Monday, March 21, 2011

TdA Stage 52. Tent Testing.

95km. Bush Camp to Bush Camp.
Although it was an 'off road' day, we got a bit lucky as the 'road' is under construction which meant a combination of graded dirt and fresh pavement for much of the day. As a further bonus, the construction areas were closed to cars.
We also got lucky with the weather today during the ride. Not too much rain, not too hot. Our luck ran out in the afternoon as a load of black clouds rolled in. Most of us had our tents up, but the sheer volume of water falling from the sky drove many out to dig drainage ditches to divert water from their flooding tents. As Scott put it, this was tent testing weather.

This is really where tent selection matters. My Big Agnes Seedhouse held up miraculously well. The rain was pounding so hard that I began to worry that the fabric would tear. But not a drop entered the tent. Pass!
The seedhouse is one of the smaller tents in the group (though I can still fit my bike, my gear and my body in here). I think that size is a critical feature in this section, where small rivers can form in the heavy rain. Location probably matters as much as tent selection, as some unfortunate souls figured out after the downpour.
As a point of reference, the most common tent is the MSR mutha hubba (3 man). I can't explain why this is the 'tent of choice'. They seem to be holding up well in the weather, but they seem a bit excessive for a single person in terms of space (packed and set up). Then again, when you are camping with the same people for several months and can hear every conversation, every movement, every fart, it's nice to have a bit of personal space.
By now almost everyone is having an issue with the zippers on their tents. I'm not sure they make a decent lightweight tent that has a zipper that can endure a trip like this. I had mine replaced in Nairobi and now feel comfortable that my tent will survive the remainder of the trip. If I had to choose again, I would pick a similarly sized tent, but one with a second entrance as insurance against zipper failure.


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