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John Abela
(JohnAbela) - MLife

Locale: www.hikelighter.com
SUL/XUL Enclosed Shelter Comparisons on 12/29/2011 21:18:52 MST Print View

Hey all,

I finished writing up a new article and spreadsheet last night that compares some of the lightest of the lightest enclosed shelters on the market as of this time.

The premise of what I was after was to find complete setups that are not over 20 ounces (567 grams) total shelter weight.

The spreadsheet itself is not a complete list but it would be really complicated (and time consuming) to make it a complete list. I try to highlight those companies that are at the top of the list of what we usually read about here at BPL, such as ZPacks, Mountain Laurel Designs, Six Moon Designs, Gossamer Gear and such. Actually Gossamer Gear only makes it into the list via their Bug Canopy which I am not even really sure should be on the list as it is not a fully enclosed bug shelter. TarpTent and Terra Nova are no where on the list because they do not have sub 567 gram total weight shelters.

Anyway the article is here:

http://hikelighter.com/2011/12/29/sulxul-enclosed-shelter-comparisons/

I would really like to hear some feedback on other options that I should consider to put onto the spreadsheet. I know there are small cottage companies out there making SUL/XUL shelters but its hard to keep a running list of those that are in the sub 567 gram range - so please do let me know of any that you might know of that are not listed!! It is my intent to keep the spreadsheet updated for a rather long time because I do not know of anything else out there that comes close to what it offers.

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: SUL/XUL Enclosed Shelter Comparisons on 12/29/2011 21:33:06 MST Print View

I believe the correct number of stakes is 8 for the Hexamid Solo w/o beak, and 9 stakes for the Hexamid Solo with beak.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
Nice on 12/29/2011 21:41:08 MST Print View

Nice Job. I really like the Skyscape X. If I didn't already have a great shelter I'd be drooling over that, although the 0.74oz cuben floor (CT2K.08) might be a deal killer for me. The pin holes are going to make that material far from waterproof after a few dozen nights on the trail. I much prefer 1.2 or 1.5oz cuben.

Right now I'm quite happy with my 24.4oz (total weight inc. everything) HMG Echo I. I could get it to 20oz by leaving the beak at home and using 6g stakes instead of 8g. The nice thing with the Echo I is that when bugs are less of a concern I can leave the heavy inner (11oz) at home and use it as a full coverage tarp.

John Abela
(JohnAbela) - MLife

Locale: www.hikelighter.com
Re: Re: SUL/XUL Enclosed Shelter Comparisons on 12/29/2011 21:43:58 MST Print View

I believe the correct number of stakes is 8 for the Hexamid Solo w/o beak, and 9 stakes for the Hexamid Solo with beak.


Sweet thanks for catching that!

Last Joe emailed me on this matter the Hexamid did require 8 for both the version with and without the beak. I think he mentioned to me that he redesigned the attachment system with the beak to have it go down to the same stake as the primary front one. So I went ahead and changed it to 8 stakes for all of the Hexamid options, along with the price change.

Again, thank you for letting me know. Lots of details in that small spreadsheet to overlook and get crosseyed on after about five hours.

John Abela
(JohnAbela) - MLife

Locale: www.hikelighter.com
Re: Nice on 12/29/2011 21:50:57 MST Print View

@Dan: Nice Job. I really like the Skyscape X. If I didn't already have a great shelter I'd be drooling over that, although the 0.74oz cuben floor (CT2K.08) might be a deal killer for me. The pin holes are going to make that material far from waterproof after a few dozen nights on the trail. I much prefer 1.2 or 1.5oz cuben.

Right now I'm quite happy with my 24.4oz (total weight inc. everything) HMG Echo I. I could get it to 20oz by leaving the beak at home and using 6g stakes instead of 8g. The nice thing with the Echo I is that when bugs are less of a concern I can leave the heavy inner (11oz) at home and use it as a full coverage tarp.


Thanks Dan!

Not sure why you feel that they 0.74 cannot handle rain in the bathtub. In November of last year I had over a dozen tents setup in my backyard for something like 35 days, of which it rained for 31 straight days. I had custom designed shelters, I had TarpTent shelters, I had HMG shelters, and on down the list. I had three shelters with cuben fiber floors and not a single one of them suffered *any* problems at all. One of them has 0.51 bathtub and the other two were 0.74 bathtubs. I do not want you to think I am challenging what you said but 31 straight days of being setup is well beyond what any hiker would encounter and they have more then proven themselves. Anything heavier than 0.7 cf bathtub serves no other purpose than to give those who do not take the time to clean their camp site a reason to be lazy. More than enough whitepapers over the last two years have been posted here at BPL that prove that 0.74 cuben fiber is more than sufficient.

Loved the HMG Echo I and Echo II that I owned. In the end they ended up being to heavy for my style of hiking but that does not mean I still do not stand by my famous quote that the HMG Echo shelter systems are the most bombproof cuben fiber shelters on the market!

(edit to fix stupid blockquote issues on my part lol)

Edited by JohnAbela on 12/29/2011 21:52:06 MST.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Nice on 12/29/2011 21:57:41 MST Print View

"I do not want you to think I am challenging what you said but 31 straight days of being setup is well beyond what any hiker would encounter and they have more then proven themselves."

