- Jul 2, 2015 at 4:25 pm #2211774Bob MoulderBPL Member
@bobmny10562Locale: Westchester County, NY
What are the advantages? Less stakes needed, no trekking poles required, better in wind, faster pitch, less tinkering, easier to pitch solo.
Stephenson. Not freestanding, but checks all the boxes… hands down, the fastest tent to pitch, requiring only 3 stakes. If one were to emulate in cuben, the end cones would probably be a bit tricky to cut and sew, but that's about it. (Says I, who never sewed an inch of anything!)
I've read elsewhere that Stephenson quality has slipped the last few years with sloppy sewing and unfinished seams. Have they gotten a grip on this? If so, this remains a decent mountaineering tent. They really do handle the wind quite well.
I have a 2RS and although I have not used it in a few years I still can't bring myself to part with it.Jul 2, 2015 at 4:28 pm #2211777Tom D.BPL Member
@dafiremedicLocale: Southern California
Here was a thread on the Sierra Designs Mojo UFO tent, 1 lb 11 oz. and $1800. I have to think that they would have to cut both of those numbers nearly in half to get any kind of market with the UL BP'rs, and I don't think they can even come close and still stay profitable.Jul 2, 2015 at 4:39 pm #2211781Jul 2, 2015 at 4:44 pm #2211783Theo DiekmannBPL Member
"What are the advantages? Less stakes needed, no trekking poles required, better in wind, faster pitch, less tinkering, easier to pitch solo."
I disagree. A free-standing tent in wind needs 4-6 stakes aswell. As many as, say, a TT Notch or a MLD Solomid. Better in wind is not necessarily true as this largely depends on construction. Many of the lightweight free-standing tents are not that stable after all, as they are upgraded single-pole designs of some sort (such as Hubba Hubba or Vaude Hogan Ultralight – not saying they're not stable but they certainly are not bomb-proof).
Faster pitch is not the case in my experience as clicking together the pole(s), inserting them and adjusting the clips takes forever – certainly longer than the 2 minutes it takes to pitch a Solomid or Shangri-La 2.
Solo-pitching? Never had any issue with the Solomid or SL 2 (I admit that 2 person tarps can be a little tricky, however), but on the other hand, I have had to play the funny "insert the pole into one grommet, run over to the other one and have it slip out the first one while trying to insert" quite a few times with free-standing tents.
So bottom line, the only advantage of a free-standing tent is no necessity for guying-out in mild conditions. On normal (peg-friendly) surfaces, that's merely a convenience factor (you don't have to use any pegging-skills, just insert poles) as it is not really any faster. On peg-unfriendly surfaces, however, a free-standing tent will be pitched faster, since you have to collect rocks and sticks and use some ingenuity for a non-free-standing tent.
My very subjective opinion is that ultralight backpacking is (or should be) mostly about skills and not gear. Sure, a free-standing tent is easier to handle than a non-free-standing one, so is a larger backpack vs. a small one, a sleeping bag vs. a quilt, a large tarp vs. a small one, a canister-stove vs. a cat-stove. Learning to handle light-weight equipment and to be able to achieve the same (or better) results than with traditional gear allows us to go light. Trying to short-cut the learning curve by relying on traditional designs with lightweight materials doesn't seem right so me (but again, this is merely my personal, very subjective opinion).Jul 2, 2015 at 5:10 pm #2211788Sam RiggleSpectator
@samriggleLocale: South East
What I like about the polled tents is the fact that once you have the tent set up, you can just keep moving it until you find a spot you like. BEFORE you stake it out. The spot you thought was good turned out to have mad winds? Pick the whole thing up and move it! Easy as that. Nothing falls slack like a limp bread stick, you just…. move it. Lol
And, if you have a long enough bear bag line, you can multiuse it as a KITE!! ;^)Jul 2, 2015 at 5:42 pm #2211795Scott SmithBPL Member
@mrmuddyLocale: No Cal
Someone bought itJul 2, 2015 at 7:34 pm #2211827Warren GreerSpectator
I was going to mention what John posted. I remember a link to ZPacks website posted by someone on that freestanding tent (here on BPL – didn't feel like looking for it). Cool idea but eventually Joe decided not to produce it. I do not remember why.
