Forum Index » Editor's Roundtable » Solo-Plus Tent State of the Market Report


Display Avatars Sort By:
Maia
(maia) - MLife

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Solo-Plus Tent State of the Market Report on 09/18/2012 18:55:37 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Solo-Plus Tent State of the Market Report

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife
Re: Solo-Plus Tent State of the Market Report on 09/18/2012 19:32:56 MDT Print View

More on the...

Solo Plus

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=52949&skip_to_post=451469

Shangri La 1

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=11956

Stratospire 1

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=51435

SoLong 6

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=56739

http://hikeitlikeit.com/2012/lightheart-gear-solong6/

Nemo Meta 1

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/orsm09_nemo_meta.html

Edited by kthompson on 09/18/2012 23:06:42 MDT.

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: A very flat place (Grrrrrrrr)
Re: Re: Solo-Plus Tent State of the Market Report on 09/18/2012 19:41:44 MDT Print View

The Stratosphire 1 is a very nice shelter and very stable in strong winds.
The inner tent would definitley be tight for 2 but the fly sheet by itself would be fine.

Mark Ries
(mtmnmark) - M

Locale: IOWAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!
Solo plus tent SOTMR on 09/18/2012 20:45:47 MDT Print View

Maybe it would be best to change the title to a backpacker magazine style review of five solo + tents. Sorry I have been trying real hard to lay off negative comments here but this will not help me pick a new shelter much if at all. BPL stagnation! :(

Edited by mtmnmark on 09/18/2012 22:03:07 MDT.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: Solo plus tent SOTMR on 09/18/2012 20:57:32 MDT Print View

I was expecting individual field reports. Are those forthcoming?

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
Re: Re: Solo plus tent SOTMR on 09/18/2012 21:06:06 MDT Print View

Is that a fescue or bluegrass species?

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: Re: Re: Solo plus tent SOTMR on 09/18/2012 21:22:32 MDT Print View

What year is the Buick?

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife
Re: Solo plus tent SOTMR on 09/18/2012 21:38:46 MDT Print View

What were the other 3+ shelters that you could have included? Why omit mentioning them?

Do you water that lawn to keep it that green?

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: Melbourne
Solo-Plus Tent State of the Market Report on 09/18/2012 21:39:49 MDT Print View

A couple of points...

The SS1 can be erected and will stand up to ,fair weather without the extra guylimnes but yes it does work much better with.
Look ma, no hands
A big advantage is that you can fully open all 4 door panels if you want with the guylines in place.
Certanly not a double but you can fit two 20" mats side by side IF you drop the inner so that it sits flat (almost no bathtub) side to side .
SS1 two mats
For full bathtub you connect the mitten hook from the inner to the apex ring. To get extra width you connect the mitten hook to the elastic ribbon, for my set up I added a slightly longer ribbon so that it could stay flat without having weights on the mat.
So maybe spooning is not required and since the two sides are reversed it would be in fact slightly better to sleep top and tail.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Solo plus tent SOTMR on 09/18/2012 21:46:56 MDT Print View

Buicks?
Green lawns?

What am I missing here?

Sounds like I need to renew. I can only imagine...

1

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: Solo-Plus Tent State of the Market Report on 09/18/2012 21:47:08 MDT Print View

I don't have to add the additional guy lines on my Notch to tighten the ridgeline. Franco, is this simpy because of the offset geometry of the SS1 and it's greater width / footprint?

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife
Solo plus tent SOTMR on 09/18/2012 21:54:16 MDT Print View

Craig the links give you all the same info, but no pictures of Chris' yard or vehicles. It looks nice though.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: Re: Solo plus tent SOTMR on 09/18/2012 21:54:45 MDT Print View

Here is some hints on how to pitch the Nemo for more room. You may need a car, however. Buick will work:

http://nemoadventureanywhere.blogspot.ca/2012/09/meta-1p-pitch-hints.html

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife

Locale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
Solo-Plus Tent State of the Market Report on 09/18/2012 21:55:51 MDT Print View

Chris mentioned that several other tents that met the criteria were not available for review. It would have been good had he listed them so we could look for reviews of those elsewhere. Of course if the manufacturers don't want to make them available for testing, maybe they don't want to sell us any? Or maybe they have decided that BPL reviews don't mean much any more? (I'm just asking the question, not trying to imply anything one way or another.)

I was unhappy at the lack of field testing. Nearly all the information in this article, except a few subjective impressions, can be found by compiling information from the manufacturers' websites. What inquiring minds want to know is how well these shelters hold up in really nasty weather! Simply pitching them all on the same lawn just before a Rocky Mountain thunderstorm hit would have allowed a reasonable comparison of weather resistance. I don't know where Chris lives, but if there are no lively thunderstorms there, presumably someone at BPL headquarters in Bozeman (Maia?) has a lawn that could have been used for this simple test. Of course I realize that it has been a dry summer in the Rockies and the Midwest. The lovely Maia could also have tested how well these shelters hold up with a larger dog as one of the inhabitants. In the absence of thunderstorms, a few neighborhood kids could have been enlisted to run through the guylines and the tents could have been tested with a hose for an hour or so.

I don't happen to be in the market for a shelter, so for me these shortcomings are no big deal. I have two (IMHO) "ideal" shelters (neither covered by this article) for my dog and me, and I have only to decide which one to keep and which to sell. For those actively seeking a "1.5 person" tent that will hold a cuddling couple or adult plus child or (as in my case) adult plus faithful hound or just a big and tall adult who wants plenty of room to stretch out, though, this article is not much help.

Edited by hikinggranny on 09/18/2012 22:17:17 MDT.

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife
Solo-Plus Tent State of the Market Report on 09/18/2012 22:05:39 MDT Print View

nm

Edited by kthompson on 09/19/2012 21:32:11 MDT.

Aaron Croft
(aaronufl) - M

Locale: Colorado
Well... on 09/18/2012 22:20:45 MDT Print View

Edited.

Thank you Chris, for the effort you put into the article. I would have preferred more rigorous and in-depth testing, but my problem lies with BPL and not you individually.

Edited by aaronufl on 09/19/2012 20:00:45 MDT.

Charles P
(mediauras) - F

Locale: Terra
Re: Well... on 09/18/2012 22:38:20 MDT Print View

I would have to agree. I'm a new member, still figuring out UL and what works for me, and I was really hoping for something more substantial. I'm going to purchase a new solo shelter this fall/winter and thought this report might help me on my path (given it was hyped a bit too -- wasn't there supposed to be a bit of controversy? maybe some findings that went against the grain of conventional thought?). I appreciate the work, but there's just not much info here, no real world experiences with the shelters. What are their strengths? Their weaknesses? What happens when pushed to the limit? Back to the forums and community with my questions, which are a real treasure.

Edited by mediauras on 09/19/2012 22:11:14 MDT.

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: Melbourne
Solo-Plus Tent State of the Market Report on 09/18/2012 22:55:46 MDT Print View

David
You are correct that the Notch stands up very well without the extra guylines* , however the SS 1and 2 work better with and are tricky (OK, not for me...) to set up without.
The SSs were designed to have those guylines so that you can open up the sides , the Notch is going that way by popular demand.

* If having problems with this , make sure that the base of the pitch lock corner is parallel with the other (like rail crossties/sleepers) and that you don't pull the fly taut long wise as you would when setting up the Moment with the pole in place.

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife
Re: Solo-Plus Tent State of the Market Report on 09/18/2012 23:09:05 MDT Print View

What we are use to.


http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/sotmr_single_wall_tents_2008.html

Edited by kthompson on 09/19/2012 21:33:01 MDT.

Bob Bankhead
(wandering_bob) - MLife

Locale: Oregon, USA
Re: Solo-Plus Tent State of the Market Report on 09/18/2012 23:10:47 MDT Print View

deleted

Edited by wandering_bob on 09/18/2012 23:11:57 MDT.

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: WNC
Re: Solo-Plus Tent State of the Market Report on 09/19/2012 05:53:29 MDT Print View

I have zero interest in arguing why this report is written the way it is. With that said, here's the dilemma-

You guys want long-term test data delivered over short periods. If the review takes 6-9 months there are complaints about it taking too long. If it's delivered quickly, there are complaints about it not having enough depth.

The manufacturers want short term testing and a quick turn-around on publication of the review. This especially applies to the cottage guys since they tweak designs annually.

