A Letter to All the Tents I’ve Loved

They met, shared a night or two (or more) together, and went their separate ways?notes to shelters gone but not forgotten.


To my very first tent, that nameless damp canvas cavern propped up in a small clearing just north of Green Hand Bridge, within smelling distance of the wetland. You were my shelter from a merciless thunderstorm…until we abandoned you for drier ground. Still, I’ll never forget our time together, as brief as it was.

To the classic A-frame sunk into a muddy field near Devil’s Lake. You were a warm respite, a cozy nook, a place to gather with friends…as well as the site of my first completely unintentional hot-boxing. Dear tentmates: sixteen years later, I am still sorry. Please forgive.

To the cheap Coleman with the flimsy fabric and irritable zippers. You were the first tent I exchanged real, live money for; I owned you with pride. I look back fondly on our times spent tucked into the sands of Huntington Island and that other swampy place whose name I can’t recall. I only regret riding you hard and putting you away wet – who knew mold was so tenacious?

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To my first backpacking rig, the spacious REI Half Dome. You accompanied me to the highest and lowest points in the Continental United States. You weathered two wide ExPed Synmats being jammed across your interior time and time again. You handled the repeated abuse on that single zipper like a real pro. Miles and miles and miles, you were my workhorse. My companion. My everything. I hope you aren’t jealous of my new, infinitely lighter and sexier backpacking tent.

Oops – did I say that out loud? Apologies.

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To that snazzy glamping compound in the Serengeti. I’ll never forget the solace of your flushing toilet, the comfort of your asininely huge bed, or the bliss of your warm bucket shower. I’m also infinitely grateful for your protection against that one jackal that spent the entire night stalking me. Asante sana.

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To the fancy expedition model on Kilimanjaro. What can I say? We laughed together, we cried together, and that one vulgarly cold night, you even let me pee in you (in a clearly marked Nalgene bottle, of course). I’m not sure if my special eau de backpacker ever left your weather-resistant walls, but I hope you’ll remember me always.

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To the stupidly small rented Mountain Hardware disaster pitched in the snow at Rock Creek Lake. Your guylines were dumb. Your interior was miniscule. Your walls manufactured cascades of condensation despite proper ventilation. Still…I suppose you held up your end of the bargain. Barely.

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To the absurdly large Kelty 4-person castle. You are my McMansion of car camping. The day I realized I could set up a folding chair inside of you was the best day ever. So what if I look like I’m fighting a greased pig every time I set you up while alone?

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To my relatively brand new Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2. Your silnylon is soooooo sexy. The way it barely collects dew in the morning…the way it dries nearly instantly if damp…the utter and improbable lightness in my pack…I’m in love with you. What do you say we hike 942 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail together this year?

Under the Stars

…and to sometimes leaving all of the tents behind in favor of cowboy camping under an infinite sky.

Camp Notes is a big high five to the fun of sleeping outdoors and all that comes along with it. You know, camping and stuff.

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Comments
  • Ed Manning III
    Reply

    You don’t even mention the Trango 3.1 Mountain Hardware by name? Blasphemy. I still have mine after 20+ years of hard use. I just can’t seem to get rid of the thing. It was and is heavy, but it was a true shelter. Great Article, wish I had kept track of all the ones I have lived in.

  • Mike Rogers
    Reply

    Great article. Spent a few nights with the Trango once. Never again.

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