Tents and Bivi Shelters.
I hate em!
I love to sleep in them but I hate to carry them. Most trail campers feel this way. If you camp near your car then a twenty pound six man base camp tent with full vestibule and canopy isn't bad, when you carry everything you own over Mother Earth herself you need something else indeed.
Hikers want the smallest shelter they can possibly carry thus the resent popularity of tarp/hammock arrangements. More on that later.
When I was teaching wilderness skills I spent allot of time in the Hudson river gorge area of the great Adirondack mountains, very rough terrain. The ground there was so rocky it was just not friendly to "ground" shelters. The Tarp/Hammock combination was the only way to go and if you do it right it just can't be beat for three season camping. But for ground shelter in my beloved Catskills it is almost always a Tent or Bivi. I camp with my son allot so the two man Bivi is better then fine, it's perfect. It might be a bit too close for non family types but for Father and Son or Husband and Wife it's the way to go.
As always I've looked into the features of some of the best big name manufactured shelters to see just what they are advertising as top shelf, then I take a look at discount catalogs and cross match features in the price ranges more suited to my lifestyle. Where once I carried a 6.5 Lbs dome tent I now haul a three pound (3Lbs) you heard me right Bivi that I purchased from Sportsman's guide. I reinforced the seems (I do this with all my shelters) and up graded the suspension lines and voila! the boy and I have done three trips with this rig and love it. It's about the size of a loaf of Wonder bread all packed up and is suited for three season trips.
Price you ask?
How about less the $50. Compared to the big name brands asking $300, call the cops cause it's a steal. Now here's the hook, if you look very closely at the big name brand shelters (most equipment period) you will see very small print at the end of their description, after the logo, after the size, color, special features and of course the price, you'll see these words..............."imported" yup that's right and guess what folks? so does mine. I guess mine is no better or worse then theirs. Hey if it quacks like a duck...................
If you feel you must pay top dollar for the same half micron of nylon the other guys make, please send your money to me. I'll see you get what you pay for and I'll still have cash to burn on whiskey and sharp cheese.
Now expedition equipment is a different duck. We know its stronger and made to a different standard so lets not compare apples to artichokes, but for the casual or weekend camper you need not take out a loan for good gear.