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#166156 - 05/24/12 12:43 PM Not using tent vestibules to minimize footprint
bolamig Offline
newbie

Registered: 05/24/12
Posts: 3
I am wondering how feasible it is to not stake out vestibules in order to reduce the footprint of a tent.

I often find myself in situations where there are bushes or rocks or trees or hard ground or other tents reducing the footprint where I could erect my tent. In the past I had a tent that didn't have any vestibules and I really liked the convenience of not having to use stakes if I didn't want to use them.

But it seems like all the newer backpacking tents have one or often two vestibules, requiring staking and a larger footprint to erect taut.

Does anyone have opinions about how feasible it is to leave the vestibules "blowing in the wind" if I don't have the footprint or want to take the time to stake them down?

The tents I'm looking at are the Marmot Limelight 2p, REI passage 2, and Kelty Salida 2. Are there other similar 2-pole, freestanding, about 90" long, easy to set up tents without vestibules? Something like the REI Camp dome but with better rain protection and a bit bigger is what I'd like to find, but I'd also like to hear others experiences with leaving vestibules "flapping in the wind".


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#166157 - 05/24/12 01:15 PM Re: Not using tent vestibules to minimize footprint [Re: bolamig]
Glenn Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 2617
Loc: Ohio
Actually, I rarely use the vestibule(s) for anything other than rain protection. I rarely store anything there, because in a solo tent, much more than a water bottle or Jetboil interferes with getting in or out. In fact, if it's a nice night (no rain, no windy cold conditions), I don't even put the rainfly on the tent.

However, for rain protection or minimizing heat loss, they are worthwhile. If it's not raining, I'll usually roll back the vestibule and use the hook-and-loop to hold it out of the way.

The only tents I can think of that meet your length requirements and where the vestibules minimize the footprint would be end-entry tents like the Big Agnes Seedhouse and Fly Creek series. (They're similar to the old Clip Flashlight.)

If you're thinking ease of setup and minimal footprint, have you considered a tarp-and-bivy-sack combination?

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#166159 - 05/24/12 03:37 PM Re: Not using tent vestibules to minimize footprint [Re: Glenn]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
I've got a winter tent with a big vestibule, but I can tie it back to the tent body. It only has one stake in the center. The vestibule looks like a cone cut in half down the center with two zippers on it. Hard to describe so here are pictures-




I'm not worried about the footprint, I just open it up for convenience in good weather, but the idea would work in any season. I would make sure it could be tied back though, otherwise, the wind could possibly tear it up or worse, break a pole and tear the main tent body or fly.


Edited by TomD (05/24/12 03:41 PM)
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#166162 - 05/24/12 05:07 PM Re: Not using tent vestibules to minimize footprint [Re: bolamig]
OregonMouse Online   content
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6728
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
First of all, you never want to leave a "freestanding" tent unstaked! In a sudden gust of wind, they have been known to depart over a cliff or into a lake with all your gear inside. Besides, as you're finding out, nearly all "freestanding" tents require some staking of the fly.

I use my tent vestibule only when it's raining. Otherwise it's rolled back out of the way. Even when it's raining, I close the vestibule just enough to make a small overhang over the top of the screen door rather than closing it all the way. I don't use the vestibule for gear, either. Any gear left outdoors (other than my food and smellables) is in a plastic trash bag at the side of the tent.

However, with the Tarptent Squall/Rainshadow sort of tent, with the door on the end, the front guyline is there whether the vestibule is open or closed. The "beak" of the vestibule attaches to the front guyline.

I've never had any trouble with this setup. As long as Hysson (see my avatar) and I can get into and out of the tent, and there's a place to anchor that front guyline, I don't worry about rough ground or other obstacles in the vestibule area. There have been a couple of times that I've fastened the front guyline to a log, leaving just enough room to get in and out. In other cases I've used rocks to hold the front guyline because the tent stake would go in only an inch or two. The same is true of the rear guyline, although it's much closer to the tent.

IMHO, the "freestanding" tent is grossly overrated. I used to have one and far prefer the setup I have now. For one thing, freestanding tents are heavier due to the pole structure. The tent shown is the now discontinued Gossamer Gear Squall Classic, designed by Tarptent but in a lighter fabric. It's a snug fit for 2 people but just the right size for me and my dog! 27 oz. with stakes included (but not the trekking pole which I use for hiking anyway).


