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Freestanding solo tent with low condensation?
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M Stein
(a.k.a.) - F

Locale: Northern California
Freestanding solo tent with low condensation? on 10/11/2011 12:46:26 MDT Print View

Looking for a freestanding, more spacious alternative to a bivy for our rainy west coast winters. I use the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2 and want to hear experiences with alternatives in the same <3 pounds ballpark. Happy to keep trekking with the FC2, just casting about for your insights.

Here are the design elements that are important to me:

- Freestanding is important for windy and/or sandy coastal conditions.

- I need a bathtub-style floor for rainstorms,

- Am looking for a bit more space for gear under the shelter than a bivy can offer.

- Ideally I'd love to be using a structure that pitches as fast as possible in rain.

- A demonstrable improvement in ventilation is the main area where I'd like to explore options. Because the FC uses a front-facing door, its fly lacks venting slits at the feet, and the gap between body and fly is very slim, the FC2 can build up a fair amount of condensation. Venting is still passable when all is said and done, but I'm sure other UL designs give venting more consideration.

A bit of a weight penalty is OK in my book if the alternative solves the ventilation problem.

Initially, I looked at the Warmlite 2C, but I've read regularly about condensation issues even with its built-in vents.

Any great shelters that fit the bill? Tall order, no doubt.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Re: Freestanding solo tent with low condensation? on 10/11/2011 12:49:33 MDT Print View

What about the BA Copper Spur 1? It is side entry, freestanding, and has vents in the fly? I believe it has a packed weight of 3 lbs.

There is also the upcoming MSR Nook which is freestanding, front entry with a partial fabric inner tent (think Hubba Hubba HP) and vents in the fly. I think it will be heavier than 3 lbs, however - about 3lbs, 5oz, but it is marketed as a 2 person shelter. Availalbe Feb, 2012.

M Stein
(a.k.a.) - F

Locale: Northern California
Re: Freestanding solo tent with low condensation? on 10/11/2011 13:48:05 MDT Print View

David, thank you.

Yes, the CS1 has 1 fly vent as well at the head, though it's not positioned for a cross breeze. Any users of the CS1 care to offer their feedback on the venting?

Good eye in picking out the MSR Nook. I'm intrigued, as the one available image of the fly shows that it has two vents.

Andy F
(AndyF) - M

Locale: Midwest/Midatlantic
Re: Freestanding solo tent with low condensation? on 10/11/2011 13:48:45 MDT Print View

+1 on the BA Copper Spur 1. I'm considering trying one myself. (I currently use a TT Moment.) I think you could get it down to around 2 lbs, 12 oz with light guyline and stakes.

The CS1 has one fairly large fly vent at the head end, and solid fabric which goes pretty far up the sides and ends. Speed of pitching is probably not very fast, and you still have the problem of pitching the inner before the fly in the rain. The dimension specs on the CS1 aren't accurate, as BA measures from grommet to grommet rather than actual interior floor dimensions.

Paul Ashton
(PDA123) - F

Locale: Eastern Mass
REI Quarter Dome T1 on 10/11/2011 16:49:06 MDT Print View

You might try your local REI to see if they have a Quarter Dome T1 left. Closeout at good prices, weighs just under 3 lbs.

M Stein
(a.k.a.) - F

Locale: Northern California
Re: Freestanding solo tent with low condensation? on 10/11/2011 16:55:51 MDT Print View

Paul, the Quarter Dome T1 would be nice, it's just that it's heavier than the current tent (BA FC2), and narrower. There are pluses, though. The price is right on the 2011 model, and furthermore, REI appears to be adding vents to the 2012 update of the T1.

Jeff Oliver
(jayo_pv) - F

Locale: VanIsle
msr hubba on 10/11/2011 17:53:04 MDT Print View

MSR Hubba? I traded a heavy (2+ lb) bivy in for this tent, and I hike on Vancouver Island so somewhat similar conditions...

Love it.. big vestibule.. great ventilation..bomb proof, and a little over 3 lbs.

My understanding when reading reviews of the BA is the opening is prone to getting water in. The Hubba notably allows setup of the fly before the inner..

