Let's talk about tents (again).

Discussion in 'Gear Talk' started by Jurfie, Apr 23, 2008.

  1. Jurfie

    Jurfie Paddler

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    I want to start picking up some camping gear, so I'm in the market for a tent. And I'm a complete tent noob! I've read over the other threads until my eyes glazed over and I got more confused... :?

    I want a tent for 2 people. Not a 2-person tent, but a tent for 2 people. Roomy, but not too big that I'll never find a suitable place to pitch it, and small/light enough to carry in a kayak (obviously). I'm 6'-6", so it has to be big enough that I don't touch the ends and end up wet with condensation.

    I'd prefer to buy new, and hopefully not break the bank. $200-300 range or so? Any suggestions? I may to go to MEC this weekend to kick some tires.

    And before someone suggests a Hennessey hammock; I'd like to eventually get one of those for when I go camping without the wife.

    Thanks in advance!! 8)
     
  2. rider

    rider Paddler

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    If you want a freestanding tent with lots of space for 2 people,MEC Wanderer 2( the netting version for 3 season use), MEC Tarn 3 should probably be at the top of your list. Go with the Wanderer if you want 2 doors/vestibules, the Tarn if you're fine with one. Also, if you're fine with a hoop style tent without real vestibules to speak of(but it does have 2 doors), check out the Eureka Spitfire Duo, the roominess(especially length) impressed the hell out of me, especially for it's compact size(packed) and fairly light weight and also at a good price point.
     
  3. Jurfie

    Jurfie Paddler

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    Actually, after my initial search, those two were the starting point. Comparing the two, it appears the Tarn 3 is a little roomier, plus there is some extra height at the door. I also wondered if it was worth stretching the budget for the MSR Elbow Room 3?

    I've never camped outside of car-camping (where there is lots of room to set up a tent). Obviously I'd like to start getting into kayak camping, probably in places like the Bowrons and the Broken Group or Deer Group...and hopefully the WCP get-together next year! Are the designated campsites/tent sites in these types of areas typically accommodating of larger tents, or is minimalism a necessity? This will be a tent I use to try to get my wife to give camping another shot (she hates the cold and wet tents we used in late-teens/early 20s), so comfort is high on the list (along with the requirement to fit in a hatch!).

    So what are the advantages of 2 doors vs. 1? Is it just more room to store gear and options for setting up away from the wind?

    Thanks, I'll check that one out too. I appreciate the suggestions! Next I'll be looking for a good sleeping bag and pad... :wink:
     
  4. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    Two doors and vestibules are handy for middle of the night excursions.

    Tent sites vary from huge to tiny in the places you mention. And, they are invariably wet.

    I suspect that a sizeable tarp set up as kitchen shelter will also be on your menu. No tent is comfy if you get nailed by a three-day storm. Your spouse will appreciate warm libations, while sitting in a chair, during those times.

    Any two-person tent will fit into modern hatched boats.
     
  5. nootka

    nootka Paddler

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    One good point of having two doors:
    When the zipper on door A packs it in, you can switch to door B. (this assumes door A gets a lot more use than door B)
     
  6. Jill

    Jill Paddler

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    We just bought the Tarn 3 . The choice was tarn 3 or wander2. I liked the idea of the 2 doors on the wander2 . Then I thought about the some of the tight spaces we have camped in and that only 1 door would possibly get used then someone would be crawling over the other to get out. Also the fly looked like it need a couple of pegs to stake it out. So we bought the tarn 3 , The doorway has a bit more head room , but I think it will still be a duck waddle getting in and out or crawling. I also like the doorway facing the view if possible. We have bigger thermarests so I estimate about 6 inches extra room on the sides , maybe a little more at the head and foot. Okay for 2 ,but 3 no way .
     
  7. Jurfie

    Jurfie Paddler

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    Good point...however, I imagine my wife would wake me up anyways to be on the lookout for any "bears and crazy people" while she goes. :)

    Another good point! Wouldn't want to be stuck inside (or outside in the rain!).

    Hmmm...the MSR Elbow Room 3 has the vestibules at the ends, so this wouldn't be a problem. I'm thinking Tarn3 or Elbow Room 3...I just have to decide if the added vestibule/door is worth the $166 (MEC) price difference. Hopefully there will be one of each set up so I can compare the quality between the MEC and MSR brands.

