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Tentless?

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Postby giantbrookie » Thu May 24, 2007 10:31 am

I am one of those who believes the comfort and convenience of a tent is worth the weight and cost. Of course, I am also one who will attract mosquitoes from the next county. I have also seen some dramatic changes in Sierran weather from cloudless skies to driving rain within very short periods of time and I like the comfort and shelter afforded by a tent. The mosquito dome thingies over the head area of a bag work OK (have used them), but I also find that the enterprising mosquitoes tend to find a crawl pathway through unless one is very careful about how one lets the mesh drape (and the proper drape can get messed up if one moves around a bit while sleeping or half asleep). A tarp will keep the rain off (if and only if, as noted above, it is put up properly), but many will need separate mosquito protection in addition. A bivy sack offers both rain and mosquito protection, but condensation tends to be an issue for the lower (leg, foot end) parts. Also, if you are hiking with someone, a lightweight 2 person tent will weigh no more (may be less) than two bivy sacks and will be much more comfortable accommodations for two. There are some very nice super lightweight tents available today and there are some pretty good deals to be had at places like reioutlet.com. My own "light" tent is actually a 3-person Sierra Designs tent (Flashlight CD 3), a venerable model (that I believe they still make) whose list price, let alone sale price is pretty reasonable (I could be wrong but it's probably under $200; I got it on sale for something like $120). That tent has a listed "minimum weight" of 4lbs 14oz, is exceptionally roomy, pitches super fast, and, in spite of the fact that it is not self standing, has held up in some ferocious winds (combined with serious rain). I wouldn't try to fit 3 folks in there except under exceptional circumstances, but to give you an idea of how much room there is, during two different fierce rain/wind storms, three guys were able to fit in there with absolutely all of our gear (packs, boots, everything), and lounge back in comparative comfort as the storm raged outside.

Anyhow the choice of shelter depends very much on the priorities of the individual. There really are some folks that don't seem to get bothered by mosquitoes much. I recall walking by the Graveyard Lakes once and seeing a bunch of folks in swim suits barbecueing themselves on some granite slabs as my wife and I hiked by in long sleeve shirts and mosquito net hats over our heads. They didn't seem to be the least bit tormented by the bugs (as gray clouds followed me and my wife--perhaps that's why the sun bathers weren't bothered). Priorities, of course, include weight and I've always been one to take on a little weight in the name of greater comfort (ultralight backpacker I am not). Again,however, as noted above, it is possible to have your tent and not really add much weight over the other options.
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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Postby caddis » Thu May 24, 2007 12:49 pm

giantbrookie wrote:A tarp will keep the rain off (if and only if, as noted above, it is put up properly


I ignored this point earlier because I believe the same is true about setting up a tent :)
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Postby TehipiteTom » Thu May 24, 2007 1:36 pm

There really are some folks that don't seem to get bothered by mosquitoes much. I recall walking by the Graveyard Lakes once and seeing a bunch of folks in swim suits barbecueing themselves on some granite slabs as my wife and I hiked by in long sleeve shirts and mosquito net hats over our heads. They didn't seem to be the least bit tormented by the bugs (as gray clouds followed me and my wife--perhaps that's why the sun bathers weren't bothered).

I'm closer to that end of the spectrum. I've discovered that bites from Sierra mosquitoes don't generally raise welts on me. I stopped using insect repellant 15 or more years ago because it was just keeping them six inches away from me; I'd rather just let them land on me so I can kill them. Killing them is fun. Lots of fun.

I'm with you on the weather thing, though. If it's raining out, I want a place where I can sit and read or play cards or whatever in relative comfort.
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Postby giantbrookie » Thu May 24, 2007 4:22 pm

TehipiteTom wrote:I've discovered that bites from Sierra mosquitoes don't generally raise welts on me. I stopped using insect repellant 15 or more years ago because it was just keeping them six inches away from me; I'd rather just let them land on me so I can kill them. Killing them is fun. Lots of fun.


I wish I could say the same for me and my wife. After some of the more severe trips you can't tell where one mosquito lump ends and the next one begins. And of course, as you can imagine, the fact that they do puff up means they itch like hell, so eventually we scratch them until we have scabs all over the place (I've gotten a bit more disciplined about this; my wife hasn't). I do in fact like smacking and killing them. My brother and I would keep count of how many we killed in a day when we hiked as kids. You had to have a body or smear for it count as a "confirmed" kill. For years our record stood somewhere in the low hundreds (set in the Saddlebag area on a Conness climb). Then we went to climb Olancha Peak on a weekend where there was hardly any water left, yet....At our campsite so many mosquitoes landed at once it was as if we were covered in black fur. We couldn't even figure out how many we killed at one whack--probably in excess of a hundred each time. We took our kill totals into the thousands in few minutes, after which we took shelter in the tent. On days like that the plunge into the tent is followed by zipping up then killing all the darned buggers that followed you in, which can be quite a bit.
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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Postby freestone » Thu May 24, 2007 10:06 pm

