May 17, 2007 at 6:02 pm #1223286
I've been planning a trip that will take me through China, Nepal, Eastern Europe and then across Canada for quite a while, but the shelter issue is the hardest one to resolve. I've never been to Nepal, but the rocky, barren valleys I see in photos seem to epitomize "exposed".
With that in mind, plus the need for a degree of privacy as I wander through highly inquisitive villages, can you recommend some shelter choices that will stand up to a variety of situations without being super super heavy?May 17, 2007 at 6:19 pm #1389560
There have been any number of villages in Nepal, Tibet and China where I've been taken in by the villagers into their homes. Little privacy, sometimes bedbugs, you have to eat the food put in front of you (from inedible to great), but always interesting!
It seems to me that a singlewall shelter such as those offered by Black Diamond, Integral Designs, possibly Rab would be up to anything you might face and be light—under 2 kg. These would all be freestanding shelters. I don't know how much high mountain terrain you would be in, you could possibly get away with an even lighter but less strong "tarptent" style shelter such as are often talked about on this site. You will be experiencing some drastic changes of from very arid to very wet climes—i'd opt for the former tents. Assuming a solo to small 2person tent?
Easy availibilty is subject to where you are based—N.America? Europe? Asia? Ahh, Kyoto—- Look at Black Diamond and Montbell Tents. I like the BD I-Tent, the BD Firstlight (much lighter Epic shelled tent, highly water resistant). From Montbell, some people like the Monoframe Hexagon.
Sounds like a great adventure—best of luck.May 17, 2007 at 6:38 pm #1389562
I live in Japan right now, but the plan is to travel my way back to Canada slowly. Availability isn't such a big deal – I'll have to order pretty much any tent online because Japan is definitely not on the ultralight boat yet (despite Montbell's best efforts). I could also order through a Canadian retailer without too much hassle.
For an example of the climate range, I hope to visit both the Everest base camp and the Lycian way that runs along the coast of Turkey. I've done some tarp and poncho tarp camping around Japan and I have been a bit dissatisfied with getting a pitch taut enough to weather a storm. The privacy thing basically tosses those options out though.
I would like to spend a lot of time in the mountains – my ambition vaults over my wallet to all sorts of great ranges here and there. As for tarptents and their ilk, would they stand up to a storm in an exposed, rocky valley? I sort of doubt it, though I don't own one, so I agree about the single wall options.May 17, 2007 at 9:37 pm #1389573
Just for the prolonged durabilty of a shelter on such a long trip, I say go for the BD I-Tent or the similar Integral Designs Mk.1 —they will stand up to anything Asia (and the rest of your iteniary) can throw at them—they're expedition tested. I have personally used the I-Tent in the Himalayas, Patagonia, and the Canadien sub-arctic and it performed to expectations. Both are about 4 lbs. (1.8 kg).May 17, 2007 at 10:12 pm #1389575
I agree with Kevin, go with the stronger Bibler or ID tents. I own an epic BD single-wall, but I doubt that tissue-paper thin fabric would stand up to day after day of use and abuse. Go with a heavier and stronger tent.
Good luck on your trip; sayonara and kiyotsukete.May 17, 2007 at 11:20 pm #1389579
@verberLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
I think a number of the popular tarptent can stand up to quite a bit of use. I know a number of people who have used the same tarptent on at least 2 thru-hikes and the shelter is still in decent shape. If you are looking at snow loads or hurricane force winds, the I would go with something like the Bibler itent one of the ID mk-X tent.
That said, if you aren't dealing with snow loads, many of the currently produced tarp/tents can be used in a surprisingly wide range of conditions. I have clocked winds in excess of 45mph using a tarptent squall without any problems other than it being a bit breezy under the tarptent and my headroom being reduced a bit :-) There was a thread here about pushing the envelope in the double rainbow http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=4307
I have a friend who took a similar (around the world-ism trip) and raved about his Hilleberg Akto (use in temperite and cold locations) and Hennssey Hammock (which he used in the tropics).May 17, 2007 at 11:49 pm #1389581
@butukiLocale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Hi Perrin, long time no see. Good to see you in the forums again.
