Apr 29, 2013 at 2:37 pm #1302351
I'm trying to decide on the best tent for my Aug/Sept hike of the JMT (and hopefully to last me for years beyond!) – I have it narrowed down between, BA Fly Creek UL1, Lightheart Gear Solo, and the Skyscape Trekker. Ideally a trekking pole supported tent sounds great – but I have not used one before…some of my thoughts initially:
BA Fly Creek – I've heard great things about this tent, it comes seam sealed, seems sturdy, and I like the fact that I can purchase from REI and can use REI's return policy if needed (rather than the standard 30 days). However, it seems short (I'm only 5 6" so this may not be an issue), and the overall floor space compared to the others is small.
LHG solo – I've been eyeing this tent for awhile, and this has been on the top of my list except that I'm worried about it standing up to winds. With the weather potentially ALL over the place in Sept on the JMT (Heat, cold, snow, wind, rain, hail…….or totally uneventful perfect weather) I want to make sure this can stand up to a windy storm if needed. I LOVE how open this tent is without the fly.
Trekker – I find much similar about the trekker and the LHG Solo other than the offset peak (which barely makes a difference for me) – a little less floor space – but the setup seems very easy.
If anyone has any experience that can help me decide between these it would be appreciated!Apr 29, 2013 at 2:41 pm #1981700
@jenmitolLocale: In my dreams....
Not impressed. I used it as my first "ultralight" tent, and I thought I liked it, until I really had to live out of it for a while; it didn't even last me a whole season. And I had the 2 person…
Do yourself (and your bank account) a favor and just go all out for the trekking pole tent, as light as you can afford. It ends up being a lot cheaper in the end when you don't end up buying 5-6 shelters trying to find the perfect one….Apr 29, 2013 at 3:14 pm #1981711
@rinconLocale: Desert Southwest
On the other hand, I have used a Fly Creek 1 ( not the UL) for four years including several fairly long (>100 mile) hikes in the Sierra and it has served me well. So far, the tent doesn't show any signs of wear and it has handled some pretty stiff winds and rainstorms. I am 5' 9" tall and fit into the tent well with my gear but if I were much taller I would not fit. The Fly Creek has a few shortcomings: I posted a review of it on Trail Space if you are interested. I'm hiking the JMT in late August / early September this year and will be using my old Fly Creek. There are places along the JMT where a small tent is an advantage.Apr 29, 2013 at 3:36 pm #1981720
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
At 5'6", you should not find any space issue with the Fly Creek UL1, except maybe for headroom. If you were taller, you still might fit it, but you have to sleep diagonally across the floor of it.
–B.G.–Apr 29, 2013 at 5:32 pm #1981756
I'm 6 foot and for the most part can fit in the Fly Creek without issue. The problem with the tent is the vestibule opens in a way, where when it is raining the water can fall inside the mouth of the tent. As well, the vestibule has a pretty small area for storage or cooking. So, it is a fine tent as long as you don't find yourself needing to get out of the tent and get back in while it is raining, or in a situation where you are stuck inside your tent for a day or two.
That said, I wouldn't really mind using one as my shelter on the JMT.
Have you looked at the TarpTent Rainbow?Apr 29, 2013 at 5:56 pm #1981763
@bookLocale: Northern California
I like my Fly Creek ul1. It's very weather-worthy. Also, it pitches in all soil/rock conditions in the Sierra. No real condensation problems, once you figure it out. Further, I like the high fabric on the inner mesh because it blocks winds and possibly adds a degree or two of warmth. Oh, and it blocks rain-splash. At 5'9" I can sit up in this tent to change clothes.
That said, I've never used a hiking pole tent. I really like the notion of saving almost a pound of weight with one of these Cuben tents.
I really only sleep or lay down to read in my tent, so living space is not such a consideration for me. May be different for you.
