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#125845 - 12/26/09 01:43 AM 4 season tarp tent
Eugene Offline
member

Registered: 12/26/09
Posts: 60
Loc: San Diego, CA
I'm looking to build a tarp tent that I can use this winter on northern sections of the PCT. Just in case the weather turns sour, I need it to be able to survive high winds while keeping out enough gusts for me to stay warm inside. Of course I don't expect a tarp tent to be as warm as an expedition tent, so I'll implement other measures as well.

Several years ago I used to know of a bunch of diy sites, but I can't seem to find much now, so I need your help.

I've seen the Henry Shires tarp tent mentioned a few times.
http://tarptent.com/projects/tarpdesign.html

If I make Henry's tarp tent, I'm thinking I'll make it with a full tub and vented beaks on both ends that can extend all the way to the ground.

If you would, please advise as to other tarp tent plans, and how these tarp tents could be made more suitable for 4 season camping. I'm okay with a totally different diy design, just let me know what that is. Thanks!
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#125866 - 12/26/09 02:53 PM Re: 4 season tarp tent [Re: Eugene]
DJ2 Offline
member

Registered: 01/06/02
Posts: 1347
Loc: Seattle, WA
I'm more of a tent person than a tarp person so I can't address your specific question. If you are going out in northern Washington state, on the PCT, in the winter, however, you might keep this partial list in mind for a tarp shelter.

(1)big enough so you don't touch the sides because they will be dripping with heavy condensation
(2) Strong enough so it can withstand several feet of new wet snow
(3) Steep enough so most of the snow slides off
(4) Tight enough so dry blowing snow can't get in

On the positive side you won't have to worry about mosquitoes.



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#125872 - 12/26/09 04:19 PM Re: 4 season tarp tent [Re: Eugene]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
The original tarp tent (ala Henry Shires) was not a 4 season tent. To be four season, it would need stronger supports to help it hold against high winds and snow loads. Look at Henry's four season tarp tent, the Scarp -- the extra poles and extra guy out points plus double wall construction would be a good clue as to how much extra you'll need to put into the construction.

The other sort of tent that seems to do well in snow and wind are the teepee style tents, like the 'mids from Black Diamond. I'd guess those would be fairly straightforward to replicate.
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#125876 - 12/26/09 04:51 PM Re: 4 season tarp tent [Re: Eugene]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
Eugene said
"I need it to be able to survive high winds while keeping out enough gusts for me to stay warm inside."

dude, a tarp tent cannot survive high winds along the PCT, eek and it will not help keep you warm. frown Your warmth needs to come from carrying a realistic sleeping bag for the conditions and a shelter that won't be destroyed or blown away by winds. Wet snow is not a pleasant thing when its piled on top of you because your tarp blew away, shredded, or simply collapsed. I suggest that you get some more snow experience elsewhere in a safer place than up on the PCT. From your post it just does not sound like you are experienced enough yet to attempt what you suggest, no offence. smile
Jim crazy
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#125886 - 12/26/09 08:03 PM Re: 4 season tarp tent [Re: Jimshaw]
Eugene Offline
member

Registered: 12/26/09
Posts: 60
Loc: San Diego, CA
Lori, yeah, I see what you're saying about the stake out points. Now that I look at it more, I don't really see how I could modify Henry's design to do that without major changes. I think it'd basically have to be a dual pyramid design with tension between the tops. Actually, it'd basically be the GoLite Shangri-La or MSR Twin Sisters. I'll have to investigate the teepee design more. The site I remember from years ago was big on diy tepee tents. The downside to those is finding a simple way to build a tub and mesh inner around the central pole...and all I can think of are complex sewing patterns that'd surely spring a leak. Henry's Scarp 1 has a great weight, but looks like it'd be more difficult to put up than I'd like, and pretty much impossible for me to replicate on my own at this point.

DJ2, nice list.

Jim, you're right about the warmth. All I meant is that I be able to seal it off well enough that overventilation doesn't become a problem, which basically means the tarp needs to get close to or onto the ground. And don't worry, I won't try whatever system I chose up north first. I'll definitely be giving it a trial run atop local mountains where it gets more than windy enough to give a good test. I do have to wonder if you're right about tarp tents not being strong enough since they're getting hard to find. Henry has moved on. The Mountain Hardware Kiva appears to be gone. The Go-Lite Shangri-La is out of stock almost everywhere, including at Go-Lite.
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#125924 - 12/27/09 05:17 PM Re: 4 season tarp tent [Re: Eugene]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Originally Posted By Eugene

Jim, you're right about the warmth. All I meant is that I be able to seal it off well enough that overventilation doesn't become a problem, which basically means the tarp needs to get close to or onto the ground. And don't worry, I won't try whatever system I chose up north first. I'll definitely be giving it a trial run atop local mountains where it gets more than windy enough to give a good test. I do have to wonder if you're right about tarp tents not being strong enough since they're getting hard to find. Henry has moved on. The Mountain Hardware Kiva appears to be gone. The Go-Lite Shangri-La is out of stock almost everywhere, including at Go-Lite.