Edited by OregonMouse (05/24/12 05:11 PM)
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#166164 - 05/24/12 08:26 PM Re: Not using tent vestibules to minimize footprint [Re: OregonMouse]
Glenn Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 2617
Loc: Ohio
Good point about staking out freestanding tents - I always stake mine down for the reasons OM gives, and the fact that staking maximizes the floor space and helps get a taut pitch. About the only time I wouldn't stake mine out is if I were in a public campground that uses compacted gravel tent pads, where staking isn't possible unless you brought a mini-sledgehammer.

In use, the only practical difference I've ever found in freestanding and non-freestanding tents is stability in the wind. As a very general rule (with numerous exceptions to prove it), I've found freestanding tents to be a bit more stable because they usually have poles tied in to each corner; non-freestanding don't, and tend to be less stable in heavy wind. But, staked out, they can be every bit as stable.

Stake the tent out; it's not that hard or time-consuming.

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#166165 - 05/24/12 08:29 PM Re: Not using tent vestibules to minimize footprint [Re: bolamig]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
I'd suggest looking at Tarptent models (they have double wall and single wall options) as well as Lightheart Tents.

I have a Sublite tarptent - the silnylon version has a very small vestibule, just big enough to put out a small pack or boots. I usually leave the stove/pot in it and keep all the gear inside.
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#166190 - 05/26/12 01:19 AM Re: Not using tent vestibules to minimize footprint [Re: bolamig]
bolamig Offline
newbie

Registered: 05/24/12
Posts: 3
Good ideas. I hadn't thought about leaving the vestibule rolled and tied up until y'all mentioned it. That would solve the footprint problem. But the tents that I'm looking at have lots of mesh which would be exposed and let in cold air and/or rain.

My intended use for this tent is actually more carcamping than backpacking; I already have a 1 Person tent for light trips and 3 person 4 season tent for extreme conditions.

My intention for this tent would be to have something to set up at trailheads after driving in, often after dark. For that reason I want something extremely easy to set up and since I'll be sleeping in it the whole time it's set up, I don't want to bother with stakes; I realize I will lose a bit of interior room by not staking it, which is the reason I want it to be on the big side to hold me and some gear without touching the sidewalls. Weight isn't that important, although I don't want a Coleman car-queen because I might occasionally use it for backpacking.

The main reason I usually put on the fly when camping at trailheads is warmth; I sleep better when I'm warm and I'd prefer to not sleep in all my clothes at the trailhead like I would on the trail. Unfortunately rolling/tying the vestibule would leave all the mesh uncovered, which would be breezy.

I just had an idea so crazy it just might work. Perhaps I could sew a second zipper onto the fly in such a way that it would allow me to pull the vestibule fly taut without staking. Or the ghetto approach might just be to add elastic lines from the bottom of the vestibule fly to the top of the fly, to keep it taut without staking.

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#166199 - 05/26/12 03:20 PM Re: Not using tent vestibules to minimize footprint [Re: bolamig]
Glenn Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 2617
Loc: Ohio
If I'm understanding you correctly, you just want something to sleep in when you arrive at a trailhead late in the evening, and you'll head onto the trail next morning?

Depending on what kind of vehicle you have, why not just sleep in the vehicle?

Failing that, the bivy idea I mentioned earlier, with or without a tarp, sounds like it might work, too.

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#166249 - 05/29/12 12:34 AM Re: Not using tent vestibules to minimize footprint [Re: Glenn]
bolamig Offline
newbie

Registered: 05/24/12
Posts: 3
Right. The main use for this tent is sleeping at a trailhead, something that I can throw in the car wet with condensation in the morning rather than waiting for it to dry out and then carefully pack up for my backpack trip. I'd also possibly use it when carcamping with groups, where I want to be courteous and minimize my footprint to leave space for other tents.

BTW Glen thanks for the Big Agnes suggestions. I looked at them and like the minimal vestibules, but the highly sloping sidewalls turn me off.

The more I think about this, the more I lean towards the Marmot Limelight 2p or 3p, even though it has the vestibules. It just seems simple, well designed, and at the current sale price of under $200 something I don't have to be too careful with.

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