Jun 20, 2007 at 11:24 am #1223769
Had my daughter and her kids visit this past week for 5 days; five-year-old Megan has been my hiking buddy since she could walk. I had hoped to take her backpacking in a "real" woods where overnight camping is allowed but timing didn't work since the drive times are a minimum of 3 1/2 to 4 hours north to Manistee NF in MI or south to Morgan-Monroe SF or Deam Wilderness (Hoosier NF) in IN.
Anyway, in addition to a long dayhike in Allegan (MI) State Game Area (no camping this time of year and just over 1 1/2 hours away), we spent a night in the yard in my Lunar Solo e.
Besides having fun together "camping" overnight (which we've done a number of times), I wanted to try out the "plus" part of the Lunar Solo 1+ sizing to know for sure that we could get by with it on a real trip and not have to take a heavier 2-person tent.
In a nutshell: it worked great! I used my old original full-length Thermarest pad in the front of the tent and placed my short Prolite 4 next to it towards the back.
With both of us inside our sleeping bags, there was enough room. I was concerned that we would be too crowded but there is sufficient depth to the tent that we could turn over, etc. without banging into each other. She is 45" tall, the pad is 47" long, and the body of the child's down sleeping bag is about 4' long not counting the hood. I actually tied off the bottom portion of the rectangular bag ala Montbell. We still had some room at her head and feet for clothes, her books, etc. On a backpacking trip, the packs with most gear would have to stay in the vestibule.
I'm not sure what the practical height limit for the second person would be, but I think this tent might handle a child up to 5' tall before they would be pressing too much against the mesh of the angled back side walls. I'm looking forward to a trip to the "real" woods with my grandkids and this tent.Jun 20, 2007 at 7:19 pm #1392894
@justaguyLocale: Pacific Northwest
Did you modify your Lunar Solo? The setup looks great.
Did you disconnect the bungy cords from the stake out loops so you could set the canopy up higher? What length are you using your trekking pole?Jun 22, 2007 at 9:51 pm #1393147
Yes, I have modified my Lunar Solo e. Ever since I received it last year, I have been frustrated with the setup of the stock version. There were three pitch issues that bothered me: the "sagging" of the mesh walls, the lack of space between the ground and lower edges of the canopy for vetilation, and low head room inside. Multiple pitches of the tent, quite a few measurements, and many hours of thinking and theorizing confirmed my initial impression: the bungee cord guylines to the floating floor were limiting the geometric capabilities of the tent design.
The furnished bungee cords (3/32" diameter) have a working length of approx. 11" fully relaxed and a maximum length when stretched (under considerable tension) of approx. 16-17". The tension when stretched this far (5-6") results in way too much pull on the tent floor; the working stretch range without getting too tight is about half of that, maybe 3". The raw starting length of each bungee looks to be just over 12" to allow for attaching to the webbing at the floor corners and sewing into the fly webbing.
The canopy guylines (webbing) have an practical adjustment range of about 8" from fully extended to cinched as close as possible to the fly edge. This close cinching would only be used in "hunker-down" mode when you want the fly as close to the ground as possible. I did pitch once this way last winter (snow, windy, zero degrees) when I was testing my sleep system based on a 20 degree bag.
The disparity between a 8" adjustment on the fly guyline and only a ~3" stretch range for the bungee cord made it obvious that the bungees were the limiting factor. In addition, I wanted to raise the canopy (for reasons above) and the apparent options to accomplish this would be to fully extend the fly webbing and/or attach the webbing to stakes heads that were above ground level.
I purchased Easton aluminum gold 8" long (plus 3/4" head where I secure the canopy webbing) stakes and then pitched the tent with the stake heads protruding about 2 to 2 1/2" above ground level. This achieved part of my goal in that the fly was higher but introduced a new problem: any tension on the bungees now pulled the tent corners up off the ground.
I had also been experimenting with the length of the pole to achieve maximum height. The optional pole available from SMD is 46" inches long including 5/8" that protrudes through the grommet at the tent peak. I felt that this was shorter than necessary and for a while used a trekking pole length of as much as 49". For now I settled on an approx. 47" length which is used in the pictured setup; this is effectively about 1 1/2" longer than the optional pole.
