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Ultralight 4 Season tents, some questions for "real" winter shelters
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Robert M

Locale: Eastern VA/SE TX
Ultralight 4 Season tents, some questions for "real" winter shelters on 12/30/2012 23:30:02 MST Print View

Hello all, been lurking for a while finally caved and joined.

I've been researching this topic for about a month now, and well, I'm coming up dry for answers on some of the routes I've been looking and seem to be starting to run in circles with my research in general. I figured now would be the time to stop and ask some people who would know a ton more than I.

I recently bought a Zpacks hexamid (which I think may work for my situation) as a SUL solution for 3 season camping because it looked like such a good deal for its weight and seemed to be an easy way to break my wife into tarp shelters during normal 3 season use. A few days ago I pitched it in my front yard and took a nap in it while it was around the low 40s with winds gusting up to about 30mph (pitched easy and seemed to hold up fine to the winds) and my wife's response after looking at it was "this tent is gonna be cold". We have two bivys (ti goat ptarmigan and MLD superlight I got for christmas) and two rather accurately rated down 30 degree sleep systems (Montbell UL SS DH #3, TR alpine down blanket) and high R value mats (TR neoair all-season and a Klymit inertia X-lite with GG 1/4" underpad) with plenty of layering support (we've used these down to their rating before and were too hot in them so I'm not concerned about them too much). However, snow and high winter humidity is something new to me, while it gets plenty cold where I'm used to camping (central Texas) its amazing if we get much more than an inch or two of snow all year.

I've moved up to Eastern VA recently and now that I have some free time I want to get out and do some trips, unfortunately for me its winter... I've got some routes planned like the Mt. Rogers/Grayson Highlands loop, and the Va Triple Crown loop, but my concern is that in Jan my shelter may not be enough. I'm looking at weather reports with lows down to the low 20s but highs into the 60s and all with a high humidity index, so not sure if a single walled tent is the best way to go even though its the lightest. I'm also not sure if I can just utilize my hexamid with a bivy and good layering or if it would be worth getting something more suited to winter use.

If you guys think I should shy away from the hexamid here is where I'm at in my research

Sub 4lbs
able to take decent but not extreme snow loads (I may end up using this for more severe winter use later)
Able to take winds up to 50mph with proper pitching
Fits 2 people without too much contact with the walls
Vents well

What I've been looking at
GoLite Shangri-la 2 (cheapest option I have found that is worth the price)
Brooks-Range Invasion (can't find much info on this, I'm sure its because its new)
Hilleberg Nallo (more than I would like to spend but seems to be a great all around tent that I can use for just about anything)
TT Scarp 2 (it seems the 1 may be large enough to fit my needs)

I'd be interested to hear any input you guys have on these matters, and thanks for the help in advance.

Edited by person9334 on 12/30/2012 23:40:29 MST.

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Re: Ultralight 4 Season tents, some questions for "real" winter shelters on 12/31/2012 00:43:04 MST Print View

if saving weight is more important than saving money,
you might try the Mountain Hardwear Direkt 2.
its a true 4 season tent, single wall, a bit small, and very light.
no I don't have one but have been trying to research it.
somewhat new on the market.

Direkt 2

Robert M

Locale: Eastern VA/SE TX
Direkt vs two people on 12/31/2012 00:47:00 MST Print View

Thanks for the link. I actually ruled out the Direkt as I need it to fit two (forgot to list that in my requirements), it looks like it can barely fit one... I had looked at the MH EV2, but it seems that is not a whole lot wider, and it also sounds like it has condensation issues in anything but dry alpine air.

David A
(DavidAdair) - M

Locale: West Dakota
Re: Ultralight 4 Season tents, some questions for "real" winter shelters on 12/31/2012 03:17:23 MST Print View

Well, if your wife is your camping partner, I would suggest erring on the side of comfort. There's just way too much downside to do otherwise. I have been using a nallo 2 solo and like it. The double wall is quite a bit drier and warmer than a single wall. Being able to cook in the vestibule is a big plus as well. Still it's a bit small for two people and the headroom is too low for sitting up at the foot end. For the little bit of extra weight I would go with the nallo 3 which has better head room along with extra space.

PS If in doubt take an extra sleeping bag to throw over the both of you. A shivering woman is a dangerous woman. Good luck!

