I got a new tent for my AT hike. Well, not exactly new. I bought it off my good friend Herb. Anyway, it’s just like having a new pair of shoes—you just have to try it out. No sense in buying something then tucking it away for safe keeping. Besides, I need the practice of pitching and sleeping in this tent before my trip. We had made several plans to go backpacking and something always came up preventing us from going. This was the weekend, no matter what!
We have two backpacking tents, both Sierra Designs, one for winter and one for summer. They both are classified as a 3-man tent which really means there is room for 2. They are relatively lightweight coming in right at 5 lbs. That doesn’t seem light to Gene since he has to carry the tent, but when you consider that is home to two hikers, then that makes it 2.5 lbs each and that is light. Just so you don’t go feeling sorry for Gene having to carry the tent on our outings, I carry the cook stove and pots.
A 5 lb tent is far more than I can carry along with everything else to go solo, so I was in the market for a lightweight tent. Many solo hikers of the ultralight philosophy use tarps or hammocks as their home away from home. That’s great for them, but it will not work for me. I have to have some real protection between me and God’s creepy crawlers. I have to have a tent. Herb offered up his Sierra Designs Ultralightyear--a 1-man tent weighing in at 2 lbs 13 oz (including pegs). That’s light enough.
Saturday morning came and we were all packed and excited to go. In the true fashion of the eastern mountains, it was raining. A quick check at weather.com indicated that we had nothing to fear. As the day passed so did the chance of rain so we struck out. I had my little ultralightyear and Gene had one of our 3-man tents.
We arrived at No Business Knob Shelter and picked us out a campsite large enough to accommodate both tents. Gene went off to gather water (like there wasn’t plenty coming out of the sky) and I pitched my tent. Oh my goodness, this thing is small. I put my stuff inside then I crawled in with it. If I stretch out to sleep, where am I going to put my stuff? I managed to wad everything up into tight little knots and shove it into every available space. By the way, I do not put my pack inside the tent. It gets to sleep overnight in a tree, snug in a garbage bag.
After dinner, I crawled back into my little tent. No backpacking tents are large, so getting down on hands and knees is nothing new for me. But for this little guy, you get down low and crawl through the door. There is no place to go till the rest of you gets in except on back in the tent. Then, when all of you is past the door, the tent is too narrow to turn around. I finally learned to twist and flop down on by bottom while my legs were still outside. Once inside with your stuff stowed within easy reach, it does make a cozy place to spend a very rainy night.