Wednesday, 16 October 2013

My tramping gear: Shelters - Hiking Fly + Luxe Lightwave + Coleman Spirit 2 + SOL Bivvy Bag

Of tents, fly sheets and shelters...

When you go out into the back-country you often need to carry your own shelter with you. It might be you are camping out, or you might carry a shelter for emergencies...full huts, benighted trips etc. 

My Luxe tent in the Cowshed Bay camp-ground on the Queen Charlotte Track in 2016

To cover these eventualities I carry tarps/fly sheets, tents and bivvy bags depending on the conditions I expect to encounter. 

Fly sheets/shelters/tarps

A fly or tarp is a lightweight nylon sheet used to provide shelter from rain, sleet and snow. Their main advantage is lightweight and the ability to cook under them.

Oztrail hiking fly

I usually carry a  Oztrail hiking fly which I use as an emergency shelter when expecting an over full hut.Total weight with guys/pegs + a Sea to Summit bug net is only 1 kg. I have never needed it as an emergency shelter as I have yet to arrive at a hut so full to the brim that I couldn't even sleep on the floor.

The Oz Trail Hiker Fly
Specifications are:

Oztrail Hiker Fly, 3.5(W) x2.1(H), 850gms (with pegs)+
Sea to Summit 1 person bug net, 240gms

Oz Trail Hiker fly in use on Mt Oxford


I would use this all of the time as I find flysheets to be very adaptable shelters, but they are not always the best choice especially in areas with a large bug population (most of the South Island of NZ especially the West Coast and Fiordland).

 Flys are not ideal for tops shelter either, as wind can damage them very easily. On the tops you really need the more durable shelter offered by a quality tent.

A selection of shelters you can make with your standard rectangular tarp

There are many online articles dealing with the subject of tarps, one of the best I have seen is on the Section Hiker website. 


Tents


 I currently have four tents which I use, one is my main solo tent I take with me on the majority of my trips. Two are used as two person shelters depending on the weather conditions I expect to encounter. The last is a larger three person base camp tent I brought as I intend to do a few trips where I car camp and go for tramps during the day.

My sleeping gear set up in my Luxe tent, QCT 2016


Big Agnes Coper Spur UL 1


I brought a new light weight tent for my Te Araroa Trail  thru-hike, it is the Big Agnes Copper Spur UL 1 tent. This is a true free standing3+season tent which weighs a light 1 kg. I brought this in a 2017 summer sale for only $450 down from the usual price of over $700 NZD.

Specifications are:

Copper Spur UL 1, 2.24(L)x1.10(W)x98(H)cm, 1 kg



Copper Spur UL 1: fast shelter only
Big Agnes have a good name with trampers and hikers the world over. Their gear is top quality and much favoured by the long trail community as they have taken the message of weight loss seriously in all of their products.

Copper Spur UL 1: no fly

Copper Spur UL 1: fly fitted but open

Copper Spur UL 1: fly closed

I will use this tent if planning to camp and continue to carry my hikers tarp/fly + bug net combo when I expect to be in a hut.

My Big Agnes Copper Spur 1 set up in the Totaranui camp grounds, April 2018



Luxe- Lightwave
I invested in a lightweight 1-2 person tent from the Chinese company Luxe back in 2015.  After a lot of searching and comparison I went with the Luxe Lightwave, it is 1.28 kg, tunnel shaped for wind resistance and has an large annex for my pack.

This has served my needs nicely, the NZD $280 price was also very competitive.

Specifications are:

Luxe Lightwave II, 2.4(L) x 1.55(W)x1.05(H)cm, 1.3 kg

Luxe Lightwave tent
Luxe is a newer Chinese outdoor company, quality looks to be comparable to well known brands like Vaude/ MSR/ Exped/Marmot etc. I have read some very good reviews for Luxe gear. In use since 2015 I have found it to be a reliable, durable and roomy tent.