    Note to self: buy the footprint.

    Ah man...you're probably right! Is it worth buying the setups with all the poles, netting, etc. or just a cheap foldup econo-tarp rigged up between the trees?
     
  8. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    Second Tallest wrote: Ah man...you're probably right! Is it worth buying the [tarps] with all the poles, netting, etc. or just a cheap foldup econo-tarp rigged up between the trees?

    Depends on your style and degree of mechanical elan. For two campers, I favor a 10 ft x 10 ft nylon unit with grommets every couple feet, and attachment loops mid-tarp, the former to handle odd placements, and the latter for skyhooks. To get a tarp high enough and so it will shed rain, you need a center pole or a tie to an overhead branch.

    OTOH, Kelty makes a really nice one (Noah's Tarp) that is diamond-shaped, with a center seam cut so pulling tight on the ends gives a really good pitch. I have the smaller size, and wish I had bought the larger one.

    I am a real tarp-nerd, so fiddling with a tarp to get it right is OK for me. If you are not so inclined, get a simple one, and toss the poles. The poles are tough to pack, and not needed in forested areas, or where driftwood is common.
     
  9. Curt B

    Curt B Paddler

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    I'm with rider.......

    I bought the Tarn 3 about a month ago and couldn't be happier. Although i've only slept in it in my backyard so far ( lame I know) I find it has quite alot of room. I'm 6'3" and have no problem stretching out!!! Good price to considering what you get!!!
     
  10. rider

    rider Paddler

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    For me, tarp is usually the first thing to go up and last to come down when setting camp, especially if weather is iffy and about to get worse. I use a Chinook brand nylon tarp(good deal on ebay) and here's my setup, for simplicity. I have a rope attached at 3 or all 4 corners, and i tied loops in the ropes,about 1.5-2 feet apart. And per each rope i got a narrow webbing strap with buckle. strap/buckle=for attaching rope to trees without tying knots(because i suck at tying knots), and numerous loops in rope for best setup without any more knots or other tensioners.
    Also, for tents. One of my first things to consider is : "how long is it going to take me, by myself, to set this up in icky weather?" Quick setup=good to get you out of the rain faster, and also the faster poles are in place,the faster you can put the fly over your inner tent, the dryer it will be.
    I'm also pretty fond of Sierra Designs tents,seem very well made. My solo tent is a Sierra Designs Light Year, my 2 person is a MEC Tarn 2.
     
  11. elmo

    elmo Paddler

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    I love my little Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight. Requires four pegs for the tent and another four for the fly. The savings in weight, bulk, and setup time more than make up for the slight inconvenience of it not being freestanding. I must have something like ?fifteen years of pretty intense use on it and the zipper still works fine, no leaks, and it's all held up pretty well considering. The smaller size also warms quickly with body heat and makes it a fairly reasonable 'three' season tent. Only complaint is that the nylon floor can leak in heavy downpours as the fly is a tiny bit smaller than the footprint. Leave the fly at home for warm weather trips and the thing is smaller than a water bottle when packed.

    Daniel
     
  12. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    rider is way more organized at tarpage than I am, although like him, the tarp goes up first, and comes down last, in rainy weather.

    I leave everything detached and shake and bake as I go. If at all possible, I look for a branch overhead to pull the center of the tarp up. Saves time, and avoids the pole in the middle problem. Then I look for trees or attachments high to pull out two adjacent corners and go from there. If there is nothing to work from, then we scavage downed wood for corner poles, one for the center and set up the corners first, getting the tarp over the piece of real estate we want ... usually whatever kitchen location we like.

    Here is one setup, pretty typical for fair weather.

    [​IMG]

    If there is wind and rain from one quadrant or another, that part of the tarp goes down and the other side stays up. 10 x 10 is OK for two; On a long trip in the Charlottes we handled four people under a 10 x 12, but it was marginal.

    It is best to use lines a quarter inch in diameter or so. The tiny stuff that comes with backpacking tents is hard to tie, hard to see when walking past a tarp corner, and hard to retrieve. Sometimes you really need to reef on a line to set it (I use taut line hitches to adjust the tension), so the larger diameter helps there, also.
     
