Camping has become something in which I have fallen in love. The feeling of being out in the middle of nowhere in a make-shift hut. Or, in most of my camping experience, in a tent site located in a clothing optional campground with showers and a pool close by the site.
I am committed to going on a hike in North Georgia in 2010. I haven’t decided whether this will be on the Appalachian Trail or the Benton MacKaye (said like “sky”) Trail. The BMT is a bit more primitive than the AT. Both will take lots of energy. I will not be hiking the entire length of the AT since it goes from Springer Mountain in north Georgia to the New England states. While the AT travels to the northeast into North Carolina, the BMT travels to the northwest into Tennessee. Either state would be great to see.
A while back, I purchased a tent from Wal-Mart. It was a two person tent and the measurements on the package said it was 6′ x 6′. They must have measured this thing like a television. I am 5’7″ and I had to sleep in it diagonally. Talk about uncomfortable! I took it to the campground, set it up, sprayed it with protectant, and placed my belongings inside so that I could go lay in the sun for a while and let the treatment dry. That night, I thought I was going to burn up. It had started getting warmer and the sleeping back I bought was for colder temps. I had my Coleman fan attached to the roof of the tent. It was helping as much as a little plastic fan could in the heat. And, I wasn’t about to wear anything while sleeping. It had to be nude sleeping in that bag.
I learned a lesson in camping that night. You should always make sure you close the air valve on the air mattress under your sleeping bag. Practically sleeping on the ground is not comfortable in the least bit! Make sure that you buy a tent that is big enough for you. Before leaving the store, if the package doesn’t tell you exactly how it was measured, get help from a store associate. And that probably shouldn’t be at Wal-Mart. I only know one or two people in a sporting goods department that knows what the hell they are talking about, one being my sister.
I am currently looking at a few tents to purchase from REI. If you have never been to an REI location, you should take the time to pay them a visit. If there is not one anywhere near you, go to their website, REI.com. If you like outdoor activity, you will thank me later! The first tent I am thinking about purchasing is the REI Camp Dome 2 Tent.
For $99.50, you can’t beat the room it offers. 84 x 54 inches (213 x 137 centimeters). That’s 31.5 square feet of space. That should be plenty of room for the lone camper and his/her gear. With the dome shape of the tent, it will be a a quick set-up and quick take down the following morning. The only issue that I could think of would be finding the greatest spot for camping on a tight trail. There are regulations concerning where people can camp along the trails. Some of the trails pass across privately owned land with owners rightfully not wanting people to camp within their land boundaries. Before taking off on a hike, you might want to grab a book, detailing the various sections of the chosen trail. They will advise whether there are parts belonging to private land owners.
The weight of a tent comes into play when finding the perfect tent to take on a hike. You don’t want to carry around a heavy tent while hiking up hills or going down into gullies. You also don’t want to be weighted down if you are expected to leap over a stream. Falling into the stream or creek when it’s cold is not going to make you a happy hiker/camper. This tent has an average minimum weight of 4 lbs. 15 oz., just at 5 lbs. The average packed weight is 5 lbs. 6 oz. For my non-US citizen readers, this would be an average weight of 2.44 kilograms. The height is 42 inches at its peak height (107 centimeters). Not bad for a two person tent, it you want to take along that much extra room.
My second choice is a little more expensive, but not enough to really care about a price difference. It is the Kelty Crestone 1 Tent, costing $119.95 also at REI. This tent only sleeps one person. That makes for less material and less added weight in/on your backpack. It’s peak height is 37 inches (94
cm) with one door, two poles, and a floor area of 19 square feet. The vestibule area is seven square feet. I think that’s enough room for myself and my gear. The average packed weight is 4 lbs. (1.81 kg) and the minimum weight of 3 lbs. (1.4 kg). This is much better on the back when hiking in the mountains. You can place the rods in the backpack closet to your back and fold the tent up, sticking it down into the pack for easy access when you stop for the evening. The Crestone 1 is also beneficial in the fact that it doesn’t take up so much space. It would be easier to find a place to camp in a wooded area.
I know what you might be thinking. “Why don’t you get the bigger tent so that you can take a friend along, sharing the burden of carrying the load?” That’s a good question, and one that I have definitely thought about. Say that I took Travis along on a hike. We are out 12 miles into the trail and it’s time to set up camp. We get the two person tent together. He’s tired as well as me. After five minutes of lying there, the bear sleeping next to me starts snoring. I would rather not have to hear him that close to me all night when I know I have to wake up at a decent hour the next morning to get all the site placed back into my pack. It’s much more comfortable to have your own tent and not have to worry about the other person’s sleep patterns or restlessness. And, don’t forget the second person’s pack. Would there really be enough room for two people and each other’s belongings? I wouldn’t think there would be.
Tent selection is a big decision. You don’t want to get something that’s cheap and not dependable. You want to stay away from the overly bulky, heavy tents you have to lug around for days. You definitely want to find one that doesn’t cause you problems when you are trying to set up or take down a campsite. The tent may look cool with all of its gadgets, but how complicated are they going to make the erection of the tent? See, lots of things can make a difference.
Check out the REI site and also check out Campmor.com. Even though you wouldn’t think it, look at Amazon.com for tents and other equipment.