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  1. #1
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    Default Do I need to bring a tent on the Long Trail?

    I'm planning on exclusively sleeping in shelters on my Long Trail through hike in July. On one hand, I want to bring a tent just in case the shelter is full. On the other hand, I really need to find ways to decrease my pack weight without spending money and some people have told me they hiked the long trail without bringing a tent. My tent is 42 oz. I would just like some opinions as to if you feel it would be okay to leave the tent behind.

    Also wondering if anyone has any cheap/lightweight recommendations for an alternative "emergency" shelter that I can bring instead of a tent. I vaguely understand how to make a shelter out of 2 tarps and some rope but I don't think that would save much weight unless I purchase expensive ultralight tarps...

  2. #2
    •Completed A.T. Section Hike GA to ME 1996 thru 2003 •Donating Member Skyline's Avatar
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    The portion of the Long Trail that is concurrent with the AT could have crowded shelters in July. The front bubble of NOBO and SOBO ATers might be sharing the Trail, and shelters, with you. So you should bring a tent for at least that portion.

    The rest of the Long Trail won't be likely to be that crowded, but you could be unlucky. I'd bring some kind of shelter for the entire LT.

    42 oz. for a tent isn't really that heavy.

  3. #3

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    Cheap/lightweight emergency shelter. Walmart has (or used to have) a small tarp for cheap money.. You could combine that with a Sea to Summit headset for bug protection. I wouldn't want to use that setup for a month but for an emergency it might work.

  4. #4

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    It's the Outdoor Products Backpackers Tarp, Blue. $1725

  5. #5
    Some days, it's not worth chewing through the restraints.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skyline View Post
    The portion of the Long Trail that is concurrent with the AT could have crowded shelters in July. The front bubble of NOBO and SOBO ATers might be sharing the Trail, and shelters, with you. So you should bring a tent for at least that portion.

    The rest of the Long Trail won't be likely to be that crowded, but you could be unlucky. I'd bring some kind of shelter for the entire LT.

    42 oz. for a tent isn't really that heavy.
    Ditto - an alternative shelter should be carried for the above reasons and more, such as shelter fires and/or reconstruction and bugs.

  6. #6
    Registered User egilbe's Avatar
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    Are you willing to spend a night in the woods and cold in a soaking rain with no shelter? Than no, you dont need a tent. On the other hand, if your life matters to you, than by all means, bring a shelter with you. Its your call.

  7. #7
    Registered User misprof's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by orthofingers View Post
    It's the Outdoor Products Backpackers Tarp, Blue. $1725
    I do hope you mean 17.25 and not 1725

  8. #8

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    As said, july is busy time on southern half. Youd be stupid not to have a weather resistant shelter you are comfortable spending all night downpour in.

    Decrease pack wt by leaving behind crap you dont need, not things you do.

  9. #9
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    Absolutely. Long Trail or any other. Shelters may be full. Or, for whatever reason, you may not make it to the next shelter before dark. Stuff happens. I consider my tent and sleeping bag (and always-dry clothes) my last defense against hypothermia.

  10. #10
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    Heck, just take a cheap poly tarp and spend an hour or so perfecting your tarp pitching skills in your back yard or a local park. They're less than $10, weigh maybe 16 oz depending on the size you choose, and will easily last a month of backpacking with moderate care. Grab a box of window shrink-wrap for an ultralight and ultracheap ground sheet while your at the store.
    I'm not lost. I'm exploring.

  11. #11
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    Weight vs security and comfort vs economics - it's your call.
    Any shelter or shelter area in the southern half or northern half can be full without prediction.
    Some shelter risks are no shelter, bugs, thru-hikers, church groups, youth groups, scouts and partiers.

