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Four season tents in WA. Do they have any use?

Tue 04 Jun, 2019 10:09 pm

Hi All,

In the market for a new tent. I'm wondering if anybody thinks there's ever a use case for a four season tent in WA? Like WE Second Arrow. Or for what's marketed as 3/4 season, like Mont Moondance 2FN?

I realise that we don't have snow, but I'm wondering about high winds?

I usually spring-time Bib track walk and have always used the shelters, but am intending to do some winter walking (Bib track and Cape to Cape) and figure if I need to use the tent it may be because of a full shelter in bad weather, or as shelter because I didn't get to a campsite for whatever reason.

Is the Stirling Ridge about it?

It's not inconceivable that I'd want to use the tent on the ridge walk, in Tasmania or on the Australian Alps track, but these would be rare events.

Thanks

Re: Four season tents in WA. Do they have any use?

Wed 05 Jun, 2019 7:04 am

When I lived in WA I had a 4 season tent (from when I lived in Tas) - but I thought that it was complete overkill. In my youth I used a 4 season tent for many years and sweltered in my 2+kg bombproof shelter when I could have been enjoying some breezes. Ventilation and low weight is the thing that you will miss out on if you buy one tent for all conditions.

In WA I did get some big winds on the cape-cape walk but the sites were so sheltered it didn't make any difference and 3 season shelters can tolerate a lot of wind anyway.

If it were me I would buy a light well ventilated 3 season tent then buy a 4 season (or hire) if I definitely was planning an Tasmanian alpine walk and even then only if I was statistically likely to get very high winds and snow (i.e. exposed alpine walk in the SW). A 3/4 season tent sounds like it might be ideal - the Moondance is a pretty solid tent from what I hear - my bushwalking club has one that gets regular use on the Bogong High Plains. There will be some users of this tent on the forum.

Anyway, I have walked in tassy plenty of times with a 3 season tent, it is not as if as as soon as you step foot on the island you get blown off your feet in a snowstorm but on many walks a 4 season tent would obviously be the most prudent decision.

Re: Four season tents in WA. Do they have any use?

Thu 06 Jun, 2019 12:23 am

The WE Arrow tent gets its name origins and design brief from the company borne of early hikers in WA doing the Stirling Range Ridge Walk, a 2-3 day 30km Grade 5 (highest category, https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/sa ... ing-system) typified in winter with possible snow, -2 C, gale force winds attempting to pitch a tent on a sharp expose ridge along the trail path. This walk is equal in conditions to a Tasmanian wilderness scenario. See the WA forum on this hike.

WA beaches are also very windy and a 4 season tent would be well suited.

So if you are planning on doing that hike in WA on a regular basis in winter that will be useful or other places like Tasi and over seas. However, if you pick good weather and fortune a reasonable 3 season tent will do. If your budget is in WE Range I would get the lighter sub 1.3kg tents like MSR, Big Agnes Copper Spur and Nemo.

WE Arrow tent name derived from the Stirling Range Ridge Walk section three peaks called the “Arrows” seen in picture below.

If choosing between the WA Arrow and Mont, I would prefer the WE it’s a lot more featured and specialised.
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Re: Four season tents in WA. Do they have any use?

Thu 06 Jun, 2019 11:38 am

Thanks for the comments.

I'm looking at the tent suggestions and am thinking about my needs more (yesterday I was asking myself if what I want is a bivvy bag, but have mostly decided that I want something that is I'd be happy sleeping in for more than a night or two).

As background, my immediate impetus is that I'm planning to do a Bib track section in July, 7 days between Northcliffe and Walpole. The section has forest and a bit of southern ocean, but I understand the campsites are sheltered. The maps warn that this section of the track can become dangerously flooded in winter, and google says this happened last year. DPAW created a diversion to a spot to pitch tents, but not with a shelter, so a tent is highly recommended gear for here.

I own an old (2002) Kathmandu Northstar Plus tent, but for the last few years have only used the inner, for dry weather camping - often car camping, sometimes in the goldfields where it's comfy at night, but becomes an oven at sunrise, in summer - not too bothered by this though as I've packed up early. The outer's waterproofing has failed. I don't want to throw it out and will get it repaired. But it is a heavy (over 3kg with fly, if I remember right) tent and it won't be repaired by July, so I'm looking for something with points of difference to this - 4 season, or a much better 3 season (and they all seem much lighter nowadays!).

I was at Mt Kosciuszko a couple of weeks ago and really enjoyed the tourist walk to the top (the track was snow covered near the summit), and also learnt of the alpine walk while there, and picked up John Chapman's track book. So this is sitting somewhere in my consideration too.

