Using tents in high wind

4:42 p.m. on February 23, 2009 (EST)
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I am having trouble finding a wind load rating for tents. I realize there are a number of factors such as wind direction, staking, grade, pitch, the type of line used to anchor tent, the type of stake used as an anchor, etc. If a tent is set up in accordance with the Manufacturer's Recommendations, and it is an "Expidetion Tent" designed for heavy winds, what is the cutoff point? How strong does the wind need to be before you run the risk of failure (or danger)?

Yes I know it depends on the tent, but does anyone have a rule of thumb? My rule has been if the wind is expected to go over 50mph. (after the tent has been setup), there may be a problem.

3:44 p.m. on February 24, 2009 (EST)
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I can't say I've seen anything like that, maybe because of the variables you mention. I suppose you could run tents in a wind tunnel but that may not mimic well gusts and swirling wind. After our dome tents were shredded in a storm on Rainier, our instructors mentioned the benefit of old style A-frames was that they simply blew down rather than came apart.

5:45 p.m. on February 24, 2009 (EST)
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I could be wrong, but I really don't see tent manufacturers climbing out on that limb. The lawsuits would be flying left and right.

I do think a wind rating would be helpful for giving users a rough idea of what the tent could handle. This reminds me of a thread a while back where a guy said his TNF tent could handle hurricane force winds and he intended to prove it by staying in a forested area during a hurricane.

6:43 p.m. on February 24, 2009 (EST)
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Tremendously difficult thing to provide ratings on in an equitable fashion. The testing would have to be done by some independent organization, like Consumer Reports, I would think. Certainly, if each manufacturer did its own testing, they'd all come out as capable of withstanding an F4 tornado.

8:32 p.m. on February 24, 2009 (EST)
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This reminds me of a thread a while back where a guy said his TNF tent could handle hurricane force winds and he intended to prove it by staying in a forested area during a hurricane.

That guy is crazy! That's just something that I don't need proven. Besides If a hurricane is coming, I'm leaving not camping!

I know this link will not help but interesting to watch:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UI-jTcjoRO8

8:50 p.m. on February 24, 2009 (EST)
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Thanks jmcwatty, that was great!

12:26 p.m. on February 25, 2009 (EST)
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jmc,

That youtube led to a bunch of other tent-in-the wind videos.

gearjunky,

The big problem with wind-ratings is that a brand new tent is much different from a tent that has been out in the sun for a few days. The biggest thing that deteriorates a tent is the UV, followed by packing and storing tents wet. I have spent a fair amount of time in high wind conditions (a week on Denali at the 17k camp, where the rangers' wind meter indicated winds above 40 knots the whole time, up to 70 knots, finally dying down for a dash for the summit that got aborted due to one of our group losing all feeling in his feet by 19,000 ft - probably the longest at that high wind level for me). During that time, a couple of North Face VE-25s came apart, partly due to age, partly due to the parties not constructing effective windwalls.

Expedition tents are generally constructed with stronger materials and designed with wind resistance in mind (either or both wind-shedding or giving with the wind). Several of the top companies do indeed do wind-tunnel testing for their expedition tents, but you can't account for all possible conditions. Dome tents generally are pretty good for wind resistance. I have been pretty happy with my Mountain Hardwear Trango 3.1. My Bibler Eldorado gives in side winds, but when pitched end-on sheds the wind pretty well (sometimes the wind direction is pretty constant in a given location, such as on a lot of glaciers where it blows either up or down the valley, but in other areas, you find constant changes in direction).

Still, you have to know how to pitch even the best of tents in a windy location. It has to do with picking the spot (small changes in terrain can make a big difference in sheltering or getting full blast), orienting the tent (varies with which model tent), use of proper windwalls (windwalls are an art in themselves), and pitching procedure (I have pitched several different models of tents in winds measured up to 35 knots - not hard when you know how). I have never personally had a tent blow away, but several times at the Bear Valley TeleFest, I have had someone's tent blow on top of mine. And in the winter camping course I directed for 10 years and continue to help instruct, we have had tents blow away, despite having a long talk with the students about how to pitch a tent in the wind (in every case, because some simple basic precautions were not taken).

3:00 p.m. on February 25, 2009 (EST)
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Thanks Bill. As always good information.

