Mar 29, 2010 at 7:33 am #1257061
I’m going to try to walk about 10 days along the AT in Shenandoah and northern Virginia this summer, and I’m trying to decide which shelter to take along.
As I contemplated the alternatives, I realized that I currently own more shelters than I can ever use (an “embarrassment of riches,” as the French used to say). Thus, I’m trying to decide on a shelter for a long-distance (for me) hike and to figure out which shelters to sell, as well.
Your advice would be greatly appreciated.
Gatewood cape plus bug net:
The Gatewood is light at 11 oz,, and it works great during the non-bug months. I’d have to add the rather constricted bug shelter to make it insect-worthy (making it weigh almost as much as some of the all-in-one shelters below, and the thing is a bit hard to set up, with or without the bug shelter.
The Contrail is my go-to shelter for weekend hikes. At 24 oz, it weighs a bit more than the Lunar Solo or Sublite Sil, but it’s a dream to set up under adverse circumstances.
Lunar Solo Enhanced:
SO many stakeout points and sloped in such a way as to require a second hiking pole to get the advertised room inside. Tough to get a taut pitch. Still, it packs down nicely and is a tad lighter than the Contrail at 23 oz.
At 21 oz, it’s my second lightest shelter. It requires both hiking poles, and is a bit of a pain to set up. Stil, I’ve used it dozens of times for three-day hikes, and I really feel like I have the hang of it. It lacks the big, flat top of the Contrail, which makes it a bit more storm-worthy, and the pyramid shape of the two hiking poles helps, as well.
GG The One
The One (2009 edition) is the lightest shelter I own (18 oz packed with stakes). The spinnaker material seems a bit more waterproof than Silnylon, but I just might have been lucky about setup conditions. It’s tough to get a taut pitch because of the spinnaker fabric, and it does flap a bit in the wind. I’m told the noisiness goes away with continued use, but in the meantime, I’m a light sleeper.
The Moment is the heaviest of the tents at 28 oz but SO easy to set up in the rain (only two stake-out points), and SO storm-worthy. It sheds water (and snow) about as well as any-single-walled tent I’ve used. I will never sell it, but the question is, should I live with the extra weight and take it along with me on the AT? Truth is, the Moment is my favorite shelter, but 28 oz sounds pretty heavy over 10 days. It packs a bit “big, so I’d have to put it in the outside pocket of my Fanatic Fringe Alpine Trail.
All in all, I’m hoping to get by with a base weight of 7.5 pounds, adding a quart of water in the BP (and one in my pocket) and three days worth of food at 1.5 pounds per day.
Can’t really decide which one to take on the 10 days and which one(s )to sell.
P.S. BTW, if there’s any info that I’ve left out that might be helpful, please let me know.Mar 29, 2010 at 8:02 am #1591874
Nick GatelBPL Member
@ngatelLocale: Southern California
I would get a nano tarp, and a bug net if necessary. But that means buying another shelter :)Mar 29, 2010 at 8:11 am #1591879
>I would get a nano tarp, and a bug net if necessary. But that means buying another shelter :)
I thought about this, but changed my mind because of the relative complexity of setting up a tarp/ bug shelter combo.
I could be talked into it, though. (More gear . . . ahhhhhh.) Which shelter should I sell to afford a nice cuben tarp like the one here at BL? Any what bug shelter should I get (the MLD, since I could use it with the Gatewood)?
StargazerMar 29, 2010 at 8:12 am #1591880
@lehrscott4Locale: Louisville - KY
I would go with the Contrail depending on expected weather conditions.Mar 29, 2010 at 8:19 am #1591882
>I would go with the Contrail depending on expected weather conditions.
Under what expected weather conditions would you take the Contrail as opposed to some other shelter?Mar 29, 2010 at 8:20 am #1591884
todd harperBPL Member
@funnymoLocale: Sunshine State
assuming you carry a rain jacket with the alternate shelters, then the Gatewood/Serenity combo comes in at less weight than your other options combined, since with it you won't need another rain jacket.
You are correct about the Serenity's minimal dimensions, but to that I say this (not that you're a bivy user):
it's bigger than a bivy! I'm 6'1" and am comfortable in it for sleeping and changing clothes. I wouldn't want to spend a whole day in it, though!
Condensation in the others you mentioned will be a bit higher due to humidity.
All that aside, if it's too confining to use the Serenity you should sell it to me as a backup! :)
ToddMar 29, 2010 at 8:22 am #1591887
@lehrscott4Locale: Louisville - KY
I borrowed a friends contrail a few times and it seemed great in everything except heavy snow, and strong winds. And everytime i tried to setup with feet to the wind, it would change directions on me.Mar 29, 2010 at 8:26 am #1591888
Jim MacDiarmidBPL Member
Just from reading your post, it's gotta be either the Contrail or the Moment, neither of which you have any complaints about beside the weight.
