Aug 23, 2005 at 10:27 am #1216665
I am trying to decide on a shelter for use in So. Nevada and the Sierras. My focus is particularly on the best decision for a JMT hike next year. I need the advice to the more experienced members to help me along.
Right now I own a BD Megalight. I am very happy with its performance but I’m trying to get as light as possible. I have decided to purchase a poncho/tarp as my rain protection but I’m wondering if it would not also be suitable for my JMT hike as my primary shelter as well.
To the point:
1. Knowing that the Sierras are comparatively dry would a poncho/tarp be a sufficient shelter for Aug. storms?
2. Is it possible to make a larger shelter from rain by combining two poncho/tarps? (my girlfriend is going as well)
3. Is there another suggestion that someone has which scraps the poncho/tarps all together and provides lighter rain protection while walking and shelter for two?
Sorry this was long but I wanted to be clear.Aug 23, 2005 at 12:42 pm #1340749
@pjLocale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
have only used one poncho tarp. have never “doubled-up” two poncho tarps, so can’t give you any info on that configuration.
since you want to go as light as possible, if you decide against the poncho tarp approach, check out the 8oz (yes, you read that right “eight ounces”) Gossamer Gear SpinnTwinn tarp ==> Click HERE to load the GossamerGear product webpageAug 23, 2005 at 1:11 pm #1340750
Thanks for the suggestion. I’ll definitely go that route if I decide to purchase a full tarp instead of the ponchos.
Right now I’m pretty sure that Bivy Sacks and Poncho Tarps are what I’m going for. What I’m really interested in knowing is if others believe this to be a viable solution.Aug 23, 2005 at 1:25 pm #1340751
I have done this in the past using two of the older military ponchos with snap buttons. If I remember correctly, in high winds and driving rain I did experience some leaking along the buttoned ridge line.Aug 23, 2005 at 1:50 pm #1340752
Bill FornshellBPL Member
@bfornshellLocale: Southern Texas
I like the Gossamer Gear products but they are heavy. The SpinnTwin Tarp is 120″ by 110″ at 8oz.
I have just ordered enought material to make what I am calling:
Cuben Bill’s – Tobacoo Leaf** Tarp. It will be 126″ by 108″ and weigh between 2.8oz and 3.29oz. (give or take an ounce) but should finish up at or under 4oz. Then add some BMW AirCore Pro cord and a few Ti (.20oz each) stakes and I have a very light Tarp setup.
** The name “Tobacco Leaf” in reference to the Cuben material is regestered with the Dept of Agriculture and is not on the endangered substanced list yet.Aug 23, 2005 at 2:10 pm #1340753
If you want to avoid using those heavy 0.20 oz titanium stakes you should check out Ray Jardine’s website (www.rayjardine.com). He states he will be selling (In early September) some carbon fiber stakes. Weight is given as 0.16 oz/stake (1.6 oz for 10 stakes is what he states). They will be 6 3/4 inches long. He says they are not meant to be pounded in with a large rock so unsuitable for hard ground probably but it sounds like they might be good for softer ground (He says they will be a much larger diameter than the titanium stakes). He mentions if you are carefull you can tap them into the ground.
Anyway, it’s an interesting idea.Aug 23, 2005 at 3:01 pm #1340756
Bill FornshellBPL Member
@bfornshellLocale: Southern Texas
Hi Daniel, Did they look anything like these? I have 6 that are between 7-5/8″ and 7-7/8″ long and weigh 0.14oz each.
They were left over from something I was making and are 15/64″ in diameter.
For anyone that is interested in something like this you can buy this size hunting arrow at Wal Mart for about $4.00 or less and get 5 (6.75″) stakes from each arrow.Aug 23, 2005 at 3:46 pm #1340757
I have not seen the Jardine stakes. I only know about them based on the “teasers” that I have been reading on his website. He has not posted any pictures yet.
I’m assuming they will have some kind of capped ends, but maybe not.
How do yours work? Are they hollow? If so, does soil get in them? I’ll have to check out those arrows.Aug 23, 2005 at 4:02 pm #1340758
Here’s a good article about poncho tarps on the JMT.
