Using a tent without an inner in the snow

jimthetramp

Hard Yards
May 1, 2020
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Kiewa Valley
Hello again bc brains trust, I've got a snow camping question for you all. I hope I'm posting in the right spot, I had a search and couldn't find a similar thread so here we go. I've been a long time lurker here so I finally created myself an account.

I'm fairly experienced at snow camping however a few knee injuries in the past 2 years have forced me to switch up my style from pack-mule ski tourer to a more ultra-light approach. My snow tent has a removable inner that I'll be shedding this season to cut down on some weight and instead I'll be pairing the outer with an ultra-light groundsheet. This new setup gives me the option to essentially set the tent up at ground level and dig down inside the tent to allow for greater headroom similarly to how some tourers do with pyramid tents.
Black%20Diamond%20Mega%20Light%20(view%20inside).jpg


I'm curious to hear if anyone has taken this approach in Aus and has any advice to share - I am quite confident in colder parts of the world it would work quite well however I don't want to wake up in the morning or return to camp after a long day touring to find the snow walls around me have melted onto my groundsheet and all over my sleeping setup. Thanks in advance for any advice and thanks for welcoming me to the forums!
 

jimthetramp

Hard Yards
May 1, 2020
16
61
63
Kiewa Valley
what about condensation?
In the past I've kept the tent well ventilated and had my sleeping bag and mat inside an ultralight, waterproof bivy which has kept me dry with the added bonus of some extra warmth - do you think there will be excess condensation as a result of snow walls or more so from ditching the inner?
I'm expecting some moisture but don't want to flood the tent
 

john_k

Hard Yards
Jul 21, 2008
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I think the guys that did the Alpine Walking Track in winter used a similar set up.


The other alternative is to use a single skin mountaineering tent which is the set up I have been using for more than 5 years.

In terms of condensation/melting etc. it will most likely depend on temperatures. I think if you tuck the wall/roof system into the snow but still have the zip open and your cooker near the entrance you'll be ok. In most cases some condensation may be inevitable - let the day sun dry things out and just live with the freeze/thaw cycle of back country travel.
 

Bloke

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Another consideration is how the poles attach to the tent. If they are threaded through sleeves in the fly then that is ideal, but if they thread through the inner, or worse clip on to the inner then you may have problems with stability in decent winds.
 

jimthetramp

Hard Yards
May 1, 2020
16
61
63
Kiewa Valley
I think the guys that did the Alpine Walking Track in winter used a similar set up.


The other alternative is to use a single skin mountaineering tent which is the set up I have been using for more than 5 years.

In terms of condensation/melting etc. it will most likely depend on temperatures. I think if you tuck the wall/roof system into the snow but still have the zip open and your cooker near the entrance you'll be ok. In most cases some condensation may be inevitable - let the day sun dry things out and just live with the freeze/thaw cycle of back country travel.

Thanks John, I've caught an ep or two of theirs but never watched the full series so I know what I'm doing tonight!
 
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zapruda

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I’ve used various floorless mids in the snow for years. They are excellent. Sometimes the condensation can be a pain but it can also be a pain in a Hilleberg or Helsport. Double wall doesn’t always solve the problem.

I build a small snow bank INSIDE the mid to seal the edges in bad weather and I use a Tyvek groundsheet for the floor. Never had melted snow as an issue.

In windy weather, good staking and doubling up your poles with voile straps works well. But nothing beats proper site selection.

They are easy to pitch and there is lots of room inside for one to cook and stretch out.

DD8DE21E-E471-4BEC-AF3C-17C7AC3446C7.jpeg
D387B964-A6EA-4841-812A-39AD8EA879C3.jpeg
06303127-4550-40C9-A879-7B8418CD0FE4.jpeg

9D911CA8-A73C-46BD-8ED9-AC83277E96AA.jpeg
 

jimthetramp

Hard Yards
May 1, 2020
16
61
63
Kiewa Valley
Give it a crack and let us know

I'd *maybe* be wary of structural strength without its inner? Not sure but a sheltered site may be a good idea.

Have fun

Also: pics or it didn't happen
Challenge accepted! It'll be my main setup for skiing this year so I should have a chance to thoroughly test it in a range of conditions as long as my knee doesn't decide to crack the shits again. Will write some trip reports with photos included.
 

zapruda

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telecrag

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Ive used the Metamid, and have a Betamid (I think @Untele-whippet has/had one too but added storm flaps.

IMO better than just a bivvy bag if it turns to custard. You use your poles, so its a pack up and go thing, rather than base.
 

GS

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I’ve used various floorless mids in the snow for years. They are excellent. Sometimes the condensation can be a pain but it can also be a pain in a Hilleberg or Helsport. Double wall doesn’t always solve the problem.

