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2-Person Shelters TSW - Looking for feedback for my next in-depth article!
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John Abela
(JohnAbela) - MLife

2-Person Shelters TSW - Looking for feedback for my next in-depth article! on 08/28/2012 18:18:36 MDT Print View

Hey Hikers,

This goes out to all of you who share your shelters with somebody else!

Since my very in-depth review of the lightest fully enclosed solo shelters I have continued to get requests from hikers asking me if I had done, or was planning to do, a chart that was for 2-person shelters.

I have not yet done one and I have planned to do one.

Problem is, I have no experience with 2-person shelters... so I have one very important question that I need help with:

What max-weight (TSW) limit should I place for my research?

(TSW = total shelter weight == shelter, stakes, stuff sacks, poles, ground cloths, etcetc)

For my solo shelter chart I placed the limit pretty low at 20-ounces TSW. This was beneficial because it kept the list/chart rather small and helped to truly highlight the lightest of the lightest solo fully enclosed shelters on the market.

For the 2-person shelters I was wanting to place a 907 gram (2 pound) limit on these, but that would exclude shelters such as the TarpTent Rainbow 2, which seems to have a huge following. This leads me to wonder if I should place the max TSW at 1360 grams (3 pounds) - or if I should stick with the 2-pound mark and once again focus only on the truly lightest of the lightest (ie: zpacks hexamid twin at 408 grams / mld duomid/inner at 827 grams - both under two pounds).

It is my hope to have this article and chart finished up by November so that it can be ready in time for Christmas for birthday gifts (hint hint) for those doing thru-hikes in 2013!

If you want to share with me in private any thoughts I welcome you to contact me here.

Thank you to anybody who takes the time to share their thoughts!

2P on 08/28/2012 18:41:55 MDT Print View

I dont know if maximum wt is as important as the ability to split it.

I ruled out many 2P shelters that cant be split because they are one piece, and require one person to carry the whole 2.5-3 lb thing.

Personally, I set a 1 lb per person goal, and there were only three 2P shelters that met it for me to consider.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
2-Person Shelters TSW - Looking for feedback for my next in-depth article!" on 08/28/2012 20:00:54 MDT Print View

MB, why do you need to split the tent? Person A carries the tent and Person B carries the equivalent weight of other community gear, or of Person A's gear. If you want everything split, then you need to take a hacksaw to the cooking pot, stove, etc.

John, why not 20 oz. per person, which would be 40 oz. for a 2-person tent? That makes it comparable to your solo tent criterion.

Edited by hikinggranny on 08/28/2012 20:02:14 MDT.

2P on 08/28/2012 20:22:44 MDT Print View

When there is no other community gear, its a bit tacky to carry someone elses gear to even out a lb of wt and bulk.

Ideally, to me, a 2p shelter should be lighter and more compact than two 1P shelters, or else why have it, except in case of small children.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

2 Person Shelters on 08/28/2012 22:52:03 MDT Print View

I'll toss my vote in for a max of 2.5 lbs, which equates nicely to 40oz. This eliminates the glut of (mostly mediocre) tents around 3 lbs, while still retaining a decent field.

Making a list is tough because you've got all sorts of tarp + inner combo's, but I don't think it's too daunting of a task.

Erik Basil

Locale: Atzlan
Re: 2 Person Shelters on 08/29/2012 07:48:29 MDT Print View

I think the "UL standards" discussed here for SHELTERS is great, and I look forward to learning-up from an article that discusses such things and gives review of the different options in terms of performance and sizing. That will give me something to aspire to for the day when I am ready to man-up/comfort-down to a shelter, from a tent.

Tjaard Breeuwer
(Tjaard) - MLife

Locale: Minnesota, USA
Go for 2x20oz on 08/29/2012 08:26:00 MDT Print View

I agree with MaryD. go with 2x20 = 40oz/1134g. It seems a fair comparison to your solo ones.

Yes, some people want a 2p shelter to be lighter pp weight, but for others it's to have the same pp weight and get more usable protected living area.

I bet almost all of these can be split up into two parts, if not equal ones.

Yes, it will cut off the Rainshadow, but with your single shelter list you focused on the very lightest options as well, leaving out many popular options. This would make your list the quick and easy check for the VERY lightest options.

Alternatively, you could choose to list the best shelters in different categories, regardless of weight, ie:

Lightest overall, most stormworthy, roomiest etc.