Oh p.s. everyone complains about the front door of the fly creek letting in rain when you enter or exit but I've never found this to be a problem–I don't enter/exit that often in a storm and even when I do the small amount of rain that enters is entirely manageable. Again, you just learn how to do this in this tent. No big deal.Apr 29, 2013 at 6:14 pm #1981768
I would take whatever is lightest. Mosquitos are not bad that time of the year, so you probably won't have to sleep in it unless there is a storm.Apr 29, 2013 at 7:17 pm #1981781
@jenmitolLocale: In my dreams....
Not that the fly creek is an AWFUL tent, it's just meh. If you want something to invest in and last you for a while, I just think you should go in a different direction. It was indeed rock solid for me in Patagonia, but I just found it functionally to be rather annoying. I am 5'7" and there was only a single place I could sit up to get dressed or to pack up, I hated having to spin around to get out, I thought the ventilation was less than ideal if it was even a little bit warm out, the vestibule didnt really hold much more than your shoes, and you couldn't really set it up without the fly because of the way it is set up (you need to clip the inner to the fly to pull out the sides).
Anyway, I just think you can do better for the same money.
If you can afford it…go cuben! hexamid, duomid, skyscape X, lunar solo, lightheart gear, hmg echo…
Can you see my dream list?? Ha!!Apr 29, 2013 at 7:38 pm #1981788
I would suggest starting with deciding what features are most important to you and then evaluating each shelter. What's important to one person might not be important at all to another. I think you are better off asking owners of particular tents about a feature instead of which shelter you should use. For example, if easy exit/entry is important to you ask the owners of shelter X how is this feature.
– Side entry only because they are easier to enter and exit
– I like some headroom because it makes it easier to work with layers in my sleep system
– I like the fully enclosed shelter. Not a bug/critter thing just works better for me
– I don't like bivies or inner nets. Tried many and just not for me
– Even side entry has to have some height for easy entry, so don't try to sell me on a Hexmid
– I'll carry a little extra weight for the features I want (I'll compensate by running and working out more)
For week long trips on the JMT I have used:
– MLD Grace Duo with Katabatic bivy
– Cuben Solomid with Katabatic bivy
– MLD Trailstar with tyvek ground piece
– This year I will use the BA Copper Spur UL1
All the others worked fine and accomplished the goal, but I think the BA will fit my needs better. We are all different and prioritize things differently. You need to figure out what is important.
BradApr 29, 2013 at 7:41 pm #1981789
Thanks for the thoughts on the Fly Creek – the headroom (height) is a concern at only 38". I suppose it's not a huge issue as I'll probably only be changing clothes in it, but I do like that the Lightheart is 43" and the SMD Trekker is 45" – they also have more square footage…and there is the bonus that I can use my hiking poles for support…one less thing to carry (or potentially, one big issue if my poles fail! Ha!)
I have looked at the TT Rainbow – and liked it overall, except it doesn't (or someone totally correct me if I'm wrong) have the option for the great views overhead that the Solo and Trekker have (by removing the fly). Most of my camping is in southern California and the Sierras – so I have so many dry warm nights where it would be great to have the tent open. (I don't have the guts to sleep without being 'enclosed' in a tent yet – even with no mosquitos…wish I could! I'm paranoid something is going to crawl on me, or inside my bag…or who knows what…sure – likely totally not a realistic concern, but I can't shake it!)
Curious for the UL1 users – have any of you weathered strong winds in it? That is my big concern with the SMD and LHG tents..Apr 29, 2013 at 7:50 pm #1981792
Good thoughts – thanks, Brad. I suppose my priorities would be (ideally)
– fully enclosed (see my last post – I'm creepy-crawly paranoid! Ha!)
