Big Bend Chat

Random Bits from the Outside World => General Outdoor Stuff & Camping Equipment => Topic started by: Drifter on June 14, 2007, 02:09:34 PM

Title: Tarptent
Post by: Drifter on June 14, 2007, 02:09:34 PM
Hey, Has anyone used a Tarptent by Henry Shires.  I would really like to keep using a tent but would also like to cut a couple of pounds off my load.  My clipflash light has been with me a long time but it could become a stranger if I found something that did the same job for less than half the weight.  Thanks for any help.  drifter
Title: Tarptent
Post by: Al on June 14, 2007, 02:12:42 PM
I don't know about that particular unit but unless thunderstorms are predicted I normally just carry a tarp and groundcloth.

Al
Title: Tarptent
Post by: mule ears on June 14, 2007, 04:31:28 PM
Drifter,
I have a hiking partner who has been using a Contrail and loves it.   Even in some nasty weather here in the East he said it worked great and had a huge amount of room for one person.  It was his only shelter on almost 500 miles of the AT in January.  At 25 oz. it's as light as my tarp and ground cloth set up for the desert and lighter than my bivy and tarp set up for wetter/colder weather.  I have only read great reviews of the other tents by them too.
Title: Tarptent
Post by: Drifter on June 14, 2007, 07:47:37 PM
Hey Mule Ears, Thanks for the review (once removed).  I have heard nothing but good stuff about these tents. I emailed Henry last week and he, the inventor and seller , wrote me back in 30 minutes.  I don't experience that type of service in my daily life and sold me on his tents and his character.  I am thinking about the Rainbow because  I really like the way he thought about the tent by making it freestanding by using hiking poles. I try to use the theory of multiple use when I am packing and he used it in the tent. I like that.  He also told me that so many people now ask for the sewn in floor that it is the default configuration over the classic tarp..  I do not like scorpions since a solo trip in 1993 so I like being in a tent at night. I sleep better. Thanks again. drifter
Title: Tarptent
Post by: Casa Grande on June 14, 2007, 07:57:12 PM
Quote from: "Drifter"
Hey Mule Ears, Thanks for the review (once removed).  I have heard nothing but good stuff about these tents. I emailed Henry last week and he, the inventor and seller , wrote me back in 30 minutes.  I don't experience that type of service in my daily life and sold me on his tents and his character.  I am thinking about the Rainbow because  I really like the way he thought about the tent by making it freestanding by using hiking poles. I try to use the theory of multiple use when I am packing and he used it in the tent. I like that.  He also told me that so many people now ask for the sewn in floor that it is the default configuration over the classic tarp..  I do not like scorpions since a solo trip in 1993 so I like being in a tent at night. I sleep better. Thanks again. drifter


yep, good luck with it. I've been thinking of getting a tarp tent for years as I've heard nothing but good about them as well. I'd be interested to know what your personal review is.  Gotta love good customer service!

Noticed there wasn't a link: http://www.tarptent.com/
Title: Tarptent
Post by: dryer on June 15, 2007, 07:03:39 AM
Henry's tarptents are respected and well worth the money.  There's a learning curve when settup an ultralite tarp with respect to wind and rain but you'll probably not mess with tents again. You can find Henry's plans for his first generation tarp tents on the web if you want to make your own.
I use a homemade Robinson Poncho Shelter I made from Roy Robinson's plans.  7 oz!  
Here's my tarp setup:
(http://i112.photobucket.com/albums/n173/psdryer/IMG_0790.jpg)
Title: Tarptent
Post by: Drifter on June 15, 2007, 10:54:53 AM
Dryer, that looks like a great setup.  My walks at the Bend are between the first week in Nov. to about the last weekend in Feb. and I usually have to plan for the possibility of sleet , rain or snow.  I agree there have been more dry than wet trips but the wet ones would have been milestone trips without tent with a rainfly.  For milder weather your setup is the way to go. Thanks , drifter
Title: Tarptent
Post by: dryer on June 16, 2007, 10:59:02 AM
Quote from: "Drifter"
Dryer, that looks like a great setup.  My walks at the Bend are between the first week in Nov. to about the last weekend in Feb. and I usually have to plan for the possibility of sleet , rain or snow.  I agree there have been more dry than wet trips but the wet ones would have been milestone trips without tent with a rainfly.  For milder weather your setup is the way to go. Thanks , drifter


