Thursday, September 17, 2020

How the Clam Quick Set Shelter Helped Us Through Four Days of Rain

Clam Quick Set Shelter, camping shelter

As I pulled away from home on a Tuesday morning, pulling my tiny trailer and all packed up for a two-week stay at Rathbun Lake in SE Iowa, I was fully aware that the weather forecast was for four straight days of rain. I was excited about the trip, though, and felt that the weather would help me secure a good first come, first served campsite at Buck Creek Campground, one of three Army Corps campgrounds on the lake. (There is also a state park campground.)

I was able to find my spot and set up camp prior to the rain hitting--including our Clam Quick Set 140 x 140 inch shelter. Then the rains came and never really left for the first four days of my fourteen-night "staycation" here at Buck Creek Campground. I knew it was going to rain because of the forecast, so you might ask, "Why endure the rain? Why not show up later?" The answer is twofold: 1) I felt I'd have a better choice of first come, first served sites on a Tuesday rather than a Friday, and 2) I needed some rest, so why not in my tiny camper beside the lake? I was right on both counts because I secured a great site and got some good rest. 

My four rainy days of camping turned out well for me in part not just because of my easy-going manner but also because of the Clam Quick Set shelter that I used--with the wind/rain covers for the windows. I think that if I had been forced to do all my camp chores in the rain, the mist, or just in the wet between the rain spells, I would have had much less fun. Prior to this rainy stay at camp, my wife and I had primarily used the Clam for sun and bug protection. We're glad to know that with the wind panels, the shelter also works in the rain. This is not unplanned by the manufacturer, though. If you look in the photos, you can see that the shields attach with a flap folding over the top of the shield in order to keep the rain run-off on the outside of the shelter.


My wife and I have used a Quick Set shelter for two camping seasons, but I have to admit that we have bought two of the shelters. The first worked great, but at the beginning of our second camping season, I attempted to put it up without reviewing the company video guide . . . and mangled the process badly: upside down, backwards, and inside out--and if you can get a picture in your head of all those "umbrella" pull-outs upside down, backwards, and inside out, you have an idea of the dilemma I was in. I remember at one point my wife's son was helping me "put it back the way it was when we started." Nope, with all those push-outs pushed the wrong way and folded the wrong way, finally we gave up in despair. My wife suggested that we take the mess home, throw it away, and buy another because she likes doing her office work in the shelter. 

I finally agreed, humbled and humiliated, but expressed one request: "What happened here today in the campground stays in the campground." I'm breaking our pact for the good of other campers. The Clam Quick Set is easy to put up and take down--if you follow the instructions. And the best way to learn is to watch the company's instruction video. It's clear and straightforward. With all those push-outs, though, don't think you'll just wing it and can always just back out of the process and start over. That would be like playing the game Pick Up Sticks and at some point of disagreement saying, "Well, let's just put them all back the way they were when we started."

Clam Quick Set Shelter, camping shelter
Central "eyes," part of the shelter's framing, being used to tie down the Clam

Following the instructions for putting up the shelter, it was easy to do alone. I erected the shelter, staked and tied it down, and added the wind/rain shields. I was ready for the storm. One hint I was given by another Clam owner was to tie down the Clam using the metal eyes on the frame, rather than the sewn-in tiedown eyes on the fabric. The metal eyes are part of the frame, which makes the wind ties even more secure. 

The wind/rain screens are also useful for privacy and sun protection. I've been showering in the Clam, on the downhill side, and I close up the shelter to ensure my privacy. I also keep up a couple of the screens on the sunny side to shade the ice chest, trying to keep the ice last as long as possible. 

Mainly, though, the Clam provided me with an extra room during the constant rain, allowing me to cook without being rained on, and providing me an extra room to get out of the tiny trailer and sit in a comfortable chair. Even with all the rain, the shelter didn't leak, or at least so little that the tables and the canvas chair never were dripped on. Towards the end of the four days, the shelter did get wet inside, just a faint sheen of moisture, but I believe this was because the humidity was 100%. I could still sit on the canvas chair, and the bit of moisture on the metal tables wasn't a deal breaker--compared to the rain outside. 

Clam Quick Set Shelter, camping shelter

It was cool enough at times that I used my infrared heater, which also made a great reading light. I believe that I was more comfortable and relaxed during the rainy days because of the shelter. The shields stopped the rain; I even added our sixth shield over the Clam's entrance. It sagged a bit at the top but did block most of the rain. 

Our Clam Quick Set 140 x 140 is pretty big, but when bundled up in its case, it fits easily into the back of our Pathfinder with the seats dropped. I bought stronger metal tent spikes for securing the shelter, but that's pretty standard for all such purchases. With my wife working in the shelter as her office space, I'd have to empty out half of the equipment, but on this two-week stay, my wife is only camping with me on weekends, eliminating the need for the Clam to also be our mobile office. 

All in all, my wife and I are happy with the Clam. It's sturdy, versatile, and is easy to assemble--if you follow the instructions. Which I plan to follow to the letter from now on!

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14 comments:

  1. Which model of Clam Quick set do you have? Looking at the website, they don't identify the models by size but rather by names, Venture, Escape, etc. thanks.

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  2. Ours is the Escape. The Amazon order was for Quick Set 9879 Escape Shelter. Hope this helps.

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  3. Love the CLAM! Don't use it much now, but have it "in case" it's needed!

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    1. I won't put it up unless we're staying somewhere for a while. It's easy to put up but staking and tiedowns add to the time.

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  4. We love our Clam! Did they give you a free one for this great write up? They should! I didnt order the screens and we have stayed in it during pouring rain. Even though some mist managed to get through, we really didnt mind! Tying it down is a must, ours lifted up and rolled across a feild before we caught up with it once on a windy day.. we had a good laugh after we retrieved it in an OMG moment! it was relatively unscathed after its escape.

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    1. I was taking ours down today when the wind picked up from off the lake. After a moment of possible hang-gliding, I managed to drop it ok, even with the wind.

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  5. We once spent a couple of hours trying to to get it untangled after being upside down and inside out. But the Clam was well worth it. A great piece of equipment,

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    1. I took ours down today after two weeks up at camp. It went easy except I forgot to put away the reinforcing rods at the door edges. After I stepped in and did that, all went smoothly.

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  6. Sweet.... If we ever decide to get something... I'll remember to review this one first... Thanks Tom.

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    1. Glad it helped. After having ours up for two weeks at Rathbun Lake, I just took it down today. Took a bit longer because it was well tied down and had the wind panels up. Went ok, though!

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  7. Did you experience "outgassing" with the Quickset Shelter; does it create indoor air pollution?

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  8. Hi, Tim, I didn't experience outgassing. For me, anyway, nylon usually isn't an issue. Also, the front "door" panel is usually open with just the netting. Hope this helps.

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  9. Thanks for your story! I just got one and did the same thing - put it together inside out! It was so nice to realize I'm not the only one. I had tried to find an instructional video but the link in the manual didn't work and my googling didn't lead me to this video.

    Luckily, once I figured out what I'd done wrong, I was able to carefully collapse it and get it turned right-side out. Then it was easy. I staked it, added the rainfly and left it out last night for a little rain, and it looks like it did great.

    It may be bigger than I need, but I like that one person can set it up, and that my dogs can have a bit of room to roam off leash. My teardrop is really small, just a bed inside, so this option for bad weather seems like it will serve me well.

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    1. You're right, the Clam is a whole new room for the camping experience. Thanks for the response, and I'm glad you figured how to untangle your Clam!

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