Seems like this is going to be a long trip, through some very remote country, with little chance of replacement parts if something goes wrong with your gear. While some of the very lightweight shelters like the TarpTents might be able to handle heavy weather in the Himalaya and even up in northern Nepal and western China, everything that I've been reading in the last few months talks of very rough handling by truck drivers and people on buses and such. And, as you mentioned, the privacy issue is a very big one in some parts of Asia where people will surround you wherever you go. There will probably be places in western China where you won't be able to get a stake in the ground, either because of rock-hard surfaces or oceans of mud, so a free-standing shelter is better suited to those conditions. I would agree with Kevin's and Brett's recommendations of going with a heavier, sturdier shelter because of your long-term intentions. Up in the Himalaya at 4,000 to 5,000 (that's higher than anything in Japan, and still low by Nepal standards) meters, things can get pretty hairy. Last time we spoke you did talk a little about your SpinnShelter experience in Hokkaido last year and you mentioned the difficulty of getting a taut pitch. Just think what it would be like where you're planning on going. MontBell's tents, especially the new Chronos Dome, would be ideal for that (though if you're tall, MontBell's tents might be a little too small for you). If I really wanted good, durable, strong, and dependable protection from all the elements and a relatively light package I personally would probably use the Hilleberg Nallo, though it isn't freestanding. For long-term travel I simply love tunnel tents.May 18, 2007 at 12:51 am #1389582
Some friends and I have been planning a three-year round the world trip that we want to do in a decade or so. There is alot more planning to go.
With regards to tents, when you are out for that length of time you not only want something that is overall bombproof in the nastiest weather, but that each independent part is going to last aswell.
At the moment we are figuring that we will likely use a pyramid tent. It will likely be homemade, so that we can get the exact dimensions and features we require. Material will probably be something like 2.20z ripstop silnylon, plus reinforcing patches, like a small rim of extra fabric along the bottom. We will have some mesh skirts for insects, multiple vents on the top, possibly a chimney hole (for a stove like a Kifaru in Russia and some other cold winters), and many guyline tie out points. The capability for internal guylines, clothes lines, hanging mesh pockets, etc will also be factored in. We are also thinking of having the top foot or so made out of a gore-tex or preferably Event fabric for extra breathability. The tent needs to be flexible in pitching options-will work where to have guy out points so we can use it as a lean-to/tarp in milder climes.
The main negative to a pyramid tent is of course its ability to freestand. This can be a problem in rocky areas, but I have found in South Australia (and some particularly rocky campsites) that you can usually make do and find a way. I am yet to use a pyramid tent-I used to use tunnels alot which have a similar, but less critical problem. I think that having a few lightweight (in reality rarely used) silnylon bags that you can fill with rocks, soil, sand etc, would help you get away with it in the worst areas. Also, having spare cord that you can attach to peg out points can make a difference-you can run it along the ground to where you can peg/tie it off. Another option we are considerin is some simple pole sleeves/velcro attachments for the bottom edges. With a four to six sided pyramid (another factor yet to be decided) a few lightweight CF or alloy poles could be threaded into these sleeves to aid in free-standing the tent-its not perfect but would help.
While there are some incredibly strong conventional (dome, geodesic, etc) tents out there with good components, we feel that a pyramid will last longer over that length of time. Its easier for us to repair, it only has one bomber straight pole (which we can replace with just about anything), and is floorless. We will have simple groundsheets aswell as probably some single person mozzie shelters with tub floors for inside it.
If you want to get a conventional tent, look at detail at how strong the contruction is. Particularly poles. I have noticed the latest range of Mountain Hardwear Expedition tents have some awesome features on their poles which make them easy to repair, very strong and certainly expedition worthy.
Remember you may not be able to find replacement parts or get your tent sent away for repair in all the places you are going-and if you can you will possibly be inconvenienced in the mean time.
Hope this helps; its another way of looking at things.
Good luck with the trip-I look forward to hearing how it goes-it will be good inspiration for me and my friends.
AdamMay 18, 2007 at 11:09 pm #1389664
So it seems that the consensus is a tent, and a freestanding one. What about the double-wall, single-wall consideration? If I am camping in humid places will a single wall tent be unbearably uncomfortable?
