Shelter Systems

Shelter systems fit into one of four broad categories. Tents, tarps, hammocks and bivies.

Tents

Undoubtedly the most common form of shelter. Size/shape, free standing ability and weight & cost are the key considerations in selecting a tent. The vast majority of tents come with an inner tent and outer fly sheet – it’s worth checking though. Unlike hammocks, tents need to be placed on relatively level ground, free from rocks, roots and the like.

Tarps

A tarp is simply a sheet of material which usually has either eyelets or cord to secure it to trees and/or the ground. Some my utilize your walking poles at either end and a few come with poles (this pretty much makes it a tent in my book). Avoiding all the poles significantly reduces the weight, however, now some further skill is required to select an appropriate site and secure your tarp. Most tarps are broadly rectangular with some webbing tape running across what is supposed to be the apex. Tarps are usually completely open at two ends. Tarps are frequently used in conjunction with hammocks.

Hammocks

Hammocks are generally designed to be secured off the ground between two trees. Since the hammock is off the ground, the ground itself does not need to be flat, level or free of debris. The trees however, do need to be roughly the right distance apart and sufficiently sturdy to take the weight. A tarp is typically used over the hammock to keep the elements out. Sleep pads can be used with hammocks but not very effectively. Pads tend to want to move about and typically are not wide enough to insulate the sides. Under quilts are desired. Hammocks make pretty great chairs before bedtime. Hammocks don’t work well for folks who prefer to sleep on their front – sideways and back sleeping only.

Bivies

Bivies are basically sleeping bag sized tents. Sometimes the bivie is an integrated bag and tent in one unit. Usually the only pole ( if any) is to lift the material off your face. Personally, I feel too constrained in a sleeping bag and prefer a quilt. One day I will try a bivie, but so far I’ve managed without facing that claustrophobic demon.

MSR Freelite 1

Review The MSR Freelite 1 is an ultralight 1 person solo tent. The MSR Freelite 1 weighs in at just 1 lbs 10 oz, or 0.74Kg and packs down to just 46 x 15 cm. Although the size and weight are small, the main body of the tent is completely …

Tent Stakes

Tent stakes or pegs (the UK name) often come with tents and occasionally with some other gear. In this case, the purchase is the tent, not the stakes and although the ‘free’ included stakes will be fit for some purpose, they are usually simple aluminum or steal wires bent to …

EagleNest Profly Tarp

Eagle Nest Outfitters ProFly Tarp Review Unlike simple square tarps, Eagle Nest Outfitters (ENO) have contoured, shaped and sized the ProFly tarp to go perfectly with their hammocks. In practice, it worked perfectly with the ENO Jungle Hammock. The tarp has a strong seam running along the ridge-line. Fixing hardware is …

Hang a hammock tarp

Tarps can be used above ground for a hammock, or on the ground like a tent. It is quite easy to hang a hammock tarp. Hang your hammock before you hang a hammock tarp. Essentially, there are 3 main steps.   Fix the ridge-line Some tarps have a reinforced ridge-line …

How to pick a tent

Tents are the most commonly used form of shelter on the trail and there are a number of things to consider when considering how to pick a tent that suits you. Size and shape. Clearly, your tent needs to fit all the occupants but also consider where your gear will …

Big Agnes UL1

Review The Big Agnes UL1 tent is an ultralight 1 person tent. At just 2.1 lbs, this is a fantastically light tent – especially since it is free standing. Only the small vestibule area (big enough for a pack and boots) needs to be secured by a stake (lightweight ones included), …

Hummingbird Hammock Review

Hummingbird Hammock Review The Hummingbird Hammock Ultralight Single Plus Hammock is ultralight and super strong. It fits into a regular sized coffee mug and weighs just 7.6oz (210 g). It packs down to just 6x4x2 in (15x10x5 cm) and unrolls from its integrated stuff sack to116x63 in (295×160 cm). Plenty of length for …

Hanging a Hammock – Pair of rings

There are many ways of hanging a hammock, this post describes perhaps the easiest and fastest method to hang a hammock using a pair of rings and paracord. Other posts describe how to use a farrimond hitch and how to use whoppies. The first thing to do is to lash to the tree. …

Hanging a Hammock – Farrimond hitch

There are many ways of hanging a hammock and this post describes how to use the farrimond hammock hanging technique. Also see how to hang a hammock with a pair of rings and using whoppies. Farrimond Hitch The great thing about this technique is that no other hardware is required, just some …

Hanging a Hammock – Whoopies

There are many ways of hanging a hammock, this post describes how to use whoppies. Other posts describe how to use a farrimond hitch and a pair of rings. The first thing to do is to lash to the tree. Prefer thicker rope or webbing over para-cord to avoid damaging the tree. Tree straps …