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opinions on different types of shelters.
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Skylar Ruloff
(skylar.ruloff) - F

Locale: north east
opinions on different types of shelters. on 03/28/2012 17:28:24 MDT Print View

I'm new to ultralight backpacking and I'm looking to get a shelter, but I don't know what kind. At first I thought about a single person stake-down tent, but then I heard about free-standing tents. I thought they were cool until I found out they are heavier and can blow away. then I was thinking about a bivy and tarp but it seems like it would suck if there was any bad weather at all. Any opinions on this subject? I'm also looking to not spend a ton of money. I think the absolute max I could go for is $200 because I still need to buy a pack after this.

Edwin Morse
(slosteppin) - F
My opinion on shelters on 03/28/2012 17:45:57 MDT Print View

In my opinion a light weight tent well staked down is a good choice. There are also several hammocks you could get in your price range. I really like my hammock in rainy weather.

to get the best answer you should consider both the weather and the terrain where you will hike. No trees and very cold would make a hammock not a good choice.

A tent can be used almost anywhere.

Stephan Doyle
Re: opinions on different types of shelters. on 03/28/2012 17:46:20 MDT Print View

Personal preference and condition-depedent.

There's no "best" and you'll find advocates of all shelter types here.

Skylar Ruloff
(skylar.ruloff) - F

Locale: north east
Re: opinions on different types of shelters. on 03/28/2012 17:47:46 MDT Print View

just wanted to add that I won't be using hiking poles. Also, i live in the new jersey/pennsylvania area so there are cold winters and hot summers.

Chad Anderson

Locale: N. California
Re: opinions on different types of shelters. on 03/28/2012 17:56:29 MDT Print View

For a couple quick hits:
I would recommend TarpTents, a couple of which are at the high-end of your price range:

The Six Moon Design's Skyscrape Scout is also a good deal:

On the whole, however, you'll find many different opinions on here. Your best bet is to check Andrew Skurka's newly released book, Ultimate Hiker's Gear Guide, which has a nice summary of all sorts of gear (beyond shelters). It should be useful in eliminating beginning poor purchases. However, I think many people tend to change their setups after experience leads to a better sense of what they're looking for. So don't expect to find your ideal arrangement from the start.

Ron W
(Miles2go) - F

Locale: White River National Forest
Re: opinions on different types of shelters. on 03/28/2012 18:05:34 MDT Print View

There are only a handful (perhaps a few more than that) truly free-standing tents which are useable without employing a single guy-line. I have one of them but it's not a lightweight.

The nice thing about near "free-standing" tents is that they can provide a good bit of protection in areas where staking isn't going to offer consistently good support. I think that would be less of a concern out East than it could be out in the high desert and rock lands.

There are some pretty lightweight tents that pitch with poles, like the Copper Spur line of BA tents but if you can trust in your pitching/staking ability or are willing to learn, lighter tarp style tents are available.

Ron W
(Miles2go) - F

Locale: White River National Forest
Re: Re: opinions on different types of shelters. on 03/28/2012 18:09:51 MDT Print View

To expand on Chad's last few lines about not likely finding your "perfect shelter" right on the first go around; buying used isn't a bad idea. People are always selling stuff they just bought, which didn't work out for them. You could make that work in your favor.

Hk Newman
(hknewman) - MLife

Locale: Western US
Re: opinions on different types of shelters. on 03/28/2012 18:22:21 MDT Print View

A bivy doesn't really suck if you are only sleeping in it, just laying awake in one during a long rain can get monotonous if you make an early camp. My tarp- tent moment goes up very quickly and has a lot of room for waiting out a storm. Been thinking of a bivy/tarp system but the combined weight would bring me close to the Moment with a bit more set-up time. Add to that the added expense to save a few oz. Lots to consider which is why I still have a Zoid1 and Sarvis (eVent) 1+ in the closet

Edited by hknewman on 03/28/2012 18:31:24 MDT.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: opinions on different types of shelters. on 03/28/2012 18:46:32 MDT Print View

This type of a question may not help you get the answers you want. Many people are strong proponents for a certain brand or style of shelters, and other hate those.

I would start by clicking "tent" in the search box and you will have thousands of things to look at, especially features, benefits, how it works for certain folks, etc.

Once you have completed your research come back and ask specific questions.

Sounds like a lot of work, but there is no easy answer. And keep in mind that many here have years of experience with UL tents and part of there choices are tied to their experience and skills.

Daniel Cox
(COHiker) - F

Locale: San Isabel NF
Identify reqs on 03/28/2012 18:51:55 MDT Print View

First thing in choosing a tent (for me anyway) is to identify what's important to you in a tent: interior space? easy pitching? Easy ingress/egress? Weather shedding? Weight?

Once you decide what's important, and what you're willing to sacrifice, you can have a better idea where to look.

Personally, I love my Six Moon Lunar Solo, a pyramid type tent. It's good for what I need my tent to do, which is house my gear and provide a bug-free place to sleep It's reasonably light (29.5oz with stakes), great weather and bug protection, easy in/out, I can sit up with room to spare, and it has plenty of room for gear storage.
With no vertical walls, the interior volume isn't grand, but the floor is big so it doesn't feel like a coffin if confined inside during storms. It does take some practice to pitch, which can be rough in the dark/rain/wind. Once you learn, it can be done in about 2-3 minutes.

My main complaint is that it needs a rather large and level space to pitch, which isn't always convenient.