Mosquitoes seem to keep dining hours when it comes to feeding on me. In the Sierra, they bother me only during the daylight hours, but after dusk, they seem to "chill" and go elsewhere. Where I live, I only get attacked at dusk, but never a bite during the daytime, or at night. That said, I would consider a shelter to deal more with weather issues, and less with bugs. On a recent trip into the Los Padres, I came to the conclusion that tents are heavy, make me feel claustrophobic, and a hassle to get in and out of. So, on my next Sierra trip I am considering taking only the groundcloth and rainfly of my solo tent, and only use the fly if weather threatens. When I first started to backpack, we used "tube tents" purchased by the foot from the HW store. I'm not sure I am ready to go back to that, but it was light and gave good rain protection.
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Postby SSSdave » Thu May 24, 2007 10:53 pm

As Doyle noted mosquitoes will be peaking in late June. When backpacking especially on long trips when food weight and bulk becomes significant, I use a bivy sack more often than one of my two tents because my pack weight is already monstrous. I also bring along one of the cheap blue plastic tarps that are large enough that I can fully wrap them around the bivy during rainy weather. The reason is bivy's may leak by wicking during extending rain and if that does happen dealing with water inside is much more difficult than with a tent because there is little space to maneuver. If thunderstorms are possible or mosquitoes really numerous, a tent can mean the difference between a pleasant experience and continually battling to cope. That said I am also one that often enjoys sleeping with my head exposed to the night and universe without an intervening tent. ...David
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Postby Strider » Fri May 25, 2007 7:02 am

freestone wrote:I came to the conclusion that tents are heavy, make me feel claustrophobic, and a hassle to get in and out of.

we used "tube tents" purchased by the foot from the HW store. I'm not sure I am ready to go back to that, but it was light and gave good rain protection.


I always wake up claustrophobic in a tent, and have to gasp fresh air through the window. I believe the higher CO2 level in the tent causes that. One year at Ranger Lake I became disoriented and crawled the wrong way through two connected tube tents, tangling up my brother and sister-in-law on the other side.
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Postby markskor » Fri May 25, 2007 7:20 am

With many of today’s “mesh tentsâ€
Mountainman who swims with trout
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Postby Snow Nymph » Fri May 25, 2007 7:22 am

I use a tent, but ours is 2 lb 13 oz and is 5'x9' so the weight is not a problem for the space we get.

I don't like using DEET, and mosquitos love me. I use OFF unscented, and keep a small container of Preparation H handy for the ones the get me. If you dab a little on the bite before scratching, the bite doesn't welt or itch, just like the advertisements say!
Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free . . . . Jim Morrison


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Postby The Other Tom » Fri May 25, 2007 9:48 am

Snow Nymph wrote:I use a tent, but ours is 2 lb 13 oz and is 5'x9' so the weight is not a problem for the space we get.

I don't like using DEET, and mosquitos love me. I use OFF unscented, and keep a small container of Preparation H handy for the ones the get me. If you dab a little on the bite before scratching, the bite doesn't welt or itch, just like the advertisements say!


Isn't DEET the main ingredient of OFF ?

Also, my son tells me that if you are bitten by a mosquito, don't swat it. Let the lill bugger drink his fill. The resulting welt is much smaller and doesn't itch....it works for him.
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Postby maverick » Fri May 25, 2007 11:40 am

The Other Tom wrote: Also my son tells me that if you bitten by a
mosquito, dont swat at it. Let the lill bugger drink his fill. The resulting
welt is smaller and doesnt itch...it works for him.

Ill avoid getting bitten at all, which works most of the time.
Letting skeeterz feast on my blood with west nile found in more and
more birds on the west coast is the last thing I want to do!
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Postby giantbrookie » Fri May 25, 2007 12:05 pm

The Other Tom wrote:Isn't DEET the main ingredient of OFF ?

Also, my son tells me that if you are bitten by a mosquito, don't swat it. Let the lill bugger drink his fill. The resulting welt is much smaller and doesn't itch....it works for him.

The main ingredient of OFF is in fact DEET. As for letting the mosquito drink, that in theory should make things worse. What many of us are allergic to--and what makes the bite swell and itch--is the anti coagulant the mosquitoes put into us so that our blood doesn't clot in their little mouth syringe. One would presume that the longer one lets the mosquito suck, the more of that anti coagulant is dispensed into us. Unless the action of smacking them causes the mosquito to loogie every last drop of anti coagulant into us, I'd bet you are worse off letting them drink.

About eleven years ago I swore off DEET because of some of the bad things I heard about the health effects (although I must confess, I never traced such things back to the actual peer reviewed literature--I should), and because of the fact that even 100% DEET completely coating our exposed skin and our clothing didn't keep me and wife and I from getting hundreds of bites on our worst mosquito trip ever (a 9 day New Army to Shepherd Pass epic--probably our second- or third-best trip ever in spite of the bugs). Our policy in the years that followed was to simply dress to keep them away: lightweight long sleeve shirt (great sun protection, too), long pants (always did this anyway), and the mosquito net hat when things get bad. The only points of vulnerability with such a get up tend to be the unprotected hands and the shoulders where the fabric kind of gets stretched taught so the mosquitoes can bite through it; those areas are protected by anti aircraft fire (smacking the buggers). My North Face long sleeve shirt, complete with various zippered mesh ventilation etc. keeps me cooler than hiking in a T-shirt, and protects me better from the sun.

In recent years I've reconsidered my personal DEET ban as the number of West Nile cases has increased. One of my students was nailed by West Nile last year (the same year he also was bitten by a brown recluse spider--a very bad year for him). It comes down to what poses the higher percentage risk--adverse health effects from DEET versus West Nile. Given how popular I am with mosquitoes....
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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