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which tent to get
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stuart shahan
(phatmanforya) - F
which tent to get on 06/17/2005 00:02:41 MDT Print View

I know this horse has probably been beaten to death but I'm new to ultra light and there just too many post to read

I'm looking for tent that will do a couple of things for me. first off it needs to be a good storm shelter I don't want to get wet when I'm sleeping, seccond NO BUGS I hate getting woke up by mosquitos. I would also like to keep it under 3lbs. but but I'm willing to sacrifice a little weight for lots more comfort.

one tent I liked was the wanderlust NOMAD lite but I question how storm proof it is in blowing rain (when the wind switches direction)

any info or suggestions would be helpfull

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: which tent to get on 06/17/2005 03:04:13 MDT Print View

as part of my "quest" for perfect gear - I've used a number of lt. wt. 3-season tents. i'll list some of them for you. i'm not very familiar with 4-season tents, but some other who post here certainly are. i'll list two 4-season tents based upon their posts. they all meet your requirements. i mainly camp 3-seasons (some winter camping though) above freezing in New England - lots of rain (sometimes light-mod for days or torrential downpours for a couple of hours, "skeeters" in So. NE & black flies in Maine, humid & hot in the summer (over 90 deg, sometimes with 70-100% rel. humidity; can even be 80's a night for part of the summer with HIGH humidity), often late afternoon, evening, nightime thunderstorms. all camping in forests & hills.

to keep this post short & so that you will research them for yourself & get better, more accurate info than i could provide you on specifications, i'm not going to say much about each shelter.

there is one, i am seriously considering (for ~2mos - i'm old & move slowly) purchasing. i'll list it last. b/f i buy it, i hope to phone/email the owner/designer of the company & speak/correspond to/with him.

Note: i figure the wts using a small # of Ti skewers & a med. spinLite stuff sack & spectra guys. sometimes it's the min. # of Ti stakes req'd to pitch. other times it's ~2 more skewers for stability of pitch. so my wts are "MY trail wt.", NOT any published figures. i do it this way so that the only variables are the tent, fly, & poles - the only things i can't easily/cheaply substitute with lighter alternatives (for me buying CF poles fr/FibraPlex is not considered as easy/cheap to substitute as stuff sack, spectra guys & Ti skewers) i should also say that my scale is quite old & may not be accurate as to exact wt, but i think that the diff. in wts of the tents i've weighed is at least prob. correct since i weighed them 3x each on the same scale.

3-season solo tents:
MSR Zoid 1 - 2lb 15oz

Eureka Spitfire '05 - never owned it, but it qualifies - very inexpensive (guessing it would be ~2lb, 12oz "my trail wt.")

Sierra Designs Lightyear (i owned last yr's Ultra Lightyear - not sold anymore) - sold it, nice & light, but a couple of minor drawbacks. my co-worker who bought it, loves it though he too has encountered the drawbacks i mentioned to both him & here. (ultra lightyear = 2lb 10oz; '04 lightyear perhaps 4oz heavier; current '05 might be only 2-3oz heavier then the '04 Ultra Lightyear).

Big Agnes Seehouse 1SL - very nice tent. generally well regarded by reviewers & others. Owned it also. Now in the process of selling it. [it's freestanding] 2lb 10oz

Eureka '05 Solitaire - much better than the '04 model. sort of a super bivy. very inexpensive. still req's a lot of stakes to pitch, but otherwise a very nice shelter, IMHO. 2lb 9oz

MSR MicroZoid - one of my favorites & the lightest i've listed thus far - under 2.5lbs (my trail wt.). very small. sort of super-bivy sized, if such a description helps any. both the Zoid 1 & MicroZoid have good ventilation even with fly fully deployed. 2lb 6oz

there are others, some i've tried others i haven't., can't recommend them either b/c of no personal experience, or b/c i tried them & they were "found wanting".(Daniel 5:27).

4-season (OTHERS have recommended)

Black Diamond FirstLight - single-wall, Epic fabric - 2lb 9oz w/o vestibule; ~3lb 9oz with vestibule (these are published wts - not mine; i have never owned this tent)

Hilleberg Akto - ok...maybe a tad over 3lbs, but a very clever poster to these Forums knows how to get it under 3lbs. She's very experienced & swears by this tent. I've been looking at it for next winter's use solely based upon her recommendation - she knows much more than i do.

now, finally, the single-walled, floored, bug-proof tarptent that requires one trekking pole, pole, or stick to erect it. this is the one i may eventually purchase. only 24-27oz depending upon the wt. of the floor mat'l you select: SixMoonDesigns Lunar Solo 'e'. there are other similar shelters from Dancing Light Gear, etc that you might look at. This one is the closest to the Nomad you mentioned, but perhaps more adequately addresses your issue of variable direction driven rain.

hope this info helps. if you buy the SMD Lunar Solo 'e' b/f i do, please share your thoughts/experiences with us all. i, for one, would appreciate it.

if you have any other questions that i failed to anticipate and/or answer adequately, please post back.