– headroom/space to move around a bit
– ability to have good views
– hold up to 30-40 mph winds (which we get often in the summer evenings in our local mountains)
– trekking pole support to save space in my pack is ideal, as I have to usually carry a bear canister, and pack space is at a premium so anywhere I can save space (not carrying poles) – BUT a lightweight pole supported tent like the UL1 I could make it work
– good long-term investment / warranty / return policy – I don't plan on buying multiple tents, I really would like this tent to last me at least a few years, and if I did have a fail after 30 days, a good return policy or customer support would be very importanApr 29, 2013 at 7:50 pm #1981793
@glacierramblerLocale: NW Montana
If you want to sleep with the inner only so you can look at the stars, why not consider a TarpTent Notch?
FWIW, I keep saying that I am going to sell my Rainbow because I now have lighter shelters, but I keep finding uses for it each season. It really is a very well-designed tent.Apr 29, 2013 at 7:59 pm #1981797
One other poster mentioned on here a few weeks ago that using stakes/guylines was a pain on the JMT. He said he often couldn't use stakes, so he spent quite a while collecting boulders each night. I'm not sure of the extent of this, but avoiding a shelter with high stake requirements might be advantageous for the JMT.Apr 29, 2013 at 8:05 pm #1981802
I just bought a BA Copper Spur UL1 and I think that would serve your purposes better.
– Fully enclosed
– headroom and space. 22 sq ft is pretty good for single person
– side entry allows for you to roll both sides of vestibule back and have an open side
– has poles
– Buy from REI or backcountry and you get the lifetime return policy
I have owned a couple tarptents and I'm not a big fan. However others swear by them. Don't let my opinion sway you. The BA is a little heavier but I get a double wall tent and can elect to leave the rainfly off in good weather. Also no return policy for tarptent.
See we all have our preferences and none of us are wrong. Focus on what is important and make sure you get the things you need. At the very least I would start with the ones you can buy at REI because you can always return if you don't like. Then move to the others.
BradApr 29, 2013 at 8:09 pm #1981805
Dan, that is an interesting comment about guylines and stakes. I would agree that often times my Sierra campsites can be a challenge with a few stakes, but I have found rocks to be very accessible. Most of the time I place a few rocks on top of my stakes because the winds can be strong at times. A shortage of rocks is the last think I have experienced in the Sierras.
BradApr 29, 2013 at 8:47 pm #1981811
These two tents are extremely wind worthy and fall somewhere in between a tarp and a lightweight traditional double-walled tent. It is side entry and has two vestibules of useable size – though only one is accessible from inside the tent. My SMD Trekker (Silnylon version) weighs 23.5 ounces stuffed with guylines and five Ti stakes. I think the poles (if you don't carry trekking poles) add 3.6 ounces total to the package. Anyway, this has taken some serious wind for me (35+ MPH), and also allows you to go fly only for bug protection and 360 degree views. Just one recommendation. I have been liking shaped tarps a little more lately but for bugs, this is my go-to.Apr 29, 2013 at 9:30 pm #1981822
@jephotoLocale: New Zealand
tarptent moment dw. Not completely free standing but can I think just be pitched with a couple of pegs. Can also pitch inner only.Apr 30, 2013 at 11:55 am #1981983
"Curious for the UL1 users – have any of you weathered strong winds in it?"
I used the FlyCreek UL1 in really high wind (for me), it held up very well. Especially if you can get the tail end of the tent heading into the primary direction the wind is coming from. I do have a vague memory of wishing I could cinch the sides of the rain fly a bit closer to the ground, and even getting up to hunt for logs to use as wind breaks for the gaps.Apr 30, 2013 at 12:46 pm #1982001
I have used a SMD Lunar Solo for the past 4 years. It is my go-to one person shelter. I have also had recent experience with the Lightheart Solo (Cuben) and the BA Fly Creek UL1.
As others have said above, Big Agnes makes tents that are, for my purposes, kind of "meh." The Fly Creek is light, sure, and since most of us grew up using double-wall tents with an aluminum pole structure, it is comfortably familiar. However, the tent itself is not particularly comfortable–especially for long term use. You have less interior space and headroom than you'll have with the other two, and that makes a difference. The vestibule is tiny on the Fly Creek, and the door does have this habit of dumping water into the tent. Also, I much prefer a side-entry to a front-entry. Easier to get in and out, and you don't have to sleep with your stinky shoes right next to your head! A lot of people upgrade to a UL2 as their solo shelter, because the UL1 is pretty cramped.
