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P. Larson
(reacttocontact) - F
Grace Solo and Serenity Shelter. on 02/05/2012 09:45:53 MST Print View

Who uses this combination? Pros/Cons?

(Thanks BPL. You are officially turning me into a weight weenie).

Don Meredith
(donmeredith) - F

Locale: SouthEast
Grace Solo & Serenity Shelter on 02/05/2012 17:06:19 MST Print View

I've used this combination for a long time now and love it. Here in the SE its comfortable, weather proof in all but the worst weather. During the day you can set it up to weather the storm without the Serenity set up with plenty of room to stretch out, cook, or share space with buddies. Great combination. Obviously, during the cold season you'll sleep cooler than you would with a fully enclosed shelter.

Don Meredith

P. Larson
(reacttocontact) - F
Re: Grace Solo & Serenity Shelter on 02/05/2012 18:24:50 MST Print View

Don, did you use a bivy sack with this setup? And/or would you recommend one?

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
Grace Solo/Serenity on 02/05/2012 19:22:20 MST Print View

I was actually on the brink of going this route about a year ago. I ended up going with the HMG Echo I shelter system, mostly because I really like having the option of making the tarp more enclosed with the beak. If your ordered the Echo I without the beak, it would be a similar price as the cuben Grace Solo + Serenity and then you'd have the option to add the beak later....just something to think about.

You could also check out the stuff from Bear Paw, as they make some nice tarps and inner net tents too.

MLD stuff is awesome. If I was sure I didn't want the beak, I would have gone with the combo you mention. I do really like the beak though...especially in winter where I use the shelter without the inner (just a groundsheet) and build short snow walls to turn it into a pretty bomber shelter.

P. Larson
(reacttocontact) - F
Re: Grace Solo/Serenity on 02/05/2012 19:44:38 MST Print View

Dan, I wish I had the budget to get the cuben Grace Solo or the Echo I. But I'm working with a $275 budget so I'm pretty sure I'm "stuck" with the silnylon Grace.

But the Canopy Tent from Bear Paw is kind of tempting...along with a few other things on there.

Rakesh Malik

Locale: Cascadia
Re: Re: Grace Solo/Serenity on 02/05/2012 21:57:03 MST Print View

I'd echo Dan's comments, but since the HMG gear doesn't fit your budget, I guess there's not much point, unfortunately. But hey, it's something to look forward to, right? ;)

It's too bad that HMG doesn't have any less expensive fabric options. They make great gear, but their high-end fabric choices put them out of a lot of people's price ranges.

Anyway, the MLD Serenity is a nice shelter, and in combination with a properly pitched tarp can actually keep the wind off of you. Since you won't have a beak, I'd recommend a full silnylon front wall.

Bear Paw makes good stuff. It's a bit like a budget version of MLD. For silnylon tarps, also check out OES and Oware. They also make excellent gear. OES products are also comparatively inexpensive.

Christopher Yi
(TRAUMAhead) - F

Locale: Cen Cal
Re: Grace Solo/Serenity on 02/05/2012 23:05:25 MST Print View

"I was actually on the brink of going this route about a year ago. I ended up going with the HMG Echo I shelter system, mostly because I really like having the option of making the tarp more enclosed with the beak. If your ordered the Echo I without the beak, it would be a similar price as the cuben Grace Solo + Serenity and then you'd have the option to add the beak later....just something to think about."

I went with the above route for flexibility. Picked up an HMG Echo I tarp during Christmas when they had their 25% off sale, and an unused Alpinelite (now YAMA Mountain Gear) 1.0 Bug Shelter off gear swap here. Spent about $260 together, so it's possible with your budget. The tarp is shorter than I would like, so I'm contemplating on adding an Echo I beak. I'm going to be using a bivy for colder temperatures and bad weather, so I'm not sure it's really needed?

I also emailed MLD recently inquiring about a custom Serenity Shelter with taller sidewalls, and at the time he couldn't do it because of the amount of orders he had, but he mentioned a redesign on the Serenity so you might want to wait.

P. Larson
(reacttocontact) - F
Re: Re: Grace Solo/Serenity on 02/05/2012 23:12:35 MST Print View

Any specifics given about said redesign? As in significant changes?

PS. Thanks for adding to my dilemma by mentioning Yama Mountain Gear.

Edited by reacttocontact on 02/05/2012 23:18:53 MST.

Christopher Yi
(TRAUMAhead) - F

Locale: Cen Cal
Re: Re: Re: Grace Solo/Serenity on 02/05/2012 23:27:06 MST Print View

No specifics on the redesign.

P. Larson
(reacttocontact) - F
Grace Solo/Serenity vs Echo I system. on 02/06/2012 10:49:25 MST Print View

Besides the significant weight difference, is the Echo I system worth paying the extra $$$ for?

