tent for high wind/no snow conditions

Both my paddling partner and I lost our tents to ~50 knot winds on the next to last night of an 18 day trip. My (4 season) fly shredded and his poles collapsed like twigs. Lucky for us it was the next to last day or it would have ended the trip as we were in a remote area. So I’m now looking for a new tent that can handle high wind conditions but no snow load in low temps (generally above freezing, but an all net tent will be too cold). The MSR Fusion was the perfect tent but mine eventually got too old and they stopped production.

Any suggestions?


mountaineering tents
I know what you mean about discontinued tents – back when I used to do some mountaineering and winter camping I had two Cannondale tents (yes, back in the 70’s and 80’s the bike maker also produced backpacks and tents) which were outstanding for shedding wind. They were aerodynamic, with stout poles (3/4" hollow aluminum with solid plastic flex sections) that were tensioned by solid single point staking at the front and back vestibules. They also had the fly attached permanently to the tent structure and it went all the way to the ground. The shape was similar to your Fusion but more conical. Pitched facing the wind, these tents were bombproof and quiet even in gale force winds. I guided a backpacking trip along the beach at Assateague Island at one point and the winds were so brutal overnight that several tents collapsed, one had the fly shred and tear off and all were so noisy from flapping nobody in them could sleep. But my Cannondale was snug and silent. I also used them in several situations where we had heavy wet snow overnight and the tents never sagged – also the non-coated double walls prevented condensation while still keeping us dry in the rain and actually added insulation due to the dead air space between the walls when we would bank the outer wall with snow or sand at the bottom. Great tents (if a little heavy).

I only related this digression to explain that the only tents I have seen manufactured lately that are similar in design to the Cannondales are the Hilleberg models. But they are not cheap – will cost you twice what the average North Face or Marmot or Sierra Designs would run you. But they are the choice of many serious mountaineers and people who use them for research expeditions to remote areas. Long distance kayaker Freya Hoffmeister has used one of their models in her continental circumnavigations, where she was living in her tent for a year or more. Reviews of them often mention their strength – one guy says his is “tornado proof” and another says “bring on the hurricanes!”


Thanks for your great reply.

The Hillebergs are on the top of my list now; I’m favoring the Nammatj over the Nallo because of the ventilation and the bug mesh. They’re definitely expensive, but compared to losing the cost of a trip, and the safety factor, I’d say it’s money well spent. Plus, there’s the guarantee that, if I buy one of these tents, there will never be more than a gentle breeze on another trip!!

I’m hoping for a suggestion in a lower price range. The North Face tents are on the list as they seem bombproof (at least their Summit Series) but are incredibly noisy and a bit heavy.


My favorite tent

– Last Updated: Jul-27-14 12:46 PM EST –

for harsh conditions is the Mountain Hardware Trango 3.1 (three person but fits two well). I love this tent and it has never once failed me and it has seen very harsh conditions including high winds. Highly recommended. I believe they have a smaller and a bigger version as well.

Hillebergs are the gold standard
But the Mountain Hardware Trango 3.1 fit my budget better.

It has had to withstand some 50 mph winds. But we have not had to pitch in those winds. The Hillebergs might be easier to pitch.

Being a four season mountaineering tent we had it relegated to shoulder season use. This year we used it in the desert in some high winds. If 11 lbs doesn’t bother you it might be the ticket…

It proved to ventilate pretty well for a non mesh tent.

Will check out and compare the Trango.


Spend the bucks…
…and consider Hilleberg. I’ve had one for several years (the little Soulo). The first time I used it, a bear clawed a hole in the rain fly. I taped it up and since then have used it in Canada and the US. It’s great in winds and I’ve stayed nice and dry during 24 hours of continuous rain. If your tent fails… well, I guess you know what happens:)

Hillebergs be de best…

– Last Updated: Jul-27-14 4:59 PM EST –

Iffin' yer kin come up wit de big wampum. Ah's jus' readed up on de Hilleberg company an' wuz curious waar de tents aar made.

