Oct 11, 2011 at 11:46 am #1280453
Looking for a freestanding, more spacious alternative to a bivy for our rainy west coast winters. I use the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2 and want to hear experiences with alternatives in the same <3 pounds ballpark. Happy to keep trekking with the FC2, just casting about for your insights.
Here are the design elements that are important to me:
– Freestanding is important for windy and/or sandy coastal conditions.
– I need a bathtub-style floor for rainstorms,
– Am looking for a bit more space for gear under the shelter than a bivy can offer.
– Ideally I'd love to be using a structure that pitches as fast as possible in rain.
– A demonstrable improvement in ventilation is the main area where I'd like to explore options. Because the FC uses a front-facing door, its fly lacks venting slits at the feet, and the gap between body and fly is very slim, the FC2 can build up a fair amount of condensation. Venting is still passable when all is said and done, but I'm sure other UL designs give venting more consideration.
A bit of a weight penalty is OK in my book if the alternative solves the ventilation problem.
Initially, I looked at the Warmlite 2C, but I've read regularly about condensation issues even with its built-in vents.
Any great shelters that fit the bill? Tall order, no doubt.Oct 11, 2011 at 11:49 am #1789201
What about the BA Copper Spur 1? It is side entry, freestanding, and has vents in the fly? I believe it has a packed weight of 3 lbs.
There is also the upcoming MSR Nook which is freestanding, front entry with a partial fabric inner tent (think Hubba Hubba HP) and vents in the fly. I think it will be heavier than 3 lbs, however – about 3lbs, 5oz, but it is marketed as a 2 person shelter. Availalbe Feb, 2012.Oct 11, 2011 at 12:48 pm #1789225
David, thank you.
Yes, the CS1 has 1 fly vent as well at the head, though it's not positioned for a cross breeze. Any users of the CS1 care to offer their feedback on the venting?
Good eye in picking out the MSR Nook. I'm intrigued, as the one available image of the fly shows that it has two vents.Oct 11, 2011 at 12:48 pm #1789226
+1 on the BA Copper Spur 1. I'm considering trying one myself. (I currently use a TT Moment.) I think you could get it down to around 2 lbs, 12 oz with light guyline and stakes.
The CS1 has one fairly large fly vent at the head end, and solid fabric which goes pretty far up the sides and ends. Speed of pitching is probably not very fast, and you still have the problem of pitching the inner before the fly in the rain. The dimension specs on the CS1 aren't accurate, as BA measures from grommet to grommet rather than actual interior floor dimensions.Oct 11, 2011 at 3:49 pm #1789293
@pda123Locale: Eastern Mass
You might try your local REI to see if they have a Quarter Dome T1 left. Closeout at good prices, weighs just under 3 lbs.Oct 11, 2011 at 3:55 pm #1789297
Paul, the Quarter Dome T1 would be nice, it's just that it's heavier than the current tent (BA FC2), and narrower. There are pluses, though. The price is right on the 2011 model, and furthermore, REI appears to be adding vents to the 2012 update of the T1.Oct 11, 2011 at 4:53 pm #1789311
MSR Hubba? I traded a heavy (2+ lb) bivy in for this tent, and I hike on Vancouver Island so somewhat similar conditions…
Love it.. big vestibule.. great ventilation..bomb proof, and a little over 3 lbs.
My understanding when reading reviews of the BA is the opening is prone to getting water in. The Hubba notably allows setup of the fly before the inner..Oct 11, 2011 at 5:48 pm #1789333
I've had great experiences with my 2011 Hubba so far. I used to have a Tarptent Contrail but felt half the interior space was unusable due to the sloping foot and condensation prone single-wall design. Try touching your toes in a wet Contrail if your over 6' tall- impossible without rubbing on the walls…you can really only sit up in 1/4 of it.
