Leaving the tent door open

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Home Forums General Forums Philosophy & Technique Leaving the tent door open

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  • #3628427
    BPL Member


    I guess it depends on conditions. I rarely encounter many bugs other than mosquitoes. The reason I have a net is for mosquitoes. They usually only come out at dusk though. If it’s mosquito season I would never leave the net open – one mosquito in there can ruin my night. Also if there are coons I may bring all my food in with me. Then just leave it open while making breakfast. The fly is to keep warm and keep the wind off (and of course rain).

    But one time we left the tent open and a big wind picked up as we were eating breakfast and our stuff sprawled everywhere. Quilt started blowing out of the tent, and I later found my pillow in a bush 100 yards away.

    Sam Farrington
    BPL Member


    Locale: Chocorua NH, USA

    “Bugs come in a massive array of sizes and shapes, if they want in and are determined enough they’ll get in”

    Like J Scott and others, this hasn’t been my experience.  With mosquitoes. possibly because of using mosquito coils, the most effective for me being the PIC.  But would not actually put one IN the tent like Chris Townsend (‘Walking the Yukon’, ‘The Advanced Backpacker’), who once posted on BPL that he burns them right inside the tent.  Guess things get extremely buggy up in the Yukon, but not a good idea to inhale them in a confined area, and once in the tent for the night, you can let the coil,or piece of coil, burn out, as the tent does keep the bugs out. Have not found them active during the wee hours when leaving the tent for a few minutes.  Maybe they need a few minutes to get into attack formation, or maybe because the locales, CO and northern New England, get chilly during the nights, even in the summer, or maybe because of camping at higher altitudes, not near marshy breeding grounds.  Granted, this could change with climate warming.  Do mosquitoes ever sleep?

    With creepy crawlers, same answer.  They don’t get in unless hitching a ride.  So maybe your shelter needs buttoning up if it is going to provide insect protection.  Realize a great many packers, especially on BPL, use tarps with less than full double walls and floors.  Those shelters can’t be fully buttoned up.

    Yes, full double walls, solid or netting, are probably going to be a bit heavier; but with fabrics and netting now 1/2 to 1 oz/sq/yd, ranging from DCF to silnylon to bomber netting, total wall weight can approach 1.5 osy, which was unheard of just a few years ago.  So the weight penalties of full double wall are no longer so stark.

    I remember driving up to Maine a few Junes ago, and parking near an AT crossing in the 100 mile wilderness not far from Katahdin to hike in to Rainbow Lake, which has beautiful camping on the West shore, a good distance from the AT.  All the hikers near where I parked were wearing headnets, and sitting near the trail junction looking very miserable, as the skeeters were at the height of their annual swarm.  Not the best choice of time to hike, but once I got into the woods, saw no one, and Ben’s DEET was enough to keep the buggers away.

    Granted, there was a July trip to the Big Horns in WY many summers ago, where the skeeters were the worst I’ve seen.  Could have been a nice loop trip, but after a couple days, got the heck out of there.  Lots of boy scouts and horsepackers.  One thing skeeters and bears have in common, they are attracted to people, and the more people, the more attraction.  It’s the food, of course.  A few skeeters did get into the tent on entry, but they were defenseless once captured inside the netting, and easily squashed.

    But I usually avoid the swarm season, regarding hiking as a fun, not a masochistic activity.  Realize for end-to-enders, that is not an option; but there are still flip-flopping and other schemes to get around swarm seasons and post-holing in deep snow.  Except maybe for Chris in Arctic.

    BPL Member


    Locale: SoCAL

    The last 15 years I’ve been primarily a cowboy camper and only use the tarp or such when it’s actually raining/snowing.  Camp under a large tree or shrubbery and you don’t normally have dew issues (there is usually a dry ring around the tree when there is dew on the ground); it’s also a bit warmer.  Have had dew in open sky places when the ground has moisture; hopefully it freezes overnight before it penetrates through the water resistant (not proof) bivy sack.

    Insect issues: I have found a centi/millipede only 1 time when cowboy camped in a lava field on the PCT in Oregon right on the trail as it was the only place without lava rocks (i.e. had been filled in by the nice trail crews). After cooking dinner I saw it on my foam sleeping pad when getting ready for bed in the fading light.  I flung it into the distance and went to bed.  Did have 1 night on the PCT in southern Washington where Grand Daddy Long Legs (which aren’t actually spiders though they look like them as they don’t make webs) were crawling around my ground cloth at night but they left me alone and I slept well. Mosquitoes are what the bivy sack is for; same for ants, though I do look for them before I decide to camp there so ant problems have been rare.  No tick issues, but I do use permithrin treated clothing during the day. If I thought I was going to be in heavy tick areas with lime (say mid atlantic states on the AT), then I might treat the outside of the bivy sack ahead of time, just in case.

    Animals: Had a large frog get under the edge of quilt in Lassen Volcanic NP on the PCT in a thunderstorm but I was camped next to the creek too close (took me some time to wake up enough to figure out what it was). Mice, they sometimes are around heavily used places and from experience, it’s better to roll up your stuff up in your ground cloth like a burrito and move some distance away as they will keep coming back (friends have had mice chew into their tents so not much help there).  Usually they are just after your food in your pack, but on the AT in Maine next to a shelter, I flipped my quilt up in the evening to go to bed while it was still light and there was a mouse on my ground cloth.  He too went flying when I flipped my pad before moving farther away from the shelter (AT shelters are mice hotels). Never encountered a snake or scorpion despite years of cowboy camping in the desert.  After all, I usually only stop at the end of the day when the temperatures are getting colder. Reptiles and the like don’t like cold and are usually in bed by then. If I was staying somewhere for more than a night, I’d have everything I care about in my bivy sack zipped up when I was away. But once in bed, I often leave it open or don’t use it at all in warmer weather (providing the mosquito allow it).

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