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  1. #1

    :banana Thru hike with no tent?

    Im planning on doing a thru hike starting early-mid August. My tent weighs about 2.5 pounds, and since my other gear is also somewhat heavy, I was wondering if I could skip using a tent in the northern section. I plan on carrying it at least to Middlebury Gap, but once the terrain starts to get harder, losing the weight will help a lot. [Im very skinny so every pound counts] Would it be stupid to rely on shelters north of Middlebury Gap, or on any part of the trail?

  2. #2

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    Hey to Whiteblaze. We have a thread talking about not "sugar coating" our answers to questions like this. It's a great question btw. It has been asked on here many times before. I think it would be stupid not to carry a shelter/tent on any part of the trail. It puts too much pressure on a hiker to make the shelters. If you can't make the miles to the planned shelter for whatever reason or there's someone at a shelter that makes you uncomfortable .... etc... you need to have something with you to keep you safe and dry at all times. It's a safety thing. Again, welcome to WB- thewalkingstick!!

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    Welcome to WB! You will find there are opinions on WB that will spur into a debate. This is one of those potential topics. Can the AT be done with no tent? Absolutely and easily and is done many times each year by many people. The shelters are quite close together on the AT- averages out to around every 8 miles. Should it be done this way is a personal choice. I started out with a tent and decided to transition to just a tyvek sheet. Worked fine for me. Educate yourself and be comfortable with your choice. Everyone has a different concept on what a shelter is. Some feel that a shelter means roof and walls. Some believe that a tent is a must. It is not. Find out what you are comfortable with night after night after night in rain.

  4. #4

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    I would normally advise you to bring a tent but if my own LT thruhike experience is any guide, you may be able to pull it off. I started my thruhike in mid-August and only used the tent one night in the Southern half when I chose to camp between shelters. My hiking partner and I were the sole shelter occupants on several occasions and not once was the shelter crammed with bodies.

    For the far-northern portion, we did shuttle with two cars so there were also 2 nights where we camped either roadside or at a state park (leantos at the latter i.e. didn't use tents) but that was our choice. Had we chosen to stay in shelters every night, they would not have been crowded. We simply didn't meet too many backpackers on the trail.

    The one thing that could screw up your plans is that as you approach the Camels Hump-to-Mansfield section, you may run into college orientation groups which could result in crowded shelters.

    Personally, I'd still bring a tent to give me the flexibility but as I said, you could pull it off.
    Last edited by Cookerhiker; 06-02-2013 at 11:52. Reason: fixed link

  5. #5

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    BTW HikerMom and Snifur, you do realize the OP is talking about the VT Long Trail, correct?

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by snifur View Post
    Welcome to WB! You will find there are opinions on WB that will spur into a debate. This is one of those potential topics. Can the AT be done with no tent? Absolutely and easily and is done many times each year by many people. The shelters are quite close together on the AT- averages out to around every 8 miles. Should it be done this way is a personal choice. I started out with a tent and decided to transition to just a tyvek sheet. Worked fine for me. Educate yourself and be comfortable with your choice. Everyone has a different concept on what a shelter is. Some feel that a shelter means roof and walls. Some believe that a tent is a must. It is not. Find out what you are comfortable with night after night after night in rain.
    He's talking about the LT.

    While I think you could make the entire LT without a tent, really don't think it's a smart idea. The amount of shelter space and number of people visiting those shelters on any given day are factors out of your control. The night it decides to monsoon is the night the shelter will be full when you get there. Suggest a tarp or bivy for the worst case scenario.

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    Quote Originally Posted by thewalkingstick View Post
    Im planning on doing a thru hike starting early-mid August. My tent weighs about 2.5 pounds, and since my other gear is also somewhat heavy, I was wondering if I could skip using a tent in the northern section. I plan on carrying it at least to Middlebury Gap, but once the terrain starts to get harder, losing the weight will help a lot. [Im very skinny so every pound counts] Would it be stupid to rely on shelters north of Middlebury Gap, or on any part of the trail?
    yes. stupid to rely on shelters. ALWAYS carry your own form of shelter. 2.5 lbs. ain't nothin'

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cookerhiker View Post
    BTW HikerMom and Snifur, you do realize the OP is talking about the VT Long Trail, correct?
    Ooopps my bad. Thanks Cookerhiker. It still wouldn't change my response to the OP. I love our different opinions on the subject... I don't feel like I'm an expert at all. lol. It's just my personal preference. One thru hiker, that I shuttled this year, wouldn't even do a slack pack without his tent.

