Dec 24, 2011 at 2:53 pm #1283320
I'm trying to decide between these two tents and would welcome any advice. We are doing a Grand Canyon trip this spring with my husband and two boys (8 & 11). Our main tent is an REI Quarter Dome 2T, but going with the kids, we need a second tent and it needs to be light and small. We are tempted to use tarps but are a little freaked out by the agressive critters in the Indian Gardens campground (squirrels, mice, ringtails, skunks) who seem to have little fear of humans. We have narrowed it down to the SMD Lunar Duo and the TarpTent Rainshadow 2. On paper,these two tents are similar but each has a few advantages over the other. We've weighed out the pro's and con's but would like to have input from folks who have actually used them.
The LD is on sale now for $264 so price is about the same. Weight is about the same. The TT is supposed to hold 3 people but has less space for sitting up (playing cards). I've read that 4 adults can sit up in the Lunar Duo. I wonder if 2 people can situp in the TT? The LD has vestibules but the TT has room for 2 people & gear in the tent. The big advantage of the 3 person tent would be if my husband and boys went Backpacking without me (Scouts). I've heard nothing but good things about Tarp Tent's products but don't know much about SMD.
So as you can see, on paper, its a bit of a tie. I'm hoping someone who has experience with either or both of these tents could share their thoughts to help break the tie.Dec 24, 2011 at 5:22 pm #1815655
I don't have experience with the TT, but I can only say good things about our Lunar Duo. It has endured all kinds of weather, is super convenient with two doors/vestibules, and is cavernous inside. I'm 6'5", and my wife and I are both thrashers in our sleep, and we have tons of room. I haven't had 4 adults sitting in it, but it doesn't suprise me that you could. The vertical walls and spacer poles at the top provide a ton of headroom. Anyway, hope these ranting praises help :-PDec 24, 2011 at 8:40 pm #1815673
@glacierramblerLocale: NW Montana
We camped at Phantom Ranch, and my brother in law spent the night on the picnic table while we were in a tent. The ringtails came down in the middle of the night and chattered at us. But other than some crazy staccato noise, we had no problems with the critters. The corridor trails have excellent food storage, so I wouldn't worry too much about the critters.
We even cowboy camped at Hermit Rapids later that week and had no problems once we hung our food. If I had it to do again, I'd just bring a tarp and use it only if there were any rain forecasted. Cowboy camping in the Grand Canyon is the way to go, a whole new way to experience the park.Dec 24, 2011 at 9:15 pm #1815681
That's good to know that the critters mostly leave you alone when out in the open. We camped down at the bottom a few years ago in a tent. It seemed like there were lots of mice and the ringtails explored our empty packs hanging on the posts but didn't hurt anything. We've also seen Kaibab squirrel bite people for no reason while resting at Indian Gardens. The GC animals seem kind of bold around people, so we didn't know what to expect in open or under a tarp.
The tarp option does have some appeal, but since the kids are new to backpacking, it just seems a tent might be a more reassuring to them. We really want this to be a great introduction to backpacking for them.
A funny story about cowboy camping…My husband cowboy camped in the Superstitions last year. He awoke in the middle of the night with a skunk's butt pointed directly at him! Fortunatly, he didn't get sprayed, but he says it is a startling way to wake up. After that experience, I think he would be reassured having a tent!Dec 24, 2011 at 10:55 pm #1815691
@glacierramblerLocale: NW Montana
We were there in mid-March this (almost last) year. I don't know if that had anything to do with the few critters we experienced. Temperatures in the canyon at night were pretty nice (40s-50s, if I remember correctly), but on the rim they were much colder. I'm not an expert on the region's zoology, so someone else should weigh in. Who knows, maybe we just got lucky!
Either way, it's one of those trips that fuels passion for years.Dec 25, 2011 at 6:45 am #1815713
We used an original Rainshadow when our daughter was younger. It easily sleeps three people with most of their gear inside (except packs.) It's a very good tent, and I expect the new version will provide more headroom for hanging out. When my wife and I used it on 2-person hikes, it worked pretty well.
After a while, though, I got tired of the single front entrance/vestibule, and pushing my gear out of the way to get out of the tent. I wanted two doors, two vestibules, and the doors on the long side of the tent. We used a Tarptent Double Rainbow for a year or so, but found the interior volume cramped due to the design. (Otherwise it's an awesome tent.)
