Shelter entry/exit, sans contortions?

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Home Forums Gear Forums Gear (General) Shelter entry/exit, sans contortions?

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    Ian Schumann
    BPL Member


    Locale: Central TX

    I started this discussion about the various parts of backpacking that are fussyat 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:

    shelter contortions

    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.


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