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theokbushman
member (33)member
 
11/01/2020 08:15PM  
I was really interested in Jaywalker's response to my last post (see below). I was thinking that there are many websites that claim to be the best websites in gear testing, however from what I can find, they are all ultimately based on the opinion of the reviewer and their field experience with the equipment.

Although it would be ultimately difficult to come up with a software package that would be able to evaluate the time it takes to assemble the tent, I would like to propose a standard instead. A numerical standard for all gear to be tested against one another. There are standards used all the time for everything ASTM, ASME, ISO. From what I am aware, is there is no viable way to compare outdoor gear in a numerical way besides weight?

From the tent example, I could think of the following:

Takedown speed (The average speed for ten takedowns after the user has taken down the tent a minimum of twenty times)

Setup speed (The average speed for ten setups after the user has set up the tent a minimum of twenty times)

The thermal resistance of the tent (the time it takes for a tent to return to ambient temperature after being raised twenty degrees above it)

Wind resistance (The wind speed needed to dislodge or collapse a tent)

Water resistance (There is hydrostatic testing for fabrics, but it isn't widely available for tents)

Thoughts and comments are appreciated!!

"This might seem a bit odd as it’s not an idea for physical gear but digital gear.

Last year when I was looking for a new 3 person tent, I spent much time evaluating REI's “compare” feature which gives side by side measures of such things as size, packed weight, size, etc. as a solo traveler, an absolutely key feature for me is “set up/take down time” for which there seems to be no measure at all. I have several times wondered if it would be possible to create software that would evaluate how many steps were involved in setting up and taking down a tent and other gear - at least to provide a product by product relative comparison." - Jaywalker

 
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Northwoodsman
distinguished member(1578)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
11/02/2020 08:25AM  
You would also have to take into consideration many other factors - for example setting up a tent - the difficulty you may encounter in very rocky soil trying to set stakes. If you tested this in an indoor environment without stakes you would get a much different result than you would with stakes on a nice flat soccer field or the sites that I seem to find in the BWCA. The same with taking down a tent. Are you going to shake the dew off of it? Are you going to clean any dirt debris off the bottom. Are you going to stuff it, roll it, or fold it? What if you are trying to set-up the tent or take it down in extremely windy conditions? Raining vs. sunny and dry. Daylight vs. darkness. Mosquito's and black flies vs. lady bugs. 30°, 65°, or 95°. Water resistance - you can easily measure this by the fabric manufacturers specs but the weakest point for water entry is the stitching and the seams. Is it factory seam sealed or not?

I can get a really good indication by looking at a photo of a tent without the rainfly on it to determine how long it will take to set it up. Another photo with the rainfly is also very helpful.

In addition to my traditional tents have a CCS Lean 2 and a CCS Lean 3. On my last trip with the Lean 2 we moved each night and set it up 3 times, there were two of us. Day 1 took about 15-20 minutes, day 2 took about 10-15 minutes, and day 3 took 45 minutes. Day three should have been the quickest but it wasn't because of rocks, lack of trees for tie-outs and heavy wind on a point.

I like to read user reviews and see what people think. It's easy to weed out the ones that are user issues. I like to base decisions based on both facts and opinions.
 
theokbushman
member (33)member
 
11/02/2020 09:59AM  
The point of the standard is not to give an actual time it takes to set up the tent as you may be much faster than me at doing the process. Rather it is to come up with a standard measurement to compare tents that have both been tested. Meaning keeping physical conditions constant. In a rocky location the all tents will struggle to find staking points the one factor that would matter is the number of stakes to places. Wind also would be fairly constant, tent geometry could limit impact the results a little bit.

 
11/02/2020 12:12PM  
Not a fan of producing to a set of standards. They have intruded more than far enough into society, and applying standards to personnel gear is overdoing it. I'll offer the sleeping bag rating system EN as an example. Something to compare products but useless when it comes to personal preference, and actual user needs.

butthead
 
clrose
member (24)member
 
11/02/2020 12:57PM  
https://xkcd.com/927/
 
11/02/2020 02:42PM  
butthead: "Not a fan of producing to a set of standards. They have intruded more than far enough into society, and applying standards to personnel gear is overdoing it. I'll offer the sleeping bag rating system EN as an example. Something to compare products but useless when it comes to personal preference, and actual user needs.


butthead"

What BH said!
 
EddyTurn
senior member (72)senior membersenior member
 
11/03/2020 12:20PM  
Would you really choose your next house based on how long it takes to get to the front door from the driveway?
 
