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A question of durability: Tarptent or SMD
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Brad Abrahams
A question of durability: Tarptent or SMD on 06/07/2012 19:52:14 MDT Print View

Greetings everyone. After a recent tent failure on a trip to Utah, my concern is durability of ultra-light shelters. I am in the market for a replacement shelter, and am currently deciding between the SMD Lunar Solo 2012 and the Tarptent Notch. Could those with experience with both SMD and Tarptent attest to their durability? Would doubly appreciate the thoughts of those that have experienced offerings from both companies.

Aside from durability, i'm also torn between which design would suit me best. The main use for the tent would be 3-season. dry south west (utah, new mexico, arizon, california) as well as more humid locales in the pacific northwest. looking for something that can take moderately high winds and blowing dust as well as fairly good condensation management.

Thanks kindly,

P. P.
(toesnorth) - F

Locale: PNW
I've owned both on 06/07/2012 19:54:26 MDT Print View

and both have been excellent.
Condensation is a management issue, IMHO.

Brad Abrahams
Re: I've owned both on 06/07/2012 20:20:40 MDT Print View

P.P. Thanks for the reply. Could you offer your experience on which may preform better in the environmental conditions posted above? do you have a preference of the two or some pro's and cons of the lunar solo v. notch? would be very much appreciated.


P. P.
(toesnorth) - F

Locale: PNW
I have an older lunar duo on 06/07/2012 20:43:07 MDT Print View

and it has been great in every condition that has been thrown at it, though I don't use it when I expect much snow. It seems to vent as well or better than other single wall tents. Condensation, in some conditions, sure, but easily managed.
Tarptent users are very loyal, too, I just wound up preferring SMD.

Brad Abrahams
Re: I have an older lunar duo on 06/08/2012 09:01:16 MDT Print View

Thanks again P.P. I'm very close to pulling the trigger on the Lunar Solo.. the only thing stopping me is a chance at buying a used Trailstar.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Re: I've owned both on 06/08/2012 09:25:56 MDT Print View

I too have owned both. Quality on both were very good.

I have nothing bad to say about the Notch in comparison to the second generation of the SMD (I think the new version is #3 so can't comment on that one):

-sets up more quickly and much more stable.
-more usable space.
-is double walled to assist in condensation management more effectively.
-has better means of ventilation - two doors and two vestibules on a solo shelter!
-sets up fly first so no rain inside (although the SMD is single walled so sets up the same).
-modular - unclipping the inner tent of the Notch takes 30-45 seconds and you can then pack it away from the wet fly.
-I honestly cannot think of any suggested improvements to the Notch.

Having said all that, I think you are comparing the Notch to the wrong SMD. The Trekker would be the better choice with its hybrid double walls. The Solo competes more with say, the TT Contrail given the single walled nature.

Edited by FamilyGuy on 06/08/2012 09:55:33 MDT.

Brad Abrahams
Re: Re: I've owned both on 06/08/2012 10:09:29 MDT Print View

Hello David thanks for the detailed reply.

I'm surprised you say the Notch is more stable than the Solo. The single pole pyramid structure of the solo seems to be like it would be more stable in heavy wind. The Notch's shape and use of polls looked a little shaky to me.

Also, does not the Lunar have more interior living space? the Notch is listed at around 15 square feet while the Lunar lists 26, with a higher ceiling.

The rest makes sense

Thanks again

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Re: Re: Re: I've owned both on 06/08/2012 10:18:19 MDT Print View

The Solo is larger but the back wall slopes substantially, creating no more usable space than the Notch. All the space in the Notch is usable.

As far as stability, with the four carbon end rods and two trekking poles, the Notch sets up rock solid. Really. You are relying on only 1 pole with the Solo and there is more unsupported fabric.

Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
A question of durability: Tarptent or SMD on 06/08/2012 10:38:43 MDT Print View

I've not owned the Notch (yet) but don't be fooled by the floor space measurements. The single pole design of the Solo creates a very low, spacious side for storing gear etc, which is nice but provides a very narrow space for you when you sit up.

You have to be very conscious of how you sit up in the solo to make sure your head hits the high spot. The spacious area that extends out on the side is unsupported and makes the Solo deflect badly if you get that side into the wind. It's one of the reasons I got rid of my Solo. Shifting winds is common where I live and getting wind on the wrong side caused significant deflection and loss of space inside. I also found it too drafty for my liking (again, lots of wind where I hike).

Wes Kline
(weskline) - F

Locale: Adirondacks
notch v. lunar solo on 06/08/2012 15:27:12 MDT Print View

I have the Notch and had the 2010 Lunar Solo. Both are very well made shelters, with no quality issues that I can see; same goes for durability so far.

I would echo the poster above who had issues with usable space in the LS: I'm 6'2" and had trouble with my head touching the sloping walls both when I slept and when I sat up. No problems with the Notch.

Notch is faster to set up, feels more stable (with the possibility of using more tie outs if you have high wind conditions.

The LS was a little smaller packed up.

I strongly recommend the Notch.

Ron Moak
(rmoak) - F
Lunar Solo 2012 Facts on 06/08/2012 16:52:09 MDT Print View

I just wanted to clarify a few things about the new Lunar Solo. Since a number of post have been clouding the issue by commentators relaying their experience with the older Lunar Solo.

For the record the 2012 Lunar Solo interior has undergone the following changes.

1) The total height raised by 4 inches. With the new offset pole, the height at the center of your sleeping mat (the area your head is most likely to hit the canopy when sitting up) has been raised by 9 inches.

2) The distance between the apex and back of the tent has been reduced by 16" and the length of back wall panel by 11 inches.

3) The width of the floor has been reduced by 6" from 54" to 48" and the slope of the back wall has been increased from 34 degrees to 45 degrees.

4) The length of the floor has been increased from 88" to 90". But more importantly the end walls are now vertical and rise to a height of 12" from ground to canopy.

5) There are two additional guy-outs on either end of the tent located some 18" from the edge of the tent. They can be used to both lift the ends of the tent up by several inches plus provide significant stabilization in the wind.

6) The bathtub floor has been raised from 3" to 6". This helps to minimize some of the draft issues.

So if we want to compare tents, at least try to maintain some degree of accuracy.


Brian Lindahl
(lindahlb) - MLife

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Tarptent durability on 06/08/2012 20:51:07 MDT Print View

Before my Scarp 2 was blown away in the winds while we were away from base camp (should have collapsed it!), it survived hellacious 50-60mph gusts in the brutal desert environment quite well. The pole slightly bent, but other tents in our group faired MUCH worse, and the tent stayed up, with insufficient guylines, with no fabric damage what-so-ever. If I had proper guylines attached for the conditions, then I doubt the pole would have bent. I'd look at the Scarp 2, if I needed that style of tent again.

Edited by lindahlb on 06/08/2012 20:52:34 MDT.