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jmcotton

Favorite 3 season tent?

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After freezing on Jewell Island last Spring and freezing again on Lake George in the fall I’m looking for a way to stay warm! I’ve a 2+ person tent that I bought awhile ago thinking my grandchildren could fit in it with me (they have) or my tall son could use it with them.  That was good thinking then but I’m the one packing it into my small LV Avocet and freezing in it!  I’ve been looking at a small down blanket, warmer clothes, warmer sleeping bag or warmer tent as possible solutions. Any thoughts on favorite tents?  Last fall Yong got everyone into taking a hot water bottle and that helped but I was still cold! 
Thanks

Janice

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Janice: it is your sleeping bag you need to be looking into (I don't mean "looking <into>" -- you won't see much down there, I guess -- but as in <investigating>!)  Get a lower temperature rating bag...easy-peasy!  

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Janice, post the model or temperature rating of your sleeping bag, as well as that of your sleeping pad. Perhaps others on those two trips can weigh in as to whether your bag and pad combination was suitable for the temperatures, or if that's what's causing you to be cold.

I typically bring a Tarptent ProTrail ultralight tent on kayak camping trips (I'd recommend a free-standing, side-entry model instead), and a 3.5" thick Big Agnes Q-Core SLX air mattress for insulation from the cold ground. For shoulder-season trips like Jewell and Squam, I'm probably bringing my 25 degree WM TerraLite bag, and adjusting to conditions around camp and at night with some combination of long johns, balaclava, wool hat, down booties, down puffy jacket and pants, and a Sea to Summit Reactor bag liner. Polishing off the leftovers helps keep the internal furnace going, and anything you can do to help yourself fall asleep and stay asleep until dawn (melatonin, benedryl, booze, earplugs, eye mask...) will help as well. :)

Oh, and I'm hesitant to give away this secret since now I'll be competing for the "prime" camping spaces, but there's a reason I often pitch my tent at Jewell back in the trees and ticks rather than out on the bluff with a 270-degree view of the water, and it is "prevailing wind". (Actually, two reasons. #2 is "campfire sparks")

 

Edited by Dan Foster

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I have had really good luck with the REI Passage 2 tent, and it is not very expensive. Plus REI has the 20% off special going until April 6th that I think will work. I have tended to avoid the mostly mesh tents as I find them cold,  and I like the ventilation of the Passage 2 as it has top vents.   It is a little bulkier than some  but my boat is also pretty low volume and I use compression sacks and squeeze it in.  

https://www.rei.com/product/168433/rei-co-op-passage-2-tent-with-footprint?CAWELAID=120217890009873420&cm_mmc=PLA_Google&product_id=1684330001&ad_type=pla&channel=online&partition_id=478694200797&target_id=pla-478694200797&brand_flag=&adgroup_id=30320809120&campaign_id=371830840&location_physical=9002738&cid=105507178240&network=g&network_type=search&device_type=c&merchant_id=1209243&gclid=CjwKCAjw95D0BRBFEiwAcO1KDGVoI_yoc3tH5WZ0cbVByDzFXyamhDZhLldmnyAUkoE0XfOVivorrxoC0OsQAvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds

I am also going to be giving the Big Agnes Van Camp SL2 tent a try this season. It is also on the more affordable side and looks promising. I read lots of reviews and have high hopes for it. I cannot officially vouch for it yet though. 

https://www.rei.com/rei-garage/product/151584/big-agnes-van-camp-sl2-tent?CAWELAID=120217890005617956&cm_mmc=PLA_Google_Outlet&product_id=1515840001&ad_type=pla&channel=online&partition_id=133231646200&target_id=pla-133231646200&brand_flag=&adgroup_id=16301317480&campaign_id=184376080&location_physical=9002738&cid=55518619600&network=g&network_type=search&device_type=c&merchant_id=1209243&gclid=CjwKCAjw95D0BRBFEiwAcO1KDI9kkdpt62fuYLRS0Ixg42smX6oqBJ4CakbGSw9IRWRgkhuAdzg_0hoCTt8QAvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds

Stay away from the REI Quarterdome as the fly does not hold up well, and when that goes you get seriously wet! 

