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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Back to tents

A buddy of mine built a remote cabin on an isolated island somewhere in the North Atlantic. It's about as remote a place in North America as you'd want to go. The island can only be reached by boat and most of the island is surrounded by steep cliffs.

Last winter an 11 foot storm surge sent a huge piece of sea ice right up the cliff and into the cabin. It was moved back 35 feet then tipped over on its side. Never underestimate the power of mother nature.

He's decided to salvage what he can from the cabin and will burn the rest. Instead of rebuilding a simple tent platform will take its place. His tent, at 12 X 16 feet, is pretty good sized. It's designed to be used with a wood stove. A well made wood heated tent can be surprisingly comfortable. I once stayed in one during an overnight cross country ski trip.

A quality tent is not cheap but worth the money. If you plan on spending any time at all in a tent don't spring for the cheapest Walmart disaster. Quality only hurts once. The difference between a good dry night's sleep and having your tent shredded in a storm is priceless.

For me, the type and size of tent one buys depends on how it's going to be hauled around. If it's going to on your back in a pack, weight is a major factor. However, if it's going to be carried in a vehicle or even a canoe, it's a different story. I've been known to carry a 50 pound canvas tent in a canoe. It was roomy enough to comfortably sleep a half dozen adults.

It was rated for more, but don't believe those ratings. For example, a four man tent is just about big enough for two people. Maybe 4 people could sleep in the tent, but forget about rolling over or having any gear in the tent with you. You want a tent big enough so you can sit up and play cards to pass a rainy day.

Maybe it's the nomad in me, but I still love a good tent. It might be a good substitute for that remote cabin. Even the most remote cabins have been broken into. A tent platform isn't something anyone's likely to steal or vandalize. It gets the tent off the ground so it's warmer and dryer. The tent sets up faster than on the ground too.

No, you don't really need a good tent. I've spent nights sleeping on snow covered mountain tops with a tarp. However, a good tent makes everything just that much easier and more comfortable.



  1. I'm getting too old for wilderness adventures. There's a lot to be said for staying within driving distance of civilization.

  2. Where we camp out (private property obviously) we put up an aluminum 2 car carport (about $1000 installed cost) and built a semi-enclosed sleep platform that is about 10 feet square by 5 feet high. We would have preferred a higher ceiling, but it was a compromise. A pick up backed up can slide just under the bottom for easy loading / unloading, and the carport ceiling above just doesn't have enough room as is. Pretty happy with it - our local environment is hot / humid / buggy thorny jungle, the elevated platform works great for us.

    1. Sounds like a very good solution for your area -and at a reasonable price too!

    2. Thank you, we think so too. In the summer heat, bug netting is draped over the sides so we don't slap ourselves silly during the night :^). During the winter time, tarps are substituted. We could nail permanent plywood panels, but that invites yellow jackets and other critters from making it THEIR home. So we compromise.

  3. One time, way back when I was in college, I was a little depressed about not doing well on a test and decided to go where I always felt better. . The woods. I left Penn State and drove up into the mountains, parked, and walked and walked and walked. It got dark, so I made a bed of Hemlock, covered over with more Hemlock bows, and had me a great night's sleep. Woke up and there were two deer standing about ten feet from me. My room mates where worried and went looking for me and since my car was parked beside the reservoir, they were afraid I had drowned myself and here I was having a great time.

    1. Your story brought a smile to my face today Dizzy.

  4. Would love to see photos of the island and cabin. Sounds like a good subject for a tv show.