Ok to compress my tent with straps when in its bag?

9:12 p.m. on January 21, 2009 (EST)
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I have a Blackdiamond vista tent. The tent is pretty large when packed. I was wondering if I could use a couple compression straps to pull its diameter down a little when backpacking. Is this possible without damaging the tent? Opinions?

9:56 p.m. on January 21, 2009 (EST)
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Are you packing it IN your pack, or on the outside. If outside, then only minimum pressure should be required to hold the tent to the pack. Many manufacturers don't recommend drastic compression. Pole bending can occur, and you may risk damage to the fabric itself.

12:06 a.m. on January 22, 2009 (EST)
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No, I'm packing the tent inside my pack. With the poles all running parallel to each other I don't think the poles are in any danger of bending with compressing. I suppose it could put more strain on the hub system though. I'm thinking more along the lines of the fabric itself. Creasing its self against its self would put more stress on the fold and increase friction? Just wondering if it would have enough adverse effect over time to be worth worrying about.

7:57 a.m. on January 22, 2009 (EST)
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Creasing the fabric over longer periods of time may cause a problem. I believe I read somewhere that this may be more of an issue with the mesh than with the nylon taffeta. You might want to consult the manufacturer about this. I would.

10:11 a.m. on January 22, 2009 (EST)
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I would not store the tent in that manner, but while actually backpacking I don't think you'll do any damage. I'd watch where the compression straps are relative to the pole hubs, but otherwise the fabric pieces should be fine.

11:24 a.m. on January 22, 2009 (EST)
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A short article in a spring 2008 Backpacker magazine issue stated that the fold and roll method of packing a tent does not cause creases or other damage as many people think. I have used it for many years and have not noticed any problems. For example, I still occasionally camp in a REI family dome that I have owned and used for 11 years. If you do use the fold and roll method, compression is unnecessary - I tie my backpacking tents to the back of my day pack. Do any of you use the fold and roll method?

12:34 p.m. on January 22, 2009 (EST)
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I am a stuffer. I do not store it this way but travel with it in a sack stuffed. I store it in a large plastic tote loose. I may try stuffing your tent in a compression sac just for travel and carrying the poles on the outside in a seperate pocket or compartment.

2:53 p.m. on January 22, 2009 (EST)
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Do any of you use the fold and roll method?


That is how I carry all of my tents and no problems so far.
Gary C.

6:08 p.m. on January 22, 2009 (EST)
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I use:
Fold and roll for tents & stuff method for bags.
I don't think you will get much more compressed than a good tight roll, leave the vent and door zippers open slightly to let air escape and the tent ought to be as small as it's going to get.

I have watched as thru hikers stuffed the tent with the bag still inside, it's quicker for breaking and setting camp, but maybe not the best for your gear.
Stuff, eat oatmeal, start walking. Not always in that order.

9:17 p.m. on January 22, 2009 (EST)
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I use the fold and roll method but the tent will always expand to the size of it's bag. I guess this is a non issue as i was just thinking and packing things into my pack and the tent will compress to whatever size it's going to be depending on how much I stuff in my pack. So, for a lack of better words ... this topic was a waste of time.

9:25 p.m. on January 22, 2009 (EST)
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Hi TravHale,

Oh No Brother, talking of these things is not a waste of time! This is how technique is developed.
It is good that you are thinking, looking for other ways to do things!
Not that we should throw time tested methods & technique out the window, that would be foolish. But there is always room for refinement, new ideas and such.
My wife says there's no ham like Birmingham, but I guess you've probably already heard that one.

BTW...That's a big freaking cactus!

11:02 p.m. on January 22, 2009 (EST)
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Birmingham is def. unique. Thank god there are a few good places to hike around here. It's nice to get out of the city and nice to live 1-10 minutes from everything.

That pic was actually taken at the b-ham botanical garden.

11:18 p.m. on January 24, 2009 (EST)
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Just to add to this.. I saw a MSR tent today and its stuff sack had straps sewn into it for compression.

11:30 p.m. on January 24, 2009 (EST)
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Well I certainly don't see why it would hurt, I use a few Velcro straps for my clothing, maybe those would work for you.
You just want to avoid doing any damage to tent poles and such, you wouldn't want to compress a tent stake through the tent fabric either.
Some people don't carry the little sack for the poles and stakes in an effort to reduce weight and bulk.
Tents and sleeping bags should not be stored compressed, probably true of clothing and such as well.

10:59 a.m. on January 25, 2009 (EST)
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I have always stuffed my tents rather than folding. When tents were heavier than they are now I used compression bags with no ill effects. Of course I never stuffed poles or stakes in along with the tent:) And I store them loose. I do remember reading somewhere (backpacker?) that you did not want to fold it the same way everytime as that causes creases that could eventually cause a leak. I also remember sending the article to a friend of mine that used to fold hers and I used the article for my reasoning. Frazier - when did you read the article that you referenced?

