What I Shed Today

lightening up a little at a time

solo tent

on July 5, 2014

May I share a secret most people who don’t backpack don’t know? The original and best ceiling is still the sky. For most of  an experienced camper’s nights in the woods, she or he doesn’t need a tent. But if blood-sucking bugs want to reduce you to a pile of bleached bones by dawn (I exaggerate only a little), you need walls to keep them away. If it rains, you really need shelter that will keep you dry, because your body loses heat 18 times faster when it’s wet (I exaggerate not at all). And it isn’t a failure of character to want a boundary to mark off a tiny and temporary space domesticated from the wild. Or, often enough, a little privacy.

REI Sololite, ca. late 1990s-early 2000s

REI Sololite, ca. late 1990s-early 2000s

So, long ago, I bought a tent: a 2-person A-frame so classic it’s still made (the Eureka Timberline). Then, fitting the tool to the need, I added an REI Sololite not much bigger than my rolled-out bedding. After that we splurged on a open-sided Kelty Sunshade big enough to keep four adults from getting sunburned at the beach, or pitch a raincover over an entire campsite picnic table. And, lastly, we got Nimue an REI Camp Dome 4 so she could spread out while car-camping. (Generously, she lets me sleep in it, too.)

Sololite with rainfly attached

Sololite with rainfly attached

That’s a lot of tents for someone who, most of the time, is happy without one. Curiously, the tent I’ve used least is the Sololite. In all the years I’ve owned it, I think I’ve slept in it only four nights. It hasn’t inspired unreserved affection: there’s no provision for ventilation in the foot-box, so human humidity condenses and “rains” from it all night onto the bottom of my sleeping bag. I realized I don’t have to keep what only half-works for me just because I don’t have a better replacement, so earlier today I posted the solo tent for sale on craiglist (a free on-line classified ad site). I hate to pass a problem along, but it might not affect a shorter sleeper, and I’ll fully disclose it. Because ‘ware your buyers as you would have sellers ‘ware unto you … I’m sure I’ve heard something like that offered as good advice.

There's more to a tent than meets the eye.

There’s more to a tent than meets the eye.

shedding style: resell
destination: craigslist

Comments welcome … do you have anything that’s stalling you from moving on to something better because, hey, it at least half-works?


6 responses to “solo tent

  1. Hmm… interesting… I try to keep things until they wear out, but you are right – sometimes a poor tool should make way for a fully functional one!

    • revdarkwater says:

      We could probably work the principles out if we put our minds to it (smile) … You still like your sofa, so re-covering it is sensibly sustainable (indeed, making it more of a “good” because you’ve put the work of hands and heart into it). And we can consider fairly “lightly” anything we pass on or obtain in the re-use economy (like my intended sale of the tent), because those items don’t require additional extraction or energy for manufacture. It’s “authorizing” something new where sustainable ethics must engage. –Yikes, I have a paper started here, not a WP comment, but I think our choices aren’t just consumptive, they can be creative, and should be made in a clear-headed and nuanced calculus of the good, in which sustainablity is given great weight, along with quality of experience. An example: I don’t hesitate to buy a good hand tool. I will use it to sustain other tools (e.g., repairing bicycles) or enhance goods (hanging a picture, perhaps). When I’m too feeble to hold it in some future decade, I’ll will it to another tool-wielder. A hundred years from now, it will still be a good tool.

  2. Julie Buhite says:

    I like today’s question. I have this Smart Phone that I was given to me as a gift a few months ago. I don’t really use it, but keep it around just in case I decide to be more of a normal person someday. It’s a weight on my soul. :( It’s also a constant physical weight because I now keep it in my little “James Bond” :) purse. Help!

    • revdarkwater says:

      “Likelihood that Julie will decide to be more of a normal person someday”: < 7%. (grin) But I sympathize! Gifts can come with an invisible but spiritually tangible weight of obligation, can't they?

      "James Bond" purse? I want to know more!

      • Julie Buhite says:

        Thanks for the laugh!!! So true…. Good point regarding gifts. Very good point…. JB purse. Actually, my explanation got so long that I’m going to have to turn it into a post. :) Of course in your honor.

  3. […] welcome a chance to sleep outside. I don’t want to set up Nimue’s palace and I shed the 1-person tent earlier this year, so I need the Timberline back in service. It was time to stop making perfection […]

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