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#124337 - 11/24/09 02:30 PM Wind strategy
finallyME Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 2710
Loc: Utah
I went car camping with the scouts last weekend in western Utah. For those interested, we went to Vernon Reservoir for a little fishing (although no luck cry ). This place sits at 6 thousand feet and is located in what some people describe as the high desert. There isn't much large vegetation, a few cedars, and lots of sage brush. Anyways, we had a front move in, and it was really windy. I am not sure how windy, other than it was more than 40 mph gusts. I was planning to make a fire and cook chili with a dutch oven, along with peach cobbler. It was too windy for that, and we ended up just cooking chili, in my van with the door open. The propane two burner stove wouldn't even work with the big wind blocker sitting on the bench. Luckily we had some really heavy springbar tents that can handle a wind like that. I was going to test my tarp out, but decided against it. So, how have others dealt with high wind conditions (40-50 mph+)?
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#124351 - 11/24/09 05:45 PM Re: Wind strategy [Re: finallyME]
sabre11004 Offline
member

Registered: 05/05/07
Posts: 513
Loc: Tennessee
I do know one thing. If you intend to stay under a tarp in 40-50 MPH winds you better have some serious "tarp" experience. I could probably manage but I will have to say that if I had my choice, I would chose to do some thing else. The tents that you said you guys had would be a much better choice than a tarp in that kind of weather with those high winds...You could stake a tarp down but it may well turn out to be a work in progress, and I do mean throughout the night. Assign some one through the night to keep all the guy lines tight...sabre11004... confused confused confused
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#124357 - 11/24/09 07:43 PM Re: Wind strategy [Re: finallyME]
hikerduane Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/03
Posts: 2123
Loc: Meadow Valley, CA
Both of my current tents have withstood high winds like that, but with some damage. My SD Halfmoon, a three season tent, has slightly bent poles now, but made it in winds higher than what you had. My newer tent, a BD Hilight had two nights of high winds in early Oct. in the southern Sierra. It has a seam at one corner where the stitching got stretched a bit, I have to sew that up some. Other than that, my gear has made it. I did have to restake my BD the first night, I wasn't expecting the winds to keep up. Not pleasant as I had some vertigo at the time and was trying to rest. Both nights the tent crackled all night and I was unable to sleep until the third night out. I should also add, I had no sheltered location to set my tent up on the trip in Oct. so I got the full wraith of the wind.


Edited by hikerduane (11/24/09 07:44 PM)

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#124374 - 11/24/09 10:42 PM Re: Wind strategy [Re: finallyME]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
Me - I You - No Me

I take it you were camped in the clearing below the dam? There's a real lot of nothing west of there, probably a west wind huh? (Isn't google earth great?)

I guess there's two ways of thinking here, one is taking the right gear - low dome tents with 3 or more poles so they don't deform or flap badly, AND big heavy long ugly tent stakes and maybe a deadman or two or tied out to buried rocks.

The other is " oh heck, now what to do?"

First off seek some protected spot and barring that ask yourself seriously, are we in any danger and can our gear take this - maybe go home if there is other objective danger. My wife and I camped in a storm with 80 mph constant winds and I pitched the tent right next to the down wind side of my truck and tied it to the wheels, but in the night I had some serious question as to whether the truck would blow over on us. There was a Sahara type sand storm around us with no way to get out - we were also 20 miles up an abandoned mine road at 6,000 feet - in the summer!

OK - tents have tie outs and many have additional tieouts on the side etc, use them and extra rope to anchor tents, set rocks on top of the stakes. Now is there a spot where you can dig a hole to put your stove in, maybe add a log on the upwind side? I often have to do this in the winter, just dig a narrow hole wide enough to set stove and pots in (watch out for sand in the Vaseline, er food.) eek

hmm - OTOH most people are not comfortable out side their tents in strong winds so maybe just go home if you can do it safely, or it its not, then huddle together in a couple tents and tell stories.

Jim

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These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#124376 - 11/24/09 11:03 PM Re: Wind strategy [Re: finallyME]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2751
Loc: California
High wind is actually one condition where a bivy sack may out-perform a tent. It is boring though - zip it up and lay in the coffin.

Mountaineering tents are designed to withstand more wind than regular 3-season tents. My Mountain Hardware Approach did quite well - low slung and lots of tie downs.

There are auxillary dangers - trees falling down in the wind, large objects flying though the air. It is best to get someplace where you have some protection from these.