While tarptents are used very successfully on the PCT, generally not in wintertime. if you want a wintertime tent that can take a snow load, and still stay reasonably light, go look at something like the Tarptent scarp, or the Black Diamond Firstlight

I own a golite shangri-la 3 - and while it has become my typical winter tent, it is my typical winter tent in alberta where I am dealing with extreme cold, but not typically a large snow load. It would not be my first choice for somewhre I expected high wind and a lot of snow in winter. - that doesn't mean it won't do it - it's just not really optimal for such things. you'll end up having to beat snow off the sides a lot and having to be a bit careful.






Edited by phat (12/27/09 05:18 PM)
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#125930 - 12/27/09 06:26 PM Re: 4 season tarp tent [Re: phat]
rambler Offline
member

Registered: 02/04/03
Posts: 46
Look at the Granite Gear" Norhern Light" tarp listed as four season with optional dodgers added to close off one or both ends.

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#125938 - 12/27/09 08:46 PM Re: 4 season tarp tent [Re: Eugene]
Tango61 Offline
member

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

I have made some of my own gear. If I were to make my own tent for use in winter in the PNW, I would pattern it after a Hilleberg all-season. There are several types from which to choose.

T

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#126163 - 01/01/10 03:01 PM Re: 4 season tarp tent [Re: Eugene]
Paul Offline
member

Registered: 09/30/02
Posts: 778
Loc: California
I have substantial experience with "tarpish" shelters in the snow. I have both a BD(actually mine is a Chouinard - it's that old) pyramid and an MSR Twin Peaks (modified with snow flaps). I also have a homemade floorless dome that I have used on many snow camping trips.
My take is that these types of shelters have a place for spring snow camping - where there is plenty of snow on the ground - generally pretty settled, consolidated snow - and the storms are fewer and less fierce. That's the time of year I prefer these days for my backcountry ski trips, and the Twin Peaks is my shelter of the moment for those trips.
But for what I call "Real Winter" - big storms, deep fluffy snow, long nights and all - I wouldn't go with one of those, Id take what I call a "Real Tent". Real Tents, to me, include both double-wall tents with a nice big vestibule or two, and single-wall tents that are waterproof/breatheable fabric (Bibler Todd-tex, ID Tegraltex, eVent if you are lucky enough to find one). I'd want a vestibule with the single-walls as well.
With my tarpish shelters, being able to seal out the wind is dependent on being able to pile snow on the flaps around the bottom. This works great in consolidated spring snow - not so hot in a couple of feet of new fluff. And you don't have the kind of two-stage entry you can get with a vestibule (assuming it's big enough) where you can come from the outside into the vestibule while the tent is still sealed up, close up the vestibule, brush the worst of the snow off yourself, and then get into the tent. This keeps a lot of snow out of the tent that you'd otherwise bring in with you - and that snow will melt and get your gear wet.

About making your own - I wouldn't, not a winter tent. And that comes from someone who has made tents, several over the years. It's lots of work, and the likelihood of your equalling the tents you can buy is just about nil (no offense meant, I'd say that to anyone who isn't planning to make several versions of their design in order to work out the bugs). Better to find one used if funds are short, or scrounge some extra work in order to pay for it.

Just my opinion.

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#126170 - 01/01/10 04:36 PM Re: 4 season tarp tent [Re: Paul]
Franco Offline
member

Registered: 04/05/04
Posts: 997
Loc: Australia
"I'd say that to anyone who isn't planning to make several versions of their design in order to work out the bugs"
Having read many threads from people that have made their own tent, I have to agree that usually the final version is not the first one...
In several cases the cost of the materials alone ended up more than the purchase cost of a commercially made product. On a positive note, one starts to appreciate the value of a commercially made product.
So I too would suggest that if the intention is to save money, rather than having fun making one, a better choice would be the second hand market or keeping an eye on the clearouts from Spadout and co.
Franco
BTW, don't forget to cost all of the "trimmings" , zips,tape,sealant,guylines, grosgrain ribbon, nylon thread, needles for the sewing machine, plus postage and or trips to the shops

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#126172 - 01/01/10 06:08 PM Re: 4 season tarp tent [Re: Franco]
DJ2 Offline
member

Registered: 01/06/02
Posts: 1347
Loc: Seattle, WA
I agree with Franco. I've been making things for 40 years or so and I doubt that I have ever made something that saved me money by the time I got the final product. If an existing product is available I buy it. It is probably both better made and cheaper than one that I would make. And duplicating an existing product at home gives me no pleasure.

