Saturday, April 06, 2013

Tent Living Update

I gave up near-full-time outdoor tent sleeping last summer, by which time the Ozark Trail dome tent had been continuously deployed for about nine months. 

When we arrived in Florida, I decided to put it back up, and have occasionally slept in it since (including the one night that it got down to 19 degrees fahrenheit, because I figured "who the hell gets to sleep outdoors in 19-degree weather in Florida?" It's located back in the pines toward the rear of our acre lot, far enough from the house that it actually feels like ... well, like camping out.

So now it's been deployed outdoors (as opposed to folded in a storage bag) for a total of about a year, and it's been a very reliable piece of gear. It's developed a couple of small tears that could (and should) be easily repaired, but otherwise it's in fine shape. I mean, it's a $25 tent and the zippers are all still in good shape despite, conservatively estimated, 250 openings and closings. I've had tents that didn't make it a week without a pranged zipper or busted fiberglass pole.

If you're looking for a cheap tent that's a great deal at the price, I heartily recommend Ozark Trail products.  This one has been through heat, cold, wind, rain, snow, sleet -- pretty much everything except fire -- and it's still in usable condition.

That said, I've been thinking about getting a new tent for a long time. I've been thinking about getting a bigger tent for a long time, too. Not just for "back yard tent living," but because I'm hoping to finally get the family into camping way out beyond the back yard. I finally found the deal I couldn't refuse, and it's on the way from The Sportsman's Guide:

If my math skills aren't completely out of whack ("pie are square ... no, pie are round; cornbread are square"), a 10-foot diameter means a 5-foot radius, which in turn means close to 80 square feet of floor space. I've seen smaller apartments. Not to mention I'll be able to stand up in it.

Sorry, Kent, it's not a real tipi -- it's just got one pole, running up the center, which would be a problem for someone who wanted to put e.g. a queen-size air mattress down. But I don't need a queen-size mattress (when I sleep in a tent it's on a thin foam backpacking mat), and real tipis of reasonable quality are a bit out of my price range at the moment.

At 14 pounds or so, it's prospectively portable as part of a backpack scenario (at least my kind of backpack scenario; I used to carry a rifle, ammo and anywhere from 25-75 pounds of mortar stuff in addition to a pack full of "the daily life stuff," remember?).

Obviously a real review will have to wait until I've put it through its paces, but the specs look very promising -- allegedly factory-sealed seams, polyurethane waterproof coating, etc. I look forward to its arrival.


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