I used to work outdoors in very windy conditions - real interesting - had to tie down everything. A field notebook would be ripped to shreads. (answer - head set and tape recorder). Sample boxes would fly off. Ever tried to pour dirt into a plastic bag in a 50mph wind? And dirt in the eyes (goggles). And for both sexes, peeing is challenging. Also, AVERAGE wind speed in some places in Wyoming are 30 mph. You sort of get used to it.

Also, when planning trips - for west coast beach hiking - usually you with prevailing the wind to your back. Sand in food was a real problem. In the Wind Rivers high plateaus - traveling southwest to northeast is better than the other direction.

And I agree with previous posts. At some point, it can just be too dangerous. Bail out.

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#124385 - 11/25/09 02:09 AM Re: Wind strategy [Re: wandering_daisy]
oldranger Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/07
Posts: 1735
Loc: California (southern)
WD, you must have been doing archaeology! Am I right?

I did three seasons field work on Santa Rosa Island, home of the wind gods. I got North Face VE 25 tents, one for each crew member, and even then we had a time with notorious evening "sundowner" winds which would come up in just a matter of a few minutes, reaching velocities of 50-60 MPH.

What counted, even with very sturdy tents, was very careful tent siting - the best places were small clearings in thick brush, not close to any trees (falling limb hazard).

In some situations, look for a properly oriented rock shelter. They can be better than any tent, but they are usually scarce when you want one the most.

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#124392 - 11/25/09 09:39 AM Re: Wind strategy [Re: Jimshaw]
finallyME Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 2710
Loc: Utah
Actually Jim, we camped at the designated sites on the East side of the Reservoir. It is not too bad of a car camping site. They have toilets, no reservations and no fee. It is also remote enough that most people don't know of the place.
The wind was coming from the south. For some reason, that valley (extending all the way to the Salt Lake) gets really strong northerly winds fairly regular. I live in a city that is north of the reservoir (about an hour). It was blowing with the same consistency at my house when we left. Some day I will set up my tarp in my back yard to test it out in 30 mph winds crazy .

Here are the tents we used. Springbar They weigh around 60 lbs for the models we have. They really can handle the wind. Apparently they have been to Wyoming in the open, and have taken a strong winds for weeks at at time. I really like them. They are really easy to set up and take down, and very comfortable. But, you can't take them backpacking. I guess a bivy is the best solution for backpacking.
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#124406 - 11/25/09 02:26 PM Re: Wind strategy [Re: finallyME]
idahosteve Offline
member

Registered: 11/05/09
Posts: 62
Loc: Idaho
Wind is one wild event in the high country. I've been on many climbing trips where the wind literally could knock you over. There isn't too much you can do as mentioned in the previous posts. Mountaineering tents are better designed to deal with it, but their weight sucks. I've blown up one set of trekking poles in my Kiva when the wind came up and blew us down, and I've bent poles in my climbing tent on Rainer with sustained 70 mph plus winds for 40 hours. That was with a snow wall, and guyed out lines with snow stakes everywhere! I sat inside and had one foot up bracing a pole! Idaho's Lost River Range is notorious for wind, you can hear it coming like a freight train. Usually you have to hunker down, maybe even foregoing a tent/tarp, and wait it out, or find some real shelter to hide behind. Daisy is right, bivy bags work better. We hid out in a couple of those on Hood when others were being blown off the mountain. Not really fun, but oh well...
I think I might just roll up in my tarp instead of pitching it!
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#124410 - 11/25/09 04:55 PM Re: Wind strategy [Re: finallyME]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
We were at about 10000 feet in a subalpine meadow when "weather" started - I was in a hammock, which was pretty darn stable with me in it despite being broadside to the wind. I'd set up with a large granite boulder partially blocking that side. The problem was the tarp - nothing I could do to keep that tarp from whipping and flapping when the trees were doing the same. Rather than go tarpless when we figured the wind was part of a system coming in, I tore it all down and set up the tarp in a flying diamond, point into the wind and 10-15 lb boulders on all the MSR Groundhogs. It was very stable until the wind yanked the front two points off the stakes and scared me to death - I had to get bigger rocks. It helped all of us that we were surrounded by rocks and trees, I think. Most of the wind traveled over us instead of through our shelters.

