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Random Bits from the Outside World => General Outdoor Stuff & Camping Equipment => Topic started by: leigh on February 27, 2010, 07:49:17 AM

Title: Is a tent a false sense of security? Tents vs tarps vs hammocks
Post by: leigh on February 27, 2010, 07:49:17 AM
My reason for preferring a tent over a hammock is that I am looking for one item to do it all....I hike a lot of areas that don't have trees, ie desert, or gravel/sandbars.
Between a tarp and a tent, I feel more of a sense of security in a tent. I have a tarp, but usually use it as an extra for shade, rain, when I want to be out of the tent. I am currently looking at a tent that weighs 2.2lbs. (Big Agnes FlyCreek 2) a free-standing, double-walled tent...I also like free standing for the same reasons as above. While I know plenty of folks that use a tarp to get their weight down, I just am not sure I like the idea of bugs and animals having direct contact with me...I have had raccoons get so close to my tent at night I've had to repeatedly bang on the tent wall to scare them away. Well, this has only happened on the Buffalo once, but I was glad to have something between he and I. Also once, on a Current River trip I awoke (I'm a VERY light sleeper) to the sound of breathing outside my tent, and while we laughed about the next morning, we then discovered bobcat prints at the waters edge and around tents. Am I overreacting? Am I really any safer in a tent? I'm new to backpacking and have many questions; ie, pick the brains of the professionals, to keep from wasting $$. I just read Jeff Blaylock's gear report for Yosemite, and wow what great info!!!(Haven't yet tackled the TR)  I've gone back into this section and read lots.
I welcome your comments,
thanks,
leigh
Title: Re: Is a tent a false sense of security? Tents vs tarps vs hammocks
Post by: stingrey on February 27, 2010, 08:22:09 AM
I think it depends on the season and the location and what you are wanting to "secure" yourself from... A tent will keep out the critters of the insect kind as long as it is designed to do so. Sometimes the bugs are bad and sometimes they aren't. I've slept on a cot under the stars in the basin falling asleep to bats flying overhead and waking up to owls passing overhead the next morning and I didn't get stung or bitten by anything at all, but I was off of the ground.

If you go during summertime, there are snakes out there. A bobcat isn't going to eat you... A bear may be curious if you don't keep a clean campsite... And a lion may test your limits of sanity... But for the most part, I don't think those are the big threats in the park at night on a spring or summer night. It is the bugs and little critters like scorpions and snakes. Tarps don't keep those out. Though there are many who have camped by tarp alone, I've seen enough night time activity during my trips to feel like a tent is the ONLY way to go if you aren't going to be sleeping off of the ground somehow.

Just my opinion. Oh, and fwiw, the extra weight of a tent depends on your comfort level. Like sleeping with a tarp covering you? Take that. Like the idea of not having all the flying bugs and crawling critters next to you when you wake up in the middle of the night? Take the tent. I am a Big Agnes advocate. I've got their bivvy all the way up to the Big House 4 and a good deal of the in between items... MY favorite combo is the SL3 without the fly (weather permitting). Then you can have the mostly mesh screen over you so you can just wake up and look outside no matter which way you are facing. Shooting stars, animals, sunrises, but the buzzing morning critters are still outside the mesh.

Almost forgot... Unless you know for a fact that it is a raccoon walking around outside the tent, I'd be scared to hit the tent wall. What if it was a skunk you were about to startle away? I guess that's why I like the SL3 without the fly... I can always just look outside and see what it is that is walking around. :)
Title: Re: Is a tent a false sense of security? Tents vs tarps vs hammocks
Post by: MacEntyre on February 27, 2010, 08:59:39 AM
I use a hammock unless it is impossible. Then I will sleep on the ground, with or without a tarp.  :icon_frown:

Regarding critters... the incidents you describe, where animals are cruising through your site at night, is usually associated with established camp sites. The animals know that they can find stuff at those sites, so they check them out at night. You are just part of the site, and they are used to finding people in tents there. If you can select a site that isn't regularly used, you won't have those encounters. Of course, park rules require you to use established camp sites... but a hammock leaves no trace.  :eusa_shhh:

You could sleep in a hammock and set up a decoy tent.  :icon_biggrin:
Title: Re: Is a tent a false sense of security? Tents vs tarps vs hammocks
Post by: RichardM on February 27, 2010, 12:05:52 PM
Of course, park rules require you to use established camp sites... but a hammock leaves no trace.  :eusa_shhh:

You could sleep in a hammock and set up a decoy tent.  :icon_biggrin:
Kind of off-topic, but I'm reminded of a Boy Scout campout at Pedernales Falls S. P. where our entire troop of about 15 were all dispersed in the trees on a hillside below the official site in our hammocks while the scoutmaster had the lone tent set up at the site. Come to think of it, when our troop wasn't hiking in, I'd often set up a tent for gear, etc. I guess that counts as a decoy. :icon_cool:

Tarp versus tent ultimately comes down to a personal choice (just like most gear). If you'll lose sleep dealing with the bugs and small critters, then that extra pound saved really isn't worth it. As a test, try setting up just the fly sometime and see how well you like it.
Title: Re: Is a tent a false sense of security? Tents vs tarps vs hammocks
Post by: Robert on February 27, 2010, 12:46:19 PM
The reality is that is pretty rare for someone to have a run in with snake or scorpion while sleeping in the open. Mosquitos are a real problem so need to be addressed. The skunks that come around established campsites are acclimated to people and are not something to be worried about. You can easily shoo them away.

One of the reasons I don't like tents is that I can't see where any strange noises are coming from. My imagination conjures up something much bigger than the reality so I'd rather be able to see what it is and go back to sleep with little effort and worry. I'd be upset if I missed a chance to see a bobcat!

It still boils down to personal preference and if sleeping in a tent helps you to have a sound sleep then don't let someone talk you out of it. As Stingrey mentioned it may depend on the time of year and location and you may want to experiment with conditions that favor a tarp first.

Are you safer in a tent? Maybe to some degree but feeling "safe" is a perception that is particular to you.
Title: Re: Is a tent a false sense of security? Tents vs tarps vs hammocks
Post by: jeffblaylock on February 27, 2010, 03:11:23 PM
Richard has hit it on the head. Tarp vs tent vs hammock vs bivy vs nothing is not really a weight question. It's a how you sleep best in the outdoors question. Shaved weight isn't worth it if it results in misery on the trail or in camp.

As for sense of security, generations of humans spent many nights of their lives (if not all of them) sleeping in the desert without benefit of a double-walled tent with a bathtub floor and lived to tell about it. And I've awoken to a spider on my face inside my tent-fortress as often as outside, so the sense of security is solely that. You're in the outdoors - there's no security beyond your own wits and experience, tent or not.

In any event, if you opt for a more open-aired option, be sure to try it for a night or two locally. Many of the same critters in Big Bend are also in your back yard.
Title: Re: Is a tent a false sense of security? Tents vs tarps vs hammocks
Post by: elhombre on February 27, 2010, 03:11:52 PM
Free standing tent is the way to go because you can move it around in order to find the sweet sleeping spot.  

I am always curious about these theads that come around like yours.  I must have some crappy luck because it always seems that the weather is the most important factor for me carrying around a tent.  Most people on this site must mainly have good weather and have not had to deal with the ice/wind storms which have blessed a few of my trips out there.  Playing cards or reading in a tent while the weather passes is my main reason for bringing it.  I would like to get away with not bringing a tent because I love sleeping out on the ground.  I have no problem sleeping on the ground on a backpacking trip because the mice and such are not use to a stinky human sleeping on a fresh camp spot.  But, if I am at any of the designated back country sites, like Rice tank, the tent keeps them from pissing all over your stuff.

It was about 12 years ago that there was a bear up in the Chisos which liked to go around and flatten a person's tent while they were away from it.  Happened to a guy I knew.  The rangers were telling people to flatten your tent down if you were going to walk away for awhile to save your tent poles.  In my friends case, it didn't seem that it was food/improper storage related.  The bear just liked to do it.  I haven't heard that warning any more so maybe the bear moved on.  Just another story to keep you thinking.....
Title: Re: Is a tent a false sense of security? Tents vs tarps vs hammocks
Post by: Robert on February 27, 2010, 08:05:22 PM
Mice piss? That's a new one on me. I don't think I've ever even seen a mouse in BB. I had them dance on me in the Grand Canyon while I slept but not in BB.
Title: Re: Is a tent a false sense of security? Tents vs tarps vs hammocks
Post by: elhombre on February 27, 2010, 10:26:20 PM
Knowing how much you backpack Robert, that's understandable.  Last time out at rice tank we were enjoying adult beverages and would watch the mice with long tails running around looking for food scraps.  In the morning, you could see their foot prints in the soft powdered dirt where car tires had run over a bunch.   We have been sitting by the car with the trash bag hanging off the tail gate and have even heard and seen a mouse jumping at the bag from the rear bumper. 

