The Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo is a one-person, single-wall, three-season, trekking pole supported shelter. It weighs 26 oz (737 g), has an MSRP of $230, and is reasonably considered an entry-level shelter for backpackers on a budget who'd like to experiment with a non-traditional, lightweight shelter.
If you browse the likes of Reddit and YouTube, you'll note that the Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo is a somewhat popular shelter in the lightweight hiking community. Its relatively light weight and modest price makes it an appealing option for thru-hikers or backpackers looking to move away from traditional double-wall tents and drop some weight from their pack without spending a lot of money.
Its design attempts to check all the boxes backpackers are looking for: ventilation, bug protection, shelter from the elements, minimal weight, and livability. Its silicone-coated polyester canopy fabric requires seam sealing to be completely waterproof, which is a service available from Six Moon Designs for an additional fee of $30.
Receiving accolades from Backpacker Magazine, The Trek, ISPO, and Garage Grown Gear, this is a shelter that has been on the market for several years, seen various upgrades during that time, and is one of the flagship pieces from Six Moon Designs. This review describes the most recent version of the shelter (a model that was shipped to us by Six Moon Designs in July 2019).
Features & Specifications
- Single-entry (side)
- Asymmetrical pyramid shape
- Apex vent
- Trekking pole supported (or optional straight pole)
- Interior pockets for organization
- Large mesh door for ventilation
- Floor design minimizes tension and helps prevent punctures
- Spacious interior
- Made in China
- Total weight, excluding stakes or optional pole: 26 oz claimed (737 g), 26.2 oz measured (742 g)
- Material: Silicone coated polyester - 20D canopy and 40D floor
- Packed size: 11 in x 4.5 in (28 cm x 11 cm)
- Floor area: 26.25 sq ft (2.4 sq m)
- Vestibule: 8.5 sq ft (0.8 sq m)
- Apex: 48 in (122 cm)
- Stakes needed: 6 (min), 8 (max)
- Stakes included: 0 (I used six MSR Groundhogs and two Nemo Airpins for the optional guylines during testing) - here's why a lightweight Y-stake like the MSR Groundhog and Groundhog Mini offers the best tent stake holding power for its weight and size)
- An optional 49 in (124 cm) pole is available in carbon fiber (1.8 oz / 51 g) or aluminum (3.2 oz / 90 g)
I’ve primarily used an MSR Hubba for three-season backpacking and occasionally used a tarp or tarp with a bivy sack for fast-and-light trips or trips where the weather forecast was favorable for a minimalist shelter. I’ve used a Black Diamond Firstlight for winter trips and ski touring. This test was my first experience with a trekking pole supported shelter and a pyramidal design. My experience with single-wall shelters was limited to the Firstlight, which I used in temperatures below freezing, with snow being the only precipitation. At an affordable $230 and appealingly low weight of 26 oz (740 g), I was eager to see how this shelter performed during summer conditions in the Northern Rockies.
My first excursion with the Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo, a five-night trip in Glacier National Park, provided perfect conditions to test its wind and weather resistance. Three of the five nights featured rain showers, including some heavy downpours that lasted nearly the entire night. Two separate afternoon thunderstorms forced me inside to seek shelter and wait for the storms to pass before emerging during breaks in the storms to cook dinner. On one particularly stormy evening, I was in the tent from approximately 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., then from 6:15 p.m. until 8 a.m. the next morning. I was able to spend a lot of time evaluating the livability and spaciousness of the tent on that trip.
Additional testing included a short trip to Yellowstone National Park, a trip in the subalpine high-country of the Bitterroot National Forest, and a three-day trek in the Pioneer Mountains of Montana.
In the Bitterroot National Forest, I experienced pitching the tent in less-than-ideal conditions due to rocky ground. The Pioneer Mountains had near-constant evening and nighttime winds in the 10-15 mph range (16-24 kph) with gusts up to 25 mph (40 kph).
In addition to my experience as described above, some of Ryan Jordan's (Backpacking Light's Publisher) experiences are described herein as well, since Ryan used the shelter in more inclement environments (higher winds and snow).
Member's Only Content
Login as a Premium or Unlimited Member to read the comprehensive Performance Assessment and Author Commentary sections of this review:
- Performance Assesment: Wind & Weather Resistance, Ease of Use, Condensation Management, Durability, Livability, and Compressability & Weight
- Product Strengths & Limitations
- Compared To: Tarptent Aeon Li, ZPacks Plexamid, Six Moon Designs Skyscape Trekker, Durston X-Mid, 3F UL Gear Lanshan 2, TarpTent ProTrail
Member's only version is 4800 words and includes 17 photographs.
Review Rating: Average
In 2005, Backpacking Light awarded the Six Moon Designs Lunar solo with a best-in-class award at Outdoor Retailer. At that time, we wrote:
The Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo requires only a single trekking pole for setup, with good ventilation, insect protection, exceptional views, room to stretch out - and sit up - and a cavernous vestibule for storing gear or cooking a meal, all in a 23-ounce package unmatched by any solo tent on the market. - Backpacking Light, August 12, 2005
Not much has changed about what we wrote about the Lunar Solo in terms of its overall design and features, but the Lunar Solo has certainly changed:
- It's now heavier by a few ounces;
- It's made with a silpoly canopy instead of a silnylon canopy (you can debate that choice in the forums below);
- Its manufacturing country of origin has changed from the US to China;
- Its quality of materials and construction has decreased.
Even with these compromises, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this tent to backpackers looking for a lightweight, economical, single-wall shelter. That the Lunar Solo is one of the cheaper solo tent options on the US market in this weight range makes it worth evaluating. While you could certainly spend 1.5-2.0 times as much on higher quality and lighter shelters, if you are looking to build up your lightweight kit from scratch, the Lunar Solo may be a better initial investment. The money you will save can easily buy you a great three-season sleeping bag, like the REI Magma 30, for example.
The Lunar Solo, however, misses some essential performance marks that we could have overlooked when it was first introduced in the 2000s, but now suffers from comparison to more competition. Improvements to the Lunar Solo could be made in the following areas:
- Engineering redesign of panel geometry that could result in a tighter pitch and better wind performance)
- Improvement in manufacturing quality
Where to Buy
- Buy the Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo here.
- The Tarptent Aeon Li, which is a (kind of) similar half-pyramid design, executed in Dyneema Composite Fabrics (DCF) and carbon fiber. If you like the Lunar Solo’s design but have some more cash to spare, read Ryan’s Tarptent Aeon Li review here.
- For more interior floor space and weather resistance, read our review of the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Dirigo 2, another side-entry, trekking-pole supported, single- (hybrid-) wall shelter.
DisclosureUpdated November 7, 2019
- Product(s) discussed in this article may have been purchased by the author(s) from a retailer or direct from a manufacturer, or by Backpacking Light for the author. The purchase price may have been discounted as a result of our industry professional status with the seller. However, these discounts came with no obligation to provide media coverage or a product review. Backpacking Light does not accept compensation or donated/discounted products in exchange for guaranteed media placement or product review coverage.
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