Back from the Dead

5 11 2009

Sierra Designs Halfmoon Tent

I bought this Sierra Designs Halfmoon tent around 1991.  It was my first kick ass lightweight backpacking tent.  I loved it a lot and we had many adventures together.  Then two unfortunate things happened:  1) I dumped a whole pot of turkey stew in it on one dismal evening when I decided I’d eat in my tent  2) a few years later I broke a few pole sections during a storm at a paragliding site in Utah.  Living in Western Canada having a tent that smells of turkey is not ideal.  Bears are a real problem and they like turkey stew!  The broken poles just pushed me over the edge and I gave the tent away to some friends who needed a small tent with the understanding they’d fix it and use it.

I was just pet sitting at my friends’ place and noticed they still had the tent and it wasn’t repaired.  Since they hadn’t used it in nearly 10 years I figured I’d ask for it back.  They didn’t mind and don’t plan on doing much camping in the future regardless.  I dropped by MEC and they very helpfully got me some replacement poles I could cut down to size.  Not only did the lady at the customer service counter go out of her way to find me the poles she felt bad they weren’t the exact length I needed and was willing to spend a whole bunch more time rooting around in their spares area looking for a better match.  So not only did they give me the poles for free this wasn’t even a tent MEC ever sold!  Great store!…=-)

Once I got home it was just a matter 15 mins of cutting and reassembling the poles until I had a tent again.  I’m not sure if a bear could still smell the turkey stew after a decade plus, but I do lots of camping in the SW US and Baja deserts were there are no large omnivores that are trying to eat me.  So this tent will get used there.  I may even leave it with some friends in LA so I have a tent when I fly in to town.

I must say that I am a tent snob and own 3 super sweet tents from Marmot and Big Agnes.  I was really surprised how well this nearly 20 year old tent has stood the test of time.  It’s light, strong and has lots of usable living space inside.  It’s showing a bit of wear and tear from some hard use, but nothing tragic.  I imagine that I could get another decade of moderate use out of this tent if I don’t do something silly again like pitch it on an unprotected ridge during a crazy windstorm.

It’s first mission will be to come with me to Baja.  My main tent down there will be a 4 person Big Agnes Big House 4. The Big House lives up to it’s name and provides an excellent stand up shelter for a long term camp like I’ll have in Baja for 8 weeks.  What it doesn’t do is setup easily or quickly so when I stop my truck at midnight and just want to roll into a tent with minimal hassle the Halfmoon will get the call as it sets up in a flash.  The Halfmoon will also give me a backup shelter in case the Big House gets damaged.  The last tent I broke was on my 2008 4 week trip to Baja so I’d like to prepared for that possibility.



4 responses

5 11 2009
The Impossipede

Out of curiosity, what does a 10-year-old tent weigh?

5 11 2009

On a bathroom scale it’s 5lbs +/- 0.5lbs with poles, body and fly in a stuff sack. Not bad – just about what a similar SD tent from their current line up weighs:

8 11 2009

We have a lot of choices and options in the tent department at our house as well. But you never forget your first. Ours was a 2-person Kelty. Lots of good times in the wilderness with that one.

14 05 2011
Sierra Design-ed to last… « The Lazy Randonneur

[…] I posted a while back about repairing a 20yr old Sierra Designs tent and putting it back into servic…. I used that tent at Lake Nitnaht for most of last summer’s kiteboarding season. It probably saw nearly 60 days of action which is more than an average camping tent sees in a few years. Everything went well until a particularly vicious wind storm [this is a lake we kiteboard at after all!] broke one of the main poles…=-( Not the tent’s fault. The wind was strong and it wasn’t guyed out particularly well. The great thing about this tent is that the design is a simple “X” with two main poles of equal length crossing over to give it it’s shape. That meant that I could walk into MEC and buy a new pole section for $5, cut it to length and have the tent back in action with minimal muss or fuss. Sweet!…=-) […]

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