Tarp or tent for a ski trip?

10:12 a.m. on September 12, 2009 (EDT)
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Winter is almost here, and i need your expert advice!

We're planning a 30 days ski trip in the Rockies next spring, and i'm debating if we should bring a solid winter tent (Nemo Moki modified) or a pyramid shelter (MH Kiva). The weight difference is significant but the space is about the same for a 3 person team and the camping will be almost exclusively on glacier or snow covered forest.

I love tarping in all weather, but is a pyramid tarp really enough for a full month? Is it as strong as a tent in high wind? Would we be warmer in the tent if the temps drop?

Please help!

11:23 a.m. on September 15, 2009 (EDT)
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I don't know anything about either shelter, just a few notes.

My tarping experience is that a tent is warmer, espeically a double walled tent.

In a forest you are not likely to suffer damage from a storm, a glacier may be trickier.

On my NOLS trip on Rainier two domes were shredded during the BIG STORM while a pyramid tarp shelter stayed standing.

One benefit to the tarp is the ability to dig down and place the tarp over the pit such that you have room to stand, plus the snow walls will provide some insulation.

12:08 p.m. on September 15, 2009 (EDT)
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Here's a good video of the Kiva in a storm. I'm not sure my Nemo would have survived as easily as the EV2, but it's a much bigger/more comfortable tent.

The pyramid seems very strong and weights half as much!

5:29 p.m. on September 15, 2009 (EDT)
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I'm interested in the Kiva also. Has anyone out there slept in one? The walls seem steep when I modeled it up in 3D and look like they cut down on usuable space?

12:25 a.m. on September 18, 2009 (EDT)
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i love my kiva but haven't used it for winter camping yet. i am thinking an extra section or two of pole would be helpful if you plan to dig a pit to stand in.

i would question if you can get enough ventilation with 3 people sleeping underneath the single wall coated kiva. i guess if you dug down you could leave the door part way open.

a free standing tent is sure nice to set up if the ground is frozen. if you are going to have to weather any heavy storms you would still need to stake it out. the kiva would have to be staked out every night.

i don't think there would be too much of a problem with a well staked kiva surving the storm. if you dig out you even have material for a storm wall.

a 30 day ski trip i am envious. are you planning on useing down or synthetic sleeping bags?

best of luck

1:26 p.m. on September 18, 2009 (EDT)
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Thanks for the info on the Kiva!

I almost always use down, specially in the Rockies where it's mostly dry and cold. I've never had a problem with progressive ice-ups as long as i air my bag in the morning in the shade.

For the east coast where it gets very wet and humid with big temp differences i use a VBL and a waterproof bivy with a lighter down bag. The weight is a bit lower than a warm synthetic bag and i feel i have more flexibility and less bulk.

The VBL is a good option for long trips and to use as an emergency bivy so i now take one all the time (4oz sil-nylon).

9:11 p.m. on September 19, 2009 (EDT)
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do you already have a kiva? you know they did make them out of sil-nylon for a few years, kiva lite. i noticed you seem to like that stuff. don't know if they were quite the same size.


you are right you do loose a fair amount of space to sloping side walls. when you dig out in the snow though you gain it all back. intended winter use is what originally sold me on the kiva, though i have used it way more in the summer.

9:16 a.m. on September 20, 2009 (EDT)
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I beleive the Kiva light is a bit smaller than the original and doesn't have snow flaps. I'm trying to get a sponsorship form a store in Montreal that stocks Mountain Hardwear so i can get the original for cheaper. I'll write a full review if i can get my hands on it!

9:50 a.m. on September 24, 2009 (EDT)
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Not to throw something new out there, but I have done a few trips with tarp tents in the winter. The best tarp tent I have used to date has been the Mountain Laurel Design Supermid. I have had four people in it during a winter storm on Mt. Washington with winds up to 75mph. It worked great!

Would not use above tree line, but for the weight it was perfect below tree line. At 24oz with seam sealing, it is hard to beat. Compare that to the Kiva at 4lbs 11oz. It does seem to good to be true, so check out their site. http://www.mountainlaureldesigns.com/shop/product_info.php?products_id=123&osCsid=d2519889dc8c68f51e7ba981f4972e03

10:33 a.m. on September 24, 2009 (EDT)
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Sounds like a great adventure.30 days with no work,dogs or family responseabilitys.As for the tent or tarp thing i think the pyramid is a fine idea.Weight is a very big factor with winter camping and the system you are thinking about works great.It is a bit more work to set up,the digging of a pit and all,but once set up is great.I would just have it ready for any worst case situation as far as wind and the like.Keep us posted on what you decide and the trip.

9:53 a.m. on October 2, 2009 (EDT)
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If it were me, I'd carry a tent. Tarps are great for a day or two (or three), but in the time span of a month you are going to get some nasty weather and a tent will offer much more comfort.

9:37 a.m. on October 6, 2009 (EDT)
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On a 30 day period you will probably see many different weather conditions. A tent is more versitile and typically (depending on tent type) can be set up faster. Less need for a pit, plus a tent typically can take more snow load.

7:07 p.m. on October 11, 2009 (EDT)
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My partner just bought a used Kiva (thanks Dan!). We'll be putting it up against my Nemo Moki all winter and pick the winner. I'll keep you posted!

April 24, 2018
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