Herbert Sitz

Locale: Pacific NW
2x20oz sounds fine, but not strict on 08/29/2012 09:33:36 MDT Print View

40 ounces sounds fine, but if applied strictly it would exclude both the Tarptent Double Rainbow and the SMD Lunar Duo. Both of those tents list as 41 ounces, but they're two of the more popular 2-person tents and it wouldn't make sense to leave them out because of a 1 ounce overage to an arbitrary cutoff weight.

Also there are issues with something like the popular GoLite Shangri-la 2, which is no longer available as just a tarp. As sold by GoLite it comes in at 50 ounces, but that weight includes an unnecessarily heavy 25 ounce bugnet inner. Given the price GoLite sells the SL2 for, you can easily purchase it (tarp and inner) and get an alternate non-GoLite 2-person inner to use at 40oz or less, for less than the price of many other tarp/inner combinations. That is, an SL2 "tarp + 2 inners" combo costs less than many other 2 person tarp/inner combos, even when you're paying for GoLite's heavy inner that you don't intend to use.

Edited by hes on 08/29/2012 10:05:52 MDT.

Jon Fong

2.5 pound limit for a 2 person shelter on 08/29/2012 09:43:58 MDT Print View

The activities in a two person shelter can be different than a solo shelter. My wife and I use a 2 person shelter there are time when a little more weight (than a solo times 2) is justified. With 2 people, you have more opportunities to do things like play cards, sit up and talk as well as other adult things. I vote for a 2.5 lb. cut off. My 2 cents - Jon.

Herbert Sitz

Locale: Pacific NW
2.5 lbs? on 08/29/2012 09:47:55 MDT Print View


2.5 lbs = 2.5 * 16 ounces = 40 ounces

Maybe you were meaning to suggest some other weight?

Henry Shires
(07100) - F - M
Re: 2-Person Shelters TSW - Looking for feedback for my next in-depth article! on 08/29/2012 10:17:30 MDT Print View

Any weight cutoffs limit the scope of your article and bias the results. Your definition of acceptability for "SUL/XUL" solo shelters is 20 ounces, a clearly arbitrary number and one which excludes many comparable choices (as you disclose). Why 20 ounces but not 16 or 24 or whatever and why do you punt on the issue of trekking pole weight if such poles are needed for setup? At the end of the day, 20 ounces is an arbitrary number which is fine but it's your list and your definition alone. Same will be true for 32 or 48 ounces or whatever arbitrary number you choose for two person shelters. My point is that ultralight or SUL/XUL, whatever any of those terms really mean, is all in the mind of the user. All shelters are compromises one way or the other and when you filter by weight you also filter by design and features and price.

IMHO, a much more interesting and informative comparison would be one that also delved into usable volumes, performance usability including setup times and setup/takedown in the rain, ease of entry/exit, and $/ounce compared to other choices etc. Weight is but one of multiple considerations when choosing a shelter and if all you care about is weight then you are compromising yourself and, very likely, your wallet. A Contrail, for example, misses your target by about 5 ounces but it's half the $/oz--in most comparisons 1/5 or 1/6 the $/oz--of the shelters that do make your list. Does that make the Contrail better? Absolutely not but it gives some perspective. Two person shelter lists will suffer from similar comparison shortcomings if all you care about is weight.


Jon Fong

Herb, you're correct on 08/29/2012 10:18:28 MDT Print View

I just didn't convert, my bad. Jon

Andrew F
(andrew.f) - F

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: 2-Person shelters on 08/29/2012 10:21:06 MDT Print View

I don't know about other people, but I wouldn't carry a 2p shelter anymore that was over 2 lbs.

My current 2 person shelters are a Trailstar (22 oz) and a GG Squall Classic (24 oz). I think there are plenty of options under 2 lbs.

Scott Bentz
(scottbentz) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: 2-Person Shelters TSW - Looking for feedback for my next in-depth article! on 08/29/2012 10:24:35 MDT Print View

I agree with Henry.

Yes, weight is a great concern, but cutting off some of the more popular lightweight shelters by just a few ounces may leave out a couple of nice shelters.

Greg F
(GregF) - F

Locale: Canadian Rockies
SUL or UL on 08/29/2012 10:25:17 MDT Print View

Is this an SUL list like your 1 person shelter list or a UL list. If it is an SUL list I would say 2lbs TSW. If it is a more of a lighter side of SUL then 2.50 lbs seems like a good number.

One thing I would change is your cost / ounce comparison. It doens't really measure what you are trying to measure as things get a better score if they are heavier. What you really want to measure is cost / ounce saved.

