Monday, May 31, 2010

Tents for Tall People

I'm a tall guy at 6'5", which can make it challenging to find lightweight backpacking tents long enough to fit my Sasquatchian frame. If you're tall like me—or have a hiking/camping friend who is—here's some advice for finding a tent that fits.

Look for tents that are at least 90 inches long. 92 inches or more is even better. At these lengths, I can lie flat on my back and not quite touch the sides of the tent with my head or feet. You might be surprised how many tents fall short (hah) in this dimension, especially the lightest weight models. (One of the easiest ways for manufacturers to reduce weight in a tent is to shorten its overall length.)

Sure, I could squeeze into a tent that's only 84, 86, or 88 inches long, but my head and feet will push against the tent walls and risk dampness and wetness from condensation, especially if it's raining. That being said, if I'm using a shorter two-person tent as a solo shelter, it works quite well. I simply lie diagonally to gain the necessary extra inches.

Over the past year or two, a handful of manufacturers are making tents in both a regular and extra-length version—a much-welcome innovation. These include the REI Half Dome 2 Plus (length: 98" vs. 88" for regular version; 6 pounds, 5 ounces; $199) and Sierra Designs Vapor Light 2 XL (length: 93" vs. 83" for regular version; 4 pounds, 4 ounces; $319).

When it comes to one-person solo tents, very few come close to being long enough. I have lain down inside some shorter versions, pushed my feet against the back wall, and my head would hang completely out the door! One of the very few I've come across that fits is the Big Agnes Seedhouse SL1, which features a 90-inch length (2 pounds, 13 ounces; $249).

Equipped” is an AMC Outdoors blog, written by Matt Heid.


Walter Underwood said...

I'm 6' 3" and my Mountain Laurel Designs Speedmid is just fine. The Supermid is even roomier, because the taller peak makes more room at the edges.

Photo of the Speedmid:

My review:

naturallycomposed said...

thanks for the post. i'm 6'5" and having the tent dilemma currently. i hear tarptent makes tents with ample room and are very light.

fzzzt said...

I recently, after weeks of research, bought a Big Agnes Hager House 3 tent. A large reason was seeing a YouTube video of someone setting it up, and it looked decent size. The dimensions are 86x72 inches; I'm 6 feet tall (72"). Well, after shipping it in, setting it up and getting into the sleeping bag, I have maybe two inches to spare above my head (if my feet are touching) or vice-versa. I could fit two of me next to each other with a few inches to spare. A real shame, it's a very nice tent, but I'm going to be returning it...oh and three people? Laying at the orthogonal angle to how I did? Insane! I may try a Lynx Pass or REI Half Dome plus next.

I really, really, absolutely hate how tent companies measure their floors. I used to have a Eureka "9x9" tent and it seemed enormous (but had other problems). It was actually too big, was hard to set up and take down. I laid down in a "7x7" Eureka recently and had inches to spare. It borders on false advertising, IMO. What a huge PITA to have to deal with this.

Unfortunately there aren't any good outfitters around here so I can't see them set up. There's a Eureka outlet who said they'd be happy to, but I don't like their tent designs. Go figure.

Chester Hamilton said...

Just seeing this as i have now gone through my third mountain hardware hammerhead 3....i am 6'4 and have several inches on each end laying addition i am a big man and tend to steam up a tent. With the hammerhead this is not a prob...even with rain fly completely buttoned up no moisture. great head room and have slept with another comfortably.....although with another guy. ?.be comfortable with each other....just pricey..hence shopping around but with the amount of camping (site) canoeing (wilderness) and hiking (wilderness) ive found this tent to be perfect...

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