For how many of those 31 days was there somebody sleeping in there, and rolling around pounding the floor into the dirt, gravel, and sticks underneath?

--B.G.--

Bob Bankhead
(wandering_bob) - MLife

Locale: Oregon, USA
Re: SUL/XUL Enclosed Shelter Comparisons on 12/29/2011 22:07:25 MST Print View

You can punch a hole in any floor material if you're not careful. Most UL/SUL hikers are (must be) by definition super-careful because they know their lighter gear lacks the durability and/or abrasion-resistence of the "heavy" stuff.

That said, I think most of us also carry a groundsheet of some sort for cowboy camping when the shelter is not needed for either weather or bugs. That ground sheet would naturally go under the shelter, providing more protection for the floor.

Bottom line: The 0.74 Cuben floor of the Skyscape X should be fine.......unless you're careless.

John Abela
(JohnAbela) - MLife

Locale: www.hikelighter.com
Re: Re: Re: Nice on 12/29/2011 22:08:12 MST Print View

For how many of those 31 days was there somebody sleeping in there, and rolling around pounding the floor into the dirt, gravel, and sticks underneath?


As has been well documented it would not matter if a person is using 0.74 or 1+ cuben fiber when it comes to that matter. So it is all just a matter of extra weight for the sake of extra weight.

ZPacks prefers 0.5
MLD prefers 0.7
SMD prefers 0.7
HMG prefers 0.7 and 1.14

Seeing a pattern there ;)

Edited by JohnAbela on 12/29/2011 22:08:45 MST.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: Re: Nice on 12/29/2011 22:29:40 MST Print View

It sounds like it was just a paperwork lab test if there were no people actually sleeping in there. Where is the documentation?

I'll be sure and buy one of those shelters if I just want to have it and not sleep in it.

--B.G.--

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
0.74 on 12/29/2011 22:32:25 MST Print View

I do agree that 0.74oz cuben can be successfully used as a floor when taken very well care of. I do think it needs very good care though, and not just the good care that more UL'ers try to practice.

When I say I'd prefer a 1.2oz cuben floor, I'm mostly speaking from my experience with 0.74oz cuben stuff sacks. Absolutely the stuff is entirely waterproof when it's undamaged and can handle 31 days of rain. My concerns lie with the abrasion and poking damage that might be incurred when used over the long term as a tent floor.

When I choose a tent site, I spend 1-2 minutes picking it free of obvious pinecones, sticks and rocks, but I don't get every little bit off so there's always a chance of a small sharp rock or a pokey stick. Based on my experience with using 0.74oz cuben over the long term in a stuff sack application, I think opting for 1.2oz cuben for the floor would be weight well spent.

I never thought my 0.74oz cuben stuff sacks would see too much wear from just setting them around camp etc, but after 1 year of regular use they had numerous pinholes so weren't nearly waterproof anymore, and after 2 years of use there were real holes developing to the point that I began to be concerned I'd lose small items out of the sack. Last night I replaced my main ditties sack with a new one made of 1.2oz cuben. The former sack was 0.74oz cuben and bonded using 3M tape. Despite using tougher cuben, the new sack weighs less (5.0g vs. 6.7g) because I sewed it instead of using adhesive tape.

Anyways, I think my stuff sacks have seen a lot of high wear since I've never really been too concerned with taking care of them like I do some of my more valuable gear. I know this is the SUL forum and we're focused on SUL shelters, but I think an extra 1oz for a tough floor is weight pretty well spent. A typical solo shelter might have a floor area around 2 square yards (ie. 30" x 84"), so the extra weight of using 1.2oz cuben would be 2 x (1.2-0.74), which is 0.92oz. You could easily save that back using 0.51oz cuben instead of 0.74oz cuben for the canopy. I'd much prefer a 0.51oz canopy & 1.2oz floor, over an all 0.74oz shelter.

Photo of my 0.74oz stuff sack bottom after 2 years of use. Duct tape is covering the largest hole:
0.74 damage

Edited by dandydan on 12/29/2011 22:37:20 MST.

John Abela
(JohnAbela) - MLife

Locale: www.hikelighter.com
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nice on 12/29/2011 22:36:16 MST Print View

I'll be sure and buy one of those shelters if I just want to have it and not sleep in it.


You do that BG, excellent idea.

John Abela
(JohnAbela) - MLife

Locale: www.hikelighter.com
Re: 0.74 on 12/29/2011 22:38:36 MST Print View

Photo of my 0.74oz stuff sack bottom after 2 years of use. Duct tape is covering the largest hole


wow dan!

I have a 0.74 stuff sack that has 1000+ miles on it from over three years and not a single piece of tape of any kind.

What the heck are you doing with your gear man :-p


Anyway this thread is about a shelter comparison not another stupid thread about the durability of cuben fiber. That issue has been, sorry for the pun, "beat up" enough around this website.

