Shelter entry/exit, sans contortions?
Jul 19, 2021 at 12:24 pm #3722403Ian SchumannBPL Member
@freeradicalLocale: Central TX
I started this discussion about the various parts of backpacking that are fussy, at least until you get a sufficient amount of practice and reps under your belt.
One of the particulars that I found fussy in my most recent trip was: how to operate the door of my shelter from inside, without either A) getting on my hands and knees to reach the bottom of the door zipper, or B) if not hands & knees, then inevitably making contact with a wet panel of silnylon while reaching for the same bottom of the zipper.
The problem is sufficiently annoying to explain that I made a little diagram:
My particular shelter is a Tarptent Stratospire 2, which in general I have found to be awesome. But it has a zippered door that’s similar to other tarps and shelters I’ve used, such as an MLD ‘mid in the early 2010s. Basically the zipper descends from high up on some fabric panel, down to terminate in a pair of loops that go around a stake – the two loops, respectively, are there to anchor the two panel corners to the stake. That is, the loops relieve tension from getting placed directly on the zipper. It’s my understanding that with these kinds of doors, you generally never want to operate the zipper unless the loop is hooked around the stake – else you’re zipping / unzipping while the zipper is under tension.
So operating this kind of door from the outside is easy: unzip the zipper, then unhook the loop, and the door panel opens up without issue. From the inside is the trouble: whether you’re entering the shelter or exiting it, you have to reach as far away from the living area, and as close to the ground as possible, in order to grab that zipper and bring it up. Then you have to reach again to unhook the loop from the stake.
In my SS2 this past weekend, I was not able to make this reach without either A) getting on my hands and knees in order to reach that low to the ground, or B) squatting up on my feet, but thereby running my body partly into the fabric of the door panel, which was wet with condensation.
And mind you, I am not a big guy at 5’6″. And I don’t believe my SS2 was pitched improperly – all the panels were neat and taut. Although maybe my mistake is that I should have raised the poles and pitched the whole thing higher off the ground.
Anyway, hopefully the problem is clear and others will recognize what I’m talking about. I don’t think this has anything particularly to do with the SS2. This issue seems to concern any shelter where the door panel / zipper has a catenary line that plunges toward the ground, forcing the user to reach into a low / distant crevice to reach the zipper pull or guy loop.
Thoughts?Jul 19, 2021 at 2:53 pm #3722415Todd TBPL Member
@texasbbLocale: Pacific Northwest
Being 6’5″, I can’t relate to squatting or kneeling in the vestibule. I sit in the tent, right by the mesh door, then “lie” sideways into the vestibule to reach the low/far zipper point. It’s usually just an elbow or forearm that’s on the ground, but I manage to get both hands over to the edge to zip+buckle the outer door. I use my sit pad to protect myself from getting dirty as I do that. Yes, if there’s condensation on the fly, a little might get on me.Jul 19, 2021 at 3:01 pm #3722418matthew kModerator
Yep. Agreed that it’s a pain. I have a similar thing going on with my YMG Cirriform Min. I feel like it’s the cost of having as really light, simple tarp. I find it to be incrementally easier to release tension when the tarp is pitched higher,
I’ve been thinking about other ways to rig it so that I could release tension on the lineloc3 more easily from inside the tarp.Jul 19, 2021 at 3:35 pm #3722420Paul SBPL Member
I lean over, putting my elbow (of the arm reaching for the bottom of the zipper) into my camp shoes. That way, it keeps my elbow off of the dirty/muddy, wet/snowy ground.Jul 19, 2021 at 3:53 pm #3722421Kevin BabioneBPL Member
Don’t laugh, but that’s one of the things that led me to try hammocking. Morning contortions, with a very full bladder, were simply unpleasant. It was one of the things I liked about using a simple 8×10 tarp – it was open so I didn’t have to fumble with a zipper or other closure.Jul 19, 2021 at 4:02 pm #3722423
Maybe your’s is different but on my Notch Li I only stake out one side of the vestibule and just pull the zipper with tension to close the vestibule door. Seems to work fine. I might be mistaken, but I believe this method is what is shown on the Tarptent Notch Li set up video…
DWRJul 19, 2021 at 4:02 pm #3722424Ian SchumannBPL Member
@freeradicalLocale: Central TX
Well at least I’m not crazy / unusually inept 😄 Thanks for the responses so far.
… Morning contortions, with a very full bladder, were simply unpleasant.
… yes, very much +1 agree. Also
morningmidnight contortions under similar conditions.Jul 19, 2021 at 4:05 pm #3722425
My solution to all those bladder contortions… Chamber Pot…Jul 19, 2021 at 5:08 pm #3722436
I’m glad this came up: I’m both inept, ungraceful and considering a Stratosphire 2. I don’t mind reaching to work a zipper, but the size of that vestibule is pretty daunting when I think about my hiking partner, who is only 5’4″. Hmm.Jul 19, 2021 at 5:20 pm #3722440
Well there’s an easy solution Bonzo… just put your small hiking partner in the vestibule… she, or he, can be the vestibule operator!!! :)))Jul 19, 2021 at 5:43 pm #3722442
Reviewing Tarptent set-up videos, it seems that only the non-Dynema tents are shown having both sides of the vestibule connected to the vestibule stake(s)… that is the case with my non-Dynema Notch and the Tarptent setup videos of the Stratosphere also. But the Dynema/Li versions of both the Stratosphere and the Notch do not show both sides of the vestibule being connected to the stake(s); rather, they just allow the tension to be on the zipper. So… the Li versions are newer and maybe have stronger zippers? Or maybe Tarptent just realized that it is not necessary to take the tension off the zippers but never went back and changed the non-Dynema version set up videos??? Might call Tarptent and see what they say….Jul 19, 2021 at 5:57 pm #3722445
Well there’s an easy solution Bonzo… just put your small hiking partner in the vestibule… she, or he, can be the vestibule operator!!!
