Winter advice: Set up camp before the storm peaks

4:31 p.m. on December 31, 2016 (EST)
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Much like a bear-proof tent is the key to restful sleep when three season camping, a snow-wind-tree-proof tent is the key to sleeping in the winter months. No matter the time of year it is always nice to be safe inside when monsters are growling out there!

6:08 p.m. on December 31, 2016 (EST)
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Nice vid.  I cherish my Hilleberg tent(s) for the very reasons you describe and show.  Hell snaps and howling hyenas and sphincter-puckering maelstroms---there's no end to what fun Miss Nature has with me when I decide to sleep with her.

6:11 a.m. on January 1, 2017 (EST)
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To a new year be backpacking in winter this year compared to the last 6 years..Haven't been since my teens but look forward to it...Nice Video...

1:18 p.m. on January 2, 2017 (EST)
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flapping and noise in high wind makes me feel like I'm home.  standard fare in the winter in the Northeast.  never gets like that in the mid-atlantic, unless you choose to tent in a hurricane.  

6:33 p.m. on January 2, 2017 (EST)
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I agree in theory Andrew, but there are some spots in the mid Atlantic and southeast that get sustained high winds and take full staking and guy wires to avoid tent kites.  Just a more selective locations at cetain elevations and landforms...nothing across the entire landscape.

10:14 p.m. on January 3, 2017 (EST)
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I think asking for a tent to be bear proof is asking a lot.

Winter wise..
North Face V series domes were a good choice back in the 80s - 90s.  A-frames prior to that conquered the highest of places. 

Today it seems we have several prevailing tent designs preferred by experienced winter hikers who require:

  • shelters that can withstand snow accumulation
  • and high winds,
  • yet be light enough to carry or drag on a polk.  

I think two designs stand out in these regards: tunnel tents and pyramid tarps.  Tipi uses a tunnel tent.  I am currently trying a cuben fiber 2p pyramid tarp.  It is huge, yet weighs about 2 1/2 pounds, including 8 stakes and 90' tie down cordage.  Like Tipi, I too loathe claustrophobic small tents.  Some hybrid dome designs are pretty good too, but there tends to be a significant trade off between snow load performance and head room in this category, this coming from an admitted claustrophobic. 


6:53 a.m. on January 4, 2017 (EST)
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Ed, as I've explained before, the "bear-proof tent" is a state of mind, not a literal object. The same goes for "tree-proof tents". No tent is going to keep out a motivated bear or a falling tree. The key is to create a restful sleeping environment in conditions where things aren't naturally restful. You start by doing what you have control over to ensure safe slumber in a potentially unsafe place and then doze off contentedly.

In this case I had enough faith to sleep pretty well, though my hips don't enjoy being stuck in a tent for that many hours. The roaring wind and the occasional direct hit to the tent with a big snow bomb were things to be enjoyed rather than feared. To me that is what bringing good gear is all about. It gives you confidence to enjoy the stuff that might otherwise scare the pants off of you :)

January 27, 2020
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