Shelter conundrum
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Thomas Burns
(nerdboy52) - MLife

Locale: "Alas, poor Yogi.I knew him well."
Shelter conundrum on 03/29/2010 08:33:08 MDT Print View

I’m going to try to walk about 10 days along the AT in Shenandoah and northern Virginia this summer, and I’m trying to decide which shelter to take along.

As I contemplated the alternatives, I realized that I currently own more shelters than I can ever use (an “embarrassment of riches,” as the French used to say). Thus, I’m trying to decide on a shelter for a long-distance (for me) hike and to figure out which shelters to sell, as well.

Your advice would be greatly appreciated.

Gatewood cape plus bug net:
The Gatewood is light at 11 oz,, and it works great during the non-bug months. I’d have to add the rather constricted bug shelter to make it insect-worthy (making it weigh almost as much as some of the all-in-one shelters below, and the thing is a bit hard to set up, with or without the bug shelter.

TT Contrail:
The Contrail is my go-to shelter for weekend hikes. At 24 oz, it weighs a bit more than the Lunar Solo or Sublite Sil, but it’s a dream to set up under adverse circumstances.

Lunar Solo Enhanced:
SO many stakeout points and sloped in such a way as to require a second hiking pole to get the advertised room inside. Tough to get a taut pitch. Still, it packs down nicely and is a tad lighter than the Contrail at 23 oz.

Sublite Sil
At 21 oz, it’s my second lightest shelter. It requires both hiking poles, and is a bit of a pain to set up. Stil, I’ve used it dozens of times for three-day hikes, and I really feel like I have the hang of it. It lacks the big, flat top of the Contrail, which makes it a bit more storm-worthy, and the pyramid shape of the two hiking poles helps, as well.

GG The One
The One (2009 edition) is the lightest shelter I own (18 oz packed with stakes). The spinnaker material seems a bit more waterproof than Silnylon, but I just might have been lucky about setup conditions. It’s tough to get a taut pitch because of the spinnaker fabric, and it does flap a bit in the wind. I’m told the noisiness goes away with continued use, but in the meantime, I’m a light sleeper.

TT Moment:
The Moment is the heaviest of the tents at 28 oz but SO easy to set up in the rain (only two stake-out points), and SO storm-worthy. It sheds water (and snow) about as well as any-single-walled tent I’ve used. I will never sell it, but the question is, should I live with the extra weight and take it along with me on the AT? Truth is, the Moment is my favorite shelter, but 28 oz sounds pretty heavy over 10 days. It packs a bit “big, so I’d have to put it in the outside pocket of my Fanatic Fringe Alpine Trail.

All in all, I’m hoping to get by with a base weight of 7.5 pounds, adding a quart of water in the BP (and one in my pocket) and three days worth of food at 1.5 pounds per day.

Can’t really decide which one to take on the 10 days and which one(s )to sell.

Help!

Stargazer
P.S. BTW, if there’s any info that I’ve left out that might be helpful, please let me know.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Shelter conundrum on 03/29/2010 09:02:27 MDT Print View

I would get a nano tarp, and a bug net if necessary. But that means buying another shelter :)

Thomas Burns
(nerdboy52) - MLife

Locale: "Alas, poor Yogi.I knew him well."
Shelter Conundrum Enhanced on 03/29/2010 09:11:24 MDT Print View

>I would get a nano tarp, and a bug net if necessary. But that means buying another shelter :)

I thought about this, but changed my mind because of the relative complexity of setting up a tarp/ bug shelter combo.

I could be talked into it, though. (More gear . . . ahhhhhh.) Which shelter should I sell to afford a nice cuben tarp like the one here at BL? Any what bug shelter should I get (the MLD, since I could use it with the Gatewood)?

Stargazer

Scott Lehr
(lehrscott4) - F

Locale: Louisville - KY
Contrail on 03/29/2010 09:12:38 MDT Print View

I would go with the Contrail depending on expected weather conditions.

Thomas Burns
(nerdboy52) - MLife

Locale: "Alas, poor Yogi.I knew him well."
Contrail on 03/29/2010 09:19:22 MDT Print View

>I would go with the Contrail depending on expected weather conditions.