For 10 nights, isn't being able to just throw up your tent in 3 minutes at the end of a long day worth a quarter to a half pound extra? It would be to me. I'd have a hard time deciding between the Contrail and Moment (I only have experience with the Contrail), but it'd be a contest between the lighter-ness of the Contrail vs the living space of the Moment.Mar 29, 2010 at 8:34 am #1591892
Trevor WilsonBPL Member
@trevor83Locale: ATL -- Zurich -- SF Bay Area
Wow, you have a lot of great shelter choices – I'm jealous :)
I think it depends on your focus – comfort or low base weight for higher mileage days.
If its the latter – I'd probably choose either the Gatewood Cape setup to eliminate the need for additional rain gear or the GG The One since its the lightest and provides full bug protection. IMHO, 10 oz is a lot of weight savings over the Moment for a trip of that length when you are trying to get down to 7.5 lbs. Also, along the AT you always have the option of staying in a shelter if the weather is going to get nasty or you need to dry out some gear.
But if you would never want to stay in a shelter and comfort and ease of set-up is a higher priority I think Jim and Scott might be right and the Contrail might be the way to go.Mar 29, 2010 at 8:41 am #1591893
A cuben hexamid twin with bug netting and doors and a custom cuben floor. All that for under 15 oz, and it's a palace. Pretty quick setup, plenty of weather protection, unbelievably light for the room and protection it provides.
Oh, wait, that wasn't on your list…..Mar 29, 2010 at 8:42 am #1591894
Peter LongobardiBPL Member
@paintplongoLocale: Hopefully on the Trail
As a guy that thruhiked the AT last summer. I can tell you in the summertime in VA, you will get killed by the no see um bugs. You must have bug protection. If you like the Moment so much, I'd rock that thing. The weight isn't terrible, it's weatherproof and easy to setup.
The other option is to hang from the trees.Mar 29, 2010 at 8:51 am #1591896
>A cuben hexamid twin with bug netting and doors and a custom cuben floor. All that for under 15 oz, and it's a palace. Pretty quick setup, plenty of weather protection, unbelievably light for the room and protection it provides.
Sounds perfect, Doug. Who makes such a feather-weight beast?
StargazerMar 29, 2010 at 8:55 am #1591897
@cooldripLocale: "Grand Canyon of the East"
Trevor makes a good point about the shelters. Another advantage of the Gatewood/Serenity combo as regards the AT is the Serenity can be used in the shelters for bug protection. Personally I really like having a floorless shelter in wet weather; I can set it up, cook and dry out, then set up my bug shelter for sleeping. So the modularity would win for me. Using the Gatewood for raingear is just icing on the cake, and by mid-summer there will have been enough traffic on the trail to beat down the underbrush, making a longer poncho a more viable alternative.Mar 29, 2010 at 8:56 am #1591898
Ben 2 WorldBPL Member
@ben2worldLocale: So Cal
The weight between your Contrail and your "heaviest" Moment is a lousy 4 ounces!!
Thinking about it — sure, if your pack weight is super heavy, then every additional ounce counts. But you're a UL hiker, no? If your pack weight is more than light/comfy enough that you can truly hike all day and hardly ever notice the pack on your back at all… then mental aside — who the heck cares about 5 ounces? Or even 16 ounces?
So many seem to fall into the "trap" where less is always better. No, methinks less is better only when your pack is too heavy! Otherwise, less is just less. As in less comfort, less enjoyment, etc.
To me, your listing shows an awful lot of overlap. If I were you, I would sell 5 and retain just 1 — and it would be an easy decision: The Moment. It's elegantly simple, and you youself stated it was your favorite!!Mar 29, 2010 at 8:56 am #1591899
I'm suprised non-ones mentioned the sublite. Based on what you've said- you're familiar with it, used it on three dayers, more stormworthy than your contrail and your second lightest, it seems to make sense.Mar 29, 2010 at 8:58 am #1591901
@cooldripLocale: "Grand Canyon of the East"
Not Doug, but the Hexamid is by Joe V. at ZPacks. Quite a wait though, and no orders til June 1? I really, REALLY want one though. The tarp version would be my ultimate 3 season shelter.Mar 29, 2010 at 9:07 am #1591905
Travis LeannaBPL Member
All the small details aside, is there any particular shelter that simply makes you happiest?
Another way to put it: Forget the ounces for a second. Which shelter do you most likely see yourself in on the AT?
Since your decision is not hinged on an expensive purchase, the choice becomes easier, I think. That being said, I'd choose either the Moment or Contrail.Mar 29, 2010 at 9:17 am #1591910
"I would get a nano tarp, and a bug net if necessary. But that means buying another shelter :)"
You say that like more gear is a bad thing ;)
(And I though we photographers were bad… ;))Mar 29, 2010 at 9:18 am #1591913
Andy FBPL Member
Sleep is important. Your pack weight is low enough that you can handle the extra weight of the best all-around shelter you own: the Moment.