  13. Doug

    Doug Paddler

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    Another tent to check out is a Mountain Hardwear Lightwedge 3. It's comfy for 2, and allows you to have some gear inside it. I'd also say that it is very well made. My previous tent was a Sierra Designs Flashlight 2-person, which is tight for 2 people but I love that tent too. It is small, light, and I think I paid $79 for it years ago at REI. It's not freestanding though. The Lightwedge is quite a bit bigger than the two MEC tents mentioned which of course is good and bad. If you divide up the contents between 2 people its quite ok for packing though I think.

    A question about tarps
    How realistic would it be to take a Noahs Tarp along with a sleeping bag, mosquito net, ground sheet and sleeping bag camping? I was thinking this would be a good lightweight setup where a person can enjoy good rain coverage. A -10C bag would be pretty warm for the westcoast I think, but I'm not sure...
     
  14. sludge

    sludge Paddler

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    Well Doug, many years ago I gave up trying to get by without a tent, that is, trying to rely on tarp and ground sheet alone. The final straw was a trip in Kootenay Park, when the wind blew the rain and snow straight sideways. It wasn't pretty.

    So if you want to skip a tent, you probably need a bivy sack and or mosquito netting. Those two items eat up some of the space and weight of the tent you are trying to leave behind. Is it worth it?
     
  15. Doug

    Doug Paddler

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    hey slugde, I think you're right, and it's probably only worth it if you're not traveling too far and have a good idea on the weather. The last time I went to Mamquam lake I took only my sleeping bag and mosquito net and it wasn't bad, but I knew we would have 100% sun. Even still, the dew got me pretty wet.

    The kootenays and KNP are my old stomping grounds and it's tough to rely on any weather in the Rockies. I've been nailed in a snow storm / blizzard in early August there.
     
  16. Jurfie

    Jurfie Paddler

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    THAT is a nice tent...8' long gives me lots of legroom and storage space.

    Me likey! And cheaper than the MSR Elbow Room 3 too...
     
  17. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    My "luxury" one-man tent is a Light Wedge 2. Killer tent, with about the most useful vestibule I've seen in this type of design. Quite roomy. The LW 3 would have acres.

    Now using an MSR Hubba, but now and then I long for the LW 2.
     
  18. DarenN

    DarenN Paddler

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    i too have the Lightwedge 2. awesome tent; if a bit heavey. i really like the window in the fly!! helps to aleviate land-sickness. :wink:
    i also have a S/D Clip Flashlight. lighter weight, very high cool factor, but needs to be staked out.
    Hennessy hammock.

    depends on where when how i'm going out, which one i take.

    one can never have too much gear! :wink:

    DarenN.......
     
  19. Doug

    Doug Paddler

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    Whoa, that's a bit trippy. Considering the number of tents available over the last number of years, it looks like several of us have the same ones. Well, I guess in some ways that supply is limited but nonetheless I think it speaks volumes about the Tarns, Lightwedges and Flashlights of the world.

    Here is one bit of advice, although I don't think it is really necessary given the recommendations already offered. Get a tent with the best ventilation options available. Your sleeping bag will keep you warm, the ventilation will keep you comfortable.

    Don't be afraid to share the load of a tent, you'll remember the comfort. you'll forget about the extra 2lbs of gear. I think... lol, the Mamquam trip I mentioned above is memorable because I also packed a wetsuit, a float tube, fins, pump and fly fishing rod & tackle. I won't forget that!
     
  20. MartinZ

    MartinZ Paddler

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    I've been using a Kelty Gunnison 2 for four years and am very happy with it. The vestibules at both doors give each person their own space. The ventilation is excellent while still keeping things dry. I've enjoyed the tent on a month long Noatak trip (rain, wind), several Sea of Cortez trips (sun, wind, WIND) as well as car camping around the Southwestern U.S..

    http://www.kelty.com/Kelty/products.php?type=8&cat=60&id=399

    Although it isn't a four season tent, it has handled strong winds remarkably well. Despite two days of continuously being made two dimensional by gusty conditions, it suffered no broken poles, rips, or point failures.

    I recommend the footprint which allows setting up the fly without the interior.