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dumb question about backyard testing

Hey guys,

I'd like to test my tent/pad/sleeping bag temp rating in my backyard. tonight or tomorrow will probably ideal, temperature wise.  It would be most convenient for me just to pitch my tent on my deck.

My question is, if i have a raised deck, am i going to have a lot colder air circulating under me and I won't get a very accurate idea of my own comfort at a specific temp because of it?

You are correct sir. It would be a far more accurate test to pitch on solid earth.

Yeah, if you are interested in getting the best and most accurate evaluation, set up on the ground. 

What could it hurt?  If you stay warm on the deck you're sure to stay warm on the trip.

remember bridges freeze before roadways. So if you are warm on the deck you will be warm on the deck

Think of a Stevenson Screen, the white, louvred boxes used by meteorologists to contain their weather instruments. They are raise 121 cm above the ground.


This is to prevent contact with the earth's surface which absorbes incoming solar radiation (sunlight) and reflects infrared radiation (heat). Generally speaking, the ambient air temperature will differ slightly from the surface of the ground depending on, among other things, the colour of the soil. The darker the soil, the more heat will be reflected. This is why bridges freeze before roadways; they are not in contact with the ground.

However, sleeping directly on the ground can still cause cooling due to conductive heat loss, not to mention a hard sleep. Your sleeping pad should eliminate that problem.

Other factors to consider; how high is your deck, how exposed is it to the sun and how much heat will be reflected by your house. If your deck has been in the sun all day, it will radiate heat for several hours after sunset. Remember too that during the night, cool air falls close to the ground. By raising up your sleeping area, you may be in a warmer air mass.

Either way, the difference in temperature between the raised deck and the ground will probably be minimal; if you are cold sleeping on the deck, chances are you need a better sleeping bag, or wait for warmer weather.

seraphicD(is it Timothy?),

I love that you are testing at all. Good on ya


Dang North1 Are you like a genius scientist or what?  It didn't even occur to me to take all that in consideration.... Hm lets see

Deck is raised 12 ft off the ground on one side, it is on the west side of the house, it may get a little sin but there is a hilll and some trees behind me that block that stuff pretty well. I think the snow stays on the deck longer than the grass that is for sure, so, I guess my scientist mind would then conclude it will be slightly colder, which isn't a bad thing I guess. I think just testing things out and taking it with a grain of salt is probably my approach. I probably can't get too scientific about it.

Thanks everyone

exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat)

If you are sinning on the deck, just make sure it is consensual. You can deal with the Higher Power later if you don't marry her.

make sure to get pictures. We are the inquisitive type ;-)

Lodge Pole said:

exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat)

If you are sinning on the deck, just make sure it is consensual. You can deal with the Higher Power later if you don't marry her.

make sure to get pictures. We are the inquisitive type ;-)

 sin boldly and ask forgiveness later right LP? :)

*Shakes head while laughing* 

While I really do appreciate the humor, just a slight reminder to be sure to keep things PG and in line with the Trailspace Family Friendly goal. 

This has been your friendly neighborhood Moderator Public Service Announcement of the Day.


gonzan, this is what happens when you allow old geezers on here with CRS, bad hearing, poor vision, and i swear i saw him say 'sin'...

Well since i have been properly chastised, I had my Angel read it, and she says serapicD made a typo and it was supposed to be sun, The Sun ,  who knew?

Does this mean a 'Trailspace Sticker is finally going to be placed somewhere very interesting after all?

(inquiring minds need to know)     ;-)

In mild temperatures it won't make any difference on a pad.

I just read an interesting discussion by Cliff Jacobsen, noted canoeing author.  He described his process for testing new equipment.  He would only bring a new type of equipment on a long expeditionary canoe trip like the Barren Lands "after he has tested it for 2 field seasons."

The only real problem with testing on your deck is this.

If your cold, you wont know what to adjust specifically to fix it for when your on a real trip. Were you cold because of the airflow under you? Over you? Was your pad not thick enough? Was your bag not warm enough? Too many variables to easily narrow it down without alot of testing

If your warm all is well in the world.

Best course of action would be to test on the ground if you can. That way if your butt is cold you know you need a little more pad under youand not becasue air was flowing under you. Make sense?

I am still testing a tent too. Its in my profile. There is no sun here today, as it is sleeting and has been since before o dark thirty I have digital temp as 31 degrees F just right for a nice ice storm, and the tree limbs are sagging now.

There is a snow/ice base under the tent still and the surrounding is melting away. The tent is insulating the snow and each day i have to re-set the stakes.

I know there is a slight leak as water pools at the ft rt side pole entering, and so the plan is to see if i can discover that leak(s)? and do something about it.

I will bring a few backpacking mags and jerky and just hang there a while.

No shop work and i can't cut trees in this mess.

I like the fact we test close to home... That's cheaper than getting rescued.

Knowing your gear limits is the very best thing to know. This winter i tested a 3 seasons tent too, and it did ok until we got 3 inches of heavy wet snow in about 20 minutes time. I saved it, but i had to act. The 4 season tent i am testing still just didn't care.

Test failed. To cold for a leak. It was interesting looking at water move on the other side of the fabric which had a skim coat of ice.

Touching the material felt icky and cold but I was dry... There is piping on the inside of the seams and i think that may be wicking. This is pre taped seams and the seams are not flat either.

For all I know it might be just puddling from condensation. The floor is purple, and draws endothermic heat :D

Where the tent rests on the ice/snow it now sits the floor about 6 inches higher than when i moved it from the last time it did this.

The edges where the poles are are sunken down and level with the rest of the snow pack. If i want to sleep in it again I need to move it again. No big deal to do that it is self standing.

Makes head room low......

Hoping for a last hum dinger snow storm 2.5 feet or something stupid like that, so I can test it with a dug well in the ft vestibule.


Testing at home is a very smart move, I would test on the ground myself, but it certainly wouldn't hurt to test on the deck too, heck you may even learn something you (we) hadn't thought of.

BTW, there are no dumb questions, just people too dumb to seek answers :)

Of course none of them are on Trailspace.

Mike G.

test it on the ground. closer to camp conditions.

October 30, 2020
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