Aug 28, 2012 at 5:18 pm #1293458
This goes out to all of you who share your shelters with somebody else!
Since my very in-depth review of the lightest fully enclosed solo shelters I have continued to get requests from hikers asking me if I had done, or was planning to do, a chart that was for 2-person shelters.
I have not yet done one and I have planned to do one.
Problem is, I have no experience with 2-person shelters… so I have one very important question that I need help with:
What max-weight (TSW) limit should I place for my research?
(TSW = total shelter weight == shelter, stakes, stuff sacks, poles, ground cloths, etcetc)
For my solo shelter chart I placed the limit pretty low at 20-ounces TSW. This was beneficial because it kept the list/chart rather small and helped to truly highlight the lightest of the lightest solo fully enclosed shelters on the market.
For the 2-person shelters I was wanting to place a 907 gram (2 pound) limit on these, but that would exclude shelters such as the TarpTent Rainbow 2, which seems to have a huge following. This leads me to wonder if I should place the max TSW at 1360 grams (3 pounds) – or if I should stick with the 2-pound mark and once again focus only on the truly lightest of the lightest (ie: zpacks hexamid twin at 408 grams / mld duomid/inner at 827 grams – both under two pounds).
It is my hope to have this article and chart finished up by November so that it can be ready in time for Christmas for birthday gifts (hint hint) for those doing thru-hikes in 2013!
If you want to share with me in private any thoughts I welcome you to contact me here.
Thank you to anybody who takes the time to share their thoughts!Aug 28, 2012 at 5:41 pm #1907019
I dont know if maximum wt is as important as the ability to split it.
I ruled out many 2P shelters that cant be split because they are one piece, and require one person to carry the whole 2.5-3 lb thing.
Personally, I set a 1 lb per person goal, and there were only three 2P shelters that met it for me to consider.Aug 28, 2012 at 7:00 pm #1907042
@hikinggrannyLocale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
MB, why do you need to split the tent? Person A carries the tent and Person B carries the equivalent weight of other community gear, or of Person A's gear. If you want everything split, then you need to take a hacksaw to the cooking pot, stove, etc.
John, why not 20 oz. per person, which would be 40 oz. for a 2-person tent? That makes it comparable to your solo tent criterion.Aug 28, 2012 at 7:22 pm #1907049
When there is no other community gear, its a bit tacky to carry someone elses gear to even out a lb of wt and bulk.
Ideally, to me, a 2p shelter should be lighter and more compact than two 1P shelters, or else why have it, except in case of small children.Aug 28, 2012 at 9:52 pm #1907098
I'll toss my vote in for a max of 2.5 lbs, which equates nicely to 40oz. This eliminates the glut of (mostly mediocre) tents around 3 lbs, while still retaining a decent field.
Making a list is tough because you've got all sorts of tarp + inner combo's, but I don't think it's too daunting of a task.Aug 29, 2012 at 6:48 am #1907157
I think the "UL standards" discussed here for SHELTERS is great, and I look forward to learning-up from an article that discusses such things and gives review of the different options in terms of performance and sizing. That will give me something to aspire to for the day when I am ready to man-up/comfort-down to a shelter, from a tent.Aug 29, 2012 at 7:26 am #1907168
@tjaardLocale: Minnesota, USA
I agree with MaryD. go with 2×20 = 40oz/1134g. It seems a fair comparison to your solo ones.
Yes, some people want a 2p shelter to be lighter pp weight, but for others it's to have the same pp weight and get more usable protected living area.
I bet almost all of these can be split up into two parts, if not equal ones.
Yes, it will cut off the Rainshadow, but with your single shelter list you focused on the very lightest options as well, leaving out many popular options. This would make your list the quick and easy check for the VERY lightest options.
Alternatively, you could choose to list the best shelters in different categories, regardless of weight, ie:
Lightest overall, most stormworthy, roomiest etc.Aug 29, 2012 at 8:33 am #1907184
@hesLocale: Pacific NW
40 ounces sounds fine, but if applied strictly it would exclude both the Tarptent Double Rainbow and the SMD Lunar Duo. Both of those tents list as 41 ounces, but they're two of the more popular 2-person tents and it wouldn't make sense to leave them out because of a 1 ounce overage to an arbitrary cutoff weight.
