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Robert R

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My initiation into “ultralight” backpacking was in Ft Dix, December 1987, though, at the time, no such thing existed.  I was there for basic ground combat skills which was a condensed version of basic infantry school designed for Air Force Security Police.  Our class was out in the field for a week and I was paired up with another student (the Army instructors called that person your Ranger buddy).  Being paired up was mandatory for safety reasons during the simulated “combat training.”  In our kit, we both carried a “shelter half” which was made from a piece of heavy, milspec canvas. It probably weighed around 3 lbs. We also carried one aluminum pole.  Sil-nylon or DCF would have been great instead of canvas!!! The piece of canvas had brass snaps on a part of the material which, when snapped together with the other half, formed a two man, “A” frame shelter.  We had two short poles each of us carried that supported the ends. There was extra fabric at the bottom so you could pile rocks, dirt, snow, sand or whatever on there to hold it flush to the ground. I believe there were loops also so it could be staked down and made fairly taut. Using an E-tool, the soldier digs trenches around the perimeter, flush with the tent bottom. These trenches channel water away from the living space. If properly set up, it’s a very effective shelter. It did snow about 3 inches that night and our shelter did stand the test. Other students had their shelters collapse upon them during the snowstorm. Ours was completely dry inside. I remember sleeping like a baby that night. Now, decades later, materials have advanced exponentially, which allows a single hiker to carry a waterproof, bugproof, two man shelter that sets up quickly in a small package which can weigh well under 2 lbs.

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