This article was delivered prior to Summer with hopes that it be published in time for you guys to see what was out there while making Seasonal gear decisions. We're now in to Fall with Winter quickly en route, and most of these shelters don't make sense for those conditions. I have the same issue with another SOTM that will be published soon, and for that primary reason I won't be doing any more testing myself. The conditions we face here in the Southern Appalachians are unlike the Rockies or the Sierras or the DSW or the PNW. Ideally we could get several of an item and test it in multiple locations, but the vendors (generally) aren't willing to play. Maybe that says more about the State of the Market than any of the reports ever will. I may get chastised for writing all of this, but this is me being transparent. I'm not offering it as justification, just a simple explanation and my one side of the story. If you want to chat about it more, feel free to PM me.

In addition, I see lots of opinions on how these should be written, yet no one stepping up to do the reviews. As the saying goes.... put up or shut up.

Edited by simplespirit on 09/19/2012 06:06:41 MDT.

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife
Re: Solo-Plus Tent State of the Market Report on 09/19/2012 06:14:05 MDT Print View

Edited: Now I have a better understanding of the situation and how it works.

Edited by kthompson on 09/19/2012 21:30:46 MDT.

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: WNC
Re: Re: Solo-Plus Tent State of the Market Report on 09/19/2012 06:22:37 MDT Print View

Are you volunteering Ken?

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife
Re: Solo-Plus Tent State of the Market Report on 09/19/2012 06:26:56 MDT Print View

No I am not. I keep busy with the GGG and trips throughout the year with fellow BPL members.

It's a simple problem I bet. BPL has no resources and has no one willing to supply content other than Roger and David.

Wonder why that is? Bet RJ holds the key to that answer.

Edited by kthompson on 09/19/2012 21:34:05 MDT.

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: WNC
Re: Re: Solo-Plus Tent State of the Market Report on 09/19/2012 06:31:49 MDT Print View

For the record, I am not an employee. I do have a title (which I volunteered for) but I'm more of a private contractor just like anyone else who submits articles.

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife
Re: Solo-Plus Tent State of the Market Report on 09/19/2012 06:33:29 MDT Print View

Did you receive compensation for this article?


Edit. Thanks for the PM explaining.

Edited by kthompson on 09/19/2012 21:35:34 MDT.

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: WNC
Re: Re: Solo-Plus Tent State of the Market Report on 09/19/2012 06:40:47 MDT Print View

I expect to, but haven't yet. The pay scale is published somewhere, and as any of the reviewers can tell you, it's pretty meager.

I bought my Life membership before I volunteered to do anything for BPL.

I'll PM you.

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife
Re: Solo-Plus Tent State of the Market Report on 09/19/2012 06:49:38 MDT Print View

Well herein lies the problem..


Backpacking Light doesn't normally offer financial compensation for contributors, but we do offer complimentary memberships to all contributors, as well as complimentary Lifetime Memberships to regular contributors. And, we're eager to work with budding bloggers and authors to help promote your websites or social or environmental causes (assuming they are compatible with our own), and commercial services so long as they don't result in a conflict of interest with our gear review program.


So I guess we should not complain about getting what we paid for. Cuz' that just the lights around here.

RJ should give you your hundred back.

Thanks for your PM Chris. Not good RJ, not good.

Edited by kthompson on 09/19/2012 06:52:06 MDT.

Lee Fields
(RevLee)
Shangri-La 1 discontinued on 09/19/2012 09:31:40 MDT Print View

Just saw on SectionHiker.com today that the Shangri-La 1 and 2 shelters are being discontinued.

http://sectionhiker.com/golites-new-lightweight-business-model/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Sectionhikercom+%28sectionhiker.com%29

Brett Peugh
(bpeugh) - F - M

Locale: Midwest
eh, not really on 09/19/2012 09:46:53 MDT Print View

I am going to go a bit sideways and agree that the SOTM report really didn't speak to me. I guess it is nice that he covered a niche segment of tents but I really don't carry trekking poles here in the plains where it is flat nor have close to $300 to spend on a tent that I have to provide the support for. I really was looking forward to this article but it did not speak to me as to what I need.

In addition the Golite is complete sold out of just about every place except one that has it at $250.

Edited by bpeugh on 09/19/2012 10:26:31 MDT.

Henry Shires
(07100) - F - M
Re: Solo-Plus Tent State of the Market Report on 09/19/2012 10:44:35 MDT Print View

Franco beat me to it but, yes, "spooning" is in no way required when sleeping two in the StratoSpire 1. The interior easily widens to fit two side-by-side 20" pads.

It is not true that the apex guyines are required to "get a taut pitch and full width across the top" but it does take some practice to correctly tension the doors to put sufficient tension on the apexes and ridgeline. Happy to help anyone with setup questions.

We now ship 6 x 8" stakes for both the SS1 and SS2. Earlier versions of the SS1 did ship with 4 x 6" plus 2 x 8" stakes.

-H

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Good update on 09/19/2012 12:24:26 MDT Print View

Thanks Chris for this update on solo tents.

BPL would do well to collect all the solo tent reviews (for tents still produced) and group them together and then write up a summary that could be changed as new tents came along.

For example the SMD Skyscape X in all its iterations including the Cuben tent is certainly worthy of a high rating. It is designs like this and the TT Stratospire and Notch that keep us grabbing for our wallets every few years.

So, BPL, let's set up a rating standard for tents (all tents) that give points (say 1 - 5) for categories like weight, ease of pitching, storage areas, design quality, wind-worthiness, quality of construction, etc. With a STANDARDIZED rating system, not one for each reviewing author, we can more readily compare tents from different reviews. If the reviewers do not have enough time for a full review and standardized rating then don't print it. We can wait a week or two get the best from a review.

And so, as well, we could use a STANDARDIZED rating system for all backpacking products. Much good work on rating standards has already been done by reviewers like Will Reitveld and his light down jackets review, for ex.. But, again, let's standardize it for ALL reviewers. Motor Trend has standardized ratings for their automotive reviews and so can we at BPL.

Just sayin'...

Edited by Danepacker on 09/19/2012 13:17:15 MDT.

Michael Arambula
(marambula)
Re: Good update on 09/19/2012 14:22:42 MDT Print View

I agree with Eric. BPL has a history of wonderful user data and gear reviews that rivals some of the best car, stereo, or digital camera reviews. BPL has been a leading force for scientific objectivity in outdoors gear while serving as community driven quality control.

A living gear review tool on BPL's homepage would be great, it could be periodically updated to provide a standardized rating for gear on the market. Tents/Shelter, Backpacks, Sleeping Pads, etc. could be given an ordinal Rank for different categories based on standardized ratings.

BPL ought to set standards for objective review of gear and provide the internet's best tool for gear comparison. Consolidation of gear reviews, and an easy navigable interface with gear ranks would be something worth paying for.

Much of the Content is already here.


**Edit: Additionally BPL has some of the best product photos/images with the reviews. I am certain this community could also produce excellent video reviews, which could be a valuable direction for the future of product reviews here at BPL.

Edited by marambula on 09/19/2012 14:30:25 MDT.

Gabriel Rhoads
(gkrdesigns) - M

Locale: Wasatch Range
Thanks for the review on 09/19/2012 15:06:44 MDT Print View

Chris,

Don't lose any sleep over the complaints. A very high, and perhaps exhaustive standard has been set by BPL for SOTM reports. They are the usually the most useful reviews out there. Perhaps this is not as field tested or comprehensive as many of the prior SOTM reports, but that does not mean it lacks value. Such a review certainly does not merit the threats to abandon BPL. What is easy to see is the amount of passion, high expectations, and how well educated BPL forum members are. You are speaking to a core audience that lacks an appreciation for backyard "tests".

Given the consistently errant measurements of many shelter manufacturers, just knowing what the REAL weights of these shelters was useful. This article has served to solidify my love of my SMD Skyscape Trekker that I bought last year in Ron's first run of them. Thanks for letting us know their real weights and for your personal annotations about pitching them and their usable space.

Another useful review of lightweight single plus fully enclosed shelters can be found on hikelighter.com. John did a great job with this one as well.

http://hikelighter.com/2011/12/29/sulxul-enclosed-shelter-comparisons/

Cheers,
Bodhi

Brett Ayer
(bfayer)

Locale: Virginia
Re: Re: Solo-Plus Tent State of the Market Report on 09/19/2012 15:09:30 MDT Print View

"I have zero interest in arguing why this report is written the way it is. With that said..."