  12. #12

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    there's a good chance you wouldn't NEED it. But you need something with you in case of emergency or when shelters are full

    so I would just accept it and enjoy the option to stop for the day at places that aren't shelters, and also having the option of setting up your tent if the shelter is a bit too crowded or has a bunch of loud snoring people and/or mice. it could also be of use if there are a bunch of bugs at a shelter

  13. #13

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    Tent spots are very limited in Vermont and almost non-existent north of the Maine Junction. Also remember that except for the AT leg of the LT, camping is only permitted at designated sites. And even where dispersed camping is allowed in the National Forest there are very few places except for designated sites where it's even practical to camp.

    For the most part, thru hikers prefer to use their tents and only move into the shelter when they run out of tent spots. The shelters are often nearly empty.

    On my last E2E (SOBO in August) I used my bivy sack once and even that one time I could have used the shelter. I never had to deal with a full shelter and more then a few times had one all to myself in the northern end. However, July might be a bit busier then August. By the time I got to the AT segment the middle of August, most of the thru hikers had already passed by and it was getting close for the kids to go back to school.

    So, there is a very good chance you can get away without a tent, but it would be prudent to carry something just in case. It's one of those things which if you need it and don't have it, your kind of screwed.
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  14. #14
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    I would never consider hiking overnight without a tent/hammock.

  15. #15
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    We did a July end-to-end. South of Maine Junction the trail was pretty crowded, and we only stayed in one shelter (Stratton Pond, which is huge plus it was pouring rain all night. It was packed full.). We tented near shelters every other night, and were happy to do so. North of MJ, we stayed in the shelters more often, partly because in several places there is no other option -- there's just no place to pitch a tent. But there were two nights we arrived at a shelter midafternoon and found it totally packed with large groups of campers. Those nights we were glad to have a tent.

    Planning to stay in shelters every night would have put a severe crimp in our hike, since we would need to arrive fairly early in the afternoon to (mostly) guarantee getting a spot. On the LT we often hiked from 6am to 6pm or later just to be able to cover the miles, and not many miles at that.

    Our primary tent is also 42 ounces, but we purchased a Zpacks Hexamid Twin for the LT hike just to save the weight. We slept in it a little more than half the nights on the trail.
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  16. #16
    Registered User T.Bates's Avatar
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    As my father always said
    "its better to have it and not need it then to need it and not have it"
    I would not recommend doing it without some kind of shelter. light and cheap would be a tarp and ground sheet.

  17. #17

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    I thru hiked in August. Had empty shelters 3 nights (all north of Maine Junction), and one night where shelter was full. Although I didn't use it much, I was very glad I had the tent. Well worth the 2lbs. Of the 19 days it took to complete the hike, it rained on 10 of those days.

  18. #18
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    I will bring it. The only reason I considered not bringing it is because someone on the End to End panel put on by the GMC earlier this year said they slept exclusively in shelters and did not bring any sort of tent or shelter. I also met someone who previously did the long trail who didn't use a shelter. Since my pack is too heavy right now I started wondering if it was a reasonable option since other people seemed to have done it. I never would have even consider it if I hadn't heard about those other people doing it...

    Someone said to "leave behind crap you don't need", but at this point I feel like I need everything in my pack. (OR, it's just something I'm not willing to give up, like my stove). I can't afford ultralight expensive gear so buying what I can afford and using things I already have. Maybe I just have to accept it's going to be heavier than I like and deal with it...

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lostintheforest View Post

    Someone said to "leave behind crap you don't need", but at this point I feel like I need everything in my pack. (OR, it's just something I'm not willing to give up, like my stove). I can't afford ultralight expensive gear so buying what I can afford and using things I already have. Maybe I just have to accept it's going to be heavier than I like and deal with it...
    Post a list of your pack and every item in it.

    Theres things you need, but saving weight is mostly not taking what you dont need, moreso than carrying lightweight items.

  20. #20
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    I section backpacked the Long Trail last summer. Even after the Main Junction, there were at least 2 shelters that were full in August. One spot up north (I can't recall shelter name) was even crowded with tents and hammocks.

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