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olyclimber

Lightweight Shelter

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I'm looking at lightweight shelter right now, and I know I have the propensity to geek out over stuff like this, so I'm wondering if others of you do the same. I know I'm not the first to consider this question.

I'm fully aware that its easy to be critical of doing this, and of paying good money for a solution where another much, much cheaper solution will work and you won't die is not something some of you will do. Thats fine, but I just have a thing for well made equipment. Yes, there may be better uses for my time...but I actually like doing this.

 

What might Olyclimber be looking for?

 

- Something that sleeps 1 person, but wide enough to sleep 2 in a pinch. Could be a 2 person shelter if light enough.

- Something that is well made and has a thoughtful design and will last for a while.

- Something is very lightweight. (2-3.5 lbs?)

-Something that provides shelter for the PNW...i.e. you could sit in it during a 2 day rain storm.

-Something that provides not only cover for the people, but nice to have is a small integrated vestibule that provides an area for cooking in the rain and for stowing gear/pack.

-Would prefer a non-bright color, so as to camp out in relative privacy (i would never poach)

- Something that does well in the PNW clime without to much condensation

- Single vs. double wall...I don't care about it that much

- Doesn't cost an insane amount..but open to more expensive solution if I could find it in good condition used.

-Something that is 3+/4 season, or would make do as such

-Something that packs down very small

 

So right out the gate I'll eliminate:

 

- The Walmart Pup Tent

- Sleeping in my coveralls

- "Liquid Blanket"

- A bivy sack

- Stuffing grass in my pants

 

I'll follow this up with a few things I've found in my search.

 

 

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On the very high end of things...perhaps crazy high.

 

Hillberg Akto

 

http://promountainsports.com/index.php/shelter/hilleberg-tent-akto.html

 

Not something I would get unless I got a deal or found it used.

Hillberg does seem to have really good design and get good reviews though for most of their tents. Talking to Jim they are a pretty cool company...just the price is really, really steep.

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Your eliminated items were a nice walk through recent memory of 'shelter hilariousness' :lmao:

 

through it I'm kind of hearing a tarp deal like beta/mega-mid type deal (meets size, weight, space, basic performance).

 

I'm not hearing '4 season' specifically rated, so maybe one of the big agnes or marmot double walled tents with carbon fiber poles--they've been pushing the weights down on those over the last few years.

 

I use a tarptent in the summer and a 4 season tent in the winter...i would never specifically recommend a tarptent based on your criteria of good for hanging out in rain for 2 days.

edit: for 1 person in a Squall 2 or double rainbow..probably fine. See below re: single wall. Seam seal it good-though henry has improved his designs since i got a first tent from him in 2006, i've had small 'leaks' in heavy rain. But the tents also saw heavy use (100nights+). they get the weight down. We have a contrail (only use when going solo and its mild), a squall 2 (favorite tent, even w/o being free standing), and a double rainbow (better/actual vestibule coverage)

 

I'm kinda curious as well to see what anyone else chimes with.

 

edit: what about rab ultra? ..my 4 season is their prior version of the latok (bigger version of the ultra). For 1, hanging out for 2 days in rain could work. Any single wall will have a condensation issue..just depends on how well you vent/how much contact with walls/how much you want to be involved squeeging. i haven't camped in double walled tents much at all over the last few years, but i feel like i recall when it was really wet they had issues too..just not as pronounced.

Edited by Water

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While it may not be the best for sitting in the rain for 2 days, I just got a BD Firstlight, and I love it. sat through 1 day of rain, only got VERY MILDLY damp, but I haven't seam sealed mine. It doesn't come with the vestibule, but you can add one if you need it. I haven't had any trouble fitting me, another guy my size(6'2) and all our gear inside.

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edit: what about rab ultra? ..my 4 season is their prior version of the latok (bigger version of the ultra). For 1, hanging out for 2 days in rain could work. Any single wall will have a condensation issue..just depends on how well you vent/how much contact with walls/how much you want to be involved squeeging. i haven't camped in double walled tents much at all over the last few years, but i feel like i recall when it was really wet they had issues too..just not as pronounced.

 

The Latok Ultra:

 

http://promountainsports.com/index.php/shelter/rab/latok-ultra.html

 

I wonder if any of these single walls perform better based on fabric or venting. I.E. Latok Ultra vs. BD Firstlight.