I've read about having to readjust a sil tarp when it become wet, something you don't have to do with a cuben tarp.

What are the other advantages? It seems that you will have more condensation issues with a cuben tarp in comparison to a sil tarp.

Keep in mind, well thought out responses to my questions could cause me to spend A LOT more than originally planned on a shelter. As in my budget going from $275 to $495. (Thanks Dan and your recommendation of the HMG Echo I shelter system). Which in turn is going to require A LOT of 'splainin to do to my special someone. And she can get a little feisty sometimes. So if you are going to recommend the Echo I shelter, I need some good 'slpainin material' to use during my court battle. =)

Edited by reacttocontact on 02/06/2012 10:50:20 MST.

Chris S
(csteutterman) - F

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Grace Solo/Serenity vs Echo I system. on 02/06/2012 11:06:48 MST Print View

To make your decision a little bit harder, you could also consider the YAMA Mountain Gear tarps and bug net combos. They come in silnylon and are cheaper than the Echo shelters. The Stratiform III with Bug Shelter 1.25, for example, looks pretty nice.

P. Larson
(reacttocontact) - F
Re: Re: Grace Solo/Serenity vs Echo I system. on 02/06/2012 11:12:29 MST Print View

Hahaha. Chris, to make life easier, I've finally narrowed it down to the 2 mentioned. Well the 2 companies mentioned. It's either MLD or HMG.

USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
Not helping me either!!! on 02/06/2012 11:23:07 MST Print View

I've looked at the above mentioned, or at least most so far. By the time I add a bug screen, stakes and a pole as I don't use hiking poles, I'm at around a pound, even viewing the Zpack lineup. Not bad, this would be 10 oz. lighter than my floorless Squall. It is in such good shape after 7 years?, that even for me, I can't justify spending the money yet. Maybe if I fire up one of my old bp stoves and it has a fireball, maybe then. Thanks for the info. Anyone use the shelters and just use a half bug net that hangs from the ceiling or drapes over you or a hoop over you? Is that even worth getting?

P. Larson
(reacttocontact) - F
Re: Re: Re: Grace Solo/Serenity vs Echo I system. on 02/06/2012 12:10:57 MST Print View

Nevermind. Just watched a video of the Echo I setup and that thing looks...hmmm.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
Grace Solo/Serenity et al on 02/06/2012 13:25:04 MST Print View

I'll give a quick comparison of cuben vs. silnylon with regards to this application, and then compare the main shelter options being discussed here.

Cuben vs. Silnylon:
For the tarp, both materials are going to be plenty strong. Cuben is going to fare better in wet, sloppy conditions since it doesn't sag and it's extremely waterproof. Silnylon is going to be waterproof enough...especially for the first few years, but it will sag in extended wet/high humidity which means re-tensioning. It kinda sucks waking up to a saggy tarp. Cuben is also going to save several ounces. Silnylon may be better for snow loads due to it's slipperiness aiding snow shedding.

For the inner, sagging is not an issue since these fabrics are just used for the floor. A heavier grade of cuben (1.2 or 1.5oz) is going to be more waterproof than silnylon and non-slippery, but the weight savings are none because heavier cuben is being used. In this application, it's mostly about cost, slipperiness and waterproofness. I prefer cuben, but it's not a big deal because there's no weight difference or sagging issue. A silnylon floor is likely a good way to save money if you don't mind adding some silicone dots to the bottom of your pad to combat the slipperiness.

Shelter Options:
Before I really get into this, I'll spoil the suspense and say that what you really want is a cuben tarp with an integrated or removable beak, and a silnylon inner tent.

I was going to break down all the options mentioned by weight, price and pros/cons, but once you start considering mixing a tarp from one maker with the inner from another there just gets to be too many configurations.

IMO, some sort of a beak on the large end of the tarp is really valuable because it's going to handle foul weather much better. On a lot of trips you can get away with no beak, but it's really nice to have the option for wet or winter trips. And honestly, I fall asleep a lot better with a beak mostly enclosing my tarp because I'm not thinking about how easily a bear could snack on my head without me even waking up. This isn't a likely or rational concern, but I sleep better with a beak. It feels more like a tent if you want it to.

As previously discussed, I also think you want cuben for the tarp because it's non-saggy and going to save quite a bit of weight. Buying a cuben tarp is cheaper than buying a silnylon one if you're going to wind up upgrading to a cuben tarp next year. The extra waterproofness is a bonus.

So with that said, I wouldn't buy the cuben MLD Grace Solo Tarp, because the HMG Echo I tarp is $5 less ($270) and it gives you the option to add the beak (2.8oz and $90) now or later. The HMG tarp is slightly heavier (6.1oz vs. 5.9oz w/o guy lines) because they've super reinforced it and because there's snaps for the beak.

