Maybe this belongs in the almost-over-the-hill forum, but here goes. I am over 50, and have discovered much to my dismay that I can no longer tote a 40+ lb pack, so I am looking to save weight wherever I can. One obvious improvement is to replace my 9-lb 2-man tent with a backpacking tent weighing 5 lbs or less. One possibility is a single-wall tent, which has an obvious advantage weight-wise over a tent with a fly, not to mention the reduced volume. I have not used a single wall tent since the canvas era (see above concerning my age). I don't remember them being terrible to sleep in, but it's been ages. Any thoughts on single-wall versus a tent with fly? Am I likely to wake up covered with condensation from my own perspiration/respiration?
Hi First I have to say that it is going to be easy to find a sub 9 lbs. tent .... however, since there are so many choices, some details will help. Is it for one or two ? do you need a winter tent ? (wind/snow) what is your size? (some only work if you are under 6') do you prefer a vestibule ? What is your typical environment ? (i.e., hot,wet,mixed, low/high altitude) Budget. In general, single wall can have more condensation than double, but it depends on the design, so you can find some sauna causing double wall as well as dryish single. Franco
I actually get less condensation in my Rainbow Tarptent (see sponsor link to Henry Shires Tarptent) than I ever did in a heavier canvas tent. The amazing designs currently available from half a dozen cottage industries include lots of ventilation options. Also, on the chance you do get a bit of condensation, modern sleeping bags include a breathable waterproof exterior so a little bit of condensation won't hurt it.
Also, you won't be covered in sweat after hauling that 50 pound pack, so you'll start out dry <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Some of the higher priced single wall tents are desinged for mountaineering. The biggest advantage is stability in VERY high winds and steep side walls that shed large amounts of snow. In fact some mountaineering single wall tents that are designed to be used at high altitude assume it is not going to rain (only snow) and are not totally waterproof. Unless you are going to be on a high altitude climb, you can spend much less than the $600 range for a single wall tent suitable for most backpacking.
You should pick up the latest Backpacker Magazine gear review and check out the tents. Do not necessarily pay attention to their recommendations. Rather look at the statistics and find one tha meets your needs.
I guess the first question to ask is do you need a tent at all? I do not use a tent very often in the Sierra - only in mosquito season - otherwise I use a small tarp or bivy sack. I never go into the Wind River Mountains without a tent and a wind-worthy one at that - it can rain every afternoon for days and blow like you would not beleive. In the Cascades, it drizzles and I am not so concerned about wind-worthy but want something with an awning to make camp life easier.
You will probably end up like the rest of us - owners of several tents for varying conditions!
I'll second what Franco says; we need to know more about where and when you're using this tent. In my own case, I love the design of the Shires TarpTents, but I continue to prefer my MSR Hubba. Why? Because it's hot and humid and doesn't cool down at night where I hike and, although the Rainbow is well-ventilated, it still can't match the amount of mesh in the Hubba. As a result, it will heat up in August more than the Hubba will - so the extra pound and a half or two pounds (I forget which) of additional weight is worth the comfort. Were I hiking somewhere less humid, where there was a large temperature drop at night, I'd switch to the Tarptent in a minute.
That's just one example of the way where and when can affect your choice of tents. Let us know, and we'll try to help.
To clarify things a bit, the tent would only be used in warm weather - I'll leave the hiking up the Donner Pass in mid February stuff to you "studs". I backpack with the Boy Scouts spring and fall, also with family in the summer, so would be used only a handful of times each year. I doubt that a $500 tent is required here - looking at "made in China" stuff from Eureka, etc. for under $200. Two-person capability is desired - trying to be as "weight efficient" as possible - one person carrries tent, other carries food. Needs to be fully enclosed with either mesh or cloth to keep mosquitoes at bay.
If you substitute sticks for included poles and stakes, it's under 3 pounds. With the included poles & stakes, it's 3 1/2 pounds.
A tent like this is utilitarian in three seasons. It's simply all you need and works totally fine if seams are correctly sealed. I used something like it in a heavy wet snowstorm, and was innundated with condensation and also melt-water from snow slopped into the tent. Partly, this was due to waterproof floor holding water rather than permitting it to drain into the snowpack.
Loc: Lynchburg, VA
Based on your reply I would think you would be happy with a traditional double walled 2-man tent like a MSR Hubba Hubba or maybe one of the Sierra Designs models. These tents are fairly light, basically "bomb proof" (I hate to use that term without quotation marks cause nothing is bomb proof), and the fiddle factor with them should be pretty low.
I am an avid tarptent user, but I also get out 8 - 12 times a year. If I only got out a few times a year I probably wouldn't want to mess with a tarptent or tarp or anything of that nature. I know I'll probably get blasted for these comments, but for someone who just goes out a few times a year there is something to be said for simplicity. And I think some shelters require a little more work (i.e. site selection is very important, sil-nylon stretches in the rain and needs to be re-tensioned, single walled tents require some condensation management, etc.) than others. So if you want to stay simple just go with a 2-man double walled tent. If you're in for a little challenge, then I would recommend the Henry Shires Tarptents (my personal favorite right now is the Double Rainbow).
