Wednesday, November 10, 2010

... And You Spend a Night in the Box

I took the opportunity of a lingering coastal storm to test my tent and sleeping bag in the back yard. It was windy, rainy, and in the low 40s F, so chilly but not really cold.

With vestibule. Overexposure is for the protection of copyrighted logos. And 'cause I have a new camera app and don't know how to use it.
Featherworm is awesome. I'm really glad I got the slightly heavier bag with the nifty features, rather than the super-elite ultra-light, because the features really make the thing. My favorite is a little extra flap that snaps closed around your shoulders, with a drawstring to cinch it. This keeps the bag closed and warm when it's cold enough to snuggle down, but not cold enough for the hood (and I don't like using the hoods--even when it's straight-up cold, I like having my face and ears free). And when it's a bit warmer, closing the snap-flap allows you to unzip the bag for a bit of ventilation without the bag flopping open and leaving you totally uncovered. The bag also has this little zip pocket near the opening that's so tiny that I can't imagine what I might put in there. It's too small for my glasses--the thing I really want to have safe and accessible while I sleep. Batteries? Nips? I'll think of something.

The tent, from a construction standpoint, did just fine. It was fairly windy, and rained quite a bit last night (though never particularly hard) and everything stayed in-place and dry. It was also a cinch to set up, even with the adjustments I had to make in the dark . . .

Vestibule open. This morning, I realized the footprint was backwards, causing the wrinkling under the door. The tent is very slightly asymmetrical front-to-back; just enough so if you do it wrong, everything assembles just fine, but then doesn't quite work.
One of the selling points of the tent was that it has a convertible door on the rain fly. You can go with the vestibule if you need more room, or you can zip it out and exchange it for a flat door if you want to save weight. I was thinking the door was the way to go, since I'm only one person, and I'll have space to store stuff inside the tent. But the door isn't designed particularly well. It ends a couple inches from the ground, and it lies close over the tent wall--there's no way to stake it out, barring poking a hole in the fabric. So when it rains, water drips from the fly  onto the wall of the tent below the door, where it eventually ends up dribbling between the tent and the footprint. While the bottom of the tent doesn't leak, this just doesn't seem like a good policy.

I set up the tent, with the flat door, in a break in the rain around dusk. I went out to sleep at my normal bedtime, at which point it was full-on raining. I saw what was going on with the door and switched it out with the vestibule. As with the rest of the tent, this was simple and intuitive and took all of like six seconds, during which I discovered the other slight design flaw with the door/vestibule system. The zipper to exchange the two runs up and over the door of the tent. The door of the tent is mesh. So if you unzip the thing while the rain fly is wet, drips will fall onto--and, of course, through--the mesh door of the tent, sprinkling your sleeping bag and clothes and whatever.

So I've learned a couple things. Vestibule is the way to go--and is a very nice place to put wet shoes, whether there's room in the tent or not. Also, tap all the drips off the rain fly before unzipping anything. Luckily, these issues seem easily solved.

My morning view. The November windstorm cleaned the trees before blowing offshore.
WARNING: This is a pre-coffee photo.


  1. Cool, looks like soo much funn

  2. Kate -- sorry to be so late in saying hi, but I've been seeing your facebook updates on this and hope to check in more regularly. Great concept, great project, hope the camping agrees with you.