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5 Cool Tent Upgrades

Make your tent a little sturdier, a little handier, and a little more visible with these five accessories.
Photos and text by Joel Nyquist.

A new tent wasn’t in my budget, but my old dome needed an upgrade. Check out these five simple accessories that let me pimp out my tent without breaking the bank. I tested them on my Kelty Gunnison 2, REI Cirque ASL, and Integral Designs SilTunnel for two months in Shenandoah, VA, and in Colorado at the Great Sand Dunes and atop St. Mary’s Glacier.
  • <b>Prestige Tent Lights</b> - Save your eyes with these tent lights. Wrap 'em around your tent poles and "Let There Be Light!"  The LEDs will last around 50 hours on 3 standard  AAs. 3 oz., $9
  • <b>Sierra Designs Grip Clips</b> - Make your tent a solid shelter with these removable clips that attach anywhere in seconds and hold firm. Best location is near a pole 1/3 of the way up. 3 oz for set of 4 with guyline, $11.95
  • <b>Sterling Rope GloCord Tent Lines</b> - No more tripping on tent line with GloCord. When your headlamp shines on them it's like a laser beam. The  yellow is visible during the day and night. 3 oz for 50' GloCord + 4 cleats, $15
  • <b>Mountain Hardwear X Stakes</b> The X Stake holds in swirling gusts so you've got a solid anchor in all directions. They come pre-drilled for use as a deadman in snow. 2 oz. for 15cm set of 4, $18,  4 oz. for 25cm set of 4, $22
  • <b>REI Schwag Pockets</b> -  These mesh and nylon pockets can clip anywhere and keep anything in easy reach. The pockets have a wire loop to keep them open and fit a 1-quart bottle. 1 oz per pair, $9
<b>Prestige Tent Lights</b> - Save your eyes with these tent lights. Wrap 'em around your tent poles and "Let There Be Light!"  The LEDs will last around 50 hours on 3 standard  AAs. 3 oz., $9
Image 1 of 5

Prestige Tent Lights - Save your eyes with these tent lights. Wrap 'em around your tent poles and "Let There Be Light!" The LEDs will last around 50 hours on 3 standard AAs. 3 oz., $9


Page 1

I hate to sound like a redneck/hillbilly, coming from the mountains of SE TN....but some of us can't afford million dollar sleeping bags and the such. When is a company going to make quality wear for poer folk? Heck, I go without a tent and pad already to cutweight, but when I can only afford an 8lb 92 oz sleepingbag, it seems self-defeating. The Marine Corp gave me lighter gear than I can buy on a regular paycheck
— TNtrash

Hey TN,
You can obtain lots of stuff from dumpster diving and improvising your own stuff. Billy cans are easily made out of coffee cans, and large soup and beans cans (you can find those at any elementary school cafeteria) Alcohol Stoves can be made, but sleeping bags are a hard game not to pay alot for. You can sometimes find good deals on Ebay or REI, or even make multi layered fleece ones stuffed with your own insulation (anything from newspapers to down.

That reflective cord is a GODSEND! Anyone who guys out their tents, or hammock camps regularly will love the benefit of not tripping and re-tying cords.
— Joe Flowers

Right on TN. It's not like the materials are expensive. It's just money grabbin'
— caddycash


Hm...let's see:

Christmas lights for the tent: $3.99 at Walgreens (less after Christmas).

Tent Clips: Good idea, but you run the risk of overstressing the fabric at the attachment point if you're not careful.

Reflective cord: Use a couple of tabs of reflective tape on each of the guylines - maybe $2.00 max, plus you can do nifty colors.

X-stakes: Look for sales - I got mine for 25ยข each (really) and many of the knockoffs are as good.

Mesh schwag bags: Nice, but many cheaper alternatives.

— Scott

The glow cord seems nice, and it is easily seen... the problem I had with it is when you need to anchor the tent tightly, it starts to separate after a use or two. I also had trouble getting it really tight for storms. The problem is that it is Kernmantle rope, and the Kern begins to separate from the mantle when you apply much tension. (i.e. the outer and inner parts separate and the outer section starts to fray.)

I threw mine away after the first trip. I think reflective tape would be a much better option. I use a red one that we have at the fire station... it is literally thousands of tiny pieces of glass inside the tape and it reflects great from any direction. With a decent light, it almost looks like it was turned "on" and was powering itself.

Search "Flexible Reflective Graphic Film 680" and you will find it. (So I don't mention any brand names here.) It will be 680-??, the ?? will give you the color. It comes in about 10 colors and widths from 1" to 6". A 15' roll is about $7. You need to apply it in normal temps, but once applied, it is good from -40 to 150 Fahrenheit (Actually I wear it inside of house fires, but the company says 150.) I use it to mark ALL of my gear, especially my bear bag and climbing gear. It makes it MUCH easier to find, especially when it is dark. I good headlamp will light this up 100'+ away.

I hope this helps someone.
— David

The Mountain Hardwear X Stakes... These are AMAZING!!!! They make off brands, but I have always had better luck with the real ones. These things hold tight in a storm, and in rocky terrain you can "Darn near" drive them through rock... Well, actually little pieces 1/2" thick or so you can drive through often times. The only caution is that if you use a rock to drive them, make sure the striking side is relatively flat, and hit the stake in line with where it is going, or over time you will begin to bend the heads of the stake.

Overall, well worth the investment, and they are even lighter than most "factory stakes."
— David

Hey TNTrash, a water-resistant overbag for your sleeping bag -- think bivi bag -- will extend its comfort/warmth by a LOT. A good roomy one can pair with a well-used or lesser-quality sleeping bag to make a very comfortable combo. I've even used a really simple one that I made with a heavy fleece blanket with okay results -- just test it sleeping in the backyard or back porch before you head out to the hinterlands.
— casecroft


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