2:29 p.m. on January 26, 2009 (EST)
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It was in one of those slick paper foldouts of gear tips in one of the 2008 issues. I thought it was a spring issue but when I looked in a couple of issues this past weekend, I couldn't find it. I will spend more time looking for it the next couple of nights.

6:44 p.m. on January 26, 2009 (EST)
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Thank you! That would be really helpful - I'll look for it also......

7:16 p.m. on January 26, 2009 (EST)
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Hey guys,
I've heard it both ways, you will damage the tent by folding..you won't damage the tent by folding.

I don't think it hurts a thing to fold, you would have to draw lines on your tent to fold it the exact way every time so I don't think it hurts the fabric.

Neither do I think it hurts to stuff a tent.

Of course we know a tent should be stored completely dry and not compressed.
Around here storing a dry tent means pitching it at home and making sure it dries thoroughly after a trip, we have so much rain, water vapor, humidity, ect.

How about you guys? Do you live in a dry or wet climate?

9:39 a.m. on January 27, 2009 (EST)
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DesertRobin
I found the article. It was in the March 2008 (Gear Guide) issue of Backpacker magazine. A fold out section entitled "Make your gear last forever" begins on page 161. Inside (page 163) the magazine quotes Chris Hilliard, product manager for Mountain Hardwear who presents the argument that stuffing a tent does more harm than folding and rolling it. I know that other manufacturers recommend stuffing so as trouthunter suggests, it may not make any difference.

Trouthunter,
I live in a fairly wet climate and frequently camp in the smokies. I typically dry my tent and gear about a 5 days after a trip. First I hang my tent and tarp on a clothesline in my garage for 3 - 4 days while drying my sleeping bag and other gear in my house. Then I bring the tent inside may home and lay it our on a floor, sofa, or chair for another day or two before repacking it.

11:35 a.m. on January 27, 2009 (EST)
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This conversation got me thinking so I contacted TNF via chat since I have a TNF Rock 22 tent the following is their response. I stress this is their recomendation for their tents and may not be what you would get from another company.

Lori B.: Hi, my name is Lori B.. How may I help you?
Lori B.: Hi do you have a question?
Jeremy McWatty: Hey I have a Rock 22 and I was wondering as far as packing for backcountry use, is it better to use the stuff or fold and roll method, or does it matter. Also would it hurt to use some compression caps? This is only while out back packing, I know the proper storage procedure.
Lori B.: we recommend stuffing in the stuff bag
Lori B.: as for compresssion caps I am not sure why you would want to use them.
Lori B.: Would they not be just extra weight?
Jeremy McWatty: I really don't It is more or less just for knowledge and to make the life of my tent longer. Do you think it would harm the tent in any way?
Lori B.: We only recommend you use equipment as purchased If you have any questions I would recommend you contact the warranty department you would not want to void the warranty
Lori B.: Their number is 1-866-715-3223
Jeremy McWatty: thank you
Lori B.: They are available Monday to Friday 7 am to 4 p.m
Jeremy McWatty: thanks have a good day
Lori B.: Can I help with anything elsel
Jeremy McWatty: no that's all thanks for your help
Lori B.: Thank you for contacting The North Face, Have a good day.

6:46 p.m. on January 27, 2009 (EST)
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Hey Frazier and jmcwatty - thanks for the info. I think I'm going to stick to my stuff method - for me it's a lot faster and easier than folding. I spent New Years at Death Valley and I camped at Stovepipe Wells the first night because I wanted to hike the dunes at dawn. I got a chance to watch a lot of people break camp and I watched this one person fold his tent. It seemed like it took him forever to do it and I remember thinking to myself I wouldn't want to fold my tent up!

I live in Southwestern Utah. I hardly ever have to dry anything!! I'm originally from the east coast and I still can't get over how quickly things dry out here. Equipment staying wet is hardly an issue if I'm not in the mountains.

10:46 a.m. on January 28, 2009 (EST)
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Interesting that TNF recommends stuffing, whilst the MH rep does not.

FWIW, as far as I can recall, every tent I've ever purchased has come packed in the manufacturer's package as a fold & roll prep. I guess that implies that for warranty purposes, one should follow that technique, unless there's documentation with the tent indicating otherwise. That said, I now use the stuff method, after many years of f&r. But with a Democrat now in office, maybe a change is in order ;-).

