Whelen Lean-to

I am not becoming a minimalist (I don’t think) but I am thinking I would like to have a better view of the camp area. (critters) I am considering a Whelen type of tent (lean-to) Does anyone have any experience with this type of shelter? While I don’t anticipate any late season camping, and the reflector fire scenerio, I am wondering if I should get nylon or cotton canvas. Go ahead give me your opinions :slight_smile:

Depends where you do your camping

– Last Updated: Mar-13-08 8:41 AM EST –

I don't own a Whelan, but do have a 10' sil-ny dry fly which is another type of "lean" shelter. My use is as a early and late season wind and driving rain shelter, a place to cook, and a slightly warmer place to sit around in camp and it serves those purposes well. I don't take the dry fly on summer trips. My dry fly has no bug netting and no floor. I camp where the bugs are fierce and you can generally expect rain and wet ground. That's why I use a tent to sleep in. Canvas is too heavy when there are portages involved.

Guess no one
uses the Whelen any more?? Just thought someone might have used one.

Bugs and open walls
Look at all those paintings of Adirondack “sports” grouping before and Adk lean-to.

Either that was before bugs, or those guys were just a hardier lot.

The Whelan is fine in shoulder seasons if a large fire is kept burning, preferably by slaves. It’s too cold in winter, too many small visitors in summer.

Dave and Beth Buckley did an improved redesign that turned out to be perfect for lunch in the far North.

Homemade Whelan
I made one out a plastic tarp using the plan on the link below. I use it in the fall mostly non bug season. You might want to try making one to see if it suits you before spending a larger amount on a canvas or nylon model.


As to the lean -to …
I have used a baker style lean-to , the largest made … it has a stove flap and sod cloth as well, it is made of canvas and is super for 1 to 3 guys, 4 if you do not have much, for a fall/winter hunting camp for extended encampments. That said it is like 50 pounds. I can not imagine portaging that! However, Dan Cooke from Cooks Custum Sewing makes totally awsome lean shelters … the Lean Plus has a screen in the front. It is light and very weather resistant. It is great for getting out of the rain quickly and using your stove to heat quick bowl of soup or coffee, etc. It is great to sit in if the bugs are bad, and watch the sun set over the lake you are camped on. Roomy, light, airy, it is perhaps all you are looking for. Here is the link to his site … http://www.cookecustomsewing.com/leans.htm

Good luck,


Bug season??
Guess I don’t have that problem, very few where I paddle but critters may be an ocassional distraction.

Whelen lean to
I’ve had my canvas whelen for 20 years now. Used primarily for early season and late season with just an air mattress and a decent sleeping bag. Tried nylon screen to semi-bug proof it.

Overall, I love it. A nice fire reflects heat throughout the shelter, perfect for cooler nights.

Have pitched it with poles and with rope between trees. Both work, but prefer poles. Pitch with back to wind for best results. Find a site with a good view and you’ll wonder why you ever crawled into a tent. Of course, don’t plan an outing with thunderstorms in the forecast.

Canvas is heavy but very stable in wind and reflects heat well. Mine was made by Eena of Oregon.

Try a CCS Lean shelter
I bought a Lean 3 Plus from CCS before my Quetico trip last May, and I absolutely loved it! It was cold and rainy the entire week - bummer. But my CCS Lean 3 was awesome. This year I don’t even plan to take a tent.

CCS also makes a Whelen, so you could call Dan and ask his opinion of both. I would go with the Lean over the Whelen for a little more protection from the elements, but with the same good view.

Canvas would be nice if you never plan to portage it. But if you may have to carry it, nylon is the only way to go. I just get nervous putting mine up too close to a fire.

other tarps…
I was looking at other tarps also. Anyone own a different brad, Granite Gear, Kelty, Sierra Designs, etc…?

Whelen sale
FYI: Duluth Pack currently has their Whelen’s on sale, if that’s what you’re looking for.

Another source
Panther Primitives makes great canvas tents,Including whelens and bakers reasonable.They are intended for reinactors so netting and floors are not avalible,but they are well made,waterproof and last forever if you don’t put them away wet.


Mason’s Campfire Tent

I always wanted one of these.

whelen lean-to

– Last Updated: Sep-07-12 5:32 PM EST –

I have used a nylon version for years. It is at its best with a fire in front and like no other shelter I have used. It weighs 6 pounds or less and works fine with a mosquito bar (netting) added.
People that rationalize that tents are best have rarely ever used a set-up like this. In cold conditions it is real luxury, and the cure for long dark nights in a tent staring at blue nylon waiting for the sun to come up.