The ultimate bomber tent... What would you choose?

10:44 a.m. on August 29, 2012 (EDT)
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Yep, you read it right. I opened that can o'worms. 

In light of a convo Ed and I had on another thread I got to thinking. If I was going into the worst cold weather on the planet(wind, rain, sleet, snow, blah, blah, blah) and I had one tent to choose, price be damned, what tent would I choose?

I have seen so many answers on this subject, some of which even said an A-frame is the best option....


This question isn't so much based on occupancy ratings. 

I am solely basing my question on durability, user friendliness, weather resistance, and most of all it's ability to shed high wind. 

Heck you can even pick 2 if ya want(such as a tent for on the move and one for extended stay.)

I thought this could make for an interesting conversation and maybe we can finally put the question to rest "what is the ultimate harsh weather tent?"

So Trailspace if you had the choose one tent, for the worst weather on the planet, what would it be and why?

2:30 p.m. on August 29, 2012 (EDT)
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Here is what I spent a week sitting out a storm that featured pretty continuously 40-50 knot winds, with the occasional gust to the 60+ range (measured with my Kestrel):


The cook tent in the background is a Posh Tent, made by a company in Anchorage. My tent partner and I were in the tent in the front, from Mountain Hardwear.

And here is a photo of our North Face VE25s on Denali, in which we spent about a week sitting out a storm that the rangers recorded as having 70+ knot gusts. And with another Posh Tent in the background.


And inside the Posh Tent -


Couple things to note -

1. our sleeping tents were geodesic domes, with lots of guy lines

2. The cook tent is basically a pyramid/tarp tent (with vents front and back), guyed and with snow piled up on the snow flaps, plus the eating/cooking/seating area is dug into the snow, so the tent is basically just a roof.

3. Wind walls are used extensively and repaired on a daily basis during hard blows.

A fundamental point -  there are plenty of tents and tent designs that work well to meet Rick's criteria:

durability, user friendliness, weather resistance, and most of all it's ability to shed high wind.

Geodesics (Mountain Hardwear Trango, TNF VE25), tunnels (Hilleberg), and pyramids (the old standby Logan) all work well, provided you guy them properly, use the snow flaps in appropriate conditions, and build windwalls. There are circumstances in which you go for a snow cave. And there are circumstances where a tent doesn't cut it (remember a certain banned member who wanted to ride out a hurricane, including the storm surge and flying debris in a tent?) Tents do not do well in avalanches, under collapsing seracs, rock fall, and hidden crevasses that open up under the tent (saw that happen once).

2:45 p.m. on August 29, 2012 (EDT)
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Just to clarify: In the first picture above, I see one windwall; are the two tents in line with the wall and Posh because that is the prevailing wind direction?

4:07 p.m. on August 29, 2012 (EDT)
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    My picks are anyone of the following that I own and yes each has to be properly guyed out / dug in. SD Tiros, SD Expedition dome, Marmot Taku ( I have a pic of it on some thread out there), TNF Expedition 25, and lastly TNF Westwind. Also back when it was new my Jansport Mountain dome . However, the floor has since delaminated so I wouldn't use it today in such harsh conditions.

5:22 p.m. on August 29, 2012 (EDT)
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Obviously a Mid.

6:03 p.m. on August 29, 2012 (EDT)
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Patman said:



Just to clarify: In the first picture above, I see one windwall; are the two tents in line with the wall and Posh because that is the prevailing wind direction?

 Correct. The prevailing wind, due to the terrain, was from the east, funneled by the saddle between Vinson and Shinn, called Gudge Pass IIRC. Here is a photo of Shinn taken from my tent, looking north. As you can see, we were somewhat protected also by being in a small depression with a hill to the west, but only a small rise to the east.


7:00 p.m. on August 29, 2012 (EDT)
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I would have to say TNF or Mountain Hardwear geodesic domes because these types are proven designs in big mountain, big weather conditions.

7:07 p.m. on August 29, 2012 (EDT)
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I think the best bad weather shelter is MY HOUSE. I would never go out in that kind of crap! Im even a fairweather snowcamper. on san jacinto we are lucky if we get more than 4 or 5 feet of snow in the winter- the ultimate in wimp snowcamping!

9:36 p.m. on August 29, 2012 (EDT)
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Well, I'd have to say a Moss Big Dipper. Lots of poles and lots of intersections to those poles = crazy stable and beautiful to look at for long periods of time while waiting out insane weather. Lots of room, too. I'd probably upgrade to a little stiffer, little larger diameter pole for even more assurance...

