Survival in a Cloud Up Tent

SnowWalk - Survival in a Cloud Up Tent

A couple of weeks after receiving my ultralight tent I managed to not only put it through it’s first night out in the wilderness. I (We) ended up putting it through a bit of a stress test in a survival situation. Steve, who is a work colleague invited me out on a night navigation with one of Steve’s friends. However a last minute change took place as Steve’s friend had to pull out. This brought forward the decision to hike to a bothy, where I could test the Naturehike ultralight Cloud Up 1 person tent. If it failed I could head into the bothy for shelter.

Cloud Up 1 Flysheet 1000x1000 - Survival in a Cloud Up Tent

I had to work on Sunday morning, so we set a departure time of 3pm. The idea was to head north to Sadgill then hike 3 miles to a bothy. It didn’t quite go as planned.

The drive to Kendal didn’t seem to take long, however it had rained heavily between Preston & Lancaster. A combination of the rain and previous cold snap the night before, -7c in Lancaster, had cause surface water on the road. At one point Steve thought we could easily start aquaplaning.

We came off the motorway at the Kendal A6 slip road and drove through Kendal. There’s something about all that stone work and historic buildings. Driving through Kendal I realised I had forgotten my gloves, a bit late to go back for them. Luckily Steve had a spare pair. On the A6 we watched out for the Longsleddale turning. This is a C class single track road that ends in 4.2 miles.

The rain had stopped at Lancaster and the sky was clear. Along the single track road there was thick snow, it was obvious that this road had been ploughed clear. A few birds fluttered out from the hedges and flew just ahead of us. Steve was driving sensibly and at a slow pace which turned out to be a good thing when we came across a sheep in the road.

It was a long 4.2 miles but parking was easy and we had reached our starting point. The scenery was snow covered hills and paths. I could hear a fast stream flowing, birds but little else. It was clear, crisp and still light. We donned our kit, locked the car and headed along Longsleddale valley up towards Tarn Crag.

I was pleased I had wrapped up and had brought my walking poles. The path was covered in snow over ice over stones and grass. We went at a steady pace which I was glad about as I hadn’t carried a 65 litre pack in a while.

Steady as she goes, one icy step in front of the other. We made occasional stops to admire the views and rest our worn out knees. I was surprised at which bits ached and hurt, they wasn’t the bits I expected.

The light was failing when we stopped at a bend on a flat section. It was time to get the map and head torches out. Steve took bearings and determined we were half way, up the first half. So really we were a quarter of the way. I doubted myself on whether I would make the bothy.

A quick pee before heading off turned into a quite clumbsy effort. I was so layered up that it took too long. The mist started to fall. We headed onwards and upwards.

Thirty minutes later and we had made the gate. It was getting windy and my feet were cold and wet. The boots I had on were rubbish. I had owned them for 5 years and they had lost their waterproofing. I had a bad pain in my thigh and my knee was aching.

Just past the gate was a bridge over a small stream. Steve took another bearing, 45 degrees should do it. Once over the bridge the path took a left, we needed right. This meant that we needed to cross the stream. A potential spot was found but it wasn’t to be. The snow was thick and covered the bank making it look easy to cross but it was too deep.

The wind was howling now and the sleet was falling faster. I had to remove my glasses because my breath was causing them to steam up. Steve checked the map again, 45 degrees. The decision was made to head back to the bridge and head up on the other side. Looks easy on a map, it wasn’t.

I kept slipping and falling down, my legs ached and I couldn’t go any further. The wind was gusting and knocking me over. Sensible decision time! Steve asked if the tent could take 2. I said I was pretty sure but it would be a squeeze.

As the weather had turned, the gusts were blowing snow everywhere and it was about 2 foot deep. We were on a steep hill with about 1.5 miles to go, Steve called it and said we backtrack to the bridge and camp by the gate. Wise decision but then the fun would start.

I slipped down the hill and my foot went in a small stream. The boots had failed me and I now had a wet freezing foot. The other foot was getting as bad by the time we got to the bridge. The weather was now gale force gusts and sleet. Steve found a flat spot next to the stream in between the bridge and the gate.

It was time to set the tent up!

Steve packed the snow down, whilst I dumped my bag. Luckily the Naturehike Tent came with a footprint so we staked that out first. The wind was getting up and the rain was now full on. The idea was to pitch with the back of the tent into the wind but in all the commotion we pitched door in.

The poles went up next followed by the rain fly. I had made 3 shock cord guylines with carbineers on one end. These clipped onto the rain fly and out to pegs, two on the front went to walking poles. The one on the back to a tent peg.

I planned to fit the inner last to try and keep it dry. Steve suggested we leave the inner off as there would be more room. He was correct but the footprint is too small so there’s a big gap around the edge. I got inside and attached the inner. This would prove essential later in the night.