I like them primarily for easy setup and the fact that you can MOVE them, as also mentioned just above my post. That is a very nice option, ground looks conducive to sleeping, you get in and find that it is not. No problem, you just get out and move it. Also same in the rain if you make a bad choice, you can get out and easily move to higher ground.Jul 3, 2015 at 10:42 am #2211921Ryan SmithBPL Member
@violentgreenLocale: East TN
That Stephenson 2RS would be a good cuben candidate from a construction standpoint IMO. The end cones are pretty easy to do once you figure out how they're done conceptually. I would be afraid of snow loads in use, but one could make that tent in just a few hours(the fly that is).
RyanJul 3, 2015 at 7:14 pm #2212020
KC wrote that there are only two cuben freestanding tent makers. I believe Big Sky is one. Which is the other?
Having tried both free and non-free standing tents, I settled on the former for being least fussy to set up plus palatial headroom space. I love my BS Mirage 2P — a very lightweight Taj Mahal for my solo use. Yes, I love space.
But of course, a dome structure comes with some weight penalty. I agree with others that gram weenies crazy enough to spend $$$ to shave off one more lousy ounce are unlikely to go for a freestanding dome tent — no matter how light — simply because there will be other non-freestanding options lighter still.Jul 3, 2015 at 7:32 pm #2212032Franco DarioliBPL Member
"KC wrote that there are only two cuben freestanding tent makers. I believe Big Sky is one. Which is the other?"
Alex , a few posts above, posted a photo of 5 different "freestanding" tents.
Two by Terra Nova, an Easton, a Sierra Designs and a Big Sky.Jul 3, 2015 at 7:43 pm #2212035
Franco – do you know the models offhand?Jul 3, 2015 at 7:53 pm #2212039Marko BotsarisBPL Member
@millonasLocale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
My dream tent (I know this is silly to just to shave off ounces, and is in the same category as Rachel Weisz would be my "dream GF") would be a cuben Black Diamond Firstlight with carbon fiber poles. I love the form factor, and the fiddle factor of that tent is the least of any tent I have ever used, bar none, at the end of a long day. I'd be good with a noseum mesh floor too.
OK, so now you know what is on my Christmas wish list if you are listening Santa!
Bonus points if you get Rachel Weisz to bring it to me Christmas day! Just sayin'!Jul 3, 2015 at 8:11 pm #2212042Franco DarioliBPL Member
Easton have the SI2 with internal sleeves now, the one above was the early version.
The Terra Nova models are the Voyager Ultra (already mentioned) the other is the Solar Ultra 2 (TN also make the Laser in Cuben (single hoop like the Moment)
The Sierra Design, also already mentioned, is the Mojo and I can't be bothered with the other one.
(yes I do know of it)
Firstlight in Cuben, I'll give a hint , courtesy of BD :
"Superlight Series tent canopies and bivys are constructed with NanoShield—Black Diamond’s proprietary breathable single-layer fabric"
with some help from me.Jul 3, 2015 at 8:13 pm #2212043Philip TschersichBPL Member
@philip-akLocale: Kodiak Alaska
For Dog's sake, whatever you do, DON'T buy a UFO. Those things are the singular most overpriced, under-engineered, mal-though-out, poorly constructed POS's ever flogged at consumers. I used one all last summer, and at the end of the season I regretted every minute I wasn't in my TT Moment DW instead. I got it off Sierra Trading Post with a 40% off coupon, and even at that huge discount the only saving grace was their liberal return policy. Even a full tube of Aquaseal couldn't stop cups of water from flowing in during rain events, there is no way 2 people could fit inside unless they were the size of pre-pubescent humans, the poles were crazy fragile, the stake loops ripped out under modest tension, you could not vent during rain events when you needed it most… etc. It really soured me on any Sierra (mis)Designs products. Sheesh. Run away.Jul 3, 2015 at 8:30 pm #2212046
Franco – thanks!
Slightly off topic, but my two experiences with Sierra Design tents were both negative ones.
The single wall sorta breathable 'proprietary' material Solomente was one of the lightest "4-season" solo tent at the time, but between the short floor and the sloping walls on both ends — there was just no way to keep the sleeping bag from touching one or the other of the walls — causing soaked bag each and every night. Otherwise, condensation was fairly acceptable.
Then there was the hybrid 2-door Baku 2 dome tent. Should have worked — doors on two sides with dual roof vents — but condensation was horrible even in relatively dry southern Cal — much, much more condensation than the HS Rainbow or any of the hybrid BS tents I've used.