I guess I jumped the gun on renewing my subscription. I really like you guys, but if I wanted an attitude like that I'd go hang out at an AT shelter and talk to people with attitudes (for free) who have actually used the tents.

So far about all I can see is a $500+ Cuben Fiber tent weighs less than a sub $300 silnylon tent and they are both easy to set up in your back yard.

I will keep my hopes up and see what comes up next.

Ross Bleakney
(rossbleakney) - MLife

Locale: Cascades
Re: Solo-Plus Tent State of the Market Report on 09/19/2012 15:49:20 MDT Print View

Reviews are hard. I can understand the problems with it. By the time you manage to compare all of the tents, the market has changed. I get that.

So, don't focus on the reviews. To me, a "State of the Market" report should list as many products as possible. It should also give as much technical information about the product as possible. Much of this is objective. For example, list all of the tents that you think fill the bill. Put asterisks by the ones that you didn't include. Now, with the ones that you did include (and maybe some of the ones you didn't) give a clickable floor layout. In other words, list the total floor space, but with each one, you should be able to click on it, and then see the layout, with distances from one corner to the other, etc. So many of these tents aren't rectacles, but trapezoids, pentagons, etc. Do the same thing with the third dimension. How does the tent slope up? One of the advantages of a typical dome tent is that the sides are steep. I can easily make a tent that is the opposite (plenty of "floor space" but the angles are so shallow that you wouldn't want to be under it).

Reviews are hard. You may not be able to review everything, in every condition. But give a calculated guess. You did this with previous market reports. You suggested that one tent might not be that good in a storm, but you didn't do any sort of real calculations (putting each tent on a rotating platform on top of a pickup and then driving until something broke). But a calculated guess is better than none. It means folks can argue about that, but we are all used to that.

In this case, everyone is wondering why some tents (Refuge X, for example) weren't included. Does it not meet the arbitrary "one plus" limit? If the Cuben version wasn't available, why didn't you get the other (cheaper) version? Are they that different (other than the material)? If you bent on the objective measurement (36 ounces) why didn't you bend on the "one plus" limit? List it, point out its objective limitations and then, if you have time, review it.

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
Solo-Plus Tent State of the Market Report on 09/19/2012 15:59:07 MDT Print View

This is b.s. How come you didn't review the REI Kingdom 6? Lame.

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: Melbourne
Solo-Plus Tent State of the Market Report on 09/19/2012 16:10:59 MDT Print View

I feel for Chris and know exactly where he comes from.
To be blunt what he did was a labour of love not a paid report and as such there is only so much you can do if you are not the only son of Bill Gates and therefore don't need to work for a living...
When I did my article on weatherproof cameras (I offered to do that...) I was contacted about six months after it had been handed in to let me know BPL was ready to publish it.
By then of course a lot of the data was obsolete so I had to ,quickly, re-do most of it.
At the time I was working in the photo trade and part of my job was reviewing cameras so it was not a big deal however the delay in publishing put me off doing another one.
So Chris, yes we do expect more thorough reviews , the frustration expressed above is towards BPL not you.
Nevertheless thank you for your effort , much better than your "pay".
Franco

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: Solo-Plus Tent State of the Market Report on 09/19/2012 16:35:41 MDT Print View

Perhaps the "staff" moniker is throwing us off. I don't blame Chris at all given the constraints he had to work under, but do blame Ryan for a completely messed up business model.

Hey, Sam is back. And as Staff again. Does this mean we can expect a righting of the ship? Or is there a Sam article in the works that will have all of the constraints associated with this one?

Daniel Gruber
(dgruber)
Re: Solo plus tent SOTMR on 09/19/2012 16:36:10 MDT Print View

I subscribed to BPL (and dropped Backpacker) because of its detailed gear reviews and comparison reports. The number of SOTM reports seems to be increasing while in-depth reviews and especially comparisons with ratings seem to be decreasing. For us gearheads, this is not a welcome trend. Please don't let lifestyle stories, trip reports, and general overviews replace what's been unique about this website.

Thanks,

Dan

Katharina ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
State of the market on 09/19/2012 17:01:28 MDT Print View

Another disheartening thread.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: State of the market on 09/19/2012 17:19:24 MDT Print View

Another disheartening thread.

Agree. Some much negativity the past several months.

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: Re: Solo plus tent SOTMR on 09/19/2012 17:26:21 MDT Print View

just read through this....wow.

Samuel C. Farrington
(scfhome) - M

Locale: Chocorua NH, USA
BPL on 09/19/2012 17:38:58 MDT Print View

As Jimmy Durante said, "My, what a revoltin' development!"

You folks who beat up on the author should be ashamed. What goes into these articles is a function of the management. You can go remonstrate with them, but mind that they have been sending us clear signals for some time now that this is going to be a shoestring operation from now on, like it or not.

Like at least one of the other posters, I continue to subscribe because a lot of very interesting and helpful contributions are made on the forums/threads.

The only problem is that if the rest of site becomes (has become?) fluff, a lot of the best contributors may disappear. Don't see anymore a lot of very talented and experienced folks posting who used to do so fairly regularly. If this trend continues, the threads will just become a place for trolling, shilling and marketing by poseurs who have some vested interest. It's not unusual, and is all over the internet. For every lousy product that is poorly reviewed, there are often a few reviews that wildly extoll the virtues of the product. If it comes to that, the ultimate sham would be when the editors start to delete the lousy reviews.

Probably I will hang in there till the bitter end, feeling that there are enough folks out there with good contributions to make that this site will continue to be worth visiting. We will have to ignore the chaff, and refrain from castigating folks who take the time to put together some reviews for a pittance. If that doesn't work, we can go somewhere else. We all spend too dam much time sitting in front of a monitor anyway.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: BPL on 09/19/2012 18:07:48 MDT Print View

" was expecting individual field reports. Are those forthcoming?"

I'll ask this again. Are these shelters going to be tested in the field?

If not, is there a way to have the membership test these and provide perspective according to some specified criteria?

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
SOTMR on 09/19/2012 18:52:56 MDT Print View

"...everyone is wondering why some tents (Refuge X, for example) weren't included."

Perhaps because it was discontinued years ago? I think you meant Skyscape X :)

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: WNC
Re: Re: BPL on 09/19/2012 19:01:42 MDT Print View

David - they were all tested in the field on at least one trip per shelter. The conditions during usage didn't make for good photography, so I elected to use posed photos under ideal conditions to show off the shelters. We had a wet Spring and Summer here. I feel like how something works for me in my area is very subjective, and my personal opinion of a shelter does little for making a purchase decision. Reading reviews about how well a softshell performs in the Rockies is useless to me in the same way. You may not agree, and that's fine. If you want to read subjective test data then feel free to submit a proposal and request items for review. It's a pretty simple process as far as that piece goes.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife

Locale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
Solo-Plus Tent State of the Market Report on 09/19/2012 19:18:07 MDT Print View

I wasn't expecting long term testing. I was expecting more information than just a rehash of the manufacturer specifications. As I mentioned, setting up all the tents on the lawn and turning the hose (with a pressure nozzle) on them would have elicited some quick results relating to waterproofness and condensation. So would turning loose the dog or kids for a little "strength testing" if a windstorm wasn't available. That's what I've done to test the tents I've bought, which I've done before deciding whether or not to keep the tent. Someone also mentioned diagrams of the actual space inside the tents. For many cottage manufacturers, that info is available on their websites, but for some tents it isn't, and it's important information for those trying to make "buy" decisions.

The SOTM report on single-wall tents that has been referenced several times in this thread is a shining example of what we have been conditioned to expect from BPL SOTM reports. I think we all assumed that this one would be similar.

If a manufacturer isn't able to supply test models, I believe that should be noted. Not as a backhand to the manufacturer, but to provide a complete listing of the tents that meet the specific criteria, as a service to potential buyers.

Chris, I understand that there were problems, especially with the delay in publication. You're not the only one; "Balls" and "Sunshine" were within a few days of completing the Appalachian trail by the time their first AT article, written several months earlier, was published, which removed any "suspense" over whether or not they'd make it. I believe, though, that a perusal of old SOTM reports would be very useful in demonstrating why we were disappointed. .

