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Tent dilemma 
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Joined: Wed Nov 08, 2006 3:30 pm
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Location: Central Iowa
I have two tents, and I'm trying to decide which one I'm bringing to fest. I'm a Libra, so my need to thoroughly consider all options is coming to the fore.

Contestant #1: Sierra Designs, huge monster with aluminum poles. I can put it up by myself, but it is a minor PITA to do so. It has room for me, all my stuff, and a couple of friends and all their stuff. (Translation: it is larger than I really need.) I can stand up in it, but have to do a certain amount of bending to open doors and get in. It has all of these fabulous pockets, that make it super-easy to organize my ziploc-bagged attire, although by the end of the week, it's all in a pile on the floor anyway. It is super waterproof, but as a result, fairly warm during the day. Oddly, that doesn't translate to warm at night. I can adjust the rainfly to catch breezes to a certain extent. It is actually a pretty good tent for fest, and has been to fest a total of 5 times. It weighs 30 lbs, and is a meaningful PITA to get from the shuttle stop to wherever I'm camping.

Contestant #2: A cheapie tent purchased at Target or Wal-Mart or someplace like that, after a pole failure on Contestant #1 for a camping trip 5 years ago or so. It is much lighter (about 10 lbs), has fiberglass poles, and is nevertheless waterproof, and of equal breathability as Contestant #1. (I will obviously seam-seal it once more before coming to fest.) It is much shorter, but would still hold me and my stuff with room to spare. It is easy to put up, but I can't stand up in it, which means that any dressing being done in my tent would be done either in a prone position, or or not inside my tent. I'd need to tarp to facilitate this, and also just for that added measure of safety about rain. I have a tarp, and rope, and all that jazz.

This wouldn't be an issue, except that carrying Contestant #1 to and from my campsite is the most vivid memory that I have from my last fest, and not in that warm and fuzzy "I can't wait to do that again" kind of way. I can almost hear someone getting their fingers set to type "bring a cart", except that I don't have one, and have no budget for one this year. It also seems a little silly, since the rest of my stuff fits into or can be attached on to one hiking-style backpack. I've thought about hiking my stuff in, dumping out my backpack, and then carrying my tent in my backpack. Except that I would have to dump all of my stuff out on the ground. Fine, if it's not raining. Not a good option otherwise.

So, in short, my choices:
#1- big honker, and suck it up about the weight
#2- smaller tent + tarp + some method of clothing organization (aka box from the kitchen)

I know that a lot of womyn have gone to larger tents, and been happier that way. Anyone gone smaller and been happier?

Is there something else I'm not seeing? WWWWD? (What Would Wise Womyn Do?)


Sun Jul 15, 2012 9:14 am
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Joined: Fri Apr 20, 2012 2:30 pm
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Location: kitchener on
Hammi
You ask the questions I want to know the answers to lol. I have a 8x14 tent that is beautifully spacious (and cold at night). I have a tent heater but am reluctant to run it all night so sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night chilly. I recently purchased a small tent that weighs less than the average purse but I do not like getting dressed laying down. I purchased for when I go camping on my motorcycle (but maybe I should have just bought a trailer lol. I`d like to hear what other people say but for me I`d get help carrying the big one in so....

CONTESTANT #1


Sun Jul 15, 2012 10:14 am
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Joined: Sat Jun 30, 2007 9:15 pm
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Location: midwest
just my opinion:

I have never camped with a big honkin' tent, but have visited others in theirs. To me they feel dark and dank and somehow more closed in than my small tent that's only used for sleeping--a cozy den. I have plenty of room in my smaller tent for clothes (in their bags)

I have, of late, used a canopy tent (4 legs and a roof) but have also merely strung a tarp to provide roof space. To me, that feels airy and free, and I love to hang out in the "front yard", to sit and visit, but also I get dressed out there. I stash some of my gear there--chair, etc.

Some folks prefer a mesh tent, to avoid the skeeters but they just don't seem to bother me, and I much prefer the open air.

I know what you mean about the big tent being colder. At this point I'm trying to finesse the smaller tent for cooler. I've got a tent fan, but this year I think I"ll be bringing a silver sided tarp for over.

And I'm with you on the Libra mulling things over, weighing options!

So that is my opinion, but it's based on my own preferences, so in the end, you have to figure out where you'll be more comfortable.

Contestant #2


Sun Jul 15, 2012 10:54 am
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which one has a better fly? which one has better air circulation once the fly is on? which one do you feel more comfortable in?

that being said, i'd go with tent one b/c i like aluminum poles. less likely to snap and ruin your day and i like the brand.

i also want to add that i have two tents. a big 4 person tent (rei kingdom 4) and a small 3 person tent (marmot limelight). i bring the REI tent whenever i can b/c i like having a bigger tent at the festival because its more comfortable for me to move around in. the size isn't that different (other then the huge vestibule on the REI tent). last year i went by plane and had to bring my smaller tent. this year i'm going by train and brining my larger tent. i'd say go for a larger tent. its more comfortable for a week and all the stuff we bring to michfest (which can be a lot).


Sun Jul 15, 2012 11:22 am
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Location: Central Iowa
macosta wrote:
which one has a better fly? which one has better air circulation once the fly is on? which one do you feel more comfortable in?

that being said, i'd go with tent one b/c i like aluminum poles. less likely to snap and ruin your day and i like the brand.


I appreciate what you're saying about the aluminum poles, but the reason I own the smaller tent is because of pole failure on the larger one. (I've replaced the broken pole in the meantime.)

The large one has a better fly. The fly basically comes to within a couple inches of the ground. The actual tent rarely gets wet when it rains. Awesome tent, with the heft to prove it.

