free standing vs staked tents

Discussion in 'Camping Toys' started by MontanaPaul, Oct 20, 2019.

  1. MontanaPaul

    MontanaPaul Adventurer

    Dec 15, 2018
    Missoula, Mt
    I am looking for a 2P tent for solo camping, with a large vestibule for those rainy days (but not a garage for the bike). I'm considering several tents, among them the REI Half dome, Nemo Dragonfly, and Tarptent Stratospire 2

    I like the weight, packed size, roominess and vestibule of the Stratospire. It would be an easy choice for me, except the issue of free standing or requiring stake-out rears its head. Other highly recommended tents like the Hilleberg, and motorcycle-specific tents like the Redverz and Vuz moto require staking too.

    I'd liked to hear from more experienced inmates whether free standing is important a significant portion of the time (rocky ground, tent platforms) or not really.

  2. LoneWolfNick

    LoneWolfNick Been here awhile

    Jul 25, 2018
    Asheville, NC
    I recently went on the COBDR with another inmate, i had a tent similar to the tarptent where it needed stakes and my buddy had a freestanding mar hubba hubba... his was way better than my... the problem with the ones with hiking poles is the weight and packability of the poles... I'm upgrading to the big agnes copper spur bikepack tent its expensive but the weight and packability is worth it
    Snake Oiler and NorthIdaho800gsa like this.
  3. lkraus

    lkraus Long timer

    Dec 15, 2012
    Central Ohio
    Hiking poles used as tent poles might work for backpacking, but I ride and day hike. If I set up a base camp and then go exploring for a day, I either have to strike the tent or do without the hiking poles.

    I will never buy another tent that requires stakes. Even with a "free standing" tent, I still regularly curse the two stakes I need for full use of the vestibules.
  4. shrederscott

    shrederscott Long timer

    Mar 19, 2014

    I live in Denver ride a KTM 350 for my dual sport cross country bike. I tend to stay in remote / disperse camp sites.

    I use the Big Agnes Copper Spur 1 tent . It is a free standing model.

    I have found " Freestanding tents " still should be staked out to maintain shape and to withstand wind. So regardless freestanding or not stakes will still be a issue.

    As you have discovered driving stakes in the rocky soil of the west is difficult and not reliable.

    Using high quality stakes like MSR ground hog, mini or regular is helpful. You at least have a chance to drive a stake without bending or breaking it.

    Fortunately, rocks are readily available and make great anchor points for the tent guy out lines. Rocks work as good as stakes.

    All the guy lines on my tent are long so I can wrap then around rock anchors or use stakes.

    I have seen next seasons Big Agnes tents, and they have a cool new vestibule design, that lets the vestibule be set high with a extra pole to sit under like a tarp, or low without the pole like a standard vestibule.

    Pack size, weight, interior room, wind/weather ability and costs are tough to balance when choosing a tent.

    Personally, I feel the Big Agnes and REI Quarter-dome tents do a excellent job balancing these objectives.

    I am very happy with room in my 1 person copper spur. I am 5 10.

    The copper Spur and REI quaterdome are both available in 1-2-3 man versions for that want extra space

    Good luck

    MYUMPH and AZ Pete like this.
  5. Daboo

    Daboo Been here awhile

    Jun 6, 2011
    My past experience has been more for hiking than motorcycle camping. It's pretty relevant though. I use the same gear because it is lightweight and serves the purpose.

    My experience with an REI Half-Dome tent was when I went with a friend and our two daughters up high in the Alpine Lakes wilderness. I had an el-cheapo backyard tent. You know the type...tiny rainfly and not anywhere's in the same league as his REI Half-dome. The area was rocky and the winds picked up pretty high. I found the biggest rocks I could and tied my el-cheapo tent down with those as best I could. We made it through the night.

    The next morning, my friend with the REI Half-dome tent said he and his daughter were ready to move in with us during the middle of the night. You would think his tent being about 10 times more expensive would be better, but over many trips, both did well.

