Saturday, November 12, 2016

Camping for Trout: Tent

At left, the wondrous joy of a comfortable cot in the woods.

I've written before that I live far enough away from serious trout water as to make the "trout dash" uncomfortable. It's three-and-a-half hours each way and since trout love dusk, it is a problem to just deadhead a trip.

Driving home after midnight just isn't fun anymore.

I'm cheap  ... tent, primitive campground. [ I don't like a Generator Joe. I go to the woods to get away from the modern trappings of central air and the ubiquitous background music not of my choosing. Primitive camping keeps the plush RV folks at bay. Thankfully.]

I'm writing here about my tent selection because I want to encourage other trout fishermen who live in that three-to-six hour window from good water to consider this as an option. It's much better than when you were a scout. Much better.

Modern gear is great. The nights under the trees will give some of the best sleep you have all year. It's a wonderful experience.

Picking a tent means touching the model you might want. Some of the new tents on the market are super light and consequently built like tissue paper. I'm not going to say bring back the old Forest Service canvas beasts; but, at the same time you have to live with the gear you buy.

Make sure that the durability factor of what you think you want will last you a few seasons or you'll rapidly be unhappy.

I spent a couple months trying various models. I picked something I think could work for anyone.

I went with a Marmot Tungsten three-person model.

It is a great tent for car camping. Plenty of room for two adult-sized cots (I use the Allagash Plus Cot from Byer ) and when it is just me - as usual - it is spacious without being a pain to set-up or pack-up. Still works when I can get Beargirl to the woods. (Okay, hasn't happened yet. Only guest grandcubs sleep in it and on occasion, one snoring foxhound).

It's heavy for backpacking at a field-prepped five plus pounds. Today, that is way too much for a single person to pack. No need. If you haul it in the back of a vehicle? Fine.

The weight trade off? Durability.

The thing is a tank. Super tough and I am hard on gear. It's a great mid-point buy and for the money I think represents a great deal of value for around a dozen seasons. I've thirty-four nights in mine now. Love it. Dry. Cool. Warm enough. Ventilated. Stormproof.

It manages the condensation for one medium sized trout angler and a smallish foxhound AOK. Lou the foxhound looooovees it. Hound. What can I say? He likes sleeping under the stars with me.

Would buy it again in a heartbeat AND I carry the beast when I've got less than a mile to pack gear.  I wouldn't take it up a mountain; but, I'll pack it in for an afternoon.

I've had to wash the thing once when it was sprayed by feral cats (in my meadow with the grandcubs).

Some pictures:

Here I have the rain-fly half-off. I do this a bit in the summer so when I'm wrong about the 20% rain forecast, I'm just pulling the rainfly over and placing three stakes at two-thirty when I hear the big splat of raindrops in the leaves above me.

It's a hubbed pole design and the hub is permanently affixed to the two-pole interchange. The tent hangers for the inner mesh attach in an idiot simple fashion with the large plastic hooks. They feel like football helmet plastic -- way tough for the job of holding up the mesh. No worries here about durability. That isn't true of all manufacturer's inner tent clips.

 Huge d-shaped doors with dual zippers and zipper pulls that don't "jingle" in a breeze.

Side view.  I stake out the tent using eight stakes as a rule. I'm an overkill sort of guy but spreading the rainfly increases warm season ventilation and in the cool season, helps with eliminating condensation and dew when the temperature plunges after dark. I do a bit of the shoulder-season and night-damp is a real issue next to the river. Vent, and stay dry.

 Another interior view. The cot is thirty inches wide and there is more than enough room for setting up and deploying two cots inside.

When I am packing gear. I like the Klymit line of inflatable pads. I have to have a good pad as I'm an old back patient. I'm prone to pretty severe stiffness and with the Klymit pads, no worries at all.

My current Kymit pad -- I'll cover in another review -- weighs a pound, rolls to the compressed size of a coke can, inflates in a dozen breaths, and at 2.5" thick keeps even a heavy side sleeper off the ground and comfortable. Amazing gear.

I like the cot for the springy bed effect. There's no doubt a good cot beats the best pad. However, a bad cot is a useless POS. The Byer cots are amazingly easy to deal with and produce a great sleeping surface if you can pack the the weight. I use them car camping so, no worries.

I can only say from my own experience that the comfort of a good tent makes me willing to disregard almost any inclement weather for a camp excursion. Shoulder season wet requires drying the gear before storing and that can be an issue. However, planning to pack-and-go the second weekend in June is a breeze. You can fish wet. You can sleep dry.

A good tent covers a number of ills. Low cost means high spousal approval, too. Try getting the same level of approval pulling a $50K Bambi into the driveway. Good luck with that! [ Kev -- an Amber Angler -- could easily get away with it, lucky dog. His spouse thinks the vintage Bambi trailers are the bee's knees. Vintage, though. Would need to be vintage.]


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