Why we need a shelter
Shelter is an important aspect of field communications. Not only does a shelter protect us from the weather, shelters make it possible to deploy less than rugged gear, in less than ideal conditions.
Most operators dismiss the idea of a proper shelter for prolonged field communications. This opinion usually auto-ipdates after an operator gains enough field experience, deploying in insane weather. Insane weather can be anything from high temps, blizzards, torrential rain, wind/sand storms, … Again the point of the shelter is protecting ourselves, our gear, and our communications equipment.
Let us take the deployment of a stand-in repeater, digipeater, email gateway, or emergency 3G, 4G base station. A shelter provides a protected location to house the gear, and a protected environment for the tech to work. If the gear is not protected, it can’t do its job. If the tech isn’t happy, he or she can’t keep the equipment up and running.
Shelters in amateur radio
Most of the time, amateur radio field communications is less critical than SHTF or EMCOMM deployments. If an operator plans to be out in the field for days or weeks at a time, then shelter is no less important than with a commercial or military deployment. Again, many operators dismiss this because they usually work casually for a couple of hours at a time, on a comfortable park bench in perfect weather. That casual operator is not really who this post is targeting, unless we are talking about a SOTA, IOTA, DXpedition or similar.
Currently I have 4 different shelters for various types of deployment. The MilTech 4 Man assault tent (it’s junk). The Nortent Tipi Lavvo 4, Nortent Tipi Lavvo 6, Nortent Gamme 4. I do hope to add a tarp shelter at some point, but that is not in a hurry.
The Bunker – Nortent Gamme 4
The Gamme 4 is my primary shelter system for expedition type deployments. It is a rugged system, modular, with inner tent and stove options. This tent is extremely well suited to heavy winds. It is also extremely easy to set-up, regardless of the weather conditions.
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I think it's a fair question. How often do you test your gear!? It doesn't matter if we're getting ready for a contest, building a station for emergency communications, or just enjoying what we do for the fun of it. The more time we spend testing our equipment, the better we will perform with that equipment when it matters. #oh8stn
The bunker is a modular all weather, all scenario, 4 season hot tent with a titanium wood stove. It can be used stand-alone, with the shell and floor, with the shell and inner-tent, … Every configuration can integrate with a wood stove.
Hot Tipi Tent – Nortent Tipi/Lavvo 6 Tipi/Lavvo 4
The hot tipi tent is my go-to ultralight 4 season tent. This is definately my preferred option when operating man portable, either hiking or with the fat bike. Like the Gamme 4, the Nortent Tipi 4 and Tipi 6 are both modular. They can be used as a tipi shelter alone, with/without the floor, with/without the inner tent, or with/without the wood stove.
Mil-Tec Recom One man tent
The Mil-Tec Recom was my first shelter system. It was a complete waste of money! Ok to be fair, it kept me dry, and comfortable, but it weighs a ton. If I could ever find a two man size version, at a third of the weight, I would buy this type of shelter again.
I used the Recom as a single operator, rapid deployment shelter. There is no space for operating a rig, or anything else inside but sleeping. It does have a nice vestibule for storing gear, cooking, … and sleeps one comfortably in insane rain.
Wood Stove & heat
Like the Bunker and tipi tent, my wood stove also comes from Nortent of Norway.
If the shelter was the most important update to my portable ops at 65° North, the addition of a wood stove, was the next logical step in achieving all WX sustained field communications. It is possible to deploy at this latitude without shelter. If you can’t get a reliable source of heat, your deployment will fail.
The wood stove allows us to: dry our gear, prevent condensation, boil water, cook our food, clean our socks, provide a stable temp for temperature sensative gear. Most importantly, it imporives our morale in the field.
Morning routine during August 2018 X Days off Grid series.
My shelters have come a long way since the realization of their importance. In the end, we need to use what fits our budget and requirements, without trying to chase someone elses shelter dreams. This abuot what you need, try out different options, the settle on whats right for you.