I've been in the park in all kinds of weather with the above setup and you get used to how to pitch it in bad weather.  I've never gotten cold or wet.  The Shires tarp tents would be much more 'care free' with regard to rain/sleet/snow since the thing is over you instead of lean-to style, like my poncho shelter, and they are big inside.  I also use a Hennesey Hammock in the Chisos....as long as there are trees, campsites are where you make them and uneven ground doesn't matter.   All shelters must be under 2.5 lbs.  The lighter the better.  In fact, I'll usually simply lay on the desert floor, no shelter, and pull the poncho over me if rain comes, bivy style.  The Big Bend sky is in my top 5 reasons for going there so often...can't cover it up with nylon.
Title: Tarptent
Post by: TheWildWestGuy on June 16, 2007, 06:36:30 PM
Ouch at those prices it should come with someone to carry it for you.
I think I will stick to my $40 Eureka tent.  It may be a bit heavier and bulkier but it's comfortable even with pack inside and prevents all the creepy-crawlies from climbing on my face at night.  It also has a mesh roof so if it's a good night I just leave the rainfly off and can see the stars (~through the mesh) at night.   I think a tent also allows better windstorm protection and keeps warmth in better than a tarptent.   But I have never seen anyone in BBNP use one so if I run across one I will definately have to ask for a "tour".   Plus at $40 I can buy a new one every few years and retire the old one to join my other 5-6 retired tents.   I now have enough tents to start my own small refuge camp, time for a garage sale!
What is the Scorpion Story?  Please do tell..... TWWG
Title: Tarptent
Post by: mule ears on June 17, 2007, 06:03:44 AM
Come on TWWG $40?  That's 1960's prices, most of the Eureka tents are at least $100, most upwards to $200.  Get a tarp or tarp tent and the 4-6 pounds you will save you can carry some extra "frosty beverages" for those emergency situations!

As to the "creepy-crawlies" I just have never had any problems with them.  Now I will admit that being a farmer and only being able to hike from Nov.- March reduces the number of them out during the colder months but for 35 years I have always slept out under the stars either on a ground sheet or in a light bivy bag.  If rain is going to occur I set up the tent (in the old days) now a two person tarp.  The only time I have had critter issues is in the east on the AT where the mice in the shelters have a tendency to run across your sleeping bag at night ( a reason not to sleep in the shelters but out on the ground under the stars).

My last trip to Big Bend we woke up one night at about 5500' with snow falling on us, we just quickly put the tarp up and went back to sleep.  It is all a matter of knowing how to set your equipment up for the conditions at hand.  In all my trips to Big Bend I think I have been precipitated on parts of 3 days.

My wife wants to know, now that I use a tarp all the time, what am I going to do with the 4 tents in the backpacking equipment museum, the refuge camp idea is a possiblilty.
Title: Tarptent
Post by: dryer on June 17, 2007, 07:20:15 AM
Quote from: "mule ears"
My wife wants to know, now that I use a tarp all the time, what am I going to do with the 4 tents in the backpacking equipment museum, the refuge camp idea is a possibility.


Loaners, donate 'em to a scout troop, cut 'em up and make kites, cut the floors out and make sea anchors for your sail boat or really big kayak...endless possibilities!  I've got a "museum" of camping stuff here too. My stoves run from big green Coleman double burner white gas, then Coleman Peak One single burner, down to Optimus Svea's and Novas, down to Esbit, down to home made alcohol, and finally, no stove at all!   My big ol' serious Lowe Specialist II pack is now a storage bag for the rest of my gear, except the tents, which are loaners.  I've got water bottles of various kinds...but now use Plattypus bags.  Cook kits, sleeping bags of various materials down to down and quilts.  But....have to say I had fun with it all and apologise for nothing!

