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 Post subject: Is sleeping without a tent safe?
 Post Posted: February 21st, 2016, 8:34 am 
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Joined: June 10th, 2011, 6:17 am
Posts: 25
When I have tried sleeping in the open without a tent I've always spent the night a little freaked out. The night sounds become much more intense and significant. I can't really find anything online about the relative danger from wild animals of sleeping without a tent. Is there some kind of increased danger?

What are the drawbacks to sleeping in the open? The only things I can think of are:
1) Colder - the tent retains a lot of heat, plus without the tent you are exposed to wind.
2) Dew - can be really intense at times
3) Bugs
4) Rain

I am curious what people's thoughts and experiences are as I look forward to this next season and think about ways to reduce weight.

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 Post subject: Re: Is sleeping without a tent safe?
 Post Posted: February 21st, 2016, 9:25 am 
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Joined: November 15th, 2009, 10:52 am
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Location: SW Portland
I usually camp with a tent or tarp, but I've also spent many nights sleeping under the open sky. I really don't think it's unsafe to do so, though it does pose a risk of getting wet if the weather changes. Most of my open-air sleeping has been in the desert southwest, where rain is unlikely. One big advantage of doing so is being able to see the stars. A disadvantage can be that the light of a full moon can make it hard to sleep.

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 Post subject: Re: Is sleeping without a tent safe?
 Post Posted: February 21st, 2016, 9:46 am 
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Joined: June 5th, 2009, 7:54 am
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I don’t think there is any danger in most places in Oregon, its only an issue of bugs for me that keep me from doing it all the time which "bugs" me because I could save the 2lbs of the shelter.

The only places I wouldn’t for safety reasons is in the SE Oregon desert because of rattlesnakes and in the places we know have established wolf packs...

but then the real question is just how much protection does a little nylon tent provide?

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 Post subject: Re: Is sleeping without a tent safe?
 Post Posted: February 21st, 2016, 9:53 am 
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Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:02 pm
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Location: Lake Oswego
I haven't slept in the open for quite a while, but when I did the biggest problem wasn't bugs (as I recall, I used to pull my head into the sleeping bag when it was buggy), but chipmunks and other small scurrying animals which would come up to check me out, sometimes even running across the top of my bag. When the chipmunks were numerous and bold, this routine would get old in a hurry.


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 Post subject: Re: Is sleeping without a tent safe?
 Post Posted: February 21st, 2016, 10:34 am 
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Joined: July 31st, 2014, 1:31 pm
Posts: 477
Koda wrote:
in the places we know have established wolf packs...

but then the real question is just how much protection does a little nylon tent provide?


The answer is none :)


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 Post subject: Re: Is sleeping without a tent safe?
 Post Posted: February 21st, 2016, 12:35 pm 
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Joined: December 10th, 2014, 11:54 am
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I don't mind sleeping out in the open, but I hate sleeping on the ground. Every time I sleep on the ground, some animal wakes me up (mouse, deer, raccoon, etc.) by running across my head, walking and hanging out by my head, or chomping on some food that someone spilled and didn't tell me. A cot makes a big difference for me, but they can get cold and they are heavy usually.

I bought a sheet of waterproof/breathable fabric on sale at the fabric store that I just throw over me for dew/rain.

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 Post subject: Re: Is sleeping without a tent safe?
 Post Posted: February 21st, 2016, 12:43 pm 
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Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:03 pm
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Location: The Dalles, OR
I think that a closed tent adds about 5 degrees of warmth. This isn't a safety issue but it can be a comfort one. My bag is rated to about freezing so sometimes I am spending the night in temps lower than that. Since I use a down bag with a high down fill factor, which is really expensive, getting another bag rated to lower temps for those few nights per year is a significant expense.

But aside from that, I think that in most cases, cowboy camping is more a matter of personal comfort and privacy. I know some people who say that they would never ever consider cowboy camping just for the privacy issue.

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 Post subject: Re: Is sleeping without a tent safe?
 Post Posted: February 21st, 2016, 1:31 pm 
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Joined: July 26th, 2008, 8:16 pm
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Location: Tri-Cities, WA
An enclosed tent does probably add 5 degrees or so, but I think it's a little more than that comfortwise. Even just a tarp acts as a radiation shield on clear nights. That not only keeps you a bit warmer but lessens condensation on the top of the bag/bivy.

I don't cowboy camp, though I did a few times when I was younger. Condensation/dew is one reason, but the main one is rain. I've gone to bed on too many milky way nights that ended up dropping a few minutes' rain on me at some point, so I'm a little paranoid. Probably shouldn't be that big a worry on short trips.


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 Post subject: Re: Is sleeping without a tent safe?
 Post Posted: February 21st, 2016, 3:13 pm 
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Joined: September 9th, 2013, 11:29 pm
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Location: Portland, OR
For whatever reason, I'm more than happy to sleep without a tent when I'm up above treeline (assuming, of course, reasonable weather), but I wouldn't cowboy camp in the forest. Something about visibility, or the number of animals. I'm not at all sure that that actually makes sense, though.

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 Post subject: Re: Is sleeping without a tent safe?
 Post Posted: February 21st, 2016, 3:20 pm 
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Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:03 pm
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Location: far north Forest Park
I enjoy cowboy camping, and do it as often as I can while backpacking.
Falling asleep under the stars, watching meteors and satellites is enjoyable to me.
Last summer, I even slept outside one night on a hike of the Olympic Beach Park.

That said, I wouldn't consider doing it if it was buggy or the weather looked doubtful.
Sometimes I set my tent up just in case it starts to rain, and sleep outside.
Then if it starts to sprinkle, I can dash inside.

The only drawback camping out in the open happened to me on a mesa in Colorado.
I was bitten by a spider on my eyelid during the night.
For about half of the next day, my friend called me "One Eye."


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