10 important considerations when buying a Tent

Recently, if you have read my other logs, I was planning a backpacking trip to Elfin Lake.  I stuff my tent into my backpack and realized how heavy it is.  I have been using the tent for a number of years, mostly for kayak camping, in which case, weight doesn’t matter.  My Tent was bought at Costco for $50 Canadian.  It takes me about an hour to put up the tent and weighs about 5 kg.  It, however, can be stuffed into quite a tiny compression sack, and when it’s up, it’s so warm and roomy, With 2 big six foot three guys, there’s still plenty of room for backpack and other gears.  I can sit up and read without bumping my head. Overall it’s a great tent for Kayak Camping.

For backpacking this tent is really impractical.  After doing a bit of research, it turns out MEC’s Tarn 2 is the most popular tent among backpackers, it’s so light and still costs less than $200.  The next popular one is Hubba (1 person) or Hubba Hubba (2 person).  I am six foot three, about 260 lbs.  When I sleep in Tarn 2, there is no room for a backpack.  This is very impractical because Vancouver does tend to rain a lot, even in the summer.  Hubba is a little roomier but cost about $100 more, weighs a little bit less.  The Hubba Hubba is supposed to be for two people, but when I lie in it, it feels more like 1 1/2 person.  There is no way both me and my friend will fit into that tent.  It is a relatively comfortable tent for one person though.

The Wonderer 2 is the tent I end up getting.  Size wise, it is very similar to my old tent.  It is 1 kg heavier than Tarn 2.  If we split the tents up between 2 people, it’s actually lighter for each person.  It takes only a few minutes to set up because all the poles are connected.  It is really roomy inside.  It definitely have enough room for 2 six foot three guys.  Costs $100 less than Hubba Hubba.  It kept us quite warm in the rain.  overall it is a really good tent for us, except for the weight.

If I was to go hiking by myself, I would probably spend the extra money for a Hubba Hubba because of its weight.

Here are the 10 important considerations when buying a tent:

1. Winter or not? Winter require more waterproof and windproof.  Summer requires more mesh for breathability.

2. How many people in the Tent?

3. How much money are you willing to spend?

4. How light does the tent need to be? i.e. can you carry the tent on your back?

5. What is your activity? backpacking? kayaking? car-camping?

6. Is ease of putting the tent up important? i.e. very important for mountaineering

7. Will the tent be used mainly for sleeping? or for doing everything else ? – such as cooking, reading.

8. How waterproof the tent needs to be? you would probably need something very waterproof for Vancouver autumn, even a winter tent.

9. How much space the tent takes up in your backpack when rolled up?

10. Free Standing or not?


For Winter Camping, I would use the North Face VE-25, which stands up to Snow, Wind, and Rain.


6 Bailing Devices for Kayaking

A Bailer or Bilge-pump is one of the Minimum Safety Equipment outline by the Canadian Coast Guard.  Below is a list of 5 Bailing Devices that I have used.  The gears included a sponge, a bailer, a manual bilge pump, a foot pump, a electrical bilge pump, and a battery operated bilge pump.  These are my favorite outdoor gears I have used over the years in sea kayaking around Vancouver, B.C.
Note: I am not paid by any of the stores to recommend these products, it is simply the favorite products I have used over the years and where I bought them from. Use them at your own risk.

6. Sponge

This is one accessory I always keep in my boat, after you bail most of the water out with the pumps or the bailer, you can use the sponge to bail the extra water stuck at the bottom of the kayak out.  You also use this when cleaning out your kayak from gravel/sand that you accumulated from your footwear.  This Stohlquist Boating Sponge was purchase at Mountain Equipment Co-Op (mec.ca)

5. Bailer

This is another device that one should always have in the kayak, tied by a rope to the kayak and stored behind the seat.  In case you lose your pump in a capsize, the milk jug will be a great bailer to get the water out.  It might take longer then a hand pump, but it is definitely something that can empty the water from your boat. The best thing about it is that it can be made at home and it’s FREE !

4. Manual Bilge Pump

Most Kayak Rental Shop in Vancouver has a Manual Bilge Pump as part of their kayak rental.  Not only is it a Canadian Coast Guard approved pump, it is also the most efficient pump.  It will get the water out a lot faster than a Milk Jug.  The down side to it is that it is really tiring.  After pumping out the water a few times, you will probably not have enough energy to keep paddling. It is also useless in rough conditions because you have to use two hands to operate this pump.  When the kayak is full of water and unstable in rough sea conditions, it is very likely the kayak will capsize again before you have a chance to get all the water out.  This Scotty Marine 13.5″ Pump with Float was purchased at Mountain Equipment in Vancouver.

3. Foot Pump

This is a much better option than a Manual Bilge Pump because you can have your skirt one while operating this pump.  You are using less effort because you are using your legs and not tiring your arms out for paddling.  The downside to this pump is that you have to install it into the kayak, meaning you cannot install it into a rental kayak.  For someone like me that only rents kayaks, this solution will not work because you have to screw the pump in front of the feet in the cockpit so it doesn’t move around when you step on it, and you have dig a hole on the deck of the boat and attach the pump to it for water to come out.  This Scoprega Foot Pump was purchased at mec.

2. Electric Bilge Pump

This is a great solution for pumping the water out because it requires no effort on your part to get the water out.  But batteries do run out.  We all have experiences when we forgot to charge our phone before going to work and end up using a public paid phone to do business calls.  It can be life threatening if you forget to charge the battery of your bilge pump and you capsize out in open water without any way of getting the water out of your boat.  We all know what happens when water gets in contact with electricity… we get shocked ! Even though it’s only a small battery, if any of the wires get loose and you touched it by accident, it’s not going to be pretty.  I personally wouldn’t use this option though I know many people who swears by them, there’s even a few tutorials showing you how to install your own instead of hiring a kayak company to do it for you.  Adventure Kayaking magazine has a great article on it in the Early Summer 2010 magazine.

1. Portable Battery Operated Bilge Pump

This is my Favorite Pump because all the wires are contained inside the waterproof unit. I just purchased this portable battery operated Bilge Pump this summer, and it’s been great, I can bring it onto a rental kayak, tie a rope to it and attach it to the back of the seat, and when my boat capsizes, I can turn on the pump while I am still in the water, the boat will be half emptied by the time I get into the boat doing a self rescue.  I also wrap a Foam Noodle around it so it will float and be more visible in case the rope tying it to the boat comes loose.  This Attwood Water-Buster Battery-Powered Pump was purchased at West Marine in Vancouver.

Of course, I still carries a Manual Bilge Pump (Hand Pump), a Cut-up 4L milk jug, and a sponge with me, just in case the batteries run out of juice.

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