Shakedown cruise – Rain Fly

New ships generally go on a short, gentle cruise to work out all the kinks and check to make sure everything works and the crew knows what they are doing before they go on a longer, more demanding mission. That’s called a shakedown cruise. It’s also a good idea if you have a new tent or have a good amount of new camping gear. Since it’s such a good idea I didn’t do that and went right for a more demanding camping trip. A full week long, 6 hours from home, at a festival with 1000 other people, and you can’t leave the site the entire time even if you forgot something.  Some of my new gear held up exceptionally well, some … not so well. Some of my old gear surprised me with it’s durability during very challenging conditions.  I’ll do a short series of posts over the next few days detailing the good, the bad, and the muddy (and still good).

tent psg (1)

Old tent, new rain fly.
I finished sewing and sealing my rain fly the day before I headed out the door on my camping trip so my test involved throwing a bucket of water on it and crossing my fingers. Not the smartest thing to do as storms were in the forecast, but hey, I was bringing a tarp so what’s the worst that could happen, right? We’ll get back to that shortly.

The rain fly fit well, but could use a few more gater clips to tie it down. Looked great and each morning I enjoyed seeing the shifting patterns the leaf shadows made on my rain fly. It’s so cheerful, how could you not wake up and go to bed happy?

It got a work out as there were two storms with strong winds that blew through the campground and rain for most of an entire day. The rain fly would have held up but I made a rookie error – I had pushed the storage bin with my clothes in it against one tent wall while I was getting dressed and didn’t move it back when I was done. Not only that, but the tarp I used when the storms came only covered the top and part of the sides of my tent.  UhhOhh. Needless to say, when I checked the tent 45 minutes later, I had water in my tent. Some of my bedding was damp and the filled dirty clothes bag in the corner was soaked. They didn’t dry out for the next 3 days even with hanging up what I could. What a yummy smell!

Despite that, I’m very happy with the rain fly, even with it being a rush job. The errors were user errors that would have hosed any tent and rain fly so I’m calling this a success.

Lessons learned:
1.  Don’t push anything up against your tent wall, even if it’s “just for a moment.” Forgetting to move it back has consequences that can make your camping trip very uncomfortable.

2.  Always bring a tarp for your tent and make sure it covers your entire tent from top to ground. Storms with high winds can drive rain up and under a tarp (or rain fly) that doesn’t have full and complete coverage. Many rain flys collected water and then partially collapsed during this trip. A large tarp would have prevented that.

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