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  #1  
Old 8 Apr 2012
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How important is it to have an easily hidden tent color

We're putting together the gear for a RTW with our dogs. Because we're bringing them we expect to spend most nights camping, and most of those nights will probably be hidey-camping. The tent we've decided to go with has a dark green variant as well as your standard bright orange, but we can't decide which to go with.

Our thinking is this:

If we spend a day just relaxing in the tent (maybe avoiding a hail storm, or whatever else mother nature throws at us) the green is going to be somewhat depressing. I've always enjoyed waking up in a brightly colored tent.

We've heard other riders suggest that it's important to be as hidden as possible. But, how hidden can we really be when we've also got a Ural and F650GS standing next to the tent?

I figure we'll either be totally hidden (behind a hill, down some tiny side-road, etc), or it won't matter what color our tent is because a four person tent and two big bikes are going to stand out like a sore thumb.

We'd really love to hear from someone who's done a bunch of hidey-camping and can comment on how much of a difference tent-color makes.
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  #2  
Old 8 Apr 2012
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Hi,

I wouldnt worry too much about the color. If you enjoy having a red tent bay it. The tent you have choosen is able to stand even without hugs and can be used as Moscquito protection without the raincover. Those two things matter everything else doesnt realy. As you said your bikes and tire marks will easily be spotted and if you would carry a carmoflage tent you might get trouble with the military...

Travel save, Tobi
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  #3  
Old 8 Apr 2012
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How about a Hilleberg Kerron. Green outside and nice yellow inner fly.
The three and four man would be big enough for your needs.
Better to have the option of going incognito every time - you can't always camp where you should.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by masukomi View Post
We're putting together the gear for a RTW with our dogs. Because we're bringing them we expect to spend most nights camping, and most of those nights will probably be hidey-camping. The tent we've decided to go with has a dark green variant as well as your standard bright orange, but we can't decide which to go with.

Our thinking is this:

If we spend a day just relaxing in the tent (maybe avoiding a hail storm, or whatever else mother nature throws at us) the green is going to be somewhat depressing. I've always enjoyed waking up in a brightly colored tent.

We've heard other riders suggest that it's important to be as hidden as possible. But, how hidden can we really be when we've also got a Ural and F650GS standing next to the tent?

I figure we'll either be totally hidden (behind a hill, down some tiny side-road, etc), or it won't matter what color our tent is because a four person tent and two big bikes are going to stand out like a sore thumb.

We'd really love to hear from someone who's done a bunch of hidey-camping and can comment on how much of a difference tent-color makes.
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  #4  
Old 9 Apr 2012
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My wife and I last summer got a 4-man Hilleberg Kerron and we discussed the merits of the brighter colour versus the green, but in the end decided on green.

Here it is at the HU Meeting in Nakusp 2011:


While we haven't done any "wild camping", the green Kerron does seem to blend into the trees somewhat. I don't find it's depressing while inside because the inner tent is yellow and is pretty bright inside, especially when the sun is shining!

The 4-man might be big for some, but my wife wanted the space and we travel on 2 bikes with the camping gear spread across both bikes.

Here's a pic showing its relative size in a less than wild campground (Omak Rodeo Grounds Municipal Campground, Omak, WA)


It's easy to setup and take down - I can highly recommend the Kerron.

Ian
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  #5  
Old 9 Apr 2012
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Come to think of it, our Redverz Adventure tent is also green. We picked one up on sale at the Calgary Bike Show from AnderWorks, for the occasional solo trips.

We discussed the colour of it too and decided on green versus bright yellow.

Ian
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  #6  
Old 9 Apr 2012
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Go with the green tent that orange is way to bright for me. Get a tarp for the bikes if you think you need it. Many places in the world no one will care where you camp so long as it is not on there land. You gust do not want stand out if you can help it.
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  #7  
Old 9 Apr 2012
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I too would vote for the green. You would be amazed how far away orange is visible. We have a green Land Rover with orange Maxtrax strapped to one side and it is that you can spot from miles away. Plus I think it's nicer to blend in with your environment as much as you can.

A word of warning on the latter though. A couple of years back we were working in an national park famous for it's elephants. I had always been led to believe that elephants step round tents but we had a very shaken guy whose small, dark tent had been walked "through" by a huge bull the night before. It stepped on a bottle of water next to his head which exploded and then with it's trailing leg demolished the tent. Luckily he was OK apart from a bruised shoulder.
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  #8  
Old 9 Apr 2012
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A green tent for me means I can't have a lie in if its sunny but no shade Too dark means too hot so no snoozing!

