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How big is your tent?

Old 10-06-10, 12:13 PM
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How big is your tent?

Do you tour with an itty-bitty tent just barely big enough or prefer to have a larger one with plenty of space?

We cycled for nearly 2.5 years with a tent barely large enough for the four of us - we fit, but it was a tight fit. We never really thought about it.

But then Eddie Bauer came on board as a sponsor and they sent us two tents - our big one was wearing out and wouldn't withstand the winds of Patagonia anyway. They said these were 2-person tents, but they sleep 3 each just fine. Now, we are loving having the extra space and I don't think I would want to go back to being crammed in. Yes, that space comes at the price of weight but I think I'm willing to pay that price for the comfort!

What about you? What are your priorities in a tent?
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Old 10-06-10, 12:23 PM
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I'm over 6 feet, so I like enough length to stretch out and not touch the ends of the tent. I like room to sit up or kneel, to make changing clothes in public campgrounds easier, and I like room to bring in my 2 panniers and bar bag so I'll have all my goodies at hand, if I get rained-in or something. And I like room to not feel claustrophobic if I"m stuck in it for a few hours (back to the rained-in scenario).

It's nice if it's able to sleep 2 people in reasonable comfort.

I use an REI quarter dome UL2 and it does everything I wanted, except that I do have to sleep diagonally across the floor to avoid touching the walls. Not a big problem.
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Old 10-06-10, 12:41 PM
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Depending on the scenario and weather, a tarp, a hammock or a 4 person Timberline A-frame. If you are on relatively flat ground, the weight of the 4 person is moot and oh, what a luxury! The 4 person weight 11 lbs though so gotta really think hard. I will probably buy a 2 person this year for in-between trips off road. They are more like 5 to 7 lbs. I like the simplicity and sturdiness of the Eureka Timberline series though they are not the lightest or leading edge technology. They are very easy to maintain and set up.
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Old 10-06-10, 12:45 PM
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I got so tired of having tents that only had some of what I wanted,I made one.
It ended up being a big one man tent with a huge vestibule about 5 pounds in weight,including poles and groundcloth.

Self supporting,sets up as one piece,tall enough to change clothes,good venting,alum poles,attic,cook hole,a door that doesn't flop on the ground,made from blackout material camo,3 poles for wind,18 stakeout points w/pole wraps for wind,setup in minutes and so on.I've never been happier and I don't want to make another for awhile.
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Old 10-06-10, 01:09 PM
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I have a 1 person ultra light hiking tent. I bought it from someone that used it to hike the Appalachian Trail. It fits only one person, but is incredibly lightweight and portable.
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Old 10-06-10, 03:26 PM
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I'm using a one person ultralight tent (Big Agnes Copper Spur UL1. It's definitely tight, but I only sleep in it so I don't mind. I've been happy with it for the short tours I've done this summer, but ask me again next summer when I'll have been living in it for a year.
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Old 10-06-10, 03:26 PM
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What about you? What are your priorities in a tent?
I have a Eureka Spitfire 2 - 10'9"x5'10"x4'4.5" (asymmetrical [wider at shoulders than feet]) 4lbs 3oz. This satisfies my desire for a tent large enough for me to bring in 4 panniers and the handlebar bag while not weighing a ton. It's not free-standing, but only requires 2 guylines/stakes when the weather's not big-time windy (I always completely stake it anyway just because that's the way it's designed and it doesn't really take that much time to do so).

There's enough headroom to comfortably get dressed without kicking anyone dumb enough to share the tent with me (hasn't happened yet). The only possible "drawback" is it has no real vestibule. That could result in mud being tracked inside, but I take my shoes off before entering and set them on a waste piece of cloth/tyvek inside.

I've had the tent out in the hot and humid Southeastern US summer nights as well as during a few "serious" rain and wind storms. So far, it's more than met my expectations. A concern raised elsewhere was that in a serious dust storm, because of the amount of mesh used in the tent, dust would get under the fly and through the mesh onto everything inside. Shrug - we'll see if/when I ever get out to the American Southwest again.

I picked this up for just over $120 after winning a scratch-off lottery card this past August. Usually, I've stuck with tents that cost under $100 - think WallyWorld specials. IF the Eureka Timberline 2XT cost just a bit less and weighed 2-3 pounds less, I'd have bought that instead --- I used them for years as a Scout and Adult Scout. The Timberline series is just so damned durable!

Last edited by drmweaver2; 10-06-10 at 03:38 PM.
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Old 10-06-10, 05:39 PM
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I won't go out with less than a "2 man" tent when rolling solo, if I go with a second person the "4 man" tent comes along. The weight penalty is not that great for the extra space involved. My current tents are a Coleman Inyo 2 that I bought on clearance sale the other is the venerable Eureka Timberline with added vestibules or front flies. The Inyo weighs around 5# the Eureka Timberline close to 8#.

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Old 10-06-10, 05:49 PM
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Eureka Spitfire 1 here. 18 sq ft with small side vestibules. Has worked for me for 5 years and about 150 pitches. But I'm only 5'7".
I often bring a pannier or two inside and still have all the room I need to be comfortable. Cosy but comfortable.

If I could find a 25 sq ft tent with all the features I like about the Spitfire 1, I'd buy. Haven't yet, but keep looking. Anybody got a candidate?
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Old 10-06-10, 08:32 PM
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We've always used a 3 person tent for two people. Pretty hard to live in the tent for more than overnight if there's no room to put anything. We can bring all our gear, even for a long backpack or tour (except the packs or panniers themselves) into the tent with us. So for the two of us, either a Big Agnes SL3 or a Sierra Designs Tiros Guide, depending on expected weather.
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Old 10-06-10, 08:37 PM
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https://www.blackdiamondequipment.com...ers/mega-light

I've been using this tent and earlier versions for backpacking, ski tours and bike tours since the mid '80s. Love the headroom, love the ability to cook inside, love the floor space-to-weight ratio. Paying extra for a floor is a bit of a drag, though.
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Old 10-06-10, 08:41 PM
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I still have my Sierra Designs Asteroid. I've used it for years. Sold as a two person tent it has plenty of room for 1+gear. Single pole lets me set it up in pitch black. I solo tour so it fits me well.

