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Tents vs. Tarps and such

Posted: Thu Jan 05, 2006 9:54 pm
by Kapitän von Klepper
This piece copied from my posting at: viewtopic.php?t=5
I thought about moving this topic here, after I'd already posted it.
As to tents/tarps (Alm's right in that this should be in the gear section, but oh well...) As a professional adventure photographer, I'm doomed to minimalist camping. Seriously, who has room for more stuff after lugging 20 lbs. or more of camera gear? I've long since adopted "commando/stealth" camping for some assignments. Who wants to trek 2 to 5 miles in pitch dark in some Canyon Land national park (that last step can be a dosie!), just so you can snap a few frames at first or last light because there is no designated camp ground closer? I've never met a pro photographer on assignment at my location that wasn't doing the same thing! It may be splitting hairs, but what's the difference between resting on the trail at night or the day? I just have a "blanket" to keep me warm. I make "camp" after sun set, and strike "camp" before sun rise. After the first trekkers come by, all traces of my "camp" are errased.
Anyway, to the point.. anything more than a tarp starts to cross the line between "resting on the trail" and camping. I've seen some interesting "trekking pole (ski-pole) tents", but I can't figure out how to get beyond the tent pegs. Putting rocks over the corners of the tent isn't exactly "leave no trace" compatable. For now a tarp seems like the best option for "commando/stealth" camping.

Posted: Thu Jan 05, 2006 10:15 pm
by Alm
Ok, I've moved my article there from "Klepper" section.

The difference between daytime resting on the trail and night-time sleeping is darkness - same as Dave's fiancee, I prefer it dark to have a good sleep. Darn brids are always making a hell of a noise just before the dawn anyway, - but I still prefer it dark to fall asleep in the evening and to continue sleeping after darn birds are done with their "property boundaries marking" - or whatever their purpose is.

The weight of Hubba 2 is comprised of the fly, mesh tent body with water-repellent fabric floor, and poles. Each of these 3 components weighs about 1 lb, more or less. Fly with poles weighs ... 1.5-2.0 lb may be. My 8*10 silnylon tarp weighs about 1 lb or less, but with proper amount of pre-cut ropes it weighs more than 1.5 lb. Ropes are quite heavy. I'm even thinking of leaving this kitchen-area tarp at home when traveling far to some dry areas, where rain isn't a concern. Weight isn't a concern for a kayaker, but it is for airlines, unfortunately :-(

Also, both in my local areas (Pacific NW coast) and in some other areas that I've been to, there is often not many things to tie a rope to. Then I need tarp poles - at least 2 of them, which brings the weight to 2+ lb again. OTH, these tarp poles are a part of my "convertibility kit" to make a kayak cart working as a heavy-duty luggage cart, so I carry the poles anyway. Which might prompt me to leave Hubba 2 at home, but, considering more privacy when camping in populated areas, and easier setting and striking Hubba 2, than tarp with poles and ropes - I'll stick to Hubba 2, I guess.

Stealth (a.k.a. Commando) camping considerations I can understand - tarp makes it looking exactly as "resting", rather than "camping" (no tent - no camp), but this hasn't been much of concern for me.

Posted: Thu Jan 05, 2006 10:19 pm
by Kapitän von Klepper
Alm, By the way, I don't want to step on any toes or create confusion by setting in my own links, so just let me know.

Posted: Fri Jan 06, 2006 12:48 am
by Alm
Kaptain, - you did the right thing. It is easier to find info when it's organized properly.

Posted: Mon Jan 09, 2006 9:52 am
by Paul
Consider an ultralight bivy with or without a small tarp or poncho tarp (Equinox, Mountain Laurel Designs, Bozeman Mtn Works, Oware, Integral Designs, Dancing Light Gear, Lynne Weldon, Granite Gear, Six Moons Designs, etc)and a few ultra-light stakes.

For me, the advantage of the tarp is being able to lift your head and see everything around you, without having to pull the fly back or look out the door. Set-up involves a bit more fuss vs. a freestanding tent like my Hubba Hubba. I have the one door model which sets up in a flash and without the fly is basically all mesh. No stakes are necessary unless it gets windy.

For stake free camping your best bet is the bivy option, although many of these have stake out points as well, but you could get by without them. With an ultralight stake I'd still say you wouldn't be leaving a trace.

Posted: Thu Oct 25, 2007 1:33 pm
by Roy
I'm a little late to the party on this one but for real stealth camping you can't do better than a Hennessy Hammock. They're even using them in Iraq.