Also this thermolite reactor extreme liner from Sea to Summit  may be useful.  I take it most of the time. When it is warm  I can use it inside my bag but with the sleeping bag itself unzipped. 

https://www.rei.com/product/797114/sea-to-summit-thermolite-reactor-extreme-sleeping-bag-liner?CAWELAID=120217890000845708&cm_mmc=PLA_Google&product_id=7971140012&ad_type=pla&channel=online&partition_id=279652200469&target_id=pla-279652200469&brand_flag=&adgroup_id=15724606120&campaign_id=180122080&location_physical=9002738&cid=52774014640&network=g&network_type=search&device_type=c&merchant_id=1209243&gclid=CjwKCAjw95D0BRBFEiwAcO1KDChbh3CR5JkzUxp2YLvjs78WGM2Fnihl3w815BKcH_qtChPa2R6dVBoC3uQQAvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds

 

https://www.backcountry.com/sea-to-summit-thermolite-reactor-extreme-sleeping-bag-liner?CMP_SKU=STS0084&MER=0406&skid=STS0084-RD-ONESIZ&mr:trackingCode=04D91163-0459-E411-B200-BC305BF82376&mr:referralID=NA&mr:device=c&mr:adType=plaonline&iv_=__iv_p_1_g_35216582613_c_154694014757_w_pla-583490001725_n_g_d_c_v__l__t__r__x_pla_y_7811_f_online_o_STS0084-RD-ONESIZ_z_US_i_en_j_583490001725_s__e__h_9002738_ii__vi__&CMP_ID=PLA_GOc001&utm_source=Google&utm_medium=PLA&k_clickid=_k_CjwKCAjw95D0BRBFEiwAcO1KDFJWFDD4Fmkj3bpxCUaWS3Wz7YqvvVMzCnMUw0O364c1ETpLsd7XwRoCkX8QAvD_BwE_k_&gclid=CjwKCAjw95D0BRBFEiwAcO1KDFJWFDD4Fmkj3bpxCUaWS3Wz7YqvvVMzCnMUw0O364c1ETpLsd7XwRoCkX8QAvD_BwE

The photos of the Sea to Summit liner  at REI and the one at Backcountry look a little different, but I think they are the basically the same thing. The Backcountry one is on sale (but the REI does have the 20% off on one item.) 

Sure can't wait until we can all camp together again. 

 

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All good suggestions. I emphasize the importance of a sleeping pad that insulates well, using the hood on the sleeping bag which is important, and using various bits of clothing to fine tune for temp.  Often if you seem slightly too warm the first hour, you will be about right in the morning. Have some snacks it a good suggestion.  Since everyone has different comfort ranges and women tend to need warmer bags, difficult to give specific advice.  For me, a legitimate 40 degree bag is more than adequate May through Sept. camping on coast, but I cinch hood down and use various clothes layers as needed. 

I doubt tents provide much in the way of helping to keep warm although if you close all the doors, etc. I assume there is a benefit.  Caveat is I prefer no using a tent at all so biased.

Ed Lawson

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Those are all great suggestions! Thanks!

 I think I get cold easily. Dan, at my age, I'm lucky if I only get up once to pee! 

This is what I currently have:

REI half dome 2+

womans mountain hardware thermic micro ultralamina 32 degrees sleeping bag. 

I bought the Sea to Summit sleeping bag liner last year before the Jewell trip and it helped but it was freezing one night. 

I think I don't need a 2 person tent, just a comfy 1 person. The double openings and big size probably makes it hard to keep warm. Something under my sleeping pad for more insulation sounds like a good suggestion too.  I'll check out your suggestions, Cath, thanks  I was thinking I'd better get a move on it with the REI sale! 

Warm down booties sound wonderful! I bought a warmer down jacket (REI 850 down) this winter and I love it and keeps me warm. 

I can't wait to paddle and camp! 