I figure being able to withstand 40knots (46mph +/-) winds, up to 70knots (80mph+/-) is about the worst I will see on top of Mt Monroe in the White Mountanins. Weather forcast is for 30 to 40mph winds in the evening. Anything higher and we will camp below treeline in a more sheltered area.

3:25 p.m. on March 4, 2009 (EST)
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Gearjunky,

I can tell you I recently faced winds in excess of 70 mph in my tent plus winds in the 50-60 mph range on the backside of this cold front all night long and part of the next day. I faced this particuliar storm system while using my ALPS Mountaineering Taurus Outfitter tent, which has a two-pole "wedge dome" design. The Taurus Oufitter model is a three-season tent I might add.

The tent survived this onslaught but afterward I noticed the aluminum poles were bent. However the tent NEVER collasped.

I need to point out I was on a exposed location high up on a ridge here in southeast Ohio. I had the tent staked out properly and always employ all the guy-lines.

3:28 p.m. on March 4, 2009 (EST)
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Jmcwatty,

That person would be me. I started that post about which tent to use during a hurricane.

5:34 p.m. on March 4, 2009 (EST)
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Hey ministercreek, that was a fun thread.

How's Ohio treating you? Stay off those ridges my friend!

11:31 a.m. on March 5, 2009 (EST)
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It was an fun thread. I have to agree with you. Didn't intend to "ruffle some feathers" though. :)

Ohio is wonderful! Plan to do an overnight backpack trek here in the Wayne National Forest tomorrow, God willing. They are calling for rain but I'm not concerned one bit. I have the appropriate rain gear. Temps will be in the low to mid 60's here.

Finally get to take my new ALPS Mountaineering Zenith 2 AL Tent http://www.sierratradingpost.com/p/,1480D_Alps-Mountaineering-Zenith-2-AL-Tent-2-Person-3-Season.html on the trail. I have been sleeping in the same for a couple of weeks, to see how it holds up to the variable weather conditions Ohio is known for. It has passed the test with "flying colours" as it were.

As for those ridges, southeast Ohio is quite hilly, being located in the Appalachian Plateau. I guess that is what draws me to this beautiful area along with the trees I enjoy indentifying.

4:16 p.m. on March 5, 2009 (EST)
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Well just an update. Trip went great, tent held up without any problem in 40mph winds with gusts up to 60mph. Stayed below tree line for most of the trip. Winds at tree line went up to 120mph. Fun:)

5:00 p.m. on March 5, 2009 (EST)
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Sounds like you had a great time!

That's exactly the reason I wanted to experience hurricane-force winds in my tent! Of course with the right tent that could hold up to the same!

4:20 p.m. on March 9, 2009 (EDT)
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I actully found out that some large name companies put their expidition tents in wind tunnels to check for stability. None will not release the results due to insurance issues. One tech said "Think of it as testinfg a parachute". I thought that was funny, just what I want on top of the mountain......

2:04 p.m. on March 10, 2009 (EDT)
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Expedition-grade tents should hold up to the strongest of winds, even hurricane force winds, in my opinion. Afterall that is exactly what I would expect from such a tent.

I never gave up on my dream of riding out such storms in my tent. One day I will have the priviledge of accomplishing the same...with the right tent of course.

2:46 p.m. on March 10, 2009 (EDT)
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I'll come visit you when you land.... Remember, if the tent land on the witch you can rule Oz.

3:37 p.m. on March 10, 2009 (EDT)
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I'll rule OZ with an iron-hand then!

LOL!

8:49 p.m. on March 10, 2009 (EDT)
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I just come back from a week of skiing and put-up my nemo moki in the middle of a lake (i love it!). i didn't have all the guy lines set-up but it took some 35mph gusts without moving more then an inch. not sure about very strong winds though, but i'll put more guy lines just to be sure!

5:28 p.m. on March 11, 2009 (EDT)
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Franc,

The Nemo Moki, is that the tent with the air polls, or what ever they are called? I've read about them, but never talked to anyone who has one.

10:44 a.m. on March 12, 2009 (EDT)
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it's a standard dome shape with 9mm and 10mm DAC featherlite poles (sorta like the VE25) BUT single wall with side doors (they're awesome!) ..It's a very nice tent but a bit overpriced if you ask me. Got it for 500$ CAN from a dude in Calgary.

