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Thread: Calling all Tent testers

  1. #1
    Moderator Alaskacanoe's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Calling all Tent testers

    WJackson posted a question in the Rafting forum about what tent would be best for rafting trips.
    Lots of Tent names and designs were tossed around.
    Most all of us have had tents that have failed in some fashion or anouther.
    What would you do to make a better tent?
    What has failed you in the past and no one seems to fix the problems.?
    What testing should a Test be put through before being called a 3 season
    or 4 season tent.?
    How do you put your tent away after the wet trip.? ( Mike Strahan wrote a great article on this a few years ago)
    How fast should the tent be able to set up?
    What secrets have you used to add to your tent setups that make the tenting experience better?
    How long should a tent last?
    Does the price tag of a tent mean it is a better tent than a less expensive tent?
    Please don't just suggest a certain brand or model. Tell us exactly what made that model tent work. or not work.
    Also, Lets hear some great and funny tent stories..
    Our own Alaska outdoor directory Research and development think tank in action.
    Max
    When you come to a fork in the trail, take it!

    Rentals for Canoes, Kayaks, Rafts, boats serving the Kenai canoe trail system and the Kenai river for over 15 years. www.alaskacanoetrips.com

  2. #2
    Moderator Alaskacanoe's Avatar
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    Default The extra door

    One time a buddy of mine decided to light the pump up whisper lite up in our tent, It was rainy and he wanted to cook in the tent.
    I was busy outside with other camp duties when suddenly I heard a scream from the tent, and a big flash of light. My buddy came running out of the tent,and tossed a flaming stove to the ground,,, but he did not exit through the zip up door, but through a new 3 foot hole in the back wall.
    the Stove flared up caught the wall on fire. it seems they forgot to put fire retardant in the material, or enough..for a flaming whisperlite....lol
    any way,, thank goodness for blue tarps...
    ..
    what was learned?
    1. leave that guy home next time.
    2. never light a gas stove or lantern in the tent, do it outside and then when its running nicely, you may bring it in if everyone agrees...
    3. bring along an spare tent, even if its smaller or lighter.

    Max
    When you come to a fork in the trail, take it!

    Rentals for Canoes, Kayaks, Rafts, boats serving the Kenai canoe trail system and the Kenai river for over 15 years. www.alaskacanoetrips.com

  3. #3

    Thumbs up impressed

    Along time ago when i was young and full of energy a friend came up from the lower 48 in july and visited for 2 weeks. We hiked up in the mountains around Hope enjoying a beautiful sunny july day. Our second nite out the temps dropped down to the low 30s. The wind howled and whipped viscously then the rain came. We slept through the nite with out a drip. Woke up next morning to the howling wind and the pounding rain. Cooked breakfast, read books, talked about old times and listened to the rain and wind up till dark that nite. Fell asleep again to howling winds and pounding rains. We were parked up tight to a wall on a little ledge. I nervously slept through the next nite wondering if boulders, mud or whatever else kinds of s#*t might come tumbling down on us. Woke up the next day, still blowing hard and raining like mad. Finally around mid afternoon a dead calm came over and the sun peeked out with a rising temp. I looked the tent fly over for any rips or tears around the guys and found that the little 2 man Eureka Timberline was still in tact.After spending over 40 hours in that little tent with another man i was sure glad to get the h#*l out. I bought that tent when i first came to alaska and ten years later it was still in great shape.I think i paid under 150 bucks for it back in 1978. I gave it to a freind when i left the state. I now have a northface mountain 25 that i bought for my brooks range trip this August. I can only hope it performs as well as the timberline did.
    Bushwaker

  4. #4
    Member chriso's Avatar
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    Default Hard to beat Barney's tents for just about anything!