11/03/2020 03:21PM  
butthead: "Not a fan of producing to a set of standards. They have intruded more than far enough into society, and applying standards to personnel gear is overdoing it. I'll offer the sleeping bag rating system EN as an example. Something to compare products but useless when it comes to personal preference, and actual user needs.

butthead"


Intruding on society? I was thinking of something a bit less Orwellian! I actually think the EN system is a great parallel. It can't tell you what sleeping bag to buy - there are too many other factors like weight, costs, insulation material, shape, and even brand preference. It also wont tell you if a bag will keep you warm - there are too many other factors like if you sleep hot or cold, humidity, wind, ground insulation, etc. But it does one very important thing in my mind - it does a fair job of saying "all things equal, this bag is warmer than that bag". Without it, we would have for sleeping bags what we have in winter boots - temperature ratings completely based on what the producing company wants to promote. I saw a pair of winter boots last year rated to -100ºf - really, that's nuts. It may be imperfect and clearly not the only factor - but I can't imagine anyone buying a sleeping bag without considering what the temperature rating was.

My thinking on a time of set up/take down comes largely from my traveling solo on trips. Like sleeping bags, other factors certainly fit in, but I still think it would be helpful to have an idea of "this tent is faster for one person to set up than that tent".

To make it easier to measure and compare, lets just assume we have one person setting up a tent on a fairly calm day on a soccer field where it is easy to push stakes into the ground. Questions that might fit into this equation might be:
(1) how many stakes do you have to put into the ground for the tent to stand (most free-standing tents still require some stakes fore the vestibule if not the whole tent - my Nemo Losi 3 does not set up well if I don't put in 8 stakes - 4 on the corners and 4 on the vestibule,
(2) how many poles are there? My Losi has 4, though the two long ones are joined. Some tent designs say they have single pole, but that pole has branches on each end and a jointed spreader on top. Somehow this could be evaluated to figure out how long it takes vs other pole designs.
(3) how many points of attachment are there from the tent to the poles?
(4) how many steps does one person have to take back and forth to set it up? This is especially important on solo travel and why it does not take 2x as much time for one person to set up a tent vs 2 people, but something more like 3x or more. Walking back and forth is a real time killer.

Part of my original thinking on this is from personal experience setting up my Snowtrekker Basecamp tent - something I have done many times while wearing snow shoes because the snow had not yet sintered for me to walk. It can take me 20 minutes easily to set up, and longer to take down. I also think of a video I once saw of an Iditarod musher who, after fully tending to his team at a stop, pulled out a pop up tent (similar to what my nephew had when he was 5) that just came out of the stuff sack and erected itself - in just seconds he tossed a sleeping bag inside and was napping.







 
11/03/2020 03:48PM  
EddyTurn: "Would you really choose your next house based on how long it takes to get to the front door from the driveway?"
Very unlikely, but I doubt there is much variation from one house to the next on this matter. Perhaps tent set up/take down is the same - I am not sure. On the other hand, would you really choose you next house without considering how long it took you to get to work, or to schools, or to grocery stores?

You have to forgive me in that in that I do not know if you have ever travelled solo canoeing. I know my original idea would not matter to everyone. Most solo travelers quickly learn that one of the biggest differences from group travel is you have to do all the chores yourself - tarp set up, tent set up, firewood gathering, cooking cleaning, water purification, etc. Same goes for camp takedown. A lot of us (not all perhaps) do scrutinize how long it takes us to do certain tasks. This becomes even more important in the shoulder seasons when daylight is less and weather worse, but can also matter in summer when mosquitos are biting or rain is falling.

If I could find a similar size tent that I thought I could reliably set up in 3 fewer minutes, I would consider changing from my current tent. A bit part of why I went for the Losi is the take down was much faster with no rolling involved, just stuffing into their burrito bag. If I could find something faster, it would easily be as important to me as packed weight.


 
theokbushman
member (33)member
 
11/03/2020 04:15PM  
I am glad that Jaywalker saw this thread and I 100% agree. There are a number of products that are tested by only the manufacture and give no actual reference the -100 F boots are a prime example. I love the EN rating but think it could still be revamped even a little more. Without getting too involved with the rabbit hole of math. I think that a set of boots, a tent, sleeping bag, hat, pants all could have a rate at which heat dissipates through them. This would allow for a numerical approach and show differences between two sleeping bags that could have the same temperature rating. Additionally, the loss in warmth over time could be measured with this method.

I found it infuriating when looking at boots earlier this week and was looking into how fast they would dry and was met with "quick-drying material" a metric under standard conditions would be very useful in this situation. What does quick-drying even mean if I get my winter boots wet and put them in the sun they will probably take a week to dry, so if my hikers take a day or two is that "quick"?
 
11/04/2020 10:03PM  
clrose: "https://xkcd.com/927/"
Love XKCD!

But if they ever do come up with a tent set up rating scale, I sure hope there's an option to customize it based on the number and age of children who are "helping" to set it up. For instance, are there enough orange poles that each child can snap one together? That sort of info is the real dirt I need right now.
 