I have a 65L pack so when I pack it with seven days of food and my other gear I'll have a better sense of how much volume I have left for the tent. I've only done a max 3 day walk until now.

And am also considering my budget!

Re: Four season tents in WA. Do they have any use?

Thu 06 Jun, 2019 12:12 pm

Hi Neil,

Really, there isn't a single tent that is ideal for all conditions. Sounds like you have a tent for warm, dry conditions. Now you need a tent for a wider range of conditions, but short of full winter.

I have a Tarptent Scarp1 (1.6kg) for all but extremes. I'd use it year-round in WA, SA, NT, QLD, NSW and 3-season in Vic and Tas. For winter and/or exposed tops camping in Vic, Tas and NZ, I have a WE 1st Arrow (3.4kg). I don't solo in those conditions so sharing the weight works well.

The Scarp would be OK in snow (with crossing poles) and I've used it in high winds, and very exposed, without a fail but the WE manages condensation better and has a great vestibule for those 'day-in-the-tent' conditions.

So, imo, look for a good 3-season tent for your main usage. If, in future, you need a winter tent, look for one then.

Re: Four season tents in WA. Do they have any use?

Thu 06 Jun, 2019 11:15 pm

There are many options. A bivy can do as backup on that section of the Bibb, some can weigh around 600-700g about the same as this https://www.wildearth.com.au/buy/big-ag ... THVFLYG116 or a two person version for space.

Any of these may do at not much money https://www.anacondastores.com/camping- ... king-tents and https://www.kathmandu.com.au/camp-and-h ... tents.html

There’s several used tents in the Gumtree also.

Your current old tent waterproofing can be DIY fixed also, google for silicone and turps mixture spray on but at 3kg it’s too heavy for hiking.

Something like this would be good also https://www.wildearth.com.au/buy/msr-20 ... Anj58P8HAQ

Re: Four season tents in WA. Do they have any use?

Fri 07 Jun, 2019 6:21 am

Hi Neil

We are WA based and have done a lot of walking on the Bibbulmun Track; mostly week long or 3-5 day stretches. Last year we walked Collie to Walpole in late winter, when the diversions were in place because the Gardner River burst banks and was flowing over the track. Lake Maringup site was closed. We had very high winds while at the diversion site (I was a bit anxious about the karri trees surrounding us); and relentless rain.

We had a Z-Packs triplex for our family of four. It's a single walled, Dyneema tent that doesn't classify as four season. I have pitched it at Rame Head site south of Walpole (howling winds, very exposed camp site) with no problem at all. I understand that Dyneema is very good in wind (it's a spinnaker fabric, after all), just not as good with sharp puncture points. Your information is correct- all the sites between Northcliffe and Walpole are very sheltered. It's also worth noting that if you've got the legs for it, the diversion site taking out Maringup can be skipped and double 'hutted'; making for (from memory) a 27km walk on to Dog Pool. I think Maringup is the main site vulnerable to flooding of this nature. The whole Pingerup Plain is likely to be underwater but it's not moving water, so as far as I understand they don't close the track.

Of note is that we recently completed the Overland Track (Easter) with the same tent; and it was fine. We had snow just above where we were camped: no problem at all. But we do have very good sleeping bags. We also met some very seasoned Tassie hikers on spur trails with Z-Packs duplexes, and their reports were all good. I have plans to walk E2E on the Bibbulmun Track in the near future, and will hands down be taking a Z-Packs duplex for the job. Of course a second mortgage is needed for the investment, but it's been *so* worth it.

Re: Four season tents in WA. Do they have any use?

Sun 09 Jun, 2019 3:00 pm

Hi Folks,

Thanks for the additional comments!

I'm looking at all of the suggestions, and still need to check my available pack volume, with the other items I plan to pack.

The consistent message is that three season tents can handle any non-cyclone WA wind, if pitched right. Perhaps with the exception of the Stirling Ridge in terrible weather, when a WE Arrow would be better.

At the moment I'm likely to choose something from Paddy Pallin, simply because I've been window shopping at the Perth shopfront and don't want them assuming I was checking things out, always with a plan to buy the same item online from somewhere else! Also the sales people have been doing service well.

The tent I'm tending to is a Mont - I've decided my budget is ~$700, which is about the price point of most of the tents suggested. So long as it can pack down enough.

It is heavy (~2kg), but relative to what I was lugging around last time I carried a tent (3kg+) seems light - but the lighter tent suggestions here are a revelation.

