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Solo-Plus Tent State of the Market Report
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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!).


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?


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.


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: PNW
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) - F

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.


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

Mark Cooper

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 T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
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
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

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
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.


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

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.

peter v.

Matt Berzel
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


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.


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.