Also there are issues with something like the popular GoLite Shangri-la 2, which is no longer available as just a tarp. As sold by GoLite it comes in at 50 ounces, but that weight includes an unnecessarily heavy 25 ounce bugnet inner. Given the price GoLite sells the SL2 for, you can easily purchase it (tarp and inner) and get an alternate non-GoLite 2-person inner to use at 40oz or less, for less than the price of many other tarp/inner combinations. That is, an SL2 "tarp + 2 inners" combo costs less than many other 2 person tarp/inner combos, even when you're paying for GoLite's heavy inner that you don't intend to use.Aug 29, 2012 at 8:43 am #1907186
The activities in a two person shelter can be different than a solo shelter. My wife and I use a 2 person shelter there are time when a little more weight (than a solo times 2) is justified. With 2 people, you have more opportunities to do things like play cards, sit up and talk as well as other adult things. I vote for a 2.5 lb. cut off. My 2 cents – Jon.Aug 29, 2012 at 8:47 am #1907189
@hesLocale: Pacific NW
2.5 lbs = 2.5 * 16 ounces = 40 ounces
Maybe you were meaning to suggest some other weight?Aug 29, 2012 at 9:17 am #1907198
Any weight cutoffs limit the scope of your article and bias the results. Your definition of acceptability for "SUL/XUL" solo shelters is 20 ounces, a clearly arbitrary number and one which excludes many comparable choices (as you disclose). Why 20 ounces but not 16 or 24 or whatever and why do you punt on the issue of trekking pole weight if such poles are needed for setup? At the end of the day, 20 ounces is an arbitrary number which is fine but it's your list and your definition alone. Same will be true for 32 or 48 ounces or whatever arbitrary number you choose for two person shelters. My point is that ultralight or SUL/XUL, whatever any of those terms really mean, is all in the mind of the user. All shelters are compromises one way or the other and when you filter by weight you also filter by design and features and price.
IMHO, a much more interesting and informative comparison would be one that also delved into usable volumes, performance usability including setup times and setup/takedown in the rain, ease of entry/exit, and $/ounce compared to other choices etc. Weight is but one of multiple considerations when choosing a shelter and if all you care about is weight then you are compromising yourself and, very likely, your wallet. A Contrail, for example, misses your target by about 5 ounces but it's half the $/oz–in most comparisons 1/5 or 1/6 the $/oz–of the shelters that do make your list. Does that make the Contrail better? Absolutely not but it gives some perspective. Two person shelter lists will suffer from similar comparison shortcomings if all you care about is weight.
-HAug 29, 2012 at 9:18 am #1907199
I just didn't convert, my bad. JonAug 29, 2012 at 9:21 am #1907201
@andrew-fLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
I don't know about other people, but I wouldn't carry a 2p shelter anymore that was over 2 lbs.
My current 2 person shelters are a Trailstar (22 oz) and a GG Squall Classic (24 oz). I think there are plenty of options under 2 lbs.Aug 29, 2012 at 9:24 am #1907204
@scottbentzLocale: Southern California
I agree with Henry.
Yes, weight is a great concern, but cutting off some of the more popular lightweight shelters by just a few ounces may leave out a couple of nice shelters.Aug 29, 2012 at 9:25 am #1907205
@gregfLocale: Canadian Rockies
Is this an SUL list like your 1 person shelter list or a UL list. If it is an SUL list I would say 2lbs TSW. If it is a more of a lighter side of SUL then 2.50 lbs seems like a good number.
One thing I would change is your cost / ounce comparison. It doens't really measure what you are trying to measure as things get a better score if they are heavier. What you really want to measure is cost / ounce saved.
For that you need to define an starting point of comparison. Two points I think make sense. The heaviest tent in the study or a lighweight non UL tent that your readers might currently have say a hubba hubba at around 4lbs. Either of these points would allow you to compare the value in spending more money to save weight as compared to spending it on other gear.
So the general forumla would be (cost of tent – cost of standard)/(weight of standard – weight of tent).Aug 29, 2012 at 9:43 am #1907217
"….if all you care about is weight."
I don't think John is suggesting that all he cares about is weight. He simply needs to set a cap somewhere (or the list of tents would be nearly infinite and not applicable to SUL) and then within the context of that cap the shelters can be evaluated for a host of other criteria such as storm resistance, volume, usability etc.
John's focus is on SUL/XUL hiking, rather than the broader world of UL, and I believe this comparison is intended in that context. If someone is looking for a 2 person shelter to fit into a SUL/XUL hiking style, then they really can't go much above 1 lbs / person for shelter. 1.25 lbs may work, but by 1.5 lbs you're committing a rather large portion of your (somewhat arbitrary and self imposed) baseweight cap.
So a cap needs to be set somewhere to keep the field applicable to SUL/XUL hiking. No matter where it's set, there's always going to be several great shelters that miss by a few ounces. John is also referring to total shelter weight (guylines, stakes etc. included) so some of these shelters that 'just miss' might actually be quite a ways off.