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
MSR Hubba on 10/11/2011 18:48:43 MDT Print View

I've had great experiences with my 2011 Hubba so far. I used to have a Tarptent Contrail but felt half the interior space was unusable due to the sloping foot and condensation prone single-wall design. Try touching your toes in a wet Contrail if your over 6' tall- impossible without rubbing on the can really only sit up in 1/4 of it.

The Hubba is narrow by comparison, but the walls are steep- they actually lean outward on the big sides- nice and roomy, even at 6'2" 205#. It's a smartly designed tent: rain-free entry (how many tent makers don't seem to understand this?), good vestibule, really high bathtub floor, main structure is truly freestanding (only vestibule/fly must be staked out in two points), and does really well in bad weather when fully guyed out. No condensation issues because you'll never come into contact with the walls. If it's so humid/wet out that your having condensation raining on you, I'm afraid you'd be screwed in any small tent.

One feature that I really like about it as compared to a BA Fly Creek, Seedhouse, or similar is the large side entry; it does wonders for making the tent feel more spacious and open. Rather than crawling in a hole in the front, the door is on the large side- offering great views, plenty of air, and the ability to easily cook in the vestibule while still laying in bed.

Personally, I think the 3# weight is worth the features, ease of use, etc. compared to tents that save a pound but lose certain degrees of functionality. Though I typically sleep under the stars when solo (no shelter carried whenever possible), the extra weight of this tent is worth it to me if bad weather or serious bugs are expected.

Sam Farrington
(scfhome) - M

Locale: Chocorua NH, USA
Freestanding solo tent with low condensation on 10/11/2011 20:43:32 MDT Print View

M- IMO, you will have condensation in any high coverage tent. How the tent handles it is another matter.

I've been looking at what's out there, because my current 3# dome tent is very spacious, but doesn't provide enough storm protection for camping above timberline, could be lighter, and my current MYOG cuben project is going to take a while.

Even without getting into relative merits with condensation management, I've reluctantly concluded that there simply isn't anything out there that will provide a better experience than what I already have. Here are just three of the reasons:

#1 Nylon. Despite its quietness (when taut) and greater strength than polyester, it expands and sags a lot as its surface temperature drops. How can a structure that does not even approach tautness provide dry, stable protection in a storm. Not very likely, and try sleeping dry through the billowing and flapping. If it is single wall, so much the worse. The Warmlites are said to have full canopy tighteners that can be accessed from inside, but they have other serious drawbacks, like no over the door rain coverage. With the state of modern technology, sagproof fabrics for tents should be the norm; but they aren't.

#2 Headroom. Probably to save weight, many of the freestanding solo tents, when viewed from a cross-section, don't differ much in shape from the A-shape of the earliest backpacking tents. That means either there is little headroom, or a lot of fabric is wasted, and weight added, to raise the apex to create more space. Some of the tents add cross struts at the top to address this; but that adds weight also. No surprise then, that many of these are coffin-like in width to make up for the added weight, the Copper Spurs being an exception. The Nemo Obi One is a nice attempt to get around this by moving the hub up to around the top of the tent; but it still leaves a fairly narrow A-shape inside. Why carry the extra weight needed for freestanding if the headroom will be little more than an old-fashioned A-frame.

#3 Floor Area. Mentioned above. Coffin-like does not cut it.

So I doubt your Fly Creek 2 will be improved much by anything freestanding out there in the same weight range. You could try sewing on a loop, with sealed fabric reinforcement in just the right place, to guy out the rear section of the tent for better ventilation and separation from the inner. Or,

you could check with Big Sky, and see what fabrics they currently have available, and what is available without waiting. Or you could consider doing without the freestanding feature, and talk to Judy, the owner, about Lighheart Gear's cuben tents, particularly the ones with fold-up awnings, that are quite reasonable in price given the expense of the material. If you want the tent to last, order the lightest cuben available that carries the .18 suffix - the mylar is much thicker and more wear and water resistant than the .08. But I would not suggest a really expensive cuben tent. You might be pretty disappointed if a really lightweight sag free tentworthy fabric were to then come out next year at an affordable price. I also strongly suggest seeing the tent in person and pitching it before buying.

Edited by scfhome on 10/11/2011 20:56:59 MDT.