11:44 a.m. on March 12, 2009 (EDT)
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I'm certain that our Hilleberg Staika would be among the last standing tents in just about any situation. Super duty lower pole sleeves for the three 10mm, equal length poles. Totally free standing but enough guylines to satisfy anyone and you can check out the very simple setup in my photo review of it here:

http://www.pbase.com/canyonlands/hilleberg

We used it for a month straight in Alaska in the summer of 07 as well as in the Alps in 06.

12:08 p.m. on March 12, 2009 (EDT)
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Miles2go,

I love the Hilleberg tents, but the price matches the quality. Most are around $700 -$800 US, but I have found you get what you pay for....

I am most interested in the Jannu due to the strength to weight ratio. Staika is about 2lbs more weight. What are the major differences? The web site seem to indicate that they are all good 4 season tents.

11:01 p.m. on March 12, 2009 (EDT)
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Hilleberg calls the Staika "supremely strong" and the Jannu only "tremendously strong", heh heh. When I bought the Staika there wasn't much to read about it at all but I thought it was worth a look because it was fully free standing. Had Hilleberg the Allak in their catalog at the time, I would have bought it and if so, would probably have decided to carry it on our next trip to Europe. The weight of the Staika doesn't bother me on a loaded bicycle but I figure that I'll draw the line on a two person tent for the backpack at 6 pounds, including stakes. The Allak is lighter in part because a couple of the dimesions are smaller than the Staika but largely because it is constructed using Hillebergs lightweight tent fabric and 9mm poles instead of the 10mm poles that the heavier tents utilize. At least half of Hillebergs tents are made with the lighter weight material but I've never heard the of a failure with this "light" construction. The Jannu also has the 9mm poles and light material.

11:39 p.m. on March 12, 2009 (EDT)
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Also, yes... these tents are expensive but the difference in build and function is obvious. And thus, you'll likely get over how much you paid.

11:41 a.m. on March 13, 2009 (EDT)
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Miles2go,

What is your opinion concerning Terra-Nova tents if I may ask?

11:43 a.m. on March 14, 2009 (EDT)
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Miles2go,

What is your opinion concerning Terra-Nova tents if I may ask?

I've never been able to see these in person. Even in all of my travels I've yet to come across one in use that I could inspect.
That said, what I remember of my tent research is this: Some Terra Novas are built in the UK but almost all of the lighter ones are not. This certainly must help bring the cost down but also they do not appear to be as refined as Hilleberg tents.
If I remember correctly they are mostly standard pitch where the inner tent body goes up first. I strongly prefer tents that can be separated but pitch and come down all in one fell swoop. In Alaska we made it into the Wonder Lake campground and had to be close to the danger zone after our five hour ride in cold rain with no shelter anywhere. Getting the tent setup was priority one. It was golden to have a structure that could be pitched in a downpour yet remain dry inside. About an hour later we watched three try to quickly erect a semi-freestanding (all but the vestibule) standard pitch tent and the thing was soaked long before they got the fly thrown over it. This is huge at the end of a hard day.

1:18 p.m. on March 16, 2009 (EDT)
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I like the Quasar and Hyperspace models due to the fact they are the closest in design to my former Diamond Brand Mountain Home two-person model. Now that was a great tent! Compare: http://www.terra-nova.co.uk/Brand/Terra_Nova/Tents/Heavy_Duty_Hyperspace_Green.html

http://outdoors.webshots.com/photo/2202999990055403717NlnGSG

However the Hyperspace is slightly more desirable due to the fact it is a three-person tent rather than a two-person model like the Quasar, which tends to be a little on the "smallish" side for my liking.

Plus I really do like the green rainflies these Terra-Nova tents sport. Pretty fitting for the outdoor enviroment in my opinion.

1:54 p.m. on March 16, 2009 (EDT)
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I have never looked at the Terra Nova line. Nice stuff. I like the Quasar, but the Superlite or even the Ultra may be a better option for me. With the 217cm (85") long and 136cm (53") wide, that is larger than most of the other models I have looked at. Plus two doors, and they are within that 5 to 6lbs range I have been looking for. Ministercreek, do you own any of the Terra Nova products?

2:51 p.m. on March 16, 2009 (EDT)
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I can't say I ever did.

Maybe if I save my money up I can get my dream tent afterall.

This know: if I do I'll be sure to post a review right here in trailspace.com.

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