What happens when you plan an overnight backpacking trip for the first time and ask your friends for tips on choosing the right camping shelter? In all probability, numerous contrasting opinions come your way and confuse you even more!
Actually, there is no foolproof formula when it comes to choosing the perfect backpacking shelter for your needs. The ability to make the right choice increases as your experience of camping and hiking increases…
Nevertheless, there are some general rules of thumb that can prove helpful in your endeavors…
Bear these 10 simple tips in mind when you start looking for a first-class camping shelter for an overnight hike….
- If you are going to pitch camp in virgin locations, do carry a hammock. They can be hung even in terrains where it is simply unfeasible to pitch a tent…. on a slope for instance, provided there are trees/supports to hang them from.
- A hammock is also a practical choice when you are hiking in a place where the ground is likely to be wet.
- If you are more concerned about the weight of your backpack, then use a hammock, a tarp or a tarp-tent. Hammocks are, in fact, a good alternative for sleeping bags…but this is only for places with warm temperatures.
- If you are camping out in winter, or going to a place which experiences ‘whimsical’ weather, use a 4 season tent.
- If you are going to a really hot and humid place, bring a tarp or a tarp tent. Make sure that you bring a bug net as well.
- If you are going to camp above the tree line, do bring a tent.
- Pitching a tarp tent on a platform can be tricky. So if you camp on platforms, then carry a hammock or free standing tent.
- However, if you cannot sleep on your back, don’t consider a hammock.
- If you are carrying lots of gear with you, it is best to carry a tent or tarp.
- If it’s really dry and hot in the night, a tarp serves better.
Now for a quick appraisal of the different types of camping ‘accommodation choices’ available…
It’s imperative that you know about the uniqueness, advantages and disadvantages of each of them…or you won’t be able to make an informed choice.
- Starting with Double-Walled Tents
They have an outer wall that works as a rain-fly as well as an inner wall that comes in contact with you and your gear when you are inside the tent.
However, a double-walled tent requires extra fabric for that extra wall, which makes it a bit heavy (read cumbersome) to carry.
- Moving on to another type of tent, namely Single Walled Tents
These don’t have the outer rain-fly, just a single piece of fabric between the outside world and you.
However, the problems of a Single walled tent include the facts that…
- They are a little tricky to use (especially if you are NOT used to setting up tents).
- They are not adequate for use in low lying marshy places as well as in the deserts.
As for the “cons”:
- They are easy to pitch (once you know the ways of putting up a tent by heart.)
- They provide good ventilation.
- They are lightweight and spacious.
- Until you don’t add a bug shield, they provide little protection from bug ‘invasion.’
- They don’t have a ‘floor’ so to speak.
- They do not offer optimum protection against the wind.
- The Tarp-Tent is a combination of two of the most frequently used camping shelters, namely tarp and tent…
You can consider using a tarp-tent combo as it :
- Provides complete protection against bugs.
- Is compact and lightweight, hence easy to carry around.
- It can be tricky to pitch (especially on uneven terrain).
- Some of the models are found to be narrow.
- They provide poor ventilation.
- If setting up a tent is something you’re not comfortable with you can consider Hammocks
So when you actually think about it, there is nothing very complicated about choosing a camping shelter. But you just need to know the facts and the rest is up to a trial and error method…happy hiking!