So I will take Philip's word and skip the Mojo.Aug 11, 2018 at 5:07 pm #3550943Lawrence KampfBPL Member
Interesting thread, any new developments in a simple, heavily weather capable cuben tent that doesn’t require a large footprint or a rats nest of guy lines?Aug 11, 2018 at 7:28 pm #3550958Erik HallBPL Member
@telemonsterLocale: pacific northwest
Check out the Locus Gear Djedi.
Bibler style , dcf event. 34.5 oz with mesh door. $1280 US
Looks pretty nice if you have the $!Aug 12, 2018 at 1:27 am #3551019Ross BleakneyBPL Member
A few observations about the advantages of each type of tent:
With a free standing tent you don’t need to use trekking poles, but you can. When you do carry extra poles, they are typically a lot lighter than those for a free standing tent, yet provide plenty of strength based on their design (a single, relatively short pole made out of carbon fiber can provide a lot of strength for the weight). I think one reason why we haven’t seen a “free standing tent revolution” is because there has been no big revolution in poles. If this happens, I think we will see a lot more dome tents in Cuben fiber.
Freestanding tents need stakes, but typically are OK if one or two come lose. With a non-free standing tent, you have a lot of single point of failures (if that makes sense). In other words, if just one stake comes loose, then the whole tent falls down.
As Sam mentioned, one of the big advantages (and in my opinion, the biggest) is that it is easy to move a free standing tent around without the stakes. You can put it there, sit in it, realize it should really be a few inches to the left or turned a bit and it is not big deal.
As mentioned earlier, I am no expert, but I can set up my Refuge X faster than my friends can set up their free standing tents. I spend more time making sure the spot is just right, but then when I start doing it, there are just fewer steps. Even when I mess up (and forget how long the cords should be) it is no big deal. Those clips take a long time. Of course once I was had some edibles and spent a very, very long time assembling my tent (but it was fun admiring the whole process, nonetheless).
One advantage of most non-free standing tents is that you can assemble them low to the ground, if conditions warrant. Shorten the poles, stake it out a bit differently, and at worst, live with a little flapping. This means the tent is fairly flexible — it can have a high ceiling in most weather, but you can hunker down if a bad storm comes by. If you are using trekking poles, then you can be pretty confident that the poles won’t break (just about any trekking pole is a lot stronger than a tent pole).
To answer the original question, I think a free standing tent in Cuben is a bit like the Porsche SUV. When you buy an SUV you know you aren’t getting the best performance. There are vehicles out there costing a lot less money that are certainly faster. Yet you want the thing to be the fastest of its type. It is a reasonable thing to do — there just aren’t that many people who want to do that. Oh, and it is very hard to make, too.Aug 12, 2018 at 4:03 pm #3551083Tipi WalterBPL Member
Nobody can seem to get the definition of what is a Freestanding tent. I agree with Woubeir’s definition—
“Truly freestanding tents need even no stakes for the vestibule.”
This means a freestanding tent including vestibule is formed and set up without the need for a single stake (except to keep from blowing away in the wind).
None of Alex Wallace’s tent are therefore freestanding as they all require vestibule staking.
John MC’s Hexadome is not freestanding because the two beaks whether low or high require require pegging (as far as I can tell).
Real freestanding tents are some of the single wall Biblers and Integral Designs, several Hilleberg models like the Staika and Allak, and various cheap Coleman tents with flies which attach to the four pole corners. Examples—
Integral Designs MK3 tent.
Hilleberg Staika and or Allak and others. (Soulo?).
Coleman type dome tents whereby the fly attaches to the four pole corners.
The famous Eureka Timberline tent—pick up and move if needed—no stakes required.Jan 25, 2019 at 6:58 am #3574962Hans WBPL Member
I consider myself the lucky owner of the Sierra Designs UFO Mojo tent. I do agree that its not quite big enough to be legitimately called a 2 person tent. I would also agree that condensation can be a potential issue as it is with any tent inclusive of newer offerings constructed from Breathable DCF (example LOCUS DJEDI).