Andy Duncan
(bluewater) - M

Locale: SoCal
Great article on 12/30/2011 11:28:30 MST Print View

Thanks for posting your article John. I appreciate the details and the spread sheet makes it easy to compare the bottom line on many different shelter options, including the ground sheet, guylines & stuff sack(s).

Would using a medium GG polycryo ground cloth save just over 1/2 oz?

I realize it was probably necessary to include the stuff sacks for comparison, but after the 5th night on a long thru hike this summer I just stopped using my 'stake sack' and didn't bother bringing a shelter stuff sack.

This may sound overly gram focused, but this is for SUL/XUL.

Thanks again John. Awesome article!

John Abela
(JohnAbela) - MLife

Locale: www.hikelighter.com
Re: Great article on 12/30/2011 12:29:51 MST Print View

@Andy:
Would using a medium GG polycryo ground cloth save just over 1/2 oz?

I realize it was probably necessary to include the stuff sacks for comparison, but after the 5th night on a long thru hike this summer I just stopped using my 'stake sack' and didn't bother bringing a shelter stuff sack.

This may sound overly gram focused, but this is for SUL/XUL.


Hey Andy,

The one time that I list the GG ground cloth I am listing it using the medium size. Should be listed at 46 grams or something there about.

Yeah I hear you on the whole stuff sack issue. The way I approach it depends on if the shelter is a one-piece design (which is only applicable to the SMD Skyscape X in this case) is to just throw it into the mesh pocket on the back of my backpack. For the two piece setups I usually throw the tarp into the back mesh pocket for easy quick access and than throw the bug insert into a mini stuff sack because it usually does not get used every night and because the noseeum can be a PITB to pack and not have it go everywhere, sure you know what I mean by that lol. Is this how you go about it or did you just throw your bug insert right into your pack and just call it good? Two grams is two grams after all, eh :-D


@Andy: Thanks for posting your article John. I appreciate the details and the spread sheet makes it easy to compare the bottom line on many different shelter options, including the ground sheet, guylines & stuff sack(s). Thanks again John. Awesome article!


Thanks Andy!

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: Re: Great article on 12/30/2011 12:32:03 MST Print View

Are actually going to be reviewing these shelters in the field or is this more a cost/ benefit comparison?

John Abela
(JohnAbela) - MLife

Locale: www.hikelighter.com
Re: Re: Re: Great article on 12/30/2011 12:42:46 MST Print View

Are actually going to be reviewing these shelters in the field or is this more a cost/ benefit comparison?


Hey David,

I have already written reviews on a few of the setups, some of them are posted at RedwoodOutdoors.Com (my own website) and here at BPL as well, as well as done up some video reviews of them under my Redwood Outdoors Youtube channel.

The purpose of this particular Shelter Comparison was strictly to have the hard number in front of me. I put the spreadsheet together a few weeks back and have been slowing building it up as I have time and ideas. Figured it was time to release it for others to have access to.

The only shelter on the list that I have not personally spent a single night within is the MLD SoloMid. Not a single person I know has one of those so I have never been able to borrow one, and they almost never come up for sale here at BPL gear swap so I have never bought one.

The ZPacks Hexamid Tarp I have owned and used for a good portion of the 2010 and first part of 2011 hiking season. Awesome tarp. The 0.34 cuben fiber zpacks rectangle tarp I own and am presently testing for durability whitepaper. I have also owned the MLD SuperLight Bivy and the MLD Bug Bivy. Oh, I have not owned/tried the GG Bug Canopy. I have tried the SMD Gatewood Cape and the SMD Skyscape Trekker (video on it) and very much want to acquire one of the cuben fiber Trekkers.

In the end I developed this because I personally wanted to see what viable alternatives there were to my existing setup and how close slightly more durable options there were and how much more weight they would add to my TBW.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: Re: Re: Re: Great article on 12/30/2011 14:29:59 MST Print View

Thanks - I am going to look at the links.

Keep up the great work for us..; )

Todd Hein
(todd1960) - MLife

Locale: Coastal Southern California
We need more of this! on 12/30/2011 14:54:20 MST Print View

Excellent article. Your work will be time (and $ saver) for me. May I suggest you "keep up the good work" and update your findings as you see fit? Thanks!

John Abela
(JohnAbela) - MLife

Locale: www.hikelighter.com
Re: We need more of this! on 12/30/2011 17:36:10 MST Print View

@Todd: Excellent article. Your work will be time (and $ saver) for me. May I suggest you "keep up the good work" and update your findings as you see fit? Thanks!


Thanks Todd!


Just a quick update that I have added the SMD Gatewood Cape + Netting and the Gossamer Gear The One to the spreadsheet. I had The One listed in there originally but I must have deleted it by mistake at some point. The SMD Gatewood Cape + SMD Serenity NetTent is 4 grams over the 567 gram mark, but with a bit of improvisation (replace the nylon stuff sacks with cuben fiber ones) it is possible to get this setup under the 20 gram mark so I feel it is worth having it in the list. Both of these two setups offer amazing price-per-gram factors!

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
20 grams on 12/30/2011 18:20:46 MST Print View

"...with a bit of improvisation...it is possible to get this setup under the 20 gram mark"

Impressive.