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Lets see your shelters Tent / Tarp / Kisu

As the weather gets worse I have recently been activating summits from a tent. Last weekend with Dave M0JKS we used a combination of tent and tarp, which got me thinking could I ditch the tent and just use a tarp. This morning I tried a few variations to see how practical it would be. It is very stable even in the wind. With the tent I usually just use the outer. I have used a bothy bag/Kisu, but this is a bit cramped and my glasses steam up. So here are some examples. Does anyone else use a tarp?


Tent and Tarp on Shining Tor

Tarp 3x2m with walking pole 1.25m high

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I’ve just bought one of the light weight models from DD Tarps. It’s about 3m square. I gave it a quick try on an activation on Saturday but the ground was so rough I just wrapped it around myself with the rucksack between my legs and the radio inside the rucksack. It wasn’t elegant but it kept the showers away.

There’s a thing called the Zelter Shelter which looks interesting. But at 1.3kg it’s a bit heavy and it isn’t cheap either. It’s inflatable and could be used without pegs if you were on rock.

https://www.zeltershelter.com/shop/

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The ZelterShelter does look good but as you say expensive. My Tarp is like your DD Lightweight one but 3x2m. The 3x3 is probably a better size. The big advantage of Tarps is they are versatile and much smaller than a tent.


Size Comparison.

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I used to suffer and limit my activation time here in the high Colorado mountains – particularly between late fall and early spring. The cold temps and high winds can be brutal here up on the peaks! Then I discovered the “Bothy Bag”. I believe this product was invented in the UK. I have a Terra Nova Bothy 2 bag and I use it quite often. I’m able to operate for hours now and have to strip off clothing after 20min! It’s amazingly warm inside. Best product since fish and chips. :grin:

73, Brad
WA6MM

I’m usually out solo so I only have pictures from within the bag.



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This is my favoured bad weather site. I’m down out of the wind and when there is heavy precipitation, I just stretch a 3x3m tarp over the top. Hang a lantern inside and Bob’s your mother’s brother. It worked perfectly for the recent trans-Atlantic S2S event (just a pity the operator forgot the aerial :man_facepalming:

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I have the same bothy bag Brad, but I find it a bit cramped. As you say though toasty!

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Hi Martin,
Yeah…I call it a Bothy “One” bag…only enough room for one person when operating radio! But, so far it’s the best product for me as it easy to set up quickly with no stakes, guy lines, etc. The only issue is that I need to be careful getting in and out of it in high winds! It would be long gone over the summit cliffs if it slips out of my hands! It billows up like a parachute in the wind!! I need to add a grommet and short piece of rope to it so I can secure it to my pack or body.

73, Brad
WA6MM

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Terra Nova Bothy2 gets my vote. Mo and I have squeezed inside for lunch with stinging spindrift all round on a couple of occassions. Cosy for two and I wouldn’t be able to operate a radio in there, however perfect for an individual with two walking poles holding the roof and other end up.

Mine features in at least a couple of my YouTube videos. One as the subject of the video, the others as a necessity!


I’m happy, honest!

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I use one of these tarp tents that I picked up about year 1 BC (before COVID-19). I’ve mainly used it as a rain shelter. Like most tarp tents, it has multiple loops and grommets so it can be deployed in any of about half a dozen configurations. It works well here in the southern Appalachian Mountains where most summits have a soil layer that easily holds the tent stakes. It’s probably not a good choice for rocky summits.

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The DD Superlight Tarp is great - has saved the day on several occasions .

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Today… Sue got out to take pic after activation.
GW/SW-004.
It’s a simple bothy bag. Does the job and weighs very little.

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I have pictures like that!

Bothy bag gets my vote, more often than not, I sit on it like a ground sheet. If the wx is really bad, I do get inside and operate CW. Operating voice modes can be difficult as the material often flaps about and creates a terrible din.

I ordered a brand new 2 person hand made bothy bag earlier this year but I haven’t even unfurled it for a look. I’m using an old Lomo bothy bag at the moment although a lot of the PU backing has peeled off.

73, Colin

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I use a bothy bag, which only has a partial floor to make it easier to get in and out - yes your glasses can get steamed up in winter, but tissues kept dry soon sort it - well they do for me.

I started off with tarps I’d used for bivvying in when I went canoeing. They work well enough on flattish ground but I found them difficult to manage in bad weather on summits and uneven ground, but then I only watched a few u-tube videos!!

My ideal shelter would be a Pop-up" tent that when collapsed would fit inside a normal rucksack, but I’ve trawled e-bay and have yet to find one small enough. But I’m sure I’ve seen a photo of an American one on here not long after I got into SOTA.

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Hey All,

I have a 2 man bothy bag from summitgear.co.uk, I have yet to use it though.

73 De VE6JTW, Jesse

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Definitely the Rab ultralight bothy is a life saver! You can create your own ecosystem inside when it is blowing and cold outside! Bothy especially nice when the ground is frozen and there are no trees/rocks to stake out any kind of a shelter. For when it is warmer and stakes are an option I do have a rectangular fly that keeps me out of the wind/rain. Bothy would definitely be too hot/sweaty during the summer so nice to have the option of the staked out fly held up by trekking poles.

73 Jim/K7MK

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See for me the deluxe summit chalet of @VK1DA cant be beaten, a spring steel beach tent with no floor. Protected us from sun and light showers - but mostly sun. Here we are on Spring Hill VK2/ST-036 nestled amongst the cursed Paterson’s Curse blanket of purple.

VK1MIC

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My main means of protection is a simple 1.8 x 1.2m tarp set up as an L. The sleet up in Scotland (where I currently carry out activations) is mainly horizontal, so all that is required is a wind break higher than my head when sat down. Most of the time the rig stays in the backpack.

Occasionally I will deploy a larger 1.8 x 2.4m tarp attached to whatever features exist on the summit, be they rocks, a wall or whatever. I have used the tarp freestanding supported by my walking poles on very few occasions.

I have carried a 2 man bothy bag since I started in SOTA back in 2006 and have never used it in almost 700 activations (SOTA, HEMA and WWFF). I did ask the XYL to rewaterproof it recently… just in case. :wink:

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That looks like a neat set up Gerald, apart from the bungees. Bungee cords are the work of Satan.

You’re spot on there!

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:joy: After getting numb fingers and glove fabric trapped by those evil wire hooks on the ends, I’ve removed the hooks from mine and replaced them with cheap alloy carabiners. Much more civilised and easy to use!

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You can use that to quickly restrain someone to give you time to unroll the silver gaffer tape from your water bottle before you bind their hands and feet properly. :wink:

Just sayin…

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