Also, is Black Diamond manufactured in Japan? Is that why you suggest BD or Montbell Kevin?May 19, 2007 at 5:01 am #1389666
From the sounds of it you're not planning an entirely cross-continent, high-altitude trek in remote areas – in which case a bombproof tent would be unnecessary and just extra weight most of the time. Even if you took a Tarptent into the high Himalaya, you should be able to use natural shelter to stretch its performance. (And even if you pitched it on a ridge in 90 kmh winds, from Gunther's video it's clear that it would survive. But on the bright side if you could put a cloth over your face the tent would wipe the condensation on it automatically …)
I think there's a kind of philosophical issue here that I think is central to the light/UL movement. Traditional gear and gear advice always says "imagine the worst conditions you MIGHT, MAYBE encounter and take something twice as strong". For an example, check out the "Gear Guy" on Outside Magazine's website. That attitude is why I ended up wandering around the Australian Alps with a Himalayan tunnel tent that weighed 5.00 kg (not least because of the transverse ridge pole). The light/UL approach would be "I'll take something that will deal as lightly as possible with the majority of the conditions I'll encounter and if I come across worse conditions, I'll consider my options then – which might include retreat if viable". I like Adam's suggestion of the pyramid, but for one person I'd've thought the TT Rainbow would be ideal. Even if you do pitch it on a ridgetop in 90 kmh winds.
In any case I've envious of the trip – have fun.May 19, 2007 at 7:32 am #1389667
No, Perrin, but it's a line distributed in Japan and here is where you can start looking—
Tsurugashima-shi, Saitama 350-2213
It's worth considering a double-wall tent ( a well ventilated one will outperform a singlewall in warm/humid conditions, particularly—-although if you can keep a singlewall opened up to ventilate you'll be fine) and Hilleberg is very much worth a look. Truthfully, I can only comfortably recommend what I've used in the conditions most analogous to what you might encounter. You really do need a tent that incorporates strength, reliability, and low weight for this endeavor. hence, something like the I-Tent.
If this were a shorter term trip, I would heartily endorse a Tarptent or the Epic shelled offerings of BD.May 19, 2007 at 7:54 am #1389670
I totally agree with Damiens comments. There really isnt much point taking a totally bombproof tent if you are never going to use it. I think if you are going to use it one or two night for what it is made for then you still need it. Other wise things could go pear shaped. Its not like you can get it posted out to you for a few nights or anything.
I am pretty certain you would be fine with a trad mounataineering dome for a few months use-the chances of a high quality tent goign down the tubes in some way or another are slim.
If you arent sure then go for a free standing design. I am personally pretty confident I could pitch a pyramid almost anywhere. Perhaps not huge slabs of flat smooth rock, but…
One person pyramids are certainly possible ~alphamid. If you are keen for MYOG then you are set in that department. You could make a pretty bomber single person pyramid out of slinylon for less than 20oz. I am drooling about the possibilities now. And the contstruction is not that high tech-the calculations take five minutes on a peice of paper, use decent double stitced seems with plenty of overlap and seam sealing tape. Plenty of reinforced guy tie outs. No Wuzz.
Please keep us posted on how you go with this trip and what gear decisions you make Perrin. We all speculate on this site about the theoretical based on our experiences, and each experience we can add benefits us all. Cant wait to hear the finer details of your trip. Is this a walking trip? Are you hitching, riding bikes or what?
AdamMay 20, 2007 at 7:53 pm #1389759
Thanks for the ideas Adam,
The trip is still being figured out, but I hope to do a cheap-as-possible backpacking trip around the world, avoiding airplanes (not because of fear, but because a flying around the world trip doesn't feel like much of an accomplishment). I am toying with a few routes: Japan, Korea, China, Nepal, India … boat to Tanzania? Kilimanjaro? That route sort of deadends at Pakistan/Afganistan.
Or, doubleback through Nepal and try to get into Kyrgistan and Tajikistan, then Kazakstan and up into Russia, down into Turkey through Eastern Europe, back across Europe to England, catch a boat to Montreal in Canada.
