Last year I built my second hot tent. This one specifically to take into the backcountry. The first, the tipi was made to do so as well but after a trip with my friend Ashley from Young Outdoors, I realized that was never going to happen, well, not solo at least.
The tipi and stove weighed in at just over 100lbs without any gear! Split between 2 people it was okay, but solo, was something that just wouldn’t be feasible for me. I mean, I could possibly take it somewhere not too far in, but that was it.
So, In November 2017, I built my second tent, especially for the backcountry. It turned out great and I loved it. It was light, small, amazingly easy to set up and perfect. But after taking it on a few outings last year, I discovered something that would worry me and cause me great stress every time I thought about taking it out.
On several of the trips I took the new tent on, I had issues with staking it to the ground. I took the tent on a test run at Mew Lake and the ground was frozen solid. I bent 4 stakes and used several different types. I finally got the tent staked down and set up, but it was quite a bit of work, took a lot of extra time and freaked me out.
On another trip, the first backcountry trip with the new hot tent, I took it to Go Home Lake with my friend Sue, from Sue’s Outdoor Crew. This time the tent would be set up on rock. We tried 4 different spots, all solid rock. It was cold out and thanks to an idea of Sue’s we buried some firewood we’d brought in and tied the corners down to the fire wood. It worked but the tent was all harry carry and not set up properly and I hated the feeling, the anxiety, the fear of getting it out into the middle of no where, alone, and not being able to set it up and get warm. The entire purpose of the tent.
On Boxing Day 2017, I took the hot tent out on my first solo backcountry trip with it. The temperature was -36 with the wind chill of -44. It was very very cold. I hiked into a site about 2km’s in. It took me more time than it should have, but eventually I made it to a nice place where I could camp. I set up the tent and had no issues but the entire time beforehand, I was stressed, freaked out and worried I would get all the way to the site, then not be able to set up the tent and get warm. My hair was frozen, it was that cold and thankfully, that time it worked, but ever since that trip, I’ve been thinking about how I could resolve this issue.
I bought all different type of stakes. I got stakes used for ice huts, common nails, and researched all the different methods people use to stake down their tents in the winter. None of them made me feel any better, so, I got creative.
I thought of a contraption that might work and went over the idea with my dad. Something that could fold up and open up at site, not be too heavy and I could set up the tent, without the worry and stress of having to stake it to the ground. A plan was devised.
I stopped in at my dads on the way back to Muskoka to do some brainstorming. My dad and I were on the same wavelength and were thinking the same things, but in his workshop, he actually made a small partial model of what it would look like to see if it really would work. On paper, and in miniature, it looked good but I had no idea if it would actually work. I decided to give it a go and spend the money and see if it would do what I needed it to do.
I left my dads and went straight to the Home Depot to get the items I would need. 8 x 3 “hinges, 4 pieces of 1x 4 x 8 cedar, and some screws that wouldn’t go all the way through the wood and stick out the other side. I spent around $60.00.
My dad created the centre piece in his workshop. Just a thick piece of wood that had a recessed hole in the centre where the pole would rest, 6 inches per side.
Each side of the centre piece would get a 3″ hinge attached to it and then 2 pieces of wood stretching out to each of the 4 corners of the tent.
The 2 pieces would have a hinge between them so that the Hot Tent Stand could fold up for travel like below. The total weight is just under 15lbs and it’s 3′ 10″ in length. Below is the stand folded up for travel.
The pole would sit on the centre piece and hold the entire contraption down.
I got home and got started almost immediately. I was really excited about this project, it was a nice sunny day and I wanted to see if it would work.
I set up the tent in my backyard and measured how long the second piece of wood needed to be. I had purchased 4 x 8 foot pieces of cedar, but had had them cut at 2 feet 10 inches as I knew that would be not quite half the size needed. The second piece I left to cut at home after measuring the tent set up and ensuring I had a few inches left on each side, just in case.
I cut the second section of wood to 3 feet 10 inches. This would make each piece stretch out from the centre piece 6 feet 8 inches. When added to the size of the centre piece, that would stretch out just a few inches beyond each corner. Once the wood was cut, the hinges were applied.
The hinges would all go on the same side of the Hot Tent Stand. There would be one on each of the 4 sides of the centre piece, then one in between the 2 pieces of cedar that led towards the corner. This would allow the pieces to fold into themselves to be more compact when travelling, making the Cross Stand approximate 3 feet 10 inches long and easy to carry on the sled.
Once the hinges were all put in with the wood pushed together as closely as possible, I tested it out.
I put the cross stand on the grass and carefully opened each arm of the device, unfolding it at the hinges and placing the hinges face down on the ground so the wood would not bend up, only down, which wasn’t possible.
I went down to my workshop and located 4 screw hooks that would be used to attach the 4 corner loops of the tent to the ends of the arms of the Stand and slid the Stand underneath the tent which was still staked into the ground.
I put the screw hooks into the end of the arms approximately in the same vicinity as where the stakes were currently put into the ground. I then slid the Hot Tent Stand into place, putting the centre pole onto the recessed circle in the stand, then I moved all the arms so that they were right beside where the corners were staked into the ground and one by one, took the stake out of the ground and transferred the corner loop to the hook on the end of the arms. Once all 4 were done, the tent was still standing. Well, look at that! I was pretty surprised and happy.
The corners were bending upwards a bit, probably due to the extreme tension on them being pulled up by the tent, but after putting a brick on each end, that wasn’t as bad. I would most likely always be hot tenting in snow so the corners could just be buried a bit or have a rock or something heavy placed on them to keep them from popping up, a small issue but still way easier than getting stakes into rock or ice, in my opion.
I made a few revisions, moving a few of the hooks, but overall, that was it.
It totally worked and I was elated. Now I would be able to set up the tent in my basement to make revisions, air it out, set it up at shows, like I will be doing at the upcoming Ontario Winter Camping Symposium on November 24th. Without this device it would be extremely difficult to do that without being able to put stakes in the ground.
I have set up the hot tent many times since creating the Hot Tent Stand and it has easily worked every single time. A few revisions have been made to the tent over the last few months, replacing the corner loops as the ones previously put in place were already pulling out of the tent corners and tearing, and I finally added a vent that I had been wanting to do since last year. I will be sharing a post and video on how I made the vent in the next few weeks, but below is a sneak peek at what it looks like.
I am looking forward to taking this out into the backcountry to test it out there.
Thanks so much for checking out my post. At this point in time, I can confirm the tent will be shown at the Ontario Winter Camping Symposium, Winter in the Wild over Family Day Weekend in Algonquin Park at Mew Lake along with my original tipi, and the Quiet Water Symposium in Michigan. I hope to see you at one of the upcoming events!
If you would like to check out the video, click here.
Happy Winter Camping!