Tricks for keeping the tent stable in wind

12:23 a.m. on February 1, 2010 (EST)
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I was camping out in northwester Mn a while back and got to test the tent in some pretty windy conditions. We were ice fishing, but decided to camp rather than get a hotel. Since we weren’t any place too remote, I was able to bring up the winds at a small airport 10 or so miles away using my phone. The peak wind gusts reported were 59mph with sustained winds in the 40’s. Previously, I’ve always been able put the tent in an area somewhat more sheltered when it was this windy, but this was the first time putting it in a completely exposed area (in the middle of a frozen lake).

This got me thinking about pitching tents in the wind. Many of us, my self included, learned the basics about pitching tents, but figured out the other things like pitching in the wind by trial and error. There were some things I learned a while ago like always having one guy holding the rain fly on the upwind side while the other person attaches it to the tent body. Obviously a wind break is a helpful thing too. Most people know enough to point the tent into the wind, but some tents like mine aren’t symmetrical. One vestibule has 2 stakes and the other has 1. Putting the side with 2 stake down points upwind makes a substantial difference as I am able to get the fly tighter on that side. Putting rocks or gear on top of stakes will also keep them firmly in the ground. Of course, when all else fails, wear earplugs to bed.

So what are some of the things you’ve picked up over the years that help you’re tent hold up in the wind?

By the way, I made a post about tents and wind 6 months ago or so, but this was more about picking a good spot to avoind most of the wind.

7:42 a.m. on February 1, 2010 (EST)
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First, I'd try to pick my spot well. I'd steer clear of wide open fields or frozen lakes or valleys. Anything that is either wide open or channels wind I'd stay away from. With that being said I think the best thing you can do to help stabilize your tent in the wind is to guy it out at all of it's guy-out points (assuming your tent has them, most do). It makes an incredible difference with how sturdy your tent is. Also, make sure you have it staked out nice and taut. Just quickly staking it out leaves it all flimsy and usually it'll beat around in the wind. The last thing is try to point it into the wind instead of having the wind blast a huge side. Those are things that I've found work really well.

10:41 a.m. on February 1, 2010 (EST)
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Outside of finding a place outside of the wind, stake the tent down within an inch of it's life. Not all tents, especially three season tents, have adequate guy out points on them. You can add them with some basic sewing knowledge.

2:59 p.m. on February 1, 2010 (EST)
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Think about wind direction, which way will the tent be the most aerodynamic, if its gusting in different directions do all the above suggestions of fellow packers.

Getting the tent up in the wind is a trick in its self!

Do not set yourself up to have a problem, carry enough rope to guy-out your tent correctly, bring extra stakes to do the job. Rocks, lots of rocks will work in place of stakes but who wants to be looking for lots of rock in a wind storm. Put the stakes in at angles about 45 degree into the ground with the top of the stake pointing away from the tent. Put the stakes on corners of the tent at apposing angles. I hope that makes sense - the back left corner stake should be at apposing angle to the front right stake=pulling in opposite directions, 45 degrees angle form each corner of the tent and tightly.

Some tents are made so that the guy-lines work best at about 45 degree angles, I have cut rope sections and tied in one end a loop. This way I can stick the loop on the rope through the guy-out loop on the tent, putting the non-loop end of the rope through the rope loop and pulling it tight, securing it to the tent leaving only the one end to tie to the stake. From my experience the faster you can do this is an advantage, if you are awaken at 2am from a sudden wind storm or to prevent damage to your tent and you are also in the weather less time. I know its a lot of 45 degree stuff sorry.

PigPen

6:03 p.m. on February 1, 2010 (EST)
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Stucco it.

6:11 p.m. on February 1, 2010 (EST)
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Awe stucco. I think the tent after the board, mesh/base, and finish(the color possibilities are endless)would be pretty much stationary. But then again there are those meteorite thingys. We have all had meteorite problems right? Then again a 6" concrete floor(rebar reinforced) would help in the wind....or then again...I am off on another one of my tangents. Sorry, nevermind...

8:58 p.m. on February 1, 2010 (EST)
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Interesting that no one mentioned wind walls.

8:58 p.m. on February 1, 2010 (EST)
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Good point Bill...

12:29 p.m. on February 2, 2010 (EST)
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Windwalls are not that easy to construct in Minnesota. Frequently the snow isn't very deep and the snow rarely packs well, completely different than snow in the mountains. Best bet is to look for natural wind breaks like pine trees.

