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  1. #1
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    Default Snakes and tents

    I have a phobia . I'm looking to buy a new tent . I'm trying to stay as light weight as possible . A couple hikers suggested using a tarp or fly . First the bugs would love that but my CONCERN is snakes . I need a tent with a floor to feel secure against having a snake crawl in bed with me . Snake activity seems to be high this year .

    Gonzo

  2. #2

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    1st, snakes really aren't nocturnal. So, it is highly unlikely they will crawl into bed as they are already in bed themselves, often with their friends and family somewhere else.

    2nd, there are plenty of awesome ultralight options for fully enclosed tents these days. Pick one and run with it.
    I'm not lost. I'm exploring.

  3. #3
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    People have been camping outdoors without enclosed tents for pretty much the entire history of humanity. Snakes don't want to mess with people. Bugs really aren't that much of a problem either really - it's mostly just a phobia. Mosquitoes are annoying but they are mostly a problem at dusk and permethrin treated clothing does a great job at keeping them at bay. You pack your fears with you. You may want to try a tarp once or twice to see how you do if you can tolerate it - I suspect you'll find the experience to be better than you think. A tent floor really is not necessary or even that helpful for any long distance hike IMPE. It just gets dirty and nasty from you tracking mud in and out anyway.

  4. #4
    88% complete Berserker's Avatar
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    I wouldn't worry about snakes. I don't see many of them during the day, and have yet to see one slithering around at night. Bugs on the other hand are a good reason to get a tent. Many portions of the AT are in areas where the bugs tail off after dark, but I have been in some areas on the AT where bugs like noseeums (AKA sand gnats) and mosquitos were going strong well into the night. Parts of New York stands out as one example of an area where I encountered this. I've also had nights where slugs got all over my stuff that was left outside of my tent. Then of course there's spiders and other nocturnal bugs that can just be annoying if they are crawling on you when you are trying to sleep. Oh yeah, and don't forget the mice. I've had mice run over my sleeping bag in the middle of the night. Even had one do a "doughnut" on my bag while I was in my tent and had left the door open to get more airflow.
    JMT - 2013

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Berserker View Post
    . . . I've also had nights where slugs got all over my stuff that was left outside of my tent. . .
    Other than mosquitoes, slugs are really the only creatures I've ever found to be annoying when sleeping with an open shelter or without shelter. Spiders don't bite (in my experience anyway) and I don't notice them much. Mice might run across me, but again, don't cause any problems. Mosquitoes suck as we all know. But, those darn slugs leave those sticky slime trails and I just find them gross, not gross enough to start sleeping in an enclosed shelter, but still surprisingly gross and annoying!
    I'm not lost. I'm exploring.

  6. #6
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    There is a reason tents are the most common type of shelter on the AT. Overall, you get better rain and bug protection with a tent then with a tarp. A tent also provides a bit more warmth. Hammocks are making inroads, but are still the minority. Tarps are rarely used.

    My tent weighs 24 oz. If you want to spend the money, a cuben fiber tent is even lighter.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  7. #7

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    In my years of living out I've had 3 snake experiences in the tent---

    The first was in Pisgah on a backpacking trip and after a night around the fire with some friends and after returning to the tent I found a coiled up copperhead in the tent vestibule. We moved it into some dog hobble.

    Last year I was backpacking in NC and woke up to a snake going thru my gear in the tent vestibule.

    Recently I was on Bob Bald and my backpacking buddy Bryan DeLay was relaxing in the dark on his Ridgerest Solar ccf pad. As he was reclining and talking a garter snake crawled under his body on the pad. He got up fast.

    And everybody's all over the map when it comes to bugs and insects and spiders and ants---as if these creatures aren't a problem. If you do any long term pack humping in the Southeast and in the mountains of TN/NC you WILL get pestered by crawling and biting bugs.

    On my last trip I was on the BMT and had to set up camp in Tate Gap just off the trail. Black carpenter ants discovered my tentsite and swarmed over everything and all night long. Thankfully I was in my zipped up tent. If you live out long enough you'll encounter these ants and they'll be into everything. They only bite when pinched or rolled over.

    Then there are the pesky NOSEEUMS which no one ever seems to talk about. They're hateful and DEET and a zipped up hot tent is about the only relief.

    And then there are big spiders. I often sleep with my tent door open and one night I heard a rustling in my gear inside the tent and shined my headlamp and moved some stuff and found a big wolf spider checking out my Gear List. I don't particularly like wolf spiders. I moved him outside and zipped up fast.

    One time it was dark and I had a sierra cup half full of cold tea and half asleep I grabbed the cup and put it to my lips to sip and dangit if there wasn't a big wolf spider sitting in the cup on top of the tea. ZAP!

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by nsherry61 View Post
    Other than mosquitoes, slugs are really the only creatures I've ever found to be annoying when sleeping with an open shelter or without shelter. Spiders don't bite (in my experience anyway) and I don't notice them much. Mice might run across me, but again, don't cause any problems. Mosquitoes suck as we all know. But, those darn slugs leave those sticky slime trails and I just find them gross, not gross enough to start sleeping in an enclosed shelter, but still surprisingly gross and annoying!
    Slugs. Reminds me of the time I was cowboy camping in a field and it starting raining so I quickly set up my shelter and grabbed everything and carried my sleeping bag in my teeth with my arms full of other crap. In the process I bit a slug in half cuz he was on the bag---and now half of him was in my mouth.

    Mice don't cause any problems??? This I find hard to believe. I've had dozens of food sacks chewed open by mice; had my tent floors chewed up, had boot cuffs chewed apart, etc.

