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OC Backpackers Message Board Backpacking Discussions › Gear - Tents

Gear - Tents

Virginia Beach, VA
Post #: 13
Let's talk gear! One of the things that makes a backpacker obsessive compulsive is gear. Thinking about gear, talking about gear, accumulating gear, testing gear and tweaking gear.

I thought I'd start with tents.

I chose a tent over a tarptent or a hammock for a couple of reasons. The first of which is bugs. I don't like bugs but they sure love me. I felt that with a tarptent, the bugs would have free access to me all night long and that just wouldn't do for a good night's sleep. So a tent with a bugnet was a must! Hammocks come with bug nets but when I looked into hammock sleeping, I ran into a few other issues.

The first was that I'm a stomach/side sleeper. While they do make hammocks for people like me, they are quite expensive. The second, and most important, is trees. What happens when you can't find two trees? If they made a hammock that would double as a tent in a pinch, I might consider one. Doubtful though because reason number 3 against a hammock is that you can't pull your bag inside with you. I mean I'm sure you could but where would you sleep?

So I got a tent. I started with a Eureka Spitfire UL. Nice weight at around 2lbs and was high enough for me to sit up in. Easy to set up. However, it was not a stand alone tent. It came with one pole that you looped over the top and had to stake the corners down. Also, there was no room inside for my pack. I could fit it under the vestibule but in my mind, a heavy rain storm would soak my pack. Lastly, while it held up nicely in a soft, steady rain, I felt a hard side-ways rain would be disastrous.

After a few trips with the Eureka, I decided I needed to upgrade. And upgrade I did! I got an MSR Hubba Hubba. I gained about 2lbs of pack weight but boy-oh-boy was it worth it! This tent is stand-alone, enough room for two people without being cramped, or enough room to be a virtual palace for one. I can easily fit my pack inside with me and if I'm stuck inside for a while due to really inclement weather? No problem!

The rainfly can be set up alone if one really wants the tarptent experience. This works great when it's raining because you can set the rainfly up first in a rainstorm, then set the tent up underneath it. Nice and dry! The Hubba Hubba is sturdy too! I took it to the Devil's Marbleyard during snow season and it worked great!

So, that's my take on tents. The MSR Hubba Hubba works great for me.

What is your shelter set-up?
Pittsfield, MA
Post #: 19
Hey Fred,

Great topic. For the last ten years I've been using a small two man tent, a Sierra Designs non-free standing. It's similar to this one. Of course, mine is the older model and with the footprint weighs about 6 pounds. The main advantages are that you can sit up in it, and it works well as a roomy one-person or a cozy two-person tent. With two people you can't have your packs inside, but they would (barely) fit in the vestibule if you wanted. More often, we just left our packs outside under trash bags or pack covers.

Lately I was shopping around for a one-person tent because I wanted to trim some pack weight. I pretty much ruled out hammocks for the same reasons you did, Fred, but they are super light. Also, I believe some hammocks will set up as a tent using a hiking pole if you can't find two trees. The other Jeff might have some info on that. Also, I looked at very small bivies like this one, but I decided that I really wanted something that I could sit up in. Also, with the sort of bivy that I linked to, if its raining or snowing out, then no matter what you and your stuff are getting wet when you get in or out.

So, the tent I ended up with was a Mountain Hardware Sprite 1. I absolutely love it. Got it on sale (20% off) at REI during their members sale. I can sit up in it, the vestibule accommodates my pack, and it's about 4 pounds. So its definitely a 1-person tent, not a bivy (yes, Brittney, I admit it!). But I figure I dropped two pounds from my old set-up, and I'm happy with that. The main drawback to this tent is that it is not freestanding, in other words, it requires tension from at least four stakes to hold it up. You would have trouble setting it up on rocky or very hard ground. But I'm ok with that. My old tent was the same way and I always managed to get it set up.

How about other folks? What do you do for shelter?
Elizabeth City, NC
Post #: 9
Have to say I'm with Fred on this one. Two years ago my brother wanted to section hike part of the AT with me so I did all the research and shopping that go with the purchase of a new piece of gear. In this case it was a two person tent. At just 4 lbs, 3 oz. and the high ratings that went with it I chose the MSR Hubba Hubba.

I was a bit dissappointed...not in the tent, but with my brother since he cancelled out of the trip at the last minute.(want kind of person would do such a thing?)

Turned out to be a blessing! I seriously contemplated selling the Hubba Hubba for a lighter, 1 person tent, but after much more research I found the main difference between a high quality 1 person and the Hubba Hubba was that the HH averaged about 1.5 lbs more. Basicly all it took was one good rainstorm and I decided the extra pound and a half was no comparision to the advatages it provided.

The MSR HUbba Hubba is paramount in quality, design and durability. Plenty of room for two plus packs and gear with the spacious interior and two very adequate vestibules. I have been through nights on the trail that seemed like a hurricane was coming through, woke up with 2 inches of water surrounding the tent and remained dry and comfortable.

Would not trade my Hubba Hubba for anything (except a winning lottery ticket of course)
Pittsfield, MA
Post #: 23
From Donnie: At just 4 lbs, 3 oz. and the high ratings that went with it I chose the MSR Hubba Hubba.