Under what expected weather conditions would you take the Contrail as opposed to some other shelter?

todd harper
(funnymoney) - MLife

Locale: Sunshine State
Re: Shelter conundrum on 03/29/2010 09:20:26 MDT Print View

Thomas,

assuming you carry a rain jacket with the alternate shelters, then the Gatewood/Serenity combo comes in at less weight than your other options combined, since with it you won't need another rain jacket.

You are correct about the Serenity's minimal dimensions, but to that I say this (not that you're a bivy user):

it's bigger than a bivy! I'm 6'1" and am comfortable in it for sleeping and changing clothes. I wouldn't want to spend a whole day in it, though!

Condensation in the others you mentioned will be a bit higher due to humidity.

All that aside, if it's too confining to use the Serenity you should sell it to me as a backup! :)

Todd

Scott Lehr
(lehrscott4) - F

Locale: Louisville - KY
Contrail on 03/29/2010 09:22:21 MDT Print View

I borrowed a friends contrail a few times and it seemed great in everything except heavy snow, and strong winds. And everytime i tried to setup with feet to the wind, it would change directions on me.

Jim MacDiarmid
(jrmacd) - MLife
Re: Shelter conundrum on 03/29/2010 09:26:11 MDT Print View

Just from reading your post, it's gotta be either the Contrail or the Moment, neither of which you have any complaints about beside the weight.

For 10 nights, isn't being able to just throw up your tent in 3 minutes at the end of a long day worth a quarter to a half pound extra? It would be to me. I'd have a hard time deciding between the Contrail and Moment (I only have experience with the Contrail), but it'd be a contest between the lighter-ness of the Contrail vs the living space of the Moment.

Trevor Wilson
(trevor83) - MLife

Locale: ATL -- Zurich -- SF Bay Area
Shelter conundrum on 03/29/2010 09:34:36 MDT Print View

Wow, you have a lot of great shelter choices - I'm jealous :)

I think it depends on your focus - comfort or low base weight for higher mileage days.

If its the latter - I'd probably choose either the Gatewood Cape setup to eliminate the need for additional rain gear or the GG The One since its the lightest and provides full bug protection. IMHO, 10 oz is a lot of weight savings over the Moment for a trip of that length when you are trying to get down to 7.5 lbs. Also, along the AT you always have the option of staying in a shelter if the weather is going to get nasty or you need to dry out some gear.

But if you would never want to stay in a shelter and comfort and ease of set-up is a higher priority I think Jim and Scott might be right and the Contrail might be the way to go.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Shelter Conundrum Enhanced on 03/29/2010 09:41:17 MDT Print View

A cuben hexamid twin with bug netting and doors and a custom cuben floor. All that for under 15 oz, and it's a palace. Pretty quick setup, plenty of weather protection, unbelievably light for the room and protection it provides.

Oh, wait, that wasn't on your list.....

Peter Longobardi
(paintplongo) - F

Locale: Hopefully on the Trail
VA in Summer on 03/29/2010 09:42:36 MDT Print View

As a guy that thruhiked the AT last summer. I can tell you in the summertime in VA, you will get killed by the no see um bugs. You must have bug protection. If you like the Moment so much, I'd rock that thing. The weight isn't terrible, it's weatherproof and easy to setup.

The other option is to hang from the trees.

Thomas Burns
(nerdboy52) - MLife

Locale: "Alas, poor Yogi.I knew him well."
Who makes it? on 03/29/2010 09:51:48 MDT Print View

>A cuben hexamid twin with bug netting and doors and a custom cuben floor. All that for under 15 oz, and it's a palace. Pretty quick setup, plenty of weather protection, unbelievably light for the room and protection it provides.

Sounds perfect, Doug. Who makes such a feather-weight beast?