David A
(DavidAdair) - M

Locale: West Dakota
Re: Ultralight 4 Season tents, some questions for "real" winter shelters on 12/31/2012 03:17:23 MST Print View

sorry- double post deleted

Edited by DavidAdair on 12/31/2012 03:48:14 MST.

Tipi Walter
(TipiWalter) - F
Winter Tent on 12/31/2012 05:50:41 MST Print View

The problem with the Nallo, and with many Hilleberg tents, is its propensity to wet the foot of your sleeping bag due to the angle of the inner tent. Hilleberg actually recommends using a rain jacket over the foot of your sleeping bag to keep it dry from inner condensation. I got so tired of having a wet down bag-footbox that I went with the Keron which like the Kaitum has vertical end walls. Heavy as heck but it's home for long winter trips. With a criteria of 10 or 12 valuable tent needs, weight is only one of them and not the most important.

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: The Deep Frreze
Re: Winter Tent on 12/31/2012 06:17:21 MST Print View

For bringing my wife Winter camping I bought a Kaitum 3 and she loves it :-)

Diplomatic Mike

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Weight isn't everything on 12/31/2012 06:39:23 MST Print View

I much prefer to carry a chainsaw and 10 gallons of gas in winter. I can knock up a wooden tipi in only 7 hours. Nice and snug at night. I once managed a 12 mile trip in only 14 days.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Re: Weight isn't everything on 12/31/2012 07:43:41 MST Print View

Mike, will this all fit in a Zpacks Zero? Where do I pack my 14 books to read? Book a day, I say.

Robert M

Locale: Eastern VA/SE TX
thanks for the insight... on 12/31/2012 07:52:44 MST Print View

Thanks for the helpful posts guys....

My concern with weight is that I pretty much expect to be lugging this around on my own, I don't want to purchase a seven pound three man alpine tent for $900 that is more than likely overkill for mild winter conditions I expect to encounter just to use with my wife when I can get something that will fit both of us snugly, but won't be ridiculous for for solo use. Sub 4 lbs may be difficult to ask, and as you can imagine if people recommend something better and heavier I'll consider it. I'm here to get advice and if my requirements are way off then they can be adjusted.

Edited by person9334 on 12/31/2012 08:06:28 MST.

Diplomatic Mike

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Re Weight isn't everything. on 12/31/2012 07:53:16 MST Print View

Books are so last year.
I carry the author to read to me every night.

Anthony Weston
(anthonyweston) - MLife

Locale: Southern CA
weight isn't everything on 12/31/2012 08:55:12 MST Print View

I have a Zpacks hexamid long which I love but I would not use it in winter.
The ground is frozen so I want a free standing tent.
Also the cold is coming up from the ground so a winter sleeping pad.
Try going out a few times without your wife, see what the conditions are, no point in your both freezing.

Look at tarptent scarp or rainbow (not for severe conditions but better than a hexamid)

Tipi Walter
(TipiWalter) - F
Winter Tent on 12/31/2012 09:03:14 MST Print View

"I much prefer to carry a chainsaw and 10 gallons of gas in winter. I can knock up a wooden tipi in only 7 hours. Nice and snug at night. I once managed a 12 mile trip in only 14 days."

Dump the chainsaw and fuel and just carry a bowsaw and some cordage. It's all I ever used to build a tipi.

Diplomatic Mike

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Winter tent on 12/31/2012 09:06:21 MST Print View

The gas can also be used in the trail bike i carried in. And the chainsaw is useful for powering the generator that warms the water in the jacuzzi.:-)

Richard Fischel
find a pre owned bd lighthouse with a vestibule on 12/31/2012 09:15:02 MST Print View

When solo, leave the vestibule home. There's a learning curve for condensation management, but it's not difficult to figure out. Properly guided out it will meet your wind resistance requirements and will handle snow loading. Many have used the bd light series of tents in a variety of situations and conditions with good results. I've had no problems with mine. I went with a lighthouse because of the square footage and length. It's a palace for one and two guys, each 6'2" and 200 lbs are cozy.

Good luck with your search.

Bruce Tolley

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
2 person Winter Tent on 12/31/2012 10:03:41 MST Print View

I went through the same shopping exercise three years ago.

