Started testing out the tent setup this weekend! The tent itself is great so far. Took me around half an hour to set up the first time; should go much faster next time. The design is brilliant – with only a few poles you get a taut structure and it is very easy to setup even with one person. I wish I had purchased the next size up (10×10′ instead of 7×10′). When I bought this earlier this year, I wasn’t really thinking of a full-time thing. Perhaps I will trade it in after this cold- and wet-weather test is done – those extra three feet don’t sound like much but that will increase the floor space by 43%.
It has been misting and lightly raining all day and no leaks so far. We are supposed to get rain, ice pellets, and maybe snow throughout the week (along with a little wind), so I should be able to test it out in some rough conditions.
We slept in it about half of the night last night. I read the Kindle about an hour in the tent from 7:00 to 8:00 and was tired, so hit the sack. It started out at 45 F and got down to around 40 F. Roxy-dog (RD) and I have camped in those temps before, but the high humidity from all of the mist made it feel colder even with no wind. RD woke me up whining about 11:30, either cold or hungry. I took in the house, fed her, and left her in. I tried to fall back asleep in the tent but couldn’t because my mind was thinking about how to keep a dog warm in a cold tent (I was toasty I just couldn’t quit thinking). So I came in and eventually fell asleep in the comforts of home.
Today I added a couple of items to the setup. First, an adjustment to the sleeping arrangements. I tried out a cot last night for the first time. I really like being off of the ground and it is great for sitting as well but it wasn’t that comfortable when sleeping on my side, which I prefer. So I added a 2″ memory foam topper. I now have a cot, the memory foam, a self-inflating camping pad, my sleeping bag, and a couple of fleece blankets on top. Seemed comfortable in a test this afternoon; we’ll see how it goes tonight.
Second, I added a small fold-out table. Perfect size for the tent and can adjust the height. I found that I can wedge it in behind the end of the cot and it was pretty comfortable to sit on the end of the cot and type. I did some actual work today (yes that is a spreadsheet on the screen) and this setup wasn’t bad. I like the ability to store items under the cot and table.
Finally, I got a decent fleece jacket for Roxy, as her old one shrank (or maybe she grew). She has two beds under her which seem to insulate her from the ground nicely. I usually put a fleece blanket on top of her, and she seems comfy at first but then at some point she will get up and spin around, thus losing the blanket; for some reason she doesn’t figure out how to get under it again. I can tell she’s cold when she makes a tight ball and the nose goes under the tail. Hopefully the jacket will work; if not we seem to be limited to lows of around 45 F without any heater. Based on weather averages, that is a season of approximately April to November in Atlanta and May to mid-October in northeast Maryland. In fun places with mountains the season would be even shorter.
The only option that I am currently considering for use throughout the night is a small electric heater. Setting everything on fire or melting don’t seem to be a big concern with this tent – they use the same canvas in their big expedition tents that are built for wood stoves inside. My biggest concern would be electrical shock in wet conditions. I would be fine with a small catalytic heater while I’m awake, but I wouldn’t want to use throughout the night — too much risk of not waking up due to CO or low O2 and would really run through the propane. They are great for warming up first thing in the AM though.
We’ll see how sleep goes with the improvements tonight. Temperatures should be similar to last night, so this should be a good comparison.