I usually solo walk, but have no experience with snow (apart from guided walks overseas), so realise that I would be best walking with others in that situation, in which case it's likely that somebody else would have a 4 season tent for those conditions and we'd be sharing the weight.

Perhaps I'll get another full mesh inner summer tent too, but as I only car camp in summer that could probably be something pretty cheap from a more car-camping oriented shop.

I hadn't heard of Dyneema fabric and am learning about some of the smaller US gear manufacturers that are now about.

Last time I was shopping for gear was a quite a few years ago. Back when usenet was a thing and I was posting on aus.bushwalking. Nice to discover such an active forum with so many thoughtful posts!

Re: Four season tents in WA. Do they have any use?

Sun 09 Jun, 2019 7:41 pm

There are possibly better and cheaper options at the Perth Shop, see their website, than the Mont tent at $700 that are all lighter, including the WE Arrow 1.8kg, Big Agnes Copper Sput UL2 1.3kg similar design here https://www.wildearth.com.au/buy/big-ag ... THVCSBP219, Nemo Kunai 4 season at 1.8kg, Nemo Dragonfly 2P at 1.2kg etc.

Check the four season tents properly as the inner shell can be designed to keep fine snow out but maybe not enough ventilation for warmer weather. Also, check that you maybe happy with the lighter and more compact tents as fabrics are thinner in order to achieve the weight but less durable and more care is needed, but in reality they will still be fine.

Overall if you are spending that kind of money for a tent one should aim for low/mid weight together with sub 1kg 0 C sleeping bag, 1.5ish kg pack and lighter mats and other gear the difference will be about 3-4kg overall saving vs not keeping a proper eye on such things. It can mean the difference between say lugging an 18-20kg load vs a 14-16kg one. For such local hikes as the Stirling Range Ridge Walk where one needs to carry 5-9L water it can all add up and make a big difference.

Re: Four season tents in WA. Do they have any use?

Sun 09 Jun, 2019 9:29 pm

WA would be as good as it gets for a single wall tent. Condensation would be easily managed over there and the luxury of lightening your load...

I use a tarp these days but still use my Tarptent Protrail from time to time, especially when I'm unfamiliar with the weather conditions.

It's important to try and buy once if you can and that the tent you buy becomes a long term investment.

Beware the China ripoff are not suitable for taller people but do offer good value for money. If you're taller, I would recommend a USA cottage brand like Tarptent. If money isn't an issue, go DCF.

At end of the day, do your research and give yourself a one week cooling off period before pulling the trigger.

Sent from my SM-G965F using Tapatalk

Re: Four season tents in WA. Do they have any use?

Tue 16 Jul, 2019 11:38 am

Hi Folks,

Thanks for all of the input. In the end I picked a WE second arrow. At 1.8kg in its current incarnation, it's much lighter than what I had. I also like that it's integral pitch and can be carried and pitched fly only (for less weight under mild winter conditions, when the cold isn't that bad and there are few biting insects). Part of the appeal was also the novelty of having a tent different in design to the old one, which is inner first, and geodesic, not tunnel.

And it's potentially useful for more severe conditions outside of WA in future.

I took it along on the Bib track last week, but the shelters were usually empty and I never needed a tent. In the end I decided to do Collie to Dwellingup, not Northcliffe to Walpole. Near perfect weather, and an excellent first experience spending a full week walking.

Re: Four season tents in WA. Do they have any use?

Wed 17 Jul, 2019 12:20 am

Good choice.

I dare you to try it out on the Stirling Range Walk at the Arrows section of the walk pictured above where it was named after in gale force winds with oncoming storm and predicted snow. WA winter and spring is good for the ridge walk before getting too hot.

Re: Four season tents in WA. Do they have any use?

Thu 18 Jul, 2019 10:12 am

I need to wait for my blisters to heal first. Also, I have more gear shopping to do - my boots fell apart on this walk!


But I am more tempted to visit Second Arrow, now with a tent namesake. I might do some day trips to the Western Stirlings and Ellen Peak - I've been up Toolbrunup, but it was a long time ago), but the ridge walk might have to wait till next year.

Thanks!

Re: Four season tents in WA. Do they have any use?

Thu 18 Jul, 2019 10:13 am

I need to wait for my blisters to heal first. Also, I have more gear shopping to do - my boots fell apart on this walk!


But I am more tempted to visit Second Arrow, now with a tent namesake. I might do some day trips to the Western Stirlings and Ellen Peak - I've been up Toolbrunup, but it was a long time ago), but the ridge walk might have to wait till next year.

Thanks!
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