EddyTurn
senior member (72)senior membersenior member
 
11/05/2020 06:54PM  
Jaywalker: "If I could find a similar size tent that I thought I could reliably set up in 3 fewer minutes, I would consider changing from my current tent. A bit part of why I went for the Losi is the take down was much faster with no rolling involved, just stuffing into their burrito bag. If I could find something faster, it would easily be as important to me as packed weight. "

I've never owned a tent that required rolling - it's one's choice how to do it and I see no reason to roll. Of course my experience is limited. 3-4 minutes is a reasonable time for putting down a 1-2 person tent. No much room for improvement here compared to tarp dismantling - for me it takes at least 15 minutes with all 15 ropes involved in proper setup.
 
DanCooke
distinguished member(1172)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
11/05/2020 09:30PM  
Small manufactures will not be able to test their products to a standard. The costs are to high. For example to test the volume of a pack, ASTM F2153. First you have to buy the standard. The standards are copy written and you need to buy them. The testing system will need to be bought or you need to send them a sample to an approved lab for testing. When you make only 100 packs of a size it becomes cost prohibitive. There are rules on what areas can be included, there are no rules preventing the pack from being stuffed in a manner that you would never want to carry it, but you can include that volume. I measure the intended shape H x W x L and it always smaller in volume than what other pack makers claim for the same size pack because ASTM F2153 allows the pack to take any shape when filled. Their claim on volume is accurate to ASTM F2153 standards.

What to test, how to test, what to report would take years of the big players of whatever product you are testing to agree on a standard- often filled with loopholes so everyone's product can make a claim on the best whatever.


As a whole in manufacturing only the mass produced items are ever tested to standards., sample testing on less critical items where the manufacturing process is predictable. (I designed and built automated testing equipment for over 21 years. The machines I designed measured and tested products mostly for 100 percent testing for car frames, wheel bearings brake rotors, pistons, cylinder sleeves, rocker arms, turbo scrolls and many other car components, as well as testing multiple components for best assembly selection, such as pick to light machines that informed assemblers proper shims when assembling head + valve assemblies and or lower units on outboard engines . Sample testing on aluminum cans and bottles)
 
11/06/2020 01:01AM  
I’ve got a really simple test. Was it made in the USA? 20 extra points. Made in Canada? 10 extra points. Europe? Luxembourg? That’s cool. The only time I have ever worried about tent setup time was winter camping. Even then I mostly used my 1980 vintage ve24. It took an extra 24.6 seconds to set up vs. brand X. But it stayed super warm. It also condensated like you wouldn’t believe. Had to keep the door open even at thirty below. In spite of this all the people climbing Denali thought this was the go to tent. That was a while ago. But I get it. We have a very prestigious, expensive tent. Set up is a nightmare. In spite of its pedigree, it usually stays home. Nobody enjoys playing mc escher with a tent, thirty below or clouds of mosquitoes.

I’ve had a few tents. It had never concerned me about how long it takes to setup a tent. Way long time ago we used canvas tents, we’d have to find poles in the woods for setup. Usually 12’ spruce. Boy Scout stuff. Never gave it a thought until we saw the eureka timberlines. Those were quick setups by the wat
 
billconner
distinguished member(7691)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
11/06/2020 05:29AM  
I echo Dan Cooke's observations. It costs money to develop, maintain, and apply the standards. I'd prefer to not increase the costs of the gear.
 
Savage Voyageur
distinguished member(13667)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished membermaster membermaster member
 
11/06/2020 09:12AM  
The standard you want sounds costly, and time consuming. Just read the reviews and determine if they are true, accurate, and descriptive. Read all the reviews both negative and positive. I even watch you tube videos on major products I buy.
 
TuscaroraBorealis
distinguished member(4758)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
11/06/2020 09:23AM  
Just my 2 cents...

I think I can somewhat relate to wanting a standard but, i have to agree with those who say its not realistic or would ever be truly reliable. Way too many variables.

Generally, what I do when I'm considering a new piece of gear is to poke around in this forum (and other websites) to see what some of the 'veteran' members (for example - butthead, DanCooke and others) have to say, or said, about a product. Thats not a 100% guarantee but, it has served me well over the years. There's a canoe country saying, "its more the journey than the destination", that can also apply to this topic as well.
 
PineKnot
distinguished member(1819)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
11/06/2020 07:48PM  
Hmmmmm......sounds interesting but not practical imho. Kinda reminds me of campsite ratings....different strokes for different folks....
 
pswith5
distinguished member(3419)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
11/07/2020 05:39AM  
On your mark...set....go!
 
andym
distinguished member(4987)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
11/07/2020 06:14PM  
Standards aside, set up and take down time on tarptents is pretty fast. Because they are not freestanding they have fewer poles to assemble and the fly and body stay connected. So take a look if that is what you value.
 
OCDave
distinguished member(577)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
11/08/2020 03:53PM  
I prefer exceptional to "Standard".

