Late fall in the Pacific Northwest brings rain and darkness. It is a good time for projects. This one modifies a Black Diamond Mega Light sil-nylon pyramid tent to add tie downs, wind guys, insect netting and wet weather features, while still preserving it’s usefulness for winter snow camping. And of course, doing so with minimal added weight.
So here is the Mega Light, practice pitched on a nice spring day in Mt. Rainier National Park. The basic tent weighs only 25 oz. and can be pitched hanging from an overhead line or with a center pole. You can use a pair of ski or trekking poles with a supplied coupling accessory, or the 11.4 oz. carbon fiber sectional pole that comes with the tent. Tent weight of 2 lbs. 5 oz. for over 50 sq. ft. of interior space and 65 inches of head room is pretty light.
Still some customization can produce an even more versatile, big four season tent, in the range of comfort light packing.To start with it needs seam sealing, like all sil-nylon tents. Paint the seams with a good quality silicone caulk, cut with mineral spirits to the consistency of syrup. Two coats do a good job with an occasional leak needing touch up after a rain or hose test.
The tent and pole weight does not include stakes. For snow camping, big snow stakes are outside our weight tolerance. We need sil-nylon snow anchors. Once again I am in the debt of others. Allen O’Bannon and Mike Clelland’s excellent book, “Allen and Mike’s Really Cool Backcountry Ski Book” shows how to make them. The finished anchors are a 5″ x 6″ sil-nylon square with two 1/2″ x 24″ webbing loops. Fasten these to spectra guyline running through LineLoc 3 Line Adjusters with a 5″ piece of 1/2″ webbing loop sewn into them. The anchor and adjuster just attach to the stake out loops on the tent for snow camping. We need 8. Finished they weigh 3.1 oz.
The Mega Light has no provision for guying out the upper part of the tent against wind. While pyramid tents are pretty good in wind, gusts will push the flat side panels inward. An old article on a Paradox and Bedrock blog post has a good suggestion for wind guys. Sew a reinforcing square and a 1″ binding tape loop to the midpoint of the side panels . I rotated the reinforcing 45 degrees to distribute the stress on the side panel more evenly. Connect another set of snow anchors to the guys via a loop of 3/16″ bungie and a stainless steel cotter ring. This adds shock absorption and an easy way to hook up the guys when I need them. The wind guys and extra anchors pack in an zip lock bag and add 3.7 oz. to the package. Everything but the poles fits in the original, 0.8 oz. tent stuff sack.
So here is a good 4 season, roomy snow camping tent for a trail weight of 2 lbs. 12 oz.
Of course there is no floor or ground cloth and no insect netting. For winter camping, the snow is landscaped inside the tent as desired. Stay tuned for Part 2 to make the tent also work for warmer, wetter weather use.
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