The Lunar Duo is amazing, the largest interior of any lightweight 2-person tent we have tried. The two vestibules are large enough to hold all our gear, and the long side walls/doors are vertical, so we can leave the canopy doors open during light rain for ventilation. The interior is long enough for a tall person in a long sleeping bag, and neither end touches the mesh wall. The canopy doors are adjustable at any height, so I can have ventilation even in wind-blown rain. The main canopy over the sleeping area is a single piece of silnylon, so there are no seams to leak. It holds up very well to major rain and wind in our experience.
The LD is a little tricky to set up, and I still find myself fussing with it even after a couple of years of use. (The Double Rainbow just pops up completely taut. The Rainshadow requires a little fussing.)
As for your choice, it's not really a tie — if you will need a 3-person shelter at some point, the Rainshadow is the only option. But if you are comparing these as 2-person shelters, the LD is an excellent choice. The overall design, with 2 doors on the long sides, is much more usable in my experience, and the interior volume provides enough space to have 4 people share a meal (or the proverbial game of cards…)
Have fun in the canyon.Dec 25, 2011 at 8:56 am #1815727
Ryan CBPL Member
Not to hijack the thread, but I see some have used tarps in the Canyon.
For solo use, would my floorless SMD Wild Oasis do ok in the Canyon? I would be concerned about scorpions crawling under the bug netting. Would I be better off with my full Tarptent that weighs twice as much?Dec 25, 2011 at 9:46 am #1815735
Wow Ken, Thanks! That's great info. I knew someone would have experience with both of these. We eliminated the Double Rainbow because we heard several people say it was cramped. The 3 person capacity of the Rainshadow has a lot of appeal, but it sounds like the Lunar Duo is a much better tent for two. It's also good to hear that the LD holds up well in the rain which is one of my concerns. We don't get much rain in the Soutwest, but when it does rain, it rains a lot. Water pools up and runs quickly.
Can you comment on the effectiveness of their "Bathtub" floors? Also, are either tents better to block out the wind when there is excess ventilation? From the picutres, it appears that the LD's coverage goes closer to the ground.
Ryan, the weather in the canyon is not predictable. The desert soil doesn't soak up the rain so water pools quickly. We use down bags so I'm concerned way more about wetness than scorpions. We had a lot of scorpians in our old house and have been stung several times. Its not pleasant, but I wouldn't worry about it much. We have never been stung camping.Dec 25, 2011 at 10:01 am #1815740
Joe ClementBPL Member
Have you looked at the Stratosphire 2 from Tarptent? Looked pretty big in Franco's pictures. Lunar Duo is supposed to be giant though. Maybe I shold read this thread from the beginning before I post?
Or how about a Tarptent Hogback?Dec 26, 2011 at 8:59 am #1815909
Yes, I watched Franco's video on the Stratosphire. It looks really great, but its a little pricy for us. We were considering a SD Clip Flashlight but decided to adjust the budget out to include the Rainshadow and the Lunar Duo (on sale) since they are so much lighter.
We tried to get a Hogback on the Gear Swap forums the other night but someone beat us to it. It would have been a good score, but we decided that 2 or a very light 3 person tent is a lot more flexible. So that's why we are considering these two.Dec 26, 2011 at 3:14 pm #1815982
I can't really comment on the bathtub floors, as we're pretty careful to pitch the tent on ground that won't have runoff under the tent. We get some pretty big thunderstorms here, too, that can have 2 inches of rain per hour (or more), so a hard packed campsite isn't a great choice. However, the sides of the floor come up a few inches, so I expect it would take some runoff. I do understand that your campsite choices are more limited.
The ends of the tent and the vestibules come pretty close to the ground – I'm usually trying to find ways to get them higher for more ventilation – so I think it'll batten down well against cold wind. We do find that closing the canopy doors quickly makes it warm inside. (My lovely wife is always cold….)Dec 27, 2011 at 11:45 am #1816260
The Duo is able to be set up lower that you see in the site pics.
I have been in heavy wind and rain on the AT with no moisture problems with and a piece of Tyvek under it.
I now have a piece of cubin that I use as a groundsheet and have no fear of rain regardless of how heavy. I made it into a bathtub floor that clips onto sides of the existing floor, but I would be just as confident with it flat.
