Tents are marvels. They have been in use for hundreds of years in various persuasions and have been employed as temporary and permanent shelters. Today’s anglers and hunters generally use them for a night or two at the lake or hunting camp, and practically any rain-repellent structure will work well enough for such an occasion. But if a base camp is the focus of your interest, a place to call home for an extended period of several days and nights when stormy and/or cold weather can be expected and living arrangements will center around this specific set up, the choices are more limited, specific.
Nothing compares to a well-planned base camp to add a nostalgic and romantic touch to any fishing or hunting excursion. The simple process of being close to the elements is a very real part of the experience. But for this to be a pleasant outing rather than a test of endurance, that base must be well equipped, functional, reliable, and comfortable. Anything less will leave the angler or hunter discouraged and miserable. Let’s look at some viable options for a solid base camp.
First, what will you need? Sleeping quarters are a given. And these need to be large enough to store gear and afford room for some creature comforts, such as adequate bedding. They must also be heated and have the capability of keeping inclement weather outside. If snow is a part of this weather, tents must be strong and well supported. Few structures fill this need like a good canvas wall tent. Supported with sturdy poles/framing, these tents will withstand some amazing punishment.
I have used a Panther Primitive canvas mini wall 8×10 for many years. It is big enough for two occupants and gear and has remained up for two weeks at a time through a variety of weather conditions with no problems. The 8×10, however, is a minimal size, and even that can get cramped with two people for extended periods if everything is not kept in good order. A couple of collapsible gear organizers, available from Cabela’s and similar outlets, help a great deal and are well worth the investment.
Another need is a place to gather outside the sleeping tent. This can be accomplished by adding a fly to the sleeping tent or by using a fly set up apart from specifically for that purpose. Such structures are good for sitting around out of the weather and also provide a place to have meals.
And you will also need a place for cooking. Some of the best camps I have ever had provided a big wall tent for cooking and dining. These were large enough to accommodate a stove, shelves, boxes, and table and chairs. A fly can serve the same purpose, but it will not be enclosed from weather around the edges. If cold temperatures and/or heavy winds are not an issue, the fly is ideal for this service.
Heat is always a concern, both from a necessity and safety standpoint. Any heat source can be dangerous, but it is essential. Most tents suitable for base camps can be had with a vent through which a stove pipe can be placed so that a wood-burning stove can be used. These work well, but the campers must be always cautious with a fire. Additionally, someone will have to get out of a warm bed to stoke the fire from time to time or coax it back to life on a chilly morning.
Another option for heat are gas units that have oxygen sensors built in. These systems extinguish the heat source should the oxygen level become low. Still, it is always wise to turn the heater off at bedtime. A cold-weather sleeping bag will keep you warm for the night; starting the heater back in the morning is a simple chore of turning a dial. And these things will heat the tent up quickly after that. Such units are available from the Mr. Heater Corporation, among others.
So far we have discussed only canvas tents. And while these rigs are super, they do have drawbacks. One is weight. If you wish to go lighter and still have a viable tent for all uses mentioned, there is at least one that is perfect. This is the Alaknak II offered by Cabela’s. It comes in various sizes, complete with set-up packages, and is made of a material known as XTC. This is a lightweight option to canvas and is a unit that allows ample room and protection without the weight of canvas. It is also simple and quick to erect. It definitely deserves consideration.
Base camp is something that all anglers and hunters should enjoy. It provides that perfect place to come to after a long day, but also permits the user to stay close to that nature that he or she so very much appreciates. Choose wisely, set up carefully, and add this additional level of pleasure to any outing.