The Spitfire: A brand-new haven for an old hobo
September 27, 2007
For years I traveled with a sturdy one-man tent I bought for $30 at a fishing supply shop in Japan.
Freestanding and just big enough for a body in a sleeping bag, my trusty tent survived long cycling tours and overseas ramblings, as well as peak-bagging in the Adirondacks of New York and car tours of the U.S.And when my old solo tent died – the poles deteriorated and a coupling cracked – I though it meant the end of my ramblings. Maybe it’s time to just get a big four-man tent for that occasional weekend car-camping trip and forget traveling for a while, I thought.But when I got a call from an old friend with an invite for a float trip down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, I decided to find a replacement.
You’d think I was buying investment property the way I scoured the Internet and local outdoor shops.Unwilling to pay more than $200 for a tent – and some models were as much as $400 – I was about to give up when I found the Eureka Spitfire at Factory Surplus in Glenwood Springs (my favorite store outside of B & H Photo-Video in Manhattan).For $120 and at just under 3 pounds, the three-season tent assembles easily with two hoops at the head and feet.The tent is little more than a stand-up bivvy bag with not much room to move side to side, but there is plenty of vertical space at the head – enough to sit up comfortably to pack and organize gear or meditate in a lotus posture about why you are sleeping outside.
And while the Spitfire is not freestanding – something I liked about my old tent because I could set it up anywhere, even on concrete – staking or tying-off the ends of the Spitfire to rocks makes it solid. And staking the points where the poles contact the ground means it can withstand anything, including the high winds that can rip along the floor of the Grand Canyon.Without the fly, the all-mesh body of the tent was cool on hot, windless nights in the desert.And, with the fly, the tent kept me perfectly dry during a windy, all-night downpour.The Spitfire was a perfect choice for an epic adventure down the Grand Canyon, and a likely companion on more trips to come.