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 Living on the Road :: Articles :: The Tiny Tent

When it comes to bushwalking every ounce you carry counts and will feel like a pound by the end of the day so it's important to cut down on weight.

With this in mind several years ago I had a tent custom made to my specs. Actually I use the term "tent" loosely as the thing is so small.

If you can imagine those "bells" you put over food to keep the flies off, expand the size by about four times and replace the mesh with ripstop nylon, then you have a fair idea what the tiny tent looks like.

Or, you can just look at the photos below.


The tiny tent setup in the bush, I'm sitting in front of it for scale (plus I like having my photo published).


A clearer shot of the tent showing the Therma-rest and bivy bag extending out the front. My backpack spends the night inside.


It's easy to move the tiny tent.

The tiny tent measures 1.5 x 1.2 metres at the base and is about 800mm high, there is no floor, and one of the long sides has a zip to form a door.

Around all sides there is a 100mm skirt on which I place rocks to hold the tent down.

Naturally such a small tent doesn't shelter all of me, it's just designed to cover my head and shoulders while the rest of me is covered by a bivy bag.

So why such a small tent?
Well, as already mentioned, it's very light (1kg with poles) but it also fits just about anywhere. I can easily set it up on a razorback ridge for example.

Why hold it down with stones?
When initially designed most of my bushwalking was to the top of mountains in the Budawang ranges. These mesa-topped mountains often have no soil, just rock, so it was not possible to use tent pegs.

But you also need other stuff, how much does it all weight?
True, for full shelter I need a bivy bag and ground sheet, total weight 1750gms.

But Macpac make really light tent.
Yes, last time I looked the Microlight weighed 1900gms. Certainly if you are in exposed areas like the high country then a real tent is a much better idea. However in some terrain the combination of tiny tent and bivy bag is more versatile.

What do you mean more versatile?
In many parts of Australia it is quite possible to sleep under overhangs, large rocks or with no shelter at all. With this setup I can have fairly good shelter almost regardless of the terrain. Also, if I find a nice rock to sleep under I don't need to use the tent, and have only carried 1kg of extra weight unnecessarily.

What are the down sides?
Obviously it's very small so the idea of being tent bound for three days (which I have been on several occasions in normal tents) does not thrill me. Also, in mountainous areas, prone to seriously bad weather, the tiny tent would not be safe.

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