shelters pitched using trekking poles means that you cannot use your trekking poles when your shelter is pitched. Not a problem if you never go hiking after pitching your shelter or don't care about whether or not you use your poles when hiking without your full pack. BUT, a BIG PROBLEM, if you like to pitch camp and then go for a hike or pitch camp for a few days to then go day-hiking and want to use your poles when doing so. You can, of course, get tent poles to use instead of trekking poles for shelters otherwise pitched using trekking poles.
    I'm not lost. I'm exploring.

  10. #10
    Registered User ggreaves's Avatar
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    For the issues you've mentioned... weight, condensation and weather protection, it's tough to beat a lightweight hammock setup.

    Dutch halfwit hammock w/whoopie hook suspension - $137.... 14.0 oz
    Hammockgear cuben tarp with doors 11' - $295.... 7.5 oz

    Total $442... 21.5 oz

    You can drop another $150 off this if you go with a silnylon tarp. You'll never get wet from above or below from rain or condensation. You can still use your pad in the hammock. Plus, some benefits you weren't looking for but you'll get anyway ....

    1. restful restorative sleep every night (helpful if you're trying to string multiple high mile days together)
    2. always having the same lay in your bed every night despite what may be below you (rocks / twigs / torrents from a flash storm)
    3. no poles (of any kind) required - unless you want to pitch the tarp out in porch mode and enjoy nature from your bed

  11. #11
    Hiker bigcranky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arc-Niner View Post
    I've been looking at Henry Shires Tarptent products--specifically the Notch that you mentioned. I'm curious though as to why you no longer use Tarptent products. Did you find something better or did your requirements change?
    A little of both.

    We started with a Tarptent Rainshadow when our daughter hiked with us. Got a Tarptent Double Rainbow for the two of us, and Moment for solo use. I gave the Moment to a young friend in the Scouts, and we replaced the D.R. with a Six Moons Designs Lunar Duo for the interior space, then this year we replaced it with a Zpacks Triplex for the weight savings. The SMD Lunar Duo gave us great service for close to a decade, through some amazing bad weather, as did all the Tarptents. Oh, and we got a Zpacks Hexamid Twin for our LT hike and now I use that as a solo tent.
    Ken B
    'Big Cranky'
    Our Long Trail journal

  12. #12

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    As you can tell, if you hike much, for long enough, you would will collect a lot of tents.
    ...and packs, and bags, and .... you get the picture.
    So it's not about any one tent choice.

  13. #13

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    The Notch is a great tent for the price. Well made and roomy enough for one plus a little gear. I would recommend it to anyone without reservation.

    That said I now use a ZPacks duplex and love it. Perfect for one, adequate for 2 in a pinch. Super light and reasonably durable for ultra lite gear. Expensive, but worth it for me.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by ggreaves View Post
    For the issues you've mentioned... weight, condensation and weather protection, it's tough to beat a lightweight hammock setup.
    Yep. I'm trying to get acclimated to laying in a hammock and getting all the angles right. I'm very much a newbie there. I've got a Warbonnet Blackbird with a DIY silnylon hex tarp. With the tarp I made, it's still a little on the heavy side and there aren't always trees in the places I like to go, so it won't fit my needs 100% of the time.

  15. #15
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    I like to adress the sagging bit.
    Some have problems with it, others (like me don't)
    Why ?
    Simply because IF you tension the tent once it has cooled down (after the sun has gone down and usually just before you get in to sleep) even if it start raining or snowing the sagging will be very limited if at all.
    I have posted this shot before because I think well illustrates the situation.
    It wasn't snowing when I got in to sleep but obviously was already cold well after sunset.
    That is WET (heavy) snow, yet no sagging.(most of it was iced up when I got up)

    this is in another spot, no snow on top but you might be able to see that the fly is iced up. Thew guylines are fully extended so I did not pull them in for the photo...

    This is me feeding my face in the morning waiting for the rain to stop. Was not raining the night before ( a mate took that shot)
    You can see that the back panels are still fully taut. I never get up during the night to re-tension.

    however for the ones that set up theirs like this :

    sagging will be a problem.

  16. #16
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    Franco, that is impressive how your Notch retained its taut pitch in those conditions! That certainly keeps it towards the top of my list!

  17. #17
    Registered User ggreaves's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arc-Niner View Post
    Yep. I'm trying to get acclimated to laying in a hammock and getting all the angles right. I'm very much a newbie there. I've got a Warbonnet Blackbird with a DIY silnylon hex tarp. With the tarp I made, it's still a little on the heavy side and there aren't always trees in the places I like to go, so it won't fit my needs 100% of the time.
    There's a very friendly and helpful group over at hammockforums.net that would be glad to answer your questions and help you tweak your setup.

  18. #18
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    Arc Niner
    with a trekking pole supported shelter like the Notch you can also just re-tension the shelter from the inside by increasing the pole length.
    (if your poles extend, but you could also lift the pole handle and put the front of your shoe/boot under it)

  19. #19

    Default

    Factors in selecting a tent:

    Price
    Weight
    Area
    Headroom
    Freestanding
    Single wall

    Modern tents that use stressed aluminum poles stay taut.

  20. #20
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    like this ?
    taut.jpg

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