The inner clips to the outer a 5 points meaning it wasn’t going anywhere. The rainfly does need to be pulled as far out as possible to avoid it touching the inner.

Things now got very tricky as this is definitely a 1 person tent, we were both soaked and needed to get in. A major issue was where to put the rucksacks etc.

In went the self-inflating mats to start, the wind was still getting stronger and we were now in the clouds. It took a few minutes to figure the best layout for 2 people. Top and tail wasn’t going to work as the tent tapers. The inner is 75% mesh so we decided to use the vestibule as part of the sleeping space. Problem was still the rest of the gear.

I rolled out my sleeping bag, it was wet on the outside. This would be uncomfy but my bag is synthetic so should still keep me warm. I had my technicals coat on but it was too wet to sleep in, so were my over trousers. So off they came with the wet socks and I slid into my cold sleeping bag.

The wind howled and the rain was bitter cold. The next plan was to get Steve inside the tent. Steve’s sleeping bag is down and it was in a dry bag, so a better start than me. Once inside it was severely cramped but we needed to get, coats, boots etc all undercover.

Coats and compression sacks were put at the base of the tent. Rucksacks, boots in the vestibule. The idea was they’d cover the snow and be Steve’s pillow. We lay there laughing at the situation. “No chance of a brew then” Steve said. We just had to laugh. It’s going to be a long 12 hours.

Whilst all this was going on the inside of the tent was getting wet. Two people in a 1 person tent meant the inner was pressed against the outer. We both opted to put our bivi bags over our sleeping bag. We both agreed we should have done that earlier.

At last we were in, not quite settled but out of the wind and rain. I was warm apart from my freezing feet. I had brought some heat packs so stuck one on each foot, however within 30 mins they had fallen off. There wasn’t enough room to retrieve them.

We chatted for a while, whilst adjusting our gear to get as comfy as possible. Steve’s mat needed more air and I needed a pillow of some sort. Finally it was time to settle but the weather just got worse.

The wind was moving the tent, if we weren’t in it then it would have gone. This was going to be a long night. As there was no room we slept back to back but that meant my face was pressed against the tent, which was wet. I just pulled my sleeping bag over my head and put up with it. In the morning Steve said he had the same issue.

I must have dozed off at some point but don’t remember sleeping at all. I did have some heat pads in my pocket but my feet were suffering. The wind was so bad at one point I thought we would lose the rain fly, luckily we didn’t. It seemed to rain all night and the noise of the wind and rain became annoying.

4 am came and went, farting and snoring took place, so we must have slept. 8 am Steve announced that he had to get up to pee. He just couldn’t figure out how he would get out of the tent.

I hadn’t realised that it was daylight as I had my hat over my eyes. I lifted it up, rubbed my eyes. We agreed that if we clear the vestibule Steve could slide his mat out and stand on it whilst I tied his boot lace. This was easier said than done.

The tent had come off the peg at the vestibule and one walking pole had fallen. This meant my boots had been outside, all night, in the storm. I had to empty the freezing water out of them, putting them on was not going to be fun. Steve had spare socks too, so at least I wouldn’t be putting wet socks on.

The weather was clear and dry but the constant rain had melted a lot of snow. The small stream was now a torrent and there was a lot of slushy snow everywhere.

With Steve now out of the tent it seemed massive. There was a puddle at the base and the rest of the inside was soaked. I would have to make some modifications before I used it again.

I emptied 2 small compression bags and put them over my borrowed socks before putting my soak boots on. That worked well but my feet were just blocks of ice.

Time for a hot coffee!

I had packed my new jetboil flash brew kit and I’m glad I did. I don’t think I’ve seen water boil as quick as that before. The coffee was just what we needed and as we drank it the sun broke. It was shining on the opposite hillside but we knew that when it was higher we’d feel like it was summer.

Steve threw icebergs into the fast flowing stream. I started to deflate my mat and pack my gear. When I came back out of the tent, Steve had built a snowman on top of the gate. It took 20 minutes to pack up and my coat and over trousers were dry inside which was a major plus.

It’s downhill from now on!

The walk down was brilliant, my feet warmed up. The views were amazing, waterfalls and fast flowing water. The sun was out and the temperature was above zero. We went at a steady pace stopping to admire the views. Another brew was called for and we found a big rock to have as the kitchen. Coffee and wraps, uneaten from the night before both tasted wonderful.

We swapped stories as we headed to the car. We met 2 other people going up, with their dogs. They were changing padlock codes today as annually the path is open to bikes for a day.

Once at the car I remarked how comfortable the seats were, we laughed and headed home.

I don’t think I can give a fair review of the Naturehike Cloud Up 1 Person tent as we didn’t use it as intended. It did help to save our lives though. I intend to make some minor modifications and will take it out again before February ends.

Courtesy of Steven Bent Productions

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