Posted: Thu Oct 25, 2007 1:41 pm
by chrstjrn
I love my tarp, but I have to admit a scorpion's less likely to get you in an HH than under a tarp :shock:

Posted: Thu Oct 25, 2007 3:21 pm
by krudave
Not a HH owner, but I camped at the same site as a guy who used one, and they really do the job. If I ever commit to a long paddle up the Inside Passage from Vancouver to Prince Rupert or similar, definitely the way to go. Converts irregular, treed ground to a campsite. Finding the requisite flat space for a tent can be tough on the coast of BC.

And, tarps are a problem when the bugs are bad.

Posted: Thu Oct 25, 2007 4:11 pm
by K7Baixo
That'll be my next purchase for a tent also - luckily, they made one for tall folks too.

Posted: Fri Oct 26, 2007 2:44 am
by Alm
One thing to keep in mind with HH - it is all mesh, except for the floor and small white patch on the roof. Fly isn't mesh, of course, and covers it well from rain. But in cold and windy weather this 90% mesh area makes for quite a bit of unwanted ventilation - you can feel cold air streams with anything not coverd by warm clothes or sleeping bag. Well, everybody's tolerance to cold is different - I've used to sleep in 0C rated (32F) dawn sleeping bag in +12C (56F) weather, and didn't find this too warm, so my opinion isn't a reliable measure. Also, this tent mesh is less mechanically durable than "solid" fabric - I can't call it flimsy, just not same durable. To me, HH is an excellent tent for hot and warm weather, but for cold and windy I would consider something else, with less mesh and more fabric (but would like small vents near the roof too).

Posted: Fri Oct 26, 2007 9:35 am
by mje
I have a short review of Hennessy Hammocks on the main pages, and I am also a huge fan. One hint: In cooler weather you can simply lower the sides of the fly for increased protection.

But even in the usual position wind is not a problem. Lying in the hammock you sink down, and the sides come up around you. I used mine in nights that dipped down to the high 50s with an ultra-light 1-1/2 lb synthetic bag and was toasty. Others have used them in colder weather, although I wouldn't want to be kayaking in weather colder than that! I suspended a disposable mylar "space blanket" below the bag to cut radiative loss.

Posted: Fri Oct 26, 2007 9:47 am
by krudave
mje wrote:I used mine in nights that dipped down to the high 50s with an ultra-light 1-1/2 lb synthetic bag and was toasty. Others have used them in colder weather, although I wouldn't want to be kayaking in weather colder than that!
Winter and spring paddling around here is frequently done in 40-45 F temps (almost never freezes here), and the HH would be put to the test, for sure. Maintaining enough insulation underneath is the toughie, for sure. Mike's space blanket solution is a good one. Others have double-thermarested and been warm, I have heard.

On West Coast Paddler, there is a regular cult of HH users.


Posted: Fri Oct 26, 2007 7:45 pm
by mje
One favorite technique of many is to use a layer of the foam material used to make car winshield sun screens. It's thin and has a decent R-value, and you can easily cut it to fit in the hammmock. The folding foam sleeping pads with a waffle texture work well, too, I'm told. You don't need anything as expensive as a Thermarest as there's no need to add cushioning.

And keep in mind I was using a very light summer weight bag with a foot vent! A decent three or four season bag would be a different story.

Posted: Sat Oct 27, 2007 1:56 am
by chrstjrn
All the advantages you are citing, concerning the HH, are true. I find mine very comfortable and, as several have said, easy to hang in places where pitching a tent or tarp would be very difficult. They are also relatively bug-proof, and I can testify that they keep you dry as a bone in a thunderstorm.

On the negative side, if you can't find two trees, roofracks, or whatever, that are an appropriate distance apart, you are out-of-luck. This has been a problem for me. I know you can pitch it on the ground, but that accentuates all of it's disadvantages and negates many of it's positives. I find it awkward to get in and out of-- and there is only one exit. Maybe I'm over-nervous about large 2- and 4- legged predators, but this is something that is important to me. You also have to carry a hammock for each person, which can make a tarp many multiples lighter.

Sleeping Bag: any part of the bag that is crushed by one's weight loses all of it's insulating value. That is why people use closed-cell foam to insulate underneath. I know most of you know that, but I thought it would bear mentioning. Personally, I use a Ray-way quilt-- far more comfortable than a sleeping bag. You can get in an out far more easily, ventilate and control temperature more easily, and aren't carrying any useless weight. I don't subscribe to all of Ray's ideas, but I love his tarps and quilts!

Posted: Sat Oct 27, 2007 10:01 pm
by Alm
Perhaps I shouldn't have used HH acronym for Hubba-Hubba mesh tent. Those interpreting HH as Hennessy Hammock must've found my last post confusing, if not senseless. Sorry.