Some Tent Tips

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If you’re reading this, you’re an outdoorsey sort of person and probably know all of this – but maybe not. Maybe there’s just a nugget of information in here that you’ll be glad of. One of them I can even claim as my own idea…

We like tents and not bivy/tarps because we like snuggling up together. It’s a couple thing.

Here are a few pearls of wisdom that I’ve picked up about them.

Scrunch don’t roll (unless you want to)

When packing a tent on the hill there’s no need to flatten, fold and roll it all up, if you prefer you can just stuff it in (like you should always do with sleeping bags – which should never be rolled). It won’t do the tent any harm, at least not according to Bo Hilleberg if a thread on OM is to be believed.

Of course rolling works really well for some tents particularly where the inner is usually left attached to the fly.

Pack it in a couple of big stuff-sacks

Something that Chris Townsend mentioned in an interview with Bob Cartwright (I can’t find it now – grab them all they’re all great!) was not to carry the tent in the original bag but to split inner and outer into two largish stuff-sacks instead.

This works amazingly well in transforming your tent from a giant, intransigent, sausage-shape in to two compressible, slippery pillow-shapes that can be squeezed down the side of the pack, under your lunch and food-stop clothing, right out of the way.

I use silnylon sacks to keep the weight down of course and it also makes them far more slippery and therefore easier to pack.

Even if your tent pitches inner+fly together, repacking it in a larger bag can help it to squash around other things and actually achieve a smaller pack.

Snapping poles together

You’re always told “Don’t let the ends of the tent poles ‘snap’ together under the force of the elastic cord”. But how will it damage such tough poles? I’d always wondered.

sweden-summer-07-38-small Well the instructions that came with the Terra Nova Voyager Superlite finally let me in on the secret.

It’s because they might be scratched, and that scratch will remove the very thin anodised layer, and they will start to corrode at the joint, which will weaken them and they may eventually fail.

Guy lines

Generally guy lines should be as long as possible to allow them to “pull” in the direct opposite direction to the wind. A short guy line will only pull towards the ground. Just look at the length of the lines on full-mountain tents like the Crux range. Of course in a camp site, a short guy line may stop someone falling on to your tent!

And of course replacing them with Dyneema and Mini-Line Loks means lighter, stronger and easier to use guy lines.

Striking in high wind

Taking down a tent in a high wind is a risky procedure. A tent is only at full strength when everything is assembled. As you take it apart you risk something being strained in a way it’s not designed for and failing spectacularly.

This is something we worked out with the Voyager but it should apply to many other tents. Get into the porch, un-clip all the inner except the top above the door, and the where the poles cross.

Using your your body inside the tent to keep the poles from snapping as the tent is buffeted, un-clip those and immediately pop the poles out of the eyelets; collapsing the tent.

Whilst you’re still under the flapping fly, un-peg all the inner attachment points and bag it.

Then pull the pegs from fly but make sure you pop the lee-side first to stop the fly just flicking over and releasing from the last pegs – before disappearing off across the hillside!

This also works well for striking in the rain where it can keep the inner dry, saving you weight. Also saving you from getting water inside the tent if, like the Voyager Superlite, there are mesh panels in the inner.

A cunning porch closure method

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I can’t be the first person to have thought of this but I can claim to have thought this one up all on my own (not everything is pinched from somewhere else in the Interweb you know!).

Attach a spare bit of guy-line to one zip on the porch. I use some shiny, white Spectra.

It naturally tends to trail toward the door when you close it.

So in the morning when you’re sat with your bum in the tent and your feet in your freshly laced shoes outside the tent you don’t have to bend-double to reach a zip. You just grab the cord and pull. No more walking forward on your knuckles wishing you’d stuck with the yoga.

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And, as in the picture, you can even use it in reverse; to close the tent: Use a toe to grab the zip whilst holding the cord and close the zip with your foot (trust me – it’s far easier than it sounds).

4 Replies to “Some Tent Tips”

  1. Thanks Chris! It just came to me one morning as I stiffly reached for the zip.

    It’s one of those things that’s so simple and, in retrospect, so obvious you wonder why it doesn’t come as standard on a tent!

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