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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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  #1  
Old 05-05-2015, 12:07 AM
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FirstRWD FirstRWD is offline
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Backpack: Detours 40L or Bike Panniers
Sleeping Gear: Homemade Synthetic Quilt
Shelter: North Face Mica FL 2
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: WI
Posts: 85
How important is floor space?

I've never used a small, ultra-light type shelter. I'm currently looking for my first decent backpacking tent in the $200 range and am a little apprehensive about floor space compared to my current cheaper tent. The current has ~30 square feet of floor space versus closer to 20 for many of the lighter tents in my price range. Maybe that's enough room and I just need to try it and I'll see... Do you all find square footage in the lower 20s to be enough, or are many of you using tents with more room than that? If you use a tent with floor space in the low 20s, do you use your vestibule for much gear? I don't tend to like to leave much outside in a vestibule other than shoes, hatchet, and extra water bottle. I'm concerned about a rodent chewing through my bag.
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  #2  
Old 05-06-2015, 10:58 PM
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dsuursoo dsuursoo is offline
Practical Backpacking­™ Senior Member
Backpack: Mountainsmith Maverick 65
Sleeping Gear: ALPS +20 mummy
Shelter: Kelty Noah 9x9
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 1,482
low floor space can be very tough in a compact shelter.

most shelters will avoid vertical or near-vertical lower walls. sloped walls gobble up floor space like crazy. dome tents rob you of the least floor space outside of old-fashioned wall tents, but are very tall and can struggle in inclement weather.

20 sq feet is not very much at all, even with vertical walls. that's equivalent to a patch of your floor 3' wide by just over 6' long. throw in some sloped walls, that you will want to not touch so as to not risk compromising the shelters water resistance, or transferring heat through, and it gets tight fast.

modern materials make this less critical than in days past. you can now safely touch the walls of your tent in a downpour.


but it's still not comfortable.
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  #3  
Old 05-07-2015, 09:55 AM
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JohnHenry JohnHenry is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2014
Posts: 14
You didn't say if it was just for you always, or if you would have a companion sharing the space some or all of the time.

I tend toward the larger side of floor space, for those times when it's wet out or if I want to keep everything inside. My wife, who sometimes is with me, likes all the space she can get and would do a 20x20 canvas cabin tent if she could. We have a Big Agnes Copper Spur UL3 and it has 44 SF of floor space. That's plenty for me, and is ok with my wife as well. We can also put a pack or gear in the corners and not feel like we're in a phone booth. Great tent, too, by the way, though outside your stated budget.

If it were just me, and I wasn't a minimalist, I'd go in the upper 20's in SF, which most of the two person-rated tents are. The weight penalty is really minimal compared to a one person tent (less than a pound or so), which is usually in the low 20's in SF.

If it's just you, and you don't mind being efficient in space, a one person model at 20-25 SF would work, but if you're like me, the extra pound is well worth the much larger space.

I use the vestible some, but like the ability to put everything inside, as mentioned above.
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Old 05-07-2015, 10:01 AM
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richwads richwads is offline
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Shelter: Tarp
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: California
Posts: 483
Well, there is no accounting for the variety of personal opinions, so in the end it will be up to you to decide. One good way to start would be to continue to use your current 30 sf tent, and make it a point to go through some bad weather in it before making a decision. Wind and rain can really reduce your usable inside space, as the sidewalls are blown into you and the condensation on the tent walls reduces your inclination to brush against them. Ditto on Dsuursoo's comments.

The smallest ultra-light tent I would take for myself and my gear would be a 2 person tent of 35+ square feet. I use a 14 oz 8x10 tarp for most backpacking, but if I'm hunting and want better protection for my bow or rifle, a 38 sf 2 person tent works OK. My Shangrila 3 person tent is a palace for 1 person, at 59 sf and only 2.7 lb (without floor or mosquito net).

Most vestibules aren't usable for much more than a pair of boots, and interfere with crawling in and out. High end models tend to be better thought out in that regard.
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  #5  
Old 05-07-2015, 02:35 PM
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Grandpa Grandpa is offline
Practical Backpacking­™ Associate Member
Backpack: GoLite Pinnacle
Sleeping Gear: Moonstone Lucid 800 w/Neo Air pad
Shelter: Tarptent Sublite Tyvek & Tarptent Double Rainbow
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Texas
Posts: 430
I've got a Tarptent Sublite that is 20 SF. My grandson and I have slept in it together many times but he's getting too big for it now. I've used it as a solo tent many times and it has a small vestibule, which works for me. I also have a Tarptent Double Rainbow, which is around 30 SF, has doors and vestibules on each side and fits two adults nicely. It would be a palace for one and weighs less than 3 lb. Henry Shires has some pretty good stuff at Tarptent and the pricing is quite reasonable.
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  #6  
Old 05-08-2015, 11:16 AM
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FirstRWD FirstRWD is offline
Practical Backpacking™ Regular Member
Backpack: Detours 40L or Bike Panniers
Sleeping Gear: Homemade Synthetic Quilt
Shelter: North Face Mica FL 2
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: WI
Posts: 85
Thanks for the replies! I probably would have given a smaller tent a try thinking that that must work fine for everyone else, so it should be big enough. I have done some pretty inclement weather in my tent(Wenzel Lone Tree w/ AL poles) and it didn't make much difference to me, but it has pretty vertical walls, so space wasn't reduced much by the high winds of the Oregon coast. I was looking at some of the Tarptent designs, and I've found Six Moon Designs in my searching over the past few days. They have one that interests me too, with 26 feet of floor space. I'll expand my search to 2 person tents and see where that gets me. The one other option that has me thinking is making my own tent out of cuben fiber. The tent I currently use is a borrowed Henry Shires that my friend made. I actually like the basic idea of the Lone Tree, and think it could be a nice tent if I made some modifications and could lose a pound off of it with a lighter weight material or something.
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  #7  
Old 05-16-2015, 12:51 AM
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FirstRWD FirstRWD is offline
Practical Backpacking™ Regular Member
Backpack: Detours 40L or Bike Panniers
Sleeping Gear: Homemade Synthetic Quilt
Shelter: North Face Mica FL 2
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: WI
Posts: 85
Just wanted to say thanks again! I ended up going with a North Face Mica FL 2 found on clearance. It has almost 30ft floor space, is just over 3lbs, and seems to have good reviews. Soon I'll be able to post my big 4 gear weight and not be embarrassed by the total. I'll post a review with pics once I get the tent and a chance to get out hiking/camping next month.
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