Saturday, November 5, 2011

The tent, our home for twenty to thirty days.......

When Devon and I started planning this trip, we had very limited camping gear.  I had purchased a few small items when I was planning the solo run and we have some gear from camping trips our sons have been on with the Scouts.  Devon and I have never been camping together, so this ought to be interesting. 

There is a ton of camping equipment out there with a wide price and quality range.  Devon and I did a lot of research online prior to purchasing our tent, sleeping bags, and sleeping pads.  We did not purchase the most expensive equipment, nor did we purchase the cheapest.  We took a hard look at all of the reviews we read and our budget to determine which equipment would work best for our needs and within our means.  We purchased these items online, so we were not able to inspect them first.  This can be a little nerve racking, but so far we are happy with our purchases.

Last night, we put our new gear to the test and were quite pleased.  It got down to 45 F degrees last night with wind in the morning.  The forecast called for it to get down to 35 F degrees so we thought that would be a good test.  Since it did not get that cold, we have decided we will test it again before we go.  Since it can still get below freezing during June where we are going, we want to make sure the gear will work for us long before we leave.  We thought we would share a review of our thoughts about the equipment thus far.  Today we will focus on the tent, so if you will follow us to our back yard we will show you our tent.

All of this equipment is important for our journey; one thing we did not want to skimp on was the tent.  We wanted to make sure it would be rugged, easy to set up, and most importantly water proof since there is a high probability of rain for this journey.  After a few weeks, we had narrowed our tent choices to the Big Agnes Big House 4 and the Marmot Lime Light 3P.  Both are great tents with pros and cons to each.  The Big Agnes is very tall and is a four person tent while the Marmot is a three person standard height tent with two vestibules.  Keep in mind that a four person tent is really a three person tent and a three person tent is really a two person tent.  

We decided to go with the Marmot.  It is slightly smaller inside, but with two vestibules and two doors, it would be easier to get in and out of and would actually stow more gear.  The Marmot also packs smaller, weighs 6 pounds less, and was $100.00 cheaper.

The Marmot come in its own bag that measures approximately 22"X 8".  Packed, it weighs in at 6 pounds, 11 ounces.
The Marmot out of the packing bag
The poles and stakes are held in bags

The stakes are made of light weight aluminum and are very sturdy
The poles are light weight aluminum.  Though this looks like a bunch of poles, there are really only three poles.  The yellow ones are hooked together in the middle with a piece of plastic, they form the frame of the tent while the blue pole is used to support the rain fly.
The tent comes with a very small gear loft.  It is only large enough to hold items like your glasses, an I pod, and a small book.
One other big selling point for the Marmot is that it comes with its own  footprint.  With most of the other tents we were looking at, the foot print had to be purchased separately.  If you are wondering what a foot print is, they are used as ground cloths under  tents to prevent the wear and tear of the tent against the ground.  A footprint also helps to keep water out of the tent in the event of rain.
The tent also comes with a large rain fly that goes all the way down to the ground.  All of the seams are sealed to make it water proof.
 Setting up our tent took us about six minutes total, this included taking the pictures.  I believe we could get this tent up within two to three minutes if we are not taking pictures.  Keep in mind that Devon and I are not avid campers and don't set up tents on a regular basis.  Part of the reason we picked this tent was that the reviews stated it was quick and easy to set up.  The set up was straight forward, easy, and very quick.  Let's look at the setup of what will be our home for twenty to thirty days next summer.

We unfolded the tent and placed it on the foot print.
The yellow poles snapped together easily and we placed them in an X pattern on top of the tent.  You will remember that the poles are held together in the middle with a small plastic piece.  This piece is placed at the center of the tent.
In each corner of the tent and foot print there are straps with bosses in them.  These straps secure the fly to the tent and are where the stakes attach to secure the tent to the ground.  The ends of the poles are placed in the bosses in these straps.
The tent with the poles set up.
The next step is to secure the tent to the poles.  Unlike other tents, the Marmot has plastic clips which secure the tent to the poles rather than sleeves for the poles to slide into. 
These clips make the tent a breeze to set up without the risk of tearing the tent or damaging the poles.

Next, it is time to add the blue pole.  This pole attaches to the top of the tent.  Hey, is that dirt on my upper lip?  No, don't be silly.  I'm growing a moustache for Movember.
Next, we staked the tent to the ground through the straps on the corners of the tent body and foot print so the tent is nice and secure to the ground.
This probably is the most challenging part of setting this tent up, centering the rain fly on top of the tent.
The rain fly is secured to the tent body with plastic buckles.  The straps can then be tightened to completely secure the fly to the tent.
The vestibules are also staked to the ground.  For high winds, there are tabs where you can secure the fly to the ground further with stakes and rope.  Here is what the tent looks like set up.
This photo shows one of the vestibules.  The vestibules will keep some of our gear and shoes dry and protected.
Though the Marmot is not as large as the Big Agnes, there is plenty of room for the both of us in it.
We would give this tent an all around high rating and are very pleased with our purchase.  This tent is so well built that we did not even feel the 4.7 magnitude earthquake that hit Oklahoma City last night.

Watch for information and reviews over the next few days about our sleeping bags, camping pillows, and sleeping pads.

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