Am I nervous…Or Just Two Tents?

I almost puked when I bought my train ticket to Georgia. It could’ve been from the 2 dozen wings I had previously eaten, but I can usually strip those suckers clean and polish them off with a pitcher of suds like a champ. No…I’m pretty sure it was the 18 years of dreaming that suddenly became a reality when I clicked “buy ticket”, and with that came the nervousness of a 16 year old pinning a corsage on his prom date. This dream that has kept me sane and looking to the next day just became…real. Like, really real.

I have suddenly found myself in planning mode. Not the obsessive mileage spreadsheets or town resupply lists I have generated over the previous years as it’s really just walking, after all. I’m talking about the real life stuff like putting my furniture in storage, finding a home for my car, and coordinating my seasonal gear items that I want sent to me before I enter New Hampshire. You know…the real things that us dreamers tend to push aside. Or, as we are better known as: procrastinators.

Oh…I’m in my final semester of college, so there’s that. I should be studying sieverts instead of shelters and kilovoltage peak rather than the peak height of my tent but the daydream is strong with this one. Speaking of shelters….

One of my dilemmas in the PA woods.

One of my dilemmas in the PA woods.

My gear list is complete. Or so I thought it was. I mean, technically it is. I have obsessed, tested, and weighed every piece of gear in my pack. I once spent an entire weekend researching titanium spoons. If I spent that much time on something so tiny you can imagine the night sweats I am having over which tent to bring.

I have two amazing tents. I love them both but I can only take one, and thus the dilemma arises. On one hand, I have a tent that is on the frontlines of ultralight, weighing a scant 23 ounces for a palatial one person tent. On the other hand, I have the sentimental tent that weighs 12 ounces more. There’s something about this tent I just love about it. It’s well thought out, super easy to set up, and is very spacious for a 1 person tent.

What it comes down to is rain. Tent 1 is made of cuben fiber (recently renamed to DCF-dyneema composite fabric), which makes it truly waterproof and after an evening of rain, you can shake it a few times and it’s virtually dry. Tent 2 is made of silnylon which is waterproof until it is subjected to prolonged rain. By prolonged, I’m referring to multi-day. On my normal two day weekend warrior trips, this isn’t a problem, but we’re heading into a potentially rainy summer and everyone who thru hikes says no matter what, everything eventually gets wet…it’s just a matter of when. And thus my dilemma is the reason it’s 4:30am and I’m wide awake. I’m hoping typing this out will help me come to a decision.

I have at least 4 more shakedown hikes planned, culminating with a 5 day trip to finalize my gear before heading to Springer Mountain. I would like to have my tent choice decided before the 5 day trip.

Or I could just flip a coin. Procrastinators unite!

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Comments 7

  • John Baldwin : Feb 22nd

    Go with the cuben fiber tent. It will keep you drier and there will be days when this will be very important. Good luck to you. I will be starting a flip flop at harpers Ferry last week of April-hope to see you on trail.

  • Laurel Seus : Feb 22nd

    I just made my reservation to stay at Amicalola the night before I start and had the same “oh my god this is actually happening” moment. My brain has also been in hyperdrive since that moment!

  • Glenn Batson : Feb 22nd

    It is a long hike. Go with your gut and be willing to change. Hopefully you have someone at the home base who can ship you the other tent if you decide you want it. Have a great time. I’m the home base, dreaming of my son’s upcoming start in March.

  • LANCE HOLVOET : Feb 23rd

    Tom I would go with a good heavy canvas tent with wooden supports. That being said, having been wet in field for prolonged periods as a Marine, being wet sucks having wet stuff sucks. That bit of extra space will be a little bit more of WET extra space. Your sentimental favorite will be there for short sojourns in the future. Go with DRY.

    • Tom Willard : Feb 23rd

      Lance- excellent point. You bring clarity and you are correct, the sentimental favorite will always be there for my weekend trips. Thanks.

  • Scott : Feb 28th

    Throw ’em both back in the car and get a hammock 🙂

  • Tami : Feb 28th

    When you said you could shake that cuben fiber tent and it’s virtually dry, I thought TAKE THAT! Our 3lb 2-person tent weighs much more than that after it’s been rained on all night! Whatever you decide, there are many of us who are more than a little bit jealous. Have a great time, no matter the weather!


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