Tents and other gear are evolving!

7:06 p.m. on June 4, 2017 (EDT)
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Just got the spring edition of Inside Outdoor Magazine. There is an article about how tents are changing both from the user and manufacturer viewpoints, based on surveying tent and shelter shelter along the AT.

Much to my surprise, the favorite brand of tent in 2016 is from Big Agnes for 33.0%, The next 2 are tied at 12.3% each Z-Packs and Tarptent. Adding these 2 plus Six Moons, Lightheart, Hennessy, and Hyperlite, for 39.1%, gives the specialty crew as the largest group. REI (6.7%), MSR(4.5%), and Marmot(2.2%), pretty well covers the field.

The traditional Big Names are glaringly absent. In part, I suspect that this is because the Big Names cost a lot more. For lightness, I would have expected Hilleberg to be on the list - but their tents are pricey (I use my Suolo a lot on solo trips). OTOH, we do use our ZPacks a fair amount, as long as it is not in winter, high altitude, or mountains that have serious storms.

My household has about 10 tents in the garage (ummm, I mean storage room).

The article has a table of the primary shelter type use on the AT by long-distance hikers. Tents lead at 63%, "Tarptent hybrid" at 15%, Hammock 16%, tarp only at 3%, bivy 2%, and lean-to at 1%

The article also has charts on type of recreation campers choose by age. My age group ("Mature" by their standards, but insulting by my family standards) are relegated to scenic drives, sightseeing, and visiting historical sites. Somehow they have left out us backcountry skiers, rock climbers, mountaineers and other woodsy folk. Well, I gotta get back to packing for the annual trip to the Andes.

8:01 p.m. on June 4, 2017 (EDT)
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Very interesting Bill.. thanks for sharing the info. I think the big brands are not listening as well to what folks want...2 of my last 3 tents are from cottage manufacturers. Cost was not a factor for me as I am willing to pay a price for quality gear. I am just getting into the groove with my new Tarptent so you won't see a review at least until winter, but the quality can be seen straight off and it is one of the few that met my specific requirements for a trip across Scotland. Enjoy the Andes...what a great annual event! 

6:50 a.m. on June 5, 2017 (EDT)
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They been doing the statistics of gear for a while on the AT that I know of for the last 5 years on gear...I be more inclined to see about the PCT gear( tents) with the alitiude and conditions...

11:06 a.m. on June 5, 2017 (EDT)
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Speaking of tents and other gear evolving, I just happened to read an article on that topic from 1977.  The article described a number of revolutionary innovations that made 1977 an unusual year.  A big deal was a new breathable waterproof material called goretex.  They had a two person single wall tunnel tent made by Early Winters called the Light Dimension.  It could be made in a single wall and still breath because it was made of goretex, allowing it to be only 4 pounds, instead of 6 to 8 pounds for a standard 2 person tent.   

3:07 p.m. on June 5, 2017 (EDT)
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Sometimes you need a tent or at least a tarp. 

"The best roof is the sky."

Colin Fletcher

3:54 p.m. on June 5, 2017 (EDT)
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There are certain activities where heavier choices are warranted for sure but it's hard to argue with the modern light weight choices when the manufactures support them as they do now. My Big Agnes Fly Creek (circa 2011) is on it's second or third body and third rain fly. They keep replacing the components for free!

ppine,

It's rare we can get away with a cowboy camp around here (Smokies) without waking up wet but sure enough I did just that last Saturday night. A wind storm woke me up about 2:30AM then died down after an hour. The mountain wrens chirping woke me up about 5:30Am for good as the sky grew light. But falling asleep as I looked up at the stars was really nice.

10:22 p.m. on June 14, 2017 (EDT)
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I am a Tarptent fanboy, having owned four of them (currently Moment DW and Scarp 2).

I've modified 3 of the 4 Tarptents for wind and snow load. See Backpacking Light ands SEARCH and your "return
 key to find them.

Eric B.

2:29 a.m. on June 15, 2017 (EDT)
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Sometimes you need a tent or at least a tarp. 

"The best roof is the sky."

Colin Fletcher

 

Yea, till a 3am down pour of 4 inches or rain, or 4ft. of snow or you get golf ball sized hail............Just sayin

9:57 a.m. on June 19, 2017 (EDT)
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Tents have been evolving for hundreds of years. We used to get them made out of balloon silk and Egyptian cotton.  Some of the really good designs are long forgotten. Plenty of great companies like Holubar, Gerry and Alaska Sleeping Bag Co. have gone away. 

It is a very competitive market place. Many people like the latest and greatest.  I lean toward the traditional.

