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Campsite-Tent match-mismatch

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Campsite-Tent match-mismatch

Postby cefire » Sat Jul 16, 2016 4:29 pm

Mysterious title - I'm creating this thread to ask you all a few questions about campsites and tents in the Sierra (broadly)...

No need to answer all questions, these are just to get the discussion started :smirk:

1. Do you prefer a free-standing or a "not free-standing" tent?
2. Do you have both types? Do you use both types or is one sitting in your gear box gathering dust?
3. For those who don't have free-standing tents: Have you ever had difficulty in finding a suitable site in the backcountry?
3b. If yes, where (what type of terrain) and what challenges did you face?



The backstory is that I just bought my second tent from Henry Shires and I'm entirely in love with it. I'm trying to figure out whether I need to keep it's complement (a free-standing variant) or whether I should ditch it. I don't believe I've ever been in a situation where I couldn't pitch a tunnel-type of tent, but when your data set is N=1, you can make errors!

Thanks for any insight y'all can offer [-o<



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Re: Campsite-Tent match-mismatch

Postby rlown » Sat Jul 16, 2016 4:38 pm

cefire wrote:Mysterious title - I'm creating this thread to ask you all a few questions about campsites and tents in the Sierra (broadly)...

No need to answer all questions, these are just to get the discussion started :smirk:

1. Do you prefer a free-standing or a "not free-standing" tent?

Yes to both, and it depends. Free standing for me are better in winter or high wind situations esp in the shoulder season. Yes is because it's a quiver and selected use.

2. Do you have both types? Do you use both types or is one sitting in your gear box gathering dust?

There is dust, but I have both types. Tarptent double rainbow is my fave, but I fall back to my self-standing for winter trips. Double walls with the fly on makes it comfy.

3. For those who don't have free-standing tents: Have you ever had difficulty in finding a suitable site in the backcountry?
3b. If yes, where (what type of terrain) and what challenges did you face?

If you can't find a place to put your stakes in the ground (which is rare), you can use large rocks to anchor the tent or even be creative with your hiking poles if you use them.


The backstory is that I just bought my second tent from Henry Shires and I'm entirely in love with it. I'm trying to figure out whether I need to keep it's complement (a free-standing variant) or whether I should ditch it. I don't believe I've ever been in a situation where I couldn't pitch a tunnel-type of tent, but when your data set is N=1, you can make errors!

Thanks for any insight y'all can offer [-o<


Congrats on your purchase. Keep the other as a backup. As stated above, there are great reasons for free standing tents.
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Re: Campsite-Tent match-mismatch

Postby longri » Sat Jul 16, 2016 5:05 pm

If you search you will find virtually endless discussion about this subject.

I think it mostly boils down to weight since free standing tents of similar size and purpose are heavier than non-freestanding tents. If this weren't true I think just about everybody would have a free standing tent.

Sometimes a non-freestanding tent is more difficult to pitch because the campsite doesn't accept stakes well and there aren't good alternatives for attaching the guylines. You have to be creative... or find a different site.

I have both types of tent. I disagree that freestanding tents are inherently preferable in winter or in high winds. My best winter tent (a Hilleberg) is not freestanding. My primary summer tent is free standing. It's a little heavier but it requires a tiny footprint (especially compared to a typical Tarptent), it can be easily picked up and moved and it has a very roomy interior (steep walls). But a comparable Tarptent would be about a pound lighter.
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Re: Campsite-Tent match-mismatch

Postby AlmostThere » Sat Jul 16, 2016 7:47 pm

I use a non freestanding tent, everywhere I cannot use a hammock, whether by rule or by trip design.

I do not consider freestanding a bonus -- I have chased a freestanding tent across the alpine before - full of sleeping gear and clothing - because someone decided that they could just let their gear weigh it down. WRONG. Wind doesn't care, and backpacking gear is too light. We put rocks all over every anchor point, many rocks, regardless of how calm the day is.
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Re: Campsite-Tent match-mismatch

Postby giantbrookie » Sat Jul 16, 2016 8:05 pm

For many years I used a non free-standing go-to tent for my hardest backpacks--the Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight 3 CD--until wear ended up rendering the door in need of costly repairs. I figure when you're in the High Sierra there are always rocks (yes this is true even if you're not a geologist), so there are ways to deal with the non free-standing aspect. That having been said, I retired my beloved Flashlight 3, and replaced it with a REI Quarterdome 3 (free standing) which to me is the best tent I've ever owned. I guess I like freestanding a bit better because I sometimes pitch in very tight spaces and the piling the rocks game isn't always so convenient.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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Re: Campsite-Tent match-mismatch

Postby cefire » Sat Jul 16, 2016 11:47 pm

Cool, thanks everybody for the thoughts :D
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Re: Campsite-Tent match-mismatch

Postby sheperd80 » Sun Jul 17, 2016 7:07 am

I have both but dont use the freestanding anymore because my Tarptent Notch is half the weight. When i did use a freestanding i always staked it out anyway. Im sure there are times in rocky alpine camps where staking a tent is difficult but thats why i always have some extra guyline handy so i can deadman it if needed.

I suppose the tarptent rainbow would be a good compromise here since you can freestand it with trekking poles. But I love the small footprint of the Notch and the fact that only 4 stakes are needed, with an option to use 6.