Chris, I just read your above post that evidently was being written at the same time as this one. It actually would have been extremely helpful--and not at all subjective!--if you had described the results of the trips, including the weather conditions. That might be good information for a short follow-up article.

Edited by hikinggranny on 09/19/2012 19:25:05 MDT.

Ross Bleakney
(rossbleakney) - MLife

Locale: Cascades
Re: SOTMR on 09/19/2012 19:45:23 MDT Print View

>>> "...everyone is wondering why some tents (Refuge X, for example) weren't included."

>>> Perhaps because it was discontinued years ago? I think you meant Skyscape X :)

Oops. Absolutely correct. I've owned both, so I got them confused. (I knew there was an "X" in there somewhere) :)

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: State of the market on 09/19/2012 20:08:22 MDT Print View

"Another disheartening thread.

Agree. Some much negativity the past several months."

+1

There is such a thing as constructive criticism; then there is the other kind, which is sadly all too much in evidence on this thread. Ponder the former, Chris, and recognize the latter for what it is. You made a good faith effort for little, if any, personal gain and, IMO, you deserve better than a lot of what is floating around on this thread.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: Re: Re: State of the market on 09/19/2012 20:39:07 MDT Print View

I don't think Chris needs the Calvary in this case. He has stated why the report was done the way it was and there is no reason to not believe what he has said. Chris is good. We all know that.

Rather than pick a side that does not need picking, why are many of you (and I am focusing on the Mlifers who seem to have Ryan's ear) not asking why BPL does not have sufficient resources for these tests? Why has the directive/parameters for completing a review / SOTM changed? Are you all okay with BPL disappearing into the abyss within 8-12 months?

@Chris - it is perfectly understood that geographic and climate conditions are very specific and that testing a tent in Florida will be much different than in the Northern Rockies, but please don't misunderstand what I am asking. I would like to see, at minimum, a review of the features of the shelter, pros and cons of use, comparison between the shelters (because you used them all), etc. I am not expecting a backpackgeartest.org approach that tests over several months.

Edited by FamilyGuy on 09/19/2012 20:39:49 MDT.

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife
Re: Solo-Plus Tent State of the Market Report on 09/19/2012 21:03:11 MDT Print View

"So Chris, yes we do expect more thorough reviews , the frustration expressed above is towards BPL not you."

+1 And thanks again for the PMs this morning.

Warren Greer
(WarrenGreer) - F

Locale: SoCal
Agreed on 09/19/2012 21:13:10 MDT Print View

"Another disheartening thread.

Agree. Some much negativity the past several months."

+2

There is such a thing as constructive criticism; then there is the other kind, which is sadly all too much in evidence on this thread. Ponder the former, Chris, and recognize the latter for what it is. You made a good faith effort for little, if any, personal gain and, IMO, you deserve better than a lot of what is floating around on this thread.

I used to love spending time here; this was the most respectful and informative website I'd ever been to. Now it seems that the exact opposite is in fashion. I sure hope it goes away soon. Like my grandmother used to say "if you don't have anything good to say than don't say anything at all".

Nick Brown
(ojsglove)

Locale: Highland Park
Solo-Plus Tent State of the Market Report on 09/19/2012 21:14:11 MDT Print View

There seems to be some miss information here or at least a lack of familiarity in regards to the Nemo Meta 1P. Mine is a year old. It weighs exactly 32oz including guylines, no stakes or stuff sack. The included stuff sack weighs a ton. It came with 8 V stakes which weigh 3oz I think.

The lack of interior room due to steep walls is mitigated by the side wall guylines which can be staked out to increase the headroom at the ends. I find that tying them off to a stick to elevate them before staking really helps. The interior room is plenty at 5'10". I can lay down and stretch my arms nearly completely out in front of me without touching either end. I sit up with a little care. I would consider something else if i were 6'1" or taller.

It's a great shelter and manages condensation well. Unlike most of the cottage brands, who I also support, the Nemo can be found on sale. I got mine for $211.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Re: Re: State of the market on 09/19/2012 21:41:53 MDT Print View

"Rather than pick a side that does not need picking, why are many of you (and I am focusing on the Mlifers who seem to have Ryan's ear) not asking why BPL does not have sufficient resources for these tests? Why has the directive/parameters for completing a review / SOTM changed? Are you all okay with BPL disappearing into the abyss within 8-12 months?"

BPL is now what it is. We cannot change that or its future. That is up to the owner. We cannot brow-beat anyone into changing. RJ is fully aware of the concerns. I have posted enough on the subject myself. The future is out of our hands. The future of BPL is what RJ wants it to be. He is fully aware of the mood of the (paid/not paid) membership.

So most of us can go on enjoying the great conversation of the forums, keeping a positive outlook in our mind's eye. A positive attitude in the forums will probably keep a lot the wonderful people here. Moaning and complaining could drive them away.

We may be our own worst enemy.

Should the editorial content improve and other benefits materialize, then all the better.

To be honest, there is so much good content presented by members in the forums that many articles pale in comparison. Do we really need a STOM? Just ask a question about any specific piece of gear and plenty of people will chime in with valuable real-world experience and advice. I cannot remember one piece of gear in a STOM report that had not been discussed in detail beforehand. I find that much more valuable most of the time. Although I do miss the Roger & Will collaboration pieces.

Peace

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife
Re: State of the market on 09/19/2012 21:53:09 MDT Print View

I have to agree. I'm tired of b*tching, moaning, complaining, whining, arguing here on the forums. I should be as I've done most of it. The one who most of the complaints are directed to won't read them, so why bother. We can remember the past as fondly as we want. But it is the past. It has been made. The future on the other hand...

I'll try if you will.

Daniel Paladino
(dtpaladino) - F - MLife

Locale: Northern Rockies
Title Change on 09/19/2012 21:56:26 MDT Print View

The feedback here confirmed some of my suspicions before we published this article, and led me to believe that it deserved a title change. It certainly is not a State of the Market Report by prior BPL standards, but does still provide a nice overview of available products. I felt that "Round-Up" more accurately describes the content. This was an editorial error that should have been noticed and corrected before publication. Sorry for the inconvenience!

-Daniel

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife
Re: Title Change on 09/19/2012 21:59:06 MDT Print View

Good to see you back Daniel. Good call.

Charles P
(mediauras) - F

Locale: Terra
BPL then and now on 09/19/2012 22:16:48 MDT Print View

Many in this thread have stated that BPL ain't what it used to be. For a newcomer, what did it used to be? What's changed (not asking why or who necessarily)? Just curious....

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: State of the market on 09/19/2012 22:19:27 MDT Print View

"BPL is now what it is. We cannot change that or its future. That is up to the owner. We cannot brow-beat anyone into changing. RJ is fully aware of the concerns. I have posted enough on the subject myself. The future is out of our hands. The future of BPL is what RJ wants it to be. He is fully aware of the mood of the (paid/not paid) membership."

Perhaps not being an MLifer I am not privy to these discussions on a sub forum, but what you have written sounds incredibly defeatist. My hands are not tied in any way and I can speak through my membership by not renewing.

II agree that the forums are great. But if memberships are not renewed and new memberships are not generated based on lack of editorial content, where will the funds come from to support the bandwidth to even keep the forums alive? The Mlifers already helped with the leveraged buy back for Ryan. No more funds to come from those sources. It is only the general ongoing regular Membership and new Members that will keep the cash flow coming. Without content and free forums, we are witnessing a slow death of BPL and it makes me a little sad.

