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#159168 - 12/23/11 10:57 AM Stupid question...how do you pack your tent?
Chad from WV Offline
member

Registered: 10/30/11
Posts: 25
This isn't a fold vs. stuff debate. I got my new tent the other day so of course I set it up and check it out. Then I pack it away and get out my pack and see how it fits. Well, it doesn't. The tent fits, the poles are too long and stick out the top. So, I was just wondering how everyone loads their tent...Pretty much the only option I can see is to lash them on the outside of the tent because they are sticking out the top a good 6". It's not a small pack either, it's 45L. I mean I won't be doing a thru-hike onthe AT with it but it's not a day pack either.

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#159169 - 12/23/11 11:14 AM Re: Stupid question...how do you pack your tent? [Re: Chad from WV]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
The only problem I can see with lashing anything outside the pack is brush - if you're not on trails where brush is encroaching, or heading cross country through foliage choked canyons, shouldn't be any problem with it. I've put collapsed poles in the side pocket and under the compression straps without issue before.

45L is comparatively small. I have a 40L, it doesn't feel small to me. I know a lot of folks consider 40-45 to be an extended day or one night pack, tho.
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#159171 - 12/23/11 11:33 AM Re: Stupid question...how do you pack your tent? [Re: lori]
balzaccom Online   content
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Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 2110
Loc: Napa, CA
Hard to asnwer this one directly, since my tent fits in my pack.

BUT: when I carried a fly rod that was taller than my pack, I used to lash it on the outside vertically. It stuck up a couple of inches above the pack--which made me really careful as I went under trees...but it worked.

you can also lash it on the bottome of the pack--but then you have to be REALLY careful everytime you set the pack down.

If you pack has ice axe loop (look on the bottom center of your pack) you can sometimes use that as the bottome point, and then run the poles up the outside of the back of your pack. Check out a site in ice axes to see what I mean.

Or you can get a smaller tent!
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#159173 - 12/23/11 12:44 PM Re: Stupid question...how do you pack your tent? [Re: balzaccom]
oldranger Offline
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Registered: 02/23/07
Posts: 1735
Loc: California (southern)
I would put the poles in a tightly fitting, lightweight bag and then securely lash that vertically to the pack exterior. If you are going to do much traveling in thick brush, I would eventually get a larger, or at least taller, pack so that everything can be tucked inside,nice and secure. In brush, anything tied to the exterior will be torn off, damaged, or hang you up.

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#159176 - 12/23/11 01:15 PM Re: Stupid question...how do you pack your tent? [Re: lori]
BrianLe Offline
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Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1149
Loc: Washington State, King County
Quote:
"45L is comparatively small. I have a 40L, it doesn't feel small to me. I know a lot of folks consider 40-45 to be an extended day or one night pack, tho."

Depends on what's being counted here; my pack has capacity of 2400 ci in main body, 500 more if the extension collar is all the way up, but then a whopping 1200 more is counted by the manufacturer if the back & side mesh pockets are included and the sewn-in hipbelt pouches. In liters, that's a nominal 39L for main body or 47L with extension collar but no external mesh.

In any event, if your pack is in the same ballpark, I'd find it a bit alarming to have tent poles so long that they go beyond the height of a normally packed pack. What tent do you have? (manufacturer, model)

Since this question is in the "backcountry beginners" section, I'd not worry too much about this to start with, as I speculate that you'll want to spend your time on established trails (this is typically true of backpackers who aren't beginners too ...). I.e., hopefully not a ton of brush and bushwhacking to worry about. I would definitely strap things on vertically rather than horizontally however.
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#159180 - 12/23/11 01:59 PM Re: Stupid question...how do you pack your tent? [Re: BrianLe]
Pika Offline
member