5:10 a.m. on June 20, 2017 (EDT)
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I have a Eureka Dacron cabin tent from the late 1980s.  The fabric behaved like the old school duck and canvas tents.  Love it for car camping.  But otherwise I wear most tents out before they get old.

But I can't say I miss the 8-12 pound mountain tents of yore.  Currently using a cuben fiber pyramid tarp.  Roomy for two.  A great solo tent!  This replaces my MRS Hubba 1P for 3 seasons, and an old BD 2P pyramid when in snow.  At less than 1 1/2 pounds, and the solid four season rating of this tarp, I am liking the lightened load.

Ed

8:50 a.m. on June 21, 2017 (EDT)
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^Careful Ed, you almost sound like an ultralighter! =)

6:54 p.m. on June 22, 2017 (EDT)
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JRinGeorgia said:

^Careful Ed, you almost sound like an ultralighter! =)

 I didn't know my squeaky air mattress was so loud!

Actually I don't have one of those squeaky mattresses.  I was with someone on a recent trip who had one.  Very light, but dang! It woke me every time he turned, and I was twenty yards away.

I have been lightening my load, but by no means will I ever be taken seriously as a ULer.  My tarp shelter may weigh in at only 1 1/2 pounds, but 30% of that is stakes and guy lines a ULers would eliminate.  I also like real cooked meals so my stoves and pots are not the tiny water boilers of the UL class.  I also don't like sleeping in more than long johns, so my sleeping bag is a higher duty rating than what ULers would pack.  Likewise my clothing layers address night time temps, whereas most ULers I hike with get chilled at sundown and are forced to retreat to their minimalist sleeping accommodations.  All in all I am more a comfort camper than ULer.

Ed 

 

10:28 p.m. on June 22, 2017 (EDT)
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I call that approach, similar in ways to mine, "comfortably light"...

2:17 p.m. on June 27, 2017 (EDT)
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I am a tarp tent fangirl, and by that I do not mean the company, "Tarptent", I mean the 100+ year old "tarp tent", which is a tarp set up in the form of a fully-enclosable tent. I stopped using tents a long time ago. My last was a Sierra Designs Astro CD, a lovely 3-sea/2-per/4-pole tent with a huge vestibule that fully packed with dedicated footprint weighed a good 7 pounds and cost something like $400. I lent it to my brother and never got it back, as he left it in an apartment that he abandoned.

Now, I carry two sub $10, sub 1 lb, 9x12 lightweight generic woven poly tarps and a hammock. If the weather is nice, I use one tarp over my hammock. If the weather turns sour, I use one tarp as a tarp tent and one tarp as a ground sheet.

Yes, it can be a bit buggy. But, in my experience, you need bug spray whether or not you have netting. When setting the tarp up as a tent, if the weather isn't too awful, I will leave a couple inches space at the base for ventilation, and leave the doors open.

7:50 p.m. on June 27, 2017 (EDT)
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Gemma Seymour said:

"..Now, I carry two sub $10, sub 1 lb, 9x12 lightweight generic woven poly tarps..."

 

Perhaps a 2 or 3 mil painter's tarp is that light, but where does one find generic 9X12 woven poly tarps that weigh less than a pound!  (We are talking about those blue tarps with grommets, aren't we?)

Ed

12:51 p.m. on June 28, 2017 (EDT)
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I like my new-found Borah tarp. If the weather gets nasty I turn to a Megalight or my Akto. If bugs are out when I'm tarping I add an Oware bivy. I find with careful site selection I can use just the tarp for most rain situations, at 9x5.5 feet.

4:47 p.m. on June 28, 2017 (EDT)
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As for a pad I bring a combination of a Klymit X-lite short, a TAR Neoair Xlite, a 3/16"full-length closed-cell, and a 3/8" full-length closed-cell. I also use a Klymit Kush under my head.

7:39 a.m. on June 29, 2017 (EDT)
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Now that we have plenty of light new tents, many people are de-evolving and using a flat tarp. 

12:25 p.m. on June 30, 2017 (EDT)
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(deleted)

12:26 p.m. on June 30, 2017 (EDT)
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whomeworry said:

Gemma Seymour said:

"..Now, I carry two sub $10, sub 1 lb, 9x12 lightweight generic woven poly tarps..."

 

Perhaps a 2 or 3 mil painter's tarp is that light, but where does one find generic 9X12 woven poly tarps that weigh less than a pound!  (We are talking about those blue tarps with grommets, aren't we?)

Ed

You have to look hard for them, unfortunately. I have three that were sold at my local REI some years ago, the lightest weight I have ever seen for woven poly tarps, and after they were discontinued, I searched high and low for additional stock without success. They are also a pleasant light green color that looks much nicer in the woods than those awful blue things.

If/when these die, I will be forced to carry heavier tarps.

December 7, 2019
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