Essay: IMG Tests Army Tents on Everest Eric Simonson - Basecamp Mon, May 21, 2001 10:00AM
International Mountain Guides entered into a Cooperative Research Agreement this past year to provide testing and consultation on some of the new products being designed for the US Military at the Army Soldier Center at Natick, MA. This is the place that the US Army designs its tents, packs, garments, food rations, cooking systems, and other equipment. They are constantly looking for new and improved ways to shelter, clothe, feed, and supply the troops in the field. IMG is in a unique position to test some of this gear in extreme conditions (except we aren't getting shot at!), as well as provide our expertise from thirty years of cooking, eating, sleeping, and enduring some nasty conditions...much like our soldiers might have to do!
For the 2001 Everest Expedition, we have made use of the new "Modular General Purpose Tent System" tent that is now becoming THE standard US Army tent. This remarkable structure is made in Binghamton New York, by Eureka!. It is very strong and versitile, and can be expanded from the basic 18' x 18' model (which we used) in 18' increments, each time adding another center pole (see photo). Thus, the tent can be expanded to any length desired by adding center modules and an end module at each end. This tent is dark color, so it absorbs heat, but is white on the inside, so it is very light with the windows open. With everything shut, it is totally light proof, an important feature at night if you don't want anyone to see you! The tent is designed to withstand steady 55mph wind, and gusts to 65mph. For use here at Rongbuk where the wind oftens hammers viciously, we tripled the number of guy lines on the tents, and secured each rope to a heavy metal stake weighted down by big rocks. Additionally, we buried the bottom of the tent in rocks and gravel, so wind could not get under the walls. We are confident that it will withstand in this configuration any wind that we might get here.
The other tent that we are testing is the "Temper Tent", used by the military as a command post. Like the MGPTS, it is also light resistant so it can not be seen at night. It has a folding tubular aluminum frame, so it is completely taut when stretched tight. We also buried the bottom of this tent in the rocks and gravel to add strength,a nd added guy lines. It has a white frost lining and a floor, which makes it perfect for our video tech Riley Morton's studio. Here we have several of our computers, our M4 (high speed, 64kps) phone, video editing equipment, etc.
In addition to the tents, we have been experimenting with some of the Army rations which are constantly being tested by the Army. These are the "MRE" type meals, which come in pouches. They are the meal of choice for high altitude, because they don't need to be cooked, or any extra water. All we need to do is heat them up. At any one time, there are about 20 different entres being produced for soldiers in the field, and these are constantly being rotated to provide new flavors, as well as the old stand-bys. We have a number of different entre items which we have tried, as well as some of the portable ration heaters used by soldiers. Amazingly, they even work at high altitude!