I build a small snow bank INSIDE the mid to seal the edges in bad weather and I use a Tyvek groundsheet for the floor. Never had melted snow as an issue.

In windy weather, good staking and doubling up your poles with voile straps works well. But nothing beats proper site selection.

They are easy to pitch and there is lots of room inside for one to cook and stretch out.

DD8DE21E-E471-4BEC-AF3C-17C7AC3446C7.jpeg
D387B964-A6EA-4841-812A-39AD8EA879C3.jpeg
06303127-4550-40C9-A879-7B8418CD0FE4.jpeg

9D911CA8-A73C-46BD-8ED9-AC83277E96AA.jpeg

The white one would be tricky to find in a white out!
 

zapruda

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The white one would be tricky to find in a white out!

I agree but during a whiteout it’s either in my pack during the day or I’m inside the mid waiting it out. I rarely venture far from my tents in those conditions. I’m not much of a base camper.
 
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satanas

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FWIW, I've used both a Megamid and a Bibler Impotent in the snow, and other single layer tents and tentish things elewhere.

There are a few problems I can see.:

1. Either too much ventilation (cold + spindrift), or too little (massive condensation)
2. Drips or leaks may happen too, once you do away with the second line of defence
3. Stability in wind
4. Peg meltout will have worse effects with no floor to hold things together
5. Lots more digging, so more time outside in bad weather; camp takes longer to set up

Personally, I will never voluntarily use any single skin shelter again, with the sole exception of tape-sealed bivy bags. In my experience all others leak(!), and if you have a separate vestibule - as with some Biblers - they weigh just as much and take longer to erect than an integrated pitch double wall tent, plus they're colder and wetter. In good weather it might work okay, but in a blizzard or continuing rain not so much. Bearing in mind that you may have to spend days inside waiting out storms occasionally, I'd be saving weight elsewhere, but YMMV.

PS: A friend with one of the fancier Bibler tents is in the market for something else as he's sick of getting wet, and another friend is thinking of forking out IIRC ~$1200 (+ freight and GST) for some Japanese lightweight thing, based on their online speil. Been there, done that.
 

skifree

A disciple of the blessed avi giraffe
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FWIW, I've used both a Megamid and a Bibler Impotent in the snow, and other single layer tents and tentish things elewhere.

There are a few problems I can see.:

1. Either too much ventilation (cold + spindrift), or too little (massive condensation)
2. Drips or leaks may happen too, once you do away with the second line of defence
3. Stability in wind
4. Peg meltout will have worse effects with no floor to hold things together
5. Lots more digging, so more time outside in bad weather; camp takes longer to set up

Personally, I will never voluntarily use any single skin shelter again, with the sole exception of tape-sealed bivy bags. In my experience all others leak(!), and if you have a separate vestibule - as with some Biblers - they weigh just as much and take longer to erect than an integrated pitch double wall tent, plus they're colder and wetter. In good weather it might work okay, but in a blizzard or continuing rain not so much. Bearing in mind that you may have to spend days inside waiting out storms occasionally, I'd be saving weight elsewhere, but YMMV.

PS: A friend with one of the fancier Bibler tents is in the market for something else as he's sick of getting wet, and another friend is thinking of forking out IIRC ~$1200 (+ freight and GST) for some Japanese lightweight thing, based on their online speil. Been there, done that.
I’m with you. 2 skin tent all the way. Simple, no fooling around sealing gaps, just pitch get & get organised into a warm dry and going to stay dry sleeping bag and have that aperitif while thinking about setting up the stove in the vestibule while others are still sitting in the snow inside their tent.
 

Untele-whippet

beard stroker
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I've used a Betamid extensively (with added snow flaps to stop spindrift)
and now have a MLD Solomid for ultralight forays, the ski poles are arranged in an A frame which is great from wind stability and reducing canopy snow collapse, with a bivvy bag about 1 kg all up
IMG_0376.JPG

Yes condensation can be an issue but they're weather proof if set up sensibly and light.
I have a Mont Bell 2 kg double skin alpine tent for comfy camping, it's absolutely bomber, no need for a bivvy sac either.
IMG_0379.JPG
 

Untele-whippet

beard stroker
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Back when We carried the old heavy Olympus I sometimes contemplated just taking the outer to save weight.....never did though. Conditions in Aus too variable I reckon
Nah, only took the outer many times, including a solo K-K. Worked really well, so roomy for one person and no worries about touching the damp walls.
A tad heavy these days tho.
 
