Colonel Townsend Whelen designed a tent he called the “Hunters lean-to Tent”. In 1925 David Abercrombie (of Abercrombie and Fitch fame) manufactured the style and marketed it as the “Whelen lean- to”. It has been called the Whelen ever since.
Colonel Whelen was a devout minimalist, hardly believing in tents for shelter at all. He wished to be as close to his natural surroundings as was possible and practical. The Colonel considered this design, which almost has the appearance of half a tent, more than adequate for anything short of -20 degrees or severe bugs. A sloped rear roof about 8 feet long, slanted and splayed sides, and a short fore roof panel (extending out about 30″). Light and easy to pack. The loops along the ridge can be used for tying to external pole set up. Loops on back seams for roping out if the need comes up. This tent measured 8’6″ wide.
If you’re planning to set it up as the Colonel intended you need nothing more than a length of good, strong rope and two trees. Stringing a ridge from one tree, through the tents ridge loops and on to the second tree allows you to set the tent to whatever height works for that day’s weather. The taller the ridgeline is set, the shallower the dimension to the back of the tent and the more the side triangles will swing in toward the body (and still stake to the ground). It’s up to you and your surroundings to dictate to the tent just what its final dimensions will be.