Edit to add: Single-wall tents can be susceptible to condensation but I haven't had this problem so far. It helps I live out west, and always pitch it with lots of space under the edges for ventilation. YMMV

Edited by COHiker on 03/28/2012 18:55:11 MDT.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: opinions on different types of shelters. on 03/28/2012 18:56:07 MDT Print View

If you spend most of your time in the trees, regular tarps are great for foul weather, so long as it isn't very windy. You can set it up nice and high and get a canopy. All the room you could ever want to change clothes, stand up, cook food, ect.
It's better than being stuck in a tent. But when the wind comes, you have to stake it down tight and don't have all that much room, and it can be hard if not impossible to pitch a flat tarp in a way that blocks out changing wind.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: opinions on different types of shelters. on 03/28/2012 20:30:47 MDT Print View

I should have added in my first post that no tent is the best shelter. I only put up a shelter if there is a high probability of precipitation. If it does rain in those cases, I have draped my shelter over me in the middle of the night.

Ron W
(Miles2go) - F

Locale: White River National Forest
Re: opinions on different types of shelters. on 03/28/2012 21:59:12 MDT Print View

"Know Thyself"

Not my words, but elemental in your success. :)

gunther kirsch
(goonch92) - F

Locale: Northern California
Re: Re: opinions on different types of shelters. on 03/28/2012 23:40:45 MDT Print View

I heard the wisest man said those words, haha?

Anyway theres no perfect shelter, depends on the use. how far, how much weight, how much time etc.

I recently purchased an integral designs silshelter, and love it. there are trade offs with everything though and its just about finding the balance you want. are bugs an issue for you.

anyway I don't think you can go wrong with a tarp tent/shelter style.

check the ID silshelter and the moutain laurel designs solomid tent

best of luck,


Aaron Croft
(aaronufl) - M

Locale: Oregon
Choices on 03/28/2012 23:51:06 MDT Print View

The world of UL backpacking is one of compromises, and no gear epitomizes this more than shelters. I think Daniel put it very well: you try and get most of what you want and live with the tradeoffs. Or buy more tents!

Like others have mentioned, Tarptent is a great company and many members here swear by their shelters. Mountain Laurel Designs makes excellent pyramid shelters and other tarp designs. If you're looking to go for a more traditional tent, Big Agnes offers some great options on that front.

Edited by aaronufl on 03/29/2012 17:41:46 MDT.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Moment on 03/29/2012 13:35:13 MDT Print View

Yes, yes, +1 all the bit above about doing your own research, knowing what you want, etc...

But I gotta say, for the price range you listed and given that you do not want to use trekking poles the Tarptent Moment looks pretty good for you, so perhaps you should include it in your list of tents to research. I just sold mine and I was impressed by it, especially the lightning-fast erection time. It isn't free-standing, but it does only require two stakes. And, actually, instead of using stakes you could easily guy the ends out to trees or whatever since you really only have two points to line up. I've done that several times, including in my living room while seam-sealing it.
But I sort of decided that I like pyramids better- I think that they are possibly the best do-everything option. They may not fulfill a particular function perfectly but they do at least OK in nearly any conditions. So I'm getting an MLD Solomid or Duomid. Mids don't sound like what you're looking for, though.

Anthony Weston
(anthonyweston) - MLife

Locale: Southern CA
tents on 03/30/2012 00:52:12 MDT Print View

First of all where do you live and what are the conditions: wind, rain, snow, bugs, heat; all of the above. I've had a solomid and it's great but when it rains and you unzip it then some moisture is going to get in, a duomid will not have that problem if it's used for one. But the bugnet inner is extra so you might have to camp for a time without it and just make due with a head-net and a inexpensive bivy of some sort. In the Sierra's bugs are not that bad once you get past the early breeding season. A tarptent Moment is heavier but a wonderful tent. A six moon Wild Oasis with a bugskirt could also cover the bill.

Also it is possible to pick up used bug inner-net on this forum for 2/3rds of retail, if you are lucky.

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Read more forum posts on 03/30/2012 14:25:55 MDT Print View

Search these forums. There are like a million posts about shelters.
For most 3 season backpacking, you shouldn't need a solo shelter that weighs much more than one pound.

Some are fine with simple tarps, some like a bug net floored inner style.
Some like freestanding domes. Some like heavy walled shelters

Many start with heavier freestanding domes and after much experience and confidence, switch to lighter shelters.

Some continue to use the heavier dome freestanding shelters. It depends on what reality you live in and how much weight you want to carry.

Susan Papuga
(veganaloha) - M

Locale: USA
Re: opinions on different types of shelters. on 03/31/2012 04:37:55 MDT Print View


+1 to doing more research and making some basic decisions about the conditions you'll be using the shelter in and what's important to you. After which you may be able to narrow it down to a few products and then post more specific questions. otherwise, there is just too much unknown about what you're asking for.

Then, since you're on a budget, you may check out the Gear Swap and see if there is a gently used option you'd like to try. No need to break the bank right away. Like another poster mentioned, most people will try a few different things before they settle on what works best for them. Same advice for buying a pack.

Also, check some of the gear review articles on this site.

Good luck and have fun.

Will Webster
Climate on 03/31/2012 06:08:38 MDT Print View

One thing to keep in mind when weighing advice is that what works well in relatively arid, bug-free areas may not be the best choice in the mid-Atlantic.