And OGBO, l really appreciate that you remember he whom shall not be named...

6:57 p.m. on August 30, 2012 (EDT)
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If we're talking extended stay, a traditional Mongolian Yurt hands down. If needing to move around a Llama or Yak might be a good idea, but with a portable stove using yak patties as fuel, you have a shelter that is hard to top. Ya  it may qualify as a semi-rigid cabin, but with a cloth outer, tent this may be called if stretching the generic definition to the max.

7:38 p.m. on August 30, 2012 (EDT)
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The 4 Season Tent Quandary---what's the best four season tent that one person can carry for solo trips?  Few can address this question.  Why?  Cuz most of the tents offered are HEAVY.

** Mt Hardwear Trango 2---9 lbs 13 oz

**  NF VE25---11 lbs 12 oz.

**  Sierra Designs Tiros---10 lbs 1 oz

**  Marmot Taku---10 lbs 5 oz

**  NF Mountain 25---9 lbs 9 oz.

**  Hilleberg Staika---8 lbs 3 oz

**  Hilleberg Keron---8 lbs 10oz

This is the four season bugaboo.  In the old days 1970's) a person could buy a regular NF tent like the Toulumne or the Westwind and be assured it's four season automatically and fairly light---7 lbs max.

Now?  Most four season tents are way too heavy if you disregard the "coffin" tents like the Hilleberg Akto or the Integral Designs MK3 (designed for cold mountaineering anyway and NOT rain).

A backpacker needs a decent four season tent he can carry on solo trips without becoming like the Mountain 25---too dang heavy.  Good luck.

10:06 p.m. on August 30, 2012 (EDT)
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      Hold on now...just weighed My Tiros... a Tiros I with footprint and all stakes and lines, it came in at 9.0 Taku  with plastic groundcloth, stakes and lines and a modified 4th pole came in at 5.5 lbs. But yes...a broad question with broad answers. Guess there are no real answers. That Yurt that  Flembacca  mentioned sounded damn comfortable too! Who knows! But tell me... do you miss your Westwind? That is the next question...What tent do you think a manufacturer should have never discontinued?

11:48 p.m. on August 30, 2012 (EDT)
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I think I got the Marmot Taku mixed up with another tent. I got the packed weight Tiros 2 info here: (Obviously, the Trail Weight number is a mistake)---Not sure of the Tiros 1 specs.  Know the sq footage of the Tiros 1??

1:17 a.m. on August 31, 2012 (EDT)
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Sq footage of the Tiros I is 38 maybe 40 sq ft max. Vestible is not real big...7 to 10 sq ft. Does not have that 5th pole as the later models did. Also had the gold colored poles. The purple poles were just a bit stronger and heavier. Pretty sure they came in the later models. Also this tent was pre "jake Corners". So let just say this is first generation Tiros.

2:40 a.m. on August 31, 2012 (EDT)
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No idea. I spent a couple of nights in Jim Shaw's Mountain 25. It seemed pretty sturdy. I have an old EMS Pampero, a five pole design similar to the Mountain 25, it seems pretty sturdy as well.

Personally I prefer a mountain hut, but you don't really see them here; stayed in them in NZ-nothing like plenty of room, a stove  (sometimes), bunks and lots of wood between you and the weather.

I've never seen one in person but the Scott tents they use in Antarctica seem pretty sturdy as well. Bill probably saw some when he was there. I think they weigh 75 pounds, so not exactly a backpacking tent.

"And OGBO, l really appreciate that you remember he whom shall not be named..." HA! I remember that guy-wanted to ride out a hurricane in Mississippi or something ridiculous like that. Maybe he got his wish. That might have been pre-Katrina, can't remember, but there have been some big storms since then.

8:13 a.m. on August 31, 2012 (EDT)
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i have been happiest, in the worst weather, inside sturdily-built shelters or huts. not an option for most places, but the best bad-weather sleeping and cooking i have done.  i wish the AMC would keep the madison and lake of the clouds huts open all winter.  

Mt. Hardwear Trango would be my choice based on past experience.  i would be interested in trying out the Hilleberg Tarra or Jannu.  

9:00 a.m. on August 31, 2012 (EDT)
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Definitely not a fan of huts or shelters.  I go into the woods to get away from human buildings.  Plus, most shelters require a road or ATV track to haul in supplies and wood and building materials---not my idea of the backcountry.  I'll carry my Hilleberg instead.

