A Few Denali Tent Tweaks

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | April 26, 2010      
Mount McKinley Climb and Ski Expedition

Alaskan Adventure

We are happy campers due to our being outfitted with Hilleberg tents, but the WildSnow philosophy is that everything can be improved, so… In our two-man tents we installed a thin foam tent floor (that’s why Caleb is smiling in this photo). The idea with this is the foam provides your first line of insulation to the cold snow so you get even better solar heating, and also makes the floor more comfortable for kneeling or sitting. I also like the foam floor because parts of my sleeping bag never seem to stay exactly on my pad, so when my bag touches the floor I’m barricaded from the cold slimy nylon. Yeah, the foam tent floor is bulky and adds weight, but it really is nice. If these things are too much of a hassle to haul up high we’ll leave them in our mid-mountain cache. We got the tent floor foam from Forty Below.

Backcountry skiing tent.

Caleb enjoying his new foam floor. Note the nice long zipper pulls at upper left.

Denali tent floor

The tent floor foam is thin, fairly high density.

Tent guylines

Another mod recommended for 'hoop' tunnel tents such as Louie and mine's Hillberg Nammatj is a triangulated guy line system. Idea behind this is when the wind is blowing hard the tent hoops need to resist force from all directions, rather than being held by just one guy line angle. In other words, for each set of lines pulling in one direction you have a set pulling the opposite way. They are also self equalizing.

Guyline bungee

Even without our additional couple of lines the Nammatj has a lot of string to get tangled. We added small bungie loops at each line anchor. Before packing up the tent, we quickly bundle each string and stuff it in the bungee loop. This works really well -- you unpack the tent for a setup and no snarl of lines. The time it takes to bundle the lines during takedown is less time than it takes to untangle them at setup, so no time lost and a quicker setup for harsh conditions.

We’re also using various interior storage and gear drying options. Caleb and Jordan will be installing a tent storage shelf they found at backcountry.com. Louie and I don’t have room for that, so along with our clothesline we added a daisy chain that runs down the back wall (hang gloves and stuff from the loops) and one the runs down the wall of our vestibule. We also figured out how to hang our satphone vertically from the clothesline as it seems to work fairly well from inside the tent, thus eliminating the hassle of setting up our remote antenna. I wish the Nammatj had more inside storage pockets running along the walls — we’ll have to make do with the existing one on each side (though I’m tempted to install a few more if we have time over the next weeks).

A couple other other important mods: We drilled holes in the middle of all our stakes so they can be used horizontally as snow anchors, without trying to get a girth hitch to hold on them. All zippers received nice long pulls made out of knotted cord.

Other than the above, our main goal now is to get out and use these things!


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13 Responses to “A Few Denali Tent Tweaks”

  1. Mark W April 26th, 2010 9:08 am

    Sounds like really a bunch of highly functional mods. Lou, I think your link to Forty Below is misspelled. I’d correct it, but don’t want to mess up the link.

  2. Lou April 26th, 2010 9:17 am

    Thanks Mark, fixed it.

  3. joseph szasz April 26th, 2010 10:15 am

    nice post lou, i use an exped multimat when camping on snow. the foam has alot of extra uses as well like splints, or sun visors if you lose a hat. keep up the great work

  4. Ben W April 26th, 2010 10:22 am

    Love the bungie loop and hole-in-stakes ideas. Thanks

  5. Clyde April 26th, 2010 10:30 am

    +1 on the Exped Multimat. Nylon surface is easy to brush off snow–very handy item. They also sell a cord stuffsack that is handy for preventing tangles but at 3 grams each that’s probably too much for the WildSnow team 😉 Tent stakes are for dirt, smart campers use soft anchors on snow, sand, or rock.

  6. Jordan April 26th, 2010 10:44 am

    I’ve actually found that the girth-hitched stakes work great as snow anchors in consolidated snow. I think I would call this guy a smart camper:



  7. WEF April 26th, 2010 4:26 pm

    I always just use stuff sacks filled with snow and buried in the higher ranges around here. Seems once you dig in you usually encounter unconsolidated snow so snow stakes don’t cut it. The parachute things you can buy (I think MH makes them) work great but are heavy.

    As for the floor — looks great but I would cache it at basecamp. I bet the floor is the same amount of weight as a block of cheese which would keep you warmer and happier. Plus cheese can be handy when bartering for misc forgotten items at 14K.

  8. WEF April 26th, 2010 4:27 pm

    PS… I heard Little Switzerland got 7′ of snow last week. Sounds like the Range is finally starting to fill in.

  9. Thomas B April 26th, 2010 8:11 pm

    the range is starting to get some snow, yes….as is every other range in the state.

  10. BigD April 26th, 2010 8:21 pm

    Fab’ed up a tent pad out of 2mill closed cell packing foam for our trip up the West Buttress in 06. Our tent was the envy of our team, but the mat didn’t make it above 14k camp.

    BTW – Endured winds of 50 mph (70 mph gusts) for nearly 5 days straight in a NF V25 while at 14. The guys in Hillebergs next to us weren’t as fortunate.

    Go get ’em guys. I’ll be following from the sidelines.

  11. Caleb Wray April 27th, 2010 9:05 am

    WEF, I hear LS only got a meager 5′ last week from a buddy that was up there skiing, but I won’t split hairs. As for the stuff sack solution, I took both on my last trip. Never could find snow soft enough to use the stuff sacks higher on the mountain. Used the stake a bunch though.

  12. Zoran May 5th, 2010 4:04 pm

    My Nemo Tenshi has a floor as an additional option. It’s called RIF and it’s little bit on bulky side. Perfect option for heli trip to base camp when you don’t need to move often (like Waddington climb or else). You go to climbing trips around and come back to BC.
    On my Denali trip in 08 we had floor similar like yours but from Intuition Sports. This foam was from the pallets when they receive the stock (from New Zealand). It’s EVO foam. Very tiny foam but extremely warm.

    I am leaving to Mt. Logan in few weeks and this time I will use Pacific Outdoor Equipment sleeping pads.

    I am using Bulldog Stakes (you actually made your own).

    Good luck up there.

  13. Jim May 12th, 2010 2:41 pm

    Check out these igloo makers. Nice idea.


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