    Quote Originally Posted by Alaskacanoe View Post
    WJackson posted a question in the Rafting forum about what tent would be best for rafting trips.
    Lots of Tent names and designs were tossed around.
    Most all of us have had tents that have failed in some fashion or anouther.
    What would you do to make a better tent?
    What has failed you in the past and no one seems to fix the problems.?
    What testing should a Test be put through before being called a 3 season
    or 4 season tent.?
    How do you put your tent away after the wet trip.? ( Mike Strahan wrote a great article on this a few years ago)
    How fast should the tent be able to set up?
    What secrets have you used to add to your tent setups that make the tenting experience better?
    How long should a tent last?
    Does the price tag of a tent mean it is a better tent than a less expensive tent?
    Please don't just suggest a certain brand or model. Tell us exactly what made that model tent work. or not work.
    Also, Lets hear some great and funny tent stories..
    Our own Alaska outdoor directory Research and development think tank in action.
    Max
    I've gotten a couple of the Hurricane Huts from them just before they quit making them, I owned an 8x8 Bombshelter of his which was actually my first choice for perfect all around tent, large enough for 2 or 3 guys to get in out of the weather, tall enough for you to sort of stand when getting in and out of wet or cold gear, truly "bombpruf", etc. Then my father in law started bringing his 10 x 10 bombshelter and I think it has too large a footprint. We're always winding up staking some rolling / brushy / or rocky terrain under it. Granted, you can truly stand up in it, and it's still "bombpruf" but the Hurricane hut is just about a perfect size between the two where we can usually find an area level and clear large enough to set it up, we can still stand inside, there is a bit more interior room, but not so large that it looses heat too rapidly.

    I like to take my wife and kids on the float trips, warmth and comfort is paramount if you want them to get the fever and keep coming with you. We blow up one of them king sized air mattersses inside and her and the kids think they're off to a party or something. And I have the comfort of knowing that pretty much anything mother nature decides to dish out while we're out there the tents will stand up to.

    I don't own any tents that arent 4 season. Left to my own devices, I'd probably take one of the North Face VE's or Mountainhardware Trango's because they're more compact and lighter, but the wife and kids need to stand up in order to be more comfortable. (Maybe you're luckier than I in this dept!) I think if you're going to fly out, raft out, boat out, or pack out in Alaska you need to have something to stand up to severe winds, rain and snow no matter what. I've heard too many horror stories of folks with snapped poles wrapped up in lesser tents like a burrito hoping for the storm to pass. I'm not above wrapping up if the day ever comes... but while I'm laying there I'm not going to be second guessing my purchase decision and wondering if a different tent would have stood longer.

    For me, setting up a tent in fierce winds with no light and driving rain should be one of the tests of weather it's appropriate for alaska. And, if I have to pitch the tent in a pond several inches deep, I need to have a fighting chance of getting dried out once inside. I need to have it set up in less than 5 minutes and still have time for any other minor chores which may come up at the same time. I know from experience the tents I've mentioned above will do that for me. Condensation and driven rain entering the tent are additional problems you can't tolerate in alaskas wilds.

    I don't think a high price necessarily dictates a quality tent, but I don't feel bad about paying more for high quality either. I've owned my Hurricane Huts for over 8 seasons now and they are still like new, my North Face Ve I've had for nearly 20 years and same story goes there. The Trangoes are only 5 and 6 years old, but I expect they'll last equally well. I hang them in the garage to air out / dry out before storing them after each use.

    My only "tent story" involves my VE from North Face. After about 6 years of hunting with it, one night someone got a bit carried away with a celebration (post victory) bonfire and several embers (maybe 20 or 30 actually) melted small holes in the rainfly. Following that we had a bear in camp one year and he raked his claws through a portion of the fly. We still kept using it, and eventually took the tent on a late season caribou hunt in Illiamna and spent several days in a blizzard under the wing of the plane. Trying to zip up the fly all ice encrusted and such, I tore another rip between some of the dots so to speak, from the ember holes, and finally wrote a really nice letter to N Face explaining the bear thing, the overblown bonfire thing, and my negligent care of the tent in general, and asking if they'd consider selling me a rainfly seperately rather than making me purchase a whole new tent... I got a brand new one at no charge with an apology from them for the "premature UV damage" my tent had sufferred from... I have a feeling Barney's and Mountian Hardware are both outfits of similar decency if I ever manage to tear up one of their products.

    Hope this is of some use to someone out there! Thanks, Chris

  5. #5
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    Default

    I'm many years past being a 4-season camper; necessity could change that at some point I guess, but hasn't yet....... knock on wood..... quickly. ;^>)

    That said, I can assert that I've taken many a long motorcycle ride quite a ways across Canada by myself in the last 15-20 years, and have even been accused a time or two of having a 'tent fetish' by my wife. (Seems that I've acquired a collection of the things in the basement; 'one for every occasion' tends to be my motto.)