LH and SMD both make fantastic tents. The set-up is pretty intuitive once you have a couple of practice pitches under your belt. I wish the Skyscape had existed when I was in the market for a one-person shelter; it improves on the Lunar Solo in almost every way I can think of–better head room, better usable interior space. SMD tents strike me as marginally better-constructed than LH. Just the quality of the stitching, all the little design elements, etc. I have been told that Lightheart uses a silnylon with a slightly higher hydrostatic head, meaning there's less chance it will mist through in heavy rains (I don't think my Lunar Solo has ever misted, and it's seen some serious all-night downpours in New England, Oregon, and coastal Spain).
Overall, though, any of these would be a fine choice. All good in wind and rain. I have put in 2000+ miles in my SMD tent, and hundreds in the BA and the LH. To me, the LH and SMD look like bargains next to the BA.
The only thing I would add is that if you really want the comfort and flexibility of a true double wall, look at TarpTent's designs–the Notch, Moment DW, or the StratoSpire1 look like they could all work for you.Apr 30, 2013 at 1:14 pm #1982011
If looking for a true double wall you could also look at Big Sky tents. Classic design but seriously lightened up. The company at times has stock issues but if they have what you're looking for in the warehouse you're good to go. I recently bought the Revolution 1P (very recent, will show up in next day or two) and am looking forward to checking it out.
The SMD shelters are also great, but do have limitations. I tried the Scout/Trekker last year but didn't like it because there was almost no vestibule space. Loads of interior room though and offset apex really makes a difference in comfort.Apr 30, 2013 at 1:47 pm #1982025
@firestarter01Locale: Bay Area
I don't mean to hijack this thread but have people found staking down a tent to be problematic along the JMT? I'm making a custom tarp tent and just figured I'd be able to find spots along the way. All the pictures I've seen seem to have plenty of soft ground.Apr 30, 2013 at 3:21 pm #1982054
@geokiteLocale: Southern California
JMT in 2002 and 2012, no problems staking out a TT virga and a MLD tarp/serenity shelter. When I slept just north of Muir pass due to an incoming thunder storm, it was a bit more difficult, but certainly nothing for me to choose an entirely different shelter.
SteveApr 30, 2013 at 3:50 pm #1982063
I will be hiking the JMT with a Borah side zip bivy and a tarp, but if taking a tent I'd take my Spitfire 1. With only the necessary 4 stakes and using Needle Stakes the weight is an acceptable (to me) 2 lb 9 oz. Since I don't like trekking poles I would have to consider the weight of the poles in the weight of the tarp tents often recommended. At under $100 it is a good value and I do not expect to ever "outgrow it" for those trips where I want a tent. I actually like it better than a lot of the tents that cost 3 times as much.Apr 30, 2013 at 6:36 pm #1982097
@bookLocale: Northern California
Matt: believe me, there are plenty of rocks everywhere in the Sierra to anchor your stakes, when it comes to that. I mean, within fifteen feet of your intended campsite–at altitude, where this whole scenario comes into play. It's just not a problem. A small mound of three or four stones will hold your stakes as well as plunging them into soft earth. At least, that's my experience. But yes, it might add ten minutes to your pitching time.
I use a Big Agnes tent that requires 10(!) stakes–two versions over 7 years. I've never had a problem staking these tents out in the Sierra.Apr 30, 2013 at 7:23 pm #1982115
@firestarter01Locale: Bay Area
Oh sure. I have no problems with getting creative with some rocks. I just found the original comment at bit odd since staking a tarp doesn't appear to be an issue from the pictures I've seen. That's all :-)
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