On my last trip i had a tricky pitch, i was limited to one very small spot and had to get the tent angled just right. The Notch is versatile but if you cant pitch it symetrically the doors act funny. It took about 20 minutes where as setting it up on my lawn takes 2 minutes, but it worked out.

I may start bringing a groundsheet that matches the tents footprint which i can lay out and get the right position before pitching the tent. This should eliminate some trial end error.

Now that im more familiar with this tent, i know what to look for in a good site and because of the small footprint its not too difficult to find. For this particular tent its a matter of getting all 4 stakes symetrically arranged to make the diamond shape. If either of the side guys are angled a little, the tent will sag when unzipping that door. Not a deal breaker, just something i have to be aware of. Even with a crooked pitch the tent will be strong throughout the night, it just means im probably stressing those door zippers and need to be careful getting in and out.

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Re: Campsite-Tent match-mismatch

Postby longri » Sun Jul 17, 2016 10:46 am

sheperd80 wrote:...I love the small footprint of the Notch and the fact that only 4 stakes are needed, with an option to use 6.

Here's an illustration of the difference in footprint between a free-standing tent and a non-freestanding tent. In this diagram the larger diamond shaped footprint is the Tarptent Notch, which sleeps 1 person. The red rectangle is the BD Lighthouse, which sleeps 2 people.

Image

Two person Tarptents require even larger footprints rending some tighter tent sites difficult or impossible to use. The Lighthouse is basically the size of two people bivying next to each other. And stakeouts can be done right at the corners whereas with non-freestanding tents they must be some distance away to provide the necessary tension for pitching. Sometimes small sites make that challenging.

Rocks are easy to find in the Sierra (I often leave the stakes at home even with a non-freestanding tent) and you can usually find somewhere to pitch even a big tent. But in other wilderness areas the pickings can at times be slim. And even in the Sierra a larger footprint sometimes means that an awesomely located tent site simply won't work.
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Re: Campsite-Tent match-mismatch

Postby sheperd80 » Sun Jul 17, 2016 12:34 pm

Its just a matter of choosing your trade-offs. For the theoretically smaller footprint* (see below), roomier interior and freestanding ability of the Lighthouse you give up versatility and vestibules and gain 2 lbs! No thanks, to each his own.

*And I dont think that footprint difference is very substantial when you consider that the shape of the Notch requires only a small clear area under the inner tent (the 34" section in your diagram), the fly hovers over any oddities. Guy lines can be pitched out into odd places near trees, rocks, etc. Adjustable trekking pole support and guy length allow all sorts of options for dealing with slopes and lumps. A rectangular tent requires that entire area to be relatively clear and flat. A FS tent like that definitely could not have pitched where i put my Notch a few weekends ago. But im sure that goes both ways in different shaped sites.

That being said i do miss the extra space of my old Passage 1, but for the weight savings, features and versatility its well worth the sarifice. How much space do i need to sleep anyway? ;-)

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Re: Campsite-Tent match-mismatch

Postby longri » Sun Jul 17, 2016 5:04 pm

The Notch is a solo tent so the 2lb difference isn't fair. A better comparison might be the 2-person non-freestanding Tarptent Double Moment. It has comparable internal dimensions but also has an integral vestibule. It weighs about the same as the Lighthouse without vestibule but lighter when the Lighthouse has a vestibule attached. It has an even larger footprint than the Notch.

As for the footprint, it's more than a theoretical difference. I have a solo tent that I sewed myself that is very similar in footprint and pitching to the Notch. It's obvious to me every time I pitch it that it requires a larger site than the Lighthouse. Admittedly it usually doesn't matter in the Sierra -- but sometimes it does.

I don't know... I've thought about buying (or sewing) a two-person Tarptent to save a pound or so. But even after 8 years of use the Lighthouse isn't wearing out. And to be honest I'm not really sure what I'd choose. I sure wouldn't mind saving a little weight but I also appreciate many of the features of the Lighthouse, including that it is freestanding.

It's nice to have so many choices.
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Re: Campsite-Tent match-mismatch

Postby Clown Shoes » Sun Jul 17, 2016 6:33 pm

I went through alot of back and forth before I purchased my shelter. Many guys have multiple shelters,
but I wanted to try and get something I could use in most conditions. I went with a Mid, ( MLD-Doumid) and Im very happy with
my decision. No floor and a trekking pole in the middle, but still roomy and very versitile. In mosquito season, I attach an inner, and in colder conditions I use it with a ultralight bivy.
The footprint is large at basically 9 X 5 ft, yet Ive never had a problem pitching it anywhere in the sierras. I suppose if Im on a high ledge
somewhere it could be a problem, but so far I havent put myself in a position like that.

12.5 ounces and Cuben is a very robust material in wind and snow
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Re: Campsite-Tent match-mismatch

Postby longri » Sun Jul 17, 2016 6:38 pm

I also have a homemade Cuben "Duomid". It's nice and light (8oz without the groundsheet) but it has certain limitations. There are times when I prefer a tent with a bathtub floor.

I'm one of those guys with a lot of tents. I used to have just one and loved the simplicity. Now I've got a bunch and love the ability to select the tent based on the type of trip. But back when I had just one -- it was a freestanding tent.
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