For cross-country paragliders, every pound counts. It's all about cutting weight: lighter wings, lighter harnesses, less in your backpack and no room for a tent. This can be a problem during isolated nights in the outback. But when you have 258 square feet of paragliding wing fabric to work with, why not turn it into a tent?
"It's super easy," says Dave Turner, Red Bull X-Alps athlete and frequent flyer of the Palisades region of the rough-and-tumble Sierra Nevadas. Turner has set up tents like this anywhere from 11,500 feet above sea level to the middle of the desert after a longer-than-planned flight. "I generally can have it set up in four to five minutes," he says.
All the tools required? His wing, trekking poles, a bit of string and some sticks collected from the surrounding area.
What are the benefits of this makeshift shelter versus, say, sleeping outside? Shelter, and believe it or not, warmth. "It's easily warm enough to spend a night in freezing temperatures," says Turner. "The fabric isn't made to ventilate, so, in fact, you can occasionally wake up a little too warm!"
And does the ground damage the delicate-looking fabric? Not at all. "It's more durable than people give it credit for," Turner says. "It's made out of rip-stop nylon and even the lightweight, 27 grams per square meter [fabric] is quite strong."
So will he be using this set-up during this year's Red Bull X-Alps?
"I hope not, but it's great to know I have it with me all the time and that I can get it up in five minutes," says Turner. "No matter where you are in the wilderness, home is where you make it!"