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John Abela
(JohnAbela) - MLife

Locale: www.hikelighter.com
Re: 2-Person Shelters TSW - Looking for feedback for my next in-depth article! on 09/02/2012 23:34:07 MDT Print View

Hello,

A huge thank you to all that have taken the time to comment on this post. Special thanks to the company owners that have shared their thoughts on this matter!

At this point I have made a decision to focus on two different weight levels - giving special attention to the lowest weight level and than brief mentions for a secondary/heavier weight level. This just seems, and feels, like the right thing to do.

I have already been in contact with four different companies and hope to contact at least two more this upcoming week. I have not contacted any company outside of the USA as I have little experience with cottage outdoor manufacturers outside the USA that specialize in UL/SUL shelters. I welcome feedback from anybody out there that has knowledge of TSW sub-three pound two-person shelters.

For this spreadsheet I will be adding the following three bits of information that the solo spreadsheet did not include: (1) Square Feet of Inside Usable Space, (2) Max Height Inside, (3) Number of Doors.

I hope this will not offend anybody but I will be using the square feet of *usable* space inside. By that I mean I will be *attempting* to calculate the square footage of the inner/net parts of the shelter. I do not want this to seem like I am trying to kick against how the industry does things, but at the end of the day, when you and your spouse has just finished hiking 20 or 30 miles, what really matters is how much room you have inside of your bug net... how much space you actually have to move around, to sit up, to get dressed, change cloths, setup your bedding, etc. So this is going to be a bit different from what the manufactures probably list as the "square footage" of their shelters, but it seems like the proper way to approach this issue. If anybody out there is good at math and figuring out square footage of the inners/net sections of my shelters, I would love to have the help and will very much give you credit for the help (if you want it).

It would be nice to be able to list "usable height for both people" but that is just not something I think would be at all realistic to calculate. So I will be forced to list the max-height of the inner/net part of the shelter. This is obviously going to favor some over others (i.e.: MLD DuoMid verses HMG Echo II, which are the highest and shortest two person cottage shelters I have listed at this point) (for those interested... the 'Mountain Hardwear SuperMega UL 2' seems to be the lowest shelter I have come across, at an insanely short 36 inches of interior height - and yes, that took a fair amount of hunting to find one that short lol - also fyi: the 'Big Agnes Fly Creek 2 Platinum Tent' is the second shortest at 38 inches -- for those that find it interesting that the big-name companies are producing shorter shelters than the cottage makers)


A few items suggested above I want to quickly address:

Setup Times (Henry recommended this) This actually is a good idea. I am still pondering on whether to add this into the spreadsheet. At this point it is not in there because it seems like one of those issues that could vary a bit, as well as trying to get accurate numbers on this from the manufactures could be, well, difficult. What does everybody else think about adding this? If a lot of you guys think it should be added, I can send off another email to the company owners asking for this information and an apology for not asking it to begin with.

Also had a couple of suggestions to handle the costs differently. I very much understand what both of you who suggested different approaches are getting at. In the end I am just going to keep it how it is... cost per gram/ounce. Again, totally agree with the recommendations and looking back on things, I probably should have started my solo spreadsheet with the suggestions, but I did not and so just going to continue on with how things are. I did give it some serious consideration though.

I had somebody contact me asking me if I was going to do a section on just double-wall shelters. I gave that some thought too but decided against it due to the time investment issue. I already have around 9 hours invested into this article/spreadsheet and I expect I will have close to 30 hours by the time I am finished. As Ron said above, I am not getting paid for any of this, so to turn 30+ hours into potentially 50+ hours as I do research on double-wall shelters is not something I am interested in doing.

Unless I have some delays in correspondence with cottage owners I should have this article and chart finished up within the next two weeks, well ahead of my initial November target date. But, no promises. Sometimes businesses are closed and nothing I can do about that. Hopefully they are out on the trail somewhere eh!

Lastly I would just again like to invite any of the cottage owners out there, that I have not already been in contact with, who produce two-person shelters that are sub 1300 grams TSW to drop me a quick message and I will do my best to respond to you as soon as possible.

-Abela

Tom Lyons
(towaly) - F

Locale: Smoky Mtns.
Stuffed size on 09/03/2012 06:36:34 MDT Print View

Please include stuffed size.
Bulk and fit is a big deal when trying to fit things into our pack or carry options.

Thanks for taking time to do this!

John Abela
(JohnAbela) - MLife

Locale: www.hikelighter.com
Re: 2-Person Shelters TSW - Looking for feedback for my next in-depth article! on 09/30/2012 10:21:37 MDT Print View

Hello All,

I have been having some difficulties acquiring hard numbers from two of the cottage companies I wanted to include in their lists, and this has resulted in the delays in getting this article and spreadsheet finished.