May I direct all objections in your direction? 😉Jul 19, 2021 at 6:10 pm #3722448Mina LoomisBPL Member
@elmvineLocale: Central Texas
Just started with a new Stratospire Li after many years of wearing out our Haven 2. Haven vestibule zipper is a reach, Stratospire Li with its bigger vestibules, zipper is an even longer reach. Almost out of my reach (I am 5’3-1/2″) so I have to like out almost flat to get it. Definitely “contortion.” Late-night exit a real thing. But, I just figured, contortion–that is, flexibility and movement–is part of an old person’s fitness program. Goes along with sleeping on a Ridgerest and not taking a chair or camp shoes. And carrying a pack.Jul 19, 2021 at 7:43 pm #3722460jscottBPL Member
@bookLocale: Northern California
” Goes along with sleeping on a Ridgerest…”
Oh, nonono Mina no! I don’t take a chair or camp shoes either…but I need my sleep! You may be decades younger than me–I’m 1,008–but still, I owe being happy in the wilderness to an Exped inflatable pad. Oh my what a difference from a Ridgerest! And it’s light!
No need to suffer needlessly!Jul 20, 2021 at 12:07 am #3722486
How about attaching a bit of extra long line to the inside zipper pull? Maybe with some type of plastic piece also attached to add tension if the line won’t go quite taut?
So maybe like this, but longer
I use these, and they’re great. But it still can be a stretch sometimesJul 20, 2021 at 12:44 am #3722487
So this topic got me interested. Just now made a 5″ pull out of 2mm Lawson Glow Wire which is pretty stiff to begin with. The added glow will be a cinch to locate during late night wake ups. Wanted to use some 3mm I had laying around (stiffer) but was too wide for the zipper. Put two knots at the end for grip. Will be going out for 4 days next week. Will try it outJul 20, 2021 at 5:22 am #3722493
I thought about a longer zipper pull as well, but then wondered how I was going to push the zipper closed.Jul 20, 2021 at 10:19 am #3722506
Yeah, the Chums didn’t illustrate my thought well. In fact it was downright terrible. It was late last night and wasn’t thinking straight.
My thought, and I just couldn’t find one available at hand, is a flat or round stiff piece of plastic, (4-5″) that runs halfway or the full length of the pull to give tension when pushing the zipper down from a distance. Perhaps with holes on either end of it for line to run through it, both to attach it to the zipper as well as to extend extra length on the pull end to grab when opening. I punted with the Glow Wire due to it being very stiff for a line and am hoping that works for me. But I think you’re right, it still probably won’t. I’ll have to go to my local hardware store and look at the misc plastic partsJul 20, 2021 at 12:21 pm #3722518
Well, if we’re willing to be a bit unconventional and use a rigid piece as postulated, then the easy solution is to simply get a piece of any lightweight and rigid tubing – aluminum, titanium, carbon fiber, whatever – and make a hook on the end of a short rod. Shaped correctly, the hook will allow you to catch the factory zipper pull to both pull it and push it. On the SS2 this wouldn’t be a difficult inclusion to the tent kit because of the rigid pieces that are already a part of the assembly: size the rod correctly and it can roll/stuff with the tent. For late-night usage, add a bit of luminescence to both the pull and the rod/hook: simply shove the glowing parts together.Jul 20, 2021 at 1:01 pm #3722525Todd TBPL Member
@texasbbLocale: Pacific Northwest
A rigid push/pull stick might work if all you’ve got is a zipper. My TT Notch has a little clip down there that relieves the zipper of the brunt of the forces, which would still require me to reach down with two hands.Jul 20, 2021 at 1:10 pm #3722526Chris RBPL Member
Couldn’t you use a spare trekking pole to push the zipper the last foot or so?Jul 20, 2021 at 2:09 pm #3722529Mole JBPL Member
A longer zipper pull works fine. Installed longer loops on the inside of our Stratospire 2 zips years ago for this very reason.Jul 20, 2021 at 2:31 pm #3722535
Couldn’t you use a spare trekking pole to push the zipper the last foot or so?
Depends on if you have one. If you’re in the SS2 then you have two trekking poles already pulling tent duty…and not everyone carries trekking poles. My partner and I split a pair; we both prefer to use only one each.
I guess it also depends on what baskets/tips are on the poles; large-diameter baskets might make it hard to snag the zipper. Or easier, depending on how you use them.
A longer zipper pull works fine. Installed longer loops on the inside of our Stratospire 2 zips years ago for this very reason.
So, how do you push the zipper pull to close it up without doing the contortions that OP wants to avoid?Jul 20, 2021 at 2:41 pm #3722537jscottBPL Member
@bookLocale: Northern California
It’s two am and I really gotta pee…well, all I have to do is fit the tiny hook on the end of this long flexible thingamabob into the zipper hole five feet away…where’s my headlamp…wait, almost…wait…$#%^!!…
edit: however, one could modify an eggbeater and attach a spool in place of the paddles. Then, using several tiny pulleys and strong string, rig it all up to the zipper. Cranking on the eggbeater, the zipper would be pulled up as the string winds around the spool. After peeing, the zipper would now be near your head. Then you could easily attach the hook on the pole to the zipper and pull it down.Jul 20, 2021 at 4:23 pm #3722553matthew kModerator
My TT Notch has a little clip down there that relieves the zipper of the brunt of the forces, which would still require me to reach down with two hands.
Yep, this is the issue I encounter.
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