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Topic: Going shelterless< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 01 2012, 1:20 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I am contemplating getting back into backpacking and want to go as light as possible now that I'm getting a little older.  What does everyone do that goes without a traditional tent?  I'm not really worried about the bugs, its the spiders and snakes I'm concerned about.  Do you not have any issues with them if you are just sleeping on a ground cloth under a tarp (when needed)?

I realize they would not be as much an issue in the colder months, but here in the mountains of SC we still have snakes for most of the year.  Always seem to see a few rattlers out while deer hunting.  Do you'll not worry about one of them looking to warm up in the bag with you or right next to you while you sleep.  Just wandering.
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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 01 2012, 2:40 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I think that snakes would avoid us at all costs.  That thing about snakes crawling into the bag for warmth has no basis in truth, IMO.

I sleep out under the stars as much as possible, in some serious rattler country.  I have seen snakes during the day while I was hiking, but never had one in camp.

Spiders do not concern me at all.  The incidence of coming across poisonous ones is pretty small, unless you sleep in trail shelters.

I did have a scorpion die close to me one night, but I have no idea what killed it.  Just woke up to a dead scorpion next to my arm.


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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 01 2012, 4:35 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

That is why brands like Tarptent and Six Moon Designs (and others..) exist.
To give you a fully enclosed (bug proof) shelter for not much more weight than a tarp plus ground sheet (plus bivvy, plus bug net...)
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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 01 2012, 8:03 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(ol-zeke @ Nov. 01 2012, 2:40 pm)
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The incidence of coming across poisonous ones is pretty small, unless you sleep in trail shelters.

Am I missing something here?  Why would the only concern for poisonous exist in trail shelters?  Are they not present outside of such shelters.  Don't know much about spiders to know which are poisonous and which are not but they are everywhere.
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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 01 2012, 8:23 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I figure spiders live everywhere, but my chances of camping right where they live is reduced when I sleep out in the open.  In shelters, they are just another thing using the shelter as a refuge from the elements.  Just my thoughts.  No science or facts to back up the opinion.  

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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 01 2012, 9:51 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Franco @ Nov. 01 2012, 4:35 pm)
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That is why brands like Tarptent and Six Moon Designs (and others..) exist.
To give you a fully enclosed (bug proof) shelter for not much more weight than a tarp plus ground sheet (plus bivvy, plus bug net...)

+1


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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 01 2012, 11:32 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I cowboy camp a lot when backpacking in summer.  Nothing but a ground cloth, a pad & my bag when there's no need for a roof over my head.  However, when the bugs decide that I'm their next meal, a Yama Mountain Gear Bug Shelter is what I sleep in. (Disclaimer: That is my photo on the website, but I'm just a satisfied customer)

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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 02 2012, 1:06 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

We are lucky here in Australia because we just assume that anything that moves can kill you or at least make your life uncomfortable , so no need for us to guess the poisonous one.
Most are cute...
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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 02 2012, 6:56 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

A few things...  

1. I really don't worry about spiders and snakes.  I do worry about mosquitoes when they are bad.  A bug bivy at 6 ounces (TiGoat, MLD, or Borah) or so resolves that issue fine, but I wouldn't bother with it if the mosquitoes were not a problem.
2. How light are you planning to go?  It is quite possible to go pretty light and still carry a tent.  A base weight of 10 pounds can be achieved even with a sub $100 tent like the Eureka Spitfire 1.
3. A regular bivy is another option although I find them unpleasant when it is hot and buggy.  When it is hot and not buggy I just sleep on top of mine.
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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 02 2012, 11:20 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I cowboy camp whenever I can but I always carry at least a simple tarp.  The only critters I worry about are things that like humans... like mosquitoes, ticks and mice.  Where there are mosquitoes and ticks, I use an enclosed tarptent, either a Tarptent Contrail or a Lightheart Solo.

If you hike with trekking poles, just going to a shelter that utilizes your poles for structural support will be a good big step in weight savings.

For weight reference:
Silnylon ridgeline tarp - 10oz (solo), 13oz (double)
Tarptent Contrail - 26 oz (seam sealed)
Lightheart Solo - 27oz (seam sealed)

Cowboy camping:


Simple ridgeline tarp:


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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 16 2012, 3:46 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I worry about these guys (red harvesters):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZaKgEhXOL4
when I go out anywhere around here (Texas).