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I've owned several Tarptents (with probably a couple hundred nights of use) and also have several partners who do as well. They are in use heavily by the long distance hiking crowd. Unless I'm on a volcano or expect extremely stormy/windy weather it's the shelter I use for most trips. It's not going to meet all your requirements 100% but when it comes to lightweight gear, somethings gotta give.

 

I've tried a few models and for right now have settled on both a single and double Rainbow. In fact I just wore out my old Double Rainbow and got my new one in the mail a couple weeks ago. I haven't used a Moment so I can't speak to that model exactly. I like them, think they are well designed, and the listed weights are dead on. The Rainbow is awesome and you probably can’t find much else with room to sit up, full protection, 2 doors and 2 vestibules for 2.5 lbs. Particularly without spending $500. The cons: single wall in the PNT means you are going to get some condensation weather depending. I carry a tiny square of packtowel material to wipe off the inside before I pack it. Also, it’s made of lightweight material so it’s not going to last 10 years.

 

I think they recently released a couple 4 season double wall designs that are still super light. Might be worth checking out. Also note that some of their 1 person designs definitely fit your criteria of fit 2 in a pinch. I think the floor on my single rainbow can fit 2 pads side by side if I recall correctly

 

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The TarpTent Moment is a solid tent. I've waited out North Carolina thunderstorms in it as well as some good High Sierra snowy nights. Roomy, with a big vestibule. Not the greatest as far as condensation is concerned, but adequate venting and mine has never leaked. A little heavy, but the optional pole makes it freestanding, and sets up faster than you can say "TarpTent."

 

The geometry of the tent makes it roomy for one, but you'd have to spoon with your tentmate. Lots of room around the middle for gear or tossing and turning, but not much at the head or foot ends.

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Things, I hate: Mosquitos, mice, wind, waiting out weather, and a damp 1 lb sleeping bag. I almost always take a tent.

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I spent 8 years working outdoors, 75 to 150 days a year, and almost all in the mountains, camping under a tarp (a small part of this was in lowlands or on the coast).

 

I had relatively little problem with mosquitos, though to be sure there were times when a tent would have been much better in this regard and I certainly used a head net.

 

I can count the number of times I got my sleeping bag wet on one hand (well, maybe two hands but it was never a real problem and we were generally out for 3 weeks at a time and I used a down bag without any goretex shell or bivy bag). We camped at or below timberline unless the weather was good, though, and I was always diligent to get up and adjust the tarp if weather changed and moisture blew under. I also carried a tarp with a lot of pull-outs and carried plenty of cord.

 

Mice are an issue if you camp at very popular areas. There are definitely some places I would not want to sleep outside of a tent and, at many places, I'd rather sleep in the car. Many mice infested places are roadside locations but others include back country sites where there was once a cabin or where there have been horse packers or where the place has been a popular campspot for decades. It is creepy to have mice run across your face in the middle of the night.

 

For waiting out the weather I'd MUCH rather be under a tarp than in a tent. You can sit up and lean against your pack while you read a book. You can cook while lying in your sleeping bag. You can sit there and see your surroundings without having to get out of the sleeping bag and open a tent door. For these same reasons, I prefer tarp camping when the weather is good, too, though for real mountain climbing it is not a good option.

 

I'd go with a tarp for most of the time, but I would probably support any recommendations for a small tent that you might receive for those trips where a tarp is not a good idea. Blackfly month in [wherever you go], for example. Or for that trip where you want to camp above timberline and the forecast is not totally bomber (if it is, leave tarp and tent at home). Even for winter ski overnights in stormy weather I have found a tarp preferable to tent camping if camping in the trees.

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thanks for your thoughts Matt. I suppose with a bugnet (I think I have one that I bought at a store that was going out of business for next to nothing) a tarp would work well for a lot of situations where you have stuff to string it up to (or could be supported up by trekking poles). i'm not sure how a simple tarp is gonna help me with my gear fetish, but it is a reasonable option.

 

Check out this ultra extremo lightweight set up $$$$$$$$$$$

 

http://www.hyperlitemountaingear.com/products/shelter-systems-1.html

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In general, I have had less luck using the tarp anywhere that you need trekking poles to set it up. Tarps generally work better in trees, or at least in bush. I'd go with an oversized tarp for the lower camps, and get a small mountain worthy tent when you want to camp on the summit of Mount Ruth or above timberline on [name your peak] or if you are sleeping in the parking lot at Washington Pass in July and your car is not good for sleeping in (mosquitos are a serious issue here, even if generally less during sleeping hours).