Janice

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I agree: 

  • First is a correct sleeping bag and using it well - not wearing too much clothing, and using the hood, and any draw strings to keep warmth contained.
  • Second: An effective insulating sleeping pad.
  • If you wake up cold a bit of food can make a difference. A combo of carbs for a quick warming and some protein for the rest of the night.
  • Even doing everything right my wife gets cold so we resorted to an old winter camping trick. Turn a water bottle into a Hot Water Bottle by heating water on the stove before bed and placing the bottle in a thicker hiking sock. She keeps it at the foot of the bag and has not been cold since. Crucial: Check out the bottle that you are going to use before going. Fill it with hot water, make sure that it does not leak, and that it does not become soft and split.

Al

 

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Janice:

If you check the REI reviews of that bag, you will see some have found it "colder" than expected and it is actually comfort rated to 46 degrees.  Here is an REI link which explains temperature ratings which you might find useful.  Taking ratings with a grain or two of salt is wise since they are not based on experience in the field, but lab measurements at best and make assumptions of ideal use conditions.

https://www.rei.com/blog/camp/understanding-sleeping-bag-temperature-ratings

 

Ed Lawson

 

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Janice ,

  I have the men's version of that sleeping bag and find it marginal if the nights are chilly. I f I feel the need I'll wear merino long underwear (top and bottom) and at times a fleece top over that. And, as others have said... use the hood and snug everything up . I like the bag because it packs down nice and small but may look into something a little warmer for the shoulder seasons.

 

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I finally figured out that I should wait until I'm going to bed to blow up my Big Agnes sleeping pad, so my warm breath warms the pad. When I did that at the same time I was setting up my tent, all that warm breath was wasted and my body heat had to reheat the pad.

I have a single tent that is cozy, yet high enough for me to sit up. I think the smaller space helps.

Liz

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We don't kayak camp, but we do have and use a 4 person tent from LL Bean, which has gotten us through some heavy rain in Canada.

Having been the coldest I've ever been while camping in ME in May, I took the advice of an extremely knowledgable coach, followed by receiving  even more knowledge from an older Eagle Scout (Eagle Scouts are like Marines: they are one for life, and I'm married to an Eagle Scout:)) salesman at REI in Reading. It's as follows:


Get a sleeping bag rated down to 4 degrees F or lower, designed for women. Mine is a Marmot and I've never been cold. In summer, when it is warm, I sleep with the zipper open or on top of it with a homemade fleece liner.
Get a good, albeit expensive  pad with an extra layer of lightweight fill. The one I use is from NEMO. It's extra long but it inflates with a foot pump. I'm 5'4"but the X-long fits my bag and I'm not falling off it and onto the cold, cold ground.

I don''t know how well these will fit in your AvocetLV; I had one prior to my <16' PilgrimLV, whose hatches are small,  but a warm bag and pad are key to comfort.

PS: I'm not a fan of blow-up pads, for sanitary reasons, and I'd be especially leery now with the virus. The foot pumps are really so easy to use.

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I'm with the others it's not the tent, though you might think about downsizing? Lot's of heat wants to escape from head,neck, hands and feet, so I'll suggest the obvious for the shoulder seasons: fleece neck warmer (no matter how tight you cinch the collar, that river of cold air wants to splash you in the neck) and hat, silk glove liners, and wool socks.

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Thanks everyone!  I’ve been looking at all the equipment (tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, clothes) to see what I can do to be able to sleep while camping. It sounds from everyone’s suggestions that the sleeping bag would be the first to replace. I’ll also look at insulating pads. Space is a consideration. This thread started with the tent but perhaps I’ll downsize that later. Too bad I can’t try out the sleeping bags right now, including looking into them, Christopher! 
Stay healthy! 

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As others have said a warmer sleeping bag will help, you could also add an overbag to your existing bag. I had one I used for a summer bag and then for a layering system in spring/fall. 

A better sleeping pad makes a huge difference, I love my Exped DAM (down air mattress) and they make a less expensive synthetic filled mattress. Be warned since it’s warm, packs small, and is light it’s not cheap. As they say strong, light, inexpensive.... you only get to pick two.

As far as tents IMHO those really light weight all mesh tents should be called 1.5 season tents. Get something that has good ventilation but isn’t all mesh. My favorite all around tent is/was the Walrus Terromotto, 3/4 season convertible tent with big mesh panels on the inner tent that could be zipped closed in harsher weather. That said that REI tent sounds fine.