Fro' dem's website...

"To ensure that we can build what we envision, and do so at the level of quality we demand,we own and operate our own, ISO-9001: 2000 certified, manufacturing facility in Estonia. We also work with a few carefully selected contract factories, but the hub of our production process is our Estonian facility, where we set up, inspect, and approve the tents before they are shipped."

Ah's just wunder waar dem thaar "other carefully selected contract factories" are located..... humm, do ya reckon maybe - China?

Anywho, ah's gots an ancient North Face VE24 (wit de snow tunnels yet an' made in Scotland) an' utter than the waterproof coating peeling off it's still good ta go.


MSR fusion? I’ve got one from when it was a Walrus Terromotto before MSR killed Walrus and Moss (sniff, sniff, I miss Moss tents)

For those who don’t know the Terromotto was a true 3/4 season convertible, plenty of bug netting that could all be closed up with inner panels. Such a nice concept.

Look at the Exped tents too, in general a hooped tent has the best strength to weight ratio but they’re usually not free standing which most people don’t like.

The one thing about Hillebergs
- and Northface as well - is that that use pole sleeves. I prefer clips for ease of set up. MH Trango tents use clips.

The O.P. wants good wind tolerance,…

– Last Updated: Jul-27-14 6:31 PM EST –

... and sleeves are tremendously more durable than clips. Not saying a tent with clips can't be durable, but one with sleeves will be much more so.

me too!
Got one of the same, FE, the vintage VE24 with the “heartbreak of psoriasis”. This one was donated by North Face to my old mountaineering club for a Himalayan expedition back in 1977 so it is better-traveled than I am (maybe the odor emanating from it nowadays is eau de yak dung.) The snow tunnels always kind of creeped me out – sort of like nylon sphincters. It was certainly wind-resistant and spacious but not as good for ventilation nor as handy as the Cannondale which has a 7’ long floorless vestibule for cooking and stashing wet clothes and gear. And the fly in the VE24 used to always settle onto the tent wall at various points and cause wet spots. I always figure they donated a factory second to us – beggars can’t be choosers.

I imagined at one point using the VE24 as the base for a skin-on-frame curragh (like unto what St. Brendan allegedly paddled to the New World.)

I have not set up the VE24 nor the Cannondale (both weighing 9 lbs plus) for at least 15 years now, not since I got a nice little skeeter net wall Marmot that packs down to a 5 lb bread loaf size. If I had a flat level spot in my half acre ski slope of a yard I would pitch them for inspection and old time’s sake.

It’s amazing that the Hillebergs are so light for the strength and features they offer. If I was still a fanatical year round mountain camper I would invest in one, for sure.

A bit off topic, but I’ve noticed lately that there is a wider range of geographic locations represented on the “made in” tags for fabric items. I picked up a bunch of summer clothes at the “end of season” sales last week and noticed when I got home that not one item was Chinese made. I had shirts from Peru, Viet Nam and India, sandals from Romania and shorts from Honduras and Kenya!

The Trango has clips
and clips… Clips for each and every crossing of the poles… And there are three. I don’t remember how many intersections… lots.

Its not a quick tent to set up with all those clips.

And they are reinforced on the backside. I’m undecided between clip and sleeve. I have had sleeves fail catastrophically all at once.

But I doubt a sleeve on a Sierra Design tent can be compared to a Hilleberg sleeve.

Can’t agree -

– Last Updated: Jul-27-14 7:27 PM EST –

that clips are not sufficiently durable in heavy wind. I htink that argument is a myth. There are clips and there are clips. The Trango clip system is extremely durable. I trust that tent with my life and it has never let me down. I actually find it to be quite easy to set up even in a blow. Quite a bit easier than a sleeve system. Like most things - its just a matter of getting used to it. Actually, the Trango has 5 poles if you count the vestibule pole. That is why is is so incredibly capable in wind, it is all those pole crossings that make it so strong.