My son has used his Kelty Teton2 for well over two years now on a monthly basis. Kind of small for two full sized adults but not bad for a kid 5' 3" and he can put his entire pack inside. Lots of ventilation, even in humid Texas heat. I have a SD Clip Flashlight, I like it ok, but it's not perfect. Getting into it with my bad knees takes me falling into it..hilarious to all my friends <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/mad.gif" alt="" /> Anyway, if you were looking to use a tent with two adults, I'd look for one with two entrances, one on either side and vestibules. Some people don't like Kelty, but I figure if a 12 yr. old Scout can use for two years w/o any damage, it's probably pretty durable. Oh, and it's never leaked...even when we got 4" rain in four hours, and a total of 12" in a 24 hour period.
Loc: jersey city NJ
I purchased a coated puptent at a discount department store in about 1980, I think for $19. By that measure, the similar Wenzel tent is now cheaper, given inflation. I used the thing on a 7-week bike trip in Maritimes and New England, then used it for perhaps a total of.. dunno..30 additional weeks of camping..???. mostly weekends, over a period of nearly ten years.
think this sort of tent for $30, at current prices, is grossly under-rated as a lightweight backpacking option. It provides optimal solo shelter for the large majority of folks. It would be fairly close to the ideal for, say, somebody doing a through-hike of Appalachian Trail...
It's as light or lighter than most of the main-line backpacking tents that are made by big-name manufacturers as well as the specialty boys. And a fraction of the price. And essentially, provides same protection. The current versions are lighter than the one I used.
I've had various other tents. Main thing is, a tent with full storm flaps and full-coverage fly, is considerably, much warmer in winter. Even so, my winter tents currently are floorless, full-coverage, with zippered doors: specifically MSR Twin Peaks and Golight Hex. They're fine any season, but obviously don't offer full insect protection. Not so warm, but much lighter and larger that double-walled options.
The old pup-tent weighed four pounds or less, and was roomy for one person. Hellacious mosquitos weren't a problem, and even tiny "no-see 'ums on the beach were kept at bay.
Loaned it to a friend who I think ultimately abandoned it in Costa Rica. At that point, the floor nearly resembled mosquito netting. This was due to lots of use on beach sand during many weekends of use with kayak... Beach sand is highly abrasive and destructive to tent floors.
I mentioned the terrible snow storm situation, in which I may have nearly died, in first week of April of 1982 or '83. But I used it also on a trip in Vermont in early October, with no ill effects. One night on that particular trip, in mid-1980s, I noted a slightly significant frost build-up. But it wasn't an issue with practical consequences.
Loc: Northern California
My experience & some suggestions for single-wall...
(1) I've had a Bibler I tent for about 4 years now which I use for 4-season use - I LOVE this tent! (2) I used to primarily use my OR Advanced Bivy when BPing in the Sierra in the summer... 2 Lbs is hard to beat! (3) I do more solo now than ever, wanted to make sure that I had someplace to at least change clothes if I needed to or it was raining, etc., so I started looking for lightweight CHEAP solo tents... there is one you can get at Sports Authority called the "Ranger", sells for $20.00 - weighs 3 lbs! I've used it a coupel times, not a bad product at all for the price, but you need to be shorter than me (I'm 5'10" and had to sleep cross-wide in it - not a big deal, but thought I should mention) (4) Came to the conclusion that while the cheap-o Ranger has it's place, I also wanted what I call a "real" tent that I would feel more confident in as my primary place of residence should I end up in a rainy situation where I needed a vestibule for cooking, etc., so I recently purchased the North face Tadpole while it was on sale @REI. Like the Bibler I tent, they market it as a 2 person tent, but the reality is they're both really a comfy solo tent!
OK A few suggestions Sierra Design Lightning, $150 (Sunny Sports) Big Agnes Seedhouse SL2 $217 (LG Outdoors) Mountain Hardwear Meridian $140 (Travel Country) North Face Tadpole 23 $205 (Sunny Sports) Mountain Hardwear Viperine 2 $180 (Backcountry Gear) Eureka Spitfire $99 ( Campmor/Moab Sports) Kelty Teton 2 $100 (Gear x /Moab)
They are all double wall , between 4 and 5 lbs. Be careful with the budget tents, often the weight is under-stated and some don't stand up to much wind or rain. Single wall tents that work, like the Tarptents/SMD/Black Diamond are over $250. The Double Rainbow will keep you dry and stand up to reasonable wind gusts, is half of the weight of the above but $260. Franco
It's been about 15 years since I've owned a Eureka product, but at that time I spent many a happy night in a Timberline 2 A-Frame and later a Backcountry 3 dome tent.
Simply because I haven't known anyone who used a Eureka tent in the last 10 years, I'd probably be looking at a Sierra Designs, Kelty, or REI-brand tent if I were in the market for an economical, well-built tent for the kind of duty you've described. I know folks who have them now, and like them.
