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Your Favorite 3-Season Solo Tarp Tent, Double Wall Tent or Tarp + Bivvy?


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Home Forums Gear Forums Gear (General) Your Favorite 3-Season Solo Tarp Tent, Double Wall Tent or Tarp + Bivvy?

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  • #1234964
    Ethan A.
    BPL Member

    @mountainwalker

    Locale: SF Bay Area & New England

    What are your favorites 3-season solo shelters?

    My wife and I are picking up a light 2 person 3-season bug-proof shelter to replace a much heavier Sierra Designs Meteor Light, which got me thinking about good lightweight solo shelters.

    This is for use mostly in the Sierras, below and above treeline, and occasionally in the Northeast and Northwest. I'm 6 ft tall.

    Do you prefer a bug bivvy + tarp to a tarp tent and double wall tent?

    I often used a bivvy in the military, but I do enjoy lightweight tents.

    #1487617
    Ethan A.
    BPL Member

    @mountainwalker

    Locale: SF Bay Area & New England

    For tarp tents, so far particularly interested in Tarptent and Six Moon Designs models, and for double wall, Big Sky International and Tarptent (Scarp).

    When you get the gear bug, you get it bad…

    #1487677
    Russell Swanson
    Member

    @rswanson

    Locale: Midatlantic

    My vote is for the Tarptent Cloudburst 2. For two people it has a lot of pro's and not many con's. Especially in the Sierra's where constant, prolonged rain isn't an issue, I'd say it should be high on the list if you want lots of elbow room, completed bug protection, quick/simple set up. A few other pro's are relatively small footprint for the square footage, 3 stake set up, excellent foul weather capability. Can even handle some snow if pitched correctly.

    Downsides- silnylon (some sagging in humid conditions), a tad heavier than others with similar square footage, single wall (easy issue to mitigate), smallish vestibule (though I have used a canister stove in it).

    Ultimately, I made the decision to go with the Cloudburst because of easy setup, simple design (not much to break), and mainly due to the way it can accomodate two people right where headroom is at it's max- at the front of the tent. My wife and I disliked having to do the 'contortionist shuffle' when we were getting ready in the morning. In the Cloudburst we can both put n a shirt at the same time. Try that in your Big Agnes Seedhouse!

    #1487685
    Ethan A.
    BPL Member

    @mountainwalker

    Locale: SF Bay Area & New England

    Hi Russell, very helpful feedback for my other thread on 2 person shelters – http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=19625 I've heard great things about Henry's Tarptents. In this thread, looking for info on solo shelters, for when my wife isn't traveling with me.

    Years ago I had a horrific 2 nights on a trip with a mega snorer – the decibel level was unbelievable. It wasn't just the lack of sleep – the noise was so loud it just drove you insane, even with quality ear plugs. If I'm not traveling with my wife or a friend I know very well, I'd rather take a solo shelter on group trips.

    #1487690
    EndoftheTrail
    BPL Member

    @ben2world-2

    Luxe Option – I highly recommend the BA SL2 — it's small for 2 but palatial for 1. Very sturdy and structurally robust enough for 3+ season use. Min. wt. 3lbs isn't the lightest, but still reasonably light — and such comfort / luxury.

    Light Option – For same palatial living space and 3-season camping in areas of low to moderate humidity — the Rainbow is hard to beat. Unlike with the long tarptents, you can freely move around inside the almost dome-like interior — and also no worries about guessing at wind directions to pitch foot end toward the wind. Great for folks who crave living space and the weight is a very reasonable 2 lbs.

    UL Option #1 – For adequate interior space — GG The One is an excellent choice. People say that the material doesn't sag in the rain like silnylon — but my own experience says it does. But no biggie, all it means is that you set up the tent taut — and then simply tighten again after half an hour or so — and the tent will be fine.

    UL Option #2 – Also for adequate interior space but just a tad heavier is the Lunar Solo. IMO, the one-pole Lunar Solo is sturdier in high winds as its hexagonal shape throws off the winds from most all directions.

    I mostly use my Rainbow either in southern Cal or the Rockies where humidity is low to moderate. But considering the many happy tarptent users up in the PNW… I think using it along the foggy California coast should be fine. In the event you have some condensation clinging to the ceiling — the Rainbow is so big inside that it's an easy thing to keep your bag well away from the walls. No biggie at all — easy to wipe away once in a while (except maybe in truly high humidity coupled with strong rains pounding down) — unless you are one of those who just hate to have moisture of any kind inside your tent. In that case, you will be happier with a double wall tent (like the SL2) even if it's a bit heavier.

    #1487692
    Russell Swanson
    Member

    @rswanson

    Locale: Midatlantic

    Ack- that was user error on my reply- sorry!

    For my solo shelter, I've used another Tarptent for a while now- the Contrail. I bought it because at the time it offered the most living space for the weight. I've read tons of posts about people having issues getting a good pitch (which was eliminated with a redesign) and complaints and quibbles but I've never had a single issue with the tent. It's fantastic.

    Recently I've taken to tarping which provides a camping aesthetic no other shelter can match but if I know I'm going to get rain 50%-100% of the trip, I will probably bring my Contrail. Some tarpers will vehemently disagree with me here but for me the Contrail provides a more fool proof solution- the fool being me.

    #1487694
    Russell Swanson
    Member

    @rswanson

    Locale: Midatlantic

    Ben said-

    "easy to wipe (condensation) away once in a while (except maybe in truly high humidity coupled with strong rains pounding down) — unless you are one of those who just hate to have moisture of any kind inside your tent. In that case, you will be happier with a double wall tent (like the SL2) even if it's a bit heavier."