Mark Ries
(mtmnmark) - M

Locale: IOWAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!
Nothing to do with SOTMR on 09/19/2012 23:19:06 MDT Print View

Move this to Chaff if you wish but I started the negativity here. I take my grand daughter MaKailynn or "Mak" dining and dancing at a country dancehall/saloon/BBQ/roadhouse type place. I know, great place to take your grand daughter, but on Thursdays its a really clean crowd. The food at this place can be fantastic at times,ok other times,sometimes pretty bad. I usually just eat it and dont complain. Mak loves their fries. really good beer battered fries. sometimes not so good. Mak complains when they are bad the waitress says that when they get busy they have to make big batches and they just are not as fresh and does not offer to get her new ones at all. The food might be good it might not you never know. I have gone from buying meals like a rack of ribs to maybe a sandwich or maybe hit McDonalds on the way and just buy soft drinks and dance there. I have complained about the consistacy to the head bartender and waitresses and they just seem mad that you complained and the consistacy still aint there. The dining crowd seems to be getting smaller and mostly people are just coming out to dance. I would like to eat there more but dont like paying for bad food. The owner never talks to us at all about the food. Im watching the place go downhill I hear they are in financial trouble and its really to bad cause its a fun place and the food when its good can be real good and there is no other place like this for us to go. And to an outsider it seems so easy to fix,like Im sorry I will get you some fresh fries. But instead the cook comes out yelling you dont like my food I dont care. Sorry for the stupid analogy, I thought it might be less offensive and easy to understand and its a true story. I wont complain anymore it does not help and only makes you look bad

Edited by mtmnmark on 09/19/2012 23:27:47 MDT.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: State of the market on 09/19/2012 23:34:18 MDT Print View

David,

You are correct. You can vote by not renewing your membership. Capitalism at its best!! And I approve of that.

However, this business cannot and will not be successful by relying on membership sales to support it. Especially the M-Life option.

BTW, I bought my membership. What I got was a little less than promised, but I am happy with the investment for the forums alone.

The attitude is not "defeatist." I learned a long time ago to control what I can control. Those things I cannot control are often not worth the effort.

The M-Life forums have not been beneficial to the members or BPL as of yet. Nothing productive comes out of them except more complaining. I pretty much ignore them anymore.

The dice have been cast. Nothing will change unless Ryan changes them. And no one here is going to pressure him into doing anything. That has already been proven.

So, I am not going to spend an ounce of time worrying about it. And if BPL dies, I am not going elsewhere else. I have no desire to participate in another website forum.

What I will tell you is that in the almost 4 years I have been a BPL member I have met a lot of really nice, smart and great people. Actually I have only personally met about 5 people, but I feel as if I have met and know 100's of truly wonderful people -- yourself included.

Life is too short and valuable to get upset about a website.

Mark Ries
(mtmnmark) - M

Locale: IOWAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!
Re: title change on 09/19/2012 23:34:58 MDT Print View

Wow while I was writing a story fresh fries came, Thanks

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: State of the market on 09/19/2012 23:54:32 MDT Print View

Nick, thanks (as usual) for the intelligent conversation.

Best.

Serge G.
(sgiachetti) - M

Locale: Boulder, CO
more rietvelds please.. on 09/20/2012 01:54:50 MDT Print View

I think this 'round up' just came across as a little insulting to a BPL audience that has a pretty low tolerance for fluff. Truly, there is nothing here that couldn't be gleaned from a 5 minute online spec comparison, except for pictures of the some $1600 worth of high tech gear on the reviewers lawn. Its basically a farce. I'm sorry to be so harsh, but its genuinely a little frustrating to be paying for 'content' thats not really content. OK, so I'm a little protective of BPL, because a good majority of online media is pretty superficial. I visit BPL with the expectation of substance, I don't think thats unfair.

There's a few reasons for the high expectations, one of which is Will Rietveld. Seriously, that dude crushes. His reviews are pretty much unparalleled, because he gets 'out there' like few people do, and he's got a keen eye for design. He's also METICULOUS (just felt like that had to be in caps). Dave C is sort of like a Will Jr., except lower case meticulous, and a maybe little bit more of a crusher (just a little though ;). Its obvious that there is no way for a website like this to properly compensate the kind of work that goes into one of Will's reviews. Here we have a fit retired man living in alpine heaven with boundless enthusiasm for the outdoors and gear testing (a winning recipe for BPL). His reviews, as well as Ryan's early UL insights, which once seemed like secret dark arts, were some of the reasons that bpl was actually able to pull off the trick of pay for online content.

Basically, I'm suggesting that BPL needs to clone more Will Rietvelds. The business model seems to rest on these 'for the love of it' outdoorsman who crush, and who know their stuff. Anybody know any mad geneticists?

Edited by sgiachetti on 09/20/2012 01:59:18 MDT.

Raymond Estrella
(rayestrella) - MLife

Locale: Northern Minnesota
More Reitvelds? on 09/20/2012 05:51:03 MDT Print View

I agree Will is a great reviewer. But Will and Roger are retired and can get out a lot plus have plenty of time to write. Most people have jobs and families that take their time too. Writing gear reviews does not pay well. My SOTMR (and supporting reviews) took almost a year and did not pay enough to cover one round trip of gas to go backpacking. Most of us do this because we believe we are helping other backpackers to make informed decisions before plunking down their hard-earned cash, and to help manufacturers get real-world data to let them make better gear. At least that is the way I look at it. I bet reviewing gear costs me a couple thousand dollars a year. Welcome to the wonderful world of gear reviewing Chris. (I’ve been doing it since 2005)

That said, this was very lacking. The trips that you did make Chris should have been written about. I want to see “action” shots, no matter how cruddy the surroundings. It proves to the reader that the gear was “out there” and that you are making informed statements. Personally I try to get at least a few trips (5-6 nights) with a piece of gear before I write about it. I prefer much more than that.

All of the tents that fit the category should have been in it to make it a SOTMR. Like Daniel said, calling it a Round-up, or even a collection of Spotlight Reviews would have been more accurate.

Personally I stopped writing for BPL mainly because it was not enjoyable for me. I hate Ratings. What I think is great another person may hate. Gear should be reviewed on its own merits. The reviewer should express their opinion and the reader should realize that is all it is. The writer’s opinion. I can’t tell you what works for you. But hopefully I explain the item in enough detail for you to use my field data and observations as a basis to help you decide if it is something that you will like or not.

I hate comparisons for the same reason. It should not be my job as a reviewer to pit one item against another. Save that for Shoot-Outs, something I have never partaken in.

And lastly, just this kind of angst is another thing that turned me off to BPL. Many people here want the writer to be just like them, and hike their style, or it is “no good”. Chris, you can’t let yourself get mad reading these posts. Take the constructive criticism to heart (to use it to get better) and ignore the destructive criticism.

Now, since you got to keep a few of those shelters Chris, maybe as you get more use in with them you can write full (separate) reviews of them and put a link in this article as each is published. That will make it a much better resource and will help the manufacturer also. I wish you well as you grow in the “business”.

Ray

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: More Reitvelds? on 09/20/2012 09:03:24 MDT Print View

I don't know how many of you are professional writers, but as one myself I agree with Raymond's assessment about not taking the criticisms personally. Criticisms in a public forum are part and parcel to being a professional writer. If you can't take the guff, you shouldn't be writing in a public arena, especially if there are paying readers. Whether or not you get paid a pittance is beside the point; if people are paying the publication, then you as a writer need to listen to what the readers want, even if you don't agree with them. Readers (paying or otherwise) are what keep all publications afloat. Kill the readers, or their interest in the publication, and all your bemoaning how you were treated becomes a moot point. Remember, all writers write for their audience, not for themselves. That's the very reason you write.

Develop a thick skin, roll with the punches, learn to find the sweet spot and to heed good advice, and never assume that your writing can't use improvement.

Brett Peugh
(bpeugh) - F - M

Locale: Midwest
reviews on 09/20/2012 09:23:44 MDT Print View

Personally I would love to help with reviews as I have plenty of free time and little in the way of commitments but unfortunately I am a big and tall guy so most of the stuff out there is not made for a person of my size. To that end is there a role for me out there?

Ross Bleakney
(rossbleakney) - MLife

Locale: Cascades
Re: State of the market on 09/20/2012 09:32:40 MDT Print View

I think constructive criticism about this article belongs on this thread. Criticism of BPL in general belongs somewhere else. Use this article as an example, if you want, but saying you think BPL has somehow turned into something it wasn't because of one article is silly.

As for this article, I stand by my previous (constructive) criticism. Comparing tents is hard. Designs vary quite a bit, and there is no easy way to get an understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of the various models. Simple things like determining floor space or head room are tricky to represent. Some tent makers have great diagrams, so it is easy to see, while others leave a lot to the imagination. Even great articles, like this one: http://hikelighter.com/2011/12/29/sulxul-enclosed-shelter-comparisons/, don't do a great job of describing the dimensions of a tent. This is where you come in. You could include layouts. If I had an easy to read tent layout reference of the 17 setups (in the hikelighter article) and the 5 here, it would make the buying decision much easier. This way I could make my own decision as to whether a tent was a one person, or one person plus tent.