In a pinch, I'd probably just find the most sheltered place possible and hunker down as best I could. I think it comes down to that if you are caught out.
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#124436 - 11/26/09 02:58 AM Re: Wind strategy [Re: wandering_daisy]
kevonionia Offline
member

Registered: 04/17/06
Posts: 1322
Loc: Dallas, TX
WD:

I remember a Miami saying: "You may be able to withstand 140 mph winds, but can you withstand a 2-by-4-by-6 ft. piece of wood in 140 mph. winds?"
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(avatar: raptor, Lake Dillon)


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#124478 - 11/27/09 11:10 PM Re: Wind strategy [Re: finallyME]
Ecrow Offline
member

Registered: 02/02/08
Posts: 85
Loc: N. New Mexico
If you can find stick willows by a creek, they grow in Colorado at up to 9000 ft., you can hide in the middle of a big patch of them and they will block every bit of wind.
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#124513 - 11/29/09 01:34 AM Re: Wind strategy [Re: Ecrow]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6399
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
So far, I haven't been caught in high winds that my tent couldn't handle, but if it happens, my thought is to let the pole down and wrap up in the tent as though it were a tarp. If the wind is that strong, no need to worry about condensation!
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May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#124615 - 12/02/09 10:43 PM Re: Wind strategy [Re: OregonMouse]
BrianLe Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1146
Loc: Washington State, King County
A sort of opposite approach to carrying a heavier, more wind-proof tent is to take advantage of the added per-day mileage that a person can do with a fairly light base weight (this is a lightweight backpacking forum thread after all ... :)).

I.e., if you can comfortably do more miles, you have a wider range of landforms to choose among if you anticipate fairly high winds (doesn't help of course if the wind comes up unexpectedly high after dark ...). So pick among the best options you can find between, perhaps, vegetation wind blocks of whatever forms (brush, woods), lee sides of hills, large fallen logs, ... my most memorable windy night was spent behind a large boulder. More distance == more options.
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http://postholer.com/brianle

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#124620 - 12/03/09 12:17 AM Re: Wind strategy [Re: finallyME]
Paul Offline
member

Registered: 09/30/02
Posts: 778
Loc: California
If it's ONLY wind, and no precipitation, it can be easier to sleep out than in a flapping tent. I once had a Megamid blow down in the night - camped on scree, no good way to stake it out well - and slept much better after the thing went down. I also found that a garbage bag over the foot of your sleeping bag when pointed into the wind does a lot to keep the heat in.

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#124635 - 12/03/09 09:55 AM Re: Wind strategy [Re: BrianLe]
finallyME Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 2710
Loc: Utah
Yeah, the situation I mentioned was a car camping scenario with no real choice in site selection. When backpacking, site selection is much easier. My conclusions:

Car camping--with narrow choice of sites, use vehicles and heavy tents

Backpacking--look for wind breaks and good site selection. Also, using a bivy only is an option.

This might all be mute. The only time I have experienced these high winds were in the valleys when car camping (or at my house). In the mountains, the wind is much calmer.
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I've taken a vow of poverty. To annoy me, send money.

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#124736 - 12/05/09 11:36 AM Re: Wind strategy [Re: Paul]
BrianLe Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1146
Loc: Washington State, King County
What I recall in that situation (bivy, lots of wind) was the wind across my face keeping me cold or just generally awake. It feels like it shouldn't be hard to build some sort of hasty windbreak just for the face, starting with backpack and gear, but in practice wind seems to shift or work its way around stuff. I think in that case a balaclava or face mask of some kind might be helpful (if, of course, such conditions were anticipated ...).
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Brian Lewis
http://postholer.com/brianle

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#124780 - 12/05/09 10:08 PM Re: Wind strategy [Re: BrianLe]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2751
Loc: California
In a wind storm in a bivy I just zip it all the way up and only leave a small crack and put in ear plugs. I never go without earplugs anymore.

Another thing to consider, particularly in the Rockies, is that the huge amount of beetle infested trees will result in LOTS of standing dead trees in the next few years. Most of those trees you see on the ground were blown down in a wind. The forest in this case presents more danger in a wind storm than protection. Last year I camped in a partially dead forest of small trees. There was no wind. I went around and pushed on all the trees and three fell over!

My most intereseting wind experience was while inside an earth bermed house between Laramie and Cheyenne Wyoming. We were sitting inside looking out the window and a 4x8 foot piece of plywood goes flying by at least five feet off the ground!

Do any of you live in tornado alley? It must be amazing.

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#124784 - 12/05/09 11:13 PM Re: Wind strategy [Re: wandering_daisy]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6399
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
That beetle-infested forest is one scary place when you're hiking through it and a gust of wind comes up! The day it happened to me, trees were falling everywhere, and all I could do was continue down the trail and pray. On the other hand, I've also heard a tree or two come down when it was absolutely calm (this last not in Wyoming but in Washington).

