I feel like I’m such a real hiker putting up a post titled “tent mods”, but I’m not sure what I’ve done actually classes as proper tent modifications! I haven’t actually modified the tent in anyway. What I have done is set up a piece of cord in a triangle with loops in each corner so that I can pitch my tent fly first.
Normally my tent (Terra Nova Solar Photon 2) pitches inner first, with the poles fitting into the inner tent. Basically, you can’t put the poles up without the inner being on the ground. This means that if you are pitching in the rain, the inner will get wet. If you can’t pitch the tent very quickly (which I can’t . . . yet) then it means that the inner tent may get very wet. Obviously the same happens during ‘tear down’ (packing up).
My solution, rather than learning to pitch very quickly, is to set up a system of cords the same dimensions as the inner that I can slot the tent poles into that, pitch the fly, then slot the inner in (including slotting the poles in) afterwards.
Here is my setup, with poles slotted into the cord and no inner in sight! (I did this by setting the poles up in the inner, tying loops in the correct places in the cord, then removing the inner).
And here, with fly, poles and cord . . . still no inner.
The fly also slots onto the bottom of the front two poles. I learnt a lot about how to pitch the fly to get it sitting properly – slot the poles into the fly, do up all the Velcro loops on the pole, then stake it out. Otherwise it’s hard to make sure it stays centred and in the right position front to back.
And here, with the inner slotted back in underneath. This requires unhooking the fly for the front poles, and I also took the cord off and put i back in underneath so I could take it off entirely once it was fully pitched (this was easy enough to do). As you can see Merlin has learnt pretty quickly to stay a long way away from the tent! There was a bit of a panic and some yelling the first time I pitched it and he almost walked all over it!
Here are some details of the cable – pole attachments. It also shows my variety of pegs, in-situ. I added an extra loop so that I can peg the poles down if I need to. They also make it easier to slot the poles in and out.
Since this I’ve added some loops to the top of some of my Terra Nova V stakes. This makes it easier to pull them out and also gives me a loop to help pull the Ruta Locura carbon stakes out (these don’t have a hole I can put cord loops through).
While I had the tent out, I also cut my groundsheet to size and started constructing a dodgy bathtub floor to cover most of my vestibule (as much as my current piece of Tyvek covers!). The purpose of this is so I can leave things outside my main tent but keep them dry in the case of heavy rain causing significant running ground water (OK, maybe a little paranoid about this due to my last hike where if I had’ve left my bag or shoes outside they would’ve almost washed away!!). I don’t really know much about groundsheets, or creating bathtub floors, so I’m sure I’ve done a suboptimal job, but it was my first go, by myself so hopefully it’ll be fine and I can refine it later if I need to! (the pegs are construction tools only!)
Also, I’m definitely getting better at pitching my tent!