Ahh…the little things

The first blog entry I wrote 4 years ago was never posted.

It was about pitching a nice taut tent from a woman’s perspective.

Years later I still struggle with this seemingly simply skill every guy seems to casually master night after night. No problem with motivation…
every she hiker I know is constantly in search of the perfect tent pitch. I certainly don’t think it has anything to do with skill or experience. No matter, I finally feel more confident in this fine art.

NOTE: I apologize ahead of time to ladies out there that have special powers and this is not a problem.

This largely is a result from hiking Scotland in The Great Outdoors Challenge.

Long before our crossing, we were warned about possible ballistic storms and winds that can strike at any minute in Scotland. Luckily, in our preparation for the trek, Swami from The Hiking Life spent time with me going over pitching tarps and tents. Through listening to his thought process and wealth of experience, I now am able to think differently about tension, height, and location of my nightly shelter.

Not everyone can have a Swami visit their house, but I do have a couple tips for tents and tarps that use trekking poles for support.

With the addition of micro line lock guy line adjusters by Zpacks on each line, I pitch my tent with the lines all the way out, pound in the stakes, then tighten all the little guy line adjusters.


The first pic shows before and after adjusting the lines. Another slick tip is adding extra guy lines if extra loops are featured on a tent. I use just an extra long stake to guy out the tent. This really helps in wind and rain. No one really likes listening to a flappy tent all night.

The addition of the next little thing is more of a convenience and frustration stopper. Dan added little loops to all my zippers: tent and pack. I think it saves me time and is less stressful on the zippers over time with very little added weight.

The last little guy is cuben fiber tape by Zpacks. It is light, strong, and can repair most anything. I have used it to repair my neo air, sunglasses, stuff sacks, backpack, and have even used it to tape up blisters.

Sometimes it is the littlest of things that can make big differences.

Tent Lock ties



  1. Love, love, love your blog! I am new to backpacking, and I need to start light. I am learning so much! I have narrowed my tent choice down to ZPacks Duplex. I have a very pressing question I was wondering if you can give me some ‘insight’ to…how see through is it from the outside in? Will I be putting on a show when I change inside my tent? If so, will going to green (heavier weight) or camo (patterned) fabric help to mitigate this? I’ve been looking for this info and glad to find a female who uses a ZPacks tent. I know I’ll have to give up privacy on the trail, but I’d like some in my tent!! Thanks!

  2. It has always been my chore to raise the tents while my husband gets a fire going. But there was one trip in particular in 1990 where no one in the group knew how to raise our giant, old-fashioned, borrowed, canvas tent. It took all afternoon but we finally figured it out.

    • The struggles. We have all had them. I especially like when the tent comes along a trip without the poles and stakes. I think that has happened to everyone.

  3. Dan and I must be on same page. I added pull tabs to my tent zippers also.

    Maybe us gals are too OCD about our corners.

    • Personally I think at the end of a day we women are thinking of too many things and are too tired and the tent suffers. Ha!!! Sounds good doesn’t it?

      • My OCD problem is site selection. Makes me do mad. I take way too long trying to find a sufficiently flat spot (preferably with a view) and then usually end up settling for one that really isn’t flat and wasn’t worth my time. Soon I’ll be walking longer miles and it won’t matter.

    • They used to come with them, BUT they also sported heavy plastic tabs. I like that we have choices now and can add lightweight versions.

  4. Excellent, well thought out post. Very useful info. Excellent descriptive photos, especially the one with the stakes. -Sure wish I had one of those tents!

  5. I don’t know why higher end outdoor gear manufacturers avoid putting pull tabs on tent and clothing zippers. I bought a lovely Westcomb Tango w/no tabs on the pocket zips or lower bottom main zip. Ill conceived I would think at those price points.

  6. superbly informative and well executed
    article….and this from a male. 🙂

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