I rejected the BD single walled tents because I usually camp below tree line and sometimes there is very wet snow and even rain in winter. There are multiple reports and reviews of the BD single wall tents not standing up to heavy rain. They are designed for shelter during alpine ascents and the water proof breathable fabric can allow rain in.

Although I own an old Hilleberg Atko, that I bought on sale but the price has gone up in the last 7 years.

I know folks who use their 2P Nallos as a single person tent but I could not see my self spending that kind of money for another tent.

I found a Big Agnes String Ridge 2 on sale and think it is a great 5 lb tent for one or two persons. I posted a review in the review section of BPL. Ray Estrella who often posts here has a detailed review on the web. Both REI and Prolite Gear in Bozeman usually put the Big Agnes tents on sale in February. If you end up wanting a Hilleberg, Prolite Gear occasionally has the Nallos on sale and the HIlleberg USA site sells floor and demo models every now and then.

Your Requirements
Sub 4lbs => Big Agnes String Ridge is 5 lbs
able to take decent but not extreme snow loads (I may end up using this for more severe winter use later) => yes for the BigAgnes
Able to take winds up to 50mph with proper pitching => Yes to BigAgnes but this is the area where Hillberg tents shine
Fits 2 people without too much contact with the walls => Yes to BigAgnes
Vents well => My Hilleberg Akto does not vent all that well. Not sure about Nallos. The BigAgnes String Ridge has a big window at the opposite end of the door and vents well

Edited by btolley on 12/31/2012 10:43:17 MST.

John Reichle
(mammoman) - M

Locale: NE AL
SE Winter Tent on 12/31/2012 10:29:41 MST Print View


I too use a Hexamid (Solo-Plus) for most of my 3-season trips in the Southeast. My "winter" tent is a Scarp 1. I bring the optional crossing poles when high winds or snow is expected. IMO this is a solid winter tent in our part of the world. For you, a Scarp 2 would easily accomodate your wife plus gear; unlike with a 'mid, there would be no pole between the two of you.

Andy F
(AndyF) - F

Locale: Ohio
Re: Ultralight 4 Season tents, some questions for "real" winter shelters on 01/01/2013 09:36:54 MST Print View

The GoLite SL2 seems like a good option, especially for weight.

I use a Scarp 2, but have only used it on family trips in nice weather and rain. It makes a very roomy winter single wall tent when used without the liner. In high winds or heavy snow, you'll need the extra poles.

My current winter shelter is also my favorite 3 season shelter: a BA Copper Spur UL1. I used it last winter in the UP of Michigan anchored in 4 feet of snow and more coming down. (See photo to the left.) The snow slid right off the fly. A CS UL2 might work for your needs.

Also consider a MLD Supermid.

Edited by AndyF on 01/01/2013 09:37:40 MST.

Nico .
(NickB) - MLife

Locale: Los Padres National Forest
UL 4 season tent on 01/01/2013 09:53:22 MST Print View

I'm using a golite SL2 as my winter snow camping shelter. I use just the tent part; no floor, netting, etc. I cut off and replaced the guyline webbing with thin guyline and tensioners instead, so that I can more easily pitch it tight to the ground and/or bury deadman anchors in deeper snow. In the stuff sack, the SL2 weighs about 21oz. My trekking poles are the supports for the tent.

It's a great shelter for one person for snow camping. I think it'd be too tight for 2 in all but an emergency with trying to avoid condensation on the tent walls and accounting for any sag in the walls due to snow loading.

For 2 people, take a look at some of the larger mids out there, like the Golite SL3 or the MLD supermid or BD's version of a mid. Plenty of room, good performance in wintry weather, and well under your weight limit for the tent itself. A piece of tyvek or polycyro groundsheet or similar items make a suitable floor. With enough room in the shelter, you don't need to worry about brushing up against the condensation on the inner tent walls, and when it's really cold, the condensation just freezes to the tent walls anyway.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Re: UL 4 season tent on 01/01/2013 10:04:25 MST Print View

^ this is the route I went as well, not a Golite pyramid, but a MLD Duomid- handles all but the very worst of wind and snow loads, use a Tyvek groundsheet for a floor, trekking or ski poles for support

ton of room for one, plenty of room for a couple

add a inner net and you're set for four seasons