Another hot day in the sub-Arctic, plus a few poncho shelter setups

The plan was to spend from Saturday afternoon to Sunday afternoon in the woods, so I packed my Swedish LK-35 rucksack with my gear load-out for summer overnight trips:

Without food and water, the pack weighs about 20 pounds/9 kg. Not ultralight, but not ultraheavy either. If I swapped out each item with a lighter equivalent, I’m sure I could cut the weight in half (though I have no need or interest to do so).

Anyway, on Saturday I ended up having such a nice time at the cabin with the family and in-laws (except the part where I accidentally fell in the lake…fully clothed…while trying to fish out one of the Woodsboy’s toys) that I decided to stay at the cabin for the rest of the day and night instead. Sometimes after a long work week, it’s nice to just relax and hang around the lake, sauna and grill with the family. 🙂

The following day, I hoisted my pack upon my shoulders and hiked 10 minutes up and down the rocky terrain to my campsite, which is located elsewhere on the 35-acre property. Once again, the black flies were horrendous, as were the horse flies (and a few mosquitoes), so I donned my net hat. Stylish, eh? By the way, that’s a black fly on my chin. 🙂

A few shots of the camp area. This spot had been cleared several years back and only now can be considered to be forest-ish again. One of the interesting things about having a spot like this as a campsite is that I get to watch the new forest grow up quickly around me over the years.

Local insect life:

Rhododendron tomentosum, aka marsh Labrador tea/northern Labrador tea in bloom:

Another flower:

Late-spring bilberry blooms:

Can you spot the lizard?:

Funky lichens:

As usual, I brought my thermometer along. I got this reading in direct sun (over 110*F):

And this one in the shade (84*F):

Yes, it can and does get pretty warm in the sub-Arctic. 🙂

After taking pictures of fauna, flora etc., it was time to get down to business. As I mentioned, I didn’t sleep in the forest the night before, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t set up a shelter or seven. For a while I’ve been meaning to show you guys a few of the poncho shelter setups I’ve learned over the years, and I thought this would be a good opportunity. The poncho is the very rugged Bundeswehr German army poncho (220 x 160 cm/7’4″ x 5’4″) which weighs about 900 g/2 pounds (I know, it’s on the heavy side as ponchos go, but it’s extremely rugged, which is more important to me than weight). I scavenged the three-section tent poles, guy lines and tent stakes from another tent. The following poncho setups use only one poncho. In the future, I’ll show setups using two ponchos snapped together.

The steep lean-to:

For more protection, you can lower one of the corners:

You can lower both corners for even greater protection:

If that’s still not enough, drop one corner to the ground (apparently I picked a spot with a lot of shrubbery, as evidenced here. :)):

The next setup is completely enclosed, but is so small that it would only be suitable for the Woodsboy, a pet or as a gear shelter (it does work well as a full-sized tent when you use a larger tarp to make it, however):

My second-favorite single-poncho shelter uses only one pole, one guy line, the poncho and five tent stakes. I can almost stretch out inside it, there is room for my gear in there and it provides good protection from the elements. I believe I once saw it referred to as a “brew shelter”:

I removed the guy line, and it still stayed up perfectly:

And saving the best (in my opinion) single-poncho shelter for last, may I present the brew shelter with one corner up off the ground on a pole. This provides good protection under the lowered side, plus better air flow and a bit more room for myself and gear under the open side. This is the configuration I would have used if I had stayed overnight.

Here’s what it looks like with my bivy bag and sleeping bag liner inside:

I have to mention that none of these ideas are mine and that this is by no means an exhaustive display of single-poncho shelters. A few years back, I set up several other configurations which might interest you as well:

Simple A-frame:

A-frame with one end snapped up:

A fully enclosed, close-to-the-ground setup:

As you can see, there’s a lot you can do with a poncho or tarp! Here’s a little tip for using tent pegs in soft/shallow/rocky soil: Using more than one tent peg, angled in different directions, will improve the anchor strength.

Hope someone finds this info useful!

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12 comments on “Another hot day in the sub-Arctic, plus a few poncho shelter setups

  1. Duncan says:

    Great pics of the poncho shelters. I experiment a lot with mine as well and found quite a few ideas on here to try out. Great post!

  2. Ron says:

    Wow… that is quite warm! To warm for my liking, allthough we are having a pretty good spring ourselves here.
    I like the poncho setups, but wonder if they might not be to roomy. You are right though; they are heavy, but next to indestructible. To bad the Dutch equivalent isn’t much use as a poncho. Much lighter but not exactly waterproof.

    • Thanks for the comments, Ron. Yes, these temperatures are WAY too hot for me! I’d be happy if it never got over 20*C. 🙂

      No, the poncho shelters are not very roomy, but they are mainly for sleeping/getting out of the rain etc. In nice summer weather, I don’t bother too much with larger shelters, but during the other seasons, I like a larger enclosed shelter that I can spend time in. I’ll show some of those setups in a future post.

  3. I didn´t know some types, so I learn something new, many thanks!

  4. Finnman says:

    I have only used few simple setups with my poncho´s / tarps and got some good ideas worth of trying here. Thanks for sharing. You are right these days are way too hot to do anything but lying down lazily. Better to be around 15-20´C 🙂

    • Great! I hope you get some good use out of the poncho setups. 🙂

      The heat makes me feel sluggish and tired. I wouldn’t say that I’m looking forward to autumn, but it would be nice if the weather cooled down a bit!

  5. Carol says:

    Very interesting, Weekend Woodsman!! Love your hat…very stylish!! 🙂 🙂 🙂 Didn’t know you were such an outdoorsman! Great pictures!

    • Yep, the hat’s a winner. Really impresses the ladies. It’s how I got the Woodsbabe to fall for me. 😉

      I’m not that much of an outdoorsman, just bumming around the woods trying to enjoy myself. 🙂

      Thanks for the comments!

  6. Images are down for me, says you have to upgrade your account because you are too popular!

    • Hehehe, “too popular”, right. 😉 My Photobucket bandwidth was exceeded, so they stopped showing the pictures. I just ordered increased bandwidth, so the pictures should appear again soon!

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