|Posted by Ivarr Bergmann on October 11, 2019 at 5:05 PM|
One of my first serious uses of a Zeltbahn shleter back in thye 90s. These are Austrian Zeltbahn- IMO some of the best around. This is about 6 buttoned together to make a shleter large enough for 4 men and all our kit with lots of room for Admin and living. It rained for 3 days. A HARD autumn rain and we never saw a leak.I was using Zeltbahn before they became "cool" to the bushcraft crowd. I was using them before most ppl ever even knew they existed. And I dont plan to stop.
Another view of the same shelter.
Zeltbahn are not "pup-tents". These are not the same design or intent. I get asked often as to why it is that I use heavy canvas zeltban in my kit inventory. The answer is quite simple and very easy to put into words. Simply put- You will never get the durability and longevity of service from a nylon shelter section that you will get from an old school-Military issue canvas zeltbahn shelter section. End of Explanation! I have been using Zeltbanh since the 90s and I have yet to have a wet night sleeping under one. Nor have I had a cold night sleeping under one with a simple lantern or candle burning through the night.
I slept SOUNDLY this night under a double Hungarian Zletbahn. It went to near 0-F but with a simply three wick candle and my military issue sleep sack the temp was comfortable enough that I remember crawling out of my sleep sack to get cooled off.
Above (not my pic) is a German wartime Zelt sections are identical to many used by nations right up to the 90s. 2 versions made in Sweden come to mind- With sections added you can make a HUGE shelter. This one is made from 16 conneted together.
Above is a clear picture of 2 attached together and me using them as a roof for a shelter with pine limb supports. The other picture is me using one as a wind-breaker on a sub-0... Sadly all of the above Zelts pictured were failures do to their commercial manufacturing. GET REAL ONES! These were just good enough until i could locate Military issued ones i wanted but I DO NOT recommend going the commercial route for these. A zeltbahn can be used as a rain-cape, CAMCON garment for extra concealment, a stretcher, raft for water crossing, wind-breaker, a sling seat, a hammock, a throw down tarp and whats more is the size of your Zeltbahn shelter is only limited by the number you have on hand and the practice you have put into building them up to a desired size. You can make a single lean-2 shelter, a closed in shelter or a barracks sized shelter with MULTIPLE shelter sections (depending on the design)
Mid-1950s Hungarian Zeltbahn i used on a rain soaked night in the Carpathians. I was totally dry the entire night as the wind whipped and rain slammed the RON. I used a deactivated AK74 as my center pole.
Durability and longevity of service will serve the Evader well when the hammer drops. These can handle not being babied. The are resistant to hot ambers and they are easy to repair without further damage or fraying of the canvas materials like you get with modern nylons. Whats more is most have simple button connections to attach to other Zelts so If you cannot sew a simple button-please get out of the idea that you're a survivalist! You can treat these canvas shelters with all sorts of water proofing if one so desires and some (Like the Hungarian version that I had) come pre-oiled for extra water protection. They are also much more stable in adverse weather conditions that thin modern nylon shelters. Yes these are much heavier then nylon. 2 is about the max I will carry, but 2 is planty for a one man shelter for me and my kit. So It will cost you more energy to move these in a rucksack or pull sled. But like everything else its a trade off. These are far from a single use item so for me the trade off it well worth it. In my experienced opinion nylon simply will not last when the hammer drops. I have used Zeltbahn from the late 30 in bad weather and still stayed dry through the night. Looking back through my picture files today its clear i used a nylon type shelters FAR FAR FAR less then I have used Zeltbahns since I been here.
I was fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time this time last year. (Wow how times flies and I wont miss 2019!). I was able to acquire 8 Austrian Zeltbahn sections (that's 2 full size 4 man shelters) with poles and stakes for 20$ and some trade items I had set aside. They were dates from the mid 70s to mid 80s but all in superb condition and 100% absolutely serviceable.
Zeltbahn generally come in a triangle shape and square shaped panels. I'm partial to the triangle shaped ones though they can be a bit of a rubrics-cube to sling up tight between some seemingly simple trees if you're not use to it. Im pretty use to them now. however. Above is a Norwegian version I put up one time. I hate these and this one did not last long in my inventory. The Norwegians and a few other countries make these diamond shape one. In my opinion they are to be avoided because you simply cannot make a closed shelter without using a lot of them and even then they are sloppy and messy. For the lone Evader id stay with diamond ones or second best the squared ones.
One the left is a fomer DDR/East German Rain Camo square Zelt section and on the right a Swiss Splinter Pattern Zelt section. These two are two of the best Ive ever used but it was long ago before i was worried about pictures.
I don't know the various weighs of these zeltbahn mentioned above. Some ppl count ounces-I do not. I don't get into all that. You take the gear you need and that you know works or pay for it later for not training and learning to use it. There's enough to drive me nuts getting kit sorted that I don't need more math to look at. If a piece of kit warrants taking with- it goes and I find a way to make it happen as long as its making sense and not causing a liability or burden with its weight. If you decide to try these do some research. No matter what one you get you should practice with these. Set them up in the back of your house and let them stay there a while. Watch what they do in the passing days and weather. And if they pass the durability of prolonged exposure to the weather then pack them up on your ruck and give them a few miles on your back on multiple trips before you decide. I think they're worth the weight and fuel needed to move them on my back- Do what you like, and whats best for you. Its all we can do for ourselves..
Remember.. Escape..... Evade..... Survive!!
When the wife asks how my day went.. I sent her this..
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