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KillerCharlie
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PostSun Jun 28, 2020 10:32 pm 
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After 10 years with a 5lb marmot 2p tent, my back is telling me a I need a new solo tent. That tent was freestanding, and so many times in typical sub-alpine conditions the ground was rock hard and I couldn't get stakes in, but was able to keep things in place with a few rocks assuming there was no wind.

How bad are "semi-freestanding" tents? Namely, the REI quarter dome SL1 and tarptent rainbow 1?

Am I too worried about not having a free-standing tent? Do you guys with staked tents always find a way to make do on rocky ground?

I'm also looking at the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL1, which is the same packed weight as the quarter dome (38oz - the absolutely upper limit) - both are on sale right now.
I'm not ready to step up to a fully non-freestanding tent, especially ones that exclusively use trekking poles for the main poles.
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Jeff
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PostMon Jun 29, 2020 5:09 am 
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Freestanding is a marketing term. Very very few tents are completely free standing, and even then they should still be staked down above treeline.

I will say that the Rainbow sucks in wind and rain and with fresh snow.

I carry around eight pieces of 3ft long 3mm guyline cord. Tie them to the stake loops on the tent then wrap them around a large rock. Works fine for rocky ground. Although I still try to pound in a groundhog stake first.
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KillerCharlie
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PostMon Jun 29, 2020 8:22 am 
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I guess my question is do those of you who use non-freestanding tents always find a way to make do on any terrain? I don't want to get a tent that requires a lot of staking if it's just not possible to make it work on hard ground.

Is it worth carrying around an extra 6-8 oz to have a freestanding tent (one that stands without stakes), or will a non-freestanding tent work fine?

I'm talking about "good" weather conditions here - any tent needs staking in inclement weather.
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Randito
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PostMon Jun 29, 2020 8:44 am 
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KillerCharlie wrote:
those of you who use non-freestanding tents always find a way to make do on any terrain?

Part of the marketing pitch for freestanding tents is the idea that you can camp anywhere.

Using more minimal shelters, such as tarps or tarp/tents that use trekking poles for supports rerquires more care in site selection.

IME even a freestanding tent needs to be staked out securely -- even an brief errant gust of wind can sweep a tent, pads and sleeping bags away and out of reach -- resulting in a cold and miserable night sleeping in only an emergency blanket and all available clothing.
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coldrain108
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PostMon Jun 29, 2020 9:58 am 
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Here is my favorite semi-freestanding 1 person tent:

BSI Chinook 1P

The footprint is pretty small, fits in to small spots, it's 3.5lbs and plenty long for a 6' guy to sleep in comfortably.  The 2P easily fits 2 people, unlike other light 2P tents I've tried.   This is lite weight, not ultralite, but I need the "4" season stability more than shedding a few grams.

I have the 2P version and the 1P+ interior as well.  In nice weather it doesn't need any stakes to stand up perfectly.  In blasting windy sideways rainy weather it stakes down like a bomb shelter.  I've been in some unbelievable bad weather in these tents and they held up like champs.  I like to camp above tree line, at passes and on exposed ridges.  I found out that Grand Pass is a massive wind tunnel.  I spent 3 days of a continuous downpour in my 2P and there was not a drop on me.

My 2P after a couple of days of heavy rain in the Olympics.


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Bowregard
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PostMon Jun 29, 2020 1:08 pm 
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Not sure about the freestanding discussion but if I was in the market for a solo tent I would be taking a good look at the X-Mid. At 28 oz and $200 seems like a weight/cost balance and it looks like a clever design. But it is a trekking pole tent so not at all freestanding. I would love to drop some base weight but I don't overnight enough to justify adding to my inventory.
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RumiDude
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PostMon Jun 29, 2020 3:15 pm 
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Personally I have found few places I could not get in a stake. It is usually the opposite problem, too soft of soil that allows the stake to easy pull out. Even so the solution to both problems is to use rocks to hold the stakes in place.

I use the Easton Nano stakes most of the time. They work better in hard soils than do MSR Groundhogs. And in soft soils they work just as well. YMMV.

As far as the free standing issue goes, Like what others have noted you have to stake almost any tent out to use properly. I have one story about a freestanding tent which was not staked down that blew away with all the gear inside. It wasn't me, but I witnessed it. Always, always, always stake a tent out regardles of it's design.