Was told one time that mice and the like don't have bladders so they are constantly leaking piss out where ever they run.  I thing next time I go to BB, I will bring an under-nourished owl with me to take care of the problem.
Title: Re: Is a tent a false sense of security? Tents vs tarps vs hammocks
Post by: Al on February 27, 2010, 10:50:33 PM
No need to bring your own:

http://www.nps.gov/bibe/naturescience/owls.htm (http://www.nps.gov/bibe/naturescience/owls.htm)

Al
Title: Re: Is a tent a false sense of security? Tents vs tarps vs hammocks
Post by: desertflwr on February 28, 2010, 03:47:06 AM
There are many creatures, both buggy and otherwise, that like to come out at night to hunt.  Vinegaroons, scorpions, snakes, skunks, bobcats, mountain lions, coyotes, mosquitos, conenose beetles (ugh), lots of creepy things.  Did I mention snakes?  I know its a matter of preference, and I've heard many stories of unmolestation sleeping out on the ground, but in order for me to have a good nights sleep, I opt for tent sleeping.  We have one with the rain fly.  Works great.  

My reason for preferring a tent over a hammock is that I am looking for one item to do it all....I hike a lot of areas that don't have trees, ie desert, or gravel/sandbars.
Between a tarp and a tent, I feel more of a sense of security in a tent. I have a tarp, but usually use it as an extra for shade, rain, when I want to be out of the tent. I am currently looking at a tent that weighs 2.2lbs. (Big Agnes FlyCreek 2) a free-standing, double-walled tent...I also like free standing for the same reasons as above. While I know plenty of folks that use a tarp to get their weight down, I just am not sure I like the idea of bugs and animals having direct contact with me...I have had raccoons get so close to my tent at night I've had to repeatedly bang on the tent wall to scare them away. Well, this has only happened on the Buffalo once, but I was glad to have something between he and I. Also once, on a Current River trip I awoke (I'm a VERY light sleeper) to the sound of breathing outside my tent, and while we laughed about the next morning, we then discovered bobcat prints at the waters edge and around tents. Am I overreacting? Am I really any safer in a tent? I'm new to backpacking and have many questions; ie, pick the brains of the professionals, to keep from wasting $$. I just read Jeff Blaylock's gear report for Yosemite, and wow what great info!!!(Haven't yet tackled the TR)  I've gone back into this section and read lots.
I welcome your comments,
thanks,
leigh
Title: Re: Is a tent a false sense of security? Tents vs tarps vs hammocks
Post by: carlhbecker on March 02, 2010, 02:11:18 PM
If you want one shelter to cover all conditions then it should be capable of keeping you safe in the worse conditions expected.  That compromise will cost weight and volume in your pack.  After the itch to go over night hiking again and much research I decided to get a Tarptent Sublite single wall solo tent weighing 20 ounces.  Much lighter than my old Sierra Design tent, the last of four.  I expect this to be a fair weather to short heavy rain, long drizzle with wind or light snow shelter into the 30 degree range.  I don't plan to try harsher weather and will add a bit of lee way to the current weather conditions before starting a trip, if the expected low is 40 and mild then I would go.  If the expected low is 30 or possibly nasty then I have no margin if conditions get worse and something would change, the equipment or trip plans.  Since then I purchased a Zpack Hexamid tarp with bug net floor at 9 ounces for fair weather to light rain, breezy weather shelter.  I want the ability to keep out insects and reptiles.  I think this would make me a comfortable fair weather hiker.
Title: Re: Is a tent a false sense of security? Tents vs tarps vs hammocks
Post by: Ninersboss on March 02, 2010, 03:09:08 PM