Wow, for a two-man that's pretty light!

Virginia Beach, VA
Post #: 17
Probably should mention the MSR Hubba Hubba retails at $329.95 at REI.
Pittsfield, MA
Post #: 24
Probably should mention the MSR Hubba Hubba retails at $329.95 at REI.

Wow. Well, for comparison I got my Mtn Hdwr Sprite 1 for $130 on sale. It retails for $160-170.
A former member
Post #: 1
I use a variety of shelters, depending on the circumstances. I try to look into my crystal ball to determine the conditions I'm likely to encounter and choose the lightest alternative commiserate with those calculations. Any time I can get away with it, I sleep cowboy style. No muss, no fuss, and quick on the trail the next morning, but I at least will carry a bivvy sack, regardless, and usually a tarp, even for a quick overnighter, even if it stays in my pack. Much better safe than sorry, and my crystal ball has, on occasion, been a bit murky.

If I'm solo and it is bug season, I carry a 1 person tent (The One by Gossamer Gear - 17.5 oz w/cords). It has a vestibule adequate to cover my pack, and in a pinch, I can bring it in the tent. Haven't really tested this in a big blow, but so far, it has served me well. It uses hiking poles for support, so it is not so good for a base camp situation, but the times I have used it that way, I just put my extra gear inside, collapsed it, and weighted it down with rocks.

In the latter part of the season, when the bug bloom is down, I prefer a tarp - I have two, one checks in at 7.6 oz, the other at 9.0 oz. They can be a bit airish in a blow, but I've weathered some really nasty weather in the Sierra under them. A couple of nights in particular stand out - one with the temps dropping to 15 and 5 to 6 inches of snow, another in the open at 10000 ft with wave after wave of thunderstorms as a cold front moved across the range. There were at least 10 distinct storms (I lost count) each one dropping bolts nearby and blowing rain - it was a truly awesome show. I eventually figured I'd either make or I wouldn't, and given the circumstances, no gain in worrying about it - I actually managed to get some decent sleep. I won't say it wasn't a bit damp, but I dried out easily the next AM.

We used tarps when I was working at Outward Bound, as well - this was back in the late seventies/early eighties. I particularly remember an early September storm above timberline in the Three Sisters. We got 5 or 6 inches of snow, and I'm guestimating steady winds of 30, gusting to 55 or better. It was pretty scary being responsible for a crew of newbies on the third day of a course in those conditions. I spent the night brewing tea and working out escape scenarios in case we had a failure, but luckily everyone weathered it well and we ducked down to the trees the next AM. I carried one of the original Chouinard Pyramids most of the time in those days - it was a real performer. A bit heavy by today's standards, but it was really tough and very simple to pitch. Some of the new ultralight pyramids look pretty good. Pyramids are strong structures, and generally have a good space to weight ratio, although I have found the hexagonal pyramids more difficult to pitch well than the four-sided ones. Once they are tight, though, they are rock solid.

I use a free standing tent for winter trips. I used to carry an REI Half Dome, which I have had for many years, but I'm going to have to replace it this year. It is not a true 4 season/mountaineering tent of course, as it has too much netting in the inner tent, but it has served well on many a winter trip. I've done my time dealing with winter storms in the high mountains and no longer feel the need to test my mettle in such a way, so I'm OK not having a tent adequate for an Everest high camp. I've been looking at some of Big Sky's tents to replace the Half Dome, but haven't made any decisions yet, although the Revolution 2P looks pretty attractive.

I've ordered a Cloudburst 2 from Henry Shires for summer backpacking with my wife - it has a floor and bug netting and (as advertised) checks in at 2 lb 6 oz. I haven't received it yet, so I can't say how it will do, but my previous experience with his original Tarptent Squall was pretty good.

Last, but not least, I have an old REI Mountain Dome that I use for car camping. It is a true winter tent, big enough for three, with a rear tunnel door and large vestibule, but these days, it is too heavy to carry - the whole kit checks in around 8 lbs. Not that that is an issue - I left it in storage in Portland.
Mark U! ՟՜ ҉ ☺.
Fairfield, CA
Post #: 67
for warm weather, I like the tarp and bugnet with ground sheet. Stayed drier in a downpour than the tented camper, and the ground sheet felt like a waterbed!
user 12863808
Mount Sidney, VA
Post #: 1
I love backpacking in the winter and in the snow so I went out and bought the Eureka K-2 XT. It is a lot heavier than most tents at 11lbs 12oz. However, if you are not expecting rain you can always leave the rain fly at home and at that point it weighs less than 6lbs. Even though it is a 4 season tent I have used it on days were temperatures in the 90's and it didn't feel much warmer than being outside with all of the various venting options it comes with. The biggest plus for me is that it is bright yellow just like my car S2000 ;) joking... I did a lot of research with various 4 season tents and at I believe it was around $500 it compared almost identically with some of the way pricier MSR tents within the same category.
Virginia Beach, VA
Post #: 2
I have an ENO double nest hammock with the bug net and rain fly…I sleep on my back, so no problem there. It’s comfortable and I have no problem finding a footprint, because a hammock doesn’t really have one. I like it.
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