Edited by pj on 06/17/2005 10:10:46 MDT.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Tents on 06/17/2005 10:50:16 MDT Print View

I own a Big Agnes Seedhouse 2 SL. From what I gathered, the posted weight of the 1 SL is a bit "optimistic" -- and thus the weight difference between the two is actually smaller -- maybe just 6-7 ounces instead of the offical 11 ounces. However, the 2 SL provides lot more room (esp. headroom). I would recommend either one, as both are truly well-designed and solid 3-season tents.

The BD Firstlight is rain-resistant, not rain proof. I've experimented with it, and found that it can well withstand up to 9 hours of continuous rain (which is actually a lot). BUT, if it rains longer than that (continuous, multi-day rains can and do occur), the combination of internal condensation and external water slowly seeping in will result in a wet interior.

The SMD Lunar Solo is my other tent. The official weight is right on. It isn't as solid as my Big Agnes, but it is much lighter, and still solid enough for normal, 3-season use. The other potential "sacrifice" is condensation -- it's there on the ceiling and walls, but not to the point of wetting the rest of the tent or its contents.

kevin davidson
(kdesign) - F

Locale: Mythical State of Jefferson
Tents and more tents on 06/17/2005 11:16:26 MDT Print View

Some of the tents mentioned are too cramped for people over 6 feet. Is this a consideration as well?
The Big Agnes SL Seedhouse and Akto tents suffer in this department-- B.A. because of short length, Akto because of headroom. The First light can only operate as a solo tent for me because of length--
have to sleep on the diagonal.

Ben--my BD Lighthouse has stayed dry and comfortable considerably more than 9 hours of rain with pronounced wind driven torrents. Perhaps there are other factors at work(?) or I've been lucky.
Epic is a strange material--it seems to work differently for everyone.

I think the Tarp Tent Virga 2 should be thrown into the ring along with the Luna solo. Another fine ultralight single wall design.

Edited by kdesign on 06/17/2005 12:47:41 MDT.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Tents and more tents on 06/17/2005 11:24:09 MDT Print View


Yes, I agree.

With the BD Firstlight, there must be other factors at work, other than just the number of hours rain is pounding on the tent. My experiment was about 9 hrs., your experience was apparently longer, but i've also read others experiencing water seepage through the walls after just 5 hours!

Also agree that HS Virga 2 should be a strong contender on the list.

Edited by ben2world on 06/17/2005 11:24:55 MDT.

Lafe Nelson
(onebigswede) - F
shelter on 06/17/2005 12:31:57 MDT Print View

Hi, my name's Lafe. I'm a new member here. Next year I'm thru-hiking the AT. Is a sil-tarp/bivy sack a feasible shelter system in your opinion? I'm thinking of using the Bozeman Mtn Works silnylon/pertex quantum bivy with a marmot hydrogen bag. Tha bag also has pertex quantum shell.

I guess my main concern here is moisture control with a down bag. In case you couldn't tell, I'm kind of an ultralight newbie. Thanks for your help.

Edited by onebigswede on 06/17/2005 12:45:18 MDT.

stuart shahan
(phatmanforya) - F
lil more info on 06/17/2005 13:29:51 MDT Print View

Thanx for all the post thus far. First to answer the questions. I’m 5’8’’ so size isn’t a big issue but I want more that a bivy sack. I was looking for a 3 season, but I may do some snow shoeing this winter so a 4 season would be nice but not necessary; I don’t expect more then 6’’ of snow max.

Since there is so many choices I’ll explain my perfect tent and see if you can get me close (I don’t expect too find this tent)

I would like it to be a free standing four season tent that I can get down to 3 pounds for 3 season use (still keep out rain, so I’d still need the vestibule). And I would like to be able to use the vestibule, the foot print, and the poles only for light 3 day weekends. I would also like 34’’ min. height. Oh ya, and keep out mosquitoes.

I think that would do it. If you know of a tent that would hit that first sentence that would be great.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: lil more info on 06/17/2005 13:42:08 MDT Print View

Yup, Big Agnes Seedhouse 1 SL.

Weight -- Just under three pounds.
Height -- 38 in.

Well designed, totally solid and bug proof 3-season tent.

Vestibule is smaller than some, but more than enough for keeping your pack, boots and hiking poles out of the weather.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Re: lil more info on 06/17/2005 13:56:32 MDT Print View


Seedhouse 1SL may be the best option (or SMD Lunar Solo 'e') for 3-season use. Most/All consider it a "primo" tent.