Registered: 12/08/05
Posts: 1814
Loc: Rural Southeast Arizona
The pack I use most has a main compartment volume of 50 liters (SMD Starlite). I don't think this is too different from the pack you are describing. I have two tents that I use depending on anticipated conditions: a SMD Luna Solo. and a Big Agnes Fly Creek solo. To fit the tents into my pack in the best way, I fold/roll the tent to a shape that best fits the pack and then sew a stow sack to contain it. In fact, I have two bags for each tent, one to fit the Starlite and another to fit a homemade UL pack that I now use on shorter trips. The Fly Creek poles are carried in a separate stow sack that goes in the long mesh pocket of the Starlite and in the mesh pocket of the UL pack with the top held in place under a compression strap. My rolled sleeping pad and its protective stow sack go in the same place as do the poles. The top of the poles and pad are even with the top of the pack; I never have trouble with brush with this set up.
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#159181 - 12/23/11 02:01 PM Re: Stupid question...how do you pack your tent? [Re: BrianLe]
Chad from WV Offline
member

Registered: 10/30/11
Posts: 25
The pack is the Millet Odyssee 45 and the tent is the REI Passage 2. The poles are 18" long and the pack main compartment is 16". It's certainly a pack that I wouldn't take on more than an overnight trip, maybe a two night trip.

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#159182 - 12/23/11 02:12 PM Re: Stupid question...how do you pack your tent? [Re: BrianLe]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6769
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
My pack is also about 2400 cubic inches (~40L). There's additional capacity in the extension collar, but I've never needed to use it, even for 9-10 day trips. My understanding is that the standard measure of pack capacity includes the extension collar but not outside pockets. Of course many manufacturers don't follow the standards.

The side pockets of my pack are full-length (of the main pack) and have an elasticized top, so stuff doesn't fall out. I do use those side pockets; my tent and fishing rod are in one side pocket and my water bottle and snacks in the other. I like having my tent where I don't have to open up my pack to get to it if it's pouring rain when I make camp, and so I don't have to put a soggy tent inside my pack with the dry stuff. (I may change this in the future.) Should I ever get a pack with short side pockets, I'd want it to have several good side compression straps to hold stuff on, and I might use a piece of cord for additional security. I use the back mesh pocket only for a few small light items (it's a great place to dry wet socks). Admittedly, I am normally on trail and rarely if ever try bashing through brush. Slide alder and devil's club (what we have out here on the west side of the Cascades) are just not my thing! If I go off-trail, it's in alpine country.

If your tent poles are longer than your pack, I strongly suspect that your tent may not really be suitable for backpacking. Unfortunately not all tent designers are backpackers! The poles for my tents (all Tarptent designs) all fold to 20 inches long, and the tent stuff sack is 22 inches long. I believe this is a fairly standard length for a backpacking tent. I just checked the "packed size" for three manufacturers, MSR, Big Agnes and Sierra Designs. Their packed lengths range from 18" to 22", and that should include the poles. Check the manufacturer's website for your tent to find the "packed size"--the longest dimension should be the length of the folded poles. If you can't or don't want to return the tent, I'd follow oldranger's suggestion. Be sure the poles are tied on very securely, and check them every hour during the day. If possible, utilize one of the your pack's side pockets which will prevent vertical slippage.



Edited by OregonMouse (12/23/11 02:15 PM)
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#159183 - 12/23/11 02:23 PM Re: Stupid question...how do you pack your tent? [Re: Chad from WV]
TomD Offline
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Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
I looked at this pack on REI's website. I would take the poles and stick them under the side straps on one side. Looking at the picture, it appears the pack has ski pockets at the bottom on each side just below the straps with "Millet" stenciled on them. If I am right, stick the pole in the pocket, then under the three side straps. If there is no pocket, I would put them in a light bag of some sort that has a draw string (like a small compression sack) and put the bag under the straps, but fasten the draw string to the pack to make sure the poles don't slip out if a strap comes loose.

Nothing wrong with fastening stuff on the outside of your pack, but since straps can work loose and you might not notice it right away, check the pack every now and then to make sure everything is still there. When you break camp, make sure you have the poles. As the last thing you probably will be packing, it is easy to forget them if, for example, it is raining or you get distracted.

btw, I disagree with OM about the tent not being suitable for backpacking, so don't get alarmed. I think you just bought it, so don't let that worry you. I take my winter tent backpacking and it won't fit in my pack at all.


