May 19, 2011 at 10:58 am #1274085
The other title of this could also be my pack weight will probably go up after this weekend.
I just did a section of the PCT between Big Bear and Cajon Pass areas. The weather had said it would be cool and cloudy. The weather report was lacking in accuracy, failing to mention precipitation. I was precipitated on (snow and rain) for 3 of the 5 days I was out. I had rain pants, but forgot my umbrella so I wore my polycro ground sheet as a rain shawl.
I brought my tent because it was going to be chilly and I thought the warmth of a tent would be appreciated. My tent could not stay upright in the high winds. I could not sleep outside because it was raining. I had to sleep inside my tent like a plastic bag, with the four corners staked but the front and rear unstaked. After a night of no sleep, I walked 27 miles out to stay in a hotel. I felt I had no shelter from the weather. I'm not in 27 mile condition so my foot and my knee are killing me now.
I was coveting large car-camping sized tent stakes. It occurred to me that if I had brought my tarp I could have set it up very low and had shelter that was less a target for wind. With giant tent stakes and a tarp, I might have been able to shelter myself in this severe weather. I may have become a tarp convert this weekend. I don't care if my tarp/bug net combo is heavier, I think it might be better.
On my way home from the trip I bought a pack of big X-shaped mountain hardware tent stakes to replace the small titanium hooks I've been using. I think I'll be bringing a tarp in the future, even if my hiking partner is carrying a tent. My pack weight just went up.
Am I right in thinking that a tarp might hold up to wind better? Any other solutions to high winds?May 19, 2011 at 11:09 am #1738587
First, thanks for sharing your experience. Second, I think you are on the right track. Lower profile is the key in high winds and a tarp can allow a very low pitch. There are tents that do very well in high winds, but these tent to be bivy like shelters and would lack the modularity that you seek.May 19, 2011 at 11:13 am #1738589
Was the problem that the front/rear tent stakes were pulling out, but the rest of the tent was okay? Couldn't really tell from your post. Also, what tent was it?
I guess I'm wondering if you could have secured the stakes better, do you still think you would have had the issues you did (was the problem the stakes and not the tent itself)?May 19, 2011 at 11:14 am #1738590
@mikefaedundeeLocale: Under a bush in Scotland
What tent did you use, and what caused the failure?May 19, 2011 at 11:18 am #1738594
Sorry to hear you had a tough time.
My Golite Hut 1 has stood up in some pretty strong winds. I use golf club shaft sections for poles. I like the all round protection it offers over a tarp. I don't have to carry a bivy either, as my partner sewed some bug net round the bottom and I attached a tyvek groundcloth.
The setup weighs around 31oz with 8 pegs (golite Y stakes). Shared between 2 people this makes for light camping.May 19, 2011 at 11:32 am #1738602
Mina LoomisBPL Member
@elmvineLocale: Central Texas
You are probably on the right track with the tarp idea.
On our first Guadalupe Mts. NP backpacking trip, with the Camp Fire backpacking kids (2002 I think) we learned this. GMNP is famous for its high winds that can come up very quickly. Camped at the group site at Pine Spring. A handful of backpacking tents–original-style REI Half-Dome, a couple of SD Clip Flashlights, a Walrus, etc. And two Kelty Noah's Tarp 9's. The Noah's is a catenary tarp with a corner-to-corner seam so it sets up like a wide parabola (I think) with 2 small poles and 4 stakes, pretty low to the ground but with enough headroom to sit up in the middle section. It is not a very lightweight item but the geometry is what's relevant here.
In the early evening a storm rolled in from the west, really fast, with wind probably about 60 mph. (GMNP gets winds often in the 80-100 mph range.) *All* our tents were flattened! Totally. You couldn't sit in one. Stakes pulled up all over. It was a mess. When it let up and we emerged from the vans, to which we had retreated with the kids, both tarps were standing just where they had been, no stakes pulled up. Some gear blew around, but the tarps seemed to have shed the wind instead of collapsing.
Maybe someone here can explain the physics of this. We expected the opposite at the time.May 19, 2011 at 11:33 am #1738603
Greg MihalikBPL Member
Tent Fail, or micro-stakes Fail? There is a big difference.
I've had a Duomid, high and wide, in ferocious winds with no problems, using the Easton 8".
Tent or Tarp, MSR Groundhogs at .5 ounces, or a mix of Easten 8" and 6", at .5 and .3 ounces respectively, will (usually) assure that your shelter of choice will stand up in a wind.
The Groundhogs pack tighter and hold as well as the Easton 6". Think about going with 2 Easton 8" for front and back, and then Groundhogs for the perimeter.
Details can be found Here, in Will Rietveld's article.
Edit: OOps…. didn't realize you are not a member. Salient points are above.
Edit#2: Corrected attribution.May 19, 2011 at 11:43 am #1738610May 19, 2011 at 12:14 pm #1738626
Eric BlumensaadtBPL Member
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
It would help greatly if we knew what tent model you were using. I've had X poled 2 person dome tents collapse in high winds. The X pole design is not very wind-worthy.