BTW, nice to hear from you Nancy. Hope you and your family are well.

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Old 10-06-10, 11:03 PM
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if you bring a big tarp for hanging out under, tent size matters a lot less.

tough to go big on tent without the weight that goes along with it, so i go small tent (if i bring one), big silnylon tarp.
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Old 10-06-10, 11:23 PM
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The tent is the one area I do carry a little extra weight. I don't find ultralite other gear is a compromise, but the tent is. A really small tent is OK when it doesn't rain, or isn't hot, but it can be very uncomfortable. I am on the low side of big, broad shoulders and 6'1" tall. That makes me a little tall for all tents, and a little wide for rolling over etc... In recent years I have been doing rides with two shelters, experimenting with minimal tents, tarps, and hammocks. Now I intend to return to my usual standard, a 2 person crossed pole tent, like a bibler, or there is the cheap MEC camper 2. If I was on a multi year family trip I would carry a fair sized shelter. VE 24 per 2.
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Old 10-06-10, 11:32 PM
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a tarp is more spacious and airy than most every tent i've ever owned. downright nice to hang out under and breezy compared to stifling. my last trip i had it nearly ideal, i brought a mosquito tent inner i hung under my tarp. lots of room to move about, great ventilation, and a bug free place to sleep.

All in less weight than any tent I've ever packed, and i've tried some small tents - I even had a stint in the 90's field testing gear for MSR during the time they acquired Walrus and Moss Tents.

My favorite all season tent for one person or two on expedition is the venerable North Face Westwind.

If i were going on a trip like Nancy and family, I would be opting for a largish tent AND a large siltarp.

Last edited by Bekologist; 10-06-10 at 11:39 PM.
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Old 10-07-10, 04:57 AM
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If I am in the tent I am usually sleeping or reading and I don't need much room for either. I only take in a minimal amount of stuff preferring to leave loaded pannier on the bike. That means I only need room for me, what I need to sleep, and my clothes for the morning.

I find a two person tent fine for two and a bit overkill for one. That said I have used my two person MSR Fling on one solo tour. It was OK since it is pretty light, but I really didn't find the extra space to be that big of an asset.
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Old 10-07-10, 05:19 AM
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5ft x 7ft Dome, Can bring in 4 panniers to keep everything dry.
Love it.
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Old 10-07-10, 07:29 AM
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I use a single wall Henry Shires Tarptent, the Cloudburst model (Tarptent.com). Its a single walled tent that'll easily hold two persons and weighs about 2.5 lbs. Works great in spring-summer-fall, and stands up to a decent rainshower. 'Single walled' isn't a problem when you consider lots of lightweight double walled tents have a mesh interior that'll won't stop rain if the outer fly gets a hole in it.
 
Old 10-07-10, 08:51 AM
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This past couple of years I've used a Kelty two man tent, 31 square feet and small vestibul. It weighs in at only 4 lbs, so at best, I could probably save less than a pound on a one man tent but enjoy the extra space if you're having to sit out a downpour. Now the hammock and tarp will get me lighter but a different tool.
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Old 10-07-10, 08:24 PM
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I was unhappy with the weight of my tent (7 1/2 lb). It was roomy enough for two to move around in, but I wanted to trim some weight. This year I made a tent from tyvek (my neighbor is siding a couple of cottages), an old tent screen door, an old tent pole, a piece of bamboo from my garden and some garden clothe. I ended up with room for four or five in a 3 1/4 lb package. It was put to the test one afternoon/night when it rained nearly 10 inches. It would have been perfect except that the condensation in it from my having cooked dinner had a tendency to create a fine mist when huge drops came down from the tall trees. I never did bring my bike into it, but it would have fit easily. I think I will trim it down to a more reasonable size for my next trip. It is probably a lot like Bekologist's tarp set up in that the Tyvek does not reach the ground; the bottom foot is garden clothe (like fine mosquito netting) for ventilation. A four foot long bamboo pole sits at a 90 degree angle across an arched dome pole and there are several grommets to tie it down and out.
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Old 10-08-10, 12:36 PM
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It sounds like a lot of us are willing to carry the extra weight in order to have more space. We didn't have it for a long time, but now I think I'm spoiled!
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Old 10-08-10, 12:57 PM
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I have two tents, a small three man tent for loaded touring and a large 4 man tent for supported touring. I like having my stuff and bike inside when it is pouring.
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Old 10-08-10, 01:16 PM
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You can also use an Avenir Nylon Bicycle Cover to protect your bike, or similar, or use a plain camping tarp that you can also use to hang out under where it is possible to hang it. Depends how much weight you want to carry around and the weather at your locations...
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Old 10-08-10, 02:54 PM
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I just reread my post and realized I forgot to add that I ALWAYS carry a tarp with me in addition to the tent. I use a 10'x10' nylon one that weighs a couple of pounds. It cost less than half what a Silnylon one does and only weighs a half pound more. I also think it may be more durable in the long run.

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Old 10-09-10, 09:18 AM
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Hi Nancy,

A completely unrelated note: My friend and I just finished the Northern Tier. We were in a diner in Monroeville, Indiana having breakfast when a report and interview of you and your family started playing on the local news channel. It was great.

Tom
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