Dislaimer: This is coming from a guy who intends to carry around a 3.25 lb Scarp 2 on even his solo trips. :DMar 29, 2010 at 9:26 am #1591916
@ken_bennettLocale: southeastern usa
"Truth is, the Moment is my favorite shelter, but 28 oz sounds pretty heavy over 10 days."
Wow, really? It's only 4 ounces heavier than the Contrail. Remember when the standard "light" backpacking tents weighed 5 pounds? (And that was much lighter than the previous 8 pound tents….)
If it's your favorite shelter, take it. Enjoy it. I love my new Moment, and have no qualms at all taking it over my lighter tarp and bivy system.
While it's true that ounces add up to pounds, I have never been able to feel an extra 4 ounces on my back. Never. If everything else is UL, I'm betting you won't, either.
Have a great hike — that's a fun section of the AT. Make sure you plan to stop at every "wayside" in SNP for food and drinks. We had a terrific breakfast at Big Meadows Wayside when we did that section (great coffee and pancakes with blackberry syrup. Mmmmmm.) There was plenty of water at the waysides, camp grounds, shelters, and picnic areas that we passed every day, and we could get meals and resupply too. We also stayed at an historic cabin at Skyland one night. Fun trip.Mar 29, 2010 at 9:44 am #1591925
Henry BlakeBPL Member
You could put a price on all of them on Gear Swap, except the Moment, and see what "moves", before your trip. Then order a Cuben Hexamid with the proceeds to use on future trips.
Carry at least two of your tents that you want to sell. I'd take The One and the Sublite since you like the Contrail and Moment alot. The first three nights you'll meet someone that will see and like your tent. Get paid in full (on the trail) or if you decide to trust them to pay you later, send them on their way with it, with the promise to Paypal you as soon as they get home. Then you'll only be left with the Sublite to sell. Within the remaining seven days, you'll find another buyer, and can promise to send it to them as soon as you finish your trip. Or you can also take the Gatewood Cape (as a third shelter), and use it the last couple days of your trip after selling the Sublite.
Remember, if you meet someone with a heavy shelter, they want a lighter solution NOW to lessen their pain. So ask for bigger bucks on the trail for them than anyone on this site will give you. Good luck.Mar 29, 2010 at 9:47 am #1591926
@kashmirLocale: New York
"Thinking about it — sure, if your pack weight is super heavy, then every additional ounce counts. But you're a UL hiker, no? If your pack weight is more than light/comfy enough that you can truly hike all day and hardly ever notice the pack on your back at all… then mental aside — who the heck cares about 5 ounces? Or even 16 ounces?
So many seem to fall into the "trap" where less is always better. No, methinks less is better only when your pack is too heavy! Otherwise, less is just less. As in less comfort, less enjoyment, etc."
Brilliant — I could not agree with this more.
I've come to the conclusion that I will cheerfully shave ounces and lighten loads, but indulge, if only slightly, when it comes to my sleep. That is worth it. And, in this case, if it means you take the Moment, then you are better for it. In fact, your own criticism of the other tarps were all convenience based: ease of set up, noise when sleeping, the need for extra poles that takes more time at the end of the day.
Given your own inclinations, I would say you should take the Moment.Mar 29, 2010 at 9:58 am #1591928
If you're hiking exclusively on the AT, I'd consider taking just a bivy- preferably something like the SMD Meteor, strictly for bug protection. Use the AT shelters- that's what they're there for. A core principle of SUL and UL hiking is to not over-pack.
If you're really worried about flexibility of where to camp, you can throw in a tarp and get by with less that 16 ounces total.
Of the shelters you have? I'd say the Contrail but that's the only one out of those that I have much familiarity with.Mar 29, 2010 at 10:20 am #1591937
>If you're hiking exclusively on the AT, I'd consider taking just a bivy- preferably something like the SMD Meteor, strictly for bug protection. Use the AT shelters- that's what they're there for.
Good thought. However, the shelters do get a bit crowded along that stretch in June/ July.
I am reminded of advice given to me three decades ago when I first walked the AT in Pennsylvania:
"Tom, avoid the shelters. Sleep in your own tent. That way, the only person you have to worry about snoring or farting is yourself."
Ah, wisdom for the ages. ;-D
Stargazer, who snores so hard his fillings come looseMar 29, 2010 at 10:38 am #1591945
Donna CBPL Member
@leadfootLocale: Middle Virginia
I avoid shelters there at any cost. They are vermin infested, crowded and just not fun, IMHO. Mice droppings everywhere. Rats grabbing socks, skunks running on top of you while you sleep. Go there to stop, water up, eat and move on. Summer will be crowded and bears like to hang around the sheltered areas, too. There are plenty of nice places to camp along the way, some with great views. Best bet are areas close to overlooks, generally a mile away. Just make sure you have bug coverage. With the tents you have, any would work.
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