Tell us you tent model and what pole design it had.
I have a single pole TarpTent Moment and a North Face Tadpole that, WHEN PROPERLY GUYED OUT with extra lines and stakes, will withstand very high winds. Guying out a tent properly is the key to a good nights' sleep in high winds.
I have found MSR Groundhog stakes (the red stake in Greg's photo) hold in almost any soil. For very sandy soil my backup stake is an SMC snow stake that I carry as a potty trowel.May 19, 2011 at 1:22 pm #1738649
kevin timmBPL Member
@ktimmLocale: Colorado (SeekOutside)
I would dispute the low profile comment. I've had a small dome tent blow away while an 8 ft tall tipi withstood the wind fine.
Flat sides and edges are a problem. Also with floored shelters the wind will pull up the stakes over time by forcing the floor up and then the tent is flying. Sure a low profile helps, but a well staked out tent without flat sides can be 10 ft tall and survive in 50 MPH winds or better.
Could you have made stakes from available materials that had better holding power ?May 19, 2011 at 3:20 pm #1738703
I used two of the small titanium hooks in each corner (I had extras) and with very large rocks placed on top of the corners that seemed to be getting the majority of the wind, they held.
I used an aluminum hook for the rear pole and an X-shaped stake similar to the ones I just bought for the front. These are my only large stakes and both were found. I placed the largest rocks I could find on top of these. There were not a lot of rocks in the immediate area so I went in search of more rocks at a nearby stream. I don't think I could have made stakes from anything in the area.
I was using a Gossamer Gear One. I used that tent for most of the PCT. I remember that it fell down often in So Cal. I thought maybe I had finally gotten good at setting it up after two thousand miles. It just seemed so saggy when I set it up this time. Is it getting old? The panels bowed inward in the wind like, well, spinnaker sails. I swear the front vestibule panels almost rest completely against the mosquito netting when the wind is at rest and everything is as tight as I can get it. They are very loose. I'm thinking of pinching the excess fabric and sewing it so they will be tight. Also, as I was setting it up, it seemed that the knots that hold the four corners were all coming undone. I don't understand how the knots are tied so I did my best to just tie simple knots in order to get the thing set up. With the wind blowing it was a little difficult to figure out how to tie them so that the bottom made a nice tight bathtub and the top had enough line to get it really tight.
To be fair, a couple weeks ago I was camped near San Jacinto in a Lunar Duo and the wind blew so hard up there we had a tent failure that night too. I swore that night if I was ever in similar conditions I wouldn't even try to keep the tent set up. That is why when the first stake blew out I decided to sleep on top of the tent. Also, it was dark when the stake blew out and I couldn't find it.
I was camped in a spot where there were little nooks carved into the chaparral. I first selected a very small spot that seemed relatively calm. I was able to cook dinner without my stove flying away, but there wasn't enough room to set up the tent. I could have slept there out under the stars but there were scary clouds in the sky. I searched for another spot. I found one that really wasn't as sheltered as I hoped and I wasn't really able to set the tent up in the optimal direction. The wind seemed to come from every direction, swirling all around, but mostly either slamming the rear, one side or once in a while, the front.
I kept thinking that night that if I had a tarp, I could have had more options for how to set it up. I wouldn't have been forced to have 125-130 cm high poles forming sails to catch the wind. I could have set the tarp up with my poles collapsed and crawled under. I could have set up one end way deep under the chaparral. I could have folded the tarp in half to form a smaller shelter that might have fit in the first spot I found (my tarp is an 8×10 flat silnylon).
I know I was wishing I had those giant golden nail stakes. I was also thinking that if I had those, I could have wrapped another line around it and staked that line down with two titanium stakes and then placed enormous rocks on top of all three of the stakes. Maybe that would have held. The wind on the PCT at the transition zones between the So Cal mountains and deserts is unbelievable and the sandy soil is hard to get the stakes secure.May 19, 2011 at 5:13 pm #1738735May 19, 2011 at 5:20 pm #1738739
I think in this case it blows.
AzMay 19, 2011 at 5:23 pm #1738744May 19, 2011 at 5:32 pm #1738746
Ken T.BPL Member
The tent stake article is Will's not Roger'sMay 19, 2011 at 5:39 pm #1738752
John NausiedaBPL Member
Another stake suggestion. I use MSR groundhogs and love them but for loose soils I just picked up a set of Coghlans 9 inch Ultralight Tent stakes #1000. They look identical to the groundhogs but are longer and have the same anodizing and pull out loops at the top. Haven't used them yet but that additional length may help. About $1 each at a physical store.May 19, 2011 at 5:56 pm #1738757
@climber72Locale: At my desk
Great thread here… I am leaving for a JMT hike on July 28th and will be taking The One along for the duration. As will my partner. As we live close enough to San Jacinto or Gorgonio, I think it may be worth our time to practice the storm configuration Gossamer Gear recommends – in short I have nothing to offer you in terms of advice, but your cautionary tale has sparked my imagination.