However, Stuart mentioned in his last post: "I would like it to be a free standing four season tent..."

Do you feel the Seedhouse 1SL is suitable for four-season use? Perhaps it is? I wouldn't think so, but I sure could be wrong on this point.

I already have a customer lined up to buy my 1SL. I'm selling NOT b/c of any problems w/the tent, but I really like the simplicity & far lighter weight of bivies.

So, like you said, for 3-season use, the 1SL should be at or near the top of Stuart's short list.

Edited by pj on 06/17/2005 14:13:42 MDT.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Re: Re: lil more info on 06/17/2005 14:03:24 MDT Print View


Stuart mentions both three and four season. He states that he may do winter snow shoeing, so a 4-season tent is nice... BUT he concludes his post by also saying he's looking for a 3-season tent to keep weight down to 3 lbs.

I would say the Seedhouse is good for 3-plus -- but NOT four season.

Stuart is right to be thinking about two different tents altogether. It's preferable to buy two tents -- each with its own strengths -- then getting one "bomb proof" tent that will be unneccessarily heavy to lug for much of the rest of the year.

Edited by ben2world on 06/17/2005 14:08:30 MDT.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Re: Re: Re: lil more info on 06/17/2005 14:09:50 MDT Print View


I totally agree with your point on two diff tents.

While I've never owned a convertible 3/4 season tent, I've read quite a bit on some of them (e.g. MSR convertibles & some others - it was over a year ago, so i don't recall much else).

They always seemed to involve trade-offs that caused them to perform not quite as well as similar tents non-convertible tents.

Also, most of the 4-season tents i've read about, appear to be a tad deficient on ventilation when cp. to 3-season tents.

So, your point on two tents is well taken.

William Mitchell
(FlyBy) - F
Re: Re: which tent to get on 06/17/2005 14:53:23 MDT Print View

I own an SMD Lunar Solo E. I've used it several times this spring in the N. GA mountains and have found it to be a pretty remarkable shelter.

The deficiencies noted in the review here of last year's model have all been addressed. The 2005 model has velcro all of the way down the opening, improving storm resistance. There are tensioning straps on the five tent body stake-out points, which make tightening up the tent after setup a snap. It's alos a bit larger on the inside. I was surprised at how much space there is in the tent-easily enough space for one person and all of their gear. And the gear space is at the back of tent-opposite the door-so it's out of the way yet easily accessible. The head space, at about 44-45" is more than adequate, and the rear tie out helps to make even more interior space.

I use the easton stakes recommended by Ron Moak to stake out the tent body, and a standard Ti hook stake for the front guyline. In a storm, the front vestibule can be slid up the front guyline for a quick entry and exit. One side ( the same side as the door) of the vestibule can be opened, or both sides can be opened, making for a fine view out of the large front netting area. With the easton stakes, the tent body is raised several inches from the ground, allowing for excellent ventilation through the mesh walls. The new model also has a vent at the peak of the tent, with a stiffener to hold it open. My model has the heavy floor, and I haven't had a need for a ground cloth. The mesh walls mean that the sleeping bag doesn't come into contact with the silnylon tent body, so wetting out due to contact with condensation isn't a problem. Condensation in my tent has been minimal, mainly light above my head after sleeping (from my breath).

All in all, I've found the Lunar Solo E to fit my needs as a solo hiker to a "T". Light, very easy to set-up, and thoughtfully designed.

Dwayne Thompson
(atonat) - F
which tent ot get on 06/17/2005 15:55:35 MDT Print View

Check into the Stevenson's Warmlite 2R or 2X (R being a double wall mid section, X being a single wall and lighter). I have a 2R and it weighs right @ 3lbs on my digital scales. They are a small cottage shop company and the tents are made to order. They have been around since the 1950's. They are made of Silnylon and can be rather expensive. I have not experience any problems with mine so far but unfortunately have not been able to put it to extensive use, my honey-do list has taken a priority. At least check them out @

stuart shahan
(phatmanforya) - F
how about this on 06/17/2005 16:34:16 MDT Print View

what about the Kelty Quartz 1 Tent is it too much for 3 season. if it is I think I'll get the Big Agnes Seedhouse SuperLight 1. and then another tent of snow shoeing.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: how about this on 06/17/2005 17:31:12 MDT Print View

Caution: No direct experience, plus heavy bias against weight.

The Quartz weighs almost 5.5 lbs. -- or almost twice the weight of the Big Agnes. As you can see, the inner tent is all solid fabric, except for door and small vents at the top. This can be uncomfortable in the summer.

If you must limit yourself to one "do it all" tent, I think one of the best compromise is the Sierra Designs Solomente -- you get 4-season sturdiness, easy setup AND lightweight.