As the child of an oil man, I lived a few years in SE Asia while going to high school. Prior to that, 12 years in Wyoming. We kept camping when we moved to Singapore, every where from Sumatra highlands to Malaysian jungle, beech and mountain. All that was in a hammock with a skeeter net strung over it and a tarp strung over that. I've weathered monsoon rains in that rig. More important, it kept you off the ground where monitor lizards and six inch beetles crawled. But, it was tropical. Real warm. When I tried to transfer my hammock habits back to the US, I froze my behind. The compression kills the insulation on the bottom. When it gets cold, you know it. Maybe there's a way around that with foam pads. I don't know. I changed to a one-man tent (Sierra). I agree with what's being said here -- generally, weight is not the issue between tarp, bivy, tent. I never had a personal problem with snakes or other crawlies. But I have witnessed some interesting midnight dances from others who have. Bears, if they have a mind to eat you, are just going to floss with the tent.  So mostly I carry a tent to keep the rain off and the bugs away. And if Im feeling brave, I just leave it in the pack.
Title: Re: Is a tent a false sense of security? Tents vs tarps vs hammocks
Post by: jeffblaylock on March 02, 2010, 03:17:43 PM
I've used a hammock in the teens. While I wouldn't call it cozy, it was doable using a short inflatable pad and a car windshield sun screen (foil variety). It reflects your body heat inward.
Title: Re: Is a tent a false sense of security? Tents vs tarps vs hammocks
Post by: Ninersboss on March 02, 2010, 06:49:34 PM
Good idea Jeff. I guess a space blanket would work as well for reflecting heat. Pads today are much better than when I was doing this. Those were air mattress days. 
Title: Re: Is a tent a false sense of security? Tents vs tarps vs hammocks
Post by: sleepy on March 02, 2010, 08:45:53 PM
i love love sleeping under the stars with nothing between them and me.  However, it took only one night of being completely chewed by biting insects to confirm my preference for 21st century lightweight free standing mesh enclosure optional fly tent technology.
Title: Re: Is a tent a false sense of security? Tents vs tarps vs hammocks
Post by: Terlingua50337 on March 03, 2010, 08:03:35 AM
I truck camp alot. Pretty much when I get tired of driving all I need is a level piece of ground. I can be in the sack in about 10 minutes. Depending on the time of year I'll sleep sans tent. The sides of the bed makes a good windbreak too. This particular time I was in BBRSP.
Title: Re: Is a tent a false sense of security? Tents vs tarps vs hammocks
Post by: dkerr24 on March 03, 2010, 08:14:49 AM
I know by the end of a day of hiking, I am usually cussing the extra 4.5lbs of tent I carry, but I do appreciate the extra weight when it comes to evening insects.  I would have been ate alive in GUMO back in May '08 had I not been inside a tent.  It was eerily calm there at night, and the mosquitos and gnats were out in armies.
Title: Re: Is a tent a false sense of security? Tents vs tarps vs hammocks
Post by: leigh on March 04, 2010, 07:38:44 AM
Thanks everyone,
The more I research the more I'm considering a hammock for the 98% of the time I will go out and have trees, and a small ultralight screened shelter with opt. tarp for desert. I have been having lots of fun this week building a spreadsheet with the ultimate backpacking dream gear:)
I just discovered the hammock forum and it's kinda like when I discovered BBC,tooooo coool!
leigh
Title: Re: Is a tent a false sense of security? Tents vs tarps vs hammocks
Post by: jeffblaylock on March 04, 2010, 11:07:26 PM
Thanks everyone,
The more I research the more I'm considering a hammock for the 98% of the time I will go out and have trees, and a small ultralight screened shelter with opt. tarp for desert. I have been having lots of fun this week building a spreadsheet with the ultimate backpacking dream gear:)
I just discovered the hammock forum and it's kinda like when I discovered BBC,tooooo coool!
leigh


If you haven't already discovered Sgt. Rock (http://hikinghq.net/), he's worth a read. Avid hammock user.
Title: Re: Is a tent a false sense of security? Tents vs tarps vs hammocks
Post by: jim2 on March 07, 2010, 07:08:55 PM
what is the stink bug cousin that is endemic to west texas? active in summer , does something nasty in humans eye lids. that would make a tent worth having.
Title: Re: Is a tent a false sense of security? Tents vs tarps vs hammocks
Post by: ambersdad on March 08, 2010, 05:22:41 AM
As someone that camps in a wildlife refuge, sleeping in a tent gives "some" comfort when bison move through the campsite in the middle of the night.  :icon_wink:

 
Title: Re: Is a tent a false sense of security? Tents vs tarps vs hammocks
Post by: Traces of Texas on July 06, 2010, 09:49:14 AM
Once I was in my tent at Grapevine Hills # 4 when I woke up in the middle of the night. I felt something crawling on my chest. I very gently reached out, grabbed my flashlight, and shined it on myself.

