Shelter or Tent?

Appalachian Trail shelters and tents

Most hiking trails don’t provide shelters. The Appalachian Trail and The Long Trail (Vermont) have many shelters.Hiking and tenting on long-distance trails

They are convenient, but a tent, especially for sleeping, has advantages.

Privacy – You aren’t a stuffed sardine when it gets crowded.

Warmth – A tent with a rainfly is warmer than an open shelter.

Better Sleep – You are not poked, or kicked, or outsnored.

No Mice – Those critters can drive you nuts!

So why choose a shelter to sleep in?

Convenience – Less hassle. No need to unpack and set up a tent; no need to dismantle and re-pack the tent in the morning, possibly in the rain.

Clothesline – Many shelters have them already. Easy to rig up, or simply hang garments from nails and hooks provided. Clothes are protected from outside weather.

Ease – Can sit and lean against a wall to read, journal, contemplate (I’m sore, I’m tired, I wish I had a pizza and beer.)


Published by Ray Anderson

Hiker and writer. Have hiked the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, The Long Trail (Vermont), and some of the Continental Divide Trail. My trail name is "HAMLET." Have written three hiking novels (thrillers). The first one, "THE TRAIL," was traditionally published in 2015. My second hiking thriller, "SIERRA," released Oct 2016. Book three in my AWOL hiking-thriller series, "THE DIVIDE" releases from Turner Publishing 8/18/2020.

2 thoughts on “Shelter or Tent?

  1. A literal sardine story for you… once at a shelter on a snowy night, many hikers huddled into the shelter for warmth — who wants to pitch a tent in a snowstorm? About 12 of us were crowded in there. There was a bear line, luckily, because recent bears had been spotted. A girl in the shelter got comfy in her bag and then wanted a midnight snack. She opened a can of sardines. The smell was overwhelming. Sheesh. Even without bears around, don’t eat sardines in a shelter. Didn’t sleep a wink all night. I would generally choose a tent over a shelter any time, except in event of a snowstorm or hurricane.

    1. I also remember being stuck with a dozen others in a shelter during a snow storm. The place looked like a bomb had hit it. I didn’t get much sleep, but remember everyone talking about hot food like pizza and fries, etc. Glad no one had sardines!

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