The Hubba is narrow by comparison, but the walls are steep- they actually lean outward on the big sides- nice and roomy, even at 6'2" 205#. It's a smartly designed tent: rain-free entry (how many tent makers don't seem to understand this?), good vestibule, really high bathtub floor, main structure is truly freestanding (only vestibule/fly must be staked out in two points), and does really well in bad weather when fully guyed out. No condensation issues because you'll never come into contact with the walls. If it's so humid/wet out that your having condensation raining on you, I'm afraid you'd be screwed in any small tent.
One feature that I really like about it as compared to a BA Fly Creek, Seedhouse, or similar is the large side entry; it does wonders for making the tent feel more spacious and open. Rather than crawling in a hole in the front, the door is on the large side- offering great views, plenty of air, and the ability to easily cook in the vestibule while still laying in bed.
Personally, I think the 3# weight is worth the features, ease of use, etc. compared to tents that save a pound but lose certain degrees of functionality. Though I typically sleep under the stars when solo (no shelter carried whenever possible), the extra weight of this tent is worth it to me if bad weather or serious bugs are expected.Oct 11, 2011 at 7:43 pm #1789378
@scfhomeLocale: Chocorua NH, USA
M- IMO, you will have condensation in any high coverage tent. How the tent handles it is another matter.
I've been looking at what's out there, because my current 3# dome tent is very spacious, but doesn't provide enough storm protection for camping above timberline, could be lighter, and my current MYOG cuben project is going to take a while.
Even without getting into relative merits with condensation management, I've reluctantly concluded that there simply isn't anything out there that will provide a better experience than what I already have. Here are just three of the reasons:
#1 Nylon. Despite its quietness (when taut) and greater strength than polyester, it expands and sags a lot as its surface temperature drops. How can a structure that does not even approach tautness provide dry, stable protection in a storm. Not very likely, and try sleeping dry through the billowing and flapping. If it is single wall, so much the worse. The Warmlites are said to have full canopy tighteners that can be accessed from inside, but they have other serious drawbacks, like no over the door rain coverage. With the state of modern technology, sagproof fabrics for tents should be the norm; but they aren't.
#2 Headroom. Probably to save weight, many of the freestanding solo tents, when viewed from a cross-section, don't differ much in shape from the A-shape of the earliest backpacking tents. That means either there is little headroom, or a lot of fabric is wasted, and weight added, to raise the apex to create more space. Some of the tents add cross struts at the top to address this; but that adds weight also. No surprise then, that many of these are coffin-like in width to make up for the added weight, the Copper Spurs being an exception. The Nemo Obi One is a nice attempt to get around this by moving the hub up to around the top of the tent; but it still leaves a fairly narrow A-shape inside. Why carry the extra weight needed for freestanding if the headroom will be little more than an old-fashioned A-frame.
#3 Floor Area. Mentioned above. Coffin-like does not cut it.
So I doubt your Fly Creek 2 will be improved much by anything freestanding out there in the same weight range. You could try sewing on a loop, with sealed fabric reinforcement in just the right place, to guy out the rear section of the tent for better ventilation and separation from the inner. Or,
you could check with Big Sky, and see what fabrics they currently have available, and what is available without waiting. Or you could consider doing without the freestanding feature, and talk to Judy, the owner, about Lighheart Gear's cuben tents, particularly the ones with fold-up awnings, that are quite reasonable in price given the expense of the material. If you want the tent to last, order the lightest cuben available that carries the .18 suffix – the mylar is much thicker and more wear and water resistant than the .08. But I would not suggest a really expensive cuben tent. You might be pretty disappointed if a really lightweight sag free tentworthy fabric were to then come out next year at an affordable price. I also strongly suggest seeing the tent in person and pitching it before buying.Oct 11, 2011 at 8:00 pm #1789389
@jacobdLocale: North Bay
Hey Craig, does the Hubba have a vent (or vents) on the fly? I recently did a side by side on the Hubba Hubba, Copper Spur UL2, and REI Quarter Dome T2. I don't know how similar the designs are to the single person equivalents but I was pretty impressed with the Quarter Dome. It was the only tent that had dual vents on the fly. The headroom was fine due to the interesting shape of the tent, but it was a couple of inches lower than the others (not a problem for me at 6'-3).