I have done the JMT and would recommend a Henry Shires tarp tent. Yes, its heavier than a minimalist tarp but it is so easy to set up, it has mesh to keep the insects out and is quite livable.Aug 23, 2005 at 4:58 pm #1340764
Thank you anon. That was exactly the type of information I was looking for. It appears as though my setup is nearing completion now.Aug 23, 2005 at 5:43 pm #1340765
Pedro ArvyBPL Member
This is Anon with my real name.
I also spoke to the author of that thru hiker article directly and he said while the tarp worked, he would not use it again. It was too uncomfortable for his liking in major storms.Aug 23, 2005 at 7:00 pm #1340770
“Right now I’m pretty sure that Bivy Sacks and Poncho Tarps are what I’m going for. What I’m really interested in knowing is if others believe this to be a viable solution.”
It is my opinion that a poncho tarp is a very viable solution. I believe Ryan’s initial SUL article is testament to this fact as well.
I started with a Campmor/Equinox Poncho Tarp and Equniox Bivy. After much use, in the cooler months here in the Southeast, I am moving on to a Integral Designs SilPoncho and BMW or Oware Bivy (yet to make the bivy purchase). It’s hard to beat the weight savings of (1.) such a light shelter, and (2.) the multiple use savings in weight.
Get lighter with lighter materials, as are available through BMW, spin fabrics. I haven’t gone this route for durability’s sake, but nonetheless, you could pick up an additional 2-3 Oz.
In the Summer I use a Tarptent Virga (also highly recommended) for the bug protection and DriDucks rainsuit. Perhaps, at a moderate ounce penalty, this could be another consideration. Few shelters are as light as the Tarptents for what you get, and I have not come across any that are as easy to pitch. Furthermore, they just look cool.Aug 23, 2005 at 9:13 pm #1340780
spinn twinn tarp 8 oz.
two 02 rainshield top/bottom sets 18 oz.
two vapor bivies 13 oz. (you can more surely use the lighter weight quantum bivy with a larger tarp?) two interior pack bags .5 oz
this set up: 39.5 oz. and a lot more coverage
two poncho tarps 20oz
two epic bivies 18 oz.
this set up 38 oz and you’re shaking in your bootsAug 23, 2005 at 9:47 pm #1340781
@pjLocale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Another SUL wt. bivy option is Ron Bell’s Mtn. Laurel Design (MLD) bivies.
His bivies made with an Epic top are lighter than the Oware.
His bivies made with a DWR top are a tad lighter than the BMW Vapr bivy.
This is not to disparage these other two fine products. Merely alerting any new to these Forums who might be unfamiliar with MLD.
Mr. Bell makes his products to order, so it takes approx 2-4 wks in my experience. i ordered at a very busy time of the year (end of May/early June) and so was prepared to wait. He also does custom work at a very small add’l cost if you require it. He made me a custom Epic Soul bivy with several custom modifications. Looks so good one would think that he had made 100 just like it before. A true MASTER craftsman.
Hope this info is useful to someone.Aug 23, 2005 at 11:04 pm #1340783
@ryanLocale: Northern Rockies
I am reviewing an MLD ultralight bivy for BPL – I like it.
It is a smidge lighter than the Vapr Bivy by a tad. The main difference is less volume in the MLD bivy, esp. in the hood area.
Great option and well made, though.Aug 23, 2005 at 11:34 pm #1340785
Thank you all for your input. I have made my decision for now by going with the poncho and bivy combination. Knowing the Sierra weather very well, and having read about some other’s experiences I’m confident enough at this point that this is the setup for me. “Major” storms are more of a rarity in the Sierras.
Money is very tight with fall semester starting and the most viable option seems to be the Campmor Poncho w/extension (I will sew on ridgeline tabs) and the Equinox ultralight bivy to guard against any splash.
Does anyone have anything to say about the Equinox ultralight bivy with the mummy shape? With it’s weight and price and provided that it’s more for extra splash protection than for full storm sanctuary will it work for this?
