Despite the grey weather, Brian and I made a commitment to outdoor living yesterday to the tune of $600 (shipping included). As pictured, we have ordered ourselves a 10 x 14 foot canvas Kodiak FlexBow tent – an all season portable cabin if you will – large enough for a cot, a small woodstove, and a table and two chairs. No kidding. It’s that big (and it weighs 70 pounds).
Billed as a tent for sleeping eight, with full standing height (6″6) throughout – the purchase of this tent springs from Brian’s desire to hunt and fish, to do so in the fall and early winter, and to be comfortable at the same time.
We currently have a completely serviceable tent – a Tarn 3 that I have been using for about ten years for backcountry/hike-in camping as well as car-camping trips. I sleeps two comfortably, weighs seven pounds, and when it’s not raining I leave the fly off to sleep under the mesh and look at the stars. Sadly on this coast, we don’t get to sleep without the fly very often! I just ordered new poles for the tent and I fully intend to keep using it for quick trips, backpacking and small-footprint tent pads – but I have to admit, there is something very tempting about a tent I don’t have to crawl into! Not to mention the amount of “living space” which makes wet-weather camping a real possibility. While my Tarn 3 definitely keeps us dry (with extra tarps, natch) there is barely room to sit up in, let alone do anything else. I have cooked in the nylon vestibule in bad weather but I wouldn’t really recommend that as a regular practice. With something like the Kodiak (with a wood stove install) you can basically survive in any weather, without feeling like you just have to “bed down” until it passes. Having done my fair share of bedding down during squalls – I can really appreciate having room to move in. Not to mention the room to put a cot in, thus getting us off the ground in colder weather.
The downside to the larger tent is of course its weight and size, which means never being too far off the road because you have to carry in a hundred pounds of gear. Fortunately there is lots of logging-road access camping in BC (and the whole Pacific Northwest) so you can get pretty remote and still have the car nearby. What I do think is that this makes camping/hunting/fishing trips a lot more viable in the wet and snowy fall, and it means that I would be a lot more likely to go along with Brian and crew if hanging out in camp (I have no interest in hunting) on a crap day meant I could have a relatively cozy place to curl up and read/work on projects, not to mention a place to get dry after a day of wet hiking. I think we’ll wait until next year to do the stove/insert project (another $500 all in), but I do look forward to the day when we are all tricked out 🙂
There is no way I would get rid of my lightweight set-up because I still think there are tons of places and trips that it will be more appropriate for – but I do love the idea of setting up for a few days in the bush and being able to make a bit more of a home. Already I have suggested to Brian that instead of the cabin booking we made for Wells Gray park in August, we should just cancel and take a campsite instead. That basically covers the cost of the tent purchase (the rental is $550), and gives us a bit more financial justification!
I am busy now making Craigslist contacts for a double cot and some oil-based lanterns at cheap prices. As a bit of a side note, it is incredible to me how much “new, used once” camping gear is out there – I guess some people think they want to camp but actually don’t like it once they are there. One thing I will say from my own camping and backcountry history is – the better the gear, the better the experience. And that makes me excited for our fancy new tent! I’m hoping for a lot more outdoors this summer and fall than last year – even with the potential for crappy weather.
Trips planned in my head so far include: a week in Wells Gray Park (August), a weekend on the Elaho River, a couple days at Sloquet Hot Springs (September), some time around Bralorne and Gun Lake in the hunting season, and we have a site booked at Porteau Cove for September – but I’m not sure if it will be big enough to accomodate this giant tent 🙂 Oh! Plus we are going to Singing Lands in October for the Fred Eaglesmith show and we will be able to tent instead of renting a cabin. That’s six trips between now and October – which I expect will greatly enrich my headspace and physical well-being. So yay to new tent and some excellent adventures in our very near future!