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Solo shelter options
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Aaron Robson

Locale: Texas, California, BC
Solo shelter options on 01/11/2010 18:52:53 MST Print View

I'm looking into a minimalist solo shelter to use on bike tours and extended backpacks. Something along the lines of the ubiquitous tarp-bivy combination. Problem is, just about every option I've looked at uses trekking poles for shelter support - an item I don't carry. Do the good folks here have any ideas for a superlight solo shelter that doesn't use trekking poles?

Charles Grier
(Rincon) - M

Locale: Desert Southwest
Solo shelter options on 01/11/2010 18:56:49 MST Print View

Take a look at the Big Agnes Fly Creek tent. Complete with poles, stakes and small Tyvek ground sheet it weighs 35 oz.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Solo shelter options on 01/11/2010 18:57:27 MST Print View

Both Gossamer Gear and Tarptent sell poles for their shelters/tarps for those who don't use trekking poles.

Or, if you want to go real minimalist, just get a waterproof bivy. Light and you don't have to worry about poles at all.

Nathan Baker
(Slvravn) - MLife

Locale: East Coast - Mid Atlantic
Re: Solo shelter options on 01/11/2010 19:00:38 MST Print View


You may want to look at some of the Tarptent shelters that can use either trekking poles or an optional aluminum pole. All of the solo tarptents can be set up without the use of trekking poles. You may also want to check some of the other manufacturers and see if they offer this option.

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
"Solo shelter options" on 01/11/2010 19:04:01 MST Print View

Mountain Laurel Designs is a one stop shop for bivies and ultralight tarps and accessories related to those items. There are numerous tarps and shelter offerings that can use the Carbon Fiber pole set available on their website. The carbon pole set can be used in place of trekking poles and costs $60 and only weighs 2.60 oz. according to their website. This is just an option if you're interested. Good luck.

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
Solo shelter options on 01/11/2010 19:14:11 MST Print View

A couple of ideas. You can use your bike frame as a pole substitute. See this picture of the TT Contrail in that mode.
You can have the bike a bit further away too. The brakes are locked with hoop and loop.
(some other A frame style tents will work also...)
Vontrail and bike

Another is to get one that has a dedicated pole. The problem with that maybe pole length. (for storage)
I discussed this some time ago with HS at Tarptent . He can supply a pole for the Moment that is made with shorter sections, the same size as the end struts (13"?)if I remember correctly. It will be a couple of ounces (+/-) heavier.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Solo shelter options on 01/11/2010 19:18:33 MST Print View

"You can use your bike frame as a pole substitute."

Sometimes is the easiest, most common sense solution that's the hardest to think of. This is brilliant!

Keith Selbo
(herman666) - F - M

Locale: Northern Virginia
Try a Hennessy on 01/11/2010 20:05:20 MST Print View

Check out the line of Hammocks at I have a hyperlite and it cured me of tenting on the ground right quick. The warbonnet line of hammocks has also garnered a fiercely loyal following.

Edited by herman666 on 01/11/2010 20:05:53 MST.

John Donewar
(Newton) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern Louisiana
Re: "Solo shelter options" Try a Hennessy on 01/11/2010 21:24:07 MST Print View


Glad to hear another "hanger" chime in.

I'm not sure how sturdy Aaron's seat post will be as a hammock support. :-)

My Expedition Asym weighs 2 pounds 12 ounces. It may be a tad heavy by ultralight standards. What it adds in weight it more than makes up for in comfort.

Party On ! 2010


Don Selesky
(backslacker) - M
Re: Try a Hennessy on 01/12/2010 07:51:03 MST Print View

My favorite hammock right now is the Warbonnet. The Hennessy has issues with the bottom entry slit, and needing to put a pad on the bottom of the hammock for insulation.

Also, take a look at the Clark line of hammocks for another alternative.

Joe Kuster
(slacklinejoe) - MLife

Locale: Flatirons
Solo shelter options on 01/12/2010 08:07:45 MST Print View

Lots of bikers use hammocks on long trails.

That said, you can't always find suitable trees which can leave you ground camping in a bivy anyway. Depends on your area. It works well in Missouri, but it's crap in Kansas for instance.

Another idea that I very frequently when tarp camping is this: Rather than use trekking poles, I simply tie off the ends of the tarp to the nearest trees. You can be far less picky about these trees than hammock camping (something that I enjoy as well in a Hennessy HyperLite). I've tied off to street signs, electrical poles and even bumper hitches on cars in a pinch.

Jardine's book recommended just finding a suitable stick somewhere on the trail when your thinking about camping.

Edited by slacklinejoe on 01/12/2010 08:09:02 MST.

Aaron Robson

Locale: Texas, California, BC
next question... on 01/12/2010 09:01:34 MST Print View

Thanks everyone for the replies. My main beef with the hammocks is they are 'relatively' heavy - the absolute lightest model that Hennessey offers comes in at 765g. That is around the weight of many solo shelters with necessary poles poles, such as the SMD Lunar Solo, TT Sublite or GG The One.

I guess what I'm getting from all your comments is I'm going to either have to take dedicated tarp poles, or if I'm in a particularly sticky or treey area, just use whatever is at hand.