Oh and Ryan, I noticed that you have combined two ponchos in the past. How have the results been for you?Aug 24, 2005 at 2:05 am #1340786
@oiboyroiLocale: South West US
One thing to condisder is the bug factor. Went for a four day section of the JMT two weeks ago and the bugs were pretty gnarly, especially around water. I used a golite cave 1 tarp and even though we carried adequate bug personal bug protection, (headnets, nylon clothing, etc.) my girlfriend and I found it was quite uncomfortable to sleep in. Particularly the head net. Personally I am looking to getting a tarptent with a floor for next time.Aug 24, 2005 at 8:38 am #1340791
I finished a JMT through hike this year using the ID poncho-tarp/BMW Vapor Bivy/Arc X combo. The hike was from 7/24-8/11. I found this setup performed extremely well.
As far as bugs: I understand that earlier in the season the bugs are worse, so they are probably better now. If you come to a spot with bugs, just keep on hiking and camp somewhere else. If you can’t, just put on DEET. Also, the bugs really calm down after dark. Once in the bivy I didn’t have any problems with bugs at all. I didn’t spend alot of time hanging around in my shelter so I don’t think a tent or larger tarp would have made my trip any better.
It rained 5 times during the trip. Twice while the shelter was setup. A couple tips: Seam seal the ID poncho tarp. I would get pools of water around the hood and since I didn’t seam seal it, it leaked a little — not bad through. Also, if it’s going to rain, pitch it low. We got hail during a rain storm and we were camped in a area with alot of dirt and the hail kicked up the wet dirt which flew everywhere. Got all over our stuff. The next time, we pitched it lower and put all our stuff in our packs and this was not a problem.
I found it very comfortable to sleep in the bivy. Always staked out the bivy and tied up the hood. Very roomy and the bivy adds alot of warmth. The only time I had any condensation in the bivy was on the night it rained. And it was minimal (not like back east.)
That being said, I don’t think I would use this setup for me and my girlfriend. I would want to snuggle up at night, so the bivy wouldn’t work to well for two people ;)Aug 24, 2005 at 4:37 pm #1340814
Mark RegaliaBPL Member
@markrLocale: Santa Cruz
Southern Sierra weather divides up into three categories. 1)Clear and warm. The early part of summer is mostly this. 2)Scattered thundershowers. These typically start in July and go through August. Thunderstorms are local and so are totally unpredictable, but generally short. They can occur in the afternoon or after midnight. 3)And then there are the pineapple expresses. One to three weeks of daily rain, sometimes lasting for hours, though almost always with long breaks between onslaughts. But again you can’t predict them. Most years there are none. In my experience they mostly occur in July through early August. They are rare.
Mosquitos are dependent on water and above freezing nights. They are at their worst early in the season and typically have pretty much died down towards the end of July. But this is all dependent on how late the “spring” rains lasted. And that is totally erratic. This year they went on forever. Last year we had a drought.
There are places in the Sierra where mosquitos are incredible (Mosquito Lakes above the South Fork of the San Joaquin is very aptly named, mosquitos on the top of a breezy 12,000 foot peak, argggghhhh), and others where they are mild. Sierra mosquitos typically avoid direct sunlight and go to bed fairly early. There are always a few early birds to bug you in the morning. They die out quickly when the weather drops below freezing.
Basically what it comes down to is be prepared for rain, but you probably will have to do little hiking in it. And it probably it will never last more than a couple of hours. But those pineapple expresses, no fun there.Aug 24, 2005 at 5:53 pm #1340821
I just returned from a week in the Eastern Sierras (Lake Italy area) and found the Integral Designs Sil Poncho/Tarp @ 9.5 oz. & bivy combo a solid choice even with afternnon thunder showers, cold/windy 40 degree nights and my 6’4″ frame. But if only they could replace the 4 metal snaps with something lighter, use a thinner cord and smaller lock on the hood and drop the over all weight to 7 oz. while still using the same lightweight sil/nylon material they would have an excellent ultralight solution that wouldn’t have to be babied.Oct 16, 2005 at 1:30 pm #1343001
Seconds on make-your own carbon fiber tent stakes. Here’s how I do it. Yield = 3 stakes per arrow. Weight = .26 to .28 oz per stake with bottoms plugged and cord loop at top. The cut shafts alone – without plugs or cord loops weigh about .23 per 9″ stake. However, the plugs keep dirt from packing into the stakes and increasing the weight.