Stargazer

Misfit Mystic
(cooldrip)

Locale: "Grand Canyon of the East"
RE: Shelter conundrum on 03/29/2010 09:55:50 MDT Print View

Trevor makes a good point about the shelters. Another advantage of the Gatewood/Serenity combo as regards the AT is the Serenity can be used in the shelters for bug protection. Personally I really like having a floorless shelter in wet weather; I can set it up, cook and dry out, then set up my bug shelter for sleeping. So the modularity would win for me. Using the Gatewood for raingear is just icing on the cake, and by mid-summer there will have been enough traffic on the trail to beat down the underbrush, making a longer poncho a more viable alternative.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Mental conundrum on 03/29/2010 09:56:14 MDT Print View

Thomas:

The weight between your Contrail and your "heaviest" Moment is a lousy 4 ounces!!

Thinking about it -- sure, if your pack weight is super heavy, then every additional ounce counts. But you're a UL hiker, no? If your pack weight is more than light/comfy enough that you can truly hike all day and hardly ever notice the pack on your back at all... then mental aside -- who the heck cares about 5 ounces? Or even 16 ounces?

So many seem to fall into the "trap" where less is always better. No, methinks less is better only when your pack is too heavy! Otherwise, less is just less. As in less comfort, less enjoyment, etc.

To me, your listing shows an awful lot of overlap. If I were you, I would sell 5 and retain just 1 -- and it would be an easy decision: The Moment. It's elegantly simple, and you youself stated it was your favorite!!

Edited by ben2world on 03/29/2010 10:30:07 MDT.

simon hackett
(minimalgear) - F

Locale: UK
sublite sil on 03/29/2010 09:56:25 MDT Print View

I'm suprised non-ones mentioned the sublite. Based on what you've said- you're familiar with it, used it on three dayers, more stormworthy than your contrail and your second lightest, it seems to make sense.

Misfit Mystic
(cooldrip)

Locale: "Grand Canyon of the East"
RE: Hexamid on 03/29/2010 09:58:34 MDT Print View

Not Doug, but the Hexamid is by Joe V. at ZPacks. Quite a wait though, and no orders til June 1? I really, REALLY want one though. The tarp version would be my ultimate 3 season shelter.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Shelter choice on 03/29/2010 10:07:10 MDT Print View

All the small details aside, is there any particular shelter that simply makes you happiest?

Another way to put it: Forget the ounces for a second. Which shelter do you most likely see yourself in on the AT?

Since your decision is not hinged on an expensive purchase, the choice becomes easier, I think. That being said, I'd choose either the Moment or Contrail.

Edited by T.L. on 03/29/2010 10:07:42 MDT.

Rakesh Malik
(Tamerlin)

Locale: Cascadia
Re: Re: Shelter conundrum on 03/29/2010 10:17:17 MDT Print View

"I would get a nano tarp, and a bug net if necessary. But that means buying another shelter :)"

You say that like more gear is a bad thing ;)

(And I though we photographers were bad... ;))

Andy F
(AndyF) - M

Locale: Midwest/Midatlantic
Re: Shelter conundrum on 03/29/2010 10:18:31 MDT Print View

Sleep is important. Your pack weight is low enough that you can handle the extra weight of the best all-around shelter you own: the Moment.

Dislaimer: This is coming from a guy who intends to carry around a 3.25 lb Scarp 2 on even his solo trips. :D

Ken Bennett
(ken_bennett) - F

Locale: southeastern usa
Re: Shelter choice on 03/29/2010 10:26:21 MDT Print View

"Truth is, the Moment is my favorite shelter, but 28 oz sounds pretty heavy over 10 days."

Wow, really? It's only 4 ounces heavier than the Contrail. Remember when the standard "light" backpacking tents weighed 5 pounds? (And that was much lighter than the previous 8 pound tents....)

If it's your favorite shelter, take it. Enjoy it. I love my new Moment, and have no qualms at all taking it over my lighter tarp and bivy system.

While it's true that ounces add up to pounds, I have never been able to feel an extra 4 ounces on my back. Never. If everything else is UL, I'm betting you won't, either.

Have a great hike -- that's a fun section of the AT. Make sure you plan to stop at every "wayside" in SNP for food and drinks. We had a terrific breakfast at Big Meadows Wayside when we did that section (great coffee and pancakes with blackberry syrup. Mmmmmm.) There was plenty of water at the waysides, camp grounds, shelters, and picnic areas that we passed every day, and we could get meals and resupply too. We also stayed at an historic cabin at Skyland one night. Fun trip.