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Biggest differences between 3-season vs 4-season tents is that 4-season tents are designed to hold a snow-load, and also tend to have solid walls rather than mesh to reduce convectional cooling.  4-season tents can be a bit expensive, and can be ovens in the summer time.  Best to stick with a 3-season and adjust inside as others have pointed out.

I have (and love!!) using a down blanket.  It is an essential part of my entire sleeping system, from summer trips to winter camping (which I haven't done in a while, and need to get back into).  I use it by itself (loose for venting on warmer nights or tucked in for warmth on cooler nights) as well as in conjunction with an overall sleeping system, including liners, light-weight bags, and even super-warm bags and insulated pads.  I also keep it packed in my emergency hypo-kit for an immobilized injury (and hope to never need it!!).

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I once made a <big> mistake, camping on Jewell, when I awoke in the middle of the night, feet chilled to the bone: I grabbed my nylon storm protection thing (you all know what I mean: the group shelter that seems such a clever idea).  I thought I was being so clever and wrapped it around my lower body and promptly went to sleep again...to awake in the morning with everything wet through!  A <much> better idea (I forgot about this, Janice) is this: find on eBay a used, ex-army goretex bivvy bag/sleeping bag cover.  (Example: https://www.ebay.com/itm/ARMY-olive-drab-Bivy-Bag-sleeping-bag-cover-bivvy-sack-breathable/114160326323?hash=item1a947c56b3:g:k7EAAOSwN6VefVGG)  You will pay anything from this one, starting bidding at $10 (!!) up to $60.  Since they are goretex, there will be no damp build-up inside <and> it will serve to preserve your bag.  I promise you that this alone will make you feel far more comfortable on chilly nights.  Silly me: I should have thought of this immediately!

Go and put a bid in on this one and all you have to do is insert a rip-chord at the neck.  It is ex-military -- you can see the printing, so it is breathable...

Mr. Lawson wrote: <Caveat is I prefer no using a tent at all so biased> which means he is almost certainly using such a system, too!  Forget the original concept of these bag covers, Janice: they are <intended> for sleeping outside, tentless (soldiers, for the use of!); but for our purpose -- bloody ideal!

Edited by Pintail

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Best one person tent to keep you warm: Hilleberg Soulo.  Free standing, you can pitch it in rain and everything stays dry.  It's not cheap, but you get what you pay for.  I've had it on expeditions in Greenland, Iceland and Alaska.  I have am15 degree sleeping bag and a Sea to Summit pad.  In Iceland, every single person on the trip but one had a Hilleberg tent.  That was no accident!

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To second Pru on sleeping bags, I have an old Holubar down bag rated to 15 degrees and  for 45 years (seriously) it has been the most versatile bag I have owned.   Too warm for me while kayak camping unless used as a blanket, but for Gail is was just right on those chilly nights. So a 15 degree bag may sound too warm, but may well be just right for some.

Sir. Godfrey is mostly correct.  Often used a bivy sack in winter or up high, but often cowboy style so I could watch the night sky and smell the fresh air.

Ed Lawson

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I dove into this about 5 or so years  ago after getting surprisingly cold on a spring trip.   Some more points to reinforce the above:

  • Understand the four key ways the body loses heat; evaporation, radiation, conduction, convection and mitigate 
  • Pay close attention to the forecast lows in spring and fall
  • Googling winter camping can turn up some great helpful hints 
  • Tent temperature may only get 5 degrees warmer than the outside air
  • Tent size can be a factor when considering that the colder empty space is a thief of warmer air being generated by the body
  • Using gear, especially stuff sacks to insulate ambient space around the edges can be helpful
  • Many bag pads now have "R" values which purportedly measure insulating factor from the ground
  • Guard against  going to bed cold; go to bed slightly warmer - consider warm drink
  • While the body is designed to regulate against temperature, generally the temperature is lowest between 3 and 6 AM
  • Don't hold your pee at night.  It takes energy for the body to keep it warm.
  • Consider a urination device to avoid opening the tent and the accompanying heat loss/cold intrusion. Like my American Express card I never go camping without it.
  • Base layers including hat and socks are a must.  Avoid your favorite cotton pjs and tight fitting clothes; and finally...
  • If you've got space in the sleeping bag bring morning clothes and shoes inside.  gives a somewhat more comfy morning.