It just seems odd to me that any company that makes gear is unable to provide a hard number on the weight of their shelters. It is not as if material all of a sudden goes from 0.74 ounces per square yard to 0.92 ounces per square yard and thus results in an extra 3 ounces for TSW. And if that does happen to be the case, seems like they would seek out a manufacturer that has better quality control. Or do the right thing (such as what Gossamer Gear has done) and just pull the products from their catalog until they are able to source consistent material.

Sorry for the rant. I have been emailing back and forth with one of them and no matter how I ask or how I word my questions, I just keep getting a "it is within this range" type of answer. And UL/SUL hikers actually buy from these type of companies? Why. It baffles me.

Sometime later this week I will make the decision on either to exclude these two companies or just take an average of the answers they have provided. Likely I will do what I did in my last article, which was to make mention of them within the article that I tried to acquire accurate specs and was unable to do so and thus they are not included the spreadsheet itself.

Dustin Short
(upalachango) - MLife
Re: Re: 2-Person Shelters TSW - Looking for feedback for my next in-depth article! on 09/30/2012 12:01:28 MDT Print View

Just list the highest number they give you. If there's a large variation in weight (ie "the tent weighs between 20 and 30 oz") then maybe sometimes it weighs 30oz. Then as a service to the consumer and your readers, just list 30 oz. That way they aren't shocked at understated weights by the company or yourself, and hopefully pleasantly surprised if they purchase the shelter. This is similar to the specification reporting for water filters, where some report ABSOLUTE pore size and others report NOMINAL. Absolutes are less flattering but can't really be argued with (and leave room for unexpected performance increases from spec sheet) while nominals and averages are a bit fuzzier, usually with half the consumers seeing worse and half seeing better performance from their gear (not smart if you care about brand reputation).

Is this fair and accurate to the manufacturer? No, it will negatively bias many of their metrics and their ranking. Then again if they wanted a fair and unbiased review of their product, they should provide fair and unbiased specifications! If you buy a sub 3oz advertised wind shirt and it weighs in at 6 oz, do you not get angry and write negative reviews on the marketing honesty of the company?

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: 2-Person Shelters TSW - Looking for feedback for my next in-depth article! on 09/30/2012 12:35:33 MDT Print View

If the manufacturer tells you that the tent weighs somewhere in a range of 20 to 30 ounces, then use that in the column for manufacturer-supplied weight data. If you measure a real one and see that it is 25.5 ounces, then use that in the column for reviewer-measured weight data. Different manufacturers use different weighing methods depending on whether the instruction pamphlet is included, the carry sack, the plastic bag, or anything else. Some try harder to make the tent appear to be lighter, even if they weigh the same.

--B.G.--

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: 2P UL Shelters - Write for yourself on 09/30/2012 19:22:22 MDT Print View

Ron Moak wrote:

> It's far easier to write passionately about something you're actually interested in.
> The result is reflected in a better article.
Yup!

> 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.
Yup!

Cheers

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: 2-Person Shelters TSW - Looking for feedback for my next in-depth article! on 09/30/2012 19:26:11 MDT Print View

> I hope this will not offend anybody but I will be using the square feet of *usable* space
> inside. By that I mean I will be *attempting* to calculate the square footage of the inner/net
> parts of the shelter.
> So this is going to be a bit different from what the manufactures probably list as the
> "square footage" of their shelters, but it seems like the proper way to approach this issue.
You won't get any complaints from me. There's too much fiddling of the numbers from some vendors.

Cheers

John Abela
(JohnAbela) - MLife

Locale: www.hikelighter.com
Re: 2-Person Shelters TSW - Looking for feedback for my next in-depth article! on 10/09/2012 23:46:22 MDT Print View

Hey All,

Almost got all of this finished up.

I sent off one last email tonight for clarifications on some numbers.

I than have to wade through about a half-dozen emails that one cottage owner sent me with specs on their shelters and figure out what is what.

I have also given up hearing from three companies that I have contacted a few times via email, facebook and twitter.

I have not received any feedback from anybody regarding international cottage shelter makers so it looks like they will all be USA based.

Of the three companies I previously mentioned regarding trying to acquire accurate total shelter weights, I have given up trying to work with two of them. One of them will be listed.

I also gave up trying to work out "usable square footage". That turned into a freaking nightmare.

The total number of shelters I have at this point are ten (10) and maybe one more if I can make sense of the half-dozen emails from that one fellow.

I have almost finished writing up the associated article. Once I get done with it and hear back from the one company awaiting clarification on and try to figure out this last batch of emails and if there is anything therein that meets the requirements to get it added to the list, than I will publish this article/spreadsheet.


I would just like to here-in say a huge "thank you" to companies such as Six Moon Designs, TarpTent, Hyperlight Mountain Gear, and ZPacks that actually invest the time to make sure that their websites are understandable and provide details & specs on their websites in a very clear and precise manner.