My first tent; my most loved tent; my most cherished tent, a Quest Preying Mantis, rarely gets used these days. It is 25+ years old (built when Quest made premier equipment), a bit heavy for a 2 person shelter and complicated to set up. But even though it predated the first Tarptents by a decade, it still touts a design that looks contemporary and performs fantastically. Some say, it is the best tent ever designed. The 4-season version was Backpacker Magazine Editor's Choice for best backpacking Gear of 1994. It remains one of my best gear purchases.

Despite the magnificence of the Quest Preying Mantis, if judged on any set of arbitrary standards it would most likely have never sold. Perhaps, the Preying Mantis would never have been built because compared to most 2 person tents sold in 1993-94, this one was a bit heavy (around 6 lbs if I recall properly). It is a bit narrow toward the foot end, and while you can sit upright in the middle the foot end is lower so, compared to competitors, or a "standard", there is less area inside the tent.

Setting up the Preying Mantis required a lot of practice, much more time than less innovative tents and a little witchery. The reward was a supper durable tent, nearly impervious to wind or weather and an enormous vestibule for packs and boots.

A "Standard" tent it is not.
 
justpaddlin
distinguished member (370)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
11/08/2020 08:42PM  
I agree that the idea of standard testing has merit. A website or other organization can do standardized (internal) testing without "testing to a standard" that is consistent across manufacturers (which requires standard facilities and external audits and all kinds of complex/expensive stuff) but if someone like Backpacker magazine wanted to offer standard data (like 0-60 acceleration times or 60-0 braking distances for cars) they'd just need to establish a testing activity and start creating reasonably simple and repeatable testing procedures. The data would lack precision versus true standard engineering test procedures but with a thoughtful approach there's a good chance one could establish a few metrics that would capture signifIcant differences between tents for set-up time, wind resistance or thermal performance. But with even the simplest approach you need to buy some equipment and hire someone (preferably with specific technical skills) to do the work...and there are lots of ways to accidentally create meaningless or misleading information.
 
11/08/2020 08:47PM  
OCDave: "I prefer exceptional to "Standard".
Preying Mantis
A "Standard" tent it is not.
"


Made me look it up! And a high "cool factor" is displayed. I like a bunch of tents and have almost as many as I do stoves. Very nice!

butthead
 
Chuckles
distinguished member (173)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
11/09/2020 10:35AM  
justpaddlin: "I agree that the idea of standard testing has merit. A website or other organization can do standardized (internal) testing without "testing to a standard" that is consistent across manufacturers (which requires standard facilities and external audits and all kinds of complex/expensive stuff) but if someone like Backpacker magazine wanted to offer standard data (like 0-60 acceleration times or 60-0 braking distances for cars) they'd just need to establish a testing activity and start creating reasonably simple and repeatable testing procedures. The data would lack precision versus true standard engineering test procedures but with a thoughtful approach there's a good chance one could establish a few metrics that would capture signifIcant differences between tents for set-up time, wind resistance or thermal performance. But with even the simplest approach you need to buy some equipment and hire someone (preferably with specific technical skills) to do the work...and there are lots of ways to accidentally create meaningless or misleading information."

If fairly simple standards could be developed, then people could easily unofficially test their own gear. This seems like the perfect job for youtubers everywhere. There are 1000s of videos of people testing different stove/pot combos in how fast they can boil water. The best ones are side-by-side comparisons because the testing is more uniform. As Dan Cooke said, perfectly repeatable tests would be difficult and expensive.

I can imagine a boot test where you put a 1-L water bottle of 98.6 degree water into a boot, cover the top of the boot with 2" blue foam and take the temperature of the water after 1 hour. You'd have to control for starting temperature of the boot and ambient temperature, but this would tell you something. I think this sort of test has big value when two boots are tested by the same person. These aren't going to give you absolute values, but will tell you decent relative values. There seem to be endless amount of people willing to make youtube videos of them testing camping gear.

The problem I have with this approach is the information is scattered and there is incentive for people to make the videos longer so they gain more ad revenue. Perhaps some of the companies that do reviews (Outdoor gear lab, REI, etc.) would adopt these standards and start including them in their reviews.
 
mschi772
distinguished member(575)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
11/09/2020 03:20PM  
Chuckles: "Perhaps some of the companies that do reviews (Outdoor gear lab, REI, etc.) would adopt these standards and start including them in their reviews. "

This isn't unprecedented. TireRack is an example that comes to mind of a vendor doing a lot of their own comparisons and tests (importantly, while providing the context of the tests they perform). Much of the information and conclusions have no basis in industry standard but do serve to compare and contrast products and inform shoppers. Unfortunately for this example, TireRack is more well known its user reviews which are a mess of uninformed/inexperienced users and logical fallacies like confirmation bias and very little scientific method.
 
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