One of the things I really like about this site is that it is filled with scientific, nerdy type information. Much of this goes over my head. But it is objective. Making the diagrams I want would not be easy (which is why it isn't common) but it would be a great example of making a complex subject easily understood (something you do quite often).

Edited by rossbleakney on 09/20/2012 09:35:34 MDT.

Ron Moak
(rmoak) - F
SOTMR - The missing leg. on 09/20/2012 09:33:25 MDT Print View

Much has been written here about individuals disappointment in the recent BPL "State of the Market" report. As a non member, I've not read it, so can't comment about the article directly. Given my position in the community, probably wouldn't even if I could.

However, what's missing in all the bashing between readers and writers is what I call the third leg of the stool. There are obviously three components to a review. Gear, a well written review and an interested readership. The large dose of forum discussion clearly indicates an intense interest. Threads were appearing weeks in advance wondering about it's eventual release.

As I said, I won't comment on the review itself. But clearly BPL has a long history of good reviews. Some of which were penned by Chis.

The missing leg here is the gear. This is where I come in and the story is long, strange, complicated and certainly not something that's going to get espoused upon in this short thread response.

You have probably wondered why many of the popular gear items that once appeared on the pages of BPL have been long absent. The simple fact is that a number of us manufactures simply haven't provided BPL with gear, even when asked.

It's not that we've been mad because some item of gear was pilloried in a review. That's all part of the course and if properly considered it helps us make better products.

Nor are we mad with Will. In fact those of us who've not provided gear have actually paid for Will and his wife Janet stay at the Outdoor Retailer Show for the last couple of years. Clearly not in any attempt on our part to curry his favor for some pleasant review. But simply because we like and respect him. At one point or another most of us have been on backpacking trips with him over the years. Often struggling to keep up.

Now with Will retired, for the second time, Chris has been handed a hornets' nest that he clearly didn't see coming. And has been instructed to make the best of it. Personally I wouldn't want to be in his shoes.

So what is to become of BPL? That's clearly beyond my powers to forecast. There are some in our cottage community that have expressed deep concern about the lost of BPL and what potential impact it might bear on our bottom line. One even suggested either buying BPL or creating our own alternative. But the key success of any publication is the ability to be both independent and objective.

As has clearly been pointed out by a massive number of threads on the topic. It's equally important for publications to have open, frequent and frank dialog with both its readership and with those upon which it reports.

In a little over a week Henry, Grant (Glens off this year) and I will be off on a backpacking trip. I've no doubt the topic of BPL will be raised at sometime or other. Especially now that I've written this tome. I doubt that I'm the only one who'd like to see and end to this log jam. But it's beyond me to see a resolution.

Perhaps some will see this post is simply dumping another unwanted can of worms on a bad situation. There maybe some truth to that. If I wished for anything is that it would spur the opening of a dialog. Will it in fact lead to anything? Only time will tell.

Ron

Bob Bankhead
(wandering_bob) - MLife

Locale: Oregon, USA
reviews on 09/20/2012 09:45:48 MDT Print View

As a scientist and amateur statistician, I know how long it can take to gather and analyze data, then write a meaningful report. I offer my thanks to ALL authors who take the time to do reviews and/or technical articles for BPL. I have about 20 in my "Favorites" list.


In my opinion, the most prominant/prolific of these are:

Roger Caffin
Will Rietveld
Alan Dixon
Ryan Jordan

Here are just three examples of in-depth technical articles from the past. All are still available; you just have to search through the Articles and similar categories.

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/selecting_stoves_for_cold_weather_part_1.html
By Roger Caffin 2006


http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/lightweight_guide_to_backpacking_in_sustained_rain.html
By Alan Dixon 2006



http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/tent_stakes.html
By Will Rietveld 2008



and reviews:

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/katabatic_sawatch_quilt_crestone_hood_review.html
By Roger Caffin 2011


http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/00059.html
By Don Johnston and Ryan Jordan 2002 re: Nunatak Arc Alpinist quilt


Access to in-depth information of this kind is why I bought a Life Membership at BPL. These forums are a side benefit.


Thanks again, authors.


Wandering Bob

Edited by wandering_bob on 09/20/2012 09:48:11 MDT.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: SOTMR - The missing leg. on 09/20/2012 10:03:22 MDT Print View

Great commentary, Ron, as always.

Keep in mind that there is a very good reason why Will or Roger were almost never pilloried (I can't think of a single time, personally). A very good reason. There is something to be learned from that, as a writer, as a publisher, as reviewers, as gear makers.

Brett Peugh
(bpeugh) - F - M

Locale: Midwest
format change? on 09/20/2012 11:06:52 MDT Print View

While I know it is good to see some of these SOTM reviews that will compare a multitude of different items, why not just use the system where someone would review one item and then other people could add their thoughts on its usage also? People could even write about comparisons for other similar items they have used also and do a compare and contrast. I seem to remember that there were a lot of reviews like that previously on this site. Maybe free it up so that more than just a handful of people are writing reviews so that more gear is covered. That might allow reviews to be more timely also and those contributing to it could add how their item has worked out long term. Just an idea.

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: reviews on 09/20/2012 11:10:49 MDT Print View

People to I think that there is a difference between constructive criticism here. I felt that some of the comments thrown at the reviewer were somewhat meam spirited. Of course when you write something be it written word, music or art you are 100% open to critique .....some of the responses were constructive and some were like I mentioned, a bit on the mean side.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Perspective. on 09/20/2012 11:24:44 MDT Print View

I have no idea how many people subscribe to BPL.

But it seems to me that there are less than one dozen on this thread that are posting negative comments and seem to believe this piece is another symptom of the ultimate slow demise of BPL.

Frankly, I think people change and people get bored. When people reminisce about the "good old days" of BPL, I suspect there's a certain loss of perspective that those were days when much of the info on this site was genuinely new and refreshing to them.
I think a lot of the current angst has more to do with boredom than BPL or industry stagnation.

It gets old, eventually.

It's certainly gotten old for me.

That's why I haven't bothered with renewing. It's not some sort of political statement or jab at RJ or anyone else. It's because I'm simply not too interested anymore. I don't read 90% or more of the member content. I don't need a solo+ tent, and when I do, I'm confident in my own assessment of what I need. Or I'll turn to the forums or blogs, which usually are months if not years ahead of the curve. I'm just not interested in new jackets, fabric technologies, etc. The bulk of the content here is gear driven, so if you're over the gear thing...What's left?

I don't feel like BPL is doing things all that differently. I am.

Aaron Croft
(aaronufl) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Perspective. on 09/20/2012 12:42:31 MDT Print View

Craig makes an excellent point. Once you have gotten your gear dialed in and aren't all about the newest, lightest, and shiniest gear, the articles put out by BPL just aren't that important anymore. Most of my outdoors time nowadays is spent with an activity other than just backpacking in mind (fishing, trail running, climbing, etc). I've changed.

But in contrast, there are quite a few people who are just finding out about lightweight backpacking and changing their own perspective. I feel these people deserve in-depth analysis of gear in these reports, as well.

And this is why pleasing everyone is nearly impossible.

Edited by aaronufl on 09/20/2012 12:43:20 MDT.

Bruce Tolley
(btolley) - F

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Solo -Plus Tent SOM-- Crowd Sourcing?? on 09/22/2012 11:20:00 MDT Print View

I found the author bashing a bit surprising. Having started out at BPL with getting printed copies in the mail. I was just happy to find a real, original article posted :-). I found it informative, and appreciated the review of a mix of shelters from cottage and larger, commercial manufacturers.

To the above comment about "standardized" reporting, any scale 1 to 5 or 1 to 10, is just a way to rank order one person's opinion or attitude. The Consumer Reports "Scores" are just the results of survey research of the CR readership.

There was another interesting comment about the combined expertise of the BPL membership which was on the money. However, that expertise is either in the heads of the members or when written down scattered across 100s if not 1000s of postings.

This aggregate experience and expertise never got successfully captured in the wiki project. That being said, a lot of companies today use "Survey Monkey" and other web tools to administer on-line surveys at a very lightweight administrative overhead. A state of the market author could "crowd source" some of the analysis by using such a tool.

I used to design surveys and hire survey research companies in an earlier career. The real work involves the design of the survey questions. To wit, "On a scale 1 poor to 5 excellent....Rate your opinion of the shelters' ability to withstand a snow load ." "Rate your opinion of the shelter's ability to withstand wind in alpine or above tree line conditions...."