Edited by TomD (12/23/11 02:26 PM)
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#159185 - 12/23/11 02:52 PM Re: Stupid question...how do you pack your tent? [Re: Chad from WV]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6769
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Sorry, I didn't see your post while I was typing mine. blush It's not that the poles are too long but the pack compartment is too short! laugh Most of us use packs in which the main section is a single full-length pack bag (usually about 24" long) rather than divided. This is partly for lighter weight and (at least for me) mostly that a single compartment pack allows a lot more versatility in getting everything inside.

Since Tom has looked at your pack, I'd go with his recommendation! You might want to try set up a routine of fastening on the poles before you put your tent in the pack, which will help prevent leaving the poles behind (tents are a lot more visible than poles).

Question--What about horizontally? Quite a few people like to carry their tents (with tent and poles together in their stuff sack) sideways across the top, under the pack lid (if the pack has one--this method won't work well if it doesn't).


Edited by OregonMouse (12/23/11 03:05 PM)
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#159187 - 12/23/11 03:03 PM Re: Stupid question...how do you pack your tent? [Re: OregonMouse]
Chad from WV Offline
member

Registered: 10/30/11
Posts: 25
Thanks everyone. I did think of another solution to my problem...get a new pack! haha

REI said they would take this pack back no problem and it's still new, never used, so I don't feel bad about sending it back. I know some like to take advantage of REI's return policy. Anyways, there is another Millet that is a 55+10 and there is an REI pack that is 70L. I think that the current pack would be a great warmer weather pack that would fit a minimalist tent setup (rainfly and ground cloth) plus other gear. However, with my tent and sleeping bag, there is really not much room for anything else. Unfortunately being a bigger guy means I have to buy bigger gear such as my sleeping bag and the tent is a 2 person, so it of course is taking up more room. I am working on shrinking myself so hopefully before too long I'll be able to shrink my gear too.

And TomD...no, not pouches. They are straps. If they were pouches then it would have been a perfect solution. As it is, the poles do fit pretty nicely under the side straps and the draw string on the pole pouch can be looped in such a way to prevent them from falling in case the straps loosen. I think though now that I have the majority of my gear assembled, my pack is just a bit small. I really like the Millet and I am tempted to try the 55+10. I'd like to try and find some actual measurements on it first. Otherwise, the REI 70L bag looks really nice and is 30% off and should be plenty big for most trips I would ever take.



Edited by Chad from WV (12/23/11 03:08 PM)

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#159188 - 12/23/11 03:11 PM Re: Stupid question...how do you pack your tent? [Re: Chad from WV]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6769
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
If this pack is comfortable for you when loaded with your gear (by far the most important factor when selecting a pack!), I'd try a few trips first. Since it's from REI, you can take it back after a few trips or even a few years if it doesn't work out when you're out on the trail. Don't worry, that unlimited return feature is included in their prices!

70L is an awfully big pack! Unless you're going to be sherpa-ing with children, you'll probably never need that capacity. Unless the pack has a terrific compression system to hold smaller loads properly, too big a pack will end up being off-balance. My son has that big a pack, but he carries a big bulky wet suit (he's a surfer and most of his trips are to the Olympic Peninsula coast) plus most of the food for 5 or 6 (in the required bear canister) plus part of the younger kids' gear.

The 55L pack, on the other hand, might be a good idea, particularly if the 45 L is a bit too snug just with overnight gear. You do need more pack capacity when going out in the winter!


Edited by OregonMouse (12/23/11 03:22 PM)
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#159190 - 12/23/11 03:26 PM Re: Stupid question...how do you pack your tent? [Re: OregonMouse]
Chad from WV Offline
member

Registered: 10/30/11
Posts: 25
Originally Posted By OregonMouse
If this pack is comfortable for you when loaded with your gear (by far the most important factor when selecting a pack!), I'd try a few trips first. Since it's from REI, you can take it back after a few trips or even a few years if it doesn't work out when you're out on the trail. Don't worry, that unlimited return feature is included in their prices!

70L is an awfully big pack! Unless you're going to be sherpa-ing with children, you'll probably never need that capacity. Unless the pack has a terrific compression system to hold smaller loads properly, too big a pack will end up being off-balance. My son has that big a pack, but he carries a big bulky wet suit (he's a surfer and most of his trips are to the Olympic Peninsula coast) plus most of the food for 5 or 6 (in the required bear canister) plus part of the younger kids' gear.

