Having devoted a lot of time to the concept of sleeping solutions for kayak camping recently, most of those deliberations have focused on extended expedition use. Specifically I'm thinking about my up-coming 1000km yak fishing expedition planned for July/August. Throughout this ordeal adventure there are going to be times where camping and sleeping conditions will be far from ideal.
It might be that there is little to no room to pitch a tent. Could be that the wind is blowing so strongly that pitching most tents would be difficult. Perhaps foul weather will blow in and keep me holed up inside my shelter for days on end. It may even come to pass that reaching land is difficult to impossible (due to conditions and or miscalculation), forcing me to lower anchor and try to get some sleep on the yak, by somehow making a makeshift mattress out of the tramp. So I need to be prepared for various bad case scenarios.
Despite the fact that I already have two perfectly good lightweight tents (both of which I've used on kayak expeditions) from MSR - Skinny One and MoRoom2 - neither of them are ideal for this trip. The MoRoom 2 is too big and heavy, and a bit much effort to set up and pack down for my liking on a solo trip like this. Nor is it a self standing tent - it requires pegging out for set up. The Skinny One is a lot smaller and lighter, but not quite livable enough for extended trips. Its single-skin cacoon design is a bit cramped, not as weatherproof as a double skin, and although its very quick to set up, also requires staking out. This makes tents a bit trickier to set up some times, especially if pegs won't stand their ground, and especially when wind is blowing hard. What I need is a lightweight tent that is relatively roomy and livable yet lightweight and compact, self-standing, durable and reliably weatherproof. The Aussie designed Wilderness Equipment ACE UL tent ticks all of those boxes, offering a standard of quality comparable to that of MSR, and at a more affordable price (for us Aussies).
I put this tent to the test while kayak camping with Holger at Sandon recently and for the first time in a long time, I had my tent set up before holger (who was actually using a Clarke hammock). Setting it up really is a breeze. It doesn't need any more room than the footprint of the tent itself to be set up, though I made my own ground sheet to roll out underneath it that is larger than the footprint by about 5" on each side, including the vestibule. This protects the floor, as well as giving me a narrow but useful mesh carpet around my tent. The dimensions of the ground sheet are as such that when staked out, the same stakes can be used for securing the tent in place as well, giving me both a taught ground sheet and tent on top of it.
Lighter than the MoRoom 2 and only marginally heavier than the Skinny One, the WE ACE UL is the ideal compromise of livability and size and weight, offering excellent weather protection and internal room. It's self-standing design makes it simpler to set up and more versatile, and the fact that it's inner can be used exclusive of the fly will make it a fabulous bug-mesh shelter for those hot balmy nights (for when a rainfly is just not required). It is infact somewhat similar in concept to the MSR Hubba range of tents, although the WE Ace is slightly longer, offers more end-to-end head room, is a little simpler to set up and uses a more durable floor. The quality of materials and workmanship used looks to be much the same standard. As much as I love my MSR tents, this has become my new default kayak expedition tent and will most certaily join me on my upcoming epic trip.
As good as I expect it to turn out for this trip, there's a possibility that I may have to sleep out on the yak at some stage... most likely while trying to cover a 60km leg and failing miserably in the process. If I run out of both energy and daylight I'm going to need to anhor up and get some rest on the yak. My plan for achieving this is to use the custom-tensioned tramp as a mattress that I will roll out my new Black Diamond Bibler 'Big Wall' bivy out onto. This particular bivy is a one-man shelter made popular by climbers and mountaineers setting up for sleep on mountain ledges and cliff faces. Its very light and compact, made of a highly durable, waterproof and breathable fabric with a moisture wicking lining (that wicks moisture to the inner surface where it is then transferred to the outside).
I chose this model for several reasons, one of them being that Bibler are world famous for their single skin shelters and this model in particular, is reknowned for keeping the user from rolling over and falling off a ledge (or tramp, in my case). With a large anchor point attached to the side, I can tie this to the hull of the kayak to ensure I don't inadvertantly roll out into the water like a big catapillar 'circling the drain' so to speak.
With any luck I won't have to resort to sleeping out on the tramp out at sea, but even if I don't the bivy may very well get use on a beach somewhere along the way as well (where I might still use the tramp as a matress). If I cannot find a reasonably flat or spacious patch of earth to set up the tent wherever I land, I can always roll out the bivy, curl up and catch some Z's. Who knows... I might even crawl out in the morning with newly sprouted wings, and fly away like a butterfly!