Is my Big Agnes SL1 not going to cut it?

Discussion in 'Equipment' started by NCK, Apr 3, 2012.

  1. NCK

    NCK Been here awhile

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    I've been thinking about my tent choices for my upcoming RTW trip, with my focus on the potential cold of spending some extended time in the Andes Mountains and then the next month spending some extended time in the Amazon. I have a Big Agnes SL1, which I know will work well in warm weather, but I'm a bit concerned with the mountains. I plan on wearing multiple layers including full body long underwear, and using a 0* sleeping bag (good call, right?) but what about my tent choice? Do I need something with less ventilation?

    Thanks for your opinions! :ear
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  2. sparkymcgee

    sparkymcgee Been here awhile

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    I have no fucking clue, but FUCK YEAH to that trip!

    Have a great time and ride report it!
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  3. NCK

    NCK Been here awhile

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    LOL! Thanks!
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  4. fbj913

    fbj913 On the Beemer Kool-Aid

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    I dont believe you do. Your bag is what will keep you warm, besides is it really that cold anywhere anymore? I have the SL2 and its awesome. You will cook in that bag in the Amazon.
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  5. Supergringo

    Supergringo Hablar, bla bla bla.

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    Tents don't really retain heat. Maybe a few degrees, but not enough to make a big difference in terms of warmth. How do I know, lots of winter mountaineering, backpacking, etc. So, having less mesh really isn't going to keep you any warmer. On the flip side, not having a tent with good ventilation will make things damp fast (from breathing) and the stale air will make you particularly miserable in warm places. If you are worried about warmth, make sure you have a good ground pad.

    Full on winter mountaineering tents have very little mesh. They retain a little more heat, but are mainly made that way for strength, since they need to accommodate high winds and snow loads. The downside is 4 season tents are much heavier, bulkier, much more expensive and miserable in hot weather.

    If I were you, I'd stick with what you have. It's lightweight, packable and freestanding. Also, Big Agnes makes decent stuff, so I wouldn't sweat it too much. Based on the time I spent in South and Central America, I have a feeling you will be using the tent less than you think.
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  6. NCK

    NCK Been here awhile

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    Thanks for your thoughts. My assumption is I'd just sleep on top of this bag in the Amazon with a sheet at most.
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  7. NCK

    NCK Been here awhile

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    Thanks for this! Very helpful advice here, really!

    I do need to find a good ground pad. Would you say the best brands for air pads are mirrored by the best brands for sleeping bags?
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  8. Jedi5150

    Jedi5150 Road Warrior

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    I'm far from an expert, but my recent experience differs greatly from this. I was winter camping in Mammoth two weeks ago (not super cold, about 19* F). When I opened my inner tent door to reach into the vestibule I was shocked at how cold it was in the vestibule. On mountaineering forums, such as summitpost.org and similar, the concensus seems to be that a quality double walled tent will be approx. 20* warmer than the outside air, while still allowing adequate ventilation for condensation issues. This was my experience. I had the vents open enough that I didn't have any condensation, and it felt every bit of 20* warmer inside the tent than outside.

    When I picked my new adventure outing tent I followed Simon and Lisa Thomas' example, and chose a Hilleberg. I figured that after spending the past 10 years sleeping in a tent while motorcycle touring the world, they would have a pretty solid idea on what makes a good tent. I could not be happier with my decision. I didn't choose a tunnel tent like they use, but opted for the 2-man hybrid tunnel/dome, the Tarra. On a long trip like yours I'd prefer to have a tent I knew I could count on through anything. I now have one of those tents and feel it was money well spent.

    I agree with Supergringo about the weight and pack size of a 4 season tent, but disagree about the misserable in hot weather comment. Modern 4 season tents can have excellent to outstanding ventilation capabilities. Expedition tents are used everywhere from artic to desert.

    My Hilleberg Tarra in Mammoth two weeks ago:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Hope, as for your sleeping pad question, I highly recommend a closed cell foam pad rather than inflatable. An inflatable will be more comfortable, but also heavier, and once you pop some leaks, useless. They will all leak eventually. The Therm-A-Rest Ridgerest closed cell foam pad is one of the cheaper pads out there and is very light, reasonably comfortable, and will never leak. For cold weather (ie: snow) camping, you will want to use double sleeping pads. In the picture above the pad on the left is a standard inflatable Therm-A-rest. The pad on the right is the Ridgerest close cell foam pad. As for sleeping bags, I'd stay away from down. Down has advantages over synthetic, but not in the wide range of conditions you're describing. I'd hate to see a down bag in a rainforest.
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  9. NCK

    NCK Been here awhile

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    Great to have another well informed opinion! Looks like this debate will continue which is always healthy and great. Thanks everyone for chiming in!
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  10. ssevy

    ssevy Been here awhile

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    That is a quality looking piece of kit!
    I have a Nemo Losi 2PStorm that I bought used on ebay. It has worked very well, but the previous owner must have been a serial killer, as I have tried everything to get the smell of rancid fat out of the fabric.
    Were I to depend on a tent for an everyday abode, I think I would follow your lead, as the quality of the Hilleberg looks to be a notch above everything else I have seen. Nothing worse than a tent that doesn't work well (okay, a waterlogged sleeping bag for sure, but Wiggy has made that one less problem).
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  11. perterra

    perterra -. --- .--. .