The 55L pack, on the other hand, might be a good idea, particularly if the 45 L is a bit too snug just with overnight gear. You do need more pack capacity when going out in the winter!


Good points. Thanks for the info. I really wish there was an REI or any camping/hiking store close to me. It would be so much easier to do this. Luckily there are people like you and the others that have chimed in to help.

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#159192 - 12/23/11 03:47 PM Re: Stupid question...how do you pack your tent? [Re: Chad from WV]
Glenn Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 2617
Loc: Ohio
I notice that the pack is a divided (2-compartment) bag, but the divider is removable. Would the poles fit inside if you remove the divider and use it as a single compartment pack? If you don't want to do that, see if there's a small "hole" in the divider, in the corners; if there is, then the hole is designed so you can put the poles through the hole to make them fit.

You may be onto something when you mention a new pack, but not just because the poles don't fit. This tent and pack suggest to me that you may not be going for the lightest, most compact gear available (which is fine; both of these look like very good quality products that will serve you well.) I've noted that my friends who opt for a similar selection of gear tend to use packs in the 50-60 liter range, and they're usually full. So, you may want to consider a slightly larger pack based on your overall gear selection.

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#159193 - 12/23/11 03:53 PM Re: Stupid question...how do you pack your tent? [Re: Glenn]
Chad from WV Offline
member

Registered: 10/30/11
Posts: 25
You are too smart Glenn...the divider IS removable AND has holes at the corners so the poles do fit perfectly...haha...you guys are good! I never even considered that. My ultra newbism is really showing...lol

I do think though that I will be better served with the larger (55+10) pack so I'll order it before I return this one to see how they compare. Thanks again.

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#159194 - 12/23/11 04:12 PM Re: Stupid question...how do you pack your tent? [Re: Chad from WV]
Glenn Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 2617
Loc: Ohio
Don't worry about letting inexperience show. Most of us know what we know from a whole bunch of similar "Aha!" and "Aw, crap!" moments - not from any innate intelligence. smile

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#159196 - 12/23/11 04:42 PM Re: Stupid question...how do you pack your tent? [Re: Glenn]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
Good catch, Glenn, I missed that about the divider. BUT, I would recommend the bigger pack anyway, only because until you start whittling down what you carry and the size of each item, no doubt the extra room will come in handy. Also, remember, just because you have the room, doesn't mean you have to fill it up with stuff.
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#159207 - 12/24/11 09:32 AM Re: Stupid question...how do you pack your tent? [Re: TomD]
Chad from WV Offline
member

Registered: 10/30/11
Posts: 25
Thanks again everyone. I ordered the Millet 55+10 so we'll see how that one works.

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#159219 - 12/24/11 02:51 PM Re: Stupid question...how do you pack your tent? [Re: Chad from WV]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6769
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
I forgot to mention something important! There is no such thing as a stupid question. The only thing stupid is not asking the question!

Please let us know how the 55L pack works for you!

Happy Christmas (or holiday of your choice) and Merry New Year!


Edited by OregonMouse (12/24/11 02:51 PM)
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#159288 - 12/27/11 07:11 PM Re: Stupid question...how do you pack your tent? [Re: Chad from WV]
OldScout Offline
member

Registered: 03/17/03
Posts: 501
Loc: Puget Sound, Washington
Not sure you want to do this but you also could have custom poles made for the tent that will break down into smaller componants.

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#159295 - 12/27/11 08:51 PM Re: Stupid question...how do you pack your tent? [Re: OldScout]
Chad from WV Offline
member

Registered: 10/30/11
Posts: 25
Yeah, that would be cool but probably not worth it for a $100 tent that will probably be replaced in a year or so as I get more experience and opt for better gear.