Another cuben tarp option that has a front beak is the Bear Paw Canopy Tent. You can get this with a rear beak as well to make it more enclosed which is pretty cool. You can get it with a partial coverage non-zip front beak, or with a full coverage zippered beak like the Echo I. The main difference between this tarp and the HMG Echo is that the beaks are not removable. This is a good thing if you'll always want them, because it eliminates some snaps and cord (weight and complexity) but it's a downside if you'd like to have the option of going really light with just the basic tarp on some trips. I like the rear beak. I'd get that and the full zip front beak. With the full zip front beak (like the Echo) you're looking at $325 vs $360 for the Echo I tarp + beak. So you'd save a few bucks, but you'd lose that savings if you opted for the $30 rear beak. This tarp is available in 0.51oz cuben as well (vs. 0.74) which saves 2.5oz. I'd get that if you're hiking in mellow areas, but if you're heading into the mountains I'd stick with 0.74. Weight is 9.5oz but a bit more if you get the full zip beak and/or rear beak. Get the HMG if you want a removable beak. Get the Bear Paw if you want a rear beak. The Bear Paw canopy tent is a bit bigger, since it doesn't taper in width. So you kinda need the rear beak with this, but you don't really with the HMG as it has a much smaller rear opening.

The last two cuben tarp + beak options that I'm aware of are the MLD Patrol Shelter in cuben ($305) the Yama Mountain Gear Cirriform tarp ($300-$450). The Patrol shelter has a back wall which is nice. Both tarps use a non-zip half beak and a tapered shape (narrower at feet end)

Bug Tents
You've got a lot of options for bug tents and they don't vary that much. You probably want a silnylon floored one because they're not any heavier and you'll save money.

The HMG Inner is expensive ($220) and kinda heavy (11.5oz) because the 1.5oz cuben is a bit heavier than silnylon (about 1.3-1.4oz once treated) and because it uses a lot of heavier shock cord. I replaced this with lighter stuff and saved about 1.5oz as I recall.

The Yama Bug Shelter 1.25 is a nice option (10.5oz, $119) if you're looking for a bit bigger option than the MLD Serenity Shelter (8.5oz and $135). Get the MLD Serenity with a bug netting door if you're using a beaked tarp. The Bug Shelter 1.25 might be a little wide though to fit under the HMG tarp and probably the MLD. At 42" wide at the head end, you wouldn't have much tarp overhang with a solo tarp. You'd probably want a 1.5 or 2 person tarp.

So to cut the point and give my $0.02, I'd recommend:

1) cuben MLD Patrol Shelter + MLD Serenity Shelter - If you want a non-removable half beak. $440 & 15.3oz
2) cuben Bear Paw Canopy Tent + MLD Serenity Shelter - If you want a non-removable full beak. $440 & about 18oz
2) cuben Bear Paw Canopy Tent + Yama Bug Tent 1.25 - If you a larger inner and non-removable half or full beak. $456 & 20oz.
3) HMG Echo I System - If you want a removable full beak. $495 & 21oz or $495 and 19oz with MLD Serenity Inner

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
Echo on 02/06/2012 13:31:49 MST Print View

"Just watched a video of the Echo I setup and that thing looks...hmmm."

On all the youtube setup videos that I've seen, they set up the tarp first and then add the inner. There's really no reason for this other than to show how to do it. Normally you just leave the inner all clipped into the tarp so the process is quicker.

Setting up the tarp (any tarp) takes a bit of an eye for the right angles, but once you've set it up 5 times or so you can do it fairly quickly. It's not going to be as quick as a tent, but it is more flexible in that you can pitch the tarp high or low etc depending on the weather.

Christopher Yi
(TRAUMAhead) - F

Locale: Cen Cal
Re: Grace Solo/Serenity et al on 02/06/2012 13:44:02 MST Print View

Dan, do you think the HMG Echo beak would be overkill with a bivy?

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Re: Grace Solo/Serenity et al on 02/06/2012 13:54:43 MST Print View

I'm not Dan, but I don't think so. The beak sheds wind and rain nicely and gives you a bit more room in foul weather. A lot of the decision comes down to personal preferences, but I personally don't think the beak is overkill.

P. Larson
(reacttocontact) - F
Re: Echo on 02/06/2012 13:56:00 MST Print View

Dammit Dan. At least I know I have a great place to live if I get kicked out of the house for a while.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
Beak & Bivy on 02/06/2012 13:57:40 MST Print View

With a bivy you'd have more protection against splashing rain etc, so you would be less likely to need the beak during foul weather. It is really nice though for storing your stuff. The beak provides a large vestibule for your pack, shoes etc, which otherwise would likely get wet in storm due to splashing etc. since there isn't much extra space under the tarp. The Echo I solo tarp isn't huge. I think it's a little smaller than the MLD Grace Solo. Without a beak, I'd probably want a 2 person tarp so I could store my stuff beside me under the extra coverage.