The smaller tent definitely wins on the air circulation with the fly on. As far as feeling more comfortable, there isn't a lot of difference, beyond the obvious space considerations. I'm willing to forego a little space for the sake of less schlepping. I think I'm in the process of talking myself into the smaller tent. Of course, I could always bring both, leave the honker in the car, and if I want it for whatever reason, go get it. (Thus effectively putting the decision off until I'm unloading.)


Sun Jul 15, 2012 12:03 pm
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Location: Rochester, NY
I say, if you have room for it in the car, bring both. If at that time the forecast calls for a rainy week, pick the tent best for that. If its super hot and sunny, pick the other tent...

Di


Sun Jul 15, 2012 12:06 pm
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Joined: Mon Nov 06, 2006 9:00 pm
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I vote for #2 to avoid the schlepping/PITA issue. . .put up a tarp for rain protection and for the front yard/dressing room, get a box from the kitchen for gear organizing, put a wrap or two of duct tape around the middle of each section of fiberglass poles to encourage them to stay intact.
HOOORAY that you're someone who can walk her stuff in with a backpack and not need a fleet of carts to haul all of her gear. . .
More womyn, less stuff!
SKWD


Sun Jul 15, 2012 2:01 pm
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Location: Central Iowa
seakayakwitchdyke wrote:
put a wrap or two of duct tape around the middle of each section of fiberglass poles to encourage them to stay intact.

SKWD


Now that is the kind of tip that I was hoping to get from this thread. I never would have thought of that.


Sun Jul 15, 2012 4:53 pm
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oh, yes. . .actually, if the sections are long it doesn't hurt to put a wrap around the middle of the section and another wrap on either side of the middle. Basically, holding all those eighty gazillion fiberglass strands together in happy pole mode instead of having them decide to split away from the pole. . .

and, someone with too much time on their hands should comb through all the threads on the forum and compile a list of "quirky gear and camping tips that I learned from the MichFest discussion forum."


Sun Jul 15, 2012 4:58 pm
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Location: Exotic Brooklyn
The biggest stressors for me, and I would bet most of us, is load in and load out. A bad load in can linger long into the week.

I find if I am patient, a cart I can borrow for a quick run shows up. I find I need this anyway as I am tiny and have structural issues regardless of how much gear I bring or dont bring. I have learned to ask for help.

We had an antique coleman cabin tent for years, the heavy ones with stand up walls, etc. It was so roomy it was hard to give up, but we have a smaller (and lo and behold! warmer) one now and have little 2lb backpack tent for gear if I share my tent with anyone. Last year I came solo and didn't even need it. I just stowed extra stuff behind my tent under my tarp overhang.

How we "do" fest is such a personal choice. I respect equally those that need to bring a truck load of stuff, as these types are the ones who often have stuff to share and campsites that are welcoming to visitors ( thank you!), and minimalists, who may not be at their campsites often, but out doing stuff that makes fest a more fun and creative space.

Contestant #2


Mon Jul 16, 2012 11:04 am
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Joined: Wed Nov 08, 2006 9:23 pm
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Location: Chicago
I have gone from larger to smaller, although my "larger" was never as large as what you're describing. I was never able to really stand up in my larger tent (2 person REI dome tent), but I realized that anything taller than me meant that it was not easy for me to set it up by myself and adjust the rainfly. I mostly camp by myself, even tho' it was a 2 person tent. Several years ago, I bought a much smaller "half-dome" REI tent (supposedly 2 person but that would be a tight squeeze). It's much easier to set up, and it packs down to a smaller (and probably lighter) package than my larger tent. So I encourage you to try #2.


Mon Jul 16, 2012 7:40 pm
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In the process of seam-sealing the smaller tent, the decision was made.

I left the smaller tent up for a few days, and when I came back, it had a puddle in the bottom. In the middle of a record-setting drought. I don't think it even rained. I have no clue how that puddle got there.

So, in the interest of actually being dry, I'm bringing the larger of the two tents.


Wed Aug 01, 2012 7:02 pm
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ahhh. . .that seems odd.
SO, to deal with the PITA schlepping issue, I highly recommend that you bring a large sheet of plastic, hike the rest of your gear in your backpack out to your site, pull the sheet of plastic out of the pack, empty the backpack onto the sheet of plastic, fold the plastic over the gear/tuck it under to keep it dry (although the current forecast for Monday includes no rain), and then walk back with empty backpack to get your tent, take a break and have a snack and some water, put tent in your backpack, walk back to your site, have another snack/drink of water, chat up your neighbors, offer to help with their tent, ask for help setting up your tent.
For most of the times I've been to fest, I've schlepped my gear in large duffle bags. I take a pack frame without the packbag on it, and tie the big duffle bags to the frame, walk them out to my site, untie them, walk back with empty frame, get the next load. Now I have one of those nifty deer hauling carts, so I don't use the backpack (my knees and hips are happier).
Safe travels!
SKWD


Wed Aug 01, 2012 7:10 pm
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Location: SF Bay Area
Hey Hammi!

Just as a little story-- my first year (7 years ago), I decided to attend 3 weeks before Fest. I was on a very limited budget, so I bought my tent at a local camping/hunting/sports store. My main criteria: tall enough that I could stand up (I'm 5'8").

I bought a 10x12 tent for 26$. It lasted me 6 years!!!! It leaked a bit in the corners, but who needs corners! I tarped underneath, but not on top. It only had to be retired because my ex ripped the zipper last year...

So, all this is to say-- I truly believe that any tent can work, as long as you set it up correctly, and tarp when necessary.

Good luck!!!


Wed Aug 01, 2012 8:14 pm
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