I only make things when I have a design for something that isn't available commercially. Even then my first choice is to buy an existing product and modify it to my liking if I can.

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#126190 - 01/02/10 08:46 AM Re: 4 season tarp tent [Re: Franco]
Dhois Offline
newbie

Registered: 12/24/09
Posts: 1
Loc: California
Take a look at the Kifaru tarp shelter designs (www.kifaru.net). The annex accessory includes a stove jack for a small box stove which you should consider.

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#126221 - 01/03/10 12:08 PM Re: 4 season tarp tent [Re: Paul]
chimpac Offline
member

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 148
Loc: alberta,can.



You should not give up on homemade stuff specially when you cant buy it anywhere. I have been pleased with a tarp in winter.You should lose the loops and use reinforced nail holes 3" from the edges.A zippered door is not absolutly needed. Rigid poles can be used on the ends and if they are the right distance from the end all the loose tarp will come by the pole and be tight and then lifted up for entry.I use this idea on my very big tarp(24'x36')shelter.


Edited by chimpac (01/03/10 12:37 PM)

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#137164 - 08/03/10 05:07 PM Re: 4 season tarp tent [Re: chimpac]
robi Offline
member

Registered: 05/29/03
Posts: 312
Loc: budapest, hungary
Chipmac,

so, is that one of your own design, make?

I would love some more details on it.

Robi

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#137178 - 08/03/10 09:01 PM Re: 4 season tarp tent [Re: chimpac]
GDeadphans Offline
member

Registered: 12/26/08
Posts: 382
Loc: Maine/New Jersey
That tarp tent looks sweet Chimpac. nice Job.
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#137784 - 08/18/10 02:59 PM Re: 4 season tarp tent [Re: Eugene]
whcobbs Offline
member

Registered: 10/14/02
Posts: 227
Eugene and others,

The Black Diamond Betamid lite, i.e. the silnylon version you put up with you ski/snow shoe poles, is pretty useful in the East, e.g. Adirondacks. It's available cheap usually toward the end of the summer season. If you are not inured to hardship and cold, you don't belong in a tarp tent in the winter, and if you are not pursuing light weight approaches, you should stick with traditional schemes.

Walt

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#137789 - 08/18/10 04:42 PM Re: 4 season tarp tent [Re: whcobbs]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
One thing that seems to be forgotten here is that Eugene will be carrying his tent. I have a winter tent, an old EMS Pompero. It looks similar to a Trango Assault. It weighs around 8 lbs. I've never carried it anywhere-I've towed it on a sled with snowshoes or skis.

If I was going to carry a winter tent, I'd get the tiniest single wall mountaineering tent I could find, like a Bibler or BD. It wouldn't be as comfortable as mine, but about half the weight and just as bombproof. Don't forget though, some of the BD tents are only water resistant, not waterproof. I saw a review of a First Light on another site and the owner said it leaked constantly in hard rain with water soaking the walls and leaking as soon as you or your gear touched them.


Edited by TomD (08/18/10 04:43 PM)
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#138008 - 08/24/10 07:56 PM Re: 4 season tarp tent [Re: TomD]
Franco Offline
member

Registered: 04/05/04
Posts: 997
Loc: Australia
Don't forget though, some of the BD tents are only water resistant, not waterproof. I saw a review of a First Light on another site and the owner said it leaked constantly in hard rain with water soaking the walls and leaking as soon as you or your gear touched them.
(also from the poles. Franco)
Those are the one made with Epic (they are yellow)
Epic seams to work better when clean, however after prolonged heavy rain they do leak.
That does not apply to the "Todd Tex" Biblers . That version of PTFE is very water proof.
(once you have seam sealed them correctly...)
Some of the BD are now made with Nano Shield , (wasabe green...) this is supposed to be more waterproof than Epic.
Franco

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#138012 - 08/24/10 08:14 PM Re: 4 season tarp tent [Re: Franco]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
One solution-carry a tarp and a shovel and know how to use the shovel to make a shelter-either a quinzee or a snow cave. I've slept in a big snow cave, but it took a couple of hours with 6 or 7 of us digging it, as I recall. A snow cave will work great in a bad storm if you have it in the right place. That is the key. I don't think I'd try it on the PCT without some practice.

In good weather, you make yourself a little trench shelter and don't need the tarp. I did that up above Palm Springs last winter. BUT, the weather was perfect-no wind, absolutely clear.
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