Scorpion!

I've been stung by them a few times before but, still, I felt a massive surge of adrenaline. It was all I could do to remain calm.


Title: Re: Is a tent a false sense of security? Tents vs tarps vs hammocks
Post by: iCe on July 06, 2010, 02:44:59 PM
I've got a bug bivy (http://www.backcountry.com/outdoorgear/Adventure-16-Bug-Bivy/ADV0006M.html) that's great for sleeping out, a truck tent (http://www.adventure1trucktent.com/store/page2.html), and hammock (http://www.junglehammock.com/models/nx250/index.php). Each one is good in it's own right. I have a tent too but I haven't seen it in a while.

My preference is the hammock, then bug bivy (for ultralight hiking), then truck tent.
Title: Re: Is a tent a false sense of security? Tents vs tarps vs hammocks
Post by: desertflwr on July 07, 2010, 06:10:40 AM
The western conenose beetle?  Nasty, nasty things.  One of the worst creatures we have in the Big Bend IMO.  But they only hang out where humans or other warm-blooded mammals usually sleep.  Before we lived here, and would come out to the Big Bend for vacation to our cabin 3-4 times a year, we didn't have them then.  Now that we live here its a constant battle trying to keep them out of the house in the warm months.  Some people out here put a mosquito net over their beds to keep from getting bit.  They can carry disease.  I hate them.   

what is the stink bug cousin that is endemic to west texas? active in summer , does something nasty in humans eye lids. that would make a tent worth having.
Title: Re: Is a tent a false sense of security? Tents vs tarps vs hammocks
Post by: Terlingua50337 on July 07, 2010, 06:15:36 AM
http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://assassinbug.com/clinical.jpg&imgrefurl=http://assassinbug.com/&usg=__yc0dO8vwFL8mVhBiSpyl_X2FlVE=&h=81&w=107&sz=3&hl=en&start=4&um=1&itbs=1&tbnid=k445uUG10Ss7qM:&tbnh=64&tbnw=85&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dwestern%2Bconenose%2Bbeetle%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26safe%3Dactive%26sa%3DN%26rls%3Dcom.microsoft (http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://assassinbug.com/clinical.jpg&imgrefurl=http://assassinbug.com/&usg=__yc0dO8vwFL8mVhBiSpyl_X2FlVE=&h=81&w=107&sz=3&hl=en&start=4&um=1&itbs=1&tbnid=k445uUG10Ss7qM:&tbnh=64&tbnw=85&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dwestern%2Bconenose%2Bbeetle%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26safe%3Dactive%26sa%3DN%26rls%3Dcom.microsoft):*%26tbs%3Disch:1

Pretty nasty.

(http://assassinbug.com/clinical.jpg)
Title: Re: Is a tent a false sense of security? Tents vs tarps vs hammocks
Post by: RichardM on July 07, 2010, 09:13:23 AM
The western conenose beetle?  Nasty, nasty things.  One of the worst creatures we have in the Big Bend IMO.  But they only hang out where humans or other warm-blooded mammals usually sleep.  Before we lived here, and would come out to the Big Bend for vacation to our cabin 3-4 times a year, we didn't have them then.  Now that we live here its a constant battle trying to keep them out of the house in the warm months.  Some people out here put a mosquito net over their beds to keep from getting bit.  They can carry disease.  I hate them.   

what is the stink bug cousin that is endemic to west texas? active in summer , does something nasty in humans eye lids. that would make a tent worth having.
For more info, see The Conenose Bug (http://www.bigbendchat.com/portal/forum/the-conenose-bug-t821.0.html) topic.
Title: Re: Is a tent a false sense of security? Tents vs tarps vs hammocks
Post by: Undertaker on July 07, 2010, 02:17:44 PM
You could always hang your tent in the Hyatt. :rolling: :rolling:
Title: Re: Is a tent a false sense of security? Tents vs tarps vs hammocks
Post by: sandersmr on July 24, 2010, 04:44:41 PM
Just came back from a week+ camping in CO - the kids that were with us slept outside most nights.  All of us slept out the last night.  But the night that it poured rain, I was glad for my little Swiss Gear.  It only dripped in a couple of spots and I was basically dry.  Others weren't so lucky, including the kids.