1. Graphite arrows sold singly at any cheapo sporting goods store; 27-30 inches in various diameters. One arrow will make 3 8-9″ stakes. The larger diameter arrows are a little lighter(generally .03 oz per stake)than the shorter, smaller-diameter ones – which tend to be made heavier for use by kids. Price range from $3 to $8 ea.
2. Tools: Razor knife; rotary tool w/cutoff disk; power drill (may replace rotary tool if you have a small cutoff disk to fit; sand paper; superglue; hardwood dowels to fit (or nearly fit) inside arrow shaft. Optional: some 1/4″ parachute cord with the core removed.
3. With razor knife, cut off the fletching and knock (plastic notch). Measure the length you want (8-9″ is common; 7″ is pushing it.) With rotary tool, cut stake ends at sharp angle. NOTE: One end of the shaft may have either a lightweight target point or an insert to accept points. I leave the target points on but cut the shafts off to remove the heavier aluminum inserts. Preserve the square-cut ends if possible. Each arrow will yield 3 stakes with flat tops and angled tips – like a hypodermic needle.
3. Insert 1″ of hardwood dowel in angled end. If dowel is too large, cut about 3″ off and clamp it in the chuck of an electric drill, grip the dowel in a scrap of sand paper and give it a spin until the dowel will fit smoothly, but firmly into the stake. Coat 1″ with superglue, insert it, let the glue set, cut the dowel to match the angle of the stake.
4. Paint the bottom 1′ of each stake with superglue to keep the carbon fibers from fraying (This is VERY important; your new stakes will fray to nothing in no time without some protection, and the carbon fibers are SHARP. They puncture skin and break off and hurt. A lot.) Polish the cut angle and the plug of each stake against sand paper on a flat surface, then coat again. Give the tops a little superglue, too.
5. Optional: Cut 2.5″ pieces of parachute cord and glue them to the top of each stake, by putting a little superglue on the ends, wrapping the ends tightly around the stake until the glue sets, then adding more glue to attach the cord all the way around the stake.Oct 17, 2005 at 7:24 am #1343045
After posting how to make carbon fiber tent stakes, I have to admit, 1) the raw blanks are lighter than I said. I hate to get flamed if someone buys heavier-than-normal arrows. The blanks usually weigh about 0.2 for 9″.
2) My preferred tent stakes are free, weigh 0.20, take a few seconds to make, work in a wide range of soils, hold better than conventional UL stakes. WHAT?!?!?
U-shaped coat hanger wire with one 6″ leg and one 3″ leg. The U-shape holds better than a single peg in a wider variety of soils. The total “holding length” is 9 inches. The narrow wire inserts by hand. Note that super UL titanium stakes are usually nominally 6″ long, and my titanium stakes are actually 6.5″, but the working length is actually a nominal 5″ and an actual 5.5″. The goose-neck takes up an inch. That’s not much holding power compared to the U-stakes. I use a 6″ leg because firm soil is almost always a few inches below the forest surface.
Wire stakes can’t be pounded into hard or rocky soil. Neither can UL titanium. In either case, you have to use substitute anchors or make a pilot hole with a sturdier stake. I pity anyone who tents on hard, rocky soil, although sometimes there is no alternative but to use rocks, gravel in stuff sacks, etc. Given that no stake will work under all conditions, I have found U-stakes to be more versatile.
Totally untight, uncool, lacking in panache, but good.Oct 17, 2005 at 8:48 am #1343049
I bought some of the carbon fiber stakes sold on the Ray Jardine website. Pricey at $3.00 a piece but they weight 0.15 oz a piece. I bought 8 and the total weight came out to 1.2 oz (this is lighter than the advertized weight of 0.16 oz each). They are 6 3/4 long.
For those that don’t want to make their own I highly recommend these. They have a point insert and a brightly colored capped end which makes them easy to find. They hold much better than wire stakes due to the larger diameter. I have not tried it but the instructions indicate they can be lightly tapped into harder soil. I tried bending these by hand and they actually seem to be quite robust.Oct 17, 2005 at 10:34 am #1343055
Good weight, Daniel! But note, they are only 6 3/4 long… which saves a good bit of weight.
Carbon fiber stakes *are* stiff. However, if you exceed their limit, they snap decisively. So pound them gently – lightly taping them works pretty well.
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