For that you need to define an starting point of comparison. Two points I think make sense. The heaviest tent in the study or a lighweight non UL tent that your readers might currently have say a hubba hubba at around 4lbs. Either of these points would allow you to compare the value in spending more money to save weight as compared to spending it on other gear.

So the general forumla would be (cost of tent - cost of standard)/(weight of standard - weight of tent).

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Weight and Comfort on 08/29/2012 10:43:19 MDT Print View

"....if all you care about is weight."

I don't think John is suggesting that all he cares about is weight. He simply needs to set a cap somewhere (or the list of tents would be nearly infinite and not applicable to SUL) and then within the context of that cap the shelters can be evaluated for a host of other criteria such as storm resistance, volume, usability etc.

John's focus is on SUL/XUL hiking, rather than the broader world of UL, and I believe this comparison is intended in that context. If someone is looking for a 2 person shelter to fit into a SUL/XUL hiking style, then they really can't go much above 1 lbs / person for shelter. 1.25 lbs may work, but by 1.5 lbs you're committing a rather large portion of your (somewhat arbitrary and self imposed) baseweight cap.

So a cap needs to be set somewhere to keep the field applicable to SUL/XUL hiking. No matter where it's set, there's always going to be several great shelters that miss by a few ounces. John is also referring to total shelter weight (guylines, stakes etc. included) so some of these shelters that 'just miss' might actually be quite a ways off.

Regarding cost, I don't think it should be a significant metric in the article itself. I'd prefer to just hear what the best shelters are and then I can decide myself which ones I can afford.

Edited by dandydan on 08/29/2012 10:45:47 MDT.

Ron Moak
(rmoak) - F
2P UL Shelters - Write for yourself on 08/29/2012 11:11:37 MDT Print View

My suggestion for the two person shelter article is to write it for yourself and the reader be damned. While that may sound a bit harsh, in the end it's not. In the first article you wrote principally about shelters that piqued your interest. The common thread was that they were all extremely light.

The success of the article was a reflection that there were a lot of people who shared a similar interest, even though only a fraction of interested people ever post comments in the forums.

The second article should also reflect your own interest. Face it there are a vast variety of similar shelters available. Trying to do them justice would be a nightmare. You'd probably get bogged down pretty quickly and loose interest. After all, it's not like you're getting paid for this. Even large publications like Backpacker Mag. or Outside Mag. only do cursory reviews on gear. Most of the time, it hardly seems worth the effort.

It's far easier to write passionately about something you're actually interested in. The result is reflected in a better article. While it's true that something will be missed, I think a good informative article trumps a mediocre one that vainly attempts to be all inclusive.

Just a few thoughts.


Jeffs Eleven
(WoodenWizard) - F

Locale: Greater Mt Tabor
Re: 2-Person Shelters TSW - Looking for feedback for my next in-depth article! on 08/29/2012 16:15:46 MDT Print View

I say, to give scope to those who may be coming from traditional pack weight is: take an 'industry standard' 2person tent, such as the Hubba Hubba, and/or TNF Tadpole (or whatever its called this decade). This takes care of 2door and single door tents, and almost everyone who is buying gear has seen one of these tents, therefore any comparison would have a baseline for tons of people. Both of these tents are 'heavy' but at the light end of common tents- a reference point for the compared tents to get better from.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: two-person shelters on 08/29/2012 17:21:41 MDT Print View

John, I agree with Mr. Moak; define a rigorous criteria in a way which seems coherent to you, and stick to it. Writing about tech in which you are not interested is a surefire way to put yourself and others to sleep.

Ross Bleakney
(rossbleakney) - MLife

Locale: Cascades
Re: 2P UL Shelters - Write for yourself on 08/30/2012 18:19:28 MDT Print View

I agree with Ron. I really like that first article because you manage to keep the list short. You are not publishing a magazine. You can't write about every shelter out there and do an in depth comparison. I think you do a wonderful job in that article talking about tents that didn't quite make the cut, and why. This gives someone a great list of possible really light shelters, including many that do not make the arbitrary limit. It is possible that someone could read the article and go out and buy one of those tents without considering a really good lightweight tent (like a Contrail) because it didn't make the cut (or even the "almost make the cut" limit). So what? It is pretty clear from the intro that this isn't meant to be an extensive list of lightweight tent options. Besides, if you really want an extremely light weight tent, then the four ounce difference will be too much for you. If you are like most of us, we just see the four ounces as yet another trade-off.

I would start playing around with some arbitrary numbers and then see if you get a similar number of tents. In other words, if you set the limit at 40 ounces, do you list 40 tents? If so, drop the number.