Creepies and crawlies....mosquit oes only and bug nets take care of those....and if it's the right kind of net, nothing gets in all the way to the ground.  You really sleep better under a net.  

Funny how this camping stuff has gone full circle with me.  I'd credit my Dad with teaching me how to go "ultralite".  We'd go fishing and camping...."where do we sleep", I'd ask.   "on the ground...anywhere", he'd say, while tossing me an old Marine Corps wool blanket.  No ground cloth, maybe a fire, some fruit and Slim Jims for a meal.  The canoe or boat would be the shelter if rain came.   Happy campers us!  Thirty plus years of trying to improve on the situation brought me right back around.  Simple is best.
Title: Tarptent
Post by: TheWildWestGuy on June 17, 2007, 07:31:55 PM
You ultralight guys are way to minimalistic.  I would not feel comfortable sleeping out exposed without a tent.  Too tell the truth I don't even like getting out of my tent at night to "go".   Something about walking around outside my tent at night all by myself in some remote area just creeps me out.    So I dig a short trench leading away from my tent and compromise - half in half out.   Or to put it another way I mark my territory and leave my "man scent" to ward off predators.   Seems to work well as I almost always get a good night sleep, have no ants or other things climbing/biting/stinging me at night, and sleep soundly knowing the flimsy nylon walls of my $40 (on sale) Eureka tent will protect me from all creatures great and small.  Of course I always take my pack and hiking stick inside the tent at night.  It's good to have some extra space and some room to change sleeping positions etc..

As for a stove - I am a bit of a walking museum with my Optimus 1-2-3 white gas stove.  It is a 1st Generation backpacking stove which is in a metal case with all metal components and is heavy but reliable, cheap, and a full bottle of fuel is good for an entire week.    I have always been comforted by the hiss of the stove at dinnertime and often leave it on even after dining to listen to it's soft spudder and enjoy the "Chisos Mtn Campfire" light.   After spending several hundred dollars in gas to get to the Park I enjoy the luxury of leaving my stove burning long after dinner is over.    Some things are worth the weight.

That said I have never seen a tarp-tent setup and their prices are comparable to most REI tents.   But they look a bit low and a bit confined for my taste but I will be on the lookout for one and ask for a "tour" when I first see one.   Seems like this would be a good setup for a through-hiker or someone going long (>3 days) distance.  Like on the AT, PCT, CDT, LSHT, etc.... TWWG
Title: Tarptent
Post by: 01ACRViper on June 17, 2007, 08:30:54 PM
what do you do if the ground is too rocky to drive stakes and there are no trees to secure your tarp to?
Title: Tarptent
Post by: Al on June 17, 2007, 09:37:29 PM
There is always brush or something to tie off to.  Sometimes you have to use a long run of nylon cord to reach a tiepoint but there is always something to tie to.  A good size rock works just fine also. You really don't need a tent unless the weather is really bad with high wind gusts and blowing rain.  Even then you can do just fine with a a tarp but you have set it up low and near flat so there is little if any head room. A major windshift can be problematic.  If there are two or three in the party one can combine tarps and create a large and very comfortable dry space if you know what you're doing.  

A couple of centuries ago when in boy scouts we never used tents rain or shine, summer or winter.  We learned there are many ways to set up a tarp depending on weather and temperature.  They really are very flexible and able to withstand most any condition one is likely to encounter in BiBe.

Having said that, if I knew there was a strong cold front likely to come through while in the back country I would probably bring a tent but would miss my tarp.

Al
Title: Tarptent
Post by: jeffblaylock on June 18, 2007, 12:08:59 AM
I used a tarp during my November 2004 Outer Mountain Loop backpack. I definitely liked its weight, and the bugs weren't an issue the week of Thanksgiving (although the night crawlies were still a-crawlin'). The dust protection was another matter, as the winds were pretty fierce.