I know people who bought this and like it. However, as the tent is very new, no one has tested its "warm weather friendliness" yet.

One thing you lose (may or may not be a big deal) -- you can't see the night view on a nice summer night -- like you can with the BA Seedhouse. The thing I really like is being able to hook up the fly on just the low end (keeping the rest rolled up), enjoy the night view (almost like tarping but with bug protection), and being able to quickly deploy the fly in full should the weather change.

Maybe the Seedhouse for 3-season use and the Solomente for winter use??? Anyway, food for thought.

Edited by ben2world on 06/17/2005 17:38:22 MDT.

stuart shahan
(phatmanforya) - F
six moon design on 06/18/2005 14:14:26 MDT Print View

I looked at the six moon design tents and realy like the design ( mostly the way the Vestibule works), and the fact that it can be used for light snow (with the use of a 3MM plastic footprint/cloth I suspect). Not free standing like I wanted, but sooo light.

Anyway, I think one of their tents would be perfect for me but I'm worried about condensation and wet out during a heavy storm ( heavy rain for about 10 - 12 hours, not long but enough to turn the trail into a large/fast stream). Does anyone think this is a big problem

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: six moon design on 06/18/2005 15:23:46 MDT Print View

SMD recommends the heavy floor option (increases wt of the Lunar Solo 'e' to ~27oz ) for the conditions you described.

stuart shahan
(phatmanforya) - F
can deal with that on 06/18/2005 15:52:54 MDT Print View

i can deal with an extra 3 oz. but what about the condentation and weting out ?

wieght isn't my worst enemy but loss of sleep is.

stuart shahan
(phatmanforya) - F
can deal with that on 06/18/2005 16:18:33 MDT Print View

i can deal with an extra 3 oz. but what about the condentation and weting out ?

wieght isn't my worst enemy but loss of sleep is.

Richard Nelridge
(naturephoto1) - M

Locale: Eastern Pennsylvania
Re: six moon design on 06/18/2005 16:33:33 MDT Print View


I just got my Six Moons Lunar Solo Enhanced with the ultralight floor. When asked about which floor to get, Ron indicated in an e-mail that he uses the light floor but he is careful where he sets up. He indicated that if you put some sort of impermiable material like 2 mm sheet plastic below the tent floor this would help to protect and to stop water from passing through the ultralight floor.

Like Matthew LaPatka, I got the Gossamergear Polycro Ground Sheet as my ground sheet. It weighs about 1.3 oz and when I cut it down it weighs about 1.2 oz. The material is shrink wrap, very light and strong, waterproof, but I have no idea as to how long each will last.

I just seam sealed my tent from the outside (as they recommend) and hope that it is waterproofed. Like Matthew I live in PA and those of us in the east including Paul frequently have rainy conditions or some rain at least late in the day or overnight. I don't think that the tent will leak as long as I got all the seams sealed and it would be extremely difficult for rain to get in through the netting because this is a hybrid single/double wall tent design with the silnylon eaves extending over the netting.

Due to the amount of netting, the ability to vent through the flexibility of the tent design and stakes, and venting through the front vestible, condensation should be controllable to some degree. No tent, tarp, bivy, etc. will be totally condensation free under certain circumstances. Six Moons recommends having a cloth like a bandana to wipe down the condensation from the tent walls. They also recommend having a waterproof/breathable covered sleeping bag with a covering like Epic (which we know is not water proof) or eVENT? (they don't go out and say that, but they recommend Feathered Friends sleeping bags) to prevent wetting your sleeping bag.

One thing I did note, at least on my Lunar Solo Enhanced, is that the right side of silnylon entrance material (for the vestibule) has the velcro and fabric about 1" longer than the left side. I am not sure if this is part of the design so that if you wish the silnylon can extend over the loop that attaches to the sliding clip on the front guyline or if it is a mistake on my particular tent. If I wish the two halves to be even, I have to let the velcro on the right side bunch up but, I am not sure if water could get in through the bunching.

Also, as Ron Moak had indicated in his e-mail, I could use my BMW 6" titanium stakes for 5 of the 6 in most instances with a beefier one as the 6th one in front (due to the added force on the front stake). I did get a full set of the 6 aluminum stakes that Six Moons sells, but the verdict is out as to whether I will use any of the titanium stakes (weight savings of 1.2 oz using 1 aluminum [from Six Moons] and 5 BMW versus 6 of the Six Moon supplied aluminum stakes). The aluminum stakes are longer (9" [Six Moons calls them 8"] versus 6" for the titanium) giving more adjustment capabilities for the tent and venting and they are much beefier.


Edited by naturephoto1 on 06/18/2005 18:55:27 MDT.