With that in mind, my next decision is whether or not to go for a smaller tarp with a bivy, or something that will provide complete storm protection and just bring along a groundcloth to put underneath my pad and possibly a bug net if it is warranted. Any opinions, or favorite tarps, bivies etc?

Lori P
(lori999) - F

Locale: Central Valley
Re: next question... on 01/12/2010 10:28:00 MST Print View

"My main beef with the hammocks is they are 'relatively' heavy - the absolute lightest model that Hennessey offers comes in at 765g."

Claytor Mosquito Hammock - 700g, add .6kg for the diamond tarp

Grand Trunk Nano 7 hammock - 197g, add tarp of your choosing, also need to add mosquito netting if you need it

Hennessy makes his stuff out of durable, ie heavy, materials. The Claytor would give you the ability to use it as a bug bivy on the ground without much work. Without the bottom entry it's a lot easier to get into on the ground.

Kevin Babione
(KBabione) - MLife

Locale: Pennsylvania
Smaller Tarp on 01/12/2010 11:42:04 MST Print View

Look, if you haven't already, at the SMD Gatewood Cape. There are lots of posts around if you search. I don't have a bivy and haven't had any problems with getting wet - I simply pitch it closer to the ground (or to the ground) if I'm experiencing or expecting nasty weather.

It does typically use a trekking pole, but you can purchase a carbon fiber pole (1.8 ounces) from SMD for $30. With the Gatewood Cape, a groundcloth, stakes, and the carbon fiber pole you should have a complete system for just under a pound.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Re: Re: next question... on 01/12/2010 12:03:57 MST Print View

I truly don't understand the issues so many people have with the bottom entry on the Hennessey Hammocks. It is very easy and intuitive to get into and out of the hammocks- unless one is congenitally clumbsy, I suppose. But in such a case ANY hammock would be a challenge, though doubtless providing endless comic material for one's hiking partners.

I used a HH Expedition on a 10-day trip in southeast Alaska, and was VERY pleased with it. Probably the best nights' sleep I've ever had in the wild. (I was kayaking, so weight wasn't much of an issue.) IMHO Hennessy has the hammock thing figured out. Weight is an issue, though. I've been looking at the lightweight HH products but, er, I occasionally push the limits of their stated capacity. Some of the truly light ones are only rated for 180-lbs.

Edited by acrosome on 01/12/2010 12:06:42 MST.

Rick Beaty
(reeock) - F

Locale: New England
HH on 01/12/2010 12:56:26 MST Print View

Ive loved the Hennesy Hammock as my all around solo shelter cause if there are no trees that really isnt an issue. it works out WAY better than a bivy and far better than a lot of other cramped solo options.hhopen2

Edited by reeock on 01/12/2010 12:58:39 MST.

Lori P
(lori999) - F

Locale: Central Valley
re: HH on 01/12/2010 13:19:41 MST Print View

I spent a year in a Hennessy ULBA before moving on to a Blackbird - lighter hammock for the room, flatter sleeping positions, actual storage area and full side zip that makes it easier to adjust your underquilt without getting out of the hammock did it for me.

The velcro entry started to irk me - I kept having to pick up stuff that came out with me on the nightly constitutionals. Hennessy also doesn't have a double layer option. And I would have had to upgrade to a heavier Hennessy to get the room to spread out the way I wanted to - got sick of waking up with my head in the bugnet.

Some enterprising folks are making a bit of cash installing side zips in HH for folks... it's not entirely unheard of that folks don't like the "birth canal." It's a good hammock, don't get me wrong - it just didn't really do it for me, in the end. Fortunately they have a decent resale value.

Aaron Robson

Locale: Texas, California, BC
re: solo shelter options on 01/13/2010 09:52:06 MST Print View

The hammocks still seem heavy - I guess that is the penalty that comes with needing a suspension system strong enough to hold up a person. If I had issues sleeping on the ground, I'd probably look more seriously at them.

Re: the gatewood cape - I like the idea of multipurpose gear, but I'm not sure a poncho/cape would work for me. A lot of my hiking involves bushwhacking or 'primative' trails where I feel a poncho would snag and tear readily. I also often wear my rain jacket in camp and a windbreak.

At the moment, I'm looking at the equinox or tigoat bivy and trying to decide between a shaped tarp or a simple 8'x5' flat tarp. Thanks for all your comments.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
TarpTent Moment on 01/13/2010 10:18:17 MST Print View

I had a TarpTent Contrail for 3 summers and liked it but recently sold it for the TarpTent Moment.

IMHO it is just about the best solo tent out there. At 28 oz. it's not the lightest but it is the most wind resistant, easiest set up and has the best vestibule. Plus it has great ventilation and a bunch of other very convienant details. And it has great American made quality.

The designer and owner of TarpTent, Henry Shires, stands behind his tents 100%. His customer service is really outstanding, as anyone on this site who has owned his tents can tell you.

Kevin Babione
(KBabione) - MLife

Locale: Pennsylvania
Solo Shelter Options on 01/13/2010 10:32:54 MST Print View


Just because you're carrying a poncho-tarp doesn't necessarily mean that you have to use it as your raingear. If carrying the Gatewood Cape is lighter than carrying a tarp/bivy combination (where you'd obviously be carrying raingear) then you may still want to consider it. I think it would be a great fit for biking and you'd have the option of using it as raingear when you're hiking an open trail rather than bushwacking.