I recently bought a Lunar Solo e Tent (http://www.sixmoondesigns.com/shop/shopexd.asp?id=36) from Six Moon Designs. It's slightly heavier than a tarp, but it offers the full protection of a tent. It also sets up with a single trekking pole, which is important to me as a guy who uses one trekking pole. It packs down to the size of a small loaf of bread and passed the sprinkler test in my yard. I haven't tested it in the field yet, but I think I'll like it. For starters, I can sit up in it -- something I couldn't do in my solo tent.

A quick review of specs. My Mountain Hardwear Solitude: 4.25 pounds, 19 sq. feet of "sleeping space" plus a 3.5 sq. foot vestibule, 84 inches by between 38 and 16 inches across, 37.5 inches inside height. The new Lunar Solo e: 1.75 pounds, 27.5 sq. feet of "sleeping space" plus a 10 sq. foot vestible, 88 inches by 40 inches, 45 inches inside height. Photos and write-up here. (http://www.jeffblaylock.com/southrim/2007/06/gear_inventory_shelters/index.php)

I've heard very good things about the Tarptent family. I opted for the Lunar Solo because of (1) great reviews on backpacking sites and (2) the Tarptent folks appeared to be out of stock on most of their product line.
Title: Tarptent
Post by: dryer on June 18, 2007, 06:53:13 AM
Every slept in a screened in porch?  That's what tarp camping is like.  The nice thing about tarps is their versatility.  You can pitch them a number of different ways, which is why I like rectangular versions, like my poncho shelter.   I can actually make it wrap completely around me with a central pole (trekking pole or free stick on the ground) and have a tent.  If suspended properly, you can drop one side all the way to the ground to block wind, and if the wind changes, drop another side, all without re-pitching.  I made my own bug netting....the store bought ones are too heavy....and sometimes that's all I pitch, no tarp unless it rains.   If you choose your campsites wisely, wind isn't a problem.   Candidly, I've always felt warmer with the proper bag in an open sided tarp, due to the lower humidity.   Ventilation is important.   I'm sure there is a point where weather/temperature demands a 4 season expedition quality tent (Everest)
but I don't do expeditions.  
 I stopped using tents in Big Bend when I got caught in 100 mph gusts in Pine Canyon.  My tent hoops broke and the thing became a sail around me.  Miserable the entire night and the tent was unusable.  Poor choice of campsites.  Had I been laying on the ground with no tent, I  would have faired better, hunkered behind a rock.   I'm big on campsite choices.

Here's another outstanding option with the best quality sleep you'll ever get in the boonies:
(http://i112.photobucket.com/albums/n173/psdryer/IMG_0872.jpg)

The hammock on the right is mine, a Hennessy, and my very favorite way to sleep.  Ground is no consideration.  You really do leave no trace.  Built in bug net, no creepies get in, in rain and wind you gently swing. Typically, I don't guy it because I enjoy the rocking/swinging in the wind.  It's like sleeping on a cruise liner, and you are totally and gently supported.  It can be guy'd steady if needed.  
Very lightweight.  I've gotten up in the morning with ice on the outside, toasty inside.   2.5 lbs. isn't really considered "ultralite" but I'll bring it if I'm going to a place I'll be hanging around a while.
Title: Tarptent
Post by: bdann on June 18, 2007, 08:44:19 AM
This is a great discussion...

My old solo backpacking tent:
(http://i79.photobucket.com/albums/j131/bdann/Caprock/cr11.jpg)

This tent is crap.  You can't move around inside at all and the ventilation is terrible.  I always have condensation dripping on my face when I wake up in the morning or ice when it's cold.  This tent is now retired.

My new Eureka! solo backpacking tent:
(http://i79.photobucket.com/albums/j131/bdann/bibeMarch07/P1000409.jpg)

It's better, but it could be improved upon.  It's quite cramped, though easy to get in and out with the top zipper.  It has a small vestibule and the ventilation is great, no condensation.  With the rain fly rolled up (as in the photo) it's nice to lay there and watch the stars.  It weighs about 3lbs and rolls up nice and small.  I just wish it was taller so you could sit up.  You have to exit the tent to get dressed, which isn't fun on cold mornings.  

