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Recommend me a tent?
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Chris Martin

Locale: Finger Lakes
Recommend me a tent? on 02/08/2011 19:21:59 MST Print View

Hi all,

First post here. Hope I chose the right forum for this question.

I'm going to be living outside for about 6 months of this year, and possibly beyond that, if I'm brave enough. While keeping my day job, I plan to gain more backcountry experience by sleeping, cooking, exploring, and otherwise enjoying myself in the woods, relying on nature to sustain my needs as much as possible (and civilization where nature falls short).

While many of you would dissuade me from relying on a tent, I deem carrying one prudent, due to mosquito-infested summer nights and the occasional stretch of several rainy days.

Apart from the need to shelter a guest on occasion, I have sundry tent needs:

1. Light, for packing in from the road every weekday; hoping for the 4-pound range.
2. Durable enough to last sustained daily use in all 3-season weather conditions. If (despite due care) it falls apart in 6 months, I bought the wrong tent.

(These, to a degree, contradict each other.)

3. Reasonably quick to set up and take down. Potentially every day, every necessary clip, guy-line, and pole joint will be dismantled (and later, mantled).
4. Vestibule door that can turn into a little stick-and-guyout-supported awning. I like sitting outside the dark 'cave' without getting soaked in the rain. More of a tent want than a tent need?
5. Flysheet in as woodsy and subdued of a color as possible. Dark browns, greens, and grays. Consider me self-conscious, but as a denizen of the woods, I'll feel the need to blend in.

The only tent I've found that claims to meet these needs is the Big Agnes Lynx Pass 2. Having little experience with non-Walmart tents, I don't know if this is a good choice. If not, what should I be looking for? Any favorites that are proven in the sort of use described above?

More about my plans...

There are large tracts of reforested land, totaling five-figures acreage, within a few minutes' drive of my job. Herein, responsible(!) backcountry camping and exploring are blessed by the authorities. I don't plan to sleep in any one spot for more than 2-3 consecutive nights, because that's more squatting than camping, nor do I plan to taint the forest by leaving anything erected in my absence. Sleeping in/near the car will be avoided, because that compromises the point of being out there.

(I have no illusions of long-term self-reliance. I still need to drive to work and back, and the YMCA en route will make a quick shower convenient, for the sake of keeping my job. Supermarkets nearby will limit, at least by waging psychological warfare against my preparation instinct, just how self-sufficient I'll become.)

Edited by hope_for_gorilla on 02/08/2011 19:25:02 MST.

S Long

Locale: Wasatch
Re: Recommend me a tent? on 02/08/2011 20:41:04 MST Print View

Tarptent Double Rainbow.

Brian Gentry
(Treegreen) - F
Recommend me a tent? on 02/08/2011 20:55:14 MST Print View

I think there are plenty of options that are under your 4lb limit. It would probably help if you give us an idea of the kind of money you are looking to spend and whether or not freestanding is a necessary feature. For example, on REI the Lynx Pass 2 is $200. We trying to stick to that or what?

Chris Martin

Locale: Finger Lakes
Recommend me a tent? on 02/09/2011 10:36:11 MST Print View

Mr. S, I'll check it out!

Brian, I'm looking to spend whatever is necessary to own a quality tent that meets my needs. A $300 maximum would be reasonable, but I'll consider upward of that, if the tent is particularly compelling.

I like to consider cost as per trouble-free night of tenting, rather than the one-time cost of tent, so better durability merits a higher price.

I can't imagine freestanding as necessary, as long as I can set it up with whatever's nearby, or a few sticks in a pinch. Trees of all sizes are plentiful.

Sunny Waller
(dancer) - M

Locale: Southeast USA
Recommend me a tent on 02/09/2011 11:58:42 MST Print View

If I were "commuting" to the woods at the end of the day I would use my Speer Hammock
with a 10x12 tarp. This hammock has thick straps so it is very easy to tie between 2 trees. You can tie it low and sit in it while you cook dinner. It is a side entry so you can use a pad, an underquilt, or a wrap-around sleeping bag for warmth. The bug
mesh is detachable. The large tarp makes a great carport and makes it easy to set up
or break down in the rain while standing up. I set my tarp up on a ridge line and
just hang my gear from that. The tarp is easy to replace if it wears out. You can
camp about anywhere you have trees and it is very easy to stealth camp.

Hammocks are not for everybody but for those who are interested there are lots of
great hammocks out there that would work in this setup.

Donald Browning
(docdb) - M

Locale: SE USA
Tent Junkie speaks on 02/09/2011 13:16:35 MST Print View

I have to concur on the Carbon Reflex 2. That's my current favorite when it's me and the dog. I can even squeeze my petite 8yo daughter (she goes on most trips). I think it would be too small for two (non-intimate) adults.
PS I think there may be some last years models out there for cheap, as MSR changed the color this year

BER ---
(BER) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Lynx Pass on 02/09/2011 15:11:55 MST Print View


A few thoughts:

First, Big Agnes makes good tents. I've had three and have changed them only because my feature preference changed over time. (Currently own a BA Copper Spur, but go back and forth on whether to use that or my golite mid.) The lynx pass2 looks nice. Like the awning. The coated polyester fabric is likely a bit more durable on this tent than on some of the other BA tents. Size will be roomy for one. Weight is not bad, and it sounds like you'll be hiking in from your car daily, so weight would not likely be as big a concern. And the price is nice.

