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Finding Level Ground for Tents

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Finding Level Ground for Tents

Postby maverick » Tue Apr 01, 2014 12:50 pm

You can have the best tent, most comfortable mattress, and the warmest sleeping
bag which all doesn't not mean jack if the ground you set up on is not level. It is really
annoying when the ground is even just barely off level and then during the night you
wake up with a throbbing pounding in your temple area. Sometimes we are in a
hurry, bad weather may be moving in on us, or we have to set up a campsite in the dark.
So what tricks do you have to finding a level spot?
For years I carried a spirit level for my camera and used it, but then got some pano gear
that has a built in spirit level. When first arriving in camp I lay my mattress down in the
purposed site, place my rail on top of it, move it around till it is level as possible, and
thereby ensuring a good level night sleep. :)
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

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Re: Finding Level Ground for Tents

Postby Mike M. » Tue Apr 01, 2014 1:09 pm

I prefer not to sleep on a perfectly level spot and I deliberately avoid pitching a tent on ground that is level and might therefore collect water once the surrounding area gets saturated.

I look for a gently sloped patch of ground that is not uneven or lumpy and sleep with my head upslope. Because I like to sleep in the open, I'll often try to find a little tree cover (not a lot) to avoid dew.

Mike
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Re: Finding Level Ground for Tents

Postby longri » Tue Apr 01, 2014 2:00 pm

All those years playing golf when I was younger pay off when it comes to tent site selection. From putting I learned to read the slope better than your average bear. And this usually allows me to set the tent so that it's head up and there are no weird side to side undulations.

Of course if all the available sites are lousy there's nothing you can do with a keen eye or a fancy level. In those cases a shovel might be the tool of choice. Or a hammock, if there are trees.

A final alternative, if you have extra clothing or other stuff, is to shim your pad, strategically placing items under it to more or less level it out.
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Re: Finding Level Ground for Tents

Postby maverick » Tue Apr 01, 2014 2:30 pm

Logri wrote:
A final alternative, if you have extra clothing or other stuff, is to shim your
pad, strategically placing items under it to more or less level it out.


Yeap, done that before.
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: Finding Level Ground for Tents

Postby maverick » Tue Apr 01, 2014 3:10 pm


Mike M wrote:

I prefer not to sleep on a perfectly level spot and I deliberately avoid pitching a tent
on ground that is level and might therefore collect water once the surrounding area
gets saturated.


Agree, a level site would be for a string of rain free days. Level is fine if one can find
a spot with angles on all sides, on a hump, which is occasionally available, but most of
the time the compromise of the feet being a bit lower allowing for any water to be
channeled away from underneath is what happens.
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: Finding Level Ground for Tents

Postby Wandering Daisy » Tue Apr 01, 2014 8:33 pm

I do not seek perfectly level spots. I have chronic sinus problems and have to have my head significantly uphill. At home I sleep on two pillows. The way I keep from sliding downhill is to find a sloped spot that also has a dip for my hips that hold me in place. A few years ago we got a pillow-top bed at home and amazingly I sleep better on lumps! Some of my most comfortable nights have been on lumpy ground! Luckily my tent works either way, so if end up misjudging and have my head downhill I just turn around. I find that side slopes are harder to deal with than head-to-toe slope. And I am a big proponent of the hip hollow. Maybe men do not have to worry about that but women need to accommodate hips.

I suppose you could take a marble and roll it to see where is downhill. I cannot view slope at all. I go to one side and think it is downhill and move the other and think that is downhill. I try the spot out before I set up the tent. Even then I can misjudge.
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Re: Finding Level Ground for Tents

Postby oldranger » Wed Apr 02, 2014 11:44 am

Usually I can figure out an adequately level spot by eyeballing it. Every now and then as I walk around a spot the "uphill" "changes" with change in perspective. Sometimes I fill up my pan with water and use it as a level if I remain perplexed. With my Exped down mat blown up as firm as I like it, fairly significant irregularities in the ground don't bother me. If forced to locate on a slight sidehill I of course stash some clothes under the downhill edge of the mat to create a berm to hold me on the pad.
I am much more careful about avoiding low flat spots at multi night trips than on a clear evening when I am camped for a single night.

Mike
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