Jun 19, 2020 at 3:12 pm #3653979
My first post here. Looking to suggestions to replace my Big Agnes FlyCreek HV UL1 with something with much better wind stability. (The back end of the FlyCreek collapses in high winds even when fully guyed out — not OK with me.) I’ve only used freestanding tents all these years, but open to other options. I usually carry 1 trekking pole (95-110 cm).
What I’m looking for:
- room for small person and medium dog (5’4″ for me, 40 lb for dog) — dog usually sleeps at my feet
- bug proof (must be adequate for serious black flies & skeeters in Wind River Range)
- bomber in wind even in open areas
- warm-ish for shoulder seasons and above treeline in the Rockies
- durable and reliable (don’t mind some extra ounces or $ for reliable performance over many seasons of heavy use)
Thanks!Jun 19, 2020 at 3:38 pm #3653985Alex FBPL Member
If you’re OK with a trekking pole tent, an option that comes to mind is the Tarptent Stratospire 1 or 2 person tent. You can get it in DCF if you want to go ultralight (option only in the 2p). It’s supposed to be extremely bomber in the wind.Jun 19, 2020 at 5:34 pm #3654004kevin timmBPL Member
@ktimmLocale: Colorado (SeekOutside)
Our Seek Outside Silex does really well in my recent comparative testing.Jun 20, 2020 at 6:53 am #3654081Marko MBPL Member
I use Hilleberg, Unna. Free standing, and super steady in high winds with stakes. Set it up literally on cliffs. They list as “solo” tent but can host two peopleJun 20, 2020 at 10:12 am #3654095
Thanks for the great suggestions! I’ll look into them.
Can anybody comment on the Tarptent Aeon in windy cold conditions above treeline? (like a violent thunderstorm) I watched Ryan’s video review which looked promising and the weight is sure attractive.Jun 20, 2020 at 10:57 am #3654116
For really high winds, few shelters can do as well as the MLD TrailStar, unless you want to carry something really heavy. Also the Hilleberg Akto and TarpTent Scarp 1 do well, especially if you get the optional crossing poles for the Scarp 1. These three shelters are very, very popular in Scotland, where crappy weather and high winds are the norm.Jun 20, 2020 at 11:00 am #3654119
P.S. I did not insert that hyperlink for the akto in my previous post.Jun 20, 2020 at 2:32 pm #3654167John S.BPL Member
The flycreek is supposed to be set up with the door facing the wind (so the two pole portion is into the wind). That is not always possible if the ground slopes in the wrong direction. Mine did fine on a nasty night in Iceland set up that way.Jun 20, 2020 at 3:47 pm #3654173GarrettBPL Member
+1 UnnaJun 20, 2020 at 8:46 pm #3654213Brad RogersBPL Member
@mocs123Locale: Southeast Tennessee
Some good suggestions thus far, but I’ll add the MLD Doumid with inner-net.Jun 20, 2020 at 9:50 pm #3654215JacobBPL Member
If you are considering the 55oz scarp 1, I think the Big Sky International Chinook series and Revolution series tents compete on paper as does the Kuiu Mountain Star. Kuiu has publicly posted a video of the mountain star handling 65mph wind head on and 60mph wind from the side.Jun 26, 2020 at 5:08 pm #3654856Eric BlumensaadtBPL Member
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
My 4 season solo tent is the Tarptent Moment DW, gen. 2
1. heavier main hoop pole
2. four fly hem stake loops (for when the wind rips)
3. two guy-out points on each side of the main pole sleeve plus guy-out points at the mid point at each end of the fly
4. basically aerodynamic shape
Additionally I have added the optional Crossing Pole cut shorter by 6″ and run under the fly for really heavy snow or very high winds.Jun 26, 2020 at 6:23 pm #3654864Alex FBPL Member
@alejandroJun 26, 2020 at 8:13 pm #3654873Diane “Piper” SoiniBPL Member
@sbhikesLocale: Santa Barbara
I think Hilleberg tents are the only truly weatherproof bombproof tents.
If you want something light a tarp might work. I have experienced extreme difficulty setting up a tarp in high winds, though. I’m not sure how to do it if the wind is really that bad. But if you can get it set up you at least have options for really low pitches that can withstand weather. A tent usually doesn’t have as many options.Jun 26, 2020 at 8:27 pm #3654875bjcBPL Member
MLD Trailstar and mids, Yama Mountain Cirriform double wall shelters are the best I have used for heavy weather. They hold up to the wind and precip here in the Rockies.Jun 26, 2020 at 10:20 pm #3654894Sam FarringtonBPL Member
@scfhomeLocale: Chocorua NH, USA
I’d thought you had settled on a Notch Li.
Aside from its much lighter weight than the Moment DW, would be interested in how you compare the pluses and minuses of these two tents.
Sam FJun 27, 2020 at 10:22 am #3654964Jon SolomonBPL Member
‘Nother vote for the Trailstar. It meets all of your requirements:
a. especially space for the dog.
b. bug proof if you match it with some kind of inner tent.
c. totally bomber in gale force winds and definitely better than a pyramid, BUT, the footprint is huge and you need to bring some hefty stakes.
d. multiple pitching options, something a pyramid lacks, so you can pitch it open and airy or tight and bomber.
e. no zippers or doors to fail.