At some point I am going to remove the Silnylon floor and sew in the cuben.Dec 27, 2011 at 11:59 am #1816265
Timely thread. My girlfriend and I have a Rainshadow2 and a Double Rainbow and we were just discussing which to keep and which to sell. I prefer the 2 doors of the DR, but she prefers the extra floor space in the Rainshadow. Looks like the Lunar Duo might be the best of both worlds….especially now that it's on sale.Dec 27, 2011 at 1:08 pm #1816296
Quick comment, as I don't want my previous posts to be misleading — the floor space of the Lunar Duo is only very slightly larger than the Double Rainbow, if at all (hard to remember when I never owned them at the same time. But you could look it up.) What's different is the interior volume — the livable space inside. The long sides of the Double Rainbow slope inward. In my experience it was hard for both of us to sit up inside, change clothes, etc, without bumping into each other and the side walls (which often were wet from condensation here in the humid East.) The Lunar Duo has vertical side walls, meaning there is far more usable interior space. Four adults can sit up inside the LD – so we can invite our daughter inside for breakfast on a rainy morning and have plenty of room.
So if actual floor space is important, the Rainshadow has it in spades, along with the interior volume.
KenDec 27, 2011 at 1:27 pm #1816313
Thanks for the clarification, Ken. My post was poorly worded and I should have said something like "extra usable interior space" instead of "extra floor space."
The pictures in the "Living Quarters" section of this article make the difference seem pretty drastic.Dec 28, 2011 at 4:33 pm #1816824
Ok, I was about ready to place the order for the Lunar Duo and I heard about the GoLite sale. On impulse, I ordered their Shangri-la 3, the nest and the separate floor. (The Shangri-la 2 had already sold out). At 50% off, it was hard to pass up. This tent wasn't even on my radar due to its normally high price. After buying it I started doing research and it seems like a pretty good tent and can be pretty light if we use treking poles instead of the included pole. I like the flexibility of using the components separately or together. Being in AZ, bugs are not usually a problem so I can see us taking the fly or possibly the fly+floor most of the time. From watching some Youtube videos, it seems to stand up to weather well. The only downside seems that it might be fussy to setup. We'll have to do some evaluating in the backyard once it gets here. Our Grand Canyon trip isn't until March. If it doesn't live up to our expectations we'll return it or sell it and order the Lunar Duo.
Thanks everyone for all your help. This is an awesome community! Its great to be able to tap into so much collective experience and wisdom.Dec 28, 2011 at 6:13 pm #1816860
Randy NelsonBPL Member
Great choice. I moved to it from the Rainshadow 2, which I was very fond of. I only have the fly and when I got it I debated about adding the netting mod for the bottom but decided I'd wait until I had a bad experience with mosquitoes before I did. So far, no problem, so I haven't done it yet. But I didn't get it until mid-June this year. I am still holding onto the RS2 in case I do have a problem with mosquitoes that is bad enough to make me think about using it in the spring. Here's the link to Craig's article on how to join your trekking poles. Very helpful. I used this until someone from here gave me a extender. Works great.Dec 28, 2011 at 9:18 pm #1816927
Thanks for the link, Randy. That's a brilliant solution! I'm glad to hear positive feedback on the Golite tent. We don't typically buy gear on impulse and probably research and obsessed too much. But it is rare to find high end gear with such a steep discount.
I still see either a SMD or a Tarptent in our future (maybe both). We have 6 tents right now (need to sell some). But there is no such thing as a perfect tent for every occasion, so its good to have options.Dec 28, 2011 at 10:01 pm #1816936
Eric BlumensaadtBPL Member
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
When we backpacked teh Grand Canyon 4 years ago most use tents. Our last night on the way up and out we camped at Indian Gardens and all but me camped cowboy style. The guy next to me was totally invaided by little crawly bugs and had a restless night.
I'll stick to my Tarptent, thank you.Dec 29, 2011 at 7:59 am #1817013
Randy NelsonBPL Member
I've never camped in the Canyon so I'll leave it to others to comment on whether or not they should bring the floor or nest. But they do have the option to customize the tent for each trip they take, which is nice. I've only used mine in Colorado so far and I haven't missed having bug protection yet.
What type of bugs were bothering that guy at Indian Gardens? I had heard that rodents could be a problem there but didn't know about bugs? Did you stay at the north rim on your trip and if so, any issues there? I'm doing a rim-rim-rim overnight in September and was planning to just take a flat tarp.
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