Rumi

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texasbb
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PostMon Jun 29, 2020 3:39 pm 
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I've occasionally had to tote some big rocks from quite a ways off, but have always managed to get the tent up.  I've almost had as much trouble with loose/sandy soil as rock hard ground.  But either way, I just find some big rocks.
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RatherBOutdoors
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PostMon Jun 29, 2020 5:47 pm 
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I have the Big Agnes Fly Creek.  I've not yet found an instance where I couldn't stabilize it by using rocks on, or in place of, the stakes.
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SwitchbackFisher
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PostMon Jun 29, 2020 11:28 pm 
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https://www.sportsmansguide.com/product/index/us-military-surplus-gore-tex-bivy-cover-woodland-camo-new?a=500829

I have been rocking this a lot this year fits pad sleeping bag pillow and me great. If I need to make sure it stays put i put my backpack or a rock on it I think I weighed mine at 20 oz or maybe 25  I also like that after I deflate my pad. I can put my entire sleep system bivy and all in 1 compression sack and get moving.

I didn't buy mine, used it while in the military and got rid of the bulky and heavy parts of the modular sleep system.

But I also have a eureka spitfire 1 which is a pain to set up because it's not freestanding. And a big Agnes C bar 3 and it's way easier to set up than the spitfire. I'll take the weight penalty for convenience. I just spend 5 more minutes working out a day to make the difference 🤣.

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InFlight
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PostTue Jun 30, 2020 9:24 am 
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In addition to the typical REI offerings there are a number of excellent tent options from smaller specialized companies.  TarpTent, Six Moons Designs, Zpacks, et al have offerings that are lighter (20 ounce or less) and offer more design variations.

Most of these tents use a single (occasionally two) trekking poles to support them.  If your not a trekking pole user almost all offer a collapsible carbon fiber or aluminum pole that you can use instead.  The one outing I forgot my trekking poles, I just carved a stick in about 5 minutes.

Multiuse of equipment (trekking poles) is a way to save weight.

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rossb
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PostTue Jun 30, 2020 2:09 pm 
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As others have noted, staking really isn't a big problem. In general, free-standing tents don't offer anything special, they just make things easier. There are a few advantages to a free-standing tent:

1) You don't have to worry as much about your stakes. If you have a tent that requires four stakes, you can probably get by with three. On the other hand, with a tarp (or tarp tent) you have to make sure all the stakes are in there well, otherwise it will tip over. I've used a tarp tent for a while now, and haven't had much problem getting the stakes in the ground, or finding rocks that will do the same job.

2) It is much easier to move the tent. Again, this is more of a convenience. Maybe you realized too late that there is a root under you, in the wrong place. It is pretty easy with a free-standing tent to just slide it over a few inches. I've been in a group situation and helped one of the guys move his tent with his sleeping bag and pad in it to a different location entirely (as folks from a different camp left). Couldn't do that with a tent (or tarp tent).

3) Often easier to assemble. Not necessarily faster, mind you, just more straightforward. This varies by tent, but with tarp tents, often you need to get the angles right. With most free-standing tents, it is simply a matter of putting in the poles and plunking it down. Since I can't easily move it, I usually spend more time analyzing the location as well (measuring twice and cutting once, so to speak). Oddly enough, even with all of that, I usually get my tent up faster than my friends (it takes a surprisingly long time to attach the tent to the poles). Of course, if you are expecting heavy winds, then you are dealing with guy lines, and back to the same game (the stakes have to be in right, the angle has to be right, etc.).

In general, I wouldn't worry about buying a non free-standing tent. I'm not that handy (e. g. I am terrible with knots) so I don't fit the usual profile, but I wouldn't go back. If you want to stick with free-standing, though, Tarp Tent makes a few models that are very light and free standing. Or just get a Big Agnes. They are kind of the standard for lightweight free-standing tents.
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schifferj
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PostThu Jul 02, 2020 10:54 am 
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RumiDude wrote:
I use the Easton Nano stakes most of the time

Easton Nano stakes apparently have been discontinued. They have always been my favorites
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SwitchbackFisher
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PostThu Jul 02, 2020 1:56 pm 
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schifferj wrote:
RumiDude wrote:
I use the Easton Nano stakes most of the time

Easton Nano stakes apparently have been discontinued. They have always been my favorites

That's what I heard to. I've also heard they do break pretty easily but no first-hand experience. I do love Easton arrows and assume they are made the same way approx. For stakes I can't find anything I like more than MSR groundhogs. I've heard some people break them but I believe they were mostly using hammers. I just step on them.

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bertman
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PostFri Jul 03, 2020 5:54 pm 
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Perhaps it's not about the tent but the stakes? Or better yet, the method to which you tie your corners and guylines down? I'm starting to modify my system following Skurka's method with good success.

I have the previous model REI Quarter Dome 1 which is free standing. I've also started using the X-Mid UL 1P trekking pole tent since last year and am really impressed. Haven't tried it in a storm but did snow camp in it, with the aforementioned guyline system.
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