That may be
My comment was a generic one. A pole load spread evenly over a few feet of fabric is less stressful than one that is concentrated at discrete locations. In that regard, sleeves are a stronger method (all other things being equal), but as I said before, that leaves room for the possibility that a well-designed clip system can be strong enough. It’s good to know that here’s a tent that qualifies.

Yes, the Fusion was almost perfect. I like two doors and 2 vestibules (though I prefer the door on the long axis since I don’t fold in half so easily any more), I want each door to have screens that can be full mesh for view and/or ventilation or fully zipped up for warmth, and a gear hammock or clothes line. I do prefer free standing, but not strongly enough to rule out an otherwise perfect tent. I think it would have survived the windstorm, it had good pedigree (Moss).

The tent with the blown fly was an Exped Venus II and I love the tent even more than the Fusion. But I no longer have confidence in high winds and won’t bring it back to such a remote area. It will always be my local go to tent since it has all the features I love. The company is helping to sort things out.

Interesting discussion about clips vs sleeves. Lots of tents are now hybrids.

It’s fun and interesting looking at the different specs of the various tents. I have plenty of time to do research before the next trip, and I really appreciate the comments and suggestions.


sand pegs

– Last Updated: Jul-27-14 9:17 PM EST –

DIY with long stakes ... 7" ?...with painted thin ply or paneling bolted to maybe nylon fasteners.

Posters are talking sleeves ...in a blow mount the fly. Your tent designer wind tunneled the fly to suck down around tent.

My Kelty Gunnison does this in 35 mph winds.

The Gunnison is guyed at all locations with mid section loops sewn in. Add loops with reinforcement patches under at tent fabric points.

Guys and internal bracing with equipment bags,,and your body. I've camped thru 2 hurricanes at abt 35 mph...tent setup behind brush - Brazilian pepper - in an old boy scout A tent.

Here's a google link http://goo.gl/nvnidh

Hillenberg always mentioned but any 5+ pole tent rated 4/3 seasons should work depends on how much money to lay out ?

The design parameters are dense: denier, fabric type, seam sewing quality. Take a look at the Gunnison specs. First Gunnison I have is a regular but the new Gunnison is a Pro...definite upgrade in materials.

The Gunnison is a screen tent. If the outside should be excluded then mount the fly.

If wind was a major factor in my camping program then I would head toward aerodynamic shapes with Pro specs if possible in a multi-pole design. This category when guyed down would be as is said, bombproof. With fly mounted of course.

try this down at REI..OMC...Campmor..look at company X's other products, comparing to equipment you have experience with and own/use/hate/landfill then re-examine X's tent.

BTW, Walmart painters tarps at 1mil used once then bagged with one new for each night, is effective.

Ask yourself...which you may do...do I spend $400 on a tent if I haven't another $400 to toss away on a replacement tomorrow..in Pinedale !


Non-freestanding low hoop type
My first tent ever, an ultralight SierraWest 1-person tent, set up fast with only two hoops and some stake-down loops. I had to crawl in on my back to get inside, so it was not the kind of tent I’d want to be stuck in on a day off.

However, it was amazingly sturdy in howling crazy winds encountered one night on a Hawaii beach. The gales went on all night. I thought for sure the tent would fall apart. In the morning, I woke to clearing skies, with the hoops pushed partway down, but still standing and everything staked in. I walked around looking at other tents in the park; all but one of them had either sustained a broken pole or shredded fabric. The only other intact, standing tent besides mine was another 2-hooper.

Pitch it so the lower side faces the wind.

I now have a Hilleberg Unna that provides more space and warmth. It’s a nicer tent overall, but I suspect the low-profile SierraWest ultralight hooper is better in gusty winds.

North Face

– Last Updated: Jul-28-14 2:00 PM EST –

The lowest temps, heaviest snow, and strongest winds I ever camped in (21 days) was in the Big Horn range in Wyoming.

Our group was using North Face VE 25s.
Don't know if they even make that model anymore?
Don't need it now anyway; will never encounter those conditions again. Not willingly anyway..........