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Archive | Shelters

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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One of my three go-to shelter systems: the Sierra Designs High Route Tent, which has a full-sided 22-oz fly and interchangeable 14-oz inner tent.

Gear List || One-shelter quiver: Modular double-wall backpacking tent

What is a backpacking tent? I’ll define it as a full-sided, fixed-shaped, and holistically designed portable shelter that protects its occupants from precipitation, wind, groundwater, and insects. A few models do not fulfill this entire description, but it generally works. Tents grossly outsell tarps, hammocks, and bivy sacks. This is partly due to deeply embedded mindsets (“I […]

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This single-wall tent has an integrated fly, floor, and bug netting. If these protections are needed or wanted full-time, this is a good setup. But other users may want more modularity so that, for example, the bug netting can be left behind on bug-free trips.

6 Questions to Ask Before Buying a Backpacking Tent, Tarp, Hammock or Bivy

Questions are normally followed up with answers. But one question that will simply beget more questions is, “What shelter should I buy for backpacking?” Actually, there is an answer, but it’s not helpful: “I don’t know.” Because to nudge you in the right direction I need more information about your preferences, intentions, and budget. And […]

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Making camp in Alaska's Hayes Range during peak bug season.

Buyer’s Guide + my Go-to Systems: Backpacking tents, tarps & hammocks

There are literally thousands of backpacking shelters — multiple styles of tents, tarps, hammocks, and bivy sacks, plus accessories like guylines and stakes — from which to choose. How is a new backpacker, aspiring thru-hiker, couple, Philmont-bound Boy Scout, or even a veteran looking to upgrade, supposed to sort through the paralyzing volume of options […]

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The black rubber around the perimeter is very durable, and the colored rubber is more sticky. The flaw is the strip of foam between the rubber compounds -- the shoe would fall apart here first.

Long-term gear reviews: Product insights after a 100-day Appalachian Trail thru-hike

Intro by Skurka. After his recent 100-day thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail, Garrett contacted me with some gear reviews, some about products I have written about previously. I thought his insights were valuable, due to his extensive use and to his unbiased viewpoint, and asked his permission to share them. If you have questions for Garrett, leave a comment. […]

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To use the High Route as a 2-person shelter, leave the inner tent at home. Instead, use a bivy sack (as Amanda has), a ground sheet, and/or headnet.

Two snug: Can the High Route Tent 1FL be used as a 2-person shelter?

For a one-person backpacking shelter, the Sierra Designs High Route Tent 1FL is palatial. Its footprint is 36 square feet and its minimum peak height is 48 inches. In comparison, the two-person Big Agnes Copper Spur 2UL has a 38-square-foot footprint, with a maximum interior height of 42 inches. And the two-person MSR Carbon Reflex […]

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Tighten the webbing grommet to its max. To remove leftover slack from the door panel, extend the trekking pole.

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 […]

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Tie-off to a horn-like growth on a cottonwood tree

How-to video || My guyline system for tents, tarps, and hammocks

The guyline and tensioning systems normally found on backpacking shelters (including tents, tarps, and hammocks) share two flaws: Insufficient cordage is provided. This limits stake-out locations, which is especially problematic in rocky or hard-packed ground. Natural anchors like trees, downed logs, exposed roots, and large rocks cannot be used, nor can deadman anchors in the winter. These anchors […]

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For extra wind-resistance, use the tie-out above each side door. Add reinforcement by tensioning it off a stick or ski.

Performance assessment: High Route Tent 1FL meets Glacier National Park

Last month Dave Chenault and I used the Sierra Designs High Route Tent 1FL* while attempting the Glacier Divide Route, a rugged 125-mile traverse of Glacier National Park that is largely off-trail and above treeline. We experienced some of the exact conditions for which the HR1 was designed: on the first night we had marble-sized […]

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The Sierra Designs High Route Tent 1FL perched at 7,500 feet on the Continental Divide in Glacier National Park (undesignated camping). It was designed for such conditions, but it's acceptably light for milder trips, too.

Reviews & commentary: Sierra Designs High Route Tent 1FL

I’m biased about the Sierra Designs High Route Tent 1FL, since I sketched its original design and then field-tested extensively each prototype. Do others think I have a future as a tent designer? I’ll be updating this page as we find out. Customer reviews at SierraDesigns.com For reviews by “regular” users, go here. Highlights: Once I […]

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