I'd also agree with the poster who recommended the Hubba Hubba, but that may be a bit pricier than you're looking for. It's a great tent, though; my niece and brother (her dad) are thoroughly pleased with the one I loaned them - so much so that I never got it back. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" />
Loc: jersey city NJ
I've already made my point as clearly as possible, and perhaps therefore ought not post again.
But what the heck!!!!!
A $20 or $30 tent (whatever) can offer utility that is identical with any tent that is five or ten times the cost........, assuming the seams are properly sealed, which is a consideration that is true for any tent, AND assuming you don't meet with very cool temps and high humidity -- conditions that DON"T REALLY Happen in SUMMER... (if some dampness is a problem in summer, it's generally easy to ignore.) They usually work good in spring and fall too.
I used my K-Mart pup tent a few dozen feet from the beach in Nova Scotia during what amounted to an early Nor'Easter. in August...& Uh OH.... it leaked because my seam sealing job was less than perfect..........Spending ten times the money, or five times the money, may not protect you from this problem.. which was entirely due to my own personal, faulty sealing work, rather than shortcoming of the tent itself.
I don't know whether its advertised weight was accurate, partly because I don't know what they advertized, or if they advertized.... but it was significantly lighter than most two-person backpacking tents -- especially those with hoops, frames, flys... extra roofs, vestibules, etc.........
..That circumstance in Nova Scotia was rather heavy weather on that particular day...& the only time during seven continuous weeks that the K-Mart tent gave me a problem. Rather than stay in tent I opted for pedalling to Yarmouth, and the wind at my back blew me there at amazing rate of speed.....though I became quite wet...
These tents are low to the ground and resist high wind perhaps as well as any design -- the wedge is well-proven and two rigid poles,are quite strong compared with any sort of hooped configuration.
They are more-or-less as light or lighter than any mid-to high -priced backpacking tent.
The Hubba Hubba is certainly a nice design but the cheapest I could find was $239 at Sunny Sports. Great value considering that the new version is not that different and about $60 more. I suggested the SL2 because of the space to weight ratio, but for the extra dollars the HH has two exits and useable vestibules. Glenn The Hubba does "fit" me very well but beign used to the Rainbow and more recently the Contrail, I run away screaming when I see the size of the MSR stuff sack. Franco
About that stuff sack: yeah, I'm not real happy about it either. It's like trying to pack a log. I replaced it with a couple of smaller stuff sacks, which lets me pack much more efficiently and gives me the added bonus of being able to separate a wet fly from a less-wet tent.
Of course, if you don't pop the cross-piece out of the Rainbow, it's not exactly a moldable sausage either.
They're both great tents, though - definitely in the top 3 solo tents available. (I don't know what the third would be.)
I hear you about the "age thing". I'm 65 and luckily I'm in very good health and fit but I began lightening up just because it was more fun to go lighter. Plus it would likely keep me from getting knee problems.
I dunno what your budget is but it you're looking for a 2 person tent that is very light I'd recommend the TarpTent Double Rainbow for a single wall tent (that can be converted to double wall W/ an available liner). The Rainbow series can also be made free standing by using your hiking poles as tension poles.
I've used a T.T. Contrail tent for the past two summers and love it. For summers a single wall tent is fine and Henry's TarpTents are the best ventilated tents in the business.
"There are no comfortable backpacks. Some are just less uncomfortable than others."
Ben will tell you that it is the BA SL2 UL (cause he doesn't get the idea of "solo") The best solo tent of this type hasn't been made as yet. One of the positive aspects of silnylon is that when wet (after a shake down) is pretty much the same weight as dry. Next time it rains here (?) I am going to set up one of my PU coated nylon tents to see how much heavier it gets when wet. Might do that with the Epic one as well, cause rain does soak into them. Franco
See my comments on your other thread... Most people over 50 find the difference between doable and comfortable a lot greater than when you are 25. There is a very good reason why most keen backpackers or through hikers don't use $30 tents and snobbism is not it... But I am glad that it works for you. I wonder why when folk try a good brand after having used a K Mart type tent don't go back to the El Cheapo version... BTW having sold cameras for 30 years, I have had the same comments about lenses. "why would I pay $3k when I can buy the same for $300 ?" Never had a case of a $3K buyer going back to a $300 lens... Franco
One of the positive aspects of silnylon is that when wet (after a shake down) is pretty much the same weight as dry. Next time it rains here (?) I am going to set up one of my PU coated nylon tents to see how much heavier it gets when wet. Might do that with the Epic one as well, cause rain does soak into them. Franco
I am looking forward to your report. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />
I've taken a vow of poverty. To annoy me, send money.
Yes, and we are all looking forward to some rain.... Actually, I am serious about this. We measure the weight of tents in ounces, yet I think that you may end up with an extra pound with some tent materials when wet. Never seen this discussed before, maybe it isn't an issue for most. Possibly like me, some have thought about it but never tested the theory in practice. Franco
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