Sunday, 5 December 2010


Being 6'2" and fairly strapping, I can in no way be called small. However, I am also not unusually tall. This makes the situation with lightweight tents annoying.

Most lightweight tents I have tried seem to have been designed for people less than six feet tall. My feet and head both touch the fabric, despite the blurb showing them as being okay for my height. This is perhaps because most tents are oddly shaped - the area is measured at ground level, but the sloping ends and sides mean that the length and area decrease rapidly as you go up the tent. Some lightweight tents have more complex shapes, but the same fact seems to hold true.
The Westwind in the garden at Fron Haul

This is part of the reason why my favourite tent for backpacking is still the (relatively) heavy and large North Face Westwind, which I have used for eleven years now. The Westwind is easily long enough for me to lie in without my feet or head touching the ends, granting me a comfortable night's sleep. There is also enough headroom so that I can sit up to get dressed without shuffling half-out of the tent.

It does have downsides - the porch area is tiny and awkwardly shaped, and the bright yellow colouring makes wild camping more of a gamble.

So here is a tentative proposal: currently many tent manufacturers give outlines of the ground area of their tent, along with stick figures (some three-man tents have the figures lying head-to-toe in rows - quite how anyone can sleep next to another walker's smelly socks is beyond me). What they should do is give the maximum length of person that can fit into the tent without touching either end; i.e. at about a foot or eighteen inches above the ground level.

Of course this will make tents appear smaller than they really are, and therefore any manufacturer who does it would be at a disadvantage. For this reason it probably will never happen.

I am still waiting to find a lightweight tent (1.5 kg or lighter) in which I can comfortably fit. Perhaps I am a wimp, but comfort is important to me when camping. And no, I won't consider a tarp.


Alan Sloman said...

I think you will find that Henry Shires of Tarptent does this already David. An example can be found following this link:

If you want a roomy tent that weighs 1205grams with big heavy duty pegs and stuffsac that is one of the strongest tents in the world look no further than Stepehenson's Warmlite 2C. I havev had one for almost four years now. It's cavernous and plenty long and tall enough. You can find it all over my blog by using the search facility on the blog.

Martin Rye said...

Being 6'2 the Scarp 1 Is ideal. Loads of room. All you need to know about it is on my blog. Also the Laser. Not Laser comp is good as well. Next on the list is a MLD DuoMid or my new toy a Traistar to offer another shelter option. The 2C is superb choice.

David Cotton said...

Hi Alan and Martin,

Cheers for that info. The Scarp 1 certainly does not seem to have the problem of sloping ends, and I like the piccie showing the rucksack standing up in the vestibule (when wild camping, I prefer to have all my gear inside the tent footprint).

I have tried the Laser and Laser Competition before, and they were uncomfortable wrt height. This is a shame, as they are also the most available for testing.

The Scarp 1 does appear to be about 12 cm taller, which would be useful as I have short legs and a long body (yes, I am that odd).

Methinks it is time to do some hard thinking and investigation before next spring...