Thursday, July 14, 2011

Tents, Tarps and Bivys... TENTS !

Talking, comparing and ultimately bragging about what gear you have and use is quite common with backpackers. The banter only increases when you are talking to people who work at a shop, it goes way overboard when two Ultra-lighter's converse. I'll never forget the time I was selling an extra water reservoir to some guy and we started to compare gear notes. All that we failed to do was whip it out and measure penis size. I came away with two very profound thoughts after that. One, I'm glad I backpack alone after meeting this guy...Two, gear is about personal preference. What works for you may not work for someone else.

This thought holds true most of all for sleeping quarters. What you acquire and how you choose to bed down for the outdoors is just as personal as buying a house or bed. So today I'm going to focus on Tents and then my next post will be Tarps and Bivys. Really the best option is up to you, but trust me I'm going to cover things below you may not even have thought of.


Here despite what you or your friends might say...Size matters! I have a friend who shall we say is quite large. So when we hit the shops to find her a tent... A hell of a lot of smirking and laughter went on. The phrase "Yea, that's not going to happen" was uttered more times than I can count. What is now considered a large 2person tent holds at best 1 adult and 1 small kid. Head room is also something to really consider. I always see a ton of people unhappy because they have to really get low or can't even sit up without their head touching the mesh.

When looking for a tent always know what it's going to take to setup. How much time and how complex its going to be. Now a days it could vary from just a pole, to a pole with sleeves or be nightmare with poles, sleeves, guy-lines you name it. The amount of time and your patients in setup should determine if you like it. backpacking / camping should be enjoyable and not time wasted on tent setups.

This may sound strange but get a routine going in how you enter and exit a tent. It helps when you are in the dark or have to go to the bathroom at night. So practice this before a purchase if you can. Knowing if your routine will work with this tent will become important.

Tents are much heavier than the two other options and can be freestanding (No Stakes) or not. More often though, even freestanding tents you are going to be putting in stakes. So I wouldn't let this be the deciding factor in your choice. Do however consider overall weight before you carry something be it 1mile from the car or 20 miles a day in the back country.

Shop around and then do it all over again... It took me over 3 months to settle on a Mountain Hardwear tent and I loved it. Though I have to say I'm a fan of the bivy now and sold it off. Though that was because my needs and wants changed not because I was un-happy with the product. Still, take your time with the decision and try the least expensive options first.

Overall its the size, price, ease of setup and overall weight that should determine how and what you buy. Again its all about personal choice and not a penis contest. Hope you enjoyed, Thanks for reading.

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