I really hate tent platforms. They are terrible to sleep on if you have an ultralight tent or tarp because you can’t stake them down easily. That isn’t my tent in the photo above, but you can really see how a self-standing tent with am exoskeleton would be advantageous if you had to sleep on tent platforms a lot. Damn heavy though.
I remember one terrible night I spent at the Imp Campsite along the New Hampshire Appalachian Trail, where I had to set up a Six Moons Lunar Solo on a tent platform. The Lunar Solo uses a single hiking pole and 6 stakes. I must have used about 150 feet of cord to lash it to the platform, only to freeze in it on a very windy night.
There was another time last year when I had to camp on a platform near Old Speck Mountain on the Maine AT with a tarp. That was a disaster. We had very heavy rain that night which pooled on the platform deck and wet out my bug bivy. Contrary to design, the rain water stays on top of the platform boards and doesn’t run down between them. Go figure.
I can think of lots of other platform war stores: Bromley Mountain and Mount Killington on the Long Trail in Vermont, Valley Way on Mt Madison in the White Mountains, the list goes on. I really hate the things.
If there’s no other way, it is possible stake a frameless tent or a tarp to a platform using screw-eyes instead of stakes. I carry these with me in my gear repair kit, just in case.
Sleeping in hammocks is also an alternative to platforms. They’re also good for areas like the White Mountains in New Hampshire where it can be a challenge to find a good camping site at higher elevations due to slope angle or brush density.
Personally, I’m in a post hammock phase because my Hennessey had such a narrow temperature range: too hot in summer and too cold, even in mild spring or fall temperatures. Plus, once you’ve savored the lightness and flexibility of a tarp, there is no turning back. I guess that’s why I have no aversion to walking off-trail and stealth camping (wild camping in the UK).
Regardless of the terrain, I’ve had pretty good luck finding nice sites with just a tarp because they don’t require as much space as a tent or even a hammock. As a rule of thumb, there are usually good sites near streams and rivers, which is handy for camping and cooking. I’ve tested this heuristic out all over New England and it works pretty reliably, even in the mountains.
How do you find good wild sites to camp in?
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