1:21 p.m. on February 2, 2010 (EST)
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So? Pile up rocks if there is a lack of snow ;) Might only take a couple of days to gather enough rocks.

3:18 p.m. on February 2, 2010 (EST)
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Double up on the guylines f/the guyout points on your tent. Basically everywhere you have a guyout point(on the tent) run 2 lines instead of 1. Yes this will take a few more stakes and a few more feet of line but it works well. Run 1 line normally and then move it 45-90 degrees to the left from where you would normally stake it. On the 2nd line do the same thing but move it to the right. You want to form a "V" and ya want both sides to be as close to equal length as possible.

4:01 p.m. on February 2, 2010 (EST)
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I plan to build these in the winter months...



The scoutmaster said it was warm and quiet inside his during a storm. Easy to build with this kit.

4:24 p.m. on February 2, 2010 (EST)
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Hey DrReaper. I think I would have to pass on that 1. With all of the evergreens(windcover) around the area in the video I would just dig out an area and pitch a tent. It would be alot faster and easier. It seems like this takes some time to do even with the tool, it was sunny out when they started and it was dusk when they finished. That could leave ya in a bad spot if you were using this system for hiking purposes. Not to mention all of the energy you would burn up.

5:30 p.m. on February 2, 2010 (EST)
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Carry a lot of extra cord and a dozen marbles. Every tent fly may have a few places where the fabric has stretched or is just slack between tie-in points. Put a marble under the fly in the slack spot and tie the cord around the bottom of the marble from above. This gives you an extra tie-down point.

Of course, if it rains, your fly may become a bit slack, so it's best to allow for quick tightening using figure-eight knots in all your tie-downs.

Stucco is useful, but a few gallons of spray starch are easier to carry.

6:01 p.m. on February 2, 2010 (EST)
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Thanks, the stucco and marble ideas are definately new to me. I like the idea of doubling up on the guy lines as well.

I guess I should have mentioned that I was looking for tips to use more above the tree line rather than in Mn so rocks are definitely a possibility.

I've done lots of camping above the treeline, but I've always managed to find locations where I was somewhat sheltered by the terrain. When I was out in the Aleutians I thought for sure I would have to pitch the tent in the wind. The wind did gust close to 50 some days, but the terrain had so many undulations that I was able to put the tent in an area where the wind was practically calm. So despite camping in areas that experienced a lot of wind, this last trip was the first trip where I actually put the tent in a completely exposed area.

For the mountaineering types, what are some things you've learned about actually setting the tent up in winds gusting above 40 with very little windbreak available? If I had to do it again, I think I would tie one of the guy lines to my pack before I unrolled the rain fly. As it was, I had my buddy hold the fly on the upwind side while I attached it to the tent. If he had let go, I don't think I would ever see the fly again. If I had it attached to my pack, it would have made a good backup if he had let go before it was fully secured.

11:16 p.m. on February 2, 2010 (EST)
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Rick, doubling up on the guy lines is a great idea, I'll have to try it. Wind walls work well in the winter with snow, it blows the leave no trace principal out the window if you use rocks ??

12:48 a.m. on February 3, 2010 (EST)
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There are multiple ways of doing this. I drew the 2 diagrams below to help illustrate a bit.

GP- Guypoint

X/SP- Stake Point

RED- illustrates alternatives points



...yeah I know this is a lil primitive but I feel it illustrates a lil better of what I mean. This can be done with any tent has a guypoint(2+) on the external/fly. Experiment w/it if needed. Trust me I have and every tent model is different. It does make a big difference IMO. Hope this helps....

2:37 a.m. on February 3, 2010 (EST)
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The marble technique works very well, good mention OMW.

12:08 p.m. on February 3, 2010 (EST)
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Setting a tent up in the wind is actually pretty simple, with variations depending on the tent. Basically, before getting the tent out of the stuff sack, figure out which way the wind is blowing (not real hard to do this in a 20knot or greater wind, as long as it isn't too turbulent). Get the main body of the tent out and stake down the upwind side (wind direction and slope don't always line up, but in snow or on a glacier, you can prep by leveling the platform before starting, plus build your wind walls - that's a separate topic). Best bet on snow (or sand) is to deadman all your anchor points. Once the two upwind anchors are in, it's a piece of cake. With most expedition tents (especially clip), you can anchor all floor points, pitch all your gear inside, set the guylines loosely, then place the poles and clip them. Attaching the fly is similar - attach the upwind points, then work your way around the tent for the rest. This can be done by a single person, though having a second person helps.