Finally, several weeks ago, I bit the bullet and cut the bungee cords where they are sewed into the stake end of the canopy guyout webbing.
To try to achieve maximum height at the edges for ventilation, maximum interior vertical room, and the straightest hanging of the mesh sidewalls, I extended the canopy guyline webbing to it's maximum practical length and placed the stakes as far out as this would allow, leaving the heads 2" plus above the ground. This was a significant improvement and appears close to maximizing the tent design.
Under the as-furnished bungee setup, the maximum distance from the tent floor corners to each stake was approximately 14" with significant tension on the bungee. With the bungee cords no longer attached and the canopy webbing at full extension, this dimension can now be close to 20".
With the bungees cut, it was immediately obvious that leaving the floor free-floating with no comnnection to the stakes was not an option; just no proper shape if not secured. So I took some odd pieces of cord and cobbled-up some extensions for the bungee cords; I used simple fisherman's knots to join the two lines.
The tent setup in the pictures is using these temporary guylines. I simply tied the ends of the extended cord to the base of the stakes so the bungees had slight tension to keep the floor properly positioned. Achieving this pitch requires that the canopy guylines be above ground level and the floor connectors be at the base of the stake on the ground. They can't be connected; this was brought up in a review of the original LS (http://www.backpackgeartest.org/reviews/Shelters/Tents/Six%20Moon%20Designs%20Lunar%20Solo/Chuck%20Kime/Initial%20Report/).
My task now is to determine a permanent solution for the floor attachment guyline. The key requirement is that they will work at the extremes of stake placement allowed by the canopy webbing, approx. 9" and 19"+ from the floor corners as well as positions in-between. Odds are that in-between positions would be used infrequently such as when ground conditions dictate stake placement but it must be allowed for. Also would like to avoid having to tie 5 knots to adjust the guylines in bad weather. So far, I have come up with these alternate guyline approaches:
1- A longer one-piece bungee cord with loops in several positions on the cord for the stake. I probably will try 1/16" diameter shockcord; it's lighter, appears at least as "stretchy", but I'm not sure of it's durability. The top example in the picture below illustrates the concept; I mocked up this sample on some 1/8" shockcord I have. Loops would have to be at the end, another to accomodate a 9" stake position, and probably a couple in between. Would have to experiment to allow for the actual "stretchy-ness" of the selected cord. When pitching, simply put the stake thru the best loop to provide moderate tension, push the stake in the ground, and snug the fly strapping.
2- A piece of light cord with mini line tightener or tautline hitch to just snug the corner in postion around the stake. This eliminates the "floating floor" concept but I'm not sure that any movement of the floor is necessary once it has been properly pulled into position. Will have to try this one.
3- A combination of shockcord and normal cord similar to my trial guylines. I haven't solved the cinch-it-up difficulty when there is a joining knot in the middle of the two-part line.
4- A combination of bungee and normal cord with one being the "fixed line" attached to the tent corner webbing and the other looping around the stake and sliding on the fixed line with a tautline hitch or other friction knot. See the lower example in the picture. Actually the shockcord could be either the straight fixed line attached to the tent corner or the outer section with the stake loop at one end. I have to play with this one yet; I don't know how shockcord will behave in either position and don't know if will allow a friction knot to slip.
One combination I've also been thinking about is to use non-stretch guylines (as in #2 above) for the front corners of the tent, "anchoring" the front edge so it won't move and then using lightly-tensioned shockcord guylines for the back three corners to maintain the shape of the floor. More experimenting.
At any rate, I'm going to continue trials and will post my final solution whenever I get there. Would welcome any knot/shockcord expert's opinion. The one nice thing about this mod is that I can restore factory condition if necessary just by replacing the original shockcord with just a little stitching required. All in all, I'm much more satisfied with the tent configuration now that the bungee limitation is gone.