A state of the market author could post the survey for input for two weeks and then publish the summarized "opinions" of 100+ BPL members along with his or her own analysis. The larger data set might be even worth $ to the manufacturers and could be sold to support the site. My 2 cents.

Edited by btolley on 09/22/2012 11:24:13 MDT.

HK Newman
(hknewman) - MLife

Locale: Earth (mostly)
Re: Solo-Plus Tent State of the Market Report on 09/22/2012 12:21:24 MDT Print View

It is what it is but if I were in the market for a new shelter, having all the weights and stand-out features available in this review would make my job as a consumer easier. Not like BPL can ship it writers off to a Norwegian glacier like the others guys can for gear testing, though maybe they could get some staff and readers together to see which gear (and which readers) survive up in the mountains. Think BP still uses reader-testers.

Edited by hknewman on 09/22/2012 12:23:58 MDT.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Solo+ Report on 09/22/2012 22:03:45 MDT Print View

Thanks for your feedback on this and other articles, and the review process in general.

I've pulled a number of articles off of our editorial calendar in the coming weeks with the intention of revamping our review program significantly.

I have two goals.

1. I'm keen to publish what you find valuable.

2. I'm not keen to continue to do things that you are critical of because of their lack of value to you.

I'm game for a retool as needed.

I'm heading out in the early morning to teach the WTS ULBC course with Ryan Connelly and some of you, a week in the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness. When I get back I'll have some announcements regarding changes we are making to the review program, and what will be on the radar for the next several months with it. I hope you will find it encouraging, and in the meantime, I appreciate your patience.

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife
Re: Solo+ Report on 09/23/2012 10:16:28 MDT Print View

Thanks Ryan. Check your in box when you get back and have a good time.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: reviews on 09/23/2012 17:12:13 MDT Print View

Hi Brett

> unfortunately I am a big and tall guy so most of the stuff out there is not made
> for a person of my size. To that end is there a role for me out there?

You know, you may not be the only 'big tall guy' out there. Seems to me quite a few readers have put themselves in your category. Me, I am 'small'.

It might be very useful to get your 'big tall' take on how you fit into many items of gear. As always, I am willing to help with the writing (as long as I am home!).

Cheers
Roger@backpackinglight.com

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: More Reitvelds? on 09/23/2012 17:20:39 MDT Print View

Ray E wrote:

> The trips that you did make Chris should have been written about. I want to see
> “action” shots, no matter how cruddy the surroundings. It proves to the reader
> that the gear was “out there” and that you are making informed statements.

Very good points. Somehow, 'action' shots seem just so much more useful and real. And detailing where the gear was tested adds to that as well. Anyone can look at the mfr specs for some gear, but no-one with any brains goes to the vendor website to find out how it 'felt' in the field.

That said, a close reading of what Chris wrote does show quite a lot of that detail, but in a very condensed form and easy to miss.

> I hate Ratings. What I think is great another person may hate.
I have to agree with Ray. I like gas stoves and tunnel tents; others like alkies and tarps. How can you give Ratings there?

Cheers

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Re: Re: State of the market on 09/23/2012 17:25:00 MDT Print View

David Ure wrote :

> I don't think Chris needs the Calvary in this case.

I think he got the Calvary.
But the cavalry did not turn up to rescue him.

Cheers

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Solo-Plus Tent State of the Market Report on 09/23/2012 19:15:34 MDT Print View

This was a good article. A SOTM report should say exactly what Chris wrote. He should NOT concern himself with other things that may pop up during use, overly. A mention of what works, what doesn't, where guy lines are needed, where you can skip them, pole options, etc. are really all that can be expected. A Side-by-Side comparison of what is out there is all I need to make my decisions.

Chris may not be aware of some of the details of pitching, such as Franco wrote. (That was really helpfull, too.) But reviewing a tent after one or two nights in it is sort of like reviewing a car after driving it for 20 miles. Of course he needs to use it for at least a pair of weeks in all sorts of heat, and, cold weather. SOTM's are an overview. He needs to drive the SOB for a hundred thousand miles before he can say for sure.

Chris did a good job. He could NOT be expected to take all the tents out for two weeks each and expect to wring every ounce of performance he could out of them. That is what makes these forums great. Someone who HAS done in depth testing of each item CAN post about his experiences and his likes, or, dislikes. He can post, like Franco did, about pitching options and perhaps even storm worthiness.

Change the format? Why? For a new item, such as a tent, I would look at what is out there. The SOTM report makes it easy to compare them, and check them off the list. It has little to do with getting pounded in a review, it is simply what is out there. And what features they have. What I need and what I want when I am considering a purchase.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Solo -Plus Tent SOM-- Crowd Sourcing?? on 09/23/2012 19:45:37 MDT Print View

"A state of the market author could post the survey for input for two weeks and then publish the summarized "opinions" of 100+ BPL members along with his or her own analysis. "

Bruce, this is a great idea!

Ryan Smith
(ViolentGreen) - M

Locale: Southeast
Re: reviews on 09/23/2012 19:48:05 MDT Print View

I would love to help out with the reviews also. I'm a tall guy like Brett, BPL should let us review the 5-6 recommended "big & tall" shelters. There always seems to be an interest in the forums on this topic and it's really difficult to determine what cottage shelters will work because you can't test them in a store. I honestly don't care if I got paid for it or not. It's just nice to contribute to a site(and the people) who I have learned so much from.


Ryan

Edited by ViolentGreen on 09/23/2012 19:50:29 MDT.

Mark Cooper
(Cooporlando)

Locale: Central Florida
Thanks on 09/23/2012 20:23:01 MDT Print View

Thanks for covering this topic, for some reason the Lighthearted Gear tents had not shown up on my radar. At 6'6" this tent is in my sights.

Ross Bleakney
(rossbleakney) - MLife

Locale: Cascades
Re: Re: reviews on 09/23/2012 20:43:34 MDT Print View

>>> I would love to help out with the reviews also. I'm a tall guy like Brett, BPL should let us review the 5-6 recommended "big & tall" shelters. There always seems to be an interest in the forums on this topic and it's really difficult to determine what cottage shelters will work because you can't test them in a store.

It seems to me that this isn't something that needs to be tested. You could just look at a diagram and figure it out. You could see that Tent XYZ is a big rectangle, and the sides slope down so that a person 6' 6" would have two feet above the top of his or her head. Tent ABC has the same square footage, but the slope is worse, so the tent would touch the top of a 6' 6" person. Those are the diagrams I would love to see. They wouldn't require that much field work. Simply assemble the tent and measure it. The tricky part is representing the data visually. But representing tricky data is what highly technical magazines or websites do. I'm sure the folks at BPL are up to the task, if they are interested.

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife
Re: reviews on 09/23/2012 20:44:28 MDT Print View

+1 with Brian.

Anthony Weston
(anthonyweston) - MLife

Locale: Southern CA
my two cents on 09/24/2012 12:21:26 MDT Print View

We are in a financial crisis. BPL may or may not be making $, I have no idea but it provides a service and we are lucky to have it.
BPL is a great meeting place to share experience. We don't need fancy reviews by one person. We have an opportunity to pool our knowledge about gear and learn from each other.

I got caught in a blizzard in 2009 with snow blowing at me sideways all night and I had a GG spinshelter and Montbell dri tech bivy, I woke up with drifts piled around me under my tarp which I had pitched almost flat and against a rock wall; I lived and it gave me new respect for the mountains so now when I look for a shelter, yes I want it as light as possible but can it handle wind and sideways snow or rain. I also don’t like my quilt touching up against the side of the tent in rain. Might not be important to someone else but it's eliminated a lot of otherwise fine shelters on my list. I don't like cuben floors they wear out too fast.

Currently my 3 favorite shelters are:

MLD duomid handles wind, rain etc, I just wish it had a screen door. I use it when I’m not expecting to get eaten alive by bugs.

Zpacks Hexamid Long, light, handles bugs and I have a mld cuben poncho tarp which I can tie across the entrance if need be to block the wind. Love having it long and up off my face and feet.

Tarptent Scarp 1 which I use in the winter and it is a thing of beauty.