Optimising the pitch location of the tent including the direction to capture greater airflow is always a good idea with any tent
In my opinion the design of the tent is great, with an abundance of mesh that promotes venting. The fact that this design was produced utilising Cuben Fiber makes it even more special.Jan 25, 2019 at 2:37 pm #3574973James MarcoBPL Member
@jamesdmarcoLocale: Finger Lakes
Dyneema/DCF/Cuben and ilk have far outgrown their usefulness in UL applications. A lot is the older cottage manufacturers pushing heavy weight materials in the interest of durability as they push to become major players grabbing a larger [portion of the market. Gone are the days of .51oz DCF/cuben shelters, mostly. Yes, some manufaturers still make them, but there is not a large enough demand to make these more than barely worthwhile to them. For a few years DCF/Cuben tarps were the standard. You could easily set up a simple 9×9 tarp as an Aframe with no real issues, except some slight flapping. And the weight was excellent. But, the durability was less than good. Most of these tarps died within a few years or needed some sort of repair. Usually inexpertly done causing more failure…
With SUL/UL gear there is always the possibility of repairs. A normal stitch&seal was replaced with DCF patches. Small punctures were often patched with duct tape, worn fabric (from packing, or from use) cropped up as a real killer…you couldn’t duct tape 4sqft of DCF and expect it to remain the same weight.
Anyway, techniques for manufacture were improved and they lasted a couple more years. By then most had manufacturers had switched to or offered a .71oz DCF material. 9sqyd of fabric about 7oz. Glue tape added another 1-2oz (depending on how many seams and how they were configured) and seaming/hemming always adds another ounce or so. Additional mesh was NOT dyneema and was not effected by the lighter weight. So building a full shelter diluted the weight savings in a tent. The UL Dyneema/DCF/cuben was not a good floor material. Many manufacturers simply use heavier DCF for the floors (ex: HMG), some ignore the problem (ex, ZPacks), some will switch to silnylon (ex, Yama.) Indeed hitting 16oz for a 1p shelter starts to look like a good number for a 3’x7′ 1P shelter, when all is said and done. We will get to free standing in a bit…
SilPoly reached mature levels a few years ago rivaling the .71oz weight with .9oz weight, and, at a far less expensive price point. Typically a $600-1000 DCF shelter could be made for about $250-350 with a weight penalty of only 2-3oz. Wow, an expensive two-three ounce increment!
Anyway, the DCF/Cuben stuff used for a “free standing” tent starts to become more of an oxymoron. Using DCF/Cuben means you are looking for the lightest weight possible. If you want UL DCF freestanding tents, you need specific poles. Long, flexible, springy poles are not the usual hiking staff, indeed, it goes against the grain to carry ANY poles. (Though, I guess it would be possible to fold them in thirds, put them into a handle and a tip and make a hiking staff out of them.) Assuming a dome shape, meaning two poles are needed for free standing, these longer poles become additional weight, “diluting” the effect of any DCF weight savings further. Dyneema cannot help there. In fact, ANY shelter requiring extra poles for erection will always be heavier than one that does not. This is contrary to UL packing principles. EVERYTHING has weight. What happens IFF you do not use hiking staff(s)? Well, you bite the bullet and carry a tent pole. Anyway, a freestanding tent will always be heavier than one that gets staked down because of the poles and their arrangement. The only difference would be stakes vs poles. This is ignoring the fact that you still need to stake down or tie off a freestanding tent. As was said, some sort of new pole technology is needed to make this work, it doesn’t exist.
It is not that the manufacturers don’t TRY to produce a good shelter at a low weight, they just don’t hit the magic number of a 16oz shelter for two people (8oz per person) that is freestanding and is durable enough to justify the price vs the market demand. If I were to drop $1000 on such a tent, it had better be durable enough to last 1000 nights over about 10-12 years and be rugged as hell in all respects. Unfortunately, given current technology, I do not foresee this happening in the near future.Jan 25, 2019 at 8:37 pm #3575033
Anyway, the DCF/Cuben stuff used for a “free standing” tent starts to become more of an oxymoron.
Not necessarily so. It is true that most people willing to spend the big bucks are gram weenies looking for the lightest weight gear piece that can function as a shelter – meaning they will never opt for a structurally-heavier-by-nature dome tent.
But then, there are also people like OP – and myself – who love freestanding dome tents – and pine for the lightest out there. Big Sky is one of the few tent makers focused on making the lightest weight dome tents – in addition to making still lighter options using different structures.