Hope this sufficiently answers your questions.Jun 22, 2007 at 10:00 pm #1393148
Ben 2 WorldParticipant
@ben2worldLocale: So Cal
I like how the mesh rise straight up in the last photo — no drooping/sagging at all. What is the height of your trekking pole in that setup?Jun 23, 2007 at 7:21 am #1393178
Ben – Approx. 47". Pole is at a slight angle to stay clear of the door.Jun 23, 2007 at 7:42 am #1393182
Nice write up! Over the years, I’ve also noticed that people were overstretching the floor. So we made a change in the last production run to disconnect the link between the floor and the stakes. In the new configuration, a bungee runs between the edges of the canopy at the junction of the guyline to a point at the top of the bathtub floor. This current arrangement, keeps the floor centered while allowing the guy lines to extend further out.
I’m not sure if this makes the tent faster to setup, but it does reduce some of the tension.
RonJun 23, 2007 at 7:56 am #1393184
I've never could get a pitch like this, when I had my Lunar. Seems like the sides were always down tighter to the ground.
But you have it pitched under ideal, flat conditions, in your back yard, with stakes pitched high.
Where as, in the field, with softer ground, those stakes may need to be deeper into the soil, thus lowering the high pitch your now showing?Jun 23, 2007 at 8:19 am #1393188
Good observation. Stakes might have to go in further and that just means the pitch would be less than optimal (same when stakes are positioned closer to the tent) but still better than the stock setup. Also remember that 8" stakes 6" into the ground are the same as 6" all the way in except that there would be somewhat more leverage, probably not requiring the 8" to be fully inserted.
I'm intrigued with the change you made. Can you give us some pictures?Jun 23, 2007 at 8:34 am #1393189
@justaguyLocale: Pacific Northwest
Wow, thank you for taking the time to answer my question Siegmund! I too have been playing with the setup of my tent and pole length to maximize the potential of the mesh walls and fix the slight sag issue. You are many steps ahead in the creative process though.
I like your idea of a bungee with a couple loops to have different staking positions, but from the looks of your pictures , it seems that if you just used the right length 16" – 18" ? , ( stretched, but with more room to stretch) it would allow closer staking and not require the loops.
I'm watching with keen interest, please keep us updated as you continue experimenting! Thanks again.Sep 25, 2007 at 11:37 am #1403538
Just an update on the current floor attachment guyline mod I settled on and have been using most of the summer.
I decided that the floor was much better if not allowed to float so I attached a 20"+ length of 2mm cord with a tautline hitch loop to each of the front two corners of the floor; after placing the stakes I tighten to "anchor" (and center) the front edge.
The back three floor guylines are now made of 1/16" shockcord (approx .5g per foot) with two fixed loops for the stake. The 1/16" shockcord is almost too light a tension but seems to work OK. The actual placement of the loops in each cord might be improved but this setup has worked and I haven't felt like tying and re-tying, re-pitching, etc.Oct 22, 2007 at 12:59 pm #1406298
I like this tent and have solved it's stock-configuration pitching limitations (see above posts). However, I have always had to be careful when turning over while sleeping as my head had very little clearance before bumping into the canopy just where the mesh is attached. I am just over 6' and use a long sleeping bag, sleeping on my side. This is a problem especially when condensation is heavy and my sleeping bag and head get wet. Although the tent floor is 88" long, the effective length for me is much less due to the slope of the canopy.
Overall interior height has been improved with the higher canopy pitch described above but I wanted more clearance. After playing around, I decided to use the extra side guyout loop to "lift" the canopy.
The pictures here were taken a couple of weeks ago when camping with my 5-year old granddaughter Megan (see the initial post in this thread about the "plus" capabilities of the LS).
Since I'm carrying trekking poles and only using one for the tent peak, the other is available to accomplish this tweak. Almost any hitch will hold the pole but I selected the simple bowstring knot; it holds the pole securely and the fixed knot position maintains the same distance and angle from the tieout loop to the pole. I suppose I really should reverse the pole so water won't run down inside; next time.
This change puts an extra 5 to 6" vertical space right where it's needed: above my head. In addition, the canopy is tauter.