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 Yes I've read that a zipped- up 4 season tent may add 3-5 degrees to your sleeping environment so that's worth something on a cold night but probably only your 3rd priority,  after  your  sleeping bag and air mattress.
It partly comes down to how much you're willing to spend. If money is no object, and you go with (from cheapest to most expensive)  a Thermarest  Neoair X Therm  pad ,   a Western Mountaineering  20 degree sleeping bag ,  you cant go wrong. The X therm has a R rating of 5.7 probably higher with new rating system, in an  R-value class by itself  and the benefits of a sleeping pad  like that (just a few  are built to  actually radiate body heat back upward) cannot be overemphasized.  With sleeping bags  : most brands ratings are inaccurate: your 32 degree bag will keep you comfy maybe to 40 degrees, probably not even that. A few smaller high end brands like Western Mountaineering have accurate ratings.  In their  20 degree bag you'll be comfortable right down to 20 degrees. I'd recommend a Western Mountaineering 20 degree bag if you didnt freak out over the price. Also,  Janice ,  you have to pack everything in a small boat (Avocet  LV) so packability is also a bigger factor with you : a  20 degree  850-fill  down degree mummy  bag will pack down smaller than your current 32 degree  synthetic bag. (keep it in a dry bag)  
So , for fall where you might get 30 degree nights, a 20 degree bag would be the minimum for most brands (like REI,  Mountain Hardware etc)  15 degree probably  better. If you're a sound sleeper who doesn't toss and turn (Im not):  a mummy bag is more compact and more efficient than  rectangular or a semi or rectangular bag.  
 

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Following everyone's advice getting a new down sleeping bag and a new mat seemed to be the best option. I looked at reviews on both and decided on the REI Magma 15 women's sleeping bag as it was near the top of the reviews, a little cheaper and I could use the 20% off coupon and my dividend, which helped some! It's 850 fill goose down and rated at 17 degrees, though it's an ugly slate grey. At least the inside isn't grey and it has a neck "wrap" to prevent the cold air coming in. You can't have everything! I found a great deal on Backcountry on the Sea to Summit Ether Light XT insulated mat women's regular so I ordered that too. It was also rated high in the reviews, packs small, R value of 3.5 and a good price. It looks like the women's long is the only one left on sale now. 

Now if we can only get out there. I was looking forward to the Hermit Island camping trip in May but as it's a campground I bet they will be closed. 

Thanks everyone. Dave, I did hear its best to not climb into your sleeping bag feeling cold so you're to ran around or jump up and down and warm up first. I did that but by 3 AM it's still cold out there! 

Janice

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Janice, that bivvy-bag did not sell at $10 and has been re-posted!  Go and look it up -- it would cover up your dreaded slate grey...?  (You are supposed to be <sleeping> in the bag, not admiring its hues!)  ☺️

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On 4/2/2020 at 10:51 AM, rfolster said:

 “4-season tents can be a bit expensive, and can be ovens in the summer time.  Best to stick with a 3-season and adjust inside as others have pointed out. “

Did I sell you my North Face VE-25 and did you use it during the summer?

 

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Michael, no, I did not buy your tent...I didn't see it for sale. I agree with everyone's advice that a down sleeping bag and insulating mat would be the best solution, rather than buying a warmer tent. 

Christopher, why would I want an "army olive drab" anything to cover up my ugly slate grey sleeping bag! I'm sure it's a great buy but I'm good without olive drab! 

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Janice:

If getting a smaller tent package is still of interest, you might want to check out a sale going on at REI for the their Passage 1 tent.  For $105 you get tent and footprint as I recall.  It is a basic, but reasonably well made and suitable for NE coastal trips and backpacking.  Certainly smaller than a 2+ person tent.  It should easily fit on either side of skeg box of the
Avocet LV since it does in my AA with room to spare.  I got one last year to replace a SD 1 person tent that had served well till the coating came off after years of service and satisfied with choice.

Ed Lawson

 

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