Brian Johns
(bcutlerj) - M

Locale: NorCal
Thanks for the update on 10/10/2012 00:21:34 MDT Print View

Can't wait for the article. I too appreciate the modern, informative and useful websites of a few manufacturers who share everything we need to know as consumers without relying on Q&A via email or contact forms.

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: Melbourne
2-Person Shelters TSW - Looking for feedback for my next in-depth article! on 10/10/2012 02:07:36 MDT Print View

John,
"I also gave up trying to work out "usable square footage". That turned into a freaking nightmare."
at least three possible problems here but maybe this will help.
I would consider 15" clearance from floor to fly to be the minimum as a usable space for a person.
(mat plus person plus sleeping bag)
I would also consider 2x 20"x72 " mats not overlapping to also be the minimum amount of space required for two people.
Now once past those measurements if you can fit one or two 25"x 77" should be noted .
This leaves the peripheral area that cannot contain a mat and how to measure odd shapes.
For odd shape measurements I would suggest a similar way to the one used by backpack manufacturers.
Generally they use polyester balls , filling a bag and then transferring them into a box.
You could also use those balls , spread them around the usable area and then transfer them into a rectangular frame and measure that .

Corbin McFarlane
(raven15) - MLife
How about average height? on 10/10/2012 21:53:00 MDT Print View

I always thought the average height of a tent could be a good indication of its useable space. Volume/Area. I don't know if volume is always easy to calculate though. There could be some sort of program out there where you type in coordinates of the pointy ends of the tent and it spits back out a volume for the stranger tent shapes.

John Abela
(JohnAbela) - MLife

Locale: www.hikelighter.com
Re: 2-Person Shelters TSW - Looking for feedback for my next in-depth article!" on 10/14/2012 10:01:46 MDT Print View

Hey All,

Well my article got delayed a bit as I had a last minute invitation to teach a two-day class.

But I got back home last night and I have now finished up the article and associated chart/spreadsheet.

http://hikelighter.com/2012/10/14/two-person-sub-900-gram-fully-enclosed-shelters-2/

A huge thank you to all of you who have helped me through this. Well over two hundred emails and an insane 65+ hours of work. Oddly, all of that culminated in only eleven shelters being listed. A good 20+ of those hours and probably 100 of the emails were invested in trying to get an additional six shelters listed, but due to one of many issues simply have not been included into the chart.

A crazy huge thank you to the cottage owners out there. A few of you guys have put up with a lot of emails over the last few weeks in order to validate numbers. I just hope that in the end I have been able to get all of the numbers in their right places!

I ended up focusing first on sub 900 gram shelters. This resulted in only a few shelters, so I decided to add an additional section on sub 1300 gram shelters. I am sure at some point I am going to offend somebody for not including some specific shelter that qualifies. By all means, contact me and let me know what shelter qualifies and I will look into it. At some point though, to many shelters listed is just too many, so I will probably be a bit picky about adding any additional shelters unless they are a very well know shelter that I - and those who have reviewed and helped me, have somebody missed.

To everybody who has posted feedback with ideas and suggestions - Thanks!!!

-Abela

Dan Durston
(dandydan)

Locale: Cascadia
2 Person Shelters TSW on 10/14/2012 12:54:33 MDT Print View

Nice job John. Thanks for the well researched chart.

I wonder if there is a way to account for the seam sealing required some some of these shelters. It's probably too much of an uncertain thing to put a specific weight on, but it can be a significant factor in decisions. For example, when deciding between a cuben or silnylon DuoMid, it appears the difference is 4oz when actually the weight difference is 5-6oz after you seam seal the silnylon one.

I originally bought a used silnylon DuoMid that weighed 19.5oz after it was seam sealed by the previous owner. I ended up selling that and buying a cuben one weighing 11.4oz (under spec due to a few modifications). Half a pound difference is big.

Edited by dandydan on 10/14/2012 12:55:26 MDT.

John Abela
(JohnAbela) - MLife

Locale: www.hikelighter.com
Re: 2 Person Shelters TSW on 10/14/2012 14:19:17 MDT Print View

Dan: I wonder if there is a way to account for the seam sealing required some some of these shelters. It's probably too much of an uncertain thing to put a specific weight on, but it can be a significant factor in decisions.


Hey Dan,

Yeah totally agree with you that this is one of those issues that buyers need to be aware of. At the same time, as you well know, not every company out there making cuben fiber shelters bond their shelters, which can also result in additional weight for the person needing to seal or bond their cuben fiber shelter. I ended up adding around four grams of weight to my 425 gram cuben fiber shelter in order to bond its cuben fiber floor that is not bonded by the manufacture for some reason.

I suppose this is one of those things that could have been factored into a spreadsheet in some way, but I just have no idea how that would work with any true level of consistency and accuracy of additional weight added.

Going to put this responsibility to figure out this issue on the potential shelter buyer rather than both myself and the shelter manufacturers.