MLD used to make a smaller version called the LittleStar. At 5’4″ it would work for you. You could ask Ron if he wouldn’t make one, though the weight savings are minimal. I have one of each, the TrailStar and the LittleStar. The design really works best IMHO with silnylon because the stretch of the fabric allows for dramatic pitching options.
I don’t use either very much now because I prefer options that are lighter in exchange for less robust protection.Jun 28, 2020 at 6:22 am #3655090Geoff CaplanBPL Member
@geoffcaplanLocale: Lake District, Cumbria
Another vote for the TrailStar for wind performance. I’ve had it in some real gales and it’s always been bomber, provided it’s well staked. I also think it’s one of the most beautiful shelters ever designed and looks great in pics. But this comes at a price.
First, the footprint really is HUGE and this can be tricky on steep ground – I’ve sometimes had to set up with a bush or a rock literally inside the shelter.
Second, the combined weight of the large tarp and a nest takes you well over a kilo.
Third, the central pole and the shallow slope of the walls means that despite the huge footprint the usable space is quite modest. It doesn’t play all that well with bivvies and the alternative is a complex, expensive and heavy nest. And you need to crawl in to reach the nest, which can be a pain when you’re camping in long wet grass covered in cow-dung…
Fourth, it’s quite a tricky, technical pitch, which can be tiresome in bad weather at the end of a long day. And setting up a nest just adds to the faff.
I have had some great times with my TrailStar, and I can’t find anything on the market that would be unambiguously better for my uses in exposed terrain. But the drawbacks are significant enough that I’m prototyping my own tarptent design that I’m hoping will be just as bomber but with fewer drawbacks.Jun 28, 2020 at 9:00 am #3655107jscottBPL Member
@bookLocale: Northern California
I’m surprised at the OP’s premise: the fly creek did poorly in winds. I found it to be very good in high winds. I wonder if simply revisiting that tent and looking at staking options and pitch relative to winds might not solve the issue for no money at all.
Many people don’t like this tent, but not because it’s not wind worthy. Are all those mentioned better performers in wind? I don’t know.Jun 28, 2020 at 4:08 pm #3655176Mike MBPL Member
if $ is no object, the Locus Gear Djedi would easily be my first choiceJun 29, 2020 at 1:34 am #3655265
I’m going to challenge the notion of a huge footprint for the TrailStar.
I rarely hike with others but on the few trips over the past 4 years the ZPacks Duplex is the most common shelter I have seen. One night I pitched my TrailStar close to a Duplex and it seemed to close in footprint area. Unless I made a calculation error, looking at the Duplex specs, the area is right at 60 sq ft. MLD states the area as 65 sq ft. Most full size pyramids from MLD, Oware, BD, etc. are around 81 sq ft.
I too have pitched my TrailStar over large rocks and small shrubs. I see this as an advantage of a tarp shelter vs. a tent.
Slopes can be tricky. I mentally see the bottom edges as a horizontal plane, so the high ground is pitched close to the ground, the guylines much longer on the low ground. This doesn’t work too well in really windy weather and I do pitch all close to the ground and it can be tricky to get a really taunt pitch. And yes, this shelter needs burly stakes.
The TrailStar isn’t my favorite shelter, but if I could only have one shelter it would be a TrailStar. Mine is silnylon. I wouldn’t buy a cuben version.Jun 29, 2020 at 3:16 pm #3655348Geoff CaplanBPL Member
@geoffcaplanLocale: Lake District, Cumbria
When I bought my sil TrailStar Ron was very explicit that he didn’t feel it worked well in Cuben – without the stretch it’s much less adaptable. I think anyone buying one is doing it against his advice. I’ve seen YouTube videos that show the Cuben version to be an absolute sod to pitch well.
As for the footprint, I was sad enough to draw up a table for most of the popular lightweight shelters. If you calculate longest dimension x longest dimension it is one of the largest on the market. If you calculate the actual covered area it’s a bit smaller. In practice, it’s not much of an issue for moorland camping, but in alpine terrain I’ve found that it’s quite limiting and I’ve sometimes had to resort to improvised pitches as you’ve described.
But bottom line, if you want something that will stand up in a big blow, the TrailStar is always going to be on the shortlist.Jul 3, 2020 at 1:53 pm #3656053Eric BlumensaadtBPL Member
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
OK, I gotta weigh in here on DCF tents. If you’ve looked at DCF tents recently you will see that Tarptent has: 1.)->the most DCF designs of any tentmaker 2.)->the very best build quality DCF tents PERIOD
Yeah, Tarptent was late to the DCF bandwagon but when it did get on it did so with the above qualifications. Compare them any way you want, solo, 2 person, wind worthiness, ease of setup, interior space and usually the TT tents are extremely competitive – well perhaps except in price where they get a premium for their quality.Jul 3, 2020 at 3:10 pm #3656073
When selecting shelters there are many factors to consider.