Not hard to spot unless you make camp in the dark, 'cause their nests are usually a very recognizable circular area some 4 to 5 feet in diameter from which all vegetation has been stripped.

Then there are the fire ants, whose mounds are usually easy to spot, but not always.
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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 16 2012, 10:45 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I guess it would really depend on where you are backpacking. In SC, I'm pretty sure there are no wild animals that would intentionally try to hurt you. They only do that out of self-defense or when trying to eat prey, but since you're so big and seemingly threatening to them, they won't even bother. In a lean-to or other shelter, they will use it just like you: to get out of the rain and nothing more. However, you do need to make sure not to place any food near you at night, shelter or no (but I'm sure you knew that already).

Personally, when I backpack in any forest, I always bring my grand trunk nano-7 hammock. It only weighs 7 oz, comfortable, packs to the size of my fist, and clips on to any part of my backpack, so there's no reason not to bring it, even if I know there's no rain anytime soon. On mountain tops, canyons, or grasslands where there might be no trees and any chance of rain would be disastrous, a nylon tarp + hiking poles will do.

Bottom line: don't worry about animals (mosquitoes maybe) and only go shelterless if you KNOW there will be no rain in the near future and/or you can find a lean-to.
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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 22 2012, 2:31 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

As others have said there are tents available that are as light as many peoples tarp setups.  I like the bug protection but even more important is the tub bottom that protects you from water.  I have been in rain storms that the water was one inch up the sides of that bottom.  Had I been under a tarp it would have been a wet night.  Some folks may say to build up with pine needles or what not but there is also a certain fuss factor I don't want to deal with after a long day of hiking.  Maybe younger guys have the energy but I just want to chill by the fire and crash in my comfortable bug free tent.
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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 22 2012, 2:39 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

No one mentions noseeums or midges.  These little bastardos can ruin a summer backpacking trip as there's no escape unless you want to swelter inside a zipped up tent.

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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 26 2012, 7:28 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(charadeur @ Nov. 22 2012, 12:31 pm)
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I have been in rain storms that the water was one inch up the sides of that bottom.  Had I been under a tarp it would have been a wet night.

The key to that is site selection.  If you take care not to camp in a local depression where water will pool, you avoid such inundations, even in a downpour.  That's harder to do in established campsites where the established sites are all dished out shallow dirt bowls where water will pool, but in more remote areas, it isn't difficult to find spots where water won't pool. (Adding pine needles has never been necessary, or even advised, in my own experience.)

Site selection is a good skill to have whether you're in a tent or a tarp.  It's just more necessary for tarp campers.  Camp on a shallow local maxima (where water would flow away from your site, even without a shelter) and you'll find the need for a "bathtub floor" pretty much vanishes.

As for the OP, you might check out the "Tent/Tarp Camping" thread over the gear forum, a couple pages deep.  I put my thoughts on Tarp camping in bug season in a post there.


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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 29 2012, 1:10 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(GoBlueHiker @ Nov. 26 2012, 7:28 pm)
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The key to that is site selection.  If you take care not to camp in a local depression where water will pool, you avoid such inundations, even in a downpour.  That's harder to do in established campsites where the established sites are all dished out shallow dirt bowls where water will pool, but in more remote areas, it isn't difficult to find spots where water won't pool. (Adding pine needles has never been necessary, or even advised, in my own experience.)

Site selection is a good skill to have whether you're in a tent or a tarp.  It's just more necessary for tarp campers.  Camp on a shallow local maxima (where water would flow away from your site, even without a shelter) and you'll find the need for a "bathtub floor" pretty much vanishes.

As for the OP, you might check out the "Tent/Tarp Camping" thread over the gear forum, a couple pages deep.  I put my thoughts on Tarp camping in bug season in a post there.

"Site Selection" is the phrase many backpackers like to use when dealing with substandard shelters like tarps and floorless tents.  But in the Southeast mountains where I live you cannot avoid rainstorms and deluges which produce either Lake Effect (pooling ground water) or Ground Sheeting---whereby an amount of deluge runoff sheets under your shelter.  These occur no matter where you are camping.  In the more arid West this rarely occurs and hence the popularity of tarps, etc.

Fact in, in a heavy enough rain, and we have them here in TN and NC, the ground will get saturated and moving water will form.  A good tent floor will keep it out.


