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Wind advisory: Tips for using the High Route Tent in high winds

How can you maximize the performance of your Sierra Designs High Route Tent 1FL in high winds?

1. Find a good campsite.

I will intentionally select an unprotected campsite in only a few situations. If:

  • The conditions are warm and calm;
  • A breeze will keep grounded a hungry hatch of bugs; and/or,
  • I’m willing to compromise sleep quality for campsite aesthetics.

Otherwise, whenever possible I find a well protected camp, ideally below treeline or among a healthy cluster of willows, cottonwoods, or krumholtz. My approach is the same regardless of my shelter. I know that the High Route Tent can withstand harsh 3-season conditions and moderate winter weather, but I don’t care to prove that each night.

Well protected camps generally lack views, but they are calmer and warmer, due to the natural wind blocks and to the reflection of radiant heat by the nearby vegetation. Thus, they are more conducive to quality sleep.

A well protected campsite in a spruce cluster just below treeline. Such spots are less vulnerable to high winds and give up less radiant heat during calm nights.

A well protected campsite in a spruce cluster just below treeline. Such spots are less vulnerable to high winds and give up less radiant heat during calm nights.

2. Master the pitch.

The High Route Tent has a unique but straightforward pitch. Perfect it before using the shelter in challenging conditions.

If you have not done so already, watch the video below, read my pro-level pitching instructions, and practice multiple times in low-risk situations.

When possible, fortify the stake-out points by placing large rocks atop the stakes or by tying off to natural anchors like trees and roots.

3. Keep the perimeter close to the ground.

The High Route Tent has a minimum peak height of 48 inches. In high winds, you don’t want it any taller — if you allow it to be, you create a larger profile and you increase the gap between the ground and the fly’s perimeter.

Position the ground stakes just a few inches away from the corners. Do not insert the stakes through the corner loops, or you will be unable to re-tighten later on (step #6).

Tighten fully the adjustable grommet webbing at the bottom of the door zipper, so that the bottom perimeter of the fly will be as close to the ground as possible. If the door panel is saggy, lengthen the trekking pole to remove the slack.

4. Point the ridgeline into the wind.

If the prevailing wind direction is known and consistent, orient the tent so that the ridgeline points into the wind. The air will split around the shelter, and the corner will stay strong due to the stiff trekking pole and taut ridgeline guyline.

The second best option is to point the head or foot into the wind, to present a narrow profile.

Broadside should be your third pick. The trekking pole effectively reinforces the vertical side panel, but deformation will occur, especially in the lower-left corner of the panel.

The tent’s weakest spot is its “left” corner (when seen from a side-view). The strongest winds I’ve experienced in the High Route Tent (30 to 40 mph gusts) came from this direction. It was fine, but it would have performed better if it had been oriented differently.

Point the ridgeline into the wind (towards the mountain, in this photo). If the wind direction is inconsistent, skew the orientation so that the head/foot is facing more of the wind than the door panels.

Point the ridgeline into the wind (towards the mountain, in this photo). If the wind direction is inconsistent, skew the orientation so that the head/foot is facing more of the wind than the door panels.

5. Use the extra guyline.

Above each side door there is a tie-out loop. If you are expecting strong winds on your trip, attach the two included guylines (with tensioning cleats) with a bowline knot. (Learn the bowline.) Also, bring two extra stakes (eight total), in addition to the six needed for the basic pitch.

This guyline will help reinforce the aforementioned “left” corner and to reduce deformation of the “left” side of the vertical doors.

For maximum sturdiness, place upward tension on this tie-out point, to prevent extreme gusts from pushing this corner towards the ground.

6. Before falling asleep, re-tighten it.

The fly’s PE/sil-coated fabric will stretch some, especially in rain or high humidity. It stretches less than pure sil-nylon, but it’s still enough to cause sag, which is a liability in high winds.

Before turning in for the night, remove slack by re-tightening guylines and further extending both trekking poles. For quick adjustments and 3:1 mechanical advantage, learn my guyline system.

One Response to Wind advisory: Tips for using the High Route Tent in high winds

  1. Sazerac March 23, 2017 at 11:02 am #

    I received my HR1 a few days ago and, depending on the final weather forecast before I depart Georgia for Arkansas, may use it on a section hike of the Ozark Highlands Trail next month. The tip to orient the ridge line into the wind was an “ah-ha!” for me. I’ll keep that in mind. Springtime in the Ozarks can bring some heavy weather. Let me pass along that my Klymit Static V Luxe (stupid heavy perhaps but oh so comfortable) fits quit nicely inside the inner with sidewall to spare.

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