Saturday, July 10, 2010

Jace's Kit Loadout II: Tent

One of the trickier decisions I had to make was deciding whether to take a tent with us or not. A tent is definitely one of the bulkier and heavier items you can pack for any adventure away, and there was a big question whether we would use it enough to dedicate the pack space to it. In the long run I decided that yes, I would include it and I haven’t regretted the decision at all.

Here are some considerations that may help other adventurers decide whether to take a tent.

1) Locations. Having a tent means that you can go some places you simply cannot get to without one due to there being more than a day’s worth of travel between your launching off point and your destination. It also means that you can have a much better experience at some locations, e.g. When Alix and I were at Cascada Los Alerces in Argentina we could take our time exploring where day trippers simply could not due to the long travel times they had in and out of the national park in one day.

2) Weather. If you are travelling backpacker style, few tents you can carry conveniently will fully protect you from extremes of weather without some discomfort because typically, the better the tent, the heavier and bulkier it will be. If you are going on a group tour to a place with extreme weather you will usually be able to hire a ‘fit for purpose’ tent instead of using your own. You don't need to take your own tent to have plenty of opportunities to camp out, but hired equipment might be poorer quality, especially on inexpensive tours.

3) Amenities. Some countries (or parts of countries) are mad keen campers and are fully set up with attractive campsites that have hot showers, good toilets, kitchen facilities, a storage room for your excess gear, even electric lighting and power-points you can use to charge digital cameras and so forth. This can be a very inexpensive way to travel, as typically pitching a tent at a campsite of this type will be half the cost or less than the next cheapest form of accommodation, the hostel dorm room. On the other hand, some places don’t have any campsites, the campsites are crap, there is no way to secure your gear effectively or it is downright dangerous (e.g. camping in the hills in parts of Bolivia may get you shot by cocaine soldiers).

4) Company. If you are travelling by yourself there is a good chance that simple loneliness will drive you out of the tent and back into the hostel so frequently that carrying around the tent is not worth it. If you are travelling as a couple or a group, this is not a problem. You are significantly more likely to get frequent, quality mainstream travel advice from fellow travellers in a hostel than a campsite though.(P.S. some campsites are full of soap-dodging hippies in happy pants who try to sell you woven friendship bracelets. Avoid them. They smell.)

The 'Slater' without tent fly

The 'Slater' with tent fly

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