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Shelters The Shelters forum is for the discussion of backpacking shelters (tents, tarps, poncho-tarps, bivy sacks,...).

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Old 01-15-2015, 01:06 AM
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Reality Reality is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Oregon
Posts: 4,954
Favorite Shelter for Rain

What is (or do you feel would be) your favorite shelter (and setup if applicable) for use in the rain?

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Old 01-15-2015, 03:16 AM
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GGervin GGervin is offline
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Backpack: Gregory Shasta, Deuter ACT Lite 65+10
Sleeping Gear: REI ThermoPod +0 mummy, MH 3D +40 mummy
Shelter: SD Superflash, GoLite Hut 1
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: California
Posts: 436
I have 3 shelters I'd welcome rain in. A Sierra Designs Super Flash (a 4 season Clip Flashlight), a GoLite Hut 1 (a silnylon shaped tarp), and a one-off home-made one-man shelter coincidetally called the "Reality Shelter" (kind of similar to a Gossamer Gear "The One" but not entirely identical). All three have perfomed well in heavy rain.

But all three work best with 1) careful site selection, and 2) trenching under the rainfly/tarp perimiter to drain shed rainfall away from the sleeping area.

My last trip illustrates the issue. First night in the wilds. I had the Reality Shelter, and made small mistakes in pitching that resulted in the bathtub floor lying flat. (I didn't use all the guyouts, the floor was "bathtubbed" on pitching, but the silnylon relaxed in wet weather, and that allowed the floor to lay flat during rain. If I'd used all the guyouts, this wouldn't have happened. When pitching, this wasn't obvious.) I chose a site that looked flat - and it was - but it was also lower than the surrounding area. I should have spotted this ahead of time - simple human error, and a failure on my part, not the shelter's. When heavy rainfall set in, the area around my tent flooded - maybe 1" deep. I awoke in dark early morning with the realization my bathtub floor was laying flat and just starting to pass water into the tent. I attempted to solve the problem by trenching. This averted complete disaster, but I couldn't overcome the poor site selection completely. Some things got a little wet. No one's perfect, everything dried eventually, and the trip went ahead unhindered. Two out of three (good shelter, good trenching, bad site) barely won the day.

I could talk about the pros and cons of my 6lb. 4 season tent vs my 2lb. ultralight tent vs my 1.5lb. shaped tarp (I like them all and they all work well). But to me the real issues are set-up related. Where to put the shelter, and how I can trench around the fly to channel rain away from the sleeping area. All are great if I do those things right. If I can't get them all right, 2 out of 3 ain't all bad...

Last edited by GGervin : 01-15-2015 at 03:27 AM.
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Old 01-15-2015, 08:05 AM
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dsuursoo dsuursoo is offline
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Backpack: Mountainsmith Maverick 65
Sleeping Gear: ALPS +20 mummy
Shelter: Kelty Noah 9x9
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 1,482
Currently I think of my shelters the Noah tarp is the best for rain(with good site selection). If the weather is really gnarly it can do a close pitch on the ground that defies the weather like a champ. It's also the best for hanging out in the rain.
As a hammock shelter in the rain its serviceable but leaves some things to be desired. There's a bit of a lack of cover due to the mechanics of hammock pitching and its as a result not the most ideal for really sitting out the rain. This is the one place where I'd rather have a hex tarp or possibly a rectangular over a diamond pitching tarp. Its not so bad if its straight down rain but that is no guarantee in the PNW. An additional overhead cover like a poncho works well for making a sitting shelter of sorts but the logistical add-ons for this are a pain in the butt. If the wind shifts too much or flutters through directions in the hammock setup one end or the other will get wet. If its raining I go to ground unless I'm in heavy cover or can find a place with natural windbreaks.

I have a cheapie hi-tek single pole tent that is serviceable in the rain but isn't well put together and will get me wet in a sustained downpour if I don't improvise a rain fly. The floor however is pretty leak proof. Great on wet ground not great in wet tent. The cheap 2 man dome tent is better in the rain but the ventilation isn't great and gets condensation like crazy in the rain.

I've slept in a modernized whelen shelter, and those are fantastic in the rain. The open front is quite exciting. The shelter has excellent three side protection while still being pretty dry and roomy as a palace.

The tent I miss is my old north face compact tent. That tent weathered rain, hail, sleet, snow, and all comers really well. I aim to replace it/add a proper tent option with a mountain hardwear drifter 2 by next year. The dry pitch/minimal pitch option is really sexy and they can be had for a great price compared to other tents in the style.
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Old 07-20-2015, 08:39 PM
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Wildfield Wildfield is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 131
Originally Posted by GGervin
But to me the real issues are set-up related. Where to put the shelter, and how I can trench around the fly to channel rain away from the sleeping area. All are great if I do those things right. If I can't get them all right, 2 out of 3 ain't all bad...

I hiked up at Desolation Wilderness this weekend with a couple of friends...a quick weekend trip.

It was my first time to use a tarp. First night was fine. No rain, light wind...very comfortable. Second day we got a mid-afternoon thunderstorm. Tents and tarp did fine until it started to pour. In a matter of minutes, signs of run off started to build. Before we need it, tents were flooded and tarp was in the middle of an ad hoc creek.

As we looked around the site, it was obvious why our spots were horrible and why other spots would have made more sense. There were several nice spots that would have been the perfect foot print and most importantly, no puddles of water and no run off.

Well, live and learn. Will approach this much differently next time.

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