By: Blonde Two
Bad weather! In your bed!
Was what I felt like saying on New Year’s Eve.
Mr B2 and I were setting up camp on Dartmoor but not quite where we had planned to. Our rucksack laden trudge up the hill into strong, rain filled winds, had helped us realise that staying lower than usual was going to be our best (possibly only) option for tent-pitching success. We didn’t want to camp close to the main path so I set a compass bearing, which we followed until we really were too wet and fed up to go much further.
I know from experience that the time it takes a ‘quite wet’ camper to turn into a ‘near hypothermic’ camper is shorter than you would imagine. Even on the warmest New Year’s Eve on record, wind, rain, and poor waterproofing had the potential to quickly lead to a downturn in body temperature, mood, and subsequently the ability to deal sensibly with a situation.
We needed to get our tent pitched quickly.
Pitch for speed not for comfort
Although we are fairly hardy, we Blondes like a comfortable tent location as much as the next camper. Experience has given us plenty of time to consider how to pitch a tent. When we set up a wild camp, we usually spend time carefully choosing our tent pitch; using both eye and lying down measurements to judge the angle of slope (hopefully zero), wetness of exit point (rarely zero), and proximity of possible early morning wild wee areas (for early morning here, read most times from midnight on).
Sometimes however, it’s necessary to sacrifice tent pitching comfort for tent pitching speed. This New Year’s Eve wild camp wasn’t the first time, and almost certainly won’t be the last time we’ve pitched quickly, with far more thought to getting people into warm and relatively dry shelter than how comfortable they are going to be overnight. In our experience, warm uncomfortable people sleep much better than cold comfortable ones.
The biggest tent slope ever
As things turned out both Mr B2 and I did regain our body temperatures, good moods, and the ability to laugh at our situation. But only once we were inside the tent. As the rain continued to blast out of the darkness, what happened between us deciding to pitch and finally entering the tent is going to stay between us.
Which is more than the space between our sleeping mats did. Suffice it to say, this was the most sloping, wind bashed in tent I have ever slept in. But I did sleep, so well that I missed the New Year’s Eve fireworks, and Mr B2’s corresponding greeting.
My top tips on how to pitch a tent in bad weather
- Try to pitch out of the wind
- Don’t be too fussy about comfort levels
- Ask for help if you need it
- Make a plan before you get anything out of the tent bag
- Don’t let go of the canvas until it is well pegged down
- Angle the tent door away from the wind
- Double peg any key points on the windward side
- Sleep inside a bivvy bag as well as the tent
- Check the pegs and guy ropes regularly
- Keep emergency chocolate handy for any bad mood moments