Luxe Lightwave in use on the QCT, 2016
Me in my Luxe Lightwave on the QCT, 2016


The Lightwave in action on the QCT


I will use this tent if I have a tramping companion and continue to carry my Copper Spur UL 1 or tarp set-up when I expect to be in a hut.
Luxe Lightwave II floor plan

This tent has now been superseded by my Big Agnes UL 1 as my main tramping tent although I will still be using it from time to time as circumstances dictate. 

Coleman Spirit 2

 My other two person tent is a Coleman Spirit 2 person tent, this is a excellent tent- roomy, good ventilation, stable and waterproof.

Specifications are:
Coleman ‘Spirit 2′ (small 2 person) 2.6(L) x 1.4(W) x 1.0(H), 1.9kg
The Coleman Spirit 2 tent



The Spirit 2 is a one pole or "hoop" design, it is not free standing and must be pegged to the ground to allow it to stand. You have to be very careful when selecting a tent site as these one pole designs are prone to collapse in strong wind. That said, I have used this tent in strong Nor'Wester winds and it was very secure.


Another view of the Coleman Spirit 2 tent

I have replaced the heavy steel pegs with triangular aluminium for a saving of over 100 gms. Unfortunately, it is still a bit heavy at 1.9kg for a solo shelter, I continue to use this as a true 2 person tent or as a base camp shelter.

The Coleman Spirit in use, Ryde Falls Campsite, Mt Oxford Forest 2013


Coleman Coastline 3 Tent 

I intend to do a bit of base camp tramping going into the future, this is where you choose a location and do a number of tramps while staying at the same place each night. In other words this is for car camping only.

To facilitate this I have purchased a larger three person tent, a Coleman Coastline 3.


The Coleman Coastline 3 tent

Dimensions of the Coleman Coastline 3 tent



Other aspects of the Coleman Coastline 3 tent I purchased

The Coleman Coastline 3 is a  large single room tent with side windows and an extended vestibule. Other features include:
  • Large d-doors front and rear for easy access
  • Floored front vestibule area to keep the tent dry and clean
  • Colour coded poles to ensure easy and correct set up
  • Generously sized carry bag
  • 2 Year satisfaction warranty

Heavy duty PU floor in the Coleman Coastline 3
 Some of the specifications for the tent are:
 
Size: 260L x 225W x 140H + 160V cm
Material: 75D/Taped seams, 2000mm proofed Fly, PE flooring.
Frame: 9.5mm/8.5mm Durawrap Fibreglass poles
Weight: 7.60kg


SOL Survival Bivy Bag


If I am out on a day trip and expect to be home by nightfall I obviously don't want to carry a tent/fly with me. Safety dictates that I should be carrying some form of cover in case of accident, getting lost, or being forced to spend a night outdoors.

I carry a SOL Bivvy Bag which is basically a emergency "space blanket" in the form of a bag. 



These bags reflect body heat to keep the occupant warm (...ish...I have slept out in an older style survival bag and it was a bit chilly even with a fleece on...), it would be uncomfortable but at least you would survive the night.


One of the problems with these survival bags is condensation, happily the SOL bag is breathable which negates the condensation problem entirely.



Weight of these is about 250gms, they cost $90-$100 from most New Zealand outdoor stores.

Camp-site cooking shelters


Something you will see if you are camping on the DOC estate are cooking shelters. You most often see these on the Great Walks and other front country tracks but they are also present in more remote locations as well. 

Davies Bay cooking shelter, Queen Charlotte Track


These can range from the simplest of overhead cover to mini huts but all will feature some or all of the following amenities:

  • cooking benches, either aluminium or stainless steel
  • a sink for washing dishes
  • a stream, fresh water source or rainwater storage tanks
  • seating of some type, normally fixed benches
  • toilets, either attached or nearby

During the afternoon, early evening and in the morning these will often be the focal point of life in a DOC camp site. Here are some photos of various cooking shelters I have visited. 

Cooking shelters: Bay of Many Coves, QCT




Cooking shelters: Anchorage shelter, Abel Tasman NP



Cooking shelters: Kerr Bay camp ground, St Armaud



Cooking Shelters: inside Avalanche Peak shelter, Arthurs Pass NP