I've been seriously considering the GoLite Shangri-La 1 as my shelter for above-treeline 3-season camping, but it seems not many people here are impressed with these shelters. I'd like to post my thoughts about this as an ideal solo shelter for high elevation camping and see what kind of input I get from those more experienced in this than I.
I have owned and used a HS Tarptent Rainshadow (original 1-pole version), a SMD Gatewood Cape, a GoLite Hex 3, a Nemo GoGo bivy, an eVent ID Micro Bivy, and an eVent ID Chrysallis (most of these I've returned or sold; I don't have THAT much money!!). While each has their pros and cons, The only shelter I would really trust above treeline is the Hex 3. The thicker fabric and reinforced guyouts really hold up to high winds. Both the Tarptent and Gatewood models attach their guyouts to the fabric by simple stitching onto the edge of the fabric. There have been times with my Gatewood that I have been seriously concerned about the seams pulling out, particularly around the neck harness. For below treeline, these are great shelters, and I know many of you use them above treeline with success. But for me, when the wind picks up, I end up worrying all night about the seams. The Hex gives me a peace of mind, and deflects the wind much better. I sleep better in the Hex. But it's not a solo shelter.
Now I know the prudent answer is to camp below treeline if it's windy/rainy. This is how I would do it on an extended hike. But most of my hikes are limited to 2-3 days, and what makes backpacking for just a weekend worthwhile to me is the great above-treeline views during sunset and sunrise. I live in the Pacific northwest, and my favorite weekenders are on the sides of the major volcanoes, above treeline but below the snow (this is where all the great wildflower displays and views are). Our weather is quite unpredictable; I spent the night last September when the nearest town was only expecting 5-10mph winds, but above treeline I could barely stand upright it was so windy. I've also gone to bed in clear, calm conditions and woken up to wind and rain that wasn't forecast. So it's not as simple as planning for the weather and only bringing what I need; I need to prepared for serious weather.
The point is, if I brought my Gatewood, I'd feel compelled to lower my camp to below treeline, which can often be a 40 minute walk back down the mountain, and thereby miss a beautiful, albeit windy, sunset. Yes, I can watch the sunset, then descend to camp, but I miss the amazing star displays if things remain clear.
I've tried bivying up there, and there are certainly advantages, but if I did more than an overnighter I'd probably wish I had a tarp. I could use the Gatewood with a wp/b bivy as a backup in case the tarp fails, but the combined weight is more than I want to carry.
Also, for the weight of the lightest 3-layer eVent bivy, I could instead bring the GoLite Shangri-La 1 and have much more interior space, but still have the reassurance of a bombproof shelter. I think of the Shangri-La 1 as a beefed up GG SpinnShelter. Also, most pictures only show the front vent, but the rear also has a large vent:
This should provide air movement even with the tarp guyed out low to the ground. And with the tarp pitched higher and the awning partially open, it should get decent ventilation for lower elevations.
I could buy a solo tarptent, and I really like Herny Shire's designs, but even Henry's lightest floorless shelter is heavier than the Shangri-La 1, so I might as well get the stronger setup! The fact that the Shangri-La 1 requires no poles beyond trekking poles really saves weight. Also, the Shires tarptents require pointing towards the wind, which can change direction, and there are very few flat spots, so I can't be choosy in which way I point my tent (which I why I've gone with the fully-enclosed pyramid-shape of the Gatewood and Hex).
Epic tents are out of the question as I am talking about rainy 3-season with possible snow, not winter.
Could this be a great compromise tarp, which allows one to explore campsites one might not consider with a lighter tarp? Perhaps there is a niche for this tarp after all...kind of a midway shelter between true UL minimalism and a single-wall shelter. Or, this could be a great week-long shelter where some of the nights will be low elevation (combined with bug netting and pitched high), and some nights will be above treeline.
Would be very interested in comments/suggestions before I splurge on yet another shelter.