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    Hilleberg makes a hell of a tent.

    4 season would be more comfy in the cold but price goes up.
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  12. NCK

    NCK Been here awhile

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    I'm looking at $200 I could probably get if I sold my SL1 and $550 for a Hilleberg. At $350, I'm not overly worried about cost as I hope to be sleeping in this tent and relying on it for two years on the road. That said, $350 is a hell of a lot of gas money. The real question is will it be a fundamentally different "tenting" experience for the tripling of cost.
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  13. Jedi5150

    Jedi5150 Road Warrior

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    And that is a question only you will be able to answer. We all have different priorities. I decided that for my purposes, shelter was near the top of the list when doing a wide variety of outdoor activities. When you buy an expedition tent you are not only buying for the weather, but more importantly for the longevity. They are built to last. Petra Hilleberg told me that basically nobody who works for Hilleberg even uses a footprint. The tent bottoms simply don't wear out. (I use a footprint because I like bombproof.:lol3).

    But that said, they are a whole lot of money. I know people who have backpacked for years and love using only a tarp. For them, and their style, an $800 dollar tent would be a waste of money, and better spent on gas and food. My style is different from theirs, and only you know what yours is. So the final decision will be one we can't help you with. :wink:
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  14. NCK

    NCK Been here awhile

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    Hah, though it's a decision only I can make, I def need as much info I can get before making it. You're proving yourself wrong friend: You're helping me a ton! :clap
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  15. NCK

    NCK Been here awhile

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    In fact, given that I'm a camper and I love camping, I feel like buying a Hilleberg, which aprears to have incredibile longivity, seems like a really good idea. I'm probably going to buy one now, and wouldn't have without this thread! Thank you!:clap
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  16. perterra

    perterra -. --- .--. .

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    This is word. Big Agnes has a good rep from what I have heard, I persoanlly know folks who spend a lot of months a year camping and they have and have had hillebergs. I suspect it is a tent that will go many times around the world if you wish.

    How big a difference the tent makes depends on conditions, like everything cheap can get you by just fine as long as the shit doesnt hit the fan. In really bad situations I have never heard anyone wish they had spent less on gear.
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  17. soyanarchisto

    soyanarchisto Long timer

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    My experience differs from Supergringo. I have spent a lot of time in some very harsh environments (Alaska, Andes) in everything from a bivvy sack made out of epic fabric to a Bibler Bombshelter (single-wall mountaineering tent that lives up to its name). There will be a significant temperature difference inside of a 4-season tent and a 3-season tent in the same conditions. While a 4-season tent tends to be bullet proof and bomber, in warmer conditions they just dont ventilate as well as a 3-season tent and you will cook. If you really feel like you need a 4-season tent, get a double-walled one that you can set up without the fly if its hot and sunny. Also try to focus on brighter colored tents as the darker ones will be warmer.

    Whats going to matter most for your comfort and a good nights sleep isnt going to be the tent as much as your sleeping system. A good pad and bag are far more important than the tent. While your 0 degree bag may be too warm in the Amazon, it will likely be just right in the Andes. You can lay on top of the bag or open it up when you are warm. If you are in a 4-season tent and start roasting, there aren't a whole lot of options. I spent over a week above 16K feet in Bolivia in the afore-mentioned bivvy sack but I used a Big Agnes insulated air core pad and a -35 degree down bag.

    Finally, if I was going to be making an epic trip like this I would have tested out all of my gear in various conditions well before I take off. Only YOU can really determine what you are comfortable in. Before I did my first trip to Alaska, I took everything I planned to have with me and spent a couple nights on Mt. Hood in the snow. I learned more in that 48 hours then I did in weeks of research on the internet (like not trying to thaw out my camelbacks feed tube in my sleeping bag :rofl).

    Also, keep in mind that if you get really miserable you can always get a room in some fleabag for cheap.

    Good luck--can't wait for the trip report!
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  18. ssevy

    ssevy Been here awhile

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    This is the best advice you've gotten so far; really wish I had been smart enough to suggest it.
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  19. NCK

    NCK Been here awhile

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    Couldn't agree more. And I have 10 months to do just that!
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  20. NCK

    NCK Been here awhile

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    Great point. Thanks perterra.
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