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I'd have to side with Mattp on this one. Tents have their place (bugs, big mountains) but if light, versatile, and inexpensive is your goal, it's hard to beat a tarp. Create more dry space per weight than any tent, and condensation is a non-issue.

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I like the Betamid (or Beta lite) with the BD bathtub floor. For 3-season camping on snow, or for 'bluebird weather' winter camping. Great shelter for summer climbing (on snow). It holds up decently in winds (use guylines, and bring earplugs). Obviously won't handle a ton of precipitation (rain or heavy snow) but in those cases you'd be packing up and heading down anyways. Big advantage: it has a ton of room (compared to BD Firstlight, etc.) for cooking and gear storage.

 

I wouldn't bring the Beta on a real expedition, and wouldn't want to sleep in it in the backyard (no bug protection), but it definitely has its place.

 

 

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HMG's gear is worth its price tag. Yes, it is expensive, but the engineering/design and fabric cost of those is insane. I have a couple of their products, and they are wonderful.

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It would be helpful to understand what is already in your quiver of shelter options, in addition to the conditions you lay out, to make a recommendation.

 

As MattP is getting at, there's good "higher elevation / higher wind exposure" options and "lower elevation / lower wind exposure" options.

 

For lower elevation and lower wind exposure, the Henry Shires Tarptent options strike a good balance across the conditions laid out.

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Oh! Oh! Oh! Me first! Pick me!

 

I am a convicted gear whore of the first order when it comes to tents as you describe. I could even be accused of being a gear tester using a combination of REI's return policy and selling old tents.

 

I have owned and used (extensively) 7 tents that would fit your criteria and boy do I have a solution for you. Here's what I've owned and used:

 

Sierra designs flashlight (this is back before vestibules existed) This tent made me swear that I would never buy another tent without a vestibule and would never EVER buy a non-free standing tent. When you're bivying on a ledge and you can't stretch out a tube tent, you have a tarp. If it's free standing, you can squish it up and mangle it but it will still have a roof.

 

Bibler tripod bivy. I'm not a claustrophobe so I could hang out and read in this one, but after spending 24full hours in it avoiding mozzies I was going crazy. I needed something I could sit up in and wait our the PNW rains.

 

REI convert mountain: Zippers that turned the inside wall from mesh to regular tent material. Supposed to "convert" it from a 3-5 season. Stupid idea. Heavy.

 

REI 2 person (can't recall the name). 4 of us in our first month of college, 2 nights 2 bottles of vodka sleeping in a big pile and we only left the tent to pee. Fond memories of a mediocre tent.

 

Sierra Desins Astro CD: Man, what a great tent, especially for rainy weekends or snow. God I miss that tent (lost it to psyco G/F in a breakup) I think it is a 3-4man tent fly with a 2 man tent inside it. It has an extra full size pole for the vestibule. The vestibule is H-U-G-E and that is what makes this tent great. There is easily enough for 2 to sleep but no more space than 2 ridge rests. You don't need any more space in the tent though because of the acreage under the vestibule. You can easily cook in a storm or in the snow and there is lots of room for your wet, muddy, snow covered gear and still room to cook. Great tent.

 

Atko Hilleburg shelter: This was recommended already by another poster. Didn't own this one but used it a dozen times in high-school. These are pretty standard fare in Australia. They're simple and good, but aren't free standing. Deal breaker for me.

 

Kelty Dart 2: This is a hoop tent that is more like a bivy bag than a real tent, but it has a vestibule, sleeps 2 and is about 9' long (so you can put your packs at your feet) and it weighs under 2 lbs! What a PIECE OF $HIT! I now KNOW about condensation in 1 wall tents without adequate ventilation. Even on dry temperate nights you wake up soaked. Used it 3 times and gave it away. It was so crap that I couldn't even charge for it.

 

Mountain Hardware Mountain Jet 3: WOW, now THIS is a good tent. It's single wall and they've done the vents right. Minimal to no condensation in all weather. Used it on 3 continents and it has withstood hurricane force winds for 36hrs straight without damage. (We were camped at Capa Alava during the biggest storm to hit Washington in 20years. Hurricane ridge recorded a 98MPH gust that night)

 

It's light, not very expensive, the vents work great and it's bomber. If I had it to do over I would buy the 2 man. I bought the 3 man because it was only 6oz more and I figured "why not" but it turns out that it's the same fly and you sacrifice a vestibule on one side. I would rather have the 2.5man space of the 2 person on the inside and 2 good vestibules.