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    doing a thru hike starting early to mid August.. Which way are you hiking? if north bound.. early August is WAY too late. You'd never make it. South bound very doable. 2.5 pounds is not heavy at all for a shelter. Now you ask what we think about you're leaving tent behind (all 2.5 lbs of it) and relying on shelters. What right do you have to ask someone too "move over" in a crowded shelter, just because it's raining and you DIDN'T bring a tent or tarp because of the weight? finally.. yes it is stupid to rely exclusively on shelters. For a thru hiker this is inexcusable.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidNH View Post
    doing a thru hike starting early to mid August.. Which way are you hiking? if north bound.. early August is WAY too late. You'd never make it. South bound very doable. 2.5 pounds is not heavy at all for a shelter. Now you ask what we think about you're leaving tent behind (all 2.5 lbs of it) and relying on shelters. What right do you have to ask someone too "move over" in a crowded shelter, just because it's raining and you DIDN'T bring a tent or tarp because of the weight? finally.. yes it is stupid to rely exclusively on shelters. For a thru hiker this is inexcusable.
    I don't think early August is too late for a thruhike - NOBO or SOBO - of the LT. I think if he can delay his start until almost Labor Day, he won't run into the college groups.

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    I started south on AT around the same time last year and I wish I just carried a tarp rather than my tent. I can't speak for the LT, but on any trail a good tarp is light, fast and available after you stroll up to a full-up shelter.

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    My $.02: You want to carry some form of shelter that you can competently use to protect yourself from the elements. If you can make it work with a small tarp, then that is fine, if not go with what you can make work. What is not acceptable is thinking that you have a right to bounce someone from a shelter or cram into it and make them uncomfortable, just because you chose to not carry a personal shelter.

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    I wouldn't take the risk of hiking the LT in August without a tent. When I end-to-ended in 2010, we had pretty much a full-house at Seth Warner, Kid Gore, Theoren Dean, Montclair Glen, and Spruce Top. Monclair Glen has zero floor space left because a family of five showed up without a tent!

    I ran into college orientation groups at Rolson Rest and Hazen's Notch...now theoretically they're supposed to sleep outside, but if the weather were bad, I could imagine them filling up a lean-to pretty quickly.

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    ooops, my bad! I thought we were talking about an AT thru hike, but we are talking about the Long Trail instead. My apologies.

    In THIS case.. mid August is fine for a north bound- thru hike.. you may even hit peak foliage. You should miss most of the bugs and mud!

    I still maintain however.. that hiking without a shelter is very unwise.. even stupid. Save weight elsewhere.. don't be concerned about 2.5 pounds to stay dry and bug free!


    David

  15. #15

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    One point I failed to mention is that my '07 hike was "inside-out" whereby I hiked the northern portion first NOBO from Sherbourne Pass and then hiked the southern portion SOBO. So I didn't start the southern portion until after Labor Day which meant there were less AT thruhikers on the trail. On a mid-August start from the MA border hiking NOBO, you'll encounter more AT thruhikers.

    I realize you asked about going tentless from Middlebury Gap but I think to be safe, the best bet for jettisoning the tent is after Smugglers Notch. Of course at that point, you'll have the toughest part of the LT behind you and may not feel the need to lighten your load.

  16. #16

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    I've gone out with 3 people and only a plastic sheet (which we used successfully to camp under in the rain) for our shelter.
    So yes, it's do-able on the LT if you carry something to sleep under when the shelters are full (remember those New England colleges like to hit the woods for their orientation trips)
    No need for a 2 1/2 lb tent when there are many options for way less than a pound.
    Don't let your fears stand in the way of your dreams

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    Saving weight is GREAT. But YOU have to decide if no shelter (yes you said "Tent") is what is best for YOU! Personally I would not go out without some form of shelter, be it a tent, tarp or hammock with a tarp. A 1 Lb silnylon tarp can provide quite a bit of coverage at minimal weight cost. With a tarp, unlike many tents, you MUST practice with it A LOT! When I used a tarp, I did not carry any support poles other than my hiking poles, so: Set up & take down in every configuration you can think of, even in areas without any support like a tree or fence.
    I have been at shelters on the AT (southern end) with 12 people in a shelter for 9 during a severe T-storm. I was glad I had my own shelter!
    Have a great hike!
    Curse you Perry the Platypus!

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    bring your tent.
    s*** happens.

  19. #19

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    You can get a suitable tarp that weighs three or four ounces. For example, check out Zpacks.

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    I've been burnt trying to ditch the shelter as a gram weenie. My advice take shelter protection. All it takes is ONE rainy night and a FULL LT shelter and.................I know I should have brought rain protection!

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