But I could take a tarp to shade the tent perhaps on those rare occasions?

A dark tent will be harder to spot, but as you say, two bikes, two people, dogs, noise, smells etc will hardly be covert! Sound like fun though
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  #9  
Old 9 Apr 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DLbiten View Post
Go with the green tent that orange is way to bright for me. Get a tarp for the bikes if you think you need it. Many places in the world no one will care where you camp so long as it is not on there land. You gust do not want stand out if you can help it.
I definitely hear that most everyone is recommending going with the darker color. But, I can't shake the feeling that this is just advice passed from rider to rider because it sounds good, without anyone actually having any evidence that it actually makes a difference. I admit, I am a little biased. I'd rather the brighter color, but if there is a real safety concern I will go with the green.

Quote:
Originally Posted by grizzly7 View Post
A green tent for me means I can't have a lie in if its sunny but no shade Too dark means too hot so no snoozing!

But I could take a tarp to shade the tent perhaps on those rare occasions?

A dark tent will be harder to spot, but as you say, two bikes, two people, dogs, noise, smells etc will hardly be covert! Sound like fun though
The extra heat was definitely something we were considering. Even our current tent with its pale grey rain fly has gotten way too toasty on days. Tarps just take up way too much space to be carrying on a RTW and you can only shade the tent with one if you happen to be surrounded by trees, which we frequently aren't... especially in places like Mongolia and Kazakhstan

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Originally Posted by itchyfeet38 View Post
I too would vote for the green. You would be amazed how far away orange is visible. We have a green Land Rover with orange Maxtrax strapped to one side and it is that you can spot from miles away. Plus I think it's nicer to blend in with your environment as much as you can.
My thought is that the only situations where a large orange blob would be visible from a distance but not a large green blob are when the tent's like a mile or more out in the middle of a giant *green* plain, or off against the side of a distant hill. And really, we're not going to ride a mile or more over plains that don't even have rough tracks just to stick up our tent.

But you (itchyfeet) are a perfect test case. Has being able to be spotted "from miles away" ever been a problem for you?

Have any of you heard *any* tales of someone drawing unwanted attention that would have *probably* been avoided had they had a darker color tent/vehicle? I haven't. I'm not suggesting there aren't any. I just wish I could find *some* anecdotal evidence that going with the darker color actually made a difference. That and I'm having trouble believing we're not going to be standing out regardless of the color. Big bikes (relatively), panniers, a large physical footprint (big tent, two bikes), and (in our case) a fair likelihood of dogs running around. People like DLbiten say you don't want to stand out of you can help it, and logically I agree, but has it actually been a problem for people?

Re. the tarp for the bikes. We carried very lightweight, small packing, bike covers on the last trip. We rarely used them, but when we did we were very thankful for them... not sure if anyone actually makes one for a Ural.


Quote:
Originally Posted by itchyfeet38 View Post
A word of warning on the latter though. A couple of years back we were working in an national park famous for it's elephants. I had always been led to believe that elephants step round tents but we had a very shaken guy whose small, dark tent had been walked "through" by a huge bull the night before. It stepped on a bottle of water next to his head which exploded and then with it's trailing leg demolished the tent. Luckily he was OK apart from a bruised shoulder.
I wonder if color would have made much of a difference in that situation. Elephants have notoriously bad vision, and their night vision is even more limited. I guess in that particular situation a bright color would be your best hope, although I'm pretty sure in our case the dogs would start barking if an elephant got that close. I'm not sure if that's going to end up being a good thing or a bad thing in the end.


Quote:
Originally Posted by twowheels03 View Post
How about a Hilleberg Kerron. Green outside and nice yellow inner fly.
The three and four man would be big enough for your needs.
Better to have the option of going incognito every time - you can't always camp where you should.
While I love the idea of a tent with a green outside and yellow inside (still doesn't address the heat issue) , the Kerron 4p is literally over 2 times as long as the Marmot Limestone 4P (without the guy lines), and the marmot has A LOT of space in it. We've fit us and the dogs in our 3 person, but there wouldn't be enough space for the riding gear too, especially when it's soaked from a long day of riding in the rain.

Also, the Kerron looks like it has terrible ventilation. I see zero mesh. Condensation with 2 humans is already a concern. Two mid-sized dogs are going to put out a tremendous amount of water vapor in the course of a night. And, you can't see out of the thing. Going to sleep seeing the stars is pretty awesome, and there have definitely been nights where we definitely didn't want the rain fly on, either because of condensation or because it was simply too damn hot, and that's without 2 dogs trying to curl against you.

