Camping Do-Over: What I Would Do Differently Tenting in Bad Weather
Last weekend our tent blew away in the storm. It made for a great story, but it also made for a learning experience. There are a few things I would do differently now if planning on camping when severe weather is possible.
The stakes from this tent were long and made to grab a lot of ground. But if they are put into soil that has seemingly been rained on every other day, like it has during the spring and summer of 2019, eventually a strong enough force will uproot them. But it would have been harder for it to also move a few cinder blocks laid down over the tie-downs on the windward side of the tent. The leeward side didn't need them as they weren't fighting the wind, so with this tent two or three cinder blocks would have done the job easily. One or two for a smaller tent. Some sandbags would also have worked well. And since we were camping at a campground and not in the middle of nowhere, an extra couple of heavy things would have been great to leave in the tent as an anchor. I had a 7 gallon water storage container in the car. That would have been almost 60 pounds to drop in one spot.
Lay It Down
I knew when the 70 mph winds hit there would be a possibility of the tent collapsing. It has a vestibule that acted like a parachute during the storm and was the primary culprit in the tent coming down. Once that went down it was immediately followed by the center pole tipping over under the strain of the vestibule and tent body slamming into it. Had I just collapsed the 10 foot pole and then intentionally lowered the vestibule, the profile of the tent would have been much smaller and less likely to blow and roll away. It also wouldn't have been a lightning antenna.
Had I been using a smaller tent with no center pole, I would have collapsed the entire tent and re-purposed the tie-downs and their respective stakes to just holding the flattened tent body in place.
Set Up Behind Natural Shelter
I placed the tent in the flattest spot at our campsite. I only considered wind direction as it pertained to ventilation. Optimal ventilation helped cause the collapse. With the heat and humidity being appalling the day before the storm, air flow was more important. But I could have easily set up the tent further west and gave it more of a wind brake by placing it where there were more trees, bushes and campers in the way of the wind. After the incident our friend we were with said he wished he had parked his camper in our spot because there was more to slow the wind there. Kind thought, but the foresight of a 70 mph wind the next morning was hardly foreseeable.
Stay in a Hotel
Yeah right. Camping is done in tents. And we love it!