Honestly, I'm fine with splitting up a regular 3 man dome tent with my hiking buddy and deal with the extra weight.  I've done this many times and it's really nice to have the extra room.  

I'm definitely in the camp of needing to sleep in a tent.  I don't know what it is, I just feel like I need to be "inside" of something.  I like the false sense of security I guess.  I've slept out in the open many times with no shelter, but not since I was a kid.  I guess I didn't worry about bugs and snakes so much then!

My brother has a cool little solo tent I gave him for his birthday this year -

(http://i79.photobucket.com/albums/j131/bdann/bibeMarch07/P1000466.jpg)

It's not pitched very well here, but it's a cool tent.  More spacious than mine. It's made by Mountainsmith.
Title: Tarptent
Post by: mule ears on June 18, 2007, 04:30:04 PM
Quote from: "dryer"
Ever slept in a screened in porch?  That's what tarp camping is like.  The nice thing about tarps is their versatility...    If you choose your campsites wisely, wind isn't a problem...   I'm big on campsite choices.


I too am big on good camspite choices.  Sleeping out without cover gives you ideal mornings like this one where you just sit up in the bag, fire up the stove and the coffee is ready when the sun hits Elephant Tusk and you never got out of the bag  :lol:

 (http://www.bigbendgallery.com/uploads/files/breakfastinthedesert.JPG)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I also like the versatility of a tarp including portable shade like this in Smoky Creek when it was over 100 degrees and we had a leisurely afternoon in the shade of the tarp, breezes and all.  This one is from 1973 and I still use the same 17 oz. two person tarp today (8.5 oz. per person plus stakes).

(http://www.bigbendgallery.com/uploads/files/restinginsmokycreek1973.jpg)
Title: Tarptent
Post by: trtlrock on June 18, 2007, 06:34:07 PM
We use a GoLite tarp (can't remember the exact model -- discontinued though).  Aside from being light & easy to deploy, one thing we really like about it are the side-beaks...

Previously used a Sierra Clip Flashlight tent, but it was way too confining, even though it was pretty light for a tent.  Also, the ventilation & condensation situation with a tent is never ideal.

Here's a few views of the GoLite...

1) good side-view of beaks

(http://www.bigbendgallery.com/uploads/files/tarpbeak.jpg)

2) sometimes you've got to set it up REAL low  :wink: here we were expecting a windy thunderstorm that never materialized

(http://www.bigbendgallery.com/uploads/files/tarplow.jpg)

3) sometimes you get beautiful weather but you just want to be safe...

(http://www.bigbendgallery.com/uploads/files/tarpopen.JPG)

4) it's way cool at night, with the reflective triptease guy wires & the headlamps or camera flash...

(http://www.bigbendgallery.com/uploads/files/tarpnight.JPG)

5) of course, the best tarp is no tarp at all!

(http://www.bigbendgallery.com/uploads/files/tarpno.JPG)

woo-hoo!
Title: Tarptent
Post by: Casa Grande on June 19, 2007, 10:27:23 AM
Quote from: "dryer"

 I stopped using tents in Big Bend when I got caught in 100 mph gusts in Pine Canyon.


 :shock:
Title: Tarptent
Post by: The Trout Whisperer on July 10, 2007, 09:31:38 AM
I have a squall 2 and a cloudburst.....I love them both.

The squall2 will be headed out with me this saturday for two 6day 5 nite trips.  It is storm worthy and roomy enoungh for two and palatial for one.

I use my hiking pole for the front pole and it works fine.

I believe it is well worth the wait for one of his products.


Jeff- nice blog about your new tent.


John
Title: Tarptent
Post by: Hayduke on July 10, 2007, 03:44:55 PM
This may be of interest though it hasn't been updated in some time:

B.D.'s Ultralight Backpackers Home Buyers Guide

http://bikerdave.murioi.com/shelter.html