Plus, I'm simply not convinced of that kind of design holding up against 40+mph winds. The metal supports only brace short-ways across the tent. There's no diagonal structural support and it looks like lengthwise you just have to hope that the stakes hold, and there are many surfaces where standard tent pegs are essentially useless.
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  #10  
Old 9 Apr 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by masukomi View Post
and you can only shade the tent with one if you happen to be surrounded by trees
I wouldn't entirely agree with that, depending on which tent. In the pics above for instance a tarp held taught over that tent and pegged down will create an insulating air pocket since the poles are proud of the fly?

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  #11  
Old 9 Apr 2012
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There will be no "proof" in the sense you're asking, i.e., people who can report that they were victimized because their bright orange tent was spotted. How would anyone know this? How can you compare to the opposite, i.e., people who were not victimized?

A brightly colored tent is far more visible to anyone--the "proof" is in how easily seen they are when wandering around backcountry and wilderness. Don't believe this? Go ahead and wander around; you'll spot the orange, yellow and lime green tents from miles away but have trouble making out the green and grey ones. Same reason fire trucks are the colors they are. No mystery.

Further random commentary: all tents get hot in the sun. The possible exception would be the mylar tents which used to be made by a flake named Stephanson, but they're not for you--I promise.

Hilleberg tents are tough, light, all-season tents. They don't have all that netting because you can't build an all-season tent made of netting--it will leak windblown rain and snow, and won't be tough enough to stand up to high winds. If you want an all-season tent, you'll have to forgo the views. That also means increased condensation in certain circumstances. The Hilleberg will compensate by being noticeably warmer in others. Your choice.

Of course the Hillebergs are also much lighter and far more expensive. They're quirky, too. Again, your choice.

If you buy the one you're looking at, be aware that it's a car-camping tent, not a rugged piece of equipment. This might be ok for you, or not--depending on how you want to use it. If you're determined to compare the two, you might as well know something about tent design.

A statement that you're worried the Hilleberg will not stand up to 40 mph winds, implying that the other tent will, is purest fantasy.

Hope that's helpful.

Mark
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  #12  
Old 9 Apr 2012
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Orange is just very visible in any natural landscape whether it's rocky desert, bush whatever. So if you are wild camping you are more likely to be spotted. That doesn't mean you will be murdered in your sleeping bag but there may be times you'd prefer to be as invisible as possible whether that's because you want to stop somewhere you're not really supposed to be or you just don't want a crowd of on-lookers as you set up camp (which has happened to us plenty). In my experience (three years in Africa) it is a lot harder than you'd think to camp discreetly however remote the location seems.

But hey it's your trip and if you want a brightly coloured tent then go for it. It's not going to make or break your trip and if it cheers you up on a rainy day ...

I should put the elephant thing in context. Having spent a fair bit of time living/working in Africa that's the only occasion I've ever heard of where an elephant stood on a tent and presumably with the dogs game parks aren't going to be on your itinerary anyway.
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  #13  
Old 10 Apr 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markharf View Post
There will be no "proof" in the sense you're asking, i.e., people who can report that they were victimized because their bright orange tent was spotted. How would anyone know this? How can you compare to the opposite, i.e., people who were not victimized?
I think you misunderstood what kind of "evidence" (not proof) I was looking for. If people were not victimized but used a brightly colored tent in many situations that would constitude anecdotal evidence in favor of a brightly colored tent. If people put up a brightly colored tent and made an effort to be away from the beaten path but still got visitors that would be evidence against them. If people put up dark colored tents away from the beaten path but still got visitors that would be evidence against them. People with dark colored tents but no unexpected visitors would, as you suggested, not be particularly indicative of either meaning.
Quote:
Originally Posted by markharf View Post
A brightly colored tent is far more visible to anyone--the "proof" is in how easily seen they are when wandering around backcountry and wilderness. Don't believe this? Go ahead and wander around; you'll spot the orange, yellow and lime green tents from miles away but have trouble making out the green and grey ones. Same reason fire trucks are the colors they are. No mystery.
My question is not "Will we be seen in a brightly colored tent?" My question is "Will it matter?" and "Will the sheer size of the tent and the colors of the bikes make us seen regardless of what color tent we choose?"


Below are some somewhat off topic comments about the Hilleberg vs more standard tent-design:

Quote:
Originally Posted by markharf View Post
Hilleberg tents are tough, light, all-season tents. They don't have all that netting because you can't build an all-season tent made of netting--it will leak windblown rain and snow, and won't be tough enough to stand up to high winds. If you want an all-season tent, you'll have to forgo the views. That also means increased condensation in certain circumstances. The Hilleberg will compensate by being noticeably warmer in others. Your choice.
Good to know. For us, winter camping is the exception. Weather gets cold but if we've gone sub-freezing we've done something wrong. With that said, we can handle sub-freezing if we need to (still haven't figured the best way to let the dogs survive it yet).