    I recently decided to try motorcycle camping. I used my Eureka 3-person tent, but it really was bigger than I wanted. I ended up buying a "Boulder Creek Hiker 2 Dome Tent" from Big 5 sporting goods. It is on sale now for $35. If you look around, you can find a coupon for $20 off. That's how I bought mine.

    I'm impressed with it. I was camping next to someone up in the Central Cascade Mountains and while his tent was far more costly, it didn't seem any better. In fact, little things like the ropes seemed more substantial on the Boulder Creek tent than his...and he brought it up. It's a two-person tent, which works great for solo camping and you can leave your gear inside. Two stakes will hold the vestibule fly open where you want it. You can get additional cooling by taking the front vestibule flap and pulling it back to the rear corner and opening up the mesh area for more airflow. I just tied it to the corner to hold it in place.

    There's nothing "cheap" about this tent. If I had paid $100 or more for it, I'd still feel like I got a great tent for the money.

  6. NorthIdaho800gsa

    NorthIdaho800gsa Bad influence

    Aug 24, 2018
    Kamiah, Idaho
    I use a single wall expedition backpacking tent. I really like alot of things about it. It goes up in like 2 minutes and I light and packable with short poles. however the condensation kinda sucks. I am going to an freestanding exoskeleton tent. Looking at exped. Also going to a 3 man. If I'm not toting it on my back, my bike wont notice the extra 1.5 lbs. the nice thing about an exoskeleton tent is that they pitch fly first. So they stay dry if pitched in rain. Something to think about. Hillberg also has some freestanding.
  7. PomInOz_

    PomInOz_ Been here awhile

    Apr 11, 2016
    I always prefer freestanding. Can pitch anywhere. Hard ground, sand etc.

    If adventure touring you can’t guarantee where you’ll be stopping or what the ground will be like. After a long days ride the last thing you want to do is crawl in to a floppy tent you can’t pitch proper as the ground is to hard/rocky for the tent pegs.
    AZQKR, lithodave and NorthIdaho800gsa like this.
  8. rd400racer

    rd400racer Long timer

    May 14, 2013
    Louisville, Ky
    I have a recent story that involves tent stakes which will highlight why I hate them.

    End of September I was road racing with WERA at Nelson Ledges. My son lives in Pa. so he drove over to pit crew for me and hang out. We love to camp at race tracks. And to top it off, he's the purchasing agent at a fairly large internet outdoor equipment company so I get all the best gear. So I'm in an MSR Hubba Hubba NX that is under my EZ UP, right next to my bike. At 4am, the winds from hell arise and wake me up, and I jump out of my tent to keep the EZ Up from blowing across the field. My son had staked the MSR and I'm sure you all realize that new stakes are nothing like the cheesy things that came with our canvas tents of old. These new ones are made of titanium and could be used to start the drill on a Texas oil field. And I jump out of my tent and plant my foot directly on top of one, creating a beautiful little puncture wound exactly 4 hours before I'm going to hurtle a motorcycle at dangerously high speeds around a race track. After my first practice session I had to visit the medics on staff to patch my damn foot because I was bleeding in my boot.

    So you can take tent stakes and stick them where the sun don't shine!
    slime likes this.
  9. Grinnin

    Grinnin Forever N00b Supporter

    Dec 10, 2005
    Maine, USA
    "Freestanding" tents are often more taught when pegged, but they function better without pegs than non-free-standing tents.

    I've usually had freestanding.

    Then I searched for a longer and lighter tent. About the second trip with it I ended up in a state forest with remote sites along a hard gravel road. The sites were made of the same hardpack gravel as the road and were impervious to pegs. I tied to a stump and the motorcycle while the pole hoops held out the sides. It was passable in the evening, but you know how nylon expands with dew . . .



