Hiking and fishing...tent or no tent???

I did an over-night hike and fish trip last summer and had an interesting experience that got me rethinking the sleeping with no tent issue.
Me and a buddy hiked into a N. ID stream to fish for two days last summer and we didn't take a tent. In the middle of the night I woke up to something grunting very close to the foot of my sleeping bag. I had a flashlight in my bag but to be honest was too spooked to pull it out. I also didn't have my contacts in so I wouldn't have been able to see it well anyway, plus I didn't know if shining the light on a creature in the middle of the night would scare it off or let him know that I was awake and a free tasty meal (clearly he knew I was there). So I laid there with a heart rate of about 200 for a hour or so until I finally felll asleep. In the mornig I asked my buddy if he heard it and he said no, but did point out something less than 15 feet from my bag that wasn't there last night....see pic...yes a pile of bear scat. Then after we got up we saw two piles of moose scat (small egg shaped) in the middle of the trail less than 10 yards from where we were sleeping, again, not there the night before.
Clearly the fact that the bear was so close and didn't bother us says something, but it sure got me spooked.
How many of you take a tent when you hike and fish and how many of you don't?
Just curious,


Says more about not camping on a Game Trail than using a tent. ;)

I have always found tents to be a pain. You can't find anywhere to set them up, there heavy, there clunky etc. I usually just take a tarp and make a lean-to unless I will be in a campground something similar.

Chad Lewis

NEVER wonder what to do with your free time
I consider myself a fairly serious backpacker, who's into ultra lightweight backpacking- I always take a tent. Modern tents are incredibly light (but not cheap). I'd disagree with Gatorator about weight and being clunky. A tarp is a great way to go, but you need to be well practiced with the setup before you go out into the hinterlands.

As far as bears go, there's no difference between being in a tent or sleeping on the ground naked with honey smeared on you. That guy's comin' in if he wants somethin'! Being in a tent does make you feel better though, and I suppose a moose or elk would be inclined to walk around a tent instead of stepping on your head. Bear spray is the answer to your particular dilemna.
Ditto what Chad said. Tents these days are light and pack down enough to have as a luxury. Although some minimalists would opt for a bivy. Tents are nice #1 because of the elements out there (never know what you are going to get sometimes up high), #2 an escape from mosquitoes.

As far as bears, like Chad said, your best bet would be a can of spray. I always sleep with it right next to me in Bear country, although make sure you dash out of your tent and then spray if it came to it. :thumb:

REI Quarterdome T2 is my tent (depends how tall you are). Find them on ebay brand new and save bigtime.


Sculpin Enterprises
I'm a tent fan. It provides a secure place to keep my gear dry if there is a passing shower while I'm out fishing and I sleep better in an enclosed space. Plus, you stay a little warmer, especially in the early morning. Generally, I'm hiking for part of one day to the area that I want to fish and then doing day hikes upstream and downstream from camp for several days; that style make the weight less of an issue.


Ed Call

Well-Known Member
Tent to keep your gear dry and organized and maybe to make put your mind to ease. A moose or bear will stomp and shred your tent if it wants to. Same to be said for you in a sleeping bag, under a tarp, leaning on a tree or rock. I think that Gatorator and I disagree on the tent or no tent idea but I'm solidly with him about not camping on a game trail (and I'll add or next to a fresh water source that will potentially attract game and you had better have a scent free camping area and store your food and scented items properly for your benefit and the benefit of those wild animals that may be drawn in your direction by them). I like the tent, I have a half dozen for myself, family and friends to use. I have light weight through four season and even a huge family camping monstrosity. All have their place on one trip or another. I bet you still wonder sometimes if that was the bear or the moose as both were there to shit near your location...but you only heard one...and your buddy was oblivious to them both (or so he says).

Ed Call

Well-Known Member
Bear spray? Well, some say a good idea, others say it only spices you up while they are chomping on you. I have some, I carry it, but I don't know if it will do any good or not.


New Member
Tents are for rain and bugs.

I avoid tents whenever possible. Usually animals are not a problem.