    As usual, Ben pretty much sums it up with solid advice. One thing he didn't really factor in the purist/minimalist vibe you get sleeping under a tarp but other than that, I'd base your decision on how you can tolerate a little bit of fiddle factor vs. weight carried.

    #1487695
    EndoftheTrail
    BPL Member

    @ben2world-2

    No tarps for me. Too scared of creepie-crawlies. :(

    #1487704
    Michael Landman
    Member

    @malndman

    Locale: Central NC, USA

    +1 on the SMD Lunar Solo

    SMD Luna 03
    Luna Solo in the west branch of Cottonwood Creek, Grand Canyon National Park

    With that said, I am looking at a beaked tarp and a bug bivi to save a pound.

    #1487723
    William Puckett
    Member

    @beep

    Locale: Land of 11, 842 lakes

    I've just tried and returned a 2009 Lunar Solo. Though it is (to my eyes) an elegant design, my 6'5" frame just didn't fit comfortably in terms of length, sitting height, or vertical space above my head when lying down. I REALLY wanted to like it, but decided it was not for me. Ron and Brandon have been really nice about taking the return and crediting me for the purchase. They also informed me that there is larger version of the Lunar Solo in the works that would better address the needs for those of us who are taller than typical.

    Next up for me is a TT Contrail that is in the mail as we speak. I'm hoping it will accommodate my large frame better.

    #1487726
    Joe Clement
    BPL Member

    @skinewmexico

    Locale: Southwest

    Me too, on the Lunar Solo. Glad I'm not a tall guy (5' 10").
    Lunar Solo

    #1487733
    EndoftheTrail
    BPL Member

    @ben2world-2

    William:

    Yeah, the Lunar Solo is designed more for people 6' or shorter. Big / tall people get the short end (pun intended) when it comes to UL outfitting. But then, you guys get the breaks most all other times…

    #1487753
    Michael Landman
    Member

    @malndman

    Locale: Central NC, USA

    Ben2World posted:
    Yeah, the Lunar Solo is designed more for people 6' or shorter.
    That's me! Around 5-8 and I fit fine.

    #1487807
    Ross Bleakney
    BPL Member

    @rossbleakney

    Locale: Cascades

    My wife and I really like the Squall 2. Things we really like about it:

    1) Very light (although not as light as the Refuge X, which we also own)
    2) Full bug protection (as with all tarp tents)
    3) Lots of room above the head (unlike the Refuge X)
    4) Easy setup
    5) Can use trekking poles or other poles
    6) Fairly storm resistant
    7) Good ventilation
    8) Nice vestibule

    Things we don't like:

    1) Front entry — it takes a bit of maneuvering to get in and out of the tent. The side entry tents are nicer in this regard.

    #1488062
    Nick Gatel
    BPL Member

    @ngatel

    Locale: Southern California

    Poncho/Tarp and Bivy hands down.

    My next favorite would be the MLD Wild Oasis.

    But… 95% of the time, I just sleep under the stars.

    #1488064
    Denis Hazlewood
    BPL Member

    @redleader

    Locale: Northern California

    The Tarptent Sublite. It's light weight, roomy, breatheable fabric, bright and cheerful colored (white) interior, and condensation free. With the newly offered screen door it has super pitched-in-the-sun ventilation.

    #1488096
    Christopher Palmer
    Member

    @ctp631

    8'x10' poly tarp and OR Alpine Bivy. I have my tarp in an envelope pitch, so that I have a floor to protect the bottom of my bivy and a dry place to put my equipment, and a roof.

    #1488108
    Jeremy G
    BPL Member

    @gustafsj

    Locale: Minnesota

    Christopher,

    Do you have a picture as to what an "envelope" pitch looks like? I'm having trouble picturing that…

    #1488111
    Dana S
    BPL Member

    @naman919

    Locale: Richmond, Virginia

    Jeremy,

    I was going to ask the same thing…

    – Dana

    #1488127
    Nate Meinzer
    Member

    @rezniem

    Locale: San Francisco

    Dana can correct me if I'm wrong, but the envelope designs as I know is it to stake the tarp to the ground like a ground cloth (very narrow) then use the excess to create an a-frame above the ground and back to where it is staked in.

    #1488162
    Frank Deland
    Member

    @rambler

    Locale: On the AT in VA

    Save some $$ and weight and go with the Wild Oasis over the Lunar Solo. I started with the Gatewood cape as my favorite "tent". but in bug season the Wild Oasis works great and has plenty of space for one and gear.

    For even more room look at the Gossamer Gear SpinnTwinn.

    #1488166
    Barry P
    BPL Member

    @barryp

    Locale: Eastern Idaho (moved from Midwest)

    "go with the Wild Oasis "

    How did you like it in the summer heat?

    Thanx,
    -Barry

    #1488251
    Monty Montana
    BPL Member

    @tarasbulba

    Locale: Rocky Mountains

    The SMD Gatewood Cape served me well all last season, and it even withstood a couple of spring snow storms. I ordered it with the netting inner but didn't get a chance to use it as I found a head net sufficient. It's light, affordable, easy to pitch, ventilates well, and since I'm nearly 6' tall, the interior was adequate.

    For shoulder season I prefer my old style Montbell Monoframe Diamond, a true double-wall solo tent that weighs 2lb 10oz and is probably still available as the new version hasn't been out all that long.

    #1488389
    Christopher Palmer
    Member

    @ctp631

    Photo of envelope pitch with 8'x10' poly tarp and OR Alpine Bivy:

    http://i265.photobucket.com/albums/ii215/ctp631/PICT0010.jpg

    #1488417
    Dana S
    BPL Member

    @naman919

    Locale: Richmond, Virginia

    Looks like you were close Nathan! Though i'm sure your description is accurate as well. :P

    thanks for sharing Christopher!

    – Dana

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