As far as hiking camping goes, I would camp every night that it was possible / safe. I definitely want to spend several weeks in Nepal or northern India, and should I be able to get into Tajikistan, there looks to be some great mountains there too. In Europe there are the Balkans and the Alps, and in Turkey the Lycian way is super tempting. Back in Canada, a fair amount of the country is flat, but I'd like to camp along the way and spend time in the Rockies.
Anyway, lots of figuring to do.May 21, 2007 at 3:41 am #1389779
The Afghan/pakistan area poses a problem for someone attempting an overland trip through southern Eurasia. The first solution that I was going to suggest you have already hinted at-going trough the other 'stans to the north. Otherwise, why not travel through southern Pakistan and then into Iran to get to Turkey? Its alot simpler (I have looked at Visas, routes etc through the stans from Turkey or Iran to India/Pakistan and its complicated). And Iran is apparently a great place to visit as a tourist. The people are apparently incredibly friendly. I doubt you would have to camp very often in Iran as you would always be getting offers to stay/eat with people. While the political stance of the country may be questionable, the vast majority of the population are apparently friendlier than you and I. I would probably stay well clear of the Iraq border-but that is not hard. Iran has some spectacular mountains too.
The same goes with Pakistan-keep clear of the dodgy borders-afghanistan is obvious and also the Kashmir province where there is an ongoing standoff with India over borders.
Hope this helps.
An Australian-Tim Cope-is currently trekking the path of Ghengis Khan on horseback-I havent looked at his route in detail, but it goes through the stans-might give you some good ideas. His mate Chris Hatherley did a trip with his Wife a couple of years ago from Turkey to China via Iran and the northern stans. They were on recumbent bikes.May 21, 2007 at 9:05 am #1389801
An unfortunate casualty of geopolitics is free border access in Central and S. Asia. 'Course, that's largely been the state of affairs for millennia. Going E. to W.(w/ N. and S. diversions) and if feeling suitably adventurous, once one got to India ( w/ a long side trip to Ladakh* hopefully on the agenda), proceed to Nepal to China (through Tibet into Xinjiang (Kashgar!) and hopefully, there would be border entry to one of the neighboring 'Stans. Alas, I bet it's easier to fly from China to, say, Kyrgzstan or Kazahstan than to walk( or bus) over the border to them (but what do I know—I think one could be subject to the tender mercies of some local functionary or other).
Incidentally, the above is more or less one of the routes taken by Buddhist missionaries from India almost 2K years ago.
or follow the Silk Road!
Iran could be great for the reasons described above but in addition to the Iraqi border, E. Iran is bandit country. Careful.
* entry via the road from Srinigar (Kashmir—Indian J&K) is much safer these days but there are politically safer and even more adventurous alternative routes (via foot or bus) now—-via Manali, for one. When in Central Asia, Ladakh and neighboring Zanskar are a must see—-the most incredible Mtn. trip I have taken anywhere on the globe was a 4 week trek from Padum to Leh. Simply !@#$$!!! awesome!May 21, 2007 at 7:47 pm #1389854
I don't think I'll ever come home. What a hell of a lot of places out there! Thanks a lot for the ideas Kevin. A friend of a friend has made it from China into the 'stans recently, so it can be done, even though the online documentation seems to suggest otherwise.
Right now, I just need to figure out what borders can and cannot be accessed. Going through South East asia up into India and the stans would be more interesting than Korea – China (and cleaner I think) but Burma's borders are closed to Thailand. I could fly and hop over, but I am sort of keen on the road route.
Does anyone know what the availability of fuel is like in the Himalayas? Would I be able to get alcohol or would I have to pick up a gas stove someplace?May 21, 2007 at 9:47 pm #1389868
Kerosene (aka paraffin) is found throughout most of the Himalaya, including villages beyond the road networks.
Gasoline (Petrol, both leaded and unleaded) is found everywhere there are roads.
White Gas (naptha, mineral spirits) is much harder to find. Forget it in the back of beyond.
Canister stove cartridges can be found in areas that service the trekking industry like the Themal district of Katmandu, Pokhara, Manali and not at all in remote areas.
Alcohol stoves are not as efficient for longer trips ( if one is forced to carry a longer term supply) but alcohol is also widely available. The sherpas often use alcohol stoves –Trangias and old Primus'. I would consider an Alcohol stove on a future trip in Asia, especially as I've now developed the habit of using one Stateside the last couple of years. This would be the lightest alternative in terms of hardware.
