Sunday, February 07, 2010

Tents and packs in the wind and rain

Waterproof pack cover
I'm no expert about rain, but I found that a huge lawn and leaf-type trash bag makes a great outer pack cover. You can keep your stuff dry inside with compactor bags, but if the pack itself gets wet, it gets heavy. The lawn and leaf bag never tore or punctured. I only needed one.

You have to poke some holes for the shoulder straps and it is a pain to put it on because you have to undo the straps, stuff them through the holes and then reattach them, so you don't take it off until you're sure it's not raining. It also doesn't fit tightly by nature, so you have to rig up ways to keep it from puffing out and making a lot of noise when you walk. But it's super cheap, super light and works well.

Setting up a Contrail in the wind
I had a Contrail-style tent for part of the distance. I found it's not the best tent in the wind, unless you set it up perfectly into the wind. You have to set the tail end pointing into the wind or else the sides bow in way too far. If the front is into the wind, it puffs up and will fall down if the wind is too hard. If you get it pointed in the right direction, it's as spacious and nice as when there is no wind.

I never had the pole slip out and puncture the fabric. To avoid that, set up the four corners first, even if they aren't in the perfect position, and then put the pole in the grommet and place the bottom end where you want it while holding the sharp end in the grommet and the front guy line with one hand. Then while holding the front guy line taught and with downward force, pull it out to where you want to put the stake in. The pole ought to stay in the whole time. If you slip, let go immediately so the pole will just fall over/out.

I found that I could use the tiny titanium stakes on the four corners but needed some sturdier ones for the front and back ends. I found these sturdy ones on the trail. I had a Y-shaped one and a large aluminum hook and both worked well. Enormous rocks on top of the stakes were also necessary in difficult conditions. Those are the times when I'm happy people don't practice LNT and leave their fire rings set up!

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