I did make the mistake of a couple of times of throwing my sleeping bag in the trail for the night. I was working in the backcountry in the middle of nowhere and got caught by darkness in steep country. So rather than wandering around in the dark looking for a flat spot. I just threw the sleeping bag down on a flat part of the trail.

Let me tell every animal and their relatives use the trails at night. I had deer stepping over me all night long. In the middle of the night I opened my eyes and was looking UP at a deer belly. He or she jumped up in the air at that point and I did not have a clue what to do at that point!!

Since I was fairly low in elevation the first time I just figured it was a one time occurence. The second time at high elevation was a replay. Well, after the first animal I did get out the flashlight and move off the trail.

So there's my advice....if your not going to use a tent. Don't throw out your sleeping bag in the trail.

Kent Lufkin

Remember when you could remember everything?
As much as it surprises me to find myself agreeing with 509, he's dead-on right about a tent being the best solution for rain and bugs. Nothing short of a bear attack or a broken leg can ruin a trip quicker than getting soaked in an unexpected mountain downpour, especially at night. And I'm no fan of mosquitos, no-seeums or other bugs that buzz around my ears and eyes at night, making my face look like a pimply teenager's in the morning after all the bites.

Most serious tents these days come with a fly/footprint option that reduces weight on summer trips considerably by allowing you leave leave the actual tent at home. You bring the rainfly and footprint, stakes, poles and guys which reduces weight by about 50%. Yes, there's a gap where the fly and the footprint meet but in my experience, the setup will keep you dry and 95% bug-free while avoiding the weight penalty. I wouldn't consider buying any tent unless it has a matching footprint included or available at extra cost.

It's worth mentioning hammocks. Designs like a Hennesey offer all the protection of a 3- or 4-season tent but are set up well off the ground to eliminate water leakage and the problem of an uneven or sloped floor. They're quite a bit lighter than even mesh tents since they eliminate poles, stakes and most guy lines.

I would recommend a tent. As has already been said, there are many lightweight tents that
add very little weight and more than make up for their inconvenience the first time you have to spend a night in the rain. Besides the big critters, there are plenty of smaller animals out there that love to get into your stuff. Putting your gear inside a zipped up tent while you are out fishing will eliminate a lot of mischief.

As far as bears and moose are concerned, that's just part of the outdoor experience. Getting between a cow moose and her calf is clearly dangerous, but can be avoided with a little common sense. After years of backpacking, I've never had or heard of attacks by black bears, though they will try to get at your food. That's easily solved by hanging the food away from camp. On the other hand, each year I do some fishing in eastern B.C. where the are grizzly bears. When fishing, I carry bear spray and expect one day to have to use it. I guess that I'm something of a coward, but I have no interest in sleeping outside anywhere there are Grizzlies. In the fall it's not unusual in that area to read about an elk hunter being killed by a Grizzly.

Another option is a bivy sack. Even smaller than a tent but with protection from the elements.


Banned or Parked
After years of backpacking, I've never had or heard of attacks by black bears, though they will try to get at your food.
From the BC Vital Statistics Agency:

"In the 29 years between 1969 and 1997, 19 people were killed in B.C. due to encounters with bears. One of these "encounters" was not actually a bear attack, but a motor vehicle accident resulting from a collision with a bear on the highway. Seven deaths were attributed to grizzly bears, 5 to black bears, and in the case of 7 other deaths, the species was not specified or identified."


Proud to Be Alaskan
are there not bugs down there or something? The only time I'm not sleeping in a tent outside I'm sleeping in a car or a snow cave, mostly because of the bugs, and the rain, and the false sense of security a tent provides. I can't really fathom not using a tent
Just to clarify, I wasn't one a trail of any kind (to my knowlege). The moose clearly were using the hiking trail which was about 30 feet away. We specifically got off the trail and slept in-between a couple of trees. Also, our food (which wasn't much for a two day hike) was high in a tree about another 30 feet away. So the bear was probably just wandering around. I love the outdoors and absolutely think that wildlife is part of the experience. I just didn't expect the bear to come so close while we were sleeping. Not sure having a can of bear spray inside a drawn up mummy bag is going to do much unless he goes for my buddy first.
I was really just curious how many people use tents and how many don't.

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