COVID-19 Wk 3: Feeling in Tents

We’re in week three of “stay at home” and “social distancing” as we all try to “flatten the curve”. All of these phrases will hopefully die a quick and painless death in the next few weeks. I hope to never utter them again. Well, except for maybe “stay at home”.

Anyways! Still dealing with the joy of being essential at work and busting butt on what I can. I took the opportunity to work from home on Thursday and Friday. It was nice to have some peace and quiet and just focus on doing some work. Communicating with coworkers is a P.I.T.A. so I am glad I don’t do this all the time. I did have a spectacular intern hanging out with me for both days though.

work dress code was substantially relaxed too.

Had the world not had everything turned upside down, this weekend would have been my first race of the year at the annual Mudslinger XC. I was going to only race a couple times this year and focus more of my bike riding antics on some weekend, and at least one multi-day, bikepacking trips. Similar to the trip that Dean and I did a couple years ago now.

I’ve been working on a three day, 200 mile, route from Gresham to Sisters. I can take Trimet from Hillsboro all the way to Gresham and then bike the whole way to Sisters. The goal was to spend a night near Timothy Lake, then somewhere in the woods east of Detroit Lake with a final push into Sisters on the last day to then spend the weekend with Mia and Codi.

Given the abundant free time and requests to stay home I took the liberty to setup two of my tents for a little side by side comparison this weekend. Both of these could be used for bikepacking and of course backpacking.

The first one is my Nemo Apollo. I’ve had the NEMO Apollo tarp tent for a couple years now. It hasn’t seen a ton of use but I really do like it for how simple it is.

So easy to set up
No lie, about 2-3 minutes total setup time

Thanks to my annual REI dividend and a 20% off coupon I was able to pick up another tent. Did I really need another one? No. Is it nice to have options? Yes.

Copper Spur HV UL 1 MtnGlo

The Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 1 MtnGlo has been a tent on my radar for a couple years now. It packs down small, is stupid light (2 1/2 LBS packed weight) for the what it is and, in its biggest contrast to the Apollo, is free standing. I also like the idea of the built in “mtnGLO” LED lights. They aren’t the major selling point but for me it is a nice little touch.

Side by Side of the two tents

The Apollo has a total packed weight of only 1 1/2 LBS. So roughly a one pound savings between the two. NEMO claims that it is a 3 person shelter and I claim B.S. on that one. It’s a two person at best or a decently spacious single person shelter.

I'm 5'4" NEMO peak height is 58"
I'm still 5'4" and Copper Spur peak height is 38"

Both tents allow me to sit up while inside and have plenty of room. The Apollo I can actually somewhat gracefully get dressed and undressed. The Copper Spur may prove to be a bit more challenging (I have not had the chance to use it yet).

Plenty of head room
No worries about length either

If I knew I had good weather in the forecast and no bugs the Apollo is a great choice. If rain or buggy camping is in the cards then for sure the Copper Spur will be the better choice.

Where the Copper Spur also wins out is the freestanding ability. I don’t need to worry about rocky or sandy soil that won’t hold a tent stake. I can’t say that I’ve ever run into that problem though. Maybe if I head to southeast Oregon and certain parts of eastern Oregon. For anything along the spine of the Cascades though I think the Apollo would do just fine.

Not the biggest vestibule I've seen but not bad either
Star gazing galore

I was hoping to be able to get the Copper Spur out some time in mid to late April but that is kind of up in the air right now. Oregon State Parks and a number of National Forest lands are outright closed or “off limits” right now. Especially the campgrounds. I’m sure I could find a dispersed site fairly easy and right now the Tillamook Forest isn’t technically closed. I’ll just have to wait it out a bit and be patient though.

Nice touch from Big Agnes

Packed size on both is respectably small enough. I waited to take some pictures of the Copper Spur until after I repacked it. You obviously need some sort of advanced degree to be able to pack it like they do at the factory.

My size 8.5 shoe for comparison

Maybe I’ll be able to get out still in late May for my Gresham to Sisters trip. Realistically though I am probably looking at June for the first trip of the year.

No matter what I am looking forward to spending some “tent time” in the woods this year.

Thanks for reading,
-Pete

6 thoughts on “COVID-19 Wk 3: Feeling in Tents

  1. Yeah, those “sleeps x people” ratings on multi-person tents are always ambitious. I have an REI Quarter Dome that “sleeps three”, but it means “sleeps you and your partner comfortably, and you can put some bags in here too”.

    I definitely dig the free-standing tents with a mesh inner and rainfly. For solo camping, I’ve been happy with the Marmot Eos 1 that I picked up six years ago (time flies.) All packed with everything it comes in at around 3 pounds.
    https://urbanadventureleague.wordpress.com/2014/03/14/a-trio-of-reviews-from-the-battle-ground-camping-trip-part-2-marmot-eos-1-tent/

    I also have a bivy that weighs like 8 oz and packs down to nothing, but I feel like the conditions have to be “just right” to bring that.

    Have you ever considered a hammock? I know that a lot of bikepackers love ’em, especially for the lightness and comfort.

    1. We’ve got two hammock that we bring for car camping and setting up for relaxing. Like you and a bivy though I feel that the conditions would have to be pretty ideal for it to be the only choice I bring. I’m a side/stomach sleeper and not sure I could wing it in a hammock. I’ll give it a try on a simple overnight someday but for now it is a tent for me.

      1. I’m also a side sleeper. I haven’t thought about that in regards to a hammock, but I haven’t been that tempted by hammocks yet. Some people REALLY get into them and give you an earful about how it’s “better”, then you go camp with them and it takes them like an hour to set their hammock up.

  2. Whoa! Thee offrhodes has spoken! 😀

    I actually owned the Alpine for a bit. It was nice, but too much for my needs–if I did a lot of solo winter camping, I could see the appeal. And man, it was heavy! It weighed in at like 2 1/4 pounds, not counting a tarp if you needed it. When I figured out that my current tent weighed 3 pounds, I sold the Alpine and got a simple OR bivy if I needed it.

  3. I have an older version of that Copper Spur tent and I love it SO MUCH. It packs down way smaller if you have a smaller lightwight bag you can shove it into–rain fly and footprint and all, I can shove mine into I think a 3L drybag I bought.

    Also, let me reiterate how lovely free-standing tents are. heh. My first tent was dependent on staking, and I was SO EXCITED to jettison that sucker and get a tent I could set up anywhere (or even that just felt a little less precarious in semi-rocky ground, or other less than ideal staking substrate;)

    Also, Big Agnes is amazing, and when the zipper on my tent finally broke, I sent it back to them for repairs and instead they sent me a “new” lightly-used tent for free.

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