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Archive | Shelters

Notice the aggressive, nearly vertical doorway pole, which helps to increase interior volume.

Preview: Sierra Designs 2018 tents || High Side, Studio, Sweet Suite & Meteor

My coverage of Outdoor Retailer starts at the Sierra Designs booth (naturally, since they’re paying for me to be here). For 2018 SD has largely revamped its shelter line-up. Only three current models are being carried forward — the Summer Moon, Clip Flashlight, and my High Route. The remainder will be discontinued and closed out. […]

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Top: A Cuben laminate with 150d black face polyester face fabric. Bottom: The 210d Robic nylon that is standard on ULA packs.

Reader question: Are Cuben Fiber shelters & backpacks worth the cost?

A question from reader Patrick H.: Most backpackers who look beyond REI while researching gear have probably learned of Cuben Fiber, either in a standalone conversation or as a fabric option for shelters, backpacks, and accessories made by cottage brands like Hammock Gear, Katabatic Gear, Mountain Laurel Designs and others. Cuben stands out, partly because equipment made with it is exorbitantly […]

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Bottom to top: 1.5-mm sheated Dyneema, 2-mm reflective nylon,  3-mm nylon, and a Bic pen for scale

Top picks: Stakes & guylines for backpacking tents, tarps & hammocks

I will finish this series on backpacking shelter systems with a discussion of stakes and guylines, which have a critical role but which are normally treated as an afterthought. To maximize the usability and performance of your tent, tarp, or hammock, give them some attention. Stakes If stakes are included with the purchase of a shelter, […]

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Nitro Joe with a mid tent made of DCF. It was September so he left the matching inner tent at home.

If cost were no object: My go-to backpacking shelter systems, gone ultralight

The backpacking shelters that I presented in this series — a modular tent, tarp & bivy, and hammock — are middle-of-the-road systems. They are not ultralight or excessively heavy, not cheap or prohibitively expensive, and not benchmark-setting or under-performers. This was intentional on my part. While they reflect what I personally use (in most cases, […]

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An ultralight hammock setup, with a 5.5-oz tarp made of Dyneema Composite Fabric. Hex-shaped tarps are popular among hammock users, but more rectangular-shaped tarps double better as hammock & ground tarps.

Gear List || Backpacking Hammock: Forest & high-use zone specialist

A night of quality sleep in the backcountry depends on multiple factors. A shelter and sleep system that defend against precipitation, wind, insects, groundwater, and cold are the most obvious prerequisites. But equally important is campsite selection, or the art of finding a comfortable location where you can hang your hat. When using ground-based shelters […]

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A tarp & bivy offers full -- albeit adequate -- protection against precip, insects, groundwater, and wind. It's an ultralight and compact package that will be too minimalist for most.

Gear List || Backpacking Tarp & Bivy: Ultralight minimalism

In a normal winter, the Sierra Nevada, Pacific Northwest, and Rocky Mountains get hammered by systems that roll off the Pacific Ocean and drop hundreds of inches of snow. The summers, however, are sunny and dry, with only occasional precipitation related to the North American monsoon. Storms can be violent, but they are normally short-lived and […]

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