Category Archives: Shelters

Black Diamond Firstlight – Long Term Review

The Black Diamond Firstlight is a two-person, self standing tent produced by Black Diamond. Its simple design makes it light and easy to pitch in adverse conditions. Steep walls allow it to shed snow like a champ and provide ample interior head space. This is my go-to tent for winter backpacking in deep snow or bad weather. I also use this tent for quick camps the night before a three-season backpacking trip so that I don’t have to unpack and repack my primary shelter.

Black Diamond Firstlight
Black Diamond Firstlight 2P Tent
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Tent Platform Anchors

Guyot Campsite Platform
Platform at Guyout Campsite

If you do enough backpacking, you will probably run into tent platforms. These wood platforms are constructed in overused back country sites, where constant use has eroded away the soil. Tent Platforms are OK if you have a self standing tent, but they are pose a problem for tents that need to be staked down. I carry Tent Platform Anchors whenever I expect to use a platform platform.

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Tarptent Stratospire Li – Long Term Review

The Tarptent Stratospire Li is a two-person, trekking pole tent produced by Henrey Shire’s Tarptent. The unique geometry of this tent makes it capable of fending off harsh winds and rain and moderate snow loads. The double wall design and numerous venting options offer excellent breathability. Dyneema fabric makes this tent extremely waterproof. The Stratospire Li is my go-to tent for solo trips when don’t expect campsite space to be an issue or when I may need to share, or if I want the option to linger.

Tarptent Stratospire Li
Tarptent Stratospire Li
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Enlightened Equipment Quilts

In 2013 I purchased my first of several Enlightened Equipment quilts. Although I’ve been camping all of my life, this quilt gave me my first truly comfortable night of sleep. Since then, I’ve purchased several more quilts from Enlightened Equipment and helped many family members and friends make the conversion. Now, almost everyone I backpack with has one or more of these trusty hiking companions. I read recently that about 75% of 2017 Appalachian Trail Thruhikers slept in quilts by EE. Continue reading Enlightened Equipment Quilts

Intro to Backpacking – Recommended Tents

This last weekend, I hosted an Intro to Backpacking workshop with Hudson Valley Hikers.  The idea of the event was to allow future backpackers to see and feel real gear in the real world.  Each of our hosts brought one or more of their favorite tents. Students were able to watch them set up and then crawl inside to get a feel. They especially liked hanging in the hammock! Continue reading Intro to Backpacking – Recommended Tents

Tents for Claustrophobic Backpackers

Cyrus asked me to suggest tents for claustrophobic backpackers.  Cyrus will be attending my upcoming Intro to Backpacking event at Harriman State Park.  It’s an even that I’m hosting with Hudson Valley Hikers, the largest outdoor Meetup group in the world.  Cyrus asks:

What are the lightest tents and with the highest height? I need high heights as i get a little claustrophobic.


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Tents for Backpacking and Bikepacking

tents for backpacking and bikepackingSandra has asked me to recommend some good tents for backpacking and bikepacking. Sandra will be attending my Intro to Backpacking event in Harriman State Park in a few weeks and was required to ask a question to get off the wait-list.  I require participants to ask a question in order to get off the wait-list.  This gets them invested in the event ahead of time.  The event is hosted with Hudson Valley Hikers.  Continue reading Tents for Backpacking and Bikepacking

Backpacking Hammock Considerations

Backpacking Hammock
Keeping cozy in a backpacking hammock!

Karja wants to know more about sleeping in a backpacking hammock. She’ll be attending my upcoming Intro to Backpacking event with Hudson Valley Hikers at Harriman State Park. She asks:

Is it a sane and good idea (when trekking through the woods with an abundance of trees) to sleep in a hammock?

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Tent Footprints and Ground Cloths

Tent Footprints: Many Big Agnes Tents can be set up in Fast Fly mode using the tent footprint.
Using the Tent Footprint for Fast-Fly Mode

Tent Footprints and Ground Cloths are common add-ons to commercial tents.  Their intentions include protecting the bottom of your tent, keeping you dry, and providing insulation.  Depending on how they are used, they meet these goals with varying success. This post will try to correct some common misinformation about tent footprints and ground cloths. Continue reading Tent Footprints and Ground Cloths

Tarptent Notch – Long Term Review

TarpTent Notch
TarpTent Notch

The Tarptent Notch is a single-person, trekking pole supported backpacking tent produced by Henry Shire’s Tarptent. With lines resembling a stealth fighter, the Notch is a 3+ season tent capable of fending off harsh rains and winds and light snow conditions. Its double wall design offers excellent breathability.  The Notch has been my “go-to” shelter for the past 3 or 4 years. Continue reading Tarptent Notch – Long Term Review