Second, as already mentioned, a hammock setup would be an option as a larger tarp will give you the option of full coverage, or a wide open pitch with a porch. Be mindful that you might have to rework your insulation some. Lots of different options for hammocks/tarps/insulation depending on your need.

A larger mid without floor might also be a good option. Plenty of room. Can leave the door open even while raining and not much care if a bit of water gets onto the dirt floor. Pretty versatile. Depending on your bug situation, you could go the head net route or a bug bivy under the shelter.

Edited by BER on 02/09/2011 15:13:08 MST.

Scott Lehr
(lehrscott4) - F

Locale: Louisville - KY
Shangri- La on 02/09/2011 15:26:40 MST Print View

Check out the Shangri La 5. It would be a huge solo shelter with the option of using the nest during the buggy season. And nearly enough room to stand up, with the weight of a traditional 2 person backpacking tent.

Brian Gentry
(Treegreen) - F
Tents on 02/09/2011 15:38:34 MST Print View

I think you would be hard pressed to go wrong with anything from these manufacturers: (there is a 40% off code floating around that is good until 3/11)

It really depends on your preference for single wall vs double wall vs free standing. The hammock suggestion is probably one of the more versatile and comfortable ways of doing it, but the cost can sky-rocket on hammock set-ups for super lightweight and warm accessories (underquilts, ect). My advice would be to peruse the above sites and see if anything catches your fancy. You can then search BPL and see what others have to say about them as well as ask questions. Major manufacturers like Big Agnes are great as well, and The MSR Hubba Hubba HP (if you can find one) may also be something to consider.

Steve O
(HechoEnDetroit) - F

Locale: South Kak
just a thought on 02/09/2011 15:57:08 MST Print View

You could also consider a light tent plus a tarp for your awning preference. Plus its nice to have a tarp to hang out under in rain.

David Dawson
(skierd) - F

Locale: Where I may roam
golite shangri-la 5 on 02/10/2011 10:13:18 MST Print View

Glad I looked before I posted, I had a similar question and the early replies helped my answer.

On a somewhat similar vein, I'm leaving for an open ended motorcycle trip in a couple of weeks of unknown length or destination. I'm using a small dual sport so packed size is as important to me, if not more, than weight. One of my personal hates for camping is tearing down and setting up at the end and beginning of every day, so I wanted something that went up and down easy too.

Ended up buying a GoLite SL5 thanks to their sale, which made the price much more reasonable imo. This thing is massive inside, to the point that I think its a bit excessive for one person with gear (riding clothes, tail bag, sleeping bag/pad, maybe a small stool). Simple to go up and down, stake out the corners and pop in the center pole, stake out the guys or center loops if wanted or windy, soup.

I think I found on here, or a similar site, someone using an MLD duomid innernet for bug protection, I'm probably going to do something similar. Gives the benefit of lots of bug free space with lots of covered area for everything else. Tempted to order a stove jack and stove from TiGoat too... but thats getting to be a bit much like home isn't it?

My only concern with it is its pretty hard to stealth camp with a 6' tall yellow tipi.

Edited by skierd on 02/10/2011 10:44:21 MST.

Chris Martin

Locale: Finger Lakes
Just as confused as before on 02/10/2011 16:46:05 MST Print View

Thanks to all who replied; lots of good information. Steve O's suggestion is clever - a separate "awning tarp" would give me much more versatility in tent selection, though it would mean packing an additional item, and slightly more complex setup on days when I want to use it.

Donald, Carbon Reflex 2 looks like a fantastically light tent - though the color is a full 180 from what I need.

A hammock doesn't really appeal to me - it's great for reclining in, but doesn't allow for a friend to join (unless she was a very close friend!). I plan to sleep on a Big Agnes Insulated Air Core, which is probably the closest thing (in comfort) to using a hammock.

Shangri La 5 looks very interesting - a miniature circus tent. Perfect color too (the olive green one). Why does everyone like the 5, as opposed to the 3 (or even 2)?

The idea of a dirt/forest floor does appeal to me - nothing to sweep out or wash. My only concern is setting up during/after a rain - I guess that's what groundsheets are for. David, what's your plan for a groundsheet?

Are there any circumstances under which a 'bathtub floor' is necessary, or does the large covered area of the tarp keep you dry in pretty much any rain?

Edited by hope_for_gorilla on 02/10/2011 16:47:07 MST.

David Dawson
(skierd) - F

Locale: Where I may roam
going floorless on 02/10/2011 19:12:11 MST Print View

The 3 didn't appeal to me because of the hex shape. With the center pole, the available space is pretty well mangled (my opinion), also it would be somewhat harder to get staked out correctly on the first try. I'm on a motorcycle and therefore not carrying trekking poles, hence no lasting interest in the SL2 or SL1.