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Team Weasel

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I used the OP's setup for one night in challenging conditions. Yeah, you save the grams and you look hardcore, but they are far from great because:

1. You will stuff around getting it set up (by the way, a Ray's tents tarp would look great in all the blue sky photos above). You will need to put snow on the tarp edges, or dig it down.
2. Get that wrong and spindrift, wind and rain will be getting in.
3. Then you get to dig it out - hopefully it hasn't frozen in place. I've seen people using ice axes to get their shelter out from the refreeze.

When I'm tired and just want to get out of crappy weather, nothing beats a solid tent. There are comparably lightweight single wall tent options to the Mega Light - easier to use and more weather resistant.
 

Team Weasel

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Found a photo I was looking for...
39388988_10155346023582030_6272021272985600000_o.jpg


The night before I tried my Beta Light (JB Plain). The sides were crumbling in, the wind was getting through so I gave up on it, and setup the pictured Direkt 2 (which you can't get anymore unfortunately).

This was that day a while ago where Hotham turned into Hokkaido for a day, and that's what I came back to. A bit of digging out and I was good to go.
 

satanas

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^ I don't have the pic handy but I basecamped near a NSW resort for most of August a couple of years ago. When I got there the tent was sitting on flat ground, but it snowed for most of the month. By the time I left the tent (a Macpac Minaret) had been almost completely buried more than once and the surrounding snow surface was ~1-200mm above the top of the tent; I kept the shovel in the vestibule, and needed to dig myself out a few times. On the worst occasion only the very top of the fly along one pole was visible, for ~300mm. Despite that, the interior remained relatively dry; there was condensation at times but nothing came in from outside. Packing up required moving ~10 cubic metres of snow. :-(

Maybe a Megamid would have survived the snow loading; I don't know. I'm pretty certain though that the I-tent would have become a swimming pool fairly quickly, both from condensation and seam leakage, plus the unsupported sidewalls make things claustrophobic very quickly due to snow buildup. With the Minaret I still got really sick of shovelling snow, but at least it wasn't necessary to get up and do it during the night.
 

Moondog55

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I have an older Minaret sans inner, only used it once and not in snow, you need a bivvy or to sew on big valances I would say, or preferable both.
 

teletimmo

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  1. I really don't see the need for a 4-seaon tent for most applications in our mountains. Despite owning a single skin Integral Designs MK4, 90% of the time I use my BD Megalight. Pyramid shelters are awesome for snow camping as you can excavate down and make them standing standing room, weight to space ratio is excellent, and of course you can cook in them too. Condensation can be a drawback in warmer conditions (when it is really cold it just turns to frost) but the impact can be mitigated easily with a lightweight bivvy. Pyramids are also great in the wind if you use the snow pegs on their side and bury them a foot deep. Next time I'd consider upgrading to a ridiculously light Locus Gear cuben fiber pyramid, but they are so damn expensive. I find the sil-nylon loses its tension a little when wet, but I don't believe cuben fiber does. Even if I were to use a 4-season tent, in a group situation I would still probably take the pyramid as a group cooking shelter. In short, it's hard to go past a pyramid shelter for both summer and winter camping. For summer camping you can use a mesh inner to stop the mozzies, but also catch the drips!
    138703_f4d83feafc04552eaff9f6984daf57f1.JPG
    138704_6c6eb852d1408c3964aa49791b2e3437.jpeg
 

teletimmo

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Locus Gear make some cool half mesh inners for mids too, which could be a good option for couples if you dont mind sleeping a bit closer
 

rowdyflat

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  1. I really don't see the need for a 4-seaon tent for most applications in our mountains. Despite owning a single skin Integral Designs MK4, 90% of the time I use my BD Megalight. Pyramid shelters are awesome for snow camping as you can excavate down and make them standing standing room, weight to space ratio is excellent, and of course you can cook in them too. Condensation can be a drawback in warmer conditions (when it is really cold it just turns to frost) but the impact can be mitigated easily with a lightweight bivvy. Pyramids are also great in the wind if you use the snow pegs on their side and bury them a foot deep. Next time I'd consider upgrading to a ridiculously light Locus Gear cuben fiber pyramid, but they are so damn expensive. I find the sil-nylon loses its tension a little when wet, but I don't believe cuben fiber does. Even if I were to use a 4-season tent, in a group situation I would still probably take the pyramid as a group cooking shelter. In short, it's hard to go past a pyramid shelter for both summer and winter camping. For summer camping you can use a mesh inner to stop the mozzies, but also catch the drips!
    138703_f4d83feafc04552eaff9f6984daf57f1.JPG
    138704_6c6eb852d1408c3964aa49791b2e3437.jpeg
Must admit that every gram counts and that didn't include another shelter.
OTOH I do like the idea of a cooking tent dug down so you can sit comfortably.
 
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