    I've been a big fan of the Eureka Tetragon for a long time. It's an inexpensive tent, in terms of comparing it with higher-priced mountain gear, but the clips and lack of sleeves makes the thing a cinch to set up by yourself, and mine hasn't come down in the wind yet. I always use extra seam sealer for rain and dew, though.

    I did make the mistake of lending it to a wayward biker in need of a dry home for the evening, and apparently failed to make my 'no smoking in or near the tent' policy plainly clear enough, thus it was returned with a cigarette burn hole in the rain fly; patched nicely and inexpensively by a local outdoor gear sewing and manufacturing outfit.

    I now have several different sizes of that model, ranging from 7'x7' to 11'x11' or 12'x12'. The bigger they are, the more susceptible they are to strong winds; it's a sailing phenomenon of sorts. .. pure physics..

    The newer ones have the option of an extended fly to provide a storage area outside the tent, but out of the rain as well.

    I believe that my 7'x7' Tetragon (my preferred size for solo trips allowing me to store gear and a firearm in the tent at night with me) cost me less than $79.00 when I acquired it years ago, and Campmor still advertises them at a very reasonable rate close to that.

    ruffle

  6. #6
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    Default

    tetragon 7 has worked well for me so far also.
    Want to get a 5 to ry for solo hunts.
    Vance in AK.

    Matthew 6:33
    "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you."

  7. #7
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    Default The Tent

    I love tents. Even the 35 dollar Sears Special I bought as a teen brings back fond (and funny) memories. Twenty years ago I bought a Sierra Designs 4-season tent. I have spent well over 1000 nights in that tent in all kinds of conditions. I have camped at 13,000+ feet in Colorado in a howling winter wind, up and down the Rocky Mountains of the western US, on the beaches of Mexico and all over Alaska, summer fall, winter and spring. Having a tent that you can rely on is of paramount importance. A couple of years ago the zipper head finally wore out, and a few pole sections are starting to show some cracks. The only downside to that tent is that it stands a little tall (52" or so) and therefore catches the wind a bit. Aside from that, that tent has been the s***. Once I replace a few pole sections, I hope I can get another few years on it before I pass it along to the kids. I do hope they enjoy it.

  8. #8
    Member 6XLeech's Avatar
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    Default Testing Tents for Rafting Trips

    From a thread Max started awhile back:

    "Most all of us have had tents that have failed in some fashion or another.
    1. What would you do to make a better tent?
    2. What has failed you in the past and no one seems to fix the problems.?
    3. What testing should a Tent be put through before being called a 3 season or 4 season tent?
    4. How do you put your tent away after the wet trip.? ( Mike Strahan wrote a great article on this a few years ago)
    5. How fast should the tent be able to set up?
    6. What secrets have you used to add to your tent setups that make the tenting experience better?
    7. How long should a tent last?
    8. Does the price tag of a tent mean it is a better tent than a less expensive tent?
    Please don't just suggest a certain brand or model. Tell us exactly what made that model tent work. or not work.
    Also, Lets hear some great and funny tent stories..
    Our own Alaska outdoor directory Research and development think tank in action."

    2. What has failed you in the past...
    Last year, we had our first family float trip. We had hail the first day, some rain everyday and more rain late in the trip. Our older REI tent did not have a full-cover rainfly.
    There are many tents available with a full cover rainfly and this is now our first requirment for any tent.

    3. What testing should a Test be put through before being called a 3 season or 4 season tent?
    Great answers already posted here. I would add some testing suggested by Max in another thread (http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/showthread.php?p=435980#post435980):

    "...what they had to say about holding up in wind, and horizontal rain... asked them if they had put the Tents into a wind tunnel and using the existing tie downs, hooked to something solid. if the tent could handle 80 mph winds and gusts?...then asked them to introduce water to the same test to assimulate rain during a typical Adak or Alaska peninsula hunting trip...that the test would need to be ran for several hours ( 8 hours)to see how it handles, due to the fact that - that is what commonly happens in the Alaskan field...If I were to build a tent, This is how I would do my testing, and then I would use that as advertisement, with a good warranty.
    I bet I could sell a ton of tents if they could perform under those tests..

