Sunday, April 12, 2009

Tube Tents

I hate carrying a tent. I gave it up several years ago. When evaluating my backpacking gear and looking for things to leave at home to save weight, my tent stuck out as an unnecessary item. I know, tents are cool, and it’s nice to have a little privacy, but can you justify carrying the 5-7 lbs in the summer? That’s a huge percentage of your pack weight!

I’ve been leaving my tent at home whenever possible for several years now, but there have been a few times where it has cost me dearly. One night it dewed so heavily that when I woke up my sleeping bag was soaked as was the ground around me. Needless to say, I was a little cold that night. Another time it rained on us.

I would love to afford a Bibler Tripod, but can’t afford it at this time, so I began looking for an alternative. What I’ve come up with seems almost laughably simple… a tube tent. They are usually made of orange 4 mil plastic. Not very durable, but very multi-purpose. They can be used for a ground cover, wind shelter, emergency signal, or a 2 person tent. They only weigh 2 lbs, are very compact, and fold up to the size of a camp pillow. Best of all, you can buy one at Longs or Wal-Mart for about $10.

You will want to bring a length of nylon rope, some plastic tent stakes, and some clothes pins. String the rope through the tube and between two trees or use some sticks or trekking polls as tent poles. Use the clothes pins to keep the tent stretched out. Put rocks or gear inside the tent to keep the sides of the tent shaped like a triangle. The apex of the tent should be about 3-4 feet off the ground.

Using a tube tent is light-weight, cheap, serves multiple uses, and is an effective shelter in light wind and rain. Try it! You may find yourself leaving that expensive (and heavy) tent at home.

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