Regarding cost, I don't think it should be a significant metric in the article itself. I'd prefer to just hear what the best shelters are and then I can decide myself which ones I can afford.Aug 29, 2012 at 10:11 am #1907232
My suggestion for the two person shelter article is to write it for yourself and the reader be damned. While that may sound a bit harsh, in the end it's not. In the first article you wrote principally about shelters that piqued your interest. The common thread was that they were all extremely light.
The success of the article was a reflection that there were a lot of people who shared a similar interest, even though only a fraction of interested people ever post comments in the forums.
The second article should also reflect your own interest. Face it there are a vast variety of similar shelters available. Trying to do them justice would be a nightmare. You'd probably get bogged down pretty quickly and loose interest. After all, it's not like you're getting paid for this. Even large publications like Backpacker Mag. or Outside Mag. only do cursory reviews on gear. Most of the time, it hardly seems worth the effort.
It's far easier to write passionately about something you're actually interested in. The result is reflected in a better article. While it's true that something will be missed, I think a good informative article trumps a mediocre one that vainly attempts to be all inclusive.
Just a few thoughts.
RonAug 29, 2012 at 3:15 pm #1907321
@woodenwizardLocale: Greater Mt Tabor
I say, to give scope to those who may be coming from traditional pack weight is: take an 'industry standard' 2person tent, such as the Hubba Hubba, and/or TNF Tadpole (or whatever its called this decade). This takes care of 2door and single door tents, and almost everyone who is buying gear has seen one of these tents, therefore any comparison would have a baseline for tons of people. Both of these tents are 'heavy' but at the light end of common tents- a reference point for the compared tents to get better from.Aug 29, 2012 at 4:21 pm #1907352
@davecLocale: Crown of the Continent
John, I agree with Mr. Moak; define a rigorous criteria in a way which seems coherent to you, and stick to it. Writing about tech in which you are not interested is a surefire way to put yourself and others to sleep.Aug 30, 2012 at 5:19 pm #1907748
I agree with Ron. I really like that first article because you manage to keep the list short. You are not publishing a magazine. You can't write about every shelter out there and do an in depth comparison. I think you do a wonderful job in that article talking about tents that didn't quite make the cut, and why. This gives someone a great list of possible really light shelters, including many that do not make the arbitrary limit. It is possible that someone could read the article and go out and buy one of those tents without considering a really good lightweight tent (like a Contrail) because it didn't make the cut (or even the "almost make the cut" limit). So what? It is pretty clear from the intro that this isn't meant to be an extensive list of lightweight tent options. Besides, if you really want an extremely light weight tent, then the four ounce difference will be too much for you. If you are like most of us, we just see the four ounces as yet another trade-off.
I would start playing around with some arbitrary numbers and then see if you get a similar number of tents. In other words, if you set the limit at 40 ounces, do you list 40 tents? If so, drop the number.Sep 2, 2012 at 10:34 pm #1908596
A huge thank you to all that have taken the time to comment on this post. Special thanks to the company owners that have shared their thoughts on this matter!
At this point I have made a decision to focus on two different weight levels – giving special attention to the lowest weight level and than brief mentions for a secondary/heavier weight level. This just seems, and feels, like the right thing to do.
I have already been in contact with four different companies and hope to contact at least two more this upcoming week. I have not contacted any company outside of the USA as I have little experience with cottage outdoor manufacturers outside the USA that specialize in UL/SUL shelters. I welcome feedback from anybody out there that has knowledge of TSW sub-three pound two-person shelters.
For this spreadsheet I will be adding the following three bits of information that the solo spreadsheet did not include: (1) Square Feet of Inside Usable Space, (2) Max Height Inside, (3) Number of Doors.
I hope this will not offend anybody but I will be using the square feet of *usable* space inside. By that I mean I will be *attempting* to calculate the square footage of the inner/net parts of the shelter. I do not want this to seem like I am trying to kick against how the industry does things, but at the end of the day, when you and your spouse has just finished hiking 20 or 30 miles, what really matters is how much room you have inside of your bug net… how much space you actually have to move around, to sit up, to get dressed, change cloths, setup your bedding, etc. So this is going to be a bit different from what the manufactures probably list as the "square footage" of their shelters, but it seems like the proper way to approach this issue. If anybody out there is good at math and figuring out square footage of the inners/net sections of my shelters, I would love to have the help and will very much give you credit for the help (if you want it).