Alas, circling back to OP, the market is tiny – so options are few.Jan 26, 2019 at 12:07 am #3575082James MarcoBPL Member
@jamesdmarcoLocale: Finger Lakes
Ben, yes, I understand. I have a BigSky dome myself. I often use it after traveling to a trail head. The wife and I often stay at a State Park, then she drops me at one of the trail heads and heads home for a couple weeks. Yup, it is a tiny market.Jan 27, 2019 at 7:01 am #3575295John PapiniBPL Member
I own a Big Sky Mirage 2P in cuben with carbon fiber poles, which I used on my 2016 PCT thru hike. Tent body & fly (one piece, including guylines) plus carbon fiber poles weighs in at 27.8 oz. This does not include stakes or a footprint because these numbers are typically excluded from the figures offered by manufacturers for their tent weight.
Now because I carry trekking poles, it sounds tempting to ditch the 8.08 oz poles for a trekking pole supported tent. I’m interested enough in the weight savings to consider sacrificing some ease of set up and maybe some quality of life, though I want the extra room afforded by 2P tents when camping alone. And I would expect it to weigh around 20 oz (27.8 oz tent weight minus 8 oz for the carbon poles = 19.8 oz).
The only tent worth considering by this criteria is the ZPacks Duplex, which weighs 19 oz. It requires 8 stakes (whereas I hardly ever use stakes for the Mirage), so maybe that accounts for an ounce or two additional stakeweight over the Mirage, and I’ve also heard it’s not the most weatherproof with its non-zipper doors, but it’s in the right weight range. Also, the dimensions are similar enough. The Mirage, the most spacious 2P tent I’ve ever owned, is 90 inches in length, 53 inches wide (top), 47 inches wide (bot), and 42 inches tall. The Duplex is 90 long, 45 wide (top & bot), and 48 tall. It’s a bit narrower than the mirage (especially at the top), but taller in the center. Both have two doors.
Now look at some of the other comparable tents on the market:
1. Haven + Net Tent = 28 oz (12 oz cuben fly + 16 oz net tent). Unlike the Mirage, this is a double wall tent, but it is smaller: 88 long, 44 wide (top & bot), but 45 tall. Two door. I’d be curious to see its weight using cuben for the inner (that hint’s for you, SMD).
2. Stratospire Li = 26 oz. This is also a double wall tent, 86 long, 45 wide (top & bot), 44 tall. Two door.
3. YMG Cirriform SW = 26.7 oz. Single wall, 88 long, 54 wide (top), 48 wide (bot), 46 tall (at head) down to 31 tall (at foot). Single door.
4. YMG Cirriform DW = 26.9 oz. Double wall, 84 long, 46 wide (top), 43 wide (bot), 44 tall (at head) down to 25 tall (at foot). Single door.
5. YMG Swiftline 2P (NOT CUBEN) = 34.2 oz. Single Wall, 84-90 long, 51 wide (top), 42 wide (Bot), 50 tall (at apexes), 47 tall (at center ridge). Two door.
6. Big Agnes Tiger Wall 2P Carbon = ??
None of these come close to the right weight range. These tents are ostensibly “saving” 8 oz of pole weight by relying upon trekking poles, however they only weigh at best 2 oz less than my freestanding Mirage. In my analysis, while I might consider sacrificing the ease of a freestanding tent to save 8 oz (Duplex), I’m not sure the tradeoff is worth it for 2 oz.
What’s going on? Where are the other ~20 oz, two person, two door, trekking pole supported cuben tents?
And shouldn’t we also be able to get a double wall, trekking pole supported cuben tent that weights ~24 oz? The difference between the Cirriform SW and DW is only 0.2 oz.Jan 27, 2019 at 1:26 pm #3575304JohnBPL Member
@johnnyh88Locale: The SouthWest
Trekking pole tents save weight by not using dedicated tent poles. But then they have to add weight back since they do not use fabric as efficiently as a poled tent design allows. So the weight savings is not as great as most people would expect.
The poles on my Nemo tent weigh a little over 6 oz, although the tent is not fully freestanding. If the poles were removed, you’d have to add in 2-3oz or more fabric weight to get a similar amount of useable volume in a trekking pole tent. It’s a trade off, of course. The poled version is easier to pitch, but the trekking pole version would still be a little lighter and I wouldn’t have to deal with packing tent poles in my pack (the hubbed poles can be bulky).
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