    I'm back to a freestanding tent and it has worked on other hardpacked tent sites.
    slime and lithodave like this.
  10. 2 SPOT

    2 SPOT bring the rape whistle

    Dec 14, 2005
    Payson AZ
    i prefer free standing, the ones i prefer have full rain fly ect that do require staking out properly, you can do that with heavy rocks as needed.
    lithodave likes this.
  11. Snake Oiler

    Snake Oiler If the world didn't suck, we would all fall off

    Apr 22, 2016
    Pennsylvania, but living in a toy hauler full-time
    Well glad to see I'm not the only one looking for the perfect shelter setup. Lol
  12. 2 SPOT

    2 SPOT bring the rape whistle

    Dec 14, 2005
    Payson AZ
    Or the perfect bike, boots, jacket, tool roll, saddlebags or oil

    MYUMPH and STLR like this.
  13. Snake Oiler

    Snake Oiler If the world didn't suck, we would all fall off

    Apr 22, 2016
    Pennsylvania, but living in a toy hauler full-time
    2 SPOT likes this.
  14. rider1150gsadv

    rider1150gsadv Long timer

    Oct 6, 2003
    Ft Likkertail , USA
    Having a freestanding tent is great, but I still stake mine out and hammer the stakes in deep enough so that I don't get hurt if I were to step on them.... The MSR groundhogs come with a piece of line at the end just for the purposes of retrieving them...
    I have seen the end result of a sudden windstorm hitting a campground or two I'll stake mine out..YMMV

    Edit: FWIW I use this Exped tent..
  15. RJAMT

    RJAMT Who remembered the winch? Supporter

    Aug 9, 2014
    Belleville, IL unfortunately
    I have an REI Half-Dome and it's good for the money. It needs stakes for the vestibule otherwise the material flops around. Setting up in the rain however convinced me to replace it. Don't think I'll ever buy another tent that requires putting on a rainfly while the interior is busy getting wet. You won't care about stakes if the inside of your tent is soaked.

    I bought a Hilleberg Staika. It's damned expensive but built like a tank. The inner and fly are linked so it goes up quickly and all together meaning the inside never, ever gets wet. It doesn't require any stakes unless you have to ride out a storm. In which case, properly staked out, it will keep you safe and dry through anything short of a direct tornado hit!

    Disclaimer: On short trips I usually use a hammock and tarp. The Staika is my longer trip "hotel" since I know it will work in hard or soft ground and with or without trees. Basically anywhere. Check out the web site pics of a Staika on a small rock island kayak camping.
  16. viajero

    viajero Too old to be a nOOb

    Dec 12, 2006
    I've always had free standing tents but have also always used stakes to insure it stays in place if a sudden storm or high winds pop up.
    PomInOz_ likes this.
  17. kokemill

    kokemill Been here awhile

    Jan 12, 2013
    SE wisco
  18. Jim K.

    Jim K. Long timer

    Jan 14, 2011
    New Haven, Ct.
    One big advantage to free standing tents is the ability to move them around a campsite for any reason, puddles, rocks, sagging tree limbs, etc. Also... It's great to be able to open the doors, lift the whole tent, & shake out all the accumulated dust, leaves, bugs, etc. that have crept in during the time on site. Also possible to shake off most of the water before packing up after a nights rain.
    Don03st and NorthIdaho800gsa like this.
  19. Snapper

    Snapper Long timer

    Oct 10, 2003
    SW CT
    I prefer floorless pryamid tents (staked) these days... a lot smaller/lighter than freestanding, sheds wind/snow better, can vary pitch height for more room/ventilation or better storm protection, and inner tent/footprint are set-up/taken-down while dry under cover of the fly. Use a fallen branch for a pole when not backpacking.

    Also love the easy modularity of the inner tent and footprints with floorless - to create more space, leave shoes on inside, less doorways to zip through, make a giant floorless cooking vestibule, take a shower inside (solar greenhouse warmth), use a low camp chair inside, dig an indoor latrine, etc.

    Can’t go back to free-standing with fixed floors/doors anymore.
  20. lithodave

    lithodave brachy850 Supporter

    Jul 29, 2013
    I have an old Eureka Autumn Wind. Freestanding. I stake it if I can, but if I cannot, fine.

    The option for either is great. I do not know what else I would wish for in a small backpacking or motocamping tent. Small, light tough.

    Now about sleeping pads.....Looking at options other than my old thin self-inflating thermarests.

    Looking most strongly at the Guide model Paco Pad from Jacks Plastic Welding.