In a good way?
Let you know after we do some wind testing!May 19, 2011 at 7:06 pm #1738771
Hmm, those coughlan stakes look good. Haven't seen anything like those over here in UK.
There was a thread posted by a guy in Iceland here last year. He put up a couple of videos comparing his home made tarp tent to a Stephensons warmlite in high wind. He got slated by some warmlite owners for the way he set up the warmlite but I was impressed by his design, which used two sets of trekking poles as A frames set at a low angle.
Basically, the lower and flatter the setup, the better it will cope with wind. The trailstar tarp looks good in this respect.May 19, 2011 at 7:16 pm #1738776
kevin timmBPL Member
@ktimmLocale: Colorado (SeekOutside)
"Physics sucks, doesn't it."
I meant there is a lot more to it than a low profile. I routinely see large round floorless tents handle winds in the 40 – 50 MPH range.
There is profile, shape, staking out, guying out , taught pitch and floors.May 19, 2011 at 8:15 pm #1738798
Jeffs ElevenBPL Member
+1 to John N.
Those stakes are long, light (for their size) and cheap.
Probably the best ULish thing Coghlans makes (maybe the only- lol)May 19, 2011 at 8:16 pm #1738799
jim baileyBPL Member
@florigenLocale: South East
Piper/Diane, I feel your pain.
Have used tarp’s allot over the years with much success in really bad condition BUT mostly in summer/warmer months with synthetic insulation & sometimes down if there is a relatively low risk of moisture that will come in & compromise down products.
Sounds like you had the perfect storm for hikers with small spaces for options above treeline, bad conditions that were not forecasted and you were relatively well prepared but.. thing’s happen in transitional seasons.
Might consider the following next time out if I were you and really mean this in a helpful manner, site selection is king, if that is not an option consider a smaller mid and weigh down stakes with rocks/use sticks in any left over deeper snow and tie off stake loops, seal off perimeter with natural debris to prevent drafts coming through that might lift the shelter off of you. Hoping this helps
JimMay 19, 2011 at 10:32 pm #1738832
Stephen B Elder JrSpectator
@selderLocale: Front range CO
or is this a continuation ofMay 20, 2011 at 12:15 am #1738842
If you read what Diane wrote, you'll answer that for yourself.
Nice to see Ron Moak offering great aftersales service. You wouldn't get that from TNF or MSR.May 20, 2011 at 6:55 am #1738896
Ah yes, another lesson learned. It only takes one time to swear 'never again'. I had years of skating free, then a few years ago had a close call S of Whitney with wet/cold, possible hypo if I didn't get out. Luckily, I basically sprinted 5 miles back to my car.
Anyway, the lessons learned are as you state:
(a) Get some MSR groundhog stakes – I think the shorter BP ones are fine. I have both, the monsters for car camping, shade tarps, etc, and the smaller ones for BP. Take 8 – 3 per side and one for each end. The total add weigh will be a few ounces, but 8 will tie down anything in any wind.
(b) Always have at least 10-12' of paracord 550 with you (two 6' lengths). And KNOW how to tie a taut-line hitch – forget line-locs, etc. If you have to configure something quickly on the fly, or alter the config, you need to know how to tie off guys in seconds. The 550 is for the two ends – worst comes to worst, these lines will hold.
(c) Take a tarp that is slightly "too large". I can squeeze into a 6×8, but I carry an 8×10. I'm 6'2", so my feet hit the end of the wall in a 6×8 (even diag). If I want to completely close down the tarp, and stay dry inside, then the 8×10 does the trick.
(d) Play around with different configs in your backyard. Know how to set them up quickly. The elevated A-frame is great when you want a sun shade – add 3' guy stays to each side. But knowing how to create an open half-pyramid, or really close it down if needed, should be a priority.
(e) I know it's overkill, but I carry a PU nylon rain hoodie. The thing not only blocks all wet, but also works as an insulator. Just know that it doesn't breathe, which may not be a concern if you hunkering down.
That's about it: perhaps an increase of 8-10oz+ to provide a pretty reliable, almost bomb proof weather system.May 20, 2011 at 7:04 am #1738901
Second tent fail in two weeks and second tent. It's just too dang windy. That's why I'm thinking for my return to San Jacinto perhaps a tarp tucked in my pack will offer additional security should I again find myself in conditions of too much wind to keep a tent up coupled with rain under a cloudless sky (blown in from miles away–that's how windy.)
Here's the terraine. I was lucky to have found the campsite I did. I didn't take a picture of my site, unfortunately, but here's what I walked through for over an hour to get to it.
After descending for hours in steep and windy conditions, I hiked on this contour for an hour or so before I found the crevices carved in the chaparral to camp in. There was a creek another mile away that probably had better shelter, but I did not know and I was very tired from a long day. In the morning the contouring went on for hours and hours and I did not find any place both flat and sheltered from the wind for 27 more miles.
Chaparral is not kind to seeking off-trail places to sleep.
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