7:16 p.m. on January 28, 2009 (EST)
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At one point in history, tents used to have an instruction sheet with them that described not only the setup directions, but also packing and storage directions. Although the tents came folded and/or rolled, all the backpacking tents (including MH, I still have the sheet for my Trango 3.1) said "stuff". As one rep at the OR Show told me one year "the stuff sack is called a 'stuff' sack for a reason!". Large tents, on the other hand, all had folding instructions. I asked the same rep why the tents come folded and rolled rather than stuffed. The reply was that that was the fastest way to get them into the package, and these days, that is done with machine assistance. Sleeping bags from the top manufacturers are shipped stuffed in an oversize bag (NOT tightly stuffed). Those from lesser, more mass-produced companies are folded and rolled.

The reason given was that the coating on the waterproof floors tends to develop tiny cracks along the fold lines when the tent is repeatedly folded the same way. I have indeed had that happen in the past. Current coatings do not seem to be as vulnerable to this problem. However, stuffing means that the bends and folds are different every time. Overstuffing can cause problems, just as it can with both down and synthetic sleeping bags (leaving sleeping bags tightly compressed for long periods can cause permanent damage to the fill, one example being breaking of the plumules of down, which reduces the loft).

8:22 p.m. on January 28, 2009 (EST)
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Hey Bill,


The biggest reason that I prefer to fold and roll my MH Skyview is that it has a clear window in the fly, I have seen what those windows look like in tents that have been stuffed. Maybe they were compressed and stored that way, I don't know for sure.

There are several different ways I can fold and roll my tent/fly and get few to no wrinkles in that window.

Am I being too picky?
I mean, I don't want to look out a wrinkled up window, I paid good money for the view! HaHa

9:19 p.m. on January 28, 2009 (EST)
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I am a folder and roller, but I have been a stuffer several times- who wants to be a folder & roller when the rain is cats & dogs or the bugs are seek & destroy? I also remember reading that article in the Bacpacker about creases and folds. The chances of folding it the exact same way twice are pretty slim I would think. If a million monkeys were folding a million tents...
Also, I compress my tents on occasion, tightening the circumerence, not the length, without the poles or stakes in the bag, just to keep things tight I guess.
And living in Washington I see my share of rain and puddles and rain and mist and rain, and I always set up my tent at home indoors, get off the mud and crud and slugs, and then either hang it on the wall in the garage, or I also have some strategically placed nails in the rafters to hang it by it's stake loops. Let it air dry for a day or 2- or 3 or 4 or 5- and then do the fold and roll boogie and it's good to go next time, no mildew, no creases, no worries.

2:16 p.m. on February 25, 2009 (EST)
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On the trail I compress my tent (without the poles) every time. The speed and convenience for me is worth any minor wear and tear it is getting. When I get home I take it out of the compression sack and then after just shaking it out a few more times, it put it in the non compression sack it came in for storage.

7:13 p.m. on February 25, 2009 (EST)
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... my MH Skyview is that it has a clear window in the fly, I have seen what those windows look like in tents that have been stuffed. Maybe they were compressed and stored that way, I don't know for sure.
There are several different ways I can fold and roll my tent/fly and get few to no wrinkles in that window.

Am I being too picky?
I mean, I don't want to look out a wrinkled up window, I paid good money for the view! HaHa

The current fashion (for the past 4 or 5 years) of putting plastic windows in tents is one of the most useless "styles" I have seen in outdoor gear. They get frost and condensation on them even in quite dry conditions, turn translucent in short order (especially if used at high altitude and get exposed to the stronger UV found there, and have permanent wrinkles and creases right out of the packaging, so that the view is horribly distorted - completely useless for taking photos while inside. The view is very limited, so you can't see what's happening in the weather, and the night view is so distorted that you can't recognize even the simplest and most obvious constellations, with the moon looking like a semi-deflated beach ball. (then again, some people claim they want all mesh tops to their tents because they want to look at the stars at night - even though the mesh just produces marvelous diffraction patterns and blocks the fainter stars, plus lets rain, blowing snow, and blowing dust fill the tent). Want a view? Then get outside the tent.

When they first came out, I asked several of the major tent manufacturers why they were put on the tents, and the answer was that people request them and they are a selling point. All the reps I talked to agreed that the windows were "about as useful as ...", well, I won't repeat the old saying on this family website.

7:35 p.m. on February 25, 2009 (EST)
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Yes for the most part I agree, the windows are a selling point. They do let light in the vestibule, and you can see out of them well enough to see what is going on outside. The window in my MH Skyview is in the front part of the fly, in the vestibule, with a view parallel to the ground, and not upwards towards the sky.

My tent has a mesh top, at least part of it is mesh if you remove the zip out panel. On warm humid nights with the fly rolled back it is a lifesaver, plus you get an open, less closed in feeling. I would agree it is not a stellar view through the no see um.

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