One reason single wall tents are popular on expeditions to windy places is that once you have the tent body up, you are done - no dealing with flapping flies. Internal pole tents like the Biblers are also popular, since you anchor the corners, then climb inside to put the poles in place. Of course, you have to come back out to do the guy lines and attach the separate vestibule.

4:27 p.m. on February 3, 2010 (EST)
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A couple of ideas from the old days, the first two don't apply but I'll mention them anyway. Zippered "cook" holes and frost liners. The third IS relevant, tents had internal guy lines going across the tent from the floor and up to an attachment point near the top of the opposite wall. These internal tension lines worked with the outside guy lines to stabilize things. I've had my Bibler shaking (with guy lines only and flat sides due to two pole design)so bad in a wind that it shook the water out of the hanging stove attached to the peak where the poles crossed. Two pole "rectangular tents flap much worse in the wind than heavier 3-5 pole dome tents. Domes are the best in a wind, the half sphere shape sheds wind from any direction. The best winter tents I ever used where TNF mountain 24, and secondly an obsoleted TNF Westwind which is a three hoop tent, but it was best set up aligned with the prevailing wind, and it was rated for 150 mph winds as I recall. Never put down hoop tents because they're not free standing.

Also while I'm at it, in real winds above the tree line do not rely on stakes, use 4 skis to anchor the corners, or snow pickets or deadmen or pitons driven into rock. If you do use branches for deadmen do not tie your line to them, wrap the line around them and double it back to the tie out loops on your tent, this way when you leave you simply untie it and pull it out without having to dig up the deadmen, which might require an ice axe.

Jim S

5:10 p.m. on February 3, 2010 (EST)
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My winter tent has an internal guy system, works good as long as the tent is properly pitched and staked out. Even though my tent is free standing, I always guy it out because storms can come up very fast.

12:02 a.m. on February 4, 2010 (EST)
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trout

what kind of tent is it? How old is it? I didn't think there were any modern tents with an internal guy system. And only an idiot would fail to stake a tent, thats why I fail to understand why everybody wants free standing tents. Like I said, I prefer 4 skis pushed deeply into the snow, but then I have nearly had my tent ripped off a peak even staked with skis.

Jim S

9:16 a.m. on February 4, 2010 (EST)
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Jim,

I have a Mountain Hardwear Skyview 2+, it's a 3-4 season convertible.

I guess it's one of their earlier designs, the company was founded in '93 and I bought the tent in '98. It has four poles, three for the tent body, and one hoop type pole to extend and support the large vestibule.

Weighs 8+ lbs. more than I really wanted to carry, but I fell in love with the design and found it a great tent for my uses. Split between two people it's not bad.

I'm very picky about tents and boots with regards to reliability & durability and have always tended to purchased on the heavier duty end, especially in the last 15 years.

It's funny, I asked the sales clerk to show me how the internal guy system worked and he didn't know really, I had to get some of the more experienced guys in the local hiking club to show me.

10:41 a.m. on February 4, 2010 (EST)
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Jim, I love the idea of wrapping the guy lines around you're anchors and tieing them to the tent to avoid digging them up.

By the way, I've never seen an internal guy system, anybody have any pictures?

11:28 a.m. on February 4, 2010 (EST)
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Most expedition tents are set up for internal guy systems. Basically, it consists of several tie-off points located at critical points and a set of cords that connect these. While it does help stiffen the tent considerably, it does take up room inside the tent, so is not something you would normally use. And that's also why you don't find "regular" 4-season tents with them or any 3-season tents. Another one of those things that defines a tent as an "expedition" tent.

6:42 p.m. on February 4, 2010 (EST)
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1. Adding additional guy points, as mentioned above

2. PRE-make the guy point tie-outs so they already have a small plastic tensioning slide and a small snap hook to hook into the tent's guy points. This saves lots of time and frozen fingers.

3. Use stuff sacks filled W/ snow as anchors instead of using snow stakes.

4. Use X'd sticks for deadmen if you run out of stuffsacks. Stomp snow over them very well

5. Make 12" wide snap-on "sod cloth" flaps for your tent's entire bottom perimeter seam. These are buried in the snow to keep wind from getting beneath the tent.