It would be nice to be able to list "usable height for both people" but that is just not something I think would be at all realistic to calculate. So I will be forced to list the max-height of the inner/net part of the shelter. This is obviously going to favor some over others (i.e.: MLD DuoMid verses HMG Echo II, which are the highest and shortest two person cottage shelters I have listed at this point) (for those interested… the 'Mountain Hardwear SuperMega UL 2' seems to be the lowest shelter I have come across, at an insanely short 36 inches of interior height – and yes, that took a fair amount of hunting to find one that short lol – also fyi: the 'Big Agnes Fly Creek 2 Platinum Tent' is the second shortest at 38 inches — for those that find it interesting that the big-name companies are producing shorter shelters than the cottage makers)
A few items suggested above I want to quickly address:
Setup Times (Henry recommended this) This actually is a good idea. I am still pondering on whether to add this into the spreadsheet. At this point it is not in there because it seems like one of those issues that could vary a bit, as well as trying to get accurate numbers on this from the manufactures could be, well, difficult. What does everybody else think about adding this? If a lot of you guys think it should be added, I can send off another email to the company owners asking for this information and an apology for not asking it to begin with.
Also had a couple of suggestions to handle the costs differently. I very much understand what both of you who suggested different approaches are getting at. In the end I am just going to keep it how it is… cost per gram/ounce. Again, totally agree with the recommendations and looking back on things, I probably should have started my solo spreadsheet with the suggestions, but I did not and so just going to continue on with how things are. I did give it some serious consideration though.
I had somebody contact me asking me if I was going to do a section on just double-wall shelters. I gave that some thought too but decided against it due to the time investment issue. I already have around 9 hours invested into this article/spreadsheet and I expect I will have close to 30 hours by the time I am finished. As Ron said above, I am not getting paid for any of this, so to turn 30+ hours into potentially 50+ hours as I do research on double-wall shelters is not something I am interested in doing.
Unless I have some delays in correspondence with cottage owners I should have this article and chart finished up within the next two weeks, well ahead of my initial November target date. But, no promises. Sometimes businesses are closed and nothing I can do about that. Hopefully they are out on the trail somewhere eh!
Lastly I would just again like to invite any of the cottage owners out there, that I have not already been in contact with, who produce two-person shelters that are sub 1300 grams TSW to drop me a quick message and I will do my best to respond to you as soon as possible.Sep 3, 2012 at 5:36 am #1908624
@towalyLocale: Smoky Mtns.
Please include stuffed size.
Bulk and fit is a big deal when trying to fit things into our pack or carry options.
Thanks for taking time to do this!Sep 30, 2012 at 9:21 am #1916843
I have been having some difficulties acquiring hard numbers from two of the cottage companies I wanted to include in their lists, and this has resulted in the delays in getting this article and spreadsheet finished.
It just seems odd to me that any company that makes gear is unable to provide a hard number on the weight of their shelters. It is not as if material all of a sudden goes from 0.74 ounces per square yard to 0.92 ounces per square yard and thus results in an extra 3 ounces for TSW. And if that does happen to be the case, seems like they would seek out a manufacturer that has better quality control. Or do the right thing (such as what Gossamer Gear has done) and just pull the products from their catalog until they are able to source consistent material.
Sorry for the rant. I have been emailing back and forth with one of them and no matter how I ask or how I word my questions, I just keep getting a "it is within this range" type of answer. And UL/SUL hikers actually buy from these type of companies? Why. It baffles me.
Sometime later this week I will make the decision on either to exclude these two companies or just take an average of the answers they have provided. Likely I will do what I did in my last article, which was to make mention of them within the article that I tried to acquire accurate specs and was unable to do so and thus they are not included the spreadsheet itself.Sep 30, 2012 at 11:01 am #1916863
Just list the highest number they give you. If there's a large variation in weight (ie "the tent weighs between 20 and 30 oz") then maybe sometimes it weighs 30oz. Then as a service to the consumer and your readers, just list 30 oz. That way they aren't shocked at understated weights by the company or yourself, and hopefully pleasantly surprised if they purchase the shelter. This is similar to the specification reporting for water filters, where some report ABSOLUTE pore size and others report NOMINAL. Absolutes are less flattering but can't really be argued with (and leave room for unexpected performance increases from spec sheet) while nominals and averages are a bit fuzzier, usually with half the consumers seeing worse and half seeing better performance from their gear (not smart if you care about brand reputation).
Is this fair and accurate to the manufacturer? No, it will negatively bias many of their metrics and their ranking. Then again if they wanted a fair and unbiased review of their product, they should provide fair and unbiased specifications! If you buy a sub 3oz advertised wind shirt and it weighs in at 6 oz, do you not get angry and write negative reviews on the marketing honesty of the company?Sep 30, 2012 at 11:35 am #1916868
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
If the manufacturer tells you that the tent weighs somewhere in a range of 20 to 30 ounces, then use that in the column for manufacturer-supplied weight data. If you measure a real one and see that it is 25.5 ounces, then use that in the column for reviewer-measured weight data. Different manufacturers use different weighing methods depending on whether the instruction pamphlet is included, the carry sack, the plastic bag, or anything else. Some try harder to make the tent appear to be lighter, even if they weigh the same.
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