Multi-fuel liquid stoves that can burn at least both kerosene and various grades of gasoline are common among trekkers and climbers in the region. I always have used a MSR—either the Internationale or the XGK although Primus and Coleman make good models.
The XGK can also burn Diesel.May 22, 2007 at 6:34 am #1389887
Ya, I am pretty set on alcohol, mainly for environmental reasons, but the lightweight factor is definitely there.
Any other considerations for Central Asian trekking from you sage advisors?May 22, 2007 at 8:19 am #1389890
@butukiLocale: Kanto Plain, Japan
On a trip like this there will be many times when camping is just not possible or simply inconvenient, and staying at a hotel or hut is necessary. At those times most of your backpacking gear will come in handy for regular travel, but you might also want to consider other travel items that have nothing to do with camping, like a silk liner sheet for sleeping in cheap hotel beds, a shower drain cover for those times when there is no way to plug up a drain, a cord for hanging up clothes to dry, light slippers for wearing in showers and such where you want to protect your feet from possible bacteria (in very humid areas with poor hygiene foot bacteria is quite a problem, especially if you walk a lot), ear plugs for noisy accommodations, a light mosquito net in areas where malaria is possible, a small bottle of shaving oil to help keep yourself presentable, or even a small shortwave radio for listening to programs in English at those times when home seems very far away. Of course these items aren't strictly necessary, but they will make life a lot easier. This kind of trip isn't the same as going hiking in the back country of your own country. There are times when looking like a backpacker is a disadvantage and conventional clothing and gear is necessary.May 22, 2007 at 8:54 am #1389893
@anneflukeLocale: northern Minnesota
Do you have a tentative route in Russia? I have spent several years there, mostly living in Novosibirsk and Moscow but also a backpacking trip in the Altai Mts. and a couple of trips to Lake Baikal (where a new hiking trail is being constructed). Would be happy to email/chat about Russia if you need ideas/advice (I haven't been there for a couple of years). We used a Primus multifuel in the Altai btw.
I have been to Kyrgyzstan but just to Kyzyl and Lake Issyk Kul, no trekking, but there's a guy from MN who has done a lot of trekking/climbing there: http://www.alpinefund.org/potential/index.htm
I also just did my first trek in Nepal (Everest Base Camp) but we weren't camping, so I never had to locate stove fuel. If you want a contact there for potential peak-climbing (Island Peak, Gokyo, etc.) let me know.
Looking forward to checking out the blog from the trip, if you create one.May 26, 2007 at 3:29 pm #1390380
@bjamesdLocale: South Coast of BC
I know lots of satisfied Akto owners. For some reason they're popular among solo-hiking (or solo-sleeping) Vancouverites. Just get the upgraded pole if you're expecting a hurricane or a foot of snow.
It's got the strength, the space, the double walls, the double vestibules, and still comes in at 2lb 14 oz before stakes, bags, and guylines. Not freestanding though.
Hilleberg tents are built for durability and for true storm resistance everywhere.
The most Aktos I've seen pitched together is 5 — all side by side. I asked them (politely) if they were a club or something, but they said they bought them because they knew someone else who had one and swore by it.May 27, 2007 at 8:33 am #1390404
Ben 2 WorldParticipant
@ben2worldLocale: So Cal
Speaking of bringing a rubber shower drain cover for those times when there is no way to plug up a drain when doing laundry… a perfectly workable alternative is to simply block the drain with your sock and wash it last. It's not a perfect seal, but it will slow the drainage more than enough to allow for doing laundry.Jun 26, 2007 at 12:31 pm #1393529
I have a ID MK1 XL. Great tent for altitude, cold weather situations. Silnylon vestibule is available. Trail weight w/o stakes and guy lines is 4 lb 2 oz, with light floor. Silnylon vestibule adds another 14 oz..