Jacob D
(JacobD) - F

Locale: North Bay
Re: MSR Hubba on 10/11/2011 21:00:29 MDT Print View

Hey Craig, does the Hubba have a vent (or vents) on the fly? I recently did a side by side on the Hubba Hubba, Copper Spur UL2, and REI Quarter Dome T2. I don't know how similar the designs are to the single person equivalents but I was pretty impressed with the Quarter Dome. It was the only tent that had dual vents on the fly. The headroom was fine due to the interesting shape of the tent, but it was a couple of inches lower than the others (not a problem for me at 6'-3).

The Hubba Hubba did not have a vent on the fly (I'm not sure if the 2012 version does) and picked up quite of condensation the night I compared them. Prior to that I noticed it always seemed to pick up a little more than I liked, but that night I had all three pitched next to each other in close proximity and the other two tents had much less condensation.

I don't know much about the solo versions of any of these though.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Re: MSR Hubba on 10/11/2011 21:47:57 MDT Print View

No vents on the fly.

Yuri R
(Yazon) - F

MSR Hubba on 10/11/2011 22:34:57 MDT Print View

Another vote for MSR Hubba...

Love the tent, even though it is not THE lightest. Lots of vestibule space, can be pitched quickly, because fly covers way more area than the net inside - generally air movement is not a problem.

It also has solid construction, which i prefer to some other tents since they feel less stable.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Re: MSR Hubba on 10/11/2011 22:42:51 MDT Print View

From the OP; "Looking for a freestanding, more spacious alternative to a bivy for our rainy west coast winters. I use the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2"

Why in the world would you all recommend the coffin like Hubba based on what the OP is looking for? It is much narrower and heavier than his current tent. Not to mention its profile will not be as good in the wind as his current tent. I have used one and although it has decent headroom, it is narrower than the bivy that I use!

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Re: MSR Hubba on 10/11/2011 23:10:25 MDT Print View

"Why in the world would you all recommend the coffin like Hubba based on what the OP is looking for?"

Silly me.

When I saw the thread title "Freestanding solo tent with low condensation?" I assumed the OP was looking for a freestanding solo tent with low condensation...not looking for a 2-3 man "solo" tent with low condensation.

Besides...One man's "coffin" is another man's happy place.


Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Re: Re: Re: MSR Hubba on 10/11/2011 23:35:58 MDT Print View

Well, you do look quite happy in there. Are you laying on a NeoAir?

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: Mind your own business
"Freestanding solo tent with low condensation?" on 10/12/2011 03:22:13 MDT Print View

Hi Dave,

I say it more like a mummy pad in that coffin :-)

Mark Cashmere
(tinkrtoy) - M

Locale: NEOH
BA CS1 on 10/12/2011 04:25:57 MDT Print View

I have had no problems with my BA CS1 in regards to condensation in NW PA and NE WV (i.e. can be humid and rainy) and I don't do a guyline taught pitch - just freestanding and staked (the guylines are still factory bundle wrapped and attached to the tie out points). I find it to be a palace for me and my stuff (I'm 5'8", 175#) and the pop vent on the head end is nice. The vestibule is big enough for pack and boots, but my pack usually gets crushed up and goes at my feet. I don't even think I have ever needed to use the extra 1/2 vestibule on the right side. The only downfall in your requirements is probably the fast pitch in rain - it goes up pretty quickly, but it isn't like an AKTO, you still need to get the fly on after putting together the inner tent. Practice might help there. HTH

Raymond Estrella
(rayestrella) - MLife

Locale: Northern Minnesota
Freestanding solo tent with low condensation? on 10/12/2011 08:48:46 MDT Print View

I too want something that pitches fast and dry in the rain. You may look into one of these:

Contact him and see if they have any in stock first and what the wait may be if not.

I have been dealing with a lot of rain lately and decided to get the 2P version of that tent and placed an order to get on the waiting list for next batch.

Ty Ty

Locale: SE US
TT Moment on 10/12/2011 10:41:53 MDT Print View

What about the TT Moment with the freestanding pole and the liner?

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: Mind your own business
Scarp on 10/12/2011 10:43:50 MDT Print View

The TT Scarp is a good tent also.