 

I've also used the Macpac olympus in school on a 14day hike. Bomber, heavy, simple, not free standing. Expensive too.

 

 

Now for my recommendation for you, and it might suprise you. This tent: A Eureka! tent?? Are you kidding me?? is actually an AWESOME 1 man tent. A friend had the 2 man version and after much inspection by me, interrogation of the users, and my checking it for condensation each morning after they slept in it, I took the plunge. Wow, I never thought I'd buy a Eureka tent for backpacking. Kelty was a low enough bar and look how that turned out....

 

This tent is AWESOME. It's a 1 man that pitches instantly, is freestanding, has great ventilation and no condensation issues, is lighter than the spec weight because I think you get steel tent pegs and they want you to use 10 of them. You actually only need 6 and who doesn't have aluminum pegs laying around. It's got a vestibule on each side, and is tall enough for a 6'+ person to sit up in comfortably. I've been in a couple Olympic rainstorms and it was nice to be able to pitch this puppy in seconds and once inside have plenty of room to hang out sitting up in my therm-a-rest chair, and cook in the vestibule.

 

If you can stand the extra weight the 2 man has one great feature and that is that both vestibules have full inside access. To save weight, on the 1man the second vestibule only has a small crappy zipper, and the other is full access. I end up putting my pack in the one with the crappy zipper, and I can still get at things in my pack through said zipper, but the pack has to go in from the outside. Annoying. If I ever learn to sew I'm going to extend that zipper.

 

Other than that annoyance the tent is awesome and is just the right amount for 1 person. The other vestibule could be a little more cooking-friendly for true storm conditions, but I've always been able to make it work. It's also really cheap, which is nice.

 

One word of caution I guess. I've read lots of reviews where people said they got wet with this tent. Twice I've pitched it in a place that became a lake. Never had any water come in. You DO have to seam-seal it when you buy it, but we're smart enough to know that about modern tents aren't we?

 

Take a chance on the Eureka Zeus 1LE solo and I bet you won't be disappointed. If you are for some reason, it's a cheap mistake. (bought mine for $99 from campmor.com). The newer Zeus has entry on the smaller wall and a redesigned vestibule. I doubt I'd like that one as much because it's really nice to have 2 vestibules and 2 entrances where you can pile one with gear an the other is for entry/exit, boots, and cooking.

 

I hope that helps! (what did I tell you about convicted tent gear geek/whore?)

 

Off_Route

 

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I'll also add 2 more ideas to the brainstorm that I have NO FIRST HAND EXPERIENCE WITH:

 

Used (or new) 3layer genuine Gore-Tex bivy sacks can be had used for very cheap. They also are camo, but you said you would never poach.... A cheap experiment and it's real gore-tex. Reviews say you get wet if you don't seam seal. Duh.....

3 Layer Gore Tex Bivy $90 new, cheaper new and used on Ebay

 

Another idea is a "Hennessy Hammock" or other hammock options. There are many home-made and commercial variations ou there and there is a cult of followers and forums to look at if you go this route. I would hope that these folks have figured out a way to rig these like a bivy bag if there are not 2 suitable trees around.... As a plus, you already know 100times more about rope work than most hammock users.

 

Off_Route

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Like a lot of gear choices, tents and tarps have trade-offs depending on the anticipated use. Unfortunately, there aren't too many shelters that "do it all" in every situation. Personally I like free-standing tents in most scenarios, (though I have a BD Megalite that I like)for bug and storm protection. Like JDCH I love my BD Firstlight. I did seam seal it and have stayed dry in rain storms. I use it solo and it will sleep two adults...very snugly. If the weather is looking marginal I take a bigger tent with a vestibule (BD Skylight or Hilleberg Jannu) I got a chance last month to try a friend's Mountain Hardwear Supermega UL2. It's 2 1/2 pounds, can sleep two, has a 6 sq. foot vestibule and is free standing. It seemed a bit flimsy though for real windy conditions. Big Agnes also makes several ultralight tents you might look at. As for the Eureka Zeus, I had one and would only consider it for car camping or hiking...it wasn't very durable. Hope this helps.

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As for the Eureka Zeus, I had one and would only consider it for car camping or hiking...it wasn't very durable. Hope this helps.

 

Nice to hear another opinion on the same piece of gear. Mine has been used 6 times or so and is holding up well so far, but hasn't been through the test that my mountain hardware tent has.

 

Can I ask which parts of the tent failed on you? It'll help me know which parts are vulnerable and what to watch out for.

 

Off_Route

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