For wind worthiness, the number of guy out points and location of these points is important, as is the type of stake — correct for the soil (or snow); design, diameter, and length.
Another important point is the structure. A hoop like the Scarp 1 (and other TarpTent offerings), Hilleberg, and others similar designs are generally going to work better that a couple trekking poles in really bad weather. The TrailStar being an exception. But for some the TrailStar is more difficult to pitch and less convenient to enter and exit. Trade-offs of course.
Now when we add in a lot of moisture, especially rain, we must consider the fabric used. Of concern is sag. My Scarp 1 (silnylon) sags a little, but not like a trekking pole or double trekking pole design. I have an old Chouinard pyramid made from PU coated nylon and there is little sag at all, especially compared to my almost identical BD Mega Light silnylon pyramid. Also, the Chouinard has a heavier denier nylon and weighs almost double the Mega Light (44 oz vs 26 oz). As a comparison, below are several pyramids that are almost identical is size and design to the original Chouinard.
The Chouinard is just going to work better than these, but there is a large weigh penalty. More robust is going to weigh more. It’s a balancing act.
Here are a couple links regarding the Chouinard and other shelters:
One thing that really helps to make life easier with these light silnylon shelters is the use of LineLocs with a properly sized guy line that can be adjusted from the inside during the night.
I will happily challenge any backpacking shelter (not a big base camp like the VE-25) against my Sierra Designs Super Flash Light. At 6 lbs, it was for decades one of the standard issue tents for the US Antarctic Program, the other being the NF VE-25. Is 6 lbs too much weight vs dying in a blizzard? I haven’t used the SD in several years due to its weight and me not going into extreme winter conditions.
A winter shelter like Caffin’s tunnel tent will work very well, but you can’t buy one.
Now let’s talk about Cuben (or whatever the heck it is now called) shelters. They have been my normal go-to shelter for 10 years or so. First a Hexamid and then a larger Deschutes CF. So I have a lot of experience with the material. The Deschutes is almost identical to the old Wild Oasis I bought when they first came on the market, other than my Deschutes doesn’t have the perimeter netting. Other than being lighter, I cannot say the Deschutes is much superior except in bad weather I had to occasionally re-tension the Wild Oasis guy lines. The price difference is significant and Cuben is subject to quick degradation from any kind of abrasion or even frequent stuffing into a sack. A silnylon version will last longer and costs less.
One of the tents I mentioned in an early comment was the Scarp 1 by TarpTent. Henry makes some outstanding products from design to quality manufacture. He may make more models in Cuben than anyone else, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the quality is better than those who have been using the material for the past decade or more. Point being, if you want to buy a Cuben shelter look for the design that fits your needs best and companies like zPacks, Six Moon Designs, MLD, and others built quality products on par with the competition. To reiterate, I think TarpTent does make outstanding products and I am not leveling any criticism. However, I don’t think there is a cost benefit to Cuben over time.
I kinda regret replacing my Wild Oasis with the Deschutes, except I gave the Oasis to my son. The regret is I paid several hundred dollars, gained little in return, but I did shed a few ounces. Financially it was a poor decision.
Soooo . . . there are a lot of factors to consider when purchasing a shelter and there simply isn’t a best shelter.Jul 3, 2020 at 3:16 pm #3656074
HI, OP here, back to the computer after a couple of backpacking trips! (Pecos Wilderness in New Mexico, Ragged Wilderness and Gore Range in Colorado.) Thanks for all the great comments and discussion. I’ll respond to a couple things.
First, based on a lot of surfing, I decided to try the new Tarptent Aeon Li. I have used it only 2 nights so far. I think I will end up liking it. Here are my first thoughts in case anybody else is considering this newly released model. It’s quite comfortable for me (5’4″) and Gani the dog (40 lbs). It seems like it will handle the weather OK, although I won’t know for sure until I have the pleasure of sitting out a few violent thunderstorms above treeline. I’m used to freestanding tents, so I know there will be a learning curve on recognizing good sites. In a site without many rocks, set up was really easy. The other night, I had to skootch it around for 10 minutes to find the perfect place where all the stakes could be driven home without hitting rocks. Once set up, it was a nice haven from the skeeters — the mesh front panel worked well as did the little vents in the corners. I really liked being able to leave the vestibule doors open for huge moonlit views during a nice night. I’ll agree with other folk on this thread and elsewhere that Tarptent build quality and design seem very high. (But again, after just 2 nights… we’ll see how it holds up after more time and in harsher conditions.)
One response about the BigAgnes FlyCreek. It consistently did poorly for me in thunderstorm outflow winds, which are erratic. Perhaps people who have better luck with it are using it in conditions where the wind direction is more constant. I found that fully guying it out with large piles of rocks made almost no difference. I had a BA Seedhouse Light 1 person tent for about 10 years of hard use. It worked great everywhere I threw it down and it weathered many a thunderstorm. I think one important difference in design is that they changed from a pole sleeve to pole clips, which don’t distribute the wind load as well. Sadly the Seedhouse light delaminated eventually. The FlyCreek was a warranty replacement, so no complaints about BA customer service.
Here are a few gratuitous pics of the Tarptent Aeon.
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