Although I haven't tried it yet with a guyline, while inside with Megan I experimented by pushing the other end up with my foot at the guyout loop. This adds adds a comparable amount of extra room to the foot end and, more important, improves the circumferential tightness of the canopy. Obviously, guying "up" both ends of the tent requires a third pole. Any sturdy stick longer than 2' will work (no shortage of those in MI and IN). In areas without sticks (or for those carrying the optional tent pole and not using trekking poles), I suppose the logical alternative would be an arrow shaft with the guyline hitched through the nock.
I anticipate that this enhancement will be critical when the LS is pitched in "hunker-down" mode (canopy close to the ground); fly webbing as short as possible and stake heads at ground level, not elevated as described in earlier posts. I already know that the reduced clearance from this pitch makes for very tight headroom and also that there is a tendency for the canopy to flutter and flap in high, gusty winds. I think the increased tightness of the canopy from being guyed "up" at both ends will makes a significant improvement in liveability. Can't wait to try this under more demanding conditions.
On a slightly different note: I understand from a couple of posts the the latest batch of Lunar Solo's was modified to have the corner bungees connect to the canopy end of the guyout webbing, not the stake end. I have not seen any pictures of the mod and found no info on SMD's web site. Does anyone have this modified version that would be willing to post photos of the tent pitched normally, especially close-ups of the corner bungees and their attachment? I am very curious how this change has improved the pitch; does this permit a high pitch with long stakes (as I've described in earlier posts) without the tendency for the floor corners to lift off the ground? Also, what is diameter of bungees, length relaxed, and length under tension? If this works well, I may even want to retrofit my LS with the new arrangement. Thanks to anyone who can provide info.
Edited: had to fix pictureApr 6, 2009 at 6:45 pm #1491837
@mountainwalkerLocale: SF Bay Area & New England
Ron, is there any way you could also post some pics or a drawing of the measurements of the SMD Vamp you're coming out with soon? Do you know when it will be available?
My wife and I plan to pick up a Lunar Duo, which looks like a very roomy, solid and convenient shelter for the two of us, but for a solo shelter I'm on the tall side and would like a shelter like the Lunar Solo only longer, and with pitch options like those displayed above that would allow me to get good ventilation around the bottom of the tent.Apr 6, 2009 at 6:50 pm #1491839
@mountainwalkerLocale: SF Bay Area & New England
Also, can any SMD tarp tent owners comment – how do you like the gray versus the green color? Does the green keep out light much better? Does the green heat up much more in early morning sun? Planning to pick up a Lunar Duo and both colors look nice, so wondering if there are any practical differences.Apr 6, 2009 at 7:00 pm #1491844
I like the gray, never seen the green in person.Apr 6, 2009 at 7:16 pm #1491857
@mn-backpackerLocale: Land of 12,000 Loons
Same as Joe… Like the grey, never seen the green.
Went with grey because I think it's more stealthy than the green. The green doesn't appear in pictures to be a natural vegetation sort of green. I'd rather not be obvious.Apr 6, 2009 at 7:47 pm #1491875
I've had the green, but not the grey!
The green still lets plenty of light in… it's not dark by any stretch, but will block out a bit more light than the grey version. The only downside is that the light within the tent has a green tinge to it. Sitting inside a neutral grey tent is nicer I think. But the grey will be a bit brighter first thing in the morning… not great for a late sleep-in!
The green blends in ok with vegetation. Sure, it's not exactly leaf-green but it is green.
Is it possible to dye silnylon (eg. the grey version) to get exactly as dark as you want?Apr 6, 2009 at 8:26 pm #1491895
@skopeoLocale: British Columbia
…Apr 6, 2009 at 8:39 pm #1491902
@mn-backpackerLocale: Land of 12,000 Loons
The grey color, the same used in most tarp tent style shelters, does let in plenty of light. When sleeping under a full moon, I can see the moon through the canopy. You could almost read. I enjoy it. I also wake early, so I don't mind the morning sun. It's interesting to hear the green blocks so much more light.
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