The Hubba Hubba did not have a vent on the fly (I'm not sure if the 2012 version does) and picked up quite of condensation the night I compared them. Prior to that I noticed it always seemed to pick up a little more than I liked, but that night I had all three pitched next to each other in close proximity and the other two tents had much less condensation.
I don't know much about the solo versions of any of these though.Oct 11, 2011 at 8:47 pm #1789408
No vents on the fly.Oct 11, 2011 at 9:34 pm #1789418
Another vote for MSR Hubba…
Love the tent, even though it is not THE lightest. Lots of vestibule space, can be pitched quickly, because fly covers way more area than the net inside – generally air movement is not a problem.
It also has solid construction, which i prefer to some other tents since they feel less stable.Oct 11, 2011 at 9:42 pm #1789421
From the OP; "Looking for a freestanding, more spacious alternative to a bivy for our rainy west coast winters. I use the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2"
Why in the world would you all recommend the coffin like Hubba based on what the OP is looking for? It is much narrower and heavier than his current tent. Not to mention its profile will not be as good in the wind as his current tent. I have used one and although it has decent headroom, it is narrower than the bivy that I use!Oct 11, 2011 at 10:10 pm #1789430
"Why in the world would you all recommend the coffin like Hubba based on what the OP is looking for?"
When I saw the thread title "Freestanding solo tent with low condensation?" I assumed the OP was looking for a freestanding solo tent with low condensation…not looking for a 2-3 man "solo" tent with low condensation.
Besides…One man's "coffin" is another man's happy place.Oct 11, 2011 at 10:35 pm #1789435
Well, you do look quite happy in there. Are you laying on a NeoAir?Oct 12, 2011 at 2:22 am #1789466
@stephen-mLocale: Way up North
I say it more like a mummy pad in that coffin :-)Oct 12, 2011 at 3:25 am #1789469
I have had no problems with my BA CS1 in regards to condensation in NW PA and NE WV (i.e. can be humid and rainy) and I don't do a guyline taught pitch – just freestanding and staked (the guylines are still factory bundle wrapped and attached to the tie out points). I find it to be a palace for me and my stuff (I'm 5'8", 175#) and the pop vent on the head end is nice. The vestibule is big enough for pack and boots, but my pack usually gets crushed up and goes at my feet. I don't even think I have ever needed to use the extra 1/2 vestibule on the right side. The only downfall in your requirements is probably the fast pitch in rain – it goes up pretty quickly, but it isn't like an AKTO, you still need to get the fly on after putting together the inner tent. Practice might help there. HTHOct 12, 2011 at 7:48 am #1789512
@rayestrellaLocale: Northern Minnesota
I too want something that pitches fast and dry in the rain. You may look into one of these:
Contact him and see if they have any in stock first and what the wait may be if not.
I have been dealing with a lot of rain lately and decided to get the 2P version of that tent and placed an order to get on the waiting list for next batch.Oct 12, 2011 at 9:41 am #1789551
@tylerdLocale: SE US
What about the TT Moment with the freestanding pole and the liner?Oct 12, 2011 at 9:43 am #1789554
@stephen-mLocale: Way up North
The TT Scarp is a good tent also.Oct 12, 2011 at 10:19 pm #1789868
Craig, David, Jacob, Mark, Raymond, Samuel, Stephen and Tyler,
This leaves me with the question: Can anyone get me up to speed on discussions of the waterproofing on the handmade tents that've been mentioned? (Big Sky, TarpTent, LightHeart.) I seem to remember some disappointment with the effectiveness of the TT Scarp's waterproofing, and the hydrostatic head of the LightHeart is in the mid-3000s, which is a somewhat slim margin for eventual wear and tear.