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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 29 2012, 4:55 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

True , at the same time here in Australia ,and I observed that on my brief visit to WA, often even "experienced" walkers choose the wrong site and only yards away from a "good spot".
Personally I think that some people get it and others just don't...
A typical bad selection (for me...) here in the Alps is behind a small boulder where rather than being protected by it from the wind it causes the wind to slam down on you.
And of course those lovely low flat spots that are caused by standing water in the rainy season ...
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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 29 2012, 10:37 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Tipi Walter @ Nov. 29 2012, 11:10 am)
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"Site Selection" is the phrase many backpackers like to use when dealing with substandard shelters like tarps and floorless tents.  But in the Southeast mountains where I live you cannot avoid rainstorms and deluges which produce either Lake Effect (pooling ground water) or Ground Sheeting---whereby an amount of deluge runoff sheets under your shelter.  These occur no matter where you are camping.  In the more arid West this rarely occurs and hence the popularity of tarps, etc.

Fact in, in a heavy enough rain, and we have them here in TN and NC, the ground will get saturated and moving water will form.  A good tent floor will keep it out.

Not sure what makes you think I only tarp out in "arid regions."

I take my longest trips through temperate rainforests that get double the annual rainfall that states in the Southeast generate.  A tarp still works fine for me.  Site selection isn't that hard, it's just something that most tent-campers don't bother doing (and when they end up in a pool of water, they describe how "inevitable" it was).  I lived in the SE US for a few years, tarped in the relatively flat forests and bayous of SE TX and S Louisiana on several occasions in rainstorms.  I still managed just fine (voilà).  If you accept the simple fact that water doesn't actually flow uphill (not even in the Southeast) it makes a bit more sense.  Plenty of AT thru-hikers have used tarps across the southern woods with no complaints.

But YMMV.  That's why we all hike our own hikes.  If it doesn't work for you, don't use it.  It works just fine for me though, having nothing to do with the arid mountain west.


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(Franco @ Nov. 29 2012, 2:55 pm)
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And of course those lovely low flat spots that are caused by standing water in the rainy season ...

Yup.  Those are the ones that look like such good places to pitch a tent, almost like they were designed to be camping spots.  Whoops.


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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 30 2012, 2:57 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Just depends if it's going to keep you up at night.  I've used only a bivy sack before and it's Ok, just nowhere to move around if there's rain.  With bugs, I prefer an enclosed tarptent if the temps when setting up my shelter are above freezing (considering how much I paid for my Western Mountaineering bag, I'm not about to crush insects with it or in it, nor wear a brimmed cap under a mosquito net to sleep - that's uncomfortable).  

Once it gets colder, out comes the tarp (though with a heavier sleeping bag) until winter camping.  Still need to figure out that winter system as I've done good on solidified snow 5 ft deep but never dealt with prolonged snow.


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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 02 2012, 9:59 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(G22inSC @ Nov. 01 2012, 1:20 pm)
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I am contemplating getting back into backpacking and want to go as light as possible now that I'm getting a little older.  What does everyone do that goes without a traditional tent?  I'm not really worried about the bugs, its the spiders and snakes I'm concerned about.  Do you not have any issues with them if you are just sleeping on a ground cloth under a tarp (when needed)?

I realize they would not be as much an issue in the colder months, but here in the mountains of SC we still have snakes for most of the year.  Always seem to see a few rattlers out while deer hunting.  Do you'll not worry about one of them looking to warm up in the bag with you or right next to you while you sleep.  Just wandering.

Big Agnes Flycreek UL2 is only 2lbs 2oz. Why go without a shelter?  Tarp tents are ok but really a mostly free standing double wall tent is ideal...  For the weight I cannot complain.
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 03 2012, 12:57 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

It is a bit heavier than that:  Packed Weight 2 lb 10 oz

(You were reading their Trail Weight)

And the actual "trail weight" with enough stakes to make it work is 2 lb 6.24 oz (1.08 kg)


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(toesnorth @ Nov. 01 2012, 6:51 pm)
QUOTE

(Franco @ Nov. 01 2012, 4:35 pm)
QUOTE
That is why brands like Tarptent and Six Moon Designs (and others..) exist.
To give you a fully enclosed (bug proof) shelter for not much more weight than a tarp plus ground sheet (plus bivvy, plus bug net...)

+1

Another +1.

For full shelter that's really light and easy to set up -- I like the single pole Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo.  Properly staked down, that thing can take a lot of wind with ease.


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(ol-zeke @ Nov. 01 2012, 11:40 am)
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I did have a scorpion die close to me one night, but I have no idea what killed it.  Just woke up to a dead scorpion next to my arm.

