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Author: Darrin Fehringer
Learn all you need to know about choosing the perfect tent for your next backpacking excursion.
If you have not had the luxury of spending a night deep in the backcountry then you are missing one of the greatest of all outdoor experiences. When I go camping, I like to get away from the crowds to relax and enjoy a quite weekend beside a small stream or lake. The difference between falling asleep listening to your neighbor’s blaring radio or being seduced by the subtle sounds of a babbling brook is incomparable.
Why don’t more people hike away from the roads and experience the wilderness firsthand? The answer is simple, getting there is half the battle and without the right gear getting there becomes more like the whole battle.
When it comes to gear your tent should be the first thing to consider. Choosing the right tent is paramount to your success and overall enjoyment. Here are a few things to consider when choosing your remote home away from home. Begin by asking yourself a few questions: When and where am I going? How much weight do I want to carry? And finally how many people are going with me? After you have answered these questions, you are well on your way to choosing the right tent.
When backpacking, the weight of your gear is a major concern and no single item adds more weight to a pack than a tent. There are several things you can watch for to keep a tent feather-light.
The poles are a major factor in the tent’s weight. Fewer poles mean less weight, but keep in mind that often, less poles also means less strength, so find a good compromise between the two. The physical amount of material is another major factor in the weight of the tent. Avoid taking a four-person tent on a one-man excursion. Always take the smallest tent that will accommodate the party and whatever gear that needs to stay dry. One item that adds a lot of weight to a tent is tent stakes. I recommend taking out the stakes that come with the tent and replacing them with Cabela’s XPG Tent Stakes or their equivalent. These stakes are made of ultra-light 7075-T6 aluminum, only weigh one ounce apiece and best of all they are very hard to bend, making them perfect for rocky backcountry use. Another trick to make your tent lighter is to take the tent out of the carry bag and simply stuff it inside your pack.
Tents are rated in two categories, three-season and four-season. Three-season tents hold up well in moderate wind and rain, but cannot hold up to high winds and heavy snowfall. Four-season tents on the other hand can hold up to anything Mother Nature wants to throw at them, short of a full-blown hurricane.
There are several features that make four-season tents suitable for all seasons. They need to have the strength to withstand heavy wind, rain and snow.
There are many sizes and styles of backpacking tents ranging from one-person bivy sacks to four-season, four-man tents. Depending on your individual needs, one tent may be a better choice than another; here is a rundown of the different types available.
There are several good one-man tents available on the market, but a new favorite among backpackers is the one-man Cabela’s XPG 2004 Tent. The XPG has several outstanding features including a two-pole design made of DAC featherweight anodized aluminum poles, which break down shorter and are 30% lighter than standard aluminum poles. To make this tent lighter and more comfortable, this year Cabela’s added extra mesh to the 70-denier, 190T rip-stop nylon taffeta fabric tent body. A big advantage this tent has over others is the full-coverage rainfly with a roomy vestibule and quick-release buckles. Other features include Cabela’s XPG tent stakes, color-coded handy clips and webbing for easy set-up. It weighs only 3 lbs. 15 oz. packaged, with a minimum weight of 3 lbs. 7 oz. This tent is extremely compact with a pack size of 5" x 15". Even with all of these features, Cabela’s has managed to offer this tent at an unbelievable price.
If you are going to be joined by a partner on your backpacking excursion and don’t want to pack two tents the Eureka Zeus EXO 2 is the tent for you. This tent is extremely light weighing with a minimum weight of only 3 lbs 10 oz. This tent is made of a 40-denier rip-stop nylon and is extremely easy to set up.
Weighing in at only 8 lbs., 3 oz. the Kelty Trail Dome is one of the lightest four-man tents you can find. This tent uses two 12mm DAC DA17 poles and clip connections. Other features of this tent are fully taped wall and fly seems, the rainfly has a polyurethane rating of 1800mm HH, noiseless zipper pulls and quick-release clips for tent/fly connections.
Perfect For The Worst Conditions If you are looking for one of the best tents for the worst of conditions, look no further than the Cabela’s XPG Expedition 4-season tent. The XPG can stand up to the worst that Mother Nature can dish out. This tent uses multiple DAC 7001 T6 aluminum poles. It also has a taped 70-denier 190T taffeta nylon body and a full coverage polyester rainfly, with vestibule, treated with a 1,500mm waterproof coating. Other features include highly visible reflective guy lines and a bathtub style floor.
Next time you decide to venture deep into the backcountry, remember you want a backpacking not backbreaking trip. Pick the right tent from Cabela’s extensive selection.
Click this link for a complete selection of Cabela’s backpacking tents.
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