And now to back up… Wow! I'm glad for the breadth of perspectives represented in this post (with a local maximum, of course, around the MSR Hubba and the Copper Spur 1).
This crowd's fondness for the Hubba doesn't come across as fanboyism. What with Halloween just around the corner, it sounds like the appropriate time to check into Hotel Hubba. I was up to now at a total loss about how to scare the crap out of the neighborhood kids this year.
I keep coming back in my mind to the MSR Nook, but that'd mean waiting another season.
Raymond, the prompt to take a careful look at the Big Sky offerings was helpful. Given the horror stories surrounding production delays, I've been gun-shy. Awesome that the mesh and fly can be prepped to set up conjointly for rainstorms. I've actually been lusting after the Hilleberg Soulo for 4th-season backcountry duty. It's designed to do the same, as you all know.
Samuel, the LightHearts look very functional. I'd never heard of the company. Any chatter about condensation levels? The fly looks to be pressing right up against the interior mesh. The awning, however, would be a real asset to breathability.
Afraid I nixed the Nemo Obi because I'm wary of how high off the ground the fly's coverage is. Not sure precisely why I'm hesitating, frankly. Would I really dare to bring only the fly if rain is in the forecast? (Actually, the Big Agnes Fly Creek 2 has done nicely in fly-only mode.) Or is it because of previous experiences with raiding nocturnal critters?Oct 13, 2011 at 12:57 am #1789894
For a start this is from the MSR FAQ on tents :
What defines “waterproof” in a tent and what does the "mm" rating mean?
For an MSR tent, waterproof means that all external fabric has been coated with our exceptional polyurethane coatings and the seams have been factory-taped, making that area of the tent impermeable to water. "mm” refers to millimeters and is paired with a number to represent a standardized measurement of how waterproof a coating is. For instance, a 1500mm coating will withstand a 1500mm (5') column of water for more than one minute before a single drop might appear through the fabric. That's strong enough to prevent rain from leaking into a tent in a hurricane-force storm.
I tend to think that if 1500mm is more than good enough for them, it is also good enough for me.
(not sure what the MSR rating for the Hubba fly is but it is around about that)
Take a look at this recent video ,
note the increase of the water level of the river (where 2E is standing on the first day , water was rushing over the next) to get an idea of how much rain we had and keep in mind that our shelters were a single wall , no double protection…(same silnylon as used on the Scarp )
Next, I have never seen a comment from a user (IE not Chinese whispers) that the Scarp with a solid (fabric) inner was not "waterproof enough".
Many confuse misting from the fly in a single wall shelter (it happens with all of them given the right setting..) with mist from penetration.
(note that some mesh inners (like the Hubba) have a solid top to catch that mist from condensation being knocked off the fly)
The fabric inner of the Scarp is more than capable of holding the occasional mist the fly could have as is the case with many double wall tent.
That does not mean that you should or should not get a Scarp or any of those "hand made" tents.
FrancoOct 13, 2011 at 6:52 am #1789944
@a.k.a.: I have three tents made by Tarptent, the Moment, Scarp 2, and Hogback. I have had the first two in very heavy rain, and I haven't had any problems with their waterproofing after I seam sealed them. Even the Scarp 2's and the Hogback's mesh inner blocked most dripping condensation. (I expect condensation in any shelter in the conditions I'm usually in. I get condensation on a flat tarp pitched very open.)
One thing I really like about these is that there's no inner which has to be pitched first, getting wet in the process.Oct 13, 2011 at 7:55 am #1789964
The issue with silnylon is fairly quick degradation over time, especially if used subjected to a lot of sunlight reducing the ability to be waterproof. And the fact that there are definitely varying grades of silnylon out there. From what I understand, silicon coated or PU coating does not degrade as fast. Not sure, however.Oct 13, 2011 at 8:13 am #1789973
Silnylon is easy to recoat to restore waterproofness. If a PU coating breaks down due to being stored moist, the shelter is gone.
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