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#33264 - 09/15/13 09:06 AM Tent Fly = Warmer?
RenoFrank Offline


Registered: 08/06/11
Posts: 430
Loc: Reno, NV
I'm using a 3 season tent and lately have been leaving the fly at home this summer to lighten my load. This week's forecast for Reno is lows in mid to upper 40's. I'll be about 3,000' higher up at Marlette Peak Campground. Anybody have any advice about the insulating value of my tent fly versus the added weight?

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#33265 - 09/15/13 01:27 PM Re: Tent Fly = Warmer? [Re: RenoFrank]
Harvey Lankford Offline


Registered: 11/10/09
Posts: 1019
Loc: Richmond, Virginia
Wind is what makes the difference. I always take a fly with a 3 season meshy tent - it's good for wind-driven rain, wind-driven cold, or wind-driven dust.

Lowest July-Aug-Sept temp I have had in Sierras is 18 F, and 20 twice. Good thing we were out of the wind.

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#33266 - 09/15/13 02:17 PM Re: Tent Fly = Warmer? [Re: RenoFrank]
MooseTracks Offline


Registered: 11/02/09
Posts: 582
Loc: Bishop, CA, United States
I agree about the wind, but look at it from a slightly different perspective. If I am using a fly, I prefer there to be *some* sort of air movement in order to minimize condensation from forming on the underside of the fly, then settling on my bag, heightening the potential to be colder due to the damp.

Does your tent have a fly/ground cloth combo option? I've done that a few times this summer, with good results.
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#33271 - 09/15/13 05:58 PM Re: Tent Fly = Warmer? [Re: RenoFrank]
Akichow Offline


Registered: 04/07/10
Posts: 659
Loc: SF Bay Area
I bring a thermometer on every trip and often check it at night when I am not sleeping. I have found that it is much warmer inside my tent (as much as 10 degrees warmer), even though I use a tent with ultralight materials (either BA Fly Creek or BA Seedhouse). I do think the double wall makes a difference. Both my tents have a lot of mesh, while the fly is solid material, so that may factor in. The other factor -- my tents are very small volume...so easier to warm up.

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#33272 - 09/15/13 06:47 PM Re: Tent Fly = Warmer? [Re: Akichow]
Harvey Lankford Offline


Registered: 11/10/09
Posts: 1019
Loc: Richmond, Virginia
Best of all worlds - open the vestibule or leave off the fly altogether to solve the condensation problem, but use the fly whenever other conditions warrant it.

The old saw: better to have it (the fly) and not need it, than to need it and not have it.

I use a BA Seedhouse, too.

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#33274 - 09/16/13 06:54 AM Re: Tent Fly = Warmer? [Re: Harvey Lankford]
Fishmonger Offline


Registered: 01/07/10
Posts: 1032
Loc: Madison, WI
My 3 season tent is significantly warmer with the fly on. It also makes a easily felt difference if we zip up the fly completely down to the bottom or not. The tent has vents on top we always leave open, but even with that crossflow, it easily is 10 degrees warmer in there.

This August we used the fly every night while on the trail, finding moisture on the inside of the fly just once (Fish Valley, no wind night). We did sleep without tent two nights before and after the hike, and those felt significantly colder, even though we were at much lower elevation during those nights (Portal and Tuolumne Meadows).


vents open, fly unzipped on one side (can be open on both for even better ventilation before you have to pull it off)

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#33276 - 09/16/13 07:31 AM Re: Tent Fly = Warmer? [Re: Fishmonger]
saltydog Offline


Registered: 02/03/11
Posts: 1563
Loc: Valley Ford CA!!!!
Only reason I find to use the tent (BA FlyCreek UL1) w/o the fly is for bugs. On JMT in August, whenever it was warm/calm/dry enough not to need the fly, I went Colin Fletcher. Including in the middle of the beach-formerly-known-as-Lake-Edison. Those were few, but the best nights of the trip. Found I got more condensation on the bag w/o the tent than with it a couple of times: ice at Sunrise/Long Meadow, e.g. Operative word here is "meadow", of course, even well off the vegetation.

Otherwise, with any wind, or highest elevations (lowest temps) generally, it was tent w/fly. Don't think the fly/ground sheet combo would have worked in many spots, with all the intermittent flash mini-flooding going on, even apparently high spots were collecting water. Glad the BA FC floor was so tight several times.
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#33348 - 09/20/13 10:41 AM Re: Tent Fly = Warmer? [Re: saltydog]
bobpickering Offline


Registered: 02/07/10
Posts: 373
Loc: Reno, Nevada
It seems to me that a tent without a fly would weigh more than a bivy sack. It would also take up more room in your pack and take more time to set up. If you guessed wrong about precipitation, you could be really hosed (i.e. soaked). My bivy was all the shelter I needed for winter ascents of Boundary, White Mountain Pk., Split, Langley, Russell, and Middle Palisade. If Iím going to save weight by leaving the rainfly at home, Iíll leave the whole tent at home and bring a bivy.

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#33350 - 09/20/13 02:48 PM Re: Tent Fly = Warmer? [Re: bobpickering]
JimC Offline


Registered: 02/26/10
Posts: 57
Loc: SoCal
Just curious, what bivy do you use for winter?

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#33358 - 09/21/13 09:28 AM Re: Tent Fly = Warmer? [Re: JimC]
bobpickering Offline


Registered: 02/07/10
Posts: 373
Loc: Reno, Nevada
Itís a Bibler. Iíve had it about 20 years. Itís Gore-Tex on top and coated nylon on the bottom. No poles. Weighs 18 ounces. Iíve always done more day hikes and fewer overnight trips, so it hasnít been used zillions of times, but I used it one night on last monthís trip to the Kaweahs.

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#33432 - 09/24/13 04:26 PM Re: Tent Fly = Warmer? [Re: bobpickering]
JimC Offline


Registered: 02/26/10
Posts: 57
Loc: SoCal
Great! Thanks for the info. My tent weighs just under 2lbs and I'm looking for a way to shave a few more ounces.

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