Camping trip report -- lag screws and pop-ups

  • Mon 04 June 2018
  • misc

Melody goes to Burning Man and she told me about a trick people use to keep tents from blowing away on the playa.

If pounding rebar into the ground doesn't suit me as a tool-using higher primate, then busting a gut prying it back out again when breaking camp is doubly unpalatable for this non-neanderthal.

Turns out that really big lag bolts do the job admirably on the playa, and I figured we'd give it a whirl in the clay and loam soils of Northern Maryland last week.

We got a bunch of 1/2" x 16" lag bolts, as one would use to hook timbers together.

Added in a cheapie electric impact wrench from Hazard Fraught, though I recommended to Melody that for use in the dusty environment of the playa she might want to pony up for a better model.

I brought along both deep and regular 3/4" impact rated sockets. The deep ones worked better.

Drove the lag screws down into the ground right next to each leg of the pop-up tent, leaving about an inch sticking up so that the anchor load was straight pull-out. Despite my best efforts I couldn't get them to pull straight so I had good confidence that they'd hold. Even so, they came back out again at the end of camp (9 days with plenty of rain) with little trouble - it helps a bit to "tip" them slightly to the side when backing out so that the threads can get a fresh bite on the soil to lift the bolt out.

So, how did we hook up the pop-ups to the tops of the bolts? Or more properly, I'm documenting this so that we can remember next year what we did...

For the bottom, we tied 1m loops out of two meters of neon pink type 3 paracord. Feel free to substitute whatever color of paracord you like; we went with neon pink because had we decided to do the anchoring differently, we would have been mitigating some degree of tripping hazard by using the hi-viz stuff. These were fastened around the bolt heads with a simple lark's head.

For the top, we took another 2m piece of paracord and tied tent guy adjusters on one end. Looped over the top of the frame of the pop-up (inside), we (actually Tan because my knots suck) took out most of the slack and tied it to the loop on the bolt with a bowline.

Took out the remainder of the slack with the slack adjuster and we were done!

Held great through multiple rain and wind storms.

Thanks Melody!