I was looking at the Six Moon Designs Skyscape Scout for the same price as the REI tent I have. It's only 34oz and no poles.

http://www.sixmoondesigns.com/tents/SkyscapeScout.html

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#159300 - 12/27/11 09:57 PM Re: Stupid question...how do you pack your tent? [Re: Chad from WV]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6769
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
With the SMD Skyscape (as with many other lightweight tents made by "cottage" gear makers), you can either use your trekking poles (if you use them) or you can buy tent poles separately from the tent maker.
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#159358 - 12/29/11 04:51 PM Re: Stupid question...how do you pack your tent? [Re: OregonMouse]
Chad from WV Offline
member

Registered: 10/30/11
Posts: 25
New pack arrived today and it's SO much nicer. Still a Millet. Tons of room now even with my tent, poles, sleeping bag and pad with plenty of room for the rest of my gear. I am a happy camper, literally...lol...now one of my dilemmas is whether to send the smaller pack back or keep for a day/overnight bag when I can get by without packing the full tent. That brings up dilemma two, keep the REI tent or try a Six Moon Designs tent which should pack smaller, weighs half what the REI tent does, and no poles which is nice. I carry two trekking poles anyways so it works out perfect.

I do have another tent packing question though...I have read the debate between folding, rolling, and stuffing. My question is...no mater how I get the tent in the sack, is there any problem using a compression sack with a tent? I can squish my current tent to nearly half the size so that is why I ask whether it would be ok to use the compression sack or not.

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#159359 - 12/29/11 04:58 PM Re: Stupid question...how do you pack your tent? [Re: Chad from WV]
Glenn Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 2617
Loc: Ohio
Hi, my name is Glenn, and I'm a gearaholic. Now, so are you! smile

I can't see any real problem using a compression sack for the tent - you might want to use two smaller ones; that way, you can keep a wet fly separated from a (relatively) drier inner tent. One other thing: when you compress anything, you end up with a rock; leaving it uncompressed, and using a slightly-too-large stuff sack, means you can compress it, mold it, and shape it to fill in all the odd-shaped spaces in your pack. I know people who prefer compression sacks, and people who don't like them - and it really doesn't matter which camp you fall into.

One of my hiking buddies just bought an SMD tent (I think it was one of the Skyscape series) and he really likes it after a couple of trips.

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#159360 - 12/29/11 06:32 PM Re: Stupid question...how do you pack your tent? [Re: Chad from WV]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6769
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Ah, the roll vs. stuff debate! I have tried both methods and, frankly, haven't noticed any difference in wear on several different tents. Others may differ. Stuffing is easier, but I never realized until about 7 years ago that most tents don't have to be folded and rolled!

Re the original stuff sack vs. compression sack. First, set up your tent in the back yard. This is something you should do anyway; practice setting it up and taking it down a number of times until you can do it without referencing the instructions. After dark on a wet, cold, windy night is not the time to be learning! It's also a good idea to use the garden hose on the tent to be sure there are no leaks, something else you don't want to find out in the backcountry on a dark and stormy night! (That assumes a convenient hard rain doesn't come along while you're testing the tent, which rarely happens. :D) Anyway, after you've done this, you may find that when wet and cold, the tent will be hard to fit into the currently loose stuff sack! Glenn's idea of a separate sack for the fly is a good one. Be sure the tent is clean and thoroughly dry before you store it between trips, and consider a larger sack (maybe a large pillowcase?) for storage.

I presume you noticed that your REI tent is a 2-person tent while the SMD Skyscape is a 1-person tent. That's a big part of the weight difference. If you look carefully at the specifications and the website diagrams for the Skyscape, you should be able to do a mockup of the same dimensions on your floor with masking tape and string to see if the smaller tent works for you. (Not my idea, but Franco's; he's a frequent poster here who is also the Australian representative for Tarptent.) The Skyscape won't work, though, if you plan to share the tent with someone else!

SMD is a reputable firm (I've dealt with them a number of times; great customer service) and the Skyscape, while a new model, has received a lot of favorable comments. (I haven't investigated it because I found out the hard way several years ago that with my 75-lb. dog in the tent with me, a solo shelter is a bit too small.) I noticed that both the PU-coated nylon (Scout) and the lighter silnylon (Trekker) models are on sale through January 2.

On your pack: Will it compress (squish) down small enough so that it will be firm with a smaller (i.e. overnight) load? (That's what those outside vertical and horizontal straps are for.) If so, you can use the 55L pack for smaller loads, too. It's a handsome looking pack! Of course the most important feature of a pack is that it be comfortable for you with all your gear inside as you are hiking along the trail!
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