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Old 01-01-2010, 08:36 PM
 
Location: Way on the outskirts of LA LA land.
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I've been in a tent in a thunderstorm several times. I didn't have the luxury of packing up and walking back to the vehicle, because it was twenty or thirty miles away at the trailhead. This happens regularly while taking week-long backpacking trips in the Sierra Nevada in the summertime. As long as there are trees or something else a bit taller, it isn't too risky, but it can be unnerving nonetheless. I've also been in vehicles during thunderstorms, and because of the mass of the conductive metal around me, I felt more at risk in a vehicle than in a tent.
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Old 01-01-2010, 08:47 PM
 
Location: Eastern NC
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I have also been in tents many time during t-storms. All you need to do is insulate yourself from the ground with a good pad and you should be ok.
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Old 01-01-2010, 11:33 PM
 
Location: NE San Antonio
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I rode out a few sudden Texas Hill Country thunderstorms, though I wouldn't recommend it! I recall one in a small 2-man tent, in addition to me and my friend, we drug in the cooler and some larger firewood logs. The wind was still lifting the tent off the ground! We sat with our backs on opposite corners with our legs streched along the side, and arms streched against the sides and poles, until the worse had passed. The next morning (which was clear and beuatiful), the formerly crowded public campground looked like a warzone; broken tents, debris and trash for a mile around, and not a soul in sight. Great memory, but not one to repeat
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Old 02-10-2010, 04:00 PM
 
Location: St. Louis
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I certainly have camped in a tent in a t-storm but didn't enjoy the experience--I live in Missouri for heaven's sake. Did it in Spain once. Australia once. Too scary but at least they don't get tornadoes. My advice if you have to do it is to not be on high ground and don't camp under dead limbs. Well don't camp under dead limbs anyway. One night we were camping and the wind started to blow hard like a storm was coming up and I thought I sure hope that we're not camped under any limbs b/c I forgot to look and sure enough I looked up and there was this big dead limb hanging over the tent and my babies were asleep in the tent so we tried to move it with them still asleep inside but I didn't sleep too well that night.
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Old 02-27-2010, 11:11 AM
 
Location: North Dakota
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Yep, agreed. I have been in a tent many times in a heavy thunderstorm without any problems. I am almost always far from any vehicle and without the option of running to my car. You might not get much sleep during the storm, though....
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Old 03-01-2010, 09:19 PM
 
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In NM circa 1960-something they used to teach us to sit cross-legged with one hand behind our back if a storm was right on top of us. This was in the Boy Scouts. The theory was that if lightning hit it did not have a path to the heart if I remember. Lightning is a real threat in NM, especially when you are miles from a car. Follow basic precautions and that is the best you can do. Last summer in Albuquerque there was a strike down in Abq that killed a man walking to his car with his family. There are no guarantees.
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Old 03-08-2010, 09:34 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trlhiker View Post
I have also been in tents many time during t-storms. All you need to do is insulate yourself from the ground with a good pad and you should be ok.
Yup. I've been in a tent in thunder and lightning storms above the treeline many times where my car was a few days hike away and my tent or I were the tallest thing around. It can sure make you feel...small.

The odds of being hit are smaller. But then again, I have fiberglass rods for the tent, and in many cases, just a tube tent with no poles.

It can be pretty scary and makes you question why you're there and reflect upon your mortality and place in the universe.

I was also taught the Boy Scout method in the Scouts. Last I heard about 15 years ago is that another way is being taught...basically kneeling sitting on your feet and your hands on your knees. I'm not sure it would matter a whole heckuva lot if you got hit.
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Old 03-10-2010, 12:52 AM
 
Location: Way on the outskirts of LA LA land.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skinem View Post
Yup. I've been in a tent in thunder and lightning storms above the treeline many times where my car was a few days hike away and my tent or I were the tallest thing around. It can sure make you feel...small.

The odds of being hit are smaller. But then again, I have fiberglass rods for the tent, and in many cases, just a tube tent with no poles.
Did you ever try using that tube tent when you were above timberline? There isn't much there to tie the rope to!

One time I remember being in a thunderstorm while above timberline was when I climbed Mt. Whitney many years ago. We were camped at Guitar Lake with our scout troop, and found shelter between some large boulders. We tied a tarp (maybe it was one of our tube tents) over the space to protect us from the elements, then we just ended up cooking (and drinking) hot chocolate for the next couple hours while we waited out the storm. That was the best hot chocolate I ever remember drinking!
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Old 03-10-2010, 08:22 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jdavid93225 View Post
Did you ever try using that tube tent when you were above timberline? There isn't much there to tie the rope to!
Ha! Yeah, young and dumb in the '70s I discovered that. Didn't even dawn on me the first trip above treeline with it until about an hour before I planned to set up camp the first night and realized I might have an issue. I pretty well just wore it that night...

Doesn't work well in some desert camping either, unless you can find tall sagebrush!

I've had a few trips with my girls when they were little during thunderstorms in the middle of the night. I know for a fact I can sound much, much braver than I really am! "Wow! Just listen to that, girls! Isn't that neat? Pretty cool the way that lightning just exploded that tree there, huh? Good thing we have all these other trees around us, huh? Listen to that thunder roll across the sky! Yup, you're right, that IS hail hitting the tent. No, it's ok, these tents are built to take that. Yep, we'll sure sleep good with the sound of that on the tent. What? You'll have to speak up! I can't hear you over the hail, rain and thunder! Boy, that one sure hit close, huh? Bet the next one will be further off! What, you want mommy? I do to! Uh, I mean, I know you do!"

I must have sold them on how neat it was. They're in their 20s now and have talked about how cool those nights were on some of our trips. And it is neat...after. And sometimes during, between the periods of terror I've had.
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Old 04-08-2010, 11:24 AM
 
Location: The Great White North
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I've got a basic rule that I usually follow...if the car's available and lightning is closer than 2 miles, I'll usually wait it out in the car. All speculation aside, you are MUCH safer in a car than in a tent. The metal frame directs the electricity safely away from you and into the ground, unlike in a tent where, if you're not insulated against the ground, a strike near or around you can easily zap you. Of course, some people like to camp more than a 10-second dash from the car. Best advice I can give for that is to choose your site well and take plenty of precautions.
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