It's pretty obvious - scorpions find you toxic. It just got a sniff of your arm pit... :)
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(GoBlueHiker @ Nov. 26 2012, 7:28 pm)
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The key to that is site selection.  If you take care not to camp in a local depression where water will pool, you avoid such inundations, even in a downpour.  That's harder to do in established campsites where the established sites are all dished out shallow dirt bowls where water will pool, but in more remote areas, it isn't difficult to find spots where water won't pool. (Adding pine needles has never been necessary, or even advised, in my own experience.)

Site selection is a good skill to have whether you're in a tent or a tarp.  It's just more necessary for tarp campers.  Camp on a shallow local maxima (where water would flow away from your site, even without a shelter) and you'll find the need for a "bathtub floor" pretty much vanishes.

I have stayed in places where there was little choice of site selection.  On my last Pictured Rocks trip we picked Au Sable Point by the light house as one of our destinations.  You have to give your itinerary and pick out your camp locations when you pay for the permits.   We had a bad storm blow in off Lake Superior.  I'm not sure you could have avoided pooled water anywhere that night. I am aware of selecting good sites and we were not in a shallow bowl or anything like that.  That is rare and has not happened a lot but still when it does it is nice to be dry and bug free.
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 28 2012, 10:36 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Cowboy camping is great and we've all done it.  Even when we carry a tent.  It's just so easy to throw a pad and bag on the ground and hit the sac.  It's so easy for those of us who are lazy at times.  But if cowboy camping is done often enough you'll find yourself throwing out the bedroll under a crystal clear night sky, then by 3am there's a torrential downpour and what I call the 8 second rodeo scramble to get the tent or the tarp set up before everything gets drenched.  

Now I just set the tent up right off and sleep thru a midnight rainstorm or windstorm without twitching.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 06 2013, 1:07 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I don't worry about the snakes and spiders. Mosquitoes, wind and rain are the worst enemies of a good night's sleep. I've camped in the Sierra Nevada without a tent on most occasions but only after I've checked the weather and know it isn't going to rain before I get back.

When I did a three-week trip a couple of years ago, however, I took a Big Agnes Fly Creek 3 for my buddy and I and was sooooo glad I did. There was record snow that year and the mosquitoes were vicious at between 7,000 to 10,000 feet. Then above 11,000 feet, winds howled for a couple of our camps, bringing wind chills to near zero. Without the tent we would have been miserable.

Then last year, on a week's hike in Kings Canyon, a monsoon moved in from Mexico and it poured rain for three or four hours every day. Again, I would have had a miserable time without a tent, this time an MSR Hubba one- person. I met several people who had chucked it in and left because they were cold and soaked.

Tents are so much better now and the ultralight ones are not that heavy when you look at the convenience and reliability. They are pricey, but if you're in backpacking for the long haul, it's a small price to pay.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 07 2013, 12:06 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

lol......why use a tarp when you can be totally enclosed.  I haved used a Tarptent Rainbow for years, in snow, high wind, horizontal rain, high altitude..... Works fine for me and my total PACKED weight is 2lbs 2oz (I weighed it).
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(bbobb169 @ Jan. 07 2013, 12:06 pm)
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lol......why use a tarp when you can be totally enclosed.  I haved used a Tarptent Rainbow for years, in snow, high wind, horizontal rain, high altitude..... Works fine for me and my total PACKED weight is 2lbs 2oz (I weighed it).

Sometimes I don't want to be totally enclosed and my solo tarp weighs 10oz...

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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 09 2013, 3:23 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE


(TigerFan @ Jan. 09 2013, 12:47 pm)
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(bbobb169 @ Jan. 07 2013, 12:06 pm)
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lol......why use a tarp when you can be totally enclosed.  I haved used a Tarptent Rainbow for years, in snow, high wind, horizontal rain, high altitude..... Works fine for me and my total PACKED weight is 2lbs 2oz (I weighed it).

Sometimes I don't want to be totally enclosed and my solo tarp weighs 10oz...

+1

I don't always want to be fully enclosed.  Much of the time I prefer to cowboy camp, but when that isn't possible/desirable my tarp is 7 ounces and my bug bivy is 5.5 ounces.  With that combination I can have no protection, bug protection only, rain protection only, or both.  The combination meets my needs well, and is a lot lighter and about half the cost of a Tarptent Rainbow.

I do sometimes use a tent but most often prefer not to.
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