The following a list of the shelters I have tried and (right or wrong) how I rate them.


shelter rain snow wind heat bugs

GG Spinshelter Fair Fair Fair Good Poor
GG The One Good Fair Fair Fair Good
HMG Echo 1 Fair Fair Fair Good Good
MLD solomid Good Good Good Fair Fair
MLD duomid Good Good Good Fair Fair
MLD trailstar Fair Fair Fair Good Fair
Tarptent Contrail Good Fair Good Good Good
Tarptent Notch Fair Fair Fair Good Good
Tartptent Scarp Good Good Good Good Good
zpacks hexamid Twin Good Fair Fair Good Good
zpack hexamid Long Good Fair Fair Fair Good
six moons skyscape X Good Fair Fair Good Good



weight cost

GG Spinshelter 10oz No longerSold
GG The One 18.5 Nolongersold
HMG Echo 1 22.8 $495
MLD solomid 10.5 oz $340
MLD duomid 13 oz $405
MLD trailstar 12 oz $335
Tarptent Contrail 24 oz $199
Tarptent Notch 26 oz $259
Tartptent Scarp 48 oz $345
zpacks hexamid Twin 12.6 oz $415
zpack hexamid Long 14.3 oz $435
six moons skyscape X 15 oz $450

durablity condensation roominess

GG Spinshelter Good Good Fair
GG The One Good Good Fair
HMG Echo 1 Fair Good Fair
MLD solomid almostGood Good Fair Inner net adds weight 8 oz
MLD duomid almostGood Good Good Inner net adds weight 8 oz
MLD trailstar Fair Good Good For me requires a
Bivy
Tarptent Contrail Good Fair Good
Tarptent Notch Good Fair Fair
Tartptent Scarp Good Good Good Heavy
zpacks hexamid Twin Fair Good Good
zpack hexamid Long Fair Good Good
six moons skyscape X Fair Good Good


I didn't like the skyscape X because I didn't trust it would handle the wind. I love the six moons serenity bug net.
I didn't like the Notch, I thought it needed another set of tie-outs so it would not flap in the wind. I love the tarptent Moment but wish it was lighter.

Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Re: Solo+ Report on 09/26/2012 19:06:36 MDT Print View

I'm very curious as to changes in the review program. When Backpacking Light created our first Review Summaries (which later became State of the Markets), they were HUGE! They were extremely detailed, absolutely meticulous, and probably overly-done. They also burned out the contributors fairly quickly (and I am speaking from LOTS of experience.)

As we moved forward, the State of the Market reports became a little bit simplified which was better for the writers, certainly, but also gave excellent information to readers. We also progressed from reviewing EVERYTHING to the items that we knew would be of interest to readers.

We also had a similar evolution with reviews, going from mega reviews to adding Spotlites, and finally to a happy medium.

I enjoyed this round up. I also missed some of the field shots and detailed analysis such as condensation resistance, wind stability, and general livability of tents. I'm excited to see where we're going next- we certainly have many great examples already on our site but finding that balance between great work and burned out contributors (which eventually become non-contributors) is an important balance to achieve.

Thanks for taking this on, Chris and Ryan. I love Backpacking Light and I'm excited to see what's coming next. In fact, this discussion led to two article proposals from me. It's time for a contribution!

Edited by djohnson on 09/27/2012 07:44:47 MDT.

Ross Bleakney
(rossbleakney) - MLife

Locale: Cascades
Re: my two cents on 09/26/2012 21:25:29 MDT Print View

Excellent report Anthony. I will say that I own the Skyscape X and used it on a very windy pass for a couple of nights. It performed well, although like a few shelters, the front or head has to be into the wind (as the manual says). I originally set it up sideways to the wind (to deal with a slight slope) and the tent was having trouble. I rotated it and things got much better.

In general I like tents held up by trekking poles because those poles are so much stronger than other poles (especially poles in a curve). But the angle in which a tent hits the wind has a lot to do with its stability as well. Unfortunately, wind stability is probably the most expensive thing to test, as it would require testing a tent until it failed, which would probably mean ruining a tent. Other tests seem a lot more straightforward. Roominess would simply require a tape measure and diagrams. Condensation tests could occur in the backyard, as long as conditions permit. Durability is probably the toughest test. Like some aspects of a tent, you can only look at the materials and design and make a good guess.

Brett Peugh
(bpeugh) - F - M

Locale: Midwest
Re: Re: reviews on 09/28/2012 17:48:16 MDT Print View

How would I go about this?

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Re: reviews on 09/29/2012 02:38:45 MDT Print View

Hi Brett

> How would I go about this?
Email me direct
Cheers
roger@backpackinglight.com

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: State of the market on 09/29/2012 15:42:55 MDT Print View

"David Ure wrote :

> I don't think Chris needs the Calvary in this case.

I think he got the Calvary.
But the cavalry did not turn up to rescue him.

Cheers"

I would b*tch about spell check for the iPad but that still wouldn't get me a proper State of the Market report.

peter vacco
(fluff@inreach.com) - M

Locale: no. california
peter thinks it's nice review on 10/01/2012 09:44:54 MDT Print View

up there in the posts, somebody pondered why the more "experienced" members don't chime in. so, perhaps i can poach a line from Chris Townsend as he stood at the Jasper NP backcountry permit desk and they shoved a waiver at him to sign : "well, if i'm not experienced by now, i never will be".

so here is what experience says.
the pictures on the lawn are fine, and give us a good idea of how the shelter looks and works.
it may in fact be the only fair and viable way to do things. and as far as they go, that is all good.

lawn pics fail however to put the realities of trail, and more importantly, off-trail life into perspective for some of us.
the issue is of pegs and stakes.

for instance. if one is using the shelter with 10 tie out points (10 is a LOT), and has selected a site lacking the capacity to use stakes (quite common if you want a view), one is going to find that rocks are often the next alternative.
staking 10 points with rocks will be found a pita.
if the view is Really Good, then by acts of divinity it is assured you'll need Large Rocks.
so now we are looking at moving quite a bit of real estate to set up our shelter. so that's one thing experience shows us, but lawn pics, maybe not so much.

the next issue is that once one is using rocks, they'll find out soon enough that rocks have dimension. they can get big. and big rocks can not be used too near the shelter, or they will quickly wear holes in it.
larger rocks also demand that the shelter be supported with longer lines. the combination of longer lines and set-back of the rocks will make pitching some of these shelters more challenging than it appears on a lawn. things may not be a neat and tidy as close set pegs make it look. it looks like a some of the shelters may not even pitch correctly once the stake points are moved out of lawn fantasy optimal placement.

my points are that to do a deeper look'n at a design, one might think along the lines of how it's going to set with larger rocks, and how many extra silly (2 being the optimal number) stake points it needs to work properly.

good work Chris. nice review.

cheers,
peter v.

Matt Berzel
(mjberzel) - M
Good list on 10/04/2012 11:29:57 MDT Print View

Hi; I am new to the BPL site and think this is a good list of trekking pole supported shelters. However, something that is missing and not always mentioned with these type of shelters is whether or not you can use a fixed-length trekking pole or not with them. And what that length would need to be. Especially since a lot of carbon fiber ultralight poles are being made with fixed lengths these days. Any thoughts? Again I'm new to the sight and might be behind the curve.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
HOLY COW! on 10/09/2012 14:30:44 MDT Print View

Gentlemen,

1.I am NOT criticizing Chris. He did a good job and wrote up a good chart.

2. I AM criticizing BPL (owner, et. al.) for not having a review standard for each category of gear.

3. Yes, many "staff" writers are unpaid. A review standard is a rubric that would HELP guide them in writing a review and filling in a comparison chart. This truly makes it easier for them to write a useful review.

JEEZE LOUISE! Critics of my request need to just step back a second and try to look at what we paying members are and are not getting for our money.

If the owner is truly detatched from the business of properly overseeing this site perhaps he could DELEGATE some competent person do do the job. Surely asking for REVIEW STANDARDS is not asking for the moon. (And maybe he could put up a font bar in the forums for us so we would not be forced to capitalize for emphasis. A small but nice app.)

As a former high school teacher I always gave my students a rubric spelling out exactly what I required in, say, a book report or a research project.

Review standards are rubrics. Tell the reviewers HOW to compare gear, not what to say about that gear. Then we could always have easily comparable charts and text.

JUST SAYIN'...

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: Good list on 10/20/2012 05:48:33 MDT Print View

Good question Matt. Some shelters are easier to put up with fixed length poles than others, or appear that way.