I don't really believe there is any such thing as an "all-season" tent, in the same way I don't believe there is such a thing as an "all-season" motorcycle suit. If it works in sub-freezing weather it's going to suck in the tropical heat, and vice-versa. Yes, most mesh tents with a rain-fly will allow a breeze to come in up under the edges in a strong wind. We can live with this. We've used this style tent from 30deg F ( new england ) to maybe 90deg f (at night), in dry deserts and jungle with nearly 100% humidity, and the pouring rain has never been a problem for us or others with this style. We're sold on the mesh-tent + rain fly construction.

With the dogs ventilation is critical. I would guestimate that each dog produces nearly twice as much water vapor as a human in a given night. Maybe that's a bit more than reality, but they put out A LOT of moisture through breathing on warm nights.


Quote:
Originally Posted by markharf View Post
Of course the Hillebergs are also much lighter and far more expensive. They're quirky, too. Again, your choice.
Actually... The Hilleberg Keron is 3 ounces heavier. Although, I will give it credit that it's twice the length has an inner tent(ish) and is ONLY 3 oz heavier. That is impressive.

Quote:
Originally Posted by markharf View Post
If you buy the one you're looking at, be aware that it's a car-camping tent, not a rugged piece of equipment. This might be ok for you, or not--depending on how you want to use it. If you're determined to compare the two, you might as well know something about tent design.
What makes you say that the Limestone isn't a "rugged piece of equipment" surely not the frame style. Variants on that style of construction have been used half-way up Evererst. And while I would agree that expedition grade tents are construction somewhat differently, we've experienced winds that probably gusted up to 30mph in our current (and similar) tent, and I've seen video and read reports of similar tents holding up fine in 40+ mph wind.

Quote:
Originally Posted by markharf View Post
A statement that you're worried the Hilleberg will not stand up to 40 mph winds, implying that the other tent will, is purest fantasy.
I've seen some videos of the Hilleberg holding up well in strong winds, but it is utterly dependent upon the guy lines to maintain its structure. A tent with cross beams like the Limestone needs guy lines to keep from blowing away yes, but it has a metal frame to help it maintain its shape against winds from multiple directions, not just from the side, which in the Hilleberg's case is also a huge surface area for the wind to hit.

I'm not suggesting that the Marmot Limestone is the perfect tent by any means. I'm willing to considered others, but this one looks good for our needs.
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  #14  
Old 10 Apr 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by itchyfeet38 View Post
Orange is just very visible in any natural landscape whether it's rocky desert, bush whatever. So if you are wild camping you are more likely to be spotted. That doesn't mean you will be murdered in your sleeping bag but there may be times you'd prefer to be as invisible as possible whether that's because you want to stop somewhere you're not really supposed to be or you just don't want a crowd of on-lookers as you set up camp (which has happened to us plenty). In my experience (three years in Africa) it is a lot harder than you'd think to camp discreetly however remote the location seems.
See, that's exactly the info I'm looking for. Do you think that a dark green tent would have any effect on preventing that "crowd of onlookers" ? Or do you think you'd have them regardless of what color tent you have? I agree about wanting to be as invisible as possible, what I'm wondering is if the battle for discreetness has been lost before we've even started. Should we just say "screw it, they're going to see us no matter what we do." ? Or do you think you actually have a chance of not being noticed with a discreet tent color?
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  #15  
Old 10 Apr 2012
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C'mon. The Hilleberg is far stronger than your choice. I'm not basing that on the style of its construction; I'm basing it on my knowledge of tents. It's better made, of better materials, and it's designed to be strong, not to give you lots of ventilation and a view. I know other stuff as well: for example, it'll last longer in strong UV, which is important if you're going to pitch in sunlight or in the far north or far south. Does it rely on guylines? Of course it relies on guylines. That's what tents designed for extreme conditions rely on. All of them. There are reasons why this is true.

If you want a family car camping tent, which is what REI calls the one you've chosen, by all means buy one. If you want a well-ventilated tent, get a mesh one. If you want a free-standing tent, be my guest. My only point is that to compare this with a winter-worthy tent (by whatever name) is silly: it's like comparing apples to, uh, Chevy truck transmissions.

Plus, contrary to your belief, the Kerron 4 is almost two pounds lighter. The GT, which as you point out is far larger, is a few ounces heavier.

Good luck with your search.

Mark
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