Gear: Tent Recon-Re-Figuring
From 2 tents to 3:
In the quest for lighter weight to avoid injury and all such, I have been juggling about with some alternatives and chosen to add weight....
For the Foothills Trail hike over Thanksgiving I brought in a 3 man tent from Tarptent. The great thing about it would be that for 2lbs 8oz, I could stuff all 4 of my kids into it and have the problem of shelter solved for very little weight. For us it had a few potential problems:
- Tent is too small for Four: For some reason they call this 3 man tent the Rainshadow 2 (I guess its a 2nd version of the first Rainshadow), but it is big enough for my 4 kids... 2 years ago. It is a single wall tent which means condensation is only a problem if you touch the tent and open the drip. With 3 of them it would have been fine. But they were touching the tent all over the place. It held the rain out just fine, but when they managed to pull the dew right through. Additionally, all four are now on their own ground-pads, and they don't all fit comfortably across the floor. Well, they start comfortably, then start jockeying for position.
- Footprint is too big for the makeshift campsite: The footprint was a little large for makeshift camping. The Foothills trail had wide camp sites and wasn't a problem, but anticipating the problem of slotting our way between tight trees in a pinch had me a bit worried.
- Wind is a concern: A single stake at the front entry is all that keeps the tent upright. Down in the trees I had no worry, but when we crashed on the top of Sassafrass on the last night, I woke several times, sure that the next gust would bring it down on their heads. Now, you certainly could improve it with a simple fix and loop a line through the front tether and double stake it. If the wind were my only concern, this would have been an easy improvement.
All in all, it's a great tent for us two years ago when our kids were smaller and our hikes ended early in the afternoon with more time to choose a sheltered spacious campsite. Now that we are hiking later in the day and longer hours with larger kids, it just isn't a fit.
After coming home from the Foothills Trail I finally conceded the fact that I can't stuff these kids in like sardines anymore, and started shopping for 2 man tent alternatives. I landed on the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2. It is a reasonably popular tent on the Pacific Crest Trail, lightweight, and, while not as robust as the Copper Spur from Big Agnes, it seems to hold up pretty well. AND, if I'm being completely transparent, it was on nearly irresistible closeout sales to make way for the new model.
On the kid's shelter side of the equation we have doubled their weight. However, they now have a double wall tent with a small footprint that is going to be a little more sturdy in the wind. We tested the tents on the Florida Trail over Christmas and have no complaint.
For the third tent we are sticking with our well used Tarptent Double Rainbow.
Tent questions are answered for now.