6. As mentioned, make "wind walls" from the snow (and dig out the drifted in snow daily).

7. carry an avalanche shovel for diggging out and for making a "kitchen" and digging a well in your tent's vestibule so you can sit in your tent W/ your lower legs and feet hanging down in the well while you cook in the vestibule well.

9:41 p.m. on February 4, 2010 (EST)
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I'll have to try digging out the vestubule, sounds much more comfortable!

12:54 p.m. on February 15, 2010 (EST)
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I also love camping in the middle of lakes in the winter (just coming back from 11 days on the ice), the view is well worth the extra trouble. It's good to carry a couple of ice screws or very strong "T" pegs to pound directly in the ice with the back of a hatchet. The best ones i've seen have the notches on the short sections of the T and the longer section is plain for strenght. Ice screws didn't work well on this trip for some reason and deadmen might be hard to place due to a shallow snowpack on big windswept lakes.

I like to think ahead and pre-rigg my tent for the worst conditions possible in the comfort of my home. I started by adding a loop of rope to the floor anchor points to be able to bury deadmen in deep powder snow or quickly wrap around a ski. 18 inches is a good lenght for me.

I also fitted the 4 top anchor points with rope and parachute anchors ready to use if needed. It's very easy to use the parachute anchors, they can't get lost because they're tied to the tent and weight very little. An adjustable knot close to the tent allows me to let them settle a bit before tightening the whole thing before bed. I keep them loosely tied when not in use, easy to untie with mittains on.


You can always wrap rope around the poles if they're outside the tent fly or use the (very good) marble trick posted above to add guy points. I permanently tied a piece of rope on both sides of the tent to make a triangulated guy point that's easy to use in nasty side-winds: just clip a lenght of rope to an anchor in any direction, it's self-equalizing.

From what i've seen (just my 2 cents) i get better results from pulling directly on the frame than the fabric, or at least fabric that's directly connected to the frame.

Happy camping!

10:09 a.m. on February 16, 2010 (EST)
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I have a 2008 Mountain Hardwear Trango 2. It has an internal guy system as well, but the instructions leave something to be desired. In defense of the seemingly bad directions, I have not tried to set up the internal guys yet.

Trouthunter, have you used your internal guy system? Difficult to set up? Intuitive?

Anyone else know anything about MH internal guy setup? Then again, it may differ greatly between tents.

8:59 p.m. on February 16, 2010 (EST)
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[Edited to correct my own typo!]

bccroney -

You can find the Mountain Hardwear Tent Manual here. The rigging of the internal guy system is described in English on pages 4 and 5 (and some other languages later in the manual). Unfortunately, as I realized on looking at it and remember from several years back when I got my Trango 3.1, there is a significant typo. The diagrams are correct, but the text refers to a loop at "I", while the diagram shows no point labeled "I". The stringing order is actually the following for the first internal guy - tie to the loop in the bottom corner of the tent at A. Then thread through the inside roof loops at B, C, D, and E. You now have a free end, which you attach to a "cord cleat" (a plastic line tightener) and clip to the D-E section of cord - or you can tie a tautline hitch. The second internal guy is tied to F, then threaded through G, H, J, and K, with the free end tied to another "cord cleat" (or tie a tautline hitch), attaching back to the J-K section of cord. According to the winds, tighten one or both of the internal guys using the "cord cleats" or tautline hitches.

The two internal guys go diagonally from one corner to the other - ABCDE and FGHJK, tied at A and F, tensioned at DE and JK. Sorry about the error but the diagram shows it correctly.

The setup on my Sierra Designs Stretch Dome is virtually identical, although SD originally suggested a slightly different threading arrangement. The SD Omega and a few of their other tents with internal guy loops use a 4-cord system instead of a 2-cord system.

Neither SD nor MH (nor TNF, which has a very similar system for several of their tents) says which end of the tent to start with. From experience, I suggest that having the adjustable end at the main entrance of the tent works best (or for those tents with a sleeve at one end and zip door at the other, put the adjustments at the sleeve end).

10:08 a.m. on February 17, 2010 (EST)
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Thanks for the correction Bill, i also had some difficulty figuring out the rigging from the MH instructions.

1:16 p.m. on February 18, 2010 (EST)
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Yes, thanks Bill. That is as good of a reply as I could have gotten. Great.

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