    4. How do you put your tent away after the wet trip.? ( Mike Strahan wrote a great article on this a few years ago)
    I started hanging my wet tents or rainflies in our garage, which is converted to a gear shed every summer. The sleeping bags also now stay hung up all summer, instead of packed.

    8. Does the price tag of a tent mean it is a better tent than a less expensive tent?
    Desirable gear features eventually cost more. We might get 1 or 2 or 3 great features, but getting them all usually means more cost. Outdoor products compete by doing more with lighter weight - whether it's waterproofness, toughness, durability or function in extreme conditions - there are always tradeoffs. The best designs, made of the best materials in the best assembly methods will cost more as a rule. The best places to find "deals" are end-of-season sales, or resales like Craigslist/Alaska.

    For me so far, at least under $1,000, the stand-up family (of 3 or 4) rafting tents are one group and the wind-tough family rafting tents a different group (probably two, low-profile 3-man tents).

    Good informative thread. Thanks.

  9. #9

    Default

    The only catastrophic failure I have ever had with a tent was when I was too broke or cheap to spend the appropriate amount of funds on a quality tent (ie K-Mart specials). The closest I have ever been to a catastrophic failure with a quality tent was hunting Brown Bear on the Alaska Peninsula (down by the Katmai). We experienced sustained winds of 50-60 mph with gusts above 70 mph. The tent being used was a Cabelas 6 man Guide Tent. We ended up stacking Action Packers on the leeward wall and took turns for about 20 hours sitting on them and leaning against the wall of the tent to keep it from collapsing on top of use. I solely attribute the problems we had to the height/surface area of the 6 man guide tent. Had it been a shorter model (lower profile) we would probably not have had any issues since we selected a good tent site. Other than that the only hurdle I have had to overcome with tents has been finding one that has all the features I want. I believe I have found my be all end all tent for everything Alaska in a Hilleberg Nallo 3 GT, Pitches lightning fast, has a huge vestibule, bucks the wind, is sewn and taped in a bombproof manner, and breathes unbelievably well. And all that at 6 lbs.





    If you want a 2 man tent that will resist damage in a Hurricane but compromises space, this is also a bad azz 2 man tent. Hilleberg Allak


  10. #10
    Member 6XLeech's Avatar
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    Default Max's Ultimate Tent Test certified...

    The Nallo 3 or 4 GT is perfect in many ways - and bet it would pass Max's Ultimate Tent Test ("... put the Tents into a wind tunnel and using the existing tie downs, hooked to something solid. if the tent could handle 80 mph winds and gusts?...[then] to introduce water to the same test to assimilate rain during a typical Adak or Alaska peninsula hunting trip...for several hours ( 8 hours)to see how it handles, due to the fact that - that is what commonly happens in the Alaskan field...If I were to build a tent, This is how I would do my testing, and then I would use that as advertisement, with a good warranty. I bet I could sell a ton of tents if they could perform under those tests..").

    These are tough (economic) times to even talk about high-end gear and many (most?) folks hunt just fine with tents for less than "ultimate" grade, but some AK hunts probably demand these high-end (ultimate) tents and Max's testing scheme probably would sell tents.

    For example, among tents that will accommodate, say 4 cots (Go-Kots, 27"x74" each), if someone was going to spend $1500-$2200 (or more bucks), a test like Max's would be ideal. ("MUTT-certified", so to speak)

    Danattherock posted a $5K tent (Ultimate large tent thread), but here's one for $2,200 that looks like it would work (4 season, expedition grade) for less than 20 pounds - that could be worth the price - and might benefit from MUTT-certification: Mtn Hardwre, Satellite 6 (http://www.mountainhardwear.com/Prod...&viewAll=False)
    Last edited by 6XLeech; 03-16-2010 at 23:13.

  11. #11
    Member 6XLeech's Avatar
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    Default Wind-tunnel tested - for real

    Quote: "... if they had put the Tents into a wind tunnel and using the existing tie downs, hooked to something solid. if the tent could handle 80 mph winds and gusts?..."

    Sierra Designs has several tents that they have wind tunnel tested:
    http://www.sierradesigns.com/tents.innovations.html (bottom of page).

    From their website: Tents that are currently in the line and have been wind tunnel tested:
    Assailant 1
    Stretch Dome 3
    Stretch Prelude 4
    Alpha 3
    Omega 2
    Clip Flashlight 2

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