You always want to be sure you don't set up your shelter within reach of any dead tree or under any dead branches, often called "widow-makers." The dead forest unfortunately limits your lower-elevation campsites to meadows, not very good for the latter but better than ending up dead. At least so far, the trees at or near timberline are less apt to be affected.

Placement of camp sites becomes problematic with beetle-killed forest. Chances are good that you'll have to set up in a meadow, regardless of the impact and sometimes regardless of regulations (200' from water or trail required in some places--I tend to worry more about the water than the trail). I'd rather get a ticket than end up dead! It also means you usually can't set up your single-wall tent under a tree to avoid condensation. Better wet than dead!

I grew up in Laramie, W_D, and well remember the howling winds!!!



Edited by OregonMouse (12/05/09 11:15 PM)
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#124860 - 12/07/09 02:46 PM Re: Wind strategy [Re: idahosteve]
Jim M Offline
member

Registered: 11/23/03
Posts: 252
Loc: Kitsap Peninsula, WA
I agree with IdahoSteve. Rolling up in the tarp (Or tent rain-fly) has been my solution, although I have never, never, been in epic conditions like he described!
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#128184 - 02/05/10 05:05 PM Re: Wind strategy [Re: Jim M]
Jeff Offline
member

Registered: 03/06/09
Posts: 41
Loc: Nevada
We had a high wind evening at Evolution Lake in 2008. My wife and I
were in our Tarp Tent Squall 2. It took several heavy rocks to reinforce
each stake. We put our two backpacks outside on the up wind side of
the tent.

Last year we had very high and cold (20's) wind at High Mesa lakes.
We had to tuck in the tents below large rocks. Our water bottle froze
up 50% over night. It was tough getting out of the sleeping bag in the
morning.



Edited by Jeff (02/05/10 05:06 PM)
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#128319 - 02/07/10 08:12 AM Re: Wind strategy [Re: finallyME]
skippy Offline
member

Registered: 12/27/09
Posts: 129
Loc: CO
The worst wind I ever experienced was at Pawnee Buttes in Colorado several years ago. It was January and unusually warm (50's) so I checked the weather forecast and it was supposed to be decent for 2 days. I grabbed my pack and hiked out and camped in a very secluded little spot. That evening I started to see a layer of cirrus clouds across the sky so I staked my tent down really well and thought that I had picked a sheltered spot.

The wind came up so hard that I had to sit or lay on the wind side of the tent as the wind was getting under the floor and lifting that side of the tent off the ground. I piled all of my gear on that side and then it really started to blizzard. The snow was coming under my fly and through the mesh and started to cover my stuff with a fine layer of snow.

I was awake all night and when morning hit I got beat to death trying to shove my flapping tent into my pack. I hiked out of there through big drifts and had to use a compass as I could see very litle through the blowing snow. I intentionally shot to one side of where my 4 wheel drive truck was parked and walked the road back to my truck. The State Patrol had closed all of the roads as they were drifting over and my wife was freaking out.

Luckily my little Toyota was lifted high enough with big tires to get through all of the drifts. I don't know how high the wind was but it was steadily blowing hard enough that it was very hard to walk. The gusts would nearly knock me down and did knock me over once.

That was a rough experience but I'm glad I went through it alone as I believe that those experiences help you grow as a person/outdoorsman.

-Skippy

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#128321 - 02/07/10 09:08 AM Re: Wind strategy [Re: skippy]
chimpac Offline
member

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 148
Loc: alberta,can.
I have been in blizzards with my tarp and the snow did not come in.
If you do not have a chimney/stove it might be a while before you cook any thing to eat outside in a storm like that.
The only real option is to go home, if you can get out without risking your life.


Edited by chimpac (02/07/10 09:37 AM)

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#128333 - 02/07/10 01:53 PM Re: Wind strategy [Re: skippy]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
skippy
great story. I've been rolled around in my sleeping bag as wind got under the tent, but since it was staked down in compact snow with 4 skis, it didn't go anywhere. We used to go into storms on purpose, this is the way you learn, so we always had fun learning how to cook and such. One thing I learned is to never use a pyramid shaped tent in wet snow, dry snow maybe...
Jim
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These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#128362 - 02/07/10 10:07 PM Re: Wind strategy [Re: Jimshaw]
Tango61 Offline
member

Registered: 12/27/05
Posts: 931
Loc: East Texas Piney Woods

Alright Jim,
For this flat land, swamp dwelling, muskrat chasing guy can you please explain why you don't use a pyramid tent with wet snow.
I might be in the north country some day and may need to know.