This is a Toddtex tent (basically Goretex w/o polyurethane coating on the PTFE membrane so its highly breathable). Breathable and robust. It is free standing, quick to set up, able to withstand high altitude conditions. With the vestible you can cook in bad weather, or if you are in rainy, humid areas, it allows you to keep the front door open for ventilation. The vestibule is almost essential in windy/rainy conditions with the alcohol stove. On a sea to summit trip to 13,600 feet Maunaloa, the MK worked great, the vestibule allowed me to cook in windy conditions with out a problem. I was using an alcohol cat can stove which is wind sensitive (even with wind screen). The single wall tents also add warmth which is a big plus for anything involving cold, winter or altitude conditions. Set up of this tent is a breeze and being free standing allows for pitching on a small foot print.
If you need a light, completely waterproof, all conditions tent, this is a good choice. Beware of Epic as it is only water resistant while the Toddtex is completely waterproof.
It depends on how much comfort you have with Epic, but for worst case scenario, I'd go with something that is classified waterproof.
While total trail weight with silnylon vestibule is at 5 lbs, this tent is fast to set up and bombproof. Great design, made in Canada. ID is a great company, excellent customer support.
As far as bombproof or not, depends on where you are going. If you are going in altitude or winter camping, you don't want to go too undergeared on the tent. Bad weather can kill so look at that too. But if you are not going to be doing altitude or winter camping, you could go lighter by 2 lbs with tarp tents or ultralight 3 season tents, e.g. Big Agnes Seedhouse 2 ultralight freestanding tent. Definitely get the tents and take a look at them, if you don't feel comfortable with them return them, worst case is cost of postage to and from, but you want to have something you feel comfortable with.
Tent and backpack are 2 things that you may not want to go super light on since they are critical core items that you don't want failing. See Dan McHale's website on packs, http://www.mchalepacks.com. Dan's letter is interesting and the packs while pricey are top notch. He's doing them now in spectra which is super light and super strong.
The tendency with the ultralight movement is to push the envelope on the gear weight, but also plan on worst case scenario because if you are undergeared, it could be bad. Can't control the weather so be prepared.Jul 3, 2007 at 12:46 pm #1394279
@dwambaughLocale: Pacific Northwest
I use the SMD Gatewood Cape. As some others have said, you may spend more time in huts than you expect. The Cape would give you rain and shelter for 11oz and little space.
For a dedicated shelter with closed ends, I really like the Golite Hut1 and Hut2. They are light and inexpensive and give 360 degree coverage. From there, the SMD Lunar series adds a floor and bug protection. http://www.sixmoondesigns.com/shop/shopexd.asp?id=36
The trick to using single wall tents is ventilation. If there's no air circulation, your warm breath and even the earth below you is going to put moisture into the tent space and it will happily condense on the highest and coolest surface handy, all of which must be directly over your face :)Jul 3, 2007 at 6:08 pm #1394313
Ben 2 WorldParticipant
@ben2worldLocale: So Cal
My thoughts… Since you are not camping exclusively, you will have some control over when and where to camp (i.e. stay indoors when you know that huge storms are threatening). But still, to maximize tenting time and minimize hotel cost, I think you will want something that's a good balance of light weight, strength/stability, and pitching flexibility — and not just light weight alone and nothing else.
To me anyway, I would want:
1. a lightweight, freestanding, double wall tent that provides different pitching flexibility,
2. with good, stable structure,
3. and a solid-fabric inner to keep out cold winds and spindrift (but with closable mesh venting for warmer climes)
Two tents that come to mind are:
1. Hilleberg Umma – 4 lbs.
2. Vaude Hogan UL – 3.5 lbs. (with vestibule)
If truly rotten weather is in the cards, then I would go for #1. Otherwise, #2 is stable and protected enough for winter use — excepting fierce mountain storms and heavy snowloads.
Hilleberg is stronger, but both tents provide good structure and the flexibility of pitching just the inner or the outer alone, depending on circumstances. And both will give you plenty of privacy.
These tents are 'heavy' from an UL viewpoint, but I reckon you can shave ounces elsewhere somehow and still come up with a good and comfortable pack weight — even if it doesn't win any UL competition.
Whichever way you go, make sure you factor in some comfort requirement too. You can go with a bare-bones SUL shelter, but for such long-term travels, if the shelter ends up being too constricting or uncomfortable, you may end up shelling out much more cash for hotels then you would like. Anyway, my two cents.
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