10:18 a.m. on August 31, 2012 (EDT)
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i think we are talking about different kinds of shelters and conditions, Walter.

most of my long trips are in the winter in the northeast, so it's pretty unusual to see many people no matter what the sleeping situation is.  the people i have met are all pretty hard core, pretty much necessary given the winters in the northeast and upstate new york.  the structures i'm thinking about, maintained by the AMC and the Randolph Mountaineering Club in the white mountains, are decidedly not accessible by road or ATV - they are near, at, or above treeline.  they are all unheated with one exception (wood stove for bitter cold, controlled by a year-round caretaker at one of the RMC cabins).  AMC leaves some huts open but unsupplied in the winter.  RMC's cabins, lean-tos and tent platforms are merely places to sleep and cook, no supplies to speak of.

I stay away from these structures in the summer when i'm fortunate enough to get up there because they get crowded.  while i prefer tenting in the winter, i'm not above resorting to a hut or cabin in bad weather.  up there, in the words of the brilliant Dave Edmunds, Bad is Bad. 


10:26 a.m. on August 31, 2012 (EDT)
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I don't do a lot of winter trips, but when I do, I bring my trusty Eureka Mountain Pass 1XT. Granted, I'm not using it for mountaineering, but for a few nights in NY state in non blizzard works great.

Speaking of Eureka, I have seen a lot of Eureka Alpinelite 2XT tents in the backcountry winters. I never heard/read anything bad about them. Maybe they are popular because they are one of the most affordable 4 season tents. I really like the design of them.

Whenever I watch something on TV about mountaineering, most of the tents that I see them using are The North Face tents - mostly Mountain 25's. I don't know if they are used because they are one of the best for the situation, or maybe sponsorship from TNF. Who knows, but they sure look like trust worthy tents and I doubt they would be used if they weren't.

10:49 a.m. on August 31, 2012 (EDT)
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A couple of comments first, anyone in a tent where the headwall hits in a major hurricane is dead. I grew up in nc, on a island for twenty yrs. I still have the highest level of disaster reentry permit issued. Then a yurt is bombproof, they have one at a local ski hill and with a little stove it is almost unbearable. There is one they had set up on the ice in nome alaska ice gold mining in it. Now to my tent of choice. I dont have the thousand dollar tents named above, I use and love an old sierra designs omega cd. I use it all year, ive camped in the summer on a primitive island off the nc coast, then ive had 40 inches of snow fall on it with 50 mph winds. Thats a temp range of 95 or so to 18 below. Ive had it ten yrs and never had a failure of any kind. I had a one inch tear at the bottom edge of the fly that I repaired on my moms sewing machine about five yrs ago and havent had another problem of any kind. I dont go to the extremes a lot of these guys do but this tent has treated me extremely well. Did the banned member have double initials?

11:22 a.m. on August 31, 2012 (EDT)
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As far as 3 season tents go, I've been very happy with my Golite Eden 1 tent. Been through some heavy rain/wind with this tent and it is very solid (with all guy outs).


11:43 a.m. on August 31, 2012 (EDT)
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This has been a really great read, love the photo as well. 

OGBO, the photo you posted of the tent looking toward Shinn(North.) What type of tent is that? I have a hunch but not sure(looks like a Saitaris.) I know the MH tents are Trangos. 

"He who shall not be named"... Yeah, I remember that thread(shakes head.)

Family Guy, any mid in particular. The full Dyneema Tipis here have been on my radar. Pricey but look bomber.

leadbelly, I personally never use shelters with the exception that I run into a gear failure(tent) which has happened. 

...Keep it coming everyone. I love threads like this. Interesting convo that I can take a great deal from, & awesome photos. 


2:42 p.m. on October 14, 2012 (EDT)
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Tipi Walter:  The old marmot taku weighed in at about 5 lbs.  I have no idea where you got that weight you listed.  If you can find one that isnt mangled, its a good tent for moderate 4 season conditions.  I've been up Denali a handful of times,  and I'd say that the Marmot Thor is a good choice in modern tents for bigger conditions. But frankly, folks, here's the best choice for when it really gets mackin on a big mountain: the time honored snowcave.  Because you hafta carry an avy shovel with you on those sorts of trips anyway, the shelter weighs exactly nothing more than the fuel it takes to make yourself a mug of hot fluids after you've finished digging.  And there is no tent ever made that will stand up to 80 mph winds for more than a day or 2.  I've seen plenty of shredded "4 season" tents on big mountains.  Including most of the names mentioned in this thread. 

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