Here's the post with using the duomid inner net with the SL5.

Might have been posted here as well but my google-fu only works sporadically.

I like the idea of a floorless design when I come tromping in out of the rain in heavy moto boots or otherwise covered in mud and grime, so I can leave my gear piled in a far corner. For a ground sheet for that stuff I'm going to get a small poly sheet or a trash bag or something (I think I have part of an old tent fly in the closet still that I used for a ground sheet under a bivy). With the smaller inner net I still have bug and ground water protection when I sleep while maintaining a large open floorless space.

But, I'm waffling on keeping the dang thing at all. Especially traveling solo, I don't sit around camp much if at all beyond a quick evening meal and changing out of my gear. In the morning I usually like to make some miles before eating. I'm thinking I might return it and just use a bivy for clear nights, draping my gear over the bike, and covering me and it with a large tarp for bad weather, using the motorcycle as my center support (when on the side stand, the higher bar end is ~55" off the ground.

BER ---
(BER) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
hanging the SGL on 02/11/2011 01:31:14 MST Print View

Just an FYI, all of the SGL series have loops at the peaks and can be suspended between trees without poles. In fact, I currently have a SGL-2 and a SGL-5 set up in my basement, both suspended without poles.

David Dawson
(skierd) - F

Locale: Where I may roam
no poles on 02/11/2011 09:40:35 MST Print View

True I always forget about that. The trip is somewhat opened ended however, id rather not limit site selection to only places with trees again. Tried it with a hammock in'09 and ran into issues at some state parks not allowing anything to be tied to trees and a general lack of trees in the desert and plains.

Its not even a weight or space issue, i'm amazed at how small the sl5 packs az it fits inside my small panniers (8l per side) with room to spare and the pole is about the same length as my spare fuel bottles. I'm still mostly feeling spoiled with the massive amount of space it covers, feels too... decadent for camping solo lol.

Robert Larue
(RobertL) - F
RE: Just as confused as before on 02/11/2011 10:52:22 MST Print View

There are lots of good suggestions here.

I've spent up to 4 months living out of a tent. While I prefer the floorless style of shelter for backpacking, things are a little different when it's a more permanent setup. When I camp with a tarp, I tend to crawl in and go to sleep. You might be hanging around in your shelter more often. I found myself doing a LOT of reading while tent living. Having a light on attracts all kinds of flying insects, regardless of whether or not it's mosquito season. A real tent is a sanity saver, but the main drawback is airflow. My solution was to use a standard dome tent minus the rain fly, and pitch a big tarp A-frame over it. This kind of system provides all the advantages of tarps and tents combined. In the long run (especially if you get an extended period of rain), the bigger the tarp the better. 10x12 ft would be a minimum. Because the tarp provides all the weather protection, you don't really have to worry about getting an expensive, high quality tent. It will end up with a lot of wear and tear on the floor, and you might end up leaving it set up more often than you'd originally planned. In those circumstances you really don't want something that is so flashy that it screams "steal me!"

This kind of system can easily weigh less than 4 lbs, especially if you use an A frame style of bug tent that doesn't use poles.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Recommend me a tent? on 02/11/2011 11:08:41 MST Print View

"Donald, Carbon Reflex 2 looks like a fantastically light tent - though the color is a full 180 from what I need."

The new version for 2011 is green. The 2010 version is yellow.

Mark Ries
(mtmnmark) - M

Locale: IOWAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!
keep it out of the sun on 02/11/2011 11:19:21 MST Print View

I know the enemy of most tents are uv rays so you might try to set it up out of the sun or the tarp over the tent might be a real good idea if you are planning to leave it set up somewhere. I did not look real good at all posts so I hope this is not an echo

Chris Martin

Locale: Finger Lakes
Tarptent Cloudburst 2 on 03/07/2011 13:15:31 MST Print View

After ignoring this decision for a few weeks, I researched more and have taken a liking to the Tarptent Cloudburst 2. At 2 pounds 6 ounces, it's one of the lightest solutions possible that still provides most benefits of a real tent. I'd choose it over the Squall for lack of a pole that bisects the front opening. I'm going to be spending a lot of time in this thing, and the Cloudburst is more comfort-oriented than its sisters.

Unlike most single-walled shelters (pyramids and simple tarps), it provides integrated protection from wet ground and bugs, and perhaps also from light runoff with the bathtub floor.

I'm not warming up to the Double Rainbow because it is allegedly harder to get a taut pitch. I like the Double Rainbow's vestibules, but I'm not sure if they're practical for solo use without trekking poles.

In this vein, my most serious concern with the Cloudburst is the anemic 'beak' of 8.5 square feet, rather than a vestibule. Can I leave muddy boots under the beak on a rainy night, or will they just get soaked? Wind might compound this problem.

Also, does the Cloudburst have means of hanging a small lantern?

Edited by hope_for_gorilla on 03/07/2011 13:57:32 MST.