Tango61
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If you think you can, you can. If you think you can't, you can't. Either way, you're right.

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#128376 - 02/08/10 12:19 AM Re: Wind strategy [Re: Tango61]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada

No, but this guy who uses a pyramid tent in dry snow land will..

In dry snow it'll just sluff off and you can whak the sides occasionally and no problem - it also blows away.

In British Columbia/Washington/Oregon type coastal wet snow dumps - where you get like three feet in a night, and it's *heavy* as opposed to light and fluffy, it will literally collapse your tent.

My little Shangri-la three tent is about the perfect thing for running around winter in alberta. It would be not the right thing to take over to the coast in the winter.

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#128386 - 02/08/10 08:19 AM Re: Wind strategy [Re: phat]
Pika Offline
member

Registered: 12/08/05
Posts: 1735
Loc: Rural Southeast Arizona
IME there are really no tents that work really well in the wet snowfalls of the PNW. There are just tents that work less badly than others.
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#128402 - 02/08/10 12:14 PM Re: Wind strategy [Re: Pika]
Rick_D Offline
member

Registered: 01/06/02
Posts: 2802
Loc: NorCal
Tunnel-style may be best for left coast snow (I include n-Calif with the PNW due to its propensity for heavy, wet snow--both in the southern Cascades and northern Sierra). An example would be the Early Winters Omnipotent, which Bill Nicolai specifically designed to fend off the heavy Cascade snow. It was highly regarded by NW climbers. I went with the single-wall EW Winterlite as a lighter, less "bomber" option after having a really bad winter experience with an a-frame "mountain" tent with separate fly. To this day the Winterlite is probably my best winter tent.

Regardless of design, you will still have to get up and dig out periodically. Here's where an igloo or snow cave can be superior (if a heck of a lot more work). You just have to keep your airflow open.

Cheers,

Originally Posted By Pika
IME there are really no tents that work really well in the wet snowfalls of the PNW. There are just tents that work less badly than others.
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#128404 - 02/08/10 12:32 PM Re: Wind strategy [Re: Pika]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada

Well truly bombproof tents like the full weight biblers (bibler bombshelter, eldorado, etc. come close - you do still have to keep them dug out to some extent of course. You'll have a lot easier time with something like that than you will something like a shangri la in that kind of weather. Of course the tent is a heck of a lot heavier but hey - that's winter camping!

Would I carry such a thing the rest of the year or somewhere I don't expect to need it? heck no.
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Any fool can be uncomfortable...
My 3 season gear list
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#128448 - 02/08/10 08:44 PM Re: Wind strategy [Re: phat]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
My Bibler Eldorado weighs in at 68 oz and is true winter expedition tent BUT it can flap in high winds, and a 3-4 pole dome tent makes a quieter storm tent. If you consider the Roman arch which carries the load down is parabolic sides and look at a dome, I think you can see that a dome can have a great snow load on it and the load actually doesn't crush the tent.

I have never shoveled out a tent at night. I refuse and sometimes I have to push up through a lot of snow in the morning to get out. The worse snow I ever camped in dropped about 30" of wet snow on us and it did try to crush the sides of my Eldorado in. Still I didn't shovel, still inside my sleeping bag, I put my back against one wall and my feet on the other wall and pushed the snow away about three times. This packed a layer of snow just outside the tent so it was kinda like having the tent pitched inside a snow cave. It was really quiet after it was buried.

The Moss Superfly4 pyramid tent that I have for sale was pitched between my buddies tent and mine as we were using it as a cook tent in the great storm. I heard the wood center pole snap in the night. If we had been in it, instead my buddy would have shoveled around it and we could have pushed the sides out. This pyramid has two large screened windows and an interior snow flap to put gear or snow on to seal the bottom down, so its a true all season tent. The trouble with a center poled tent in deep snow is that the snow builds up on the lower edges and if not removed it will either rip or snap the center pole.
Jim
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Hitting the eagle rock loop, Ark in 3 days
by toddfw2003
11/19/17 11:31 AM
Make Your Own Gear - Featured Topics
Plant based insulation...
by billstephenson
11/18/17 02:58 PM
lightest grommets to use
by toddfw2003
10/22/17 06:13 PM
avalibility of thin ti rod
by the-gr8t-waldo
01/26/17 04:45 PM
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