  9. #9
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    In the process I bit a slug in half cuz he was on the bag---and now half of him was in my mouth.


    was it tasty?

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tipi Walter View Post
    . . . Mice don't cause any problems??? This I find hard to believe. I've had dozens of food sacks chewed open by mice; had my tent floors chewed up, had boot cuffs chewed apart, etc.
    I won't deny that mice cause problems. Heck, I've had a few hundreds of dollars of gear and a few meals damaged over the years by them or other rodents. But, none of those problems were because I was sleeping without a tent, in fact the tent damage was because I was using a tent. If I'd been on just a ground sheet or ground sheet and tarp, the bugger wouldn't have had to chew a hole in my tent!!

    I have read one story on White Blaze about someone (I believe in a shelter) having a mouse chew into their down sleeping bag to get nesting material. That would suck. A tent might help with that. But, I've only ever heard of that happening to one person once. Not a big concern, it seems to me.

    In my book, the best way to deal with mice is to keep sweaty and tasty stuff out of their reach, which frankly, I tent doesn't necessarily do.

    In the end I think to tent or not to tent is very much a personal esthetic as we can, and have, argued the different sides to this point fairly consistently over the years. I wonder how many threads on WP have addressed tent vs. no-tent over the history of this site?
    I'm not lost. I'm exploring.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by TNhiker View Post
    was it tasty?
    Maybe it tasted like banana!

    IMG_2307s.jpg

    Saw this handsome fellow last weekend in Portland (OR) on the trail part of the 4T.

  12. #12

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    I've been using a sil-shelter (integral designs) for many years as my go-to tent.
    No floor.
    I won't use it in Thailand as they have Burmese pit-vipers here and they are night hunters.
    I had a bush-tailed possum come in my tent and woke up with him on my back (big as a medium sized dog) last month in Tasmania.
    Other than that, no wild animals or reptiles although we did have slugs quite a bit on our Pyrenees hike last century as it rained a lot in France. (we learned to put salt around our the top part of our sleeping bags as they hate that) (supposedly)
    By the way, my wife is from northern Thailand and they love slugs. A real delicacy she says (I've never tried one though)
    I would carry it on the AT (if I ever did that trail again), or any of the US trails (although I'd check if I ever did Florida with some snake people to see if there are Burmese Pit vipers there first)
    Don't let your fears stand in the way of your dreams

  13. #13

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    In general terms, most snakes native to North America can be nocturnal but are not necessarily so. Pit vipers, which are typically the snakes most people are concerned about, can be active in both day and night environments but their eyesight is more acute during daylight conditions. Their ability to camouflage themselves in daylight can be exceptionally difficult to see, in low/no light conditions it makes them invisible unless they move. Pit vipers and other snakes as well will slow down as temperatures drop, preferring a body temperature of 70 to 85 degrees (+/-). If night temperatures get down into the 50s, its not likely you will see many snakes moving around, but if the night temperatures only move into the mid 70s, that may change.

    That said, its unlikely snakes will be a bother at night. Pit vipers have some interesting senses, one of them being heat sensing to determine what is prey or to be avoided, which humans would fit in the latter category. Though I have never seen this occur myself, anecdotal tales suggest shaking out sleeping bags, boots, and other gear prior to use or packing in the off chance a snake (or scorpions, bugs, etc) has curled up in a warm bag, boot, or tent as night temperatures drop.
    Last edited by Traveler; 06-14-2018 at 07:00.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Traveler View Post
    Their ability to camouflage themselves in daylight can be exceptionally difficult to see,
    You got that right---

    TRIP 111 036-L.jpg
    On South Fork Creek trail by my tent.

    TRIP 136 382-L.jpg
    On Bald River trail.

    Trip 159 121-L.jpg
    Rattlehead next to South Fork Citico Creek

  15. #15

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    I try to believe that snakes don't bother me, but the reality is that pictures like Tipi's still (irrationally) give me the heebee jeebees. Yikes.

  16. #16
    MuddyWaters's Avatar
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    Net tents keep creepy crawlies away
    As well as mice and porcupines

    I was indifferent about net tent in non- mosquito conditions, until a porky wouldnt leave me alone once. Nets aint just for bugs.
    "Inevitably, a long distance hiker must choose between travelling light, and not travelling at all." - Earl V. Shaffer

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by MuddyWaters View Post
    Net tents keep creepy crawlies away
    As well as mice and porcupines

    I was indifferent about net tent in non- mosquito conditions, until a porky wouldnt leave me alone once. Nets aint just for bugs.
    This is true. Visitors can come at any time---

    P1000370.jpg
    This friendly fellow came in my tent vestibule last year as I was camping on Tobe Creek in Cherokee NF.

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by CalebJ View Post
    I try to believe that snakes don't bother me, but the reality is that pictures like Tipi's still (irrationally) give me the heebee jeebees. Yikes.
    There's FEAR when it's based at home on the computer and there's FEAR when based in nature and you're outdoors. The one at home is much higher than the one in the woods. Seeing my snake pics even makes me hesitant to saddle up but in reality once I throw on the pack for the next trip I take it all in stride with little concern.

    Ergo my Mantra---Keep your eyeballs open and your butt cheeks clenched. We'll be okay.

  19. #19

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    Right. It's not something I think about when actually out there, and the times I've run across venomous snakes really haven't been a problem at all. It's just the pictures that do it.

  